The low murmur of activity in the hospital wing was only mildly distracting. She closes her eyes to block out the light, in the hope that it would somehow also block out the noise.
She turns her attention inwards. Her consciousness narrows until it focuses only on her breathing. The steady rise and fall of her body as she counts the breaths: in and then out. The curse scar that rips up her abdomen and chest burns with every breath.
As she breathes in and then out in her self-imposed darkness, some of the voices around her become clearer. Luna, whimsical and gentle is the most soothing, and Hermione finds a smile bubbling to the surface as she hears her classmate try to convince Ginny that one of the seemingly non-descript rooms they had encountered in the Ministry was for the purpose of housing Nargles.
Harry had left her bedside not more than 20 minutes earlier. He had been quiet, understandably so, as he sat and talked about Ron being in St. Mungo's. He had spoken gently, as if he thought she might shatter with too much volume. His presence had been both a comfort and also - she feels guilty even thinking it - a burden. Unsure of how to act or what to say, she had felt stuck in an awkward limbo. When he had left, trailing despondently after Dumbledore, her exhale had been laden with relief. She had been able to return her focus to her breathing again.
This is when she hears it. To start the sound is so faint that she thinks it might be her imagination playing tricks, perhaps a side-effect of her physical exhaustion coupled with the after-effects of Dolohov's curse. The light trickling sound gently lifts, tickling her ever so slightly.
She shifts and the movement makes the scar up her chest crisp, smoulder and catch fire.
She lies still. Completely and utterly stone still. But the sound builds, into a pulling, screeching crescendo-waterfall of crashing and breaking. She screws her eyes shut and for a second she thinks she sees the gilt furniture and glittering instruments of Dumbledore's office. Just a glimpse; gone too fast for her to completely comprehend.
She wants to scream.
The smashing sounds reach higher and higher. The squirms rigidly, not wanting to aggravate the curse scar, but being unable to bear the sound.
And then with one final quiet smash and a flash of silver behind her eyelids she lets out the scream as everything around her goes silent.
When she wakes the sun is warm. It lights the foot of the bed that she occupies, and the whole of the bed opposite. The pristine white sheets across from her seem to glow with the harshness of the glare. Something is wrong. Off-kilter, just slightly.
The room is light, airy. Brighter, she thinks, than she has ever seen it before. One of the tall windows is open and letting in a light breeze along with the sunshine. She shuffles, sits up, briefly ignoring the burning scar, and looks around the room.
The bed directly next to hers is not neatly made like the others. The sheets are mussed, a grey jumper lies rumpled among the white cotton and there is a watch with a battered brown leather wrist-strap on the table next to the bed. Hermione shuffles carefully again, swinging her feet to the side.
The door at the end of the hospital wing opens and a boy emerges from Madam Pomfrey's office. He starts to walk towards the bed next to hers, the items there obviously belonging to him. It takes him a long time to shuffle across the room, and she notices that he walks with a limp. He runs his hand through sandy hair, whether in stress or in fatigue she can't tell, but it is obviously a tick born of discomfort. As the shaggy hair moves to reveal more of the boy underneath - almost a man, she thinks, he must be a sixth or seventh year - she notices the large nasty looking cut on his temple. It's bright red and looks fresh.
Then he spots her. He looks back at the bed that he had vacated, then towards the doors leading to the castle and then towards Madam Pomfrey's office door. He pauses only for a second before wrinkling his nose - in dismissal or confusion, she isn't sure - continuing to the bed, and pulling on the grey uniform jumper over his head before straightening his gold and red tie. Next comes the watch. It seems to take the boy an extraordinarily long time to fasten the battered strap.
Finally, after a painful struggle - painful for her to watch, because it was so obviously painful for him - he turns and sits on the edge of the bed, facing her.
Large, curious eyes blink slowly. She wonders if he is going to say something, anything, but instead he blinks again. His sandy hair is ruffled and sticking up, one side of his collar is tucked into his jumper, the other side is peeking out. He looks tired.
For once in her life she is at a loss for both words and any sort of plan of action, so after a brief hesitation she starts to stand. And then yelps. The scar on her chest is still raw and delicate and bites when she moves.
The boy with the jumper and the watch and the nasty cut and - now that she can see him properly - an ugly graze on his jawbone, jumps up to help and then he catches himself, hesitating. He opens his mouth to say something, but for a long time nothing comes out.
She is finally standing, but breathing heavily through the pain when he manages words. He is standing close to her arm outstretched as if to help, but just short of touching her.
"You weren't there last night. You weren't there when I woke up." he manages.
The statements seem redundant, but she nods anyway and attempts to process them, fogged as her brain is with pain and confusion.
"I - I'm- well it's just that I-" she stumbles and trips over the words and he watches with confusion. She gives up half-heartedly and instead focuses on the deepening frown on his face.
She knows those eyes. Think, Hermione, think.
He's polite, obliging, and above all: he's curious. Perhaps this is a foolish idea, she thinks, but with a brain fogged by pain and confusion the plan is just half-baked enough to make sense to her.
"Please, I need to get back to the dormitory. Could you help?" She sees the doubt in his eyes, doubt over whether she should be leaving the hospital wing in this much pain, doubt about her identity and her mysterious appearance "Please, it shan't take long. I just need some help with the stairs."
He moves forward and grasps her arm.
They make it out of the wing and up two floors before the pain across her chest becomes difficult to convincingly ignore. Two more floors and the pain is starting to rip up her chest with every step. Another floor, she is panting in pain, and the boy holding her has noticed that they are not moving towards any of the common rooms.
When he asks she tells him that she needs to retrieve something she had hidden first. It was vital. He nods in semi-understanding.
On the seventh floor, black spots swim in her vision and she can't speak anymore. She stumbles past the wall once, thinking incoherently: I need somewhere to safely talk to Remus Lupin. A second time: Somewhere I can talk to Remus. A third trip back, haltingly: Safely! I need to talk to Remus Lupin.
The door appears and she tries to pull it for a second. It doesn't budge. She tries not to think about the confirmation that the room has just provided for her regarding the identity of the boy stood behind- oh. He leans past her, brushing against her arm, and pulls at the handle. The door swings open.
"Thank you!" She sounds like her aunt at Christmas, when one too many glasses of sherry had been consumed. She steps forward and the left side of the door frame appears to jump out in front of her. Rough hands clasp her shoulders and right her, planting her firmly back on her feet.
The pain gushes over her in waves. And she wishes for a moment if it might consume her, leak into her lungs and stop her breathing. At least then that might be some peace. Strong arms steer her forward, and she hears the door shuts behind them. She turns to see the wall seal itself over, and blankly registers that as the room providing the 'safe' part of her request.
And then she starts screaming. "WINKY, DOBBY, KREACHER, KEVVY, JENNY, ELFFY, SLEEPY, FLUFFY, SCRAPPY, SCOOBY-"pop. She giggle-hiccups to herself at the last names she had screamed. The screaming helped with letting out the frustration at the pain, but it also served another purpose.
"Jenny is at your service, missus." There is no bow to accompany the statement, and Hermione is quite glad for the fact. She already doesn't like what she has been driven to.
Hermione blinks to focus at the small elf, "Dittany. Essence of Dittany. Please. Take it from Professor Sn-. The Potions master. Whoever that is. I don't care. I will pay for it. Please. I can't-" Pop.
The house-elf's disappearance lines up exactly with Hermione's inability to continue her statement. A long silence stretches as Remus - for it is Remus Lupin before her - stares at her as she stands almost bent double in pain. Jenny pops back and thrusts the bottle into Remus' hand before disappearing again.
"Please, help?" She asks rather than demands, and starts to pull up her loose t-shirt, unconcerned with modesty.
"Well, urm, yes. Ok. Right." he starts, moving forward just slightly before stopping again. "But, after I really must get to, um, breakfast." He starts to advert his eyes as she starts to wrestle the top higher.
She moves backwards and falls, falls, landing in soft comfy arm chair that materialises before her. Remus isn't sure what to focus his attention on. The half-naked and injured girl, or the materialising furniture.
"Breakfast!" She yelps, high pitched. This one word seems to have given her energy. Though he is unsure whether the exclamation was surprise, or another verbal outburst of pain.
"Yes. Breakfast." he answers, low and surprisingly calm.
"But you can't!" She implores, desperately.
"And why not?" His eyebrow is raised in disbelief. But he is kneeling at the side of the armchair now, pipette of Dittany in hand.
The question makes Hermione stop and think. Her brow furrows in concentration. There was something, something important, just out of reach. She does as she always does when her memory faults her: retraces her steps.
Cool dittany trickles down her front and the pain starts to be tamed. Nulled into submission. Until a line of numbness trickles up her chest, replacing the roaring pain. The boy is still leaning over her. She's slumped now.
In her mind, she's in the hospital wing again, in that moment from less than an hour ago. A gust of wind blows through the open window and her hair blows and musses, his eyes follow the movement of the brown tresses. And looks into those green eyes-
"Why can't I go to breakfast?" he insists.
The numbness is so pleasant, licking soothing fingers upwards and outwards. She embraces the coming rest. "Because you're hurt" she murmurs, a good way to sleep already "and because last night was the full moon and you must be exhausted!"
As sleep overcomes, she hears his last question. His voice is cold, void of any feeling. Steely. Too many questions. Can't answer yet. Don't let him leave, Room. Thank you, Room. She wonders if attempting to communicate with a room counts as crazy.
"And what has the full moon got to do with anything?"
A long time has passed, she thinks, when she wakes. She clears her eyes gently, not wanting to move her arms and aggravate the scar further.
Looking about the room, she locates him. Remus Lupin. He's standing in front of the blank wall where a door had previously been, throwing spell after spell at the stone. She breathes a sigh of relief and thanks the Room once again for keeping Remus safe and secure even through her unconsciousness.
He's angry. To be expected, he has been trapped in a room against his will, and without means of communication with the outside world. The spells he is directing at the wall have, she'd guess, escalated to darker jinxes and hexes. Things that would not prove effective on a real wall or door. They were simply an outlet for his anger.
Her scar, she discovers, is angrier, and as she twists her body to watch him the ugly pain rears its head once more. She yelps, loudly. It catches his attention. Damn.
The green of his eyes seems darker.
"Oh. You're awake." he snarls.
This is not the kind-mannered man that she knows. This is a young bitter boy; angry with his world and livid with her.
"I suppose you want this." he prowls across the room towards her and stands in front of her chair, waving the bottle of Dittany at her.
She's groggy and still doesn't fully comprehend the situation. "How long-" she blinks "long have-
"Have I been trapped here? Have you been asleep? Long enough. About 13 hours." She moves suddenly, shocked at the time, and then hisses loudly as the quick movement tugs on the scar. He smiles - sharp and bitter - and his wand twitches.
The bottle of Dittany he was holding lifts into the air between them and starts to move, slowly at first and gaining momentum, towards the stone wall.
She comprehends only a split second before "No!"
The bottle stops.
"Oh?" He asks mildly, "Did you want that still?" She refuses to take her eyes off the bottle, hovering in the air less than an inch from the wall. "If you still want it, you're going to give me answers and then you are going to let. Me. Out."
She wants to have the sense to weigh up the options and make an informed decision, but her body acts before her brain engages fully and she nods at his demands, shuffling in the chair slightly to look more alert.
He is surprised that she acquiesces so quickly, she can tell. She furrows her brow briefly and a chair appears behind him. He looks at it, before gingerly taking a seat.
"Who are you? Where did you come from? Why have you trapped me here?"
She watches as the bottle of Dittany slowly starts to hover back over to them. She wonders how much she should say and how much she can get away with omitting.
She sighs. There was no saying how permanent this new development would be, how long she might be here, if she could even get back to her own time. As long as she could keep things relatively contained she should be alright, but she would need someone on her side.
"Well, Remus Lupin, this might sound bat-shit crazy-" a favourite phrase of her father's thrown into the mix makes her smile and think of home, "but I'm from the future."
She's not sure what she expects. But his maniacal laughter is not it.
And 5 seconds later she's eternally grateful that she was still sat on the comfy arm chair and had sat back to watch him laugh off her statement as his Stupefy hits her square in the chest.
There is less grogginess when she wakes this time. More rope though. The chair opposite her is empty.
Her hands are bound in front of her and she's tied to the chair. Her chest feels better though, so she assumes that Remus has applied more Dittany. She looks down, she's still wearing the same clothes.
"Jenny." pop. "Would you mind terribly bringing me some new clothes? And, urm." she wiggles in the ropes slightly "dressing me?" The elf nods, blinks once and disappears with another pop.
And then shortly: Pop. Snap. Snap. And she was dressed in a blue t-shirt, grey cardigan and jeans.
"Thank you, Jenny." The elf beams at her and vanished once again.
Hermione's actions had attracted the attention of Remus to her again. He sits down heavily in the green armchair. He stares at her but says nothing.
"How long this time?" she asks lightly.
"Oh, just 4 hours. Impressive for a stunner at such a close range." he answers.
She notices the bottle of Dittany sat on the floor, safe and far to the left of their chairs. A truce of sorts.
She smiles tightly to herself, and prepares herself for the possibility of another Stupefy to the chest. She asks jovially "Terribly sorry, but I couldn’t bother you for the date, could I?"
Remus looks pale, and like he's going to vomit, he glances at his watch. "It's 3:17am, Wednesday 18th February 1976"
"Ok." she nods. "interesting." She tries not to let too much of anything show across her face.
" Just 'Interesting'?" he snaps.
"Remus. You are intelligent. You, like me, know how dangerous meddling with time is. I've probably already caused endless damage with what I've already said."
He has the decency to look cowed.
"I don't believe you, you know." he mutters.
"Oh, I know. I wouldn't believe me either. But here I am. '76 you say?" She's thinking.
"Yes." he bites out.
She picks up on his tone and sardonically snaps "And how are Hope and Lyall?" before she can stop herself.
This puts a quick end to whatever he was building up to.
"The future?" he asks.
It catches her off guard, his hesitant acceptance of her story.
She nods. "The future." She knows that this is breaking dozens and dozens of rules. And the moment she had first said it she knew it was a mistake, but there was no going back now. She couldn’t rightly see a clear way out, or even just through.
"Right. Fine. I'll buy it." he's managed to accept her story and become dismissive of it in just a few short heartbeats. "Fine. But why are you keeping me here?"
"You don't rightly believe that I am going to leave to tell my friends that I was kidnapped and held hostage by a time travelling girl in a room that doesn't exist?"
Well, when he puts it like that.
She concedes "You’re right, I doubt you would be eager to tell your friends-"
The breath whooshes out of her. On the other side of the castle James Potter, Lily Evans and Sirius Black were alive, well. She could imagine them sitting by the same fireplace that she had done her homework in front of for 5 years. In her mind's eye, they were unburdened by war or evil, probably laughing over a joke one of the boys had cracked.
"-anything like that." she finishes lamely.
His brow is furrowed, confused at her reaction. But, as she had said before, he is intelligent. "You know me." he states, and then he reasons "and so you know my friends as well." She presses her lips together in a hard line, refusing to show any emotion. "When and where are you from?"
"You know how foolish it would be of me to answer that Remus."
He concedes her point. "Fine. Then why did you bring me here? Why bother telling me anything?"
She shrugs, her answers are unglamorous. "What do you want me to say? The honest answer is you were nearby, you were familiar. I needed help and I needed a friend. I still need help-" she corrects herself "I need help getting back, and you can't help me if you don't know what I need help with."
"Why would I help?" there's no bitterness there, just genuine curiosity "locking me up with you is not going to be an incentive to help. What's to say that you won’t disappear into the future and leave me trapped in this room to rot? You can't tell me anything about the future for fear of causing unending chaos so you can't offer me information. What's in it for me?"
She stares at him hard, not expecting this hard edge to Remus.
And then she smiles. A great cat-that-caught-the-canary grin.
"If you can get me the materials, Remus Lupin, I can brew you Wolfsbane. No expense, no ministry hoops to jump through, no strings attached." She feels smug.
But the smug smile falters, coming crashing down with just three words.
"What is 'Wolfsbane'?"
18th February 1976, 11am
They sleep for a few hours. Hermione dozing, still tied up and Remus curling up on a similar armchair that the Room provided.
Upon waking, Hermione summons Jenny once more requesting tea.
She nods pointedly to the armchair opposite her when Remus walks over. And then politely requests that he unties her some, at least so that she might enjoy the tea that had appeared, along with a small table, equidistance between their chairs.
He begrudgingly unwinds the heavy rope, mutter to himself all the while about crazy girls from the future, and then he sits opposite her. Remus takes the liberty of pouring the tea, milk and stirring the sugar into the two mugs. She picks up the mug closest to her and sips the hot, sweet tea silently. She was not one for sugar in her tea that often but she hadn't had the heart to say differently when Lupin was making the drinks.
Remus is ignoring his own drink in favour of staring her down.
"You're lying. It's impossible." the statement makes Hermione uncomfortable, even though she knows logically that he is not questioning her abilities. He has long since dropped all attempts at denying his Lycanthropy which is a relief: his denial was getting tiresome.
"It's perfectly possible. I can do it. Complicated, yes. But not impossible: I should know, I’ve brewed it for you enough times-” over last summer. She manages to break off before she reveals too much. Perhaps she has already given away too many details, but she reasons that this would be the time that Remus needed more detail so that he believes her. So that she can help him.
She tries to lighten the tone, "I can't believe you don't have it already. It is 1976 correct?"
"Yes, I think I know what year it is, thank you very much." His voice is sharp, but he still looks faintly ill at the prospect of having to confirm the year for someone, as if it makes the situation a little more real. Her attempt at moving the discussion forward and away from time-travel is obviously not as effective as she hoped.
His eyes dart upwards towards her and then down, back to the tea again when she starts to talk, ignoring his unease. "1976 - still early days then, the ministry is still keeping it hush, running through tests?" She mutters to herself, " I'm sure I read that-that it invented in '76 though they kept it under wraps until the 80s- oh. Oh."
"What?" He looks more confused than nervous now.
"Wolfsbane was created in 1976. No one ever knew how it was managed- even the person who it's attributed is somewhat debated. He died soon after- but, it, doesn't matter!" She laughs, loud and brash "None of that matters, don’t you see?!"
"Urm, no?" Remus answers slightly sarcastically. "If you think the inventor of your 'Wolfsbane' doesn't matter I think you might be disregarding some rather serious factors in the creation of your highly unlikely potion."
"Don't you understand? It was never invented or created, it's me. It was always me."
"You have a high opinion of yourself." It's not said with malice or even criticism. It's said with a quiet kind of calm.
"No. I don't. But I'm right about this."
She slams her mug down on the table and picks up the quill and parchment that have appeared there. She scribbles and scribbles and Remus waits.
"These. I need these things. Can you get them for me?" She's earnest, and hopeful and for a second it's almost infectious. A smile tugs at Remus' face and he leans to take the parchment and stares at it for a long minute. The scrawl is small and dense, and she can see his carefully guarded hope behind the scepticism in his eyes. As his eyes move down the list of ingredients his eyebrows move further and further up.
"Problem?" She asks faux sweetly, picking up her cup of tea again.
"All this" he gestures at the list with an air of resignation already, "will be complicated to get hold of."
She is more excited than she has been in a long time. Her next words spill forth with breathy excitement.
"Complicated, Remus Lupin, does not mean impossible."
20th February 1976, 6pm.
Her chest had been growing tighter over the past two days. Not with pain, but with nerves.
She had known when she had willed the door of the room back into existence that Remus might disappear out of the room, never to return. Or worse, to return with a veritable army of teachers, Aurors and Ministry officials to have her taken away to be locked in a padded room of St Mungo's.
She had promised herself that she would not work herself up into a proper state until at least the third day he had been missing, and instead busied herself creating a work station for the brewing process using the materials that the Room offered her. It worked to help her create the illusion that there would be brewing, and that Remus would return with the contents of her list.
The door creaked behind her.
She whips round, brandishing a - admittedly rather useless - glass stirring rod, but it's just Remus.
Remus wearing an overlarge cloak, and holding a large wicker basket.
"I wasn't sure if tampering or shrinking with the ingredients would alter them. I didn't want to risk it." he explains in answer to her questioning look.
She nods, impressed at his fore-thought, and reaches to take the basket off him.
"I've done a lot of thinking out of this room" she nods, unsure where this is going "and I think you are a spy."
Interesting, she thinks. This was not where she thought he would be driving this conversation. She carries the basket to her work station and sets it down gently. "Oh?" She replies to his accusation.
"You-Know-Who uses werewolves. I know this. You're trying to recruit me. I'll be graduating in little more than a year. I know he is recruiting younger and younger, trying to build his forces."
For one whose life is so entangled with the war, whose upbringing was marred by the darkness of violence, he speaks about his theory with a surprisingly even tone to his voice. He's calm. Which, Hermione reflects, sets her further on edge. He's convinced himself of this theory. There is no hysteria, confusion or high emotion, only cool rationality.
She is sorting through the ingredients carefully, not realising how close he was to her, when suddenly she is yanked. There is no magic here, only brute force. strong hands enclose both of her arms, pulling her forward. The pain, the strength in his grip is stronger that she would have ever expected from Remus, and she realises that - even though they are a long way from a full moon - that this is the wolf's strength.
Her sleeves are pushed up and her arms inspected carefully. There are no marks there, barely a blemish apart from the redness where he had grabbed her.
He pushes her away from him with disgust, and more power than she expects. She lands flat on her back.
"Fine," he almost growls it, ah, there is the emotion, the anger "You're from the Ministry, you're here to smoke me out."
And her smart tongue runs away from her. "Yes, of course, because Ministry lackeys have a habit of offering to brew life-changing potions for Lycanthropes."
He stalks towards her again, even as she is picking herself up from the floor.
"You listen to me-" he starts.
"No. Remus Lupin. You listen to me. I have had quite enough of being pushed around, stunned, bullied and tied up by you. I am trying to help you. I understand that it might be difficult to believe me at this point, really, I imagine I appear as quite ridiculous to you. But that does not mean that you get to bully me. If you have serious doubts you bring them to me and I will attempt to talk to you and tell you what I can, or you take them to Dumbledore and get me committed. As you haven't done that yet I think you still believe that there is some semblance to truth to my story. I am offering to help, at the risk of rather a lot of my future and my life. Don't you dare make me regret that decision."
She doesn't look at him, or allow him to respond, she just turns back to the table and the ingredients and continues the job of sorting and prepping the things he has brought her.
He retreats to his armchair and sits and waits, in silence. She senses some movement and looks over to see him produce a book and find his place in the thin volume.
The light in the room remains bright and garish. Hours pass as Hermione starts the brewing process.
Eventually, she clears away some of the equipment she has been using, and leaves the gently simmering cauldron on a low flame. Preparing the Aconite took the longest time, and required the complex processes that put most brewers off attempting the potion.
Remus doesn't look over.
She comes and sits opposite him.
When he looks up it's obvious that she's been crying.
Remus pretends not to notice. They seem to have reached some sort of stalemate in the silent hours, between his outburst and now. His focus remains on the book open in his lap.
"What's wrong?" He doesn't look up, doesn't face her but continues staring at the same word on the page.
She stares at him for a long time. "I'm trapped. I am away from my time, my home, my family and my friends. I am alone. I am stuck in one room with an agitated, distrustful werewolf. And more than that I am stuck in war that I can't shake no matter where or when I go. "
She wrinkles her nose and blinks hard. "Yes, quite."
27th February 1976, 9pm
He had left without saying anything to her a few hours after his outburst, and she had let him go, unsure when he would come back or if he even would come back. He had not appeared for a week now.
She didn't care. Or she did care, very much so, but was convincing herself that she did not.
She couldn't leave the room, she couldn't risk anyone else seeing her, asking questions. So she spent her time brewing the Wolfsbane.
When she wasn't brewing she entertained herself with books that the Room provided, but the selection was eclectic. The Room, it would seem, could only offer books which had been left behind by students, teachers and other occupants. Which meant that she was often passing hours reading things that didn’t particularly appeal to her.
She had finally managed to curl up on the chair without causing any pain to the curse scar and was halfway through a trashy romance novel set in Cornwall when Remus walked into the room.
For a second she contemplates hiding the book, but realises that without a wand her only option would be throwing the book, and that might draw more attention to the novel than she was hoping for. She sets it down carefully next to the plate of sandwiches that Jenny had brought her.
"Hi." she offers tentatively.
His head whips up suddenly. "You're still here?"
She's confused. "Of course I am! I can hardly leave and risk people seeing me. And at this stage the potion needs careful attention."
"Potion?" He asks, and she wonders if he has suffered recent memory loss.
"You- you're still making that? after how I acted?"
She smiles gently and stands up to great him. He's staring at her work station, so she walks over to it and is pleased when he joins her there.
Their fight had not been pleasant, but it hadn't damaged their careful truce irreversibly, it seemed.
When he looks confused at the massive amount of apparatus at the table she starts to explain the processes and the method. She finds herself getting caught up in the intricacies and she's part the way through the reason for soaking the silver birch bark before adding it to the base, when she checks to see if he's listening.
He's staring at her like she has something on her face.
She stops her lecture. And then realises quite how much she had been lecturing.
"-you know what, I'll write it all down for you." She smiles and heads back to the armchairs. In his absence, she had re-arranged them so that they were no longer facing each other and instead were angled towards the large stone wall, which the Room had obligingly created a large stone fireplace on.
She feels him trundling after her with his book bag in tow, and then perching on his chair - the green one - before opening up the bag at his feet.
"I - I still don't completely believe you." she nods in concession to his doubt "but I thought-" he pulls a book out of his bag Turning the clock: a time-turner manual and guide. "that as you are trying to help me - I think - some research into time magic might not be entirely amiss."
The resulting smile on her face is blinding. He passes this book to her, and then produces another. Catalogue of magical animals and artefacts, volume XI [T-V: Time - Veela.]
"Do you have any parchment in there? And a quill and ink?" she asks. He nods, producing it and then passing it over, with a questioning look.
"The sooner I write it down, the better. I don't want to suddenly disappear back to my time, leaving you without Wolfsbane forever."
Despite himself, he grins. She can see that the hope that this potion offers is too much to resist. He cracks open the book on his lap, and starts to read. Quill scratching on his own piece of parchment with relevant notes.
They work in comfortable silence for a few hours, and just as it's getting late enough for Hermione to start worrying about how Remus would be getting back to his common room without being seen or having points deducted, he packs his things away, leaving the books with her to peruse.
He picks up his now empty book bag and reaches into his pocket producing a prefect badge that he fixes onto his robes with a boyish smile. She catches this and her laugh is sudden and tinkling, he looks at her surprised, and noting the source of her amusement he makes a humorous show of shining the badge.
"Abusing your powers, Remus?"
"Just a tad." he says and winks at her before sauntering towards the door.
"Once a Marauder, always a Marauder I suppose." she murmurs, amused.
She sees his gait hitch at her words, but he continues forward. Smoothly covering his falter.
He turns and waves before slipping through the door. And she's left alone with just a pile of books on time magic for company.
8th March, 1976, Midday.
Remus had come to visit sporadically, bringing more and more books on time magic with each visit. They were now reaching the point that he was lifting whatever looked vaguely relevant off of the library shelves to bring to her.
This time he brought no books with him. Instead, he produces two small plates from his pocket. Setting them on the table in front of the arm chairs he flicks his wand, and the shrinking charm is undone. Two plates of lasagne sit in front of them, so she thinks she can forgive the lack of books. Jenny was limited for the most part to sandwiches, pieces of fruit, pastries, things that were easy to vanish from the kitchens without the other elves noticing.
She all but throws herself at him and the plate. She had been fine tuning the Wolfsbane all morning, making the final tweaks and touches for it to be ready for consumption, and she had forgotten to eat breakfast.
As she eats she starts working out dates in her head, working backwards from the full moon.
"So" she says, thoughtfully "You need to start consuming the potion just shy of a week before the full moon. In small doses to start, and then building up to a larger dose on the day of the full moon. So slightly less than a week before. The full moon falls on the 16th March this year, correct? which means, ah 10th March! That will be a nice birthday present for you then," she laughs to herself.
The sound of a fork clattering opposite draws her attention. He's staring at her again.
"You're a spy. You must be. There's no other explanation."
She sighs. She doesn’t want to go through this again. By this point she's starting to develop a dark sense a humour about the situation.
"Really, Remus. I can't believe that you don't believe me when I tell you I'm from the future and then brew you a potion that helps with your Lycanthropy, although no one has ever managed it before!" she manages to sound shrill and exasperated at the same time to play up the humour more.
She's smirking. He's not.
Apparently, he hasn't quite developed the same sense of humour as her about everything yet.
"You're a spy." There's a coldness in his eyes and she wonders if that's him or the wolf.
Fine. "You are Remus John Lupin. You were bitten by Fenrir Greyback when you were 5 years old. Your best friends are James Potter, Sirius Black, and Peter Pettigrew. You also go by the name Moony; part of the Marauders - Wormtail, Moony, Padfoot and Prongs-“
"- That’s nothing that a spy wouldn't already know." He interrupts.
He wants something from the future, she knows. Providing him with details of his past or his present would get them nowhere, and would likely result in him tying her up again at best.
She has paused for too long, thinking for too long. Desperately trying to grasp at something that wouldn't cause any damage, or would cause minimal damage at least. His wand is pressed to her throat, the table is tipped over, the remnants of lasagne are scattered across the floor.
Something that wouldn’t destroy the nature of time and space but would be enough to convince Remus.
Just the smallest parcel of information she had picked up once in fourth year. Walking around the great lake with Neville one sunny afternoon and perusing the freshwater plants along the shore. Perfect.
"Today is 8th. Right." She sighed and could feel the sharp point of his wand against the wind pipe. "On the 10th, by the lake. At the north point, under the big tree there. Frank Longbottom is going to ask Alice to marry him. At noon-"
"That could be a lucky guess. Anyone knows that Frank has been gearing up for weeks now, he's had the ring since Christmas!"
"Listen to me." She demands. "Frank will ask Alice to marry him. Alice will say nothing and push Frank into the lake."
"Alice doesn't like attention and public displays. On the morning of 12th Alice will be wearing the engagement ring. She'll have said yes later in the evening, and then told Frank off for making a scene at the lake."
Hermione smiles as she remembers the way that Neville had smiled when he told the story that his Gran had recounted to him as a young boy.
Remus looks speechless.
"You can't possibly know that. If you know that, but aren't from this time when-in-the-world are you from?"
"I can and I do. And please don't ask me that." She feels the pressure at her throat alleviate some. "You can choose to believe me or not now, but come Friday morning, you won't have a choice, you'll have proof. Anyway, it would be a shame to waste a full moon, just because you don't believe me. You will take the potion on your birthday and on the 11th - that far before the full moon it's a tiny amount, minuscule - carry a bezoar with you for the week if you think I'm actually going to try to poison you. Now out with you. I'll see you on Wednesday for your first dose.
She all but shoos him out of the door. When it closes behind him she sinks down to the floor, and draws a huge shuddering breath.
He arrives on 10th, bezoar in hand, and begrudgingly takes the tiny dose. She wishes him a quiet Happy Birthday. He doesn't acknowledge it.
The same happens on 11th.
On 12th she expects something, some sort of reaction. But she is greeted by the same silence as before.
She says nothing and hands him a glass with more potion in - just a fraction more than the dose from the day before.
The 13th, 14th, and 15th all pass in much the same manner. Though there is hesitation on the 15th on seeing the size of the dose that he has been handed. She nods encouragingly and he downs the concoction with a grimace. She knows now that she won't get a reaction about Frank and Alice's engagement, or rather this was the response. Remus' quiet acceptance of her potion.
After his dose on 15th she gives him strict, if slightly suspect, instructions. "Tomorrow morning tell your friends that you won't be requiring them during the full moon as Pomfrey is trying a new potion on you, and she will be observing you - magically of course - all night. And then head along to Pomfrey and show her that you are well and fit, and you can get yourself to the shack tonight. You need some alone time and you've already told Dumbledore. Which she will ok. And then back here to take your potion."
He looks briefly confused but shrugs and leaves anyway.
On the morning of 16th March Hermione is preternaturally aware of the full moon.
Remus arrives at noon to get his potion.
"You're too early" she says. "You need to drink it at the same time every day- so I'll see you at 7 o'clock."
"That won't work- that's too late. Too close to moon rise. I'll be in the shack by then."
"Nope." she pops the 'p'. "You will be here."
"I rarely joke about Lycanthropy as I'm sure you understand. You've told your friends and Pomfrey what I told you yesterday?" she asks, he nods "good."
"Here in the castle. You want me- a werewolf to stay in the cattle full of children during my transformation? Do you have any idea what I could do?!"
"Of course I do."
She has a blinding vision of being chased by him in werewolf form through the forbidden forest in her third year.
"But the room of requirement is more than adequate to hold you even if I've brewed the Wolfsbane wrong, which I haven't. I'll see you at 7pm."
She turns away and the conversation is over.
Without another word, Remus storms from the room.
He returns, twitchy and fidgety, at 6:37pm. She concedes that it is close enough to 7pm and hands him the potion. She knows that he going to try to make a break for it, so she swiftly puts a stop to that idea whilst he is distracted with the potion.
Ducking around him, she lifts his wand from his back pocket, the movement disconcerts him, but he doesn’t seem to notice.
A wordless locking and silencing spell is simple to cast over the room. Although probably unnecessary - the Room of Requirement was, after all, very good at accommodating any needs they might have.
When she looks he's still holding the glass, and it's still full. He has noticed her holding his wand.
"How do I know that you're not just a spy, and this is going to poison me?" He demands, setting the potion down. She knew this dose would be the hardest to convince him to take. He's going to force her hand.
She quirks an eyebrow, and makes a show of casting a sticking charm on the wand before placing it in her back pocket, looking unconcerned with the situation.
"I thought you might say that. And frankly I can't be dealing with this again- I'm a little bored. You can't leave. You will be transforming here. Which you already knew, though I have no doubts that you were ready to make a break to the shack." She takes a deep breath, and he snarls. "I will also be here when you transform. No bars, no barriers. One wolf and one girl in a room. So, you either take a chance on the potion. Or you transform without it with the knowledge that you'll rip me to shreds. Personally, I'm hoping for the first choice. But it's up to you."
She expected some rage or resistance, especially this close to the moon. What she's just done is cruel, and she hates herself for putting him in that position. But it's the only way.
He stares at her for a long time. "You'd risk your life? For what? For my trust? So that you can poison me?" his words are surprisingly calm.
"I'd risk my life - though there really is no risk attached - for your wellbeing." she says pointedly and nods towards the potion he has set down.
He stares again for a long time and then downs the glass in one gulp. He walks over to the arm chairs and the fire place and settles himself there, ignoring her completely.
He's napping when the moon starts to rise. She's reading.
His pitiful whimpers alert her to the start of the transformation. She places her book down and rises from her chair carefully. She crouches by his chair and places her hand on his head, to check his temperature: Normal for a werewolf, alarming for a human. He whimpers again. The hand on his forehead meanders upwards and starts to comb through his hair.
"Shhh, it's ok." she coos.
He shifts slightly so she takes advantage o the extra space and perches on the arm of the chair. The Room senses her need and the chair warps and elongates into a wide sofa. She slips into the seat next to him, not pausing in her stroking of his hair.
Then he shrieks. It's a disgusting sound.
She shifts a little more until his head is resting in her lap. She less careful of waking him now and she sees his eyes flutter. His breathing becomes ragged, and she knows that he is no longer asleep, but instead staying still to stave off the pain of the transformation.
Despite her faith in her own brewing of the Wolfsbane still her chest tightens and she goes to touch his wand still in her back pocket. Just to reassure herself that she isn't completely helpless, not that it would be of any help at this proximity she thinks. Sitting with a werewolf's head in her lap as the moon rises is beyond foolish, but, as the whimpers grow louder and shuddering starts to wrack his body, she can't bring herself to care.
She's jolted forward when he leaps up mindless of her hand in his hair. He vaults from the sofa and starts to pace in front of the fire. He starts to tug at his clothing and she realises that the garments will be shredded if he wears them through the transformation and he'll have nothing wear when the moon goes down.
She stands and reaches gently towards him. Calming hands rest of his shoulders and smooth down his arms. She hushes again, trying to soothe. He stops and glares at her with amber eyes.
Her hands move from his arms to the front of his shirt. Loosening and then removing his tie she starts to unbutton his shirt.
His chest is heaving with laboured breathing under her trembling fingertips. She doesn't stop when the marks and scars on his shoulder shock her. Eventually he's stood in nothing but boxers. He shivers and she's about to offer a blanket to keep him warm but the shivers morph into trembling and then his whole body is wracked with waves.
His lips move, shaking, and then she realises he is saying something, "Sa-safe. Be. Safe." Then he screams - head snapping backwards - until it changes into a howl.
The wolf in front of her is sleek and large. All sharp angles and fur. He looks more whole than she remembers from third year. That wolf had been matted, mangy, too-thin. This wolf was dangerous but beautiful. She wonders if it was age that effected the wolf, or whether it was suppressing the creature with years of Wolfsbane that led to the older wolf looking so down-trodden.
As Remus prowls in front of the fire, sniffing the air, she takes that time to retreat to the sofa.
She appears to be in no imminent danger, and she's thrilled that the potion has been a success.
He finishes prowling and looks at her, letting out something between a whine and a bark. He scrunches his nose, and then settles down in front of the fire. Curling into a tight ball like a domesticated dog.
She takes this as the final confirmation of the potion's success. She can't help the laughter that rises within her. Remus Lupin, in wolf form, lifts his head and pricks his ears, staring at her he cocks his head in confusion.
Even when she's calm she can't shake the grin. She shuffles up the sofa further and then pats the cushion next to her.
Remus looks up at her, still wary, so she pats them more firmly.
That's how she falls asleep: curled in the corner of a sofa with a great wolf head perched in her lap.
When Hermione wakes it is still early, but there is no wolf in the room. Shaking off the sleep and looking around for a moment she locates Remus, human, barefoot and scruffily dressed in just his shirt and trousers - his jumper and tie absent. He's making tea at a newly materialized dining table in the centre of the room, with his back to her.
She stands up to go to help.
And he must hear her with his heightened senses because no sooner is she standing is he turning to face her with bright eyes.
Before she has even realised that he's moving, his arms are around her, pulling her tight against him.
"You were right." he whispers and she barely hears him pressed as she is against him. He's warm. "You did it, you were right, I'm sorry for everything I've said or done, for every second that I doubted."
She lets out a shaky breath of relief that she didn't know she had been holding on to. It feels like she's been holding onto it since February.
Some hot, wetness comes from her eyes but she ignores it. She sniffles. Remus pulls her closer and they stand like that for a long time.
When he releases her, she can see that he has been crying too.
He pours tea and they sit at the dining table. Jenny conjures fruit, pastries, toast and jam for them, and they eat in companionable silence.
They spend the day in the room, alternating between reading and chatting quietly. They talk about Hermione's predicament, how they might fix it. They talk about how Remus' life will change with this potion. Remus talks about his life, and the mischief that the Marauders get up to. It's hard at points to listen to him talk, but it gradually gets easier to hear.
Remus leaves before dinner with a promise that he would be back soon.
Hermione nods, unsure how 'soon' that 'soon' would be, but she is just happy to have helped Remus.
Soon turns out to be much sooner than she had anticipated.
After dinner, he bounds into the room with book bag on his shoulders. Moving straight to the table he start to unload books. All the time magic books he had brought he previously paled in comparison to the pile he had amassed now.
Tick, Tock: Meddling with time magic.
Unravelling the Future.
Horological Miracles and Marvels, Vol I
Horological Miracles and Marvels, Vol II
Painting the past: the History of time travel through portraits.
Haven't aged a day! Beauty charms to reverse the effects of ageing.
A Complete History of Magical Timepieces
Arithmancy and Clockwork
He smiles carefully at her, unsure of how she will receive this.
She smiles weakly back in response, trying not to cry, twice in one day would be too much crying. She gets up and walks around the table and he thinks maybe she's going to hug him, his limbs ache for that touch again. But she just touches his arm, thoughtfully and carefully, and picks up the first book from the pile before returning to her seat.
"Thank you." Her voice is quiet and small. but he nods in acknowledgement and his sandy hair falls into his eyes. He sits opposite and pulls the second book from the pile and cracks it open.
The next day Remus arrives early in the morning with quills and ink and more parchment.
She's engrossed in her book (Volume II of Horological Miracles and Marvels) and doesn't say anything as he places them down on the dining table. Nor when he reaches into a pocket and withdraws a velvet pouch that he shakes the contents of into his hand.
The time-turner chinks lightly as it falls into his palm.
She scrunches her nose in confusion, she's about to say something. Admonish him, he expects.
But he beats her too it. "It's best if you didn’t ask. No good can come from knowing too much of a Marauder's plans."
She smiles tightly and nodded. Remus is probably right.
Over the next weeks the piles of parchment on the table grow and the mountains of books shift and morph. Some books discarded, some swapped out, others bookmarked heavily.
The time-turner remains in the centre of the table, cushioned on its velvet bag, untouched.
Neither dare mess with it too much, it's a precious resource, only to be tampered with when they have a theory to move forward with, or as a last resort.
Remus never dares to ask whether the standard ability of the time-turner would be able to return her. Whether they were close enough to her time that she might be simply returned with a few turns forward of the tiny silver dial, or close enough that she could risk slightly over-extending the capabilities of the object in the possibility that it might return her home. She doesn't know if this is because he had already guessed the answer, or because he doesn't wish to suggest it for fear of asking her a question that she cannot – or will not - answer.
To an extent she encourages him to ask questions, but she also does not shy away from telling him that she cannot answer. For the most part, they work in a comfortable quiet, trading ideas and notes across the table in the day, and across the sofa during the evenings.
Since the full moon she has noticed that there is more looseness in their interactions. Comfort and fluidity now replace conversations that were once stilted and painful. This new tone leaks into their very cores, and they move around to room in a well-choreographed routine, whether they are researching, eating, or simply relaxing.
Remus spends most of his evenings with her, rarely leaving her alone for more than a full day at a time. He seems committed completely to helping her with her time travel problem.
The full moon is fast approaching again, sneaking up on the pair whilst they pour over thicker, older, obscurer volumes with each passing day. She starts to brew Wolfsbane again and the tone shifts once more.
The comfortable silence is still present, but it seems more vibrant and alive than before. Hermione chatters away merrily as she brews. Remus is endlessly enthusiastic and optimistic whenever he finds something even slightly promising in the books. The evenings find them quickly bouncing ideas back and forth and throwing bits of parchment at each other in jest when one of them comes up with a totally ridiculous suggestion.
It is not uncommon to find her leaning over his shoulder and pointing at something he's missed in a book and his easy grin in response.
It takes her a while to realise that the smiles, quick and easy and freely given are because, for the first time since he was bitten, he's not dreading the full moon.
9th April 1976, 11pm.
One evening, whilst they sit by the fire - Remus' feet in her lap - a question that she has seen burning behind his eyes cannot be restrained anymore.
"Your war - you mentioned you were trapped in a war - " he starts and he's nervous already, nervous of what he'll find out and nervous of what she won't - can’t - tell him. "Is it the same war as my war?"
The Wolfsbane had been finished days ago, and this was the day of his second dose. The moon was drawing closer, but Remus was entirely relaxed. Something she was sure he had not been this close to the full moon in many years.
She looks up from the heavy tome in her lap.
She considers his question for a long time. And he knows that she's weighing up the risks, the rights and wrongs of telling him even a one word answer.
She's trying to work out the impossible: what damage she could do with one word.
The longer she thinks the more he can see the creeping sadness in her eyes. It speaks of desperation and hopelessness; a fight that has gone on too long and seen too many casualties.
So much so, that when she finally decides to speak and answer his question, he already knows what she's going to say.
"Yes, yes it is." She blinks hard.
"I'm sorry." He says. It’s a ridiculous thing to say- it doesn't make sense and it doesn't achieve anything, but he says it anyway. And then he stares back down at his book.
"No, Remus. No. I'm sorry."
It startles him. He expected her to say a lot of things, but not to apologise. When he looks at her again, the sadness is deeper and darker, and Remus thinks there must be some truly awful things in his future if this beautiful girl has such a look about her.
He startles again when her hand reaches across the table and her fingers intertwine with his.
14th April 1976, 6pm
It's their second moon together and Remus is almost bouncing with glee.
She imagines that it's been a long time since he has not feared the moon or what the wolf might do during the hours of the night.
She attempts to calm him a little. His excitement is infectious and glorious to behold. But he still had to undergo a painful transformation and he needed to conserve some of his energy for it.
The transformation is at once painful and mesmerising to watch. Impossible to witness and impossible to turn from.
This time Remus in wolf form immediately takes up the sofa next to her, resting his head in her lap. She reads to him from the time magic book they were currently investigating: Herbal Hours: The Herbological roots of time travel. In her opinion, the entire book was complete rubbish, but Remus had insisted they stay at it in case they missed something important.
She told him as much again, talking to the wolf on her lap. He whines in protest. She smiles and opens the book at the page they had left it.
She reads out loud to Wolf-Remus for hours.
When sleep finally overcomes her she cannot find the energy to move. Nor did she think she would have been able to had she even wanted to move, as a large sleeping wolf pins her down. The Room sensing her predicament and her apathy seems to glow with a challenge, and the sofa beneath her bubbles slightly. It extends and flattens, and the experience is disconcerting, but when the furniture finally settles into a bed-shape, Hermione can only reflect on the experience for seconds before she drifts into a peaceful sleep, beside her wolf.
The shifting of the mattress rouses her, and she watches through the dark of the room, as a wolf shaped shadow climbs off the bed, shuddering as it does so.
The shudders are greater for this transformation, but the sound is less.
She watches as the shadow convulses time and time again. Before the crack of bones reaches her ears, quieter this time. When she squints at the shadow harder she can now see the shape of a man, rather than wolf, but the convulsions have still not stopped. On all fours on the stone floor Remus continues to shudder, so hard that she thinks he might vomit.
Eventually it stops, and the dark figure collapses hard against the ground.
She launches her lethargic body out of the bed, pulling one of the blankets with her. Wrapping it around his shoulders she tugs lightly at him, pulling him up and towards the soft mattress. Semi-conscious Remus allows her to steer him.
He collapses forcefully onto the mattress, and she follows his lead, flopping quickly onto the other side of the bed, and letting sleep claim her once again.
He's still asleep when she wakes up properly, in the morning light.
She rises, dresses, calls Jenny for some breakfast. She eats whilst reading over their notes from the day before.
She continues to read, making more and more notes. When 11am passes and there is still no sign of life from Remus, she puts the books away, and instead heads to her work station, cleaning and drying the equipment there, and then spending over an hour organising the ingredients she still has and identifying those which she needs more of.
Her concentration is broken by Jenny who is holding two plates of fruit, bread, cheese, hams, and informing Hermione that it is past 1pm and she ought to wake Master Remus. She thanks the elf and takes the plates from her, setting them on the now clean work bench.
Making her way over to the bed she perches herself on the edge and gently shakes Remus' arm.
The sound that comes from the mound of blankets is one of resistance. followed by a protracted whine of "10 more minutes."
She tries not to laugh at him.
"Remus, it's lunchtime. Well, it's almost 2 o'clock. I'm afraid it's time to get up."At her mention of the time, the boy bolts upright in the bed.
"What!" He looks around confused. "Where?"
"You transformed last night, it was the full moon. You are in the Room of Requirement."
"And it's lunch time."
"I missed class. And breakfast." He moans. He looks mildly pitiful at the first, and downright distressed at the prospect of missing breakfast.
She's only slightly sympathetic. "Lunch, now" she puts the plate that Jenny had brought down in front of him. As he sits up and reaches for the plate the blanket slips down. She averts her eyes and blushes slightly but he doesn’t seem to notice. "And then, I'm going to teach you how to make Wolfsbane."
Writing it down was one thing, teaching him to brew it was another. This knowledge would be endlessly valuable.
Remus' attention is entirely consumed by the food in front of him, and she laughs at his enthusiasm for lunch as she makes her way to retrieve her own plate.
15th April 1976, 5pm
He's drops the aconite. They are only at the first stage, still preparing all the ingredients to be used for the base of the potion.
"What?!" She's startled from her stirring. Remus never swears. Not in either of her realities.
"The aconite" He grinds out. He's not admitting to the full extent of the damage or pain that the plant has caused, she knows. He starts cradling his hand against his chest, ensuring that she can't see the burn by clasping it roughly with his uninjured hand.
Of course, she thinks. It couldn't be that simple.
"I can’t touch it. At all. It burns. I think because- well -Werewolf." A finger from his uninjured hand points up towards his chin on the last word, in a self-deprecating point; an attempt at humour. "It's fine. I'll just wear gloves. It's fine."
"No.” She’s quiet. "You can’t. It has to be handled with bare skin, any gloves no matter what they are made from, tamper with the properties."
She refuses to meet his eyes. He doesn't understand, until he does.
"I won’t be able to make it for myself when you go." She purses her lips at his statement. "We'll fix this. We can fix this." He holds her by the shoulders, trying to meet her eyes, but she keeps her gaze downcast, staring at the floor.
His optimism is admirable. And she can't fault him, so far she has managed the impossible in his eyes. Why shouldn’t he be able to do the same. But she knows in her heart that it is a lost cause.
16th April 1976, 4am
She is awoken in the middle of the night. It's Remus holding a second warm looking cloak and a familiar looking piece of parchment.
"Come on" He whispers, despite the fact they are alone in the room. She smiles sleepily up at him, and heedless of any danger follows his lead, making her way up off the bed that the Room had provided once it had returned the sofa to its original shape.
Throwing on the huge woollen cloak, they slip out of the room together, with Hermione sending up a silent plea to the Room to not allow anyone else in during their absence.
The lights glow slightly in response to this request and then they are in the dark corridor, running one way and then another. Staircases blur beneath them as they work their way down, down and then through the front doors of the castle, and into the grounds.
The moon is still high in the sky and its reflection on the surface of the lake is magnificent.
It takes Hermione's breath away, she can't remember the last time she had been outside, and she hadn't realised how much being cooped up had affected her.
"Oh, Remus. It's beautiful." she almost sighs out.
"Come on, come on."
He's holding her hand, all but dragging her along. The map flapping wildly in his other hand. They are running across the grounds under the moonlight, and it's exhilarating.
They come to a stop some distance away from the Whomping Willow.
"There," letting go of her hand Remus points towards the huge tree "is how I get to the Shrieking shack, where I used to spend my transformations. And now thanks to you, I will never have to transform there again!" He throws his head back and he laughs.
She looks at him and stops breathing. Here under the moon with his head thrown back, he looks almost like he did in third year, only seconds before the transformation. She doesn't want to destroy this moment with that memory, but the hysteria that creeps up her spine is unavoidable. Her breathing becomes faster and faster.
"Are you alright?" he asks.
She shakes her head, unable to speak, and gestures to the ground before heavily sitting down.
He sits next to her, and then pulls her back towards him. The rise and fall of his chest soothes her some, and distracts from the hysteria and the wetness of grass beneath them.
"You can't tell me?" he guesses. And she nods against him. "That's ok." he breathes.
He manoeuvres slightly, so that she is sat between his legs, and leaning back completely against him.
Once she has regained the ability to breath and speak she manages to stutter out "I'm sorry for ruining this. Thank you, for - for everything Remus."
"Don't say sorry. You don't need to say sorry." He says quietly.
That’s the final thing said for a long time.
They make their way back just as the sky begins to lighten far across the lake. Orange rays streak across the water's surface as they both turn at the front doors for another look at the calm grounds.
They reach the Room with no problem and no encounters. Partly due to the Map and partly due to the obscene hour. Remus lingers outside a little, as they wait for the door to reform. And Hermione - feeling bold - lifts Remus' wand from his pocket, taps the map proudly proclaiming "Mischief Managed" before handing the wand back to the gobsmacked boy, pecking him on the cheek, and disappearing through a door that, shortly after shutting, would itself disappear.
18th April 1976 5pm
"Damocles Belby!" Remus proclaims as he walks through the door, two days later.
"Who?" She’s quiet and despondent, and has been since they found out that Remus couldn't brew the Wolfsbane for himself. Since they discovered the problem she has been focusing her energy on brewing this batch through to completion but also making sure that every one of her notes is perfect, precise and legible.
She refused to leave Remus alone with absolutely no hope of ever getting Wolfsbane again, not now that he has experience living without the fear of the wolf.
"Damocles Belby!” he exclaims again, to no response, “He was a Ravenclaw, a few years older than me, very good at potions. He graduated three years ago now I think." Remus speaks rapidly, excitement leaking into every word. More excitement than she had seen for the past few days. He looks at her, eyes sparkling. "Leave it with me."
She blinks, and he's gone again.
Early the next day Remus is back, practically bouncing with excitement and clutching a letter.
"He's agreed to meet!"
"Belby of course" Remus exclaims. "He's agreed to meet and hear me out about my potions pitch."
"Remus! You wrote to him?" She sounds scandalised. "What happens if he doesn’t help-" Her brain started to register the name he was saying for the first time.
"-He will help" Remus insists "Sirius' family used to have ties to him, but they were all cut when he married a young American heiress, or something of the like, rather than one of the Black cousins. Sirius says that there was a rumour that she was a Werewolf, but he's not sure how true that was or whether it was just Walburga just spreading nasty gossip-"
Damocles Belby whose name she had read a hundred times. Damocles Belby who allegedly invented the Wolfsbane Potion.
"He's perfect!" She exclaims. Remus blinks, shocked by the sudden change of tone.
"Right, ok." Remus' excitement has blinked out in a second. "Is this a future thing?" he asks peering at her.
"Maybe." She answers coyly.
"But he can help us, right? He can brew it - maybe even claim he invented it. And it might benefit his wife, and he could make it for me - I could pay him of course, and - yes, it will work!" The excitement is back. Remus has a viable option now, a way to still have Wolfsbane, still be human in some way during the full moon.
He scurries over to the dining table with the letter, pulls out a new piece of parchment and starts writing a reply to Belby.
8th May 1976, 8pm
“Thieving-bastard-scum.” The door slams, heralding with it Remus.
Hermione rushes to his side, concerned at the bruise blooming across his temple, but unwilling to ask how it went. On some level, she already knew how the meeting played out.
Remus had managed to convince Belby to meet him on a Hogsmeade weekend. So that morning Remus had ducked in to visit Hermione and pick up the parchment containing the method for creating Wolfsbane.
He had been in a rush. Shirt-untucked, and running late he had barrelled into the room, rushed over to the work bench where she was tinkering with something that he noticed was definitely not the Wolfsbane but hadn’t had time to ask, before leaning over her and swiftly grabbing the parchment on the table beside her.
He had dropped a kiss on her cheek without even thinking and rushed out of the door without another word. Only at the entrance Hall when he finally stopped rushing around did he have the time to reflect on what he had just done, the thoughtlessness and also the care he had put into that kiss. It had been light, what close friends might exchange. And then the group departed for the small town, and his focus was taken up entirely by Sirius and James who spent the journey attempting to pelt snowballs at Peter who had transformed into rat form and was scurrying to and fro quickly for their game.
But his careless joy was ended when he had broken from the group to talk to Belby at their meeting place.
Behind Madam Pudifoot’s Tea Shop he had shown Belby the parchment, holding onto the pieces with a vice like grip even with the spring cold nipping at his fingers slightly.
When Belby had finally, finally asked what the potion achieved, Remus smiled and asked coyly how his wife was after Greyback’s attack that had been plastered all over the paper.
After that Remus remembered nothing.
He came to consciousness to the face of Sirius leaning over him, the sky dusky behind him. The parchment he had held was gone.
“He’s taken it. The bastard has taken all the details of the potion, and left us with nothing. No guarantee. I won’t be able to get Wolfsbane. But he will and his wife will, and the rest of us will be left with nothing, because he will make it for his rich friends and no one else! The bastard, I should have seen it coming!”
Hermione purses her lips. She had seen it coming.
“What? Did you not hear what I said? He took it!” Remus all but shouts.
She dabs at his wound with a cloth. Using the final residue from the bottle of Dittany that she had held on to from the beginning, but hadn’t had to use for since those first weeks.
“Now. There, that’s much better.” She steps back to admire her handy work and nods to herself. She stares long and hard for a moment. Before stepping back to the station and folding over a thick wedge of parchment she had been working on.
“Why aren’t you angry?” Remus demands.
“Because people have stopped surprising me when they do foul things like hurt the people I love.” Remus starts at that admission but she refuses to stop her rant. “Because it will still move everything forward, if not the way we had hoped. Belby will make the potion, it will become available for the public. Eventually.”
“Eventually.” Remus echoes.
“Not perfect and not the way we might have hoped for. But a step in the right direction.” She finishes.
She takes Remus’ hand and drags him over to the sofa. “Right, now we are going to enjoy the evening without mention of Wolfsbane or Belby or Time or Time travel. We’re going to sit and enjoy the fire, and each other’s company and talk about the weather today and ignore the crazy going on around us.”
She nods resolutely, congratulating herself on a great idea.
They do as she says. Passing the evening with laughter and heat from the fire, and occasionally reading the Cornish Romance novel that is still in the room out loud and dramatically, causing them to fall about in fits of laughter.
Remus wakes up a time later, still on the sofa. The fire has died down but there’s a shadow moving in front of the glow. She shuffles a little, and Remus can see her feeding the pieces of parchment into the glowing coals.
He frowns, slowly and silently sitting up.
He shuffles to her side, and he knows that she must have heard him, but she doesn’t react. He grabs her arm that reaches to add another piece to the fire.
He takes the parchment from her grip and stares down at it. On the paper are hundreds of calculations and scribbles. He is not an arithmancy expert, but he has an OWL in it, and whilst he doesn’t understand a lot of what’s on the page he understands enough.
“Our notes?” He asks, not fully understanding. There were weeks and weeks of research on the parchment. Research that had them so close to finding the answer to returning her back to her own time.
He looks up at her and notices for the first time the tears. She’s crying.
“I can’t go Remus. I can’t leave you without help. And as much as I want to go back to my old life, it’s you that needs me right now. You cannot go back to normal transformations. And no one is going to help you. People are too selfish. I-I can’t leave”
He lets her finish knowing that interrupting would not be sensible.
“Hey.” He tries gently, nudge forwards on the hard floor, until finally she can’t ignore him, and has to look up at him. “Hey, we can fix this. Nothing is impossible, remember? You don’t get to decide this alone. You’re not allowed to stay trapped here, for me. We are going to get you home. And you know what? Everything will be alright. Everything will be as it is meant to be.”
She nods weakly, sniffing.
“Come on.” He says and picks her up. He folds the unburnt parchment and tucks it away safely. “We will fix everything in the morning.”
“In the morning.” She echoes.
They curl up together on the sofa, the embers softly fading into darkness through the hours they spend staring at them, not talking, both considering their future.
13th May 1976, 11am
They don’t talk about it in the morning. They continue to ignore it for the rest of the week. It seems the most sensible solution. Instead they spend a week in awkward silence as Remus came to the room to take his dose of Wolfsbane and linger for an hour or so out of politeness , before bolting back out the door, to his common room she assumes.
“Remus?” She asks as she hands him the final dose of the potion.
“Can we go outside tonight?” she asks tentatively. She knows that he is more comfortable with the effects of the Wolfsbane now, but she’s not sure how far he is willing to push it.
She feels rather than hears his hesitation.
“We can go to the shack – I know you said you never wanted to go there, but it makes more sense than trying to get you out of the castle as a wolf – and you could transform there. And we can sit by the lake again.” Now that she is saying it all out loud It sounds so incredibly foolish. She remembers how she froze when she was with human Remus in the moon-shadow of the shack and the terror that consumed her then, but this feels different, or so she tries to tell herself.
“If you are worried about how safe it is, really, it wouldn’t be different to any normal transformation from before the Wolfsbane.” She reasons.
“Except that it would be so different.” He replies, smiling and nodding. And she knows that he is not thinking of safety anymore, but imagining being a wolf with a human mind under the full moon.
“Except it would.” She agrees, grinning.
Hours later they are sat in the damp grass next to the gently sloshing water of the lake.
There’s no terror this time. And she realises that it’s because that memory from third year has been replaced with the one of her and Remus walking in the moonlight.
And now, she knows, that her experience in third year will be replaced with this: Sitting on the edge of the water at the north point of the lake, under the great tree, with a wolf sat by her side.
19th May 1976, 7pm
He's lying across the sofa and his feet are propped in her lap. She’s leafing through a slim, obscure volume on time magic, adding to her notes, and rewriting those that were burnt, when the thought occurs to her.
"Hmmm?" he wiggles his toes slightly in her lap.
"Where do your friends think you are all this time?"
He sits up with a grin. “They - along with most of my professors - believe I am completely absorbed with an independent project that I have taken on. I talked to Dumbledore about the possibility of doing a research essay that covered numerous fields rather than going to a few of my classes. I, urm-" he seems slightly embarrassed and his grin falters a bit "-I cited my Lycanthropy and exhaustion as a reason this would be better for me."
"Remus Lupin!" she smacks him lightly, "You shouldn't mess up your education like that. This is your penultimate year! It's important!”
A long silence passes.
“Your friends honestly believe you're studying?” she asks tentatively after the silence has gone on too long.
She feels rather than sees him nod.
"James is a little preoccupied what with Lily. Sirius is always preoccupied," She can hear the smirk in his voice. "And Peter really, bless him, hasn’t seemed to cotton on that I’m missing at all, he’s been a tad distracted recently.”
She stills at the sound of Pettigrew's name. She purses her lips, then chews on them when that doesn't help. Her voice is strangled sounding and not at all convincing when she speaks again.
"Well, that's good then."
"Are you-" She feels Remus shuffle and get up; his feet move from her lap and then he's pressed to her side. "Are you alright? Oh, what's wrong!?"
She tries to stop the tears. She tries. But then she thinks about
Harry who never knew his parents. James and Lily who never got to grow old together. James and Lily who never saw Harry grow up. Pettigrew's betrayal. Sirius in Azkaban. Sirius convicted for a crime he never committed. Sirius accused of betraying his closest friends. Sirius torn away from his Godson. Sirius dead before his name could ever be cleared.
Remus, standing strong and beautiful and proud - and transforming every month in agonizing pain, alone, scared for the those he might hurt - whilst everything around him turns to dust.
"I- I'm- I can't" she's drowning with every breath, unable to fill her lungs enough. "Please- I just - I need to - I'm sorry-"
A hand comes under her chin and lifts her head so she's looking straight into those eyes.
Sandy-brown hair - that she knows will darken a little with age - obscure the green. The start of laughter lines at the corners of his eyes distract her. She thinks about how they look now and how they will look in 20 years' time.
She focuses harder on those not-yet lines. Thinking about all the smiles and laughter Remus will have to experience to carve those lines, little glimmers of hope in his future.
Eventually she calms enough to string together a coherent sentence but Remus doesn't let go of her.
She swallows, the tears have slowed to a steady stream, and she is able to speak now.
"I'm sorry, Remus. I'm so sorry.” She starts. It is entirely inadequate but for now it will be enough, “There is so much that I want to tell you about the future, to warn you and to help you." She reaches up and touches his face as he frowns, "Merlin. There's so much I want to tell you." She closes her eyes against his sadness and confusion. "But please understand that I can't, I can't change the past, or the future or whatever it is now. Everything is such a mess. But after everything we've read you must understand, Remus, and you have to- No. Sorry." She shakes her head, hoping to clear some of the grogginess "You don't have to forgive me, I would understand nothing more than if you didn't forgive me for not saying anything, can you just try to understand why, that's all I ask. Please. Understand. And know that I am sorry."
Her thumb is stroking underneath his eye. She can feel the soft skin there. But she daren't open her eyes to look at him.
"I know. I know." He whispers. It will have to be enough for now.
Then soft lips are there, they start on her eye lids before moving down to the top of her cheek, and then down to her lips.
On some level, she knows that they have been moving towards this for weeks now, but her breath still catches.
The kisses are gentle and fleeting, just gentle touches of his lips against hers, not pressing her towards anything, just testing, nervous.
"I know." Kiss. "And I forgive you already. I know it's hard, this situation, and we're in a war." Kiss. "Things go wrong and people suffer." Kiss. "And I'm sorry you're trapped." Kiss. " And I'm sorry you have to hold on to all the pain you know will happen." Kiss. "I understand." Kiss. "There is nothing to forgive.”
"Thank you." She doesn't have the energy to say anything else. Nor does she want to talk anymore.
She's finally opened her eyes. He's pulled away and the face before her is shining with both hope and sadness. Momentarily she feels the guilt rising again, but then he smiles a little and leans forward again and presses lips to her cheek again.
She smiles against it, and then his lips land on the corner of her mouth.
She turns just a fraction and starts to kiss back.
Nothing really changes after that night.
They work closer together. They sit up later talking in the glow of the fire. They sleep curled up together. They kiss more.
But nothing really changes.
23rd May 1976
They are spending a particularly relaxing evening off, kissing and chatting in front of the fire, when it happens.
He jumps up as if hit by a bolt of lightning and refuses to answer her queries. Books and parchment fly around as Remus digs through the pile. Eventually he stops and then looks at her, wildness in his eyes. Then he bolts from the room without answering any of her questions.
“Remus?" she asks.
"Hmmm." comes the distracted answer from the other side of the room.
There’s a long silence.
“Wait a moment!” He exclaims, and the light tone of his voice puts her serious fears to rest. There’s another long pause, and then: “All this time we’ve been too conceptual, too vague”
“What?” She asks sharply.
Then he’s back at her side. "What about somehow anchoring a Portkey to a time-turner?” He brandishes one parchment with notes at her and flips it over to reveal a rough sketch of runes and a poorly drawn diagram of a time turner. “It combines the separate factors of long distances with time. It wouldn't be elegant of course, it would be quite crude, but it might work - especially with the right runes, and we would have to do Arithmancy calculations of course, to make sure we get the right timeline and- mmpfh"
She had launched herself across the sofa to where Remus is sat and silenced him with a sound kiss., knocking him over onto his back.
She pulls back and he lets out a huff of laughter. “You’re brilliant” she says quietly to the man below her on the cushions.
He smiles coyly, and accepts the compliment by reaching up for another kiss.
"How about-" She hates that she's even suggesting this, she thinks as she stirs the next batch of Wolfsbane. "-using something from divination? We were too conceptual before, we needed to be more practical before, and now we are being practical it's not getting us anywhere. Maybe divination?"
The past few days have been full of trial and error. The time-turner, fully dismantled, lies on the counter top in tiny, glistening pieces.
Remus frowns at her suggestion, he trusts the field of notoriously unpredictable magic just as much as she does - which is to say not at all.
"I'm not saying we rely on the position of the stars and chose a time of year that suits the future horoscope - just that we look into another alternative. Tea leaves, for example, are extremely potent in some potions, and of course are supposed to give a glimpse of the future. Maybe if we- No. wait. No. Urgh! I just don't know!" She growls and silently continues stirring the Wolfsbane in front of her.
Remus looks up at the quiet and cracks a smile at the picture of her angrily stirring the potion the requisite 28 times clockwise.
When she looks up Remus is still watching her, no longer paying attention to the tiny pieces of the time turner that he is tinkering with. He's just watching her.
"A potion could work." he says quietly, after a long silence. "A potion could do the impossible, Merlin knows that it has done before." he seems to be fighting a smile. This comment softens her furrowed brow, and she smiles gently as she counts.
Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight.
2nd June 1976, 9pm
At the start of June, they are brewing two potions at once: She is focused entirely on his Wolfsbane and Remus is left to use trial and error to create the impossible.
The Wolfsbane is a routine now, a process that she is more than used to, but rather than zone out she spends the days intently focused on the process, very much ignoring Remus' activities on the other side of the room in the other lab that the Room has provided. Their workspace is tense, despite the shift in their relationship. Often when Remus is working on the other side of the room she can hear him hissing in frustration and the occasional smashing of instruments.
Towards the final days of May he had started to leave the Room occasionally, with no word of where he was going or when he might return, before re-appearing only hours later with a basket of live toads.
She doesn’t ask questions.
But she does watch him; dragging her eyes away from her own work long enough to watch him drip the potion onto a toad carefully and then stare at his watch, brow furrowed. He sets some dials and moves the pieces of time turner towards the animal with gloved hands, staring at his watch all the while. He blinks the same long blink each time the toad makes contact with the object and disappears and then he glares at his watch.
Minutes pass and Remus keeps his eyes glued to his watch. When the toad doesn’t re-appear Hermione knows the exact moment. His face falls and the light that she knows is hope that glistens in his eyes dulls.
Remus storms off. She goes back her potion.
10th June 1976, 4pm
It's two days before the full moon. Remus is resting his head on his crossed arms on the work counter, staring at one particular spot on the wood. She knows that he is waiting patiently for the toad to re-appear.
She touches his back gently and he lifts his head and, when he sees what she’s holding, reaches out to receive the medium glass of Wolfsbane that she is holding in one hand. And, setting the empty glass down on the work surface, he reaches for the cup of tea Jenny had provided that she is holding in her other hand.
She’s glad that he had taken the mug from her. She fears that she would have dropped it had she still been holding it.
The toad reappears on the table behind Remus.
He must see her shock because he whips around to see what has startled her.
“You did it.” She says. But it’s redundant.
She sees him nod, still staring at the toad. He lifts the glass and drains it, not taking his eyes from the small living toad now walking about on the wooden surface.
“It worked.” He says, standing up to face her. His arms come around her and she tucks into his embrace.
They don’t talk about it more than that, but stay in each other’s arms for a long time.
She lets the tears run freely. She’s not sure whether they are relief at being able to return to her friends and family, or guilt at leaving Remus here to face his own future, alone.
It’s only a few hours later that they find themselves arguing. Both know that it is the raw edges of separation that they can already feel.
“I’ll wait Remus! Another month is nothing! I’ll wait and brew you more, a few months’ worth and put a stasis charm over it. You can’t be left without it!” She knows this is impossible. The potion reacts poorly to stasis charms. But, she thinks, there must be something she could do to help.
“I lived without it before, I can live without it again! Belby has the instructions, it will come out for public consumption eventually.” He argues back.
“But not soon enough!” she shrieks “You don’t deserve to live in pain and fear, because of one selfish act!”
She’s not sure whether she is talking about Belby stealing the brewing instructions for Wolfsbane, or about herself leaving. Remus quietens. She knows he is struggling with the same question. He looks pained when he speaks again.
“You are going home. It is not selfish to go home. Please. I will be fine.”
Logically, she knows that he is telling the truth. The Remus in her time-stream is alive and well, even if he does look a little worse for wear. The wind goes out of her. She cannot, will not, spend the rest of their time together fighting.
“After the full moon. You are leaving.” He finishes resolutely.
She nods and it is only then that he seems to realise that she is no longer fighting back. He looks at her, at the tears in her eyes, and the wet smile on her face, and takes a great shuddering breath.
12th June 1976, 7pm
She's lying on the bed, facing Remus. He's covered by a blanket that he picked up once he had stripped down, and is lying opposite with his nose scrunched and breathing heavy.
The tremors start, and she still finds the process horrifying, but his whimpers don't turn into a scream this time which helps her nerves. He keeps his eyes open for the whole process and she's fascinated to watch them fade to amber.
Eventually there is a huge wolf beside her on the bed. He shuffles a little but doesn't get up from his lying position. He blinks his great amber eyes at her and then closes them, shuffling slightly closer.
She smiles and reaches for fur, closing her own eyes and letting sleep take her when she feels his coarse coat under her fingertips.
They sleep in when morning greats them.
It must be around midday before either of them move. At some point in the night she's shucked her large jumper and snuggled to the wolf next to her.
He's Remus again, and she's still half-asleep when she turns and presses into him.
He makes a light mewling sound which cases her to stir a little more. She blinks into the light and there- he looks well rested and gorgeous.
She leans up and nips at his jaw. He mewls again.
And then she doesn’t think, she just does.
Her socks disappear quickly, then her pyjamas. She leaves her underwear.
She nips again, and he turns towards her, eyes still closed.
"Remus." Her voice is sing-song and quiet.
When she moves the blanket, he shivers a little at the sudden chill but then she's above him. Sitting across his thighs.
He opens his eyes then and sucks in a great gasp of air.
"Merlin, you are gorgeous." He whispers into the quiet.
The compliment turns her shy and she tries to look away, move away slightly, but he sits up. Too quickly for someone who has just awoken; eager. One hand comes up and traces the scar that rips up the centre of her chest, coming to rest on her collar bone. He smiles slightly at the sight of it and she smiles back. Hermione struggles to recall the gut-wrenching pain it had once caused her now, but her mind quickly touches the memories of Remus holding her up on the staircase, of Remus holding the pipette of essence of Dittany above her, of Remus holding her at wand point. Perhaps they are not things she should be remembering quite this fondly, but she cannot help the rush of warmth that she feels at these moments.
He leans in and up to kiss her, catching her hands in his own. Their fingers twine as his mouth starts to move down her neck. He reaches the strap of her bra and pauses looking up for permission, his thumbs are drawing little circles on her hands and she's just breathless, so she smiles instead of saying anything.
13th June 1976, 7pm
"You know what you have to do?"
It must be the fifth time she's asked the question and she doesn't know why. Of all the people that she knows, Remus is the one she trusts the most to carry out a plan to the meticulous detail that she plans it to.
He nods and it doesn't make her feel any better. Before he would have nodded and smiled, or nodded and touched her arm, or nodded and kissed her.
There is none of that warmth now. Not because they don’t yearn for it; they both crave it like the air around them but it makes it easier this way.
It will help her forget, she tells herself. She’s lying.
The trinket they have chosen to fashion into a portkey-come-time-turner device is one Remus was given for his birthday from Sirius two years prior. An odd shaped thing, but one that she felt certain she had seen before on a trip to Dumbledore’s office. It had taken her long to realise and even longer to understand what it meant.
"Yes," he says "Once you've-" he clears his throat "left" he makes it sound like she's popping out the room to find something trivial. "The object has to go to Dumbledore, to his office."
"Good." It's the only thing she can bring herself to say. "And the date on. Please. please don't look at the date. Reset it. Destroy it, the dials. The second I'm gone make sure you can't see the date. For your own peace of mind. Please."
"Of course." he breathes. "of course. I don’t think I could- I don’t know what I'd do with myself if I knew when." And then the no touching rule is thrown out of the window. She's crowded absolutely and completely by him. Warm and strong. Lips scatter kisses across her face, seeming to trace the impossible number of freckles.
"Remus." She stops him, he pulls back. "Do you remember when I asked you to forgive me? for all the things about the future that I can't tell you, that I wish I could?" He nods and she can feel the tears pricking the corners of her eyes. "Can you do something else for me? Something I have no right to ask of you?"
"What is it?" His thumb runs along her cheekbone.
"Can you forget me? Just let me go, get on with your own life. Don’t look for me around every corner, please. When we meet it's-" she laughs nervously "-well, it's not exactly the right moment, you'll see. I don’t want you to wait for me, I don’t want you to waste your life - find someone else Remus. Please. Enjoy it. Enjoy them. Remember this fondly but let go of it. You say that you'll forgive me for what I didn't do, what I could have done, but war and suffering, Remus, I wouldn’t blame you if you couldn’t forgive me-”
“-I forgive you, always-”
"-I know. Shh. I know. But, just- please. Forget me and live life as it comes. Even when it hurts." She frowns, it seems redundant and unnecessary to say, but she says it anyway.
He's quiet for a moment when she's finished, before he opens his mouth.
"I'll forgive you. I'll always forgive you. But I cannot promise to forget. I will not make a promise I cannot keep. I will make a deal with you though." There's an impish smile there that plays on through the shining tears in his eyes and she can see the Marauder in him now, "On my honour, you'll have my compliance in going forward and living normally - as if I never spent months with a wonderful, beautiful, extraordinary girl from the future that I love - for a kiss-" And he ducks forward and plants a kiss high on her cheekbone next to her ear and there he lingers when he whispers "-and your name."
She had thought they were done with the crying. Had thought they had managed to finish that for this time stream, maybe stave it off until they meet again in the future now. She had hoped that the rest of this goodbye could be filled with laughs and mischievous looks. But the tears come again.
She swallows - the last bitter-tea leaf remnants of taste lingering in her mouth from Remus' time-forward potion - and reaches up pressing a kiss to his forehead. His eyes fall shut and she knows with a certainty she's never felt before that this Remus now has viewed her for the last time.
She looks at the object in her hands, spending a second fixing the dials there.
"Hermione." she whispers, stepping back as she does so.
She clenches her fist around cold metal for just a moment, it throws her up and up into the air. She opens her hand letting the item fall from her grasp, and she is still falling upwards into darkness and cold. Where there should have been a ceiling, instead there are tree branches and dew and leaves.
She lands panting on all fours in the forbidden forest.
Remus graduates from Hogwarts a year later with his best friends by his side. Sirius grins overbearingly at everyone around him, Lily and James only have eyes for each other, and Peter looks only slightly confused. His mother turns up to watch her only son complete his schooling. His father does not.
Remus spends the day with a smile that doesn't quite fit.
He tries not to think about it, but he slips up - once, twice, more, - wondering if Hermione had graduated yet.
Lily and James' wedding is beautiful. It's small, intimate, slightly rushed - this is a war after all - but it is still beautiful.
Remus stands to one side, proud and smiling at his two friends.
His friends will talk later when he's excused himself from the revelries and comment on how quiet Remus is now. They'll say it's the war and its getting them all down. If Remus had been there he would agree with a quiet smile and withdrawn. He knows that the small pocket of peace they have now is precious and finite.
One night, months later, Sirius will arrive at his door smelling of Firewhiskey and the cold night air. His hair will be matted and the tears will still be rolling freely. He'll say that Regulus is gone. He has been missing for a month now but Sirius didn't know because he doesn't talk to his family.
Sirius will hiccup, sit down, and then pass out on the sofa. Mumbling lightly to himself that Regulus will return.
Remus knows he won't with the same certainty that he knows that the war they are trapped in is only just beginning.
He remembers the darkness is Hermione's eyes when she spoke of the war and he starts to see it in those around him. Just glints of it here and there.
Regulus never returns.
Little Harry has a shock of dark hair like his father and the most gorgeous kind eyes just like his mother.
Remus holds the infant carefully whilst sat in one of the large, comfy armchairs that Lily and James have in their living room.
Remus can hear Lily and James talking quietly in the kitchen whilst making tea. He can make out the odd word but ignores them in favour of focusing on the tiny human in his hands. Harry shifts occasionally but mainly he just stares at Remus in wonderment.
Lily eventually returns with the milk and sugar, followed by James carrying a tray with mugs on.
Sirius arrives 20 minutes later. Peter doesn't turn up at all.
Later, much later - weeks, months, perhaps a whole year - Sirius knocks on his door.
It's late. Dark. Raining. Remus doesn't open the door. It's a full moon.
The wolf will howl and scratch in response to the curses and fowl names that Sirius yells at the dark house.
Remus doesn't read the prophet until two days later, having spent most of the time sleeping off the particularly ugly transformation.
Sirius is wild eyed and furious as he screams on the front cover.
The paper is flung across the room with a vicious howl, human and angry.
Voldemort is gone. Remus is alone.
He feels selfish when, in this small bubble of grief and peace, he thinks of Hermione and wonders if he somehow missed her. Perhaps he had walked past her in a busy street without noticing.
But he knows this is impossible; he wouldn't ever miss her.
So he knows the war is still far from over.
Jobs are few and far between because no one wants a werewolf in their employment.
When people start to notice Remus moves. Diagon Alley makes way to Hogsmede – but only for a very short while: being so close to Hogwarts, to memories of his loved ones hurts more than he could have imagined. Then he moves further south: Edinburgh, the borders, Newcastle, Yorkshire.
He takes muggle work because muggles are more forgiving, and ask less questions. Sometimes he contemplates leaving his wand and the war behind him, but he knows that this is a cowards solution, and always, inevitably he drifts back to the wizarding world.
Emily is beautiful and clever. But she's not quite Hermione.
Two years later the first whispers of the potion start to surface. At first the whispers speak of something to cure Lycanthropy, but Remus knows this is false. The idea of Wolfsbane provided some hope to the hundreds afflicted with Lycanthropy. Clearer rumours start soon after, more detailed explanations of a potion that allowed those affected to keep their minds through the transformation each moon.
The Ministry stick their collective fingers in and the whispers halt, only to be replaced a month later by poorly written articles and thoroughly misinformed research about the potion. A potion that Remus knows is safe and works, a potion that so many like him deserve to have access to.
They don’t have access to it because the Ministry demand to test it, and keep it strictly controlled, both the finished product and the ingredients. It's utter rubbish and it makes Remus livid.
The Transformations are agonising. The scars and damage are worse.
Once a month he wakes to carnage: furniture overturned, books and papers shredded.
In March, he finds the pages of the notebook Hermione had used to write notes on time travel decorating his floor as confetti.
A year later and the potion is no closer to being released from the clutches of the Ministry.
Damocles dies. A potions accident leading to infection and then death. Remus reads the small obituary at the top of page 57 of the prophet.
Megan is kind and funny, and sympathetic to his condition. She makes him hopeful for a year, and then two. He thinks perhaps he loves her.
He thinks perhaps Hermione would forgive him. He thinks about what she asked of him, to move forward to forget her, and prepare himself for the war ahead.
And then he thinks of Hermione again and again and again.
Eventually Megan leaves.
The potion is finally, finally, released by the Ministry. But the ingredients remain monitored carefully and the price of many of them go up an astronomical amount.
Only just making enough to live on Remus continues to suffer through his transformations.
Whispers of Voldemort circulate, followed by whispers of Wolfsbane and then of Voldemort again. The rumour mill is on a repetitive and really rather unoriginal cycle, he decides.
Then one day he hears a name he had pushed from his mind: Harry Potter.
The whispers start anew, with a fresh, hopeful tone.
The Boy who Lived.
Who Defeated He Who Must Not Be Named.
The name gets whispered again and again. Along with other words.
Harry Potter. Hogwarts. Quidditch. Potter. Voldemort. Saviour. Philosophers stone. Hogwarts.
Remus does nothing. There is nothing that he can do, except sit and wait and watch. Looking always looking for the girl with brown hair and kind eyes and brilliant mind.
13th June 1993
Dumbledore comes knocking. How the old wizard managed to find Remus was anybody’s guess. He comes with a job offer where the risk greatly outweighs the benefit.
Remus refuses to put an entire castle of children at risk so he can be close to his best friend’s child. The boy didn't even know who he was.
The job offer comes with one more thing, Dumbledore adds even as Remus is showing him the door. And Remus asks absentmindedly what this perk would be - knowing that whatever it Is it won't change his answer.
Dumbledore twinkles with glee. Wolfsbane, he says.
Friday 3rd September 1993
Remus takes to teaching quickly he finds. Quicker than any other jobs he's picked up over the years.
He wonders once or twice whether it is natural aptitude or a confidence that comes with job security. He tries not to dwell on the matter too long.
Monday 6th September 1993
Term starts on a Thursday so Remus has to wait until the following Monday afternoon before he is teaching the class of third years that contains Harry.
The boy, dark hair and bright eyes, is chatting to two friends. A boy with bright ginger hair - a Weasley offspring if ever there was one – and a girl.
He's barely paying attention to the names on the list as he reads them aloud and ticks them off. His excitement to reach Harry’s name is difficult to contain. His eyes continue to flick up from the parchment where the names are written, unable to look away from the dark-haired boy for long. He reaches the next name.
The girl next to Harry sits up and answers his call. Wild hair, intelligent eyes.
She was right - she was always right - it is not the right moment.
When they meet everything is just slightly off, wrong.
And he thinks of the waiting she asked him, begged him not to do, and knows that the waiting isn't over yet.
It's the cold and the damp that shock her the most, knocking the wind from her lungs completely.
She had expected warmth, and fire, and soft. Not the forest.
But she picks herself up and brushes herself off. And starts walking towards the glimpse of light in the trees.
It's early in the morning - not so early that there is no one about, a few people mill about in their robes, mainly older students trying to get a start on their day of studying - but still early enough for human contact to be sparse.
She is not noticed on her way through the entrance hall even though she must look an utter mess.
An older Slytherin girl passes her and Hermione manages to tap her shoulder just before she disappears through the large doors to the Great Hall.
"Excuse me, sorry. Do you have the time?" It's the best, the only way she can think of to get the answer she actually wants. When the girl answers Hermione presses forward. "And the date, what's the date today?"
She can hear the mania in her own voice as she interrogates the girl, but it must work because the girl stutters out: "19th June, urm- 1996." Hermione doesn’t even have to press her for the year.
She smiles when she realises she's been gone for less than a full day in this time, and then starts to make her way up to the hospital wing, limping only slightly and trying to brush the excess mud of the corner of her robes.
When she arrives Madame Pomfrey tuts, gives her a once over, clucks, checks her again, and then sends her on her way with a fresh, clean set of robes.
Hermione had expected something, well, more. More resistance, more shock at her state, more anger at her disappearance, but she gets nothing.
She shrugs and takes the robes before departing.
There are more people moving about the castle now but when she enters the Gryffindor common room the place seems oddly empty.
A few people are sat by the fireplace, chatting quietly, and she almost weeps when she sees them looking so normal, and real.
When she asks they tell her that Harry is down by the lake - he's been quiet, understandably so, since the events of yesterday. When they say 'yesterday' she almost breaks with the full weight of the confirmation that she's back and nothing has changed.
They had said that he was by the lake.
They hadn’t said that he wasn't alone.
Another figure, just as silent and still as Harry, stands by her best friend's side. They stand at the tree at the edge of the lake united in their peaceful grief looking out at the clear water that glints in the sunlight.
It's a clear but breezy day. And it takes her too long to realise who is standing next to Harry under the tree at the edge of the lake.
The sandy hair that blows in the sharp gusts and the shabby robes make her cry out and stumble.
For a moment, she can see nothing but the same hair moving in a gust so similar in a hospital wing so far away, on a boy so much younger. She drops her eyes to his collar – still lopsided, even if both sides are completely untucked - and then his wrist. The watch there is brown leather and more battered than she thinks she has ever seen a watch that is still working, and she can't take her eyes off it even as she lets out a deep breath that turns into more of a quiet moan of pain, falling to the floor.
It's a pitiful sound and unfortunately loud enough that both men turn to see what dying animal might need help. But it's just her on the ground. Fallen and completely unable to recover as she shakes in the grass slightly.
Harry realises who it is first.
"Hermione!" He calls and is over to her in a shot, picking her up and dusting her off. And she's wiping away the wetness in her eyes whilst he's preoccupied. She's not ready. It's been years and seconds at the same time and she's not ready.
Remus is stood behind him. He doesn’t move forward to help, but she thinks she might see him twitch forward slightly, before holding himself back.
He nods formally. "Miss Granger."
"Hi Harry," she pauses, and hopes it is not noticeable but she knows the time she takes to collect herself is monumental, but it gives her strength to continue, and more importantly, to babble "Professor Lupin. Oh. I'm so sorry Harry about Sirius and the Ministry. And we'll fix this, we can beat Voldemort, for everything he's done. I'm so sorry." She leans and wipes away the tears that have started in Harry's eyes. And then she has to wipe the tears away from her own eyes, hoping and praying that they will cease for even just a moment, so that she might be able to make it through this encounter whole.
She's trying so hard not to look at Remus, not now, not when she is this close. If she looks at him now she knows everything will break.
"It's fine Hermione. Well, - It's not fine. But, you know." She doesn’t but she pulls him in to a hug in lieu of a coherent answer. She can feel Harry breathe, sigh, shudder in her arms. She wonders morbidly how long he will be having nightmares for. Harry in the hug, momentarily pulls her tighter and she hisses at the pressure on her abdomen. "Are you alright?" he asks, quickly pulling away from her.
"Just a small curse, Harry. I'll be sure to pay Dolohov back, the next time I see him.” She smiles. “Is Ron ok?" She sees Remus twitch out of the corner of her eye at mention of the curse. But this time it's not something small and subtle, but huge. Or it seems that way to her. It was probably nothing.
Harry notices it.
"Are you alright Remus?" he asks.
"Quite alright Harry," Remus bristles at the question, she forces herself to look at him and he looks so deeply tired. "I'm as well as can be expected after the exertion of yesterday. The full moon is still someway off thankfully, but I am not as young as I once was.” He smiles kindly.
She wonders when he gave up on the anger and the fire that she had witnessed, but then decides not to dwell.
Harry wrinkles his nose a little and pats Remus on the arm. And Hermione watches the movement with something akin to longing. "Ok, I’m going to go see Hagrid for a bit, I'll see you both later? Right?" He holds Hermione by the arm and keeps eye contact with her, looking for some sort of answer in her eyes. Whatever he was searching for he found because he nodded slightly.
"Of course, Harry. I’ll see you later." Hermione's voice is too cheerful. It doesn’t convey the desperation of not wanting her friend to leave.
She doesn't want to face Remus alone. She's afraid. She is terrified.
Her mind is suddenly flooded by everything that he has gone through running up to this point. All the years of hurt since she had last set eyes on him.
Hermione's mind is still racing and Harry is becoming smaller on the green horizon as he ambles slowly towards Hagrid's hut.
They stand for the longest time at the edge of the lake in silence though the thoughts sound so loud rushing in her ears. She considers things she had never thought of before. Every encounter they have ever had in this timeline and the hope that Remus must have felt wondering if this was time she remembered, and every time - until now - the swift destruction of that hope.
She's still thinking when Remus nods with an air of finality and turns away.
She stops thinking when she realises that this is it. She can’t let him go one step further.
She cannot destroy that hope again. This would be the last time.
"Remus." It's a quiet murmur, he hears and he stills but doesn't turn to face her. She is almost certain that she has never called him by his given name in this time. Then she realises the two times are not separate they are the same stream running forward always into each other. She clears her throat and tries again. "Remus. Look at me please." She can hardly believe that she is begging but it works because he starts to turn. "Remus." Quieter now, more pathetic. "Can you forgive me?"
It's the green eyes and the collar that is ruffled even if it's not tucked into his jumper in the same way it was then. It’s in the sandy-brown hair that moves slightly in a gentle breeze. She inexplicably finds herself fixated on his watch strap again, because it is easier to look at that than look him in the eyes.
She thinks for one horrible moment that he's going to pretend. That he might ask what she needs to be forgiven for.
And then he's on his knees in the wet grass, he's shaking and crying. And she's kneeling in the grass too, in front of him. In front of Remus Lupin. Nothing feels more right in this moment.
"You're here" he just about manages to say. He's holding her hands and she can't remember him taking them. She wants to stop his crying, a part of her brain demands that she say something to stop his tears, she doesn't want to see him like this, but she can feel the same tears rolling down her face.
"I'm here." she whispers. "I'm here, I'm staying, I'm here, always."
"You're here." He repeats, gasping around the words.
He's no longer holding her hands, instead his arms are around her, his face is pressed to the crook of her neck. She can hear and feel his deep inhales.
She turns her head towards him, resting her cheek against his hair.
"I am. I'm here."
There's nothing else to be said.
The grass beneath them is dewy and damp and their faces are just as wet.