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More than a Feeling (English version)

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Chapter 4

 

Hermione had barely dozed off, when a blazing light made her start from her sleep. With great reluctance she opened her eyes and saw a silver stag elegantly galloping through the dorm.

“What’s going on?” she heard Ginny’s voice next to her, drugged with sleep. “Is Harry here?”

The silver stag stopped in front of Hermione’s bed and started to speak in Harry’s voice: “We found Monsieur Foucault and brought him with us. Meet us in the Shrieking Shack.”

“Why is Harry sending you a Patronus?” Unlike Hermione, Ginny was wide-awake now. “What’s this all about?”

“It’s about the girl in the hospital wing,” Hermione mumbled, still dazed. She felt like the Hogwarts Express had run over her, but there was no time to complain. Harry and Ron were waiting for her in the Shrieking Shack, probably with some news about the time turner.

“Where are you going?” Ginny asked suspiciously when Hermione started to dress in slow motion. “To the Shrieking Shack?”

“I’m not allowed to tell you.“ Hermione looked desperately for her hairbrush. Usually she didn’t need to search for her stuff but a lot of things weren’t as usual these days. “It’s a secret, you know.”

“Which makes it even more important that I come with you.” Ginny had dressed as quickly as lightning, waiting impatiently for Hermione to get ready. “Accio Hermione’s hairbrush!” She threw the brush to Hermione.

“Please, Ginny…” Hermione felt too tired to have a discussion with her. All she needed was a snatch of sleep to process all the things that had happened over the last days. “We’ll break the law, if…”

“Then why are you allowed to know about it and I’m not?” Ginny stood with her hands on her hips. “All these years the three of you had these huge, exciting adventures while I was just the ‘little one’. But that’s over now. I’m of age and I’m coming with you.”

“Ginny…”

“Listen to me, Hermione.“ Ginny was already at the door. “You’re my best friend and soon I will marry Harry. I don’t like it at all when my husband keeps secrets from me, not to mention my best friend.”

Hermione gave up fighting against Ginny’s determination, and Harry’s and Ron’s eyes widened in surprise as Hermione appeared in the Shrieking Shack with Ron’s sister.

“I couldn’t get rid of her,” Hermione informed them, walking towards the man she had identified as Monsieur Foucault. He was about thirty years old, had a circular bald spot on his head and a remarkably big beer belly, considering his relatively young age. “Bonjour, Monsieur Foucault.” She politely shook hands with the scientist. “How kind of you to come here.“

“Hello, Miss Granger,“ he responded in almost accent-free English. “It’s an honor to help Harry Potter and you.”

Harry greeted Ginny with a kiss. “Hermione found an unconscious girl on Hogwarts’s grounds,” he explained. “And we think we found her time turner.” He pulled the small device out of his pocket and showed it to Ginny. “Since this thing seems to be from the future we have no idea how it works and asked Monsieur Foucault for help. He’s a proven expert on the development of time turners.”

“Has the girl woken up yet?” Ron turned to Hermione, whose face reddened immediately.

“What’s the matter with the girl?” Ginny asked curiously, looking back and forth between Hermione and Ron. “Is she your daughter from the future?”

Ron puffed scornfully, ignoring Hermione’s soothing hand on his shoulder. “Yes, she’s awake now,” she answered his question. “But we can talk about that later.” If possible, she wanted to spare Ron the humiliation of telling him in front of everybody that his fiancé would have a child from somebody else in the future.

But Ron pushed Hermione’s hand away. “Did you find out anything?”

Hermione hesitated. “It’s… like I assumed,“ she said vaguely.

Ginny looked at Hermione uncomprehendingly. “Why doesn’t the ministry take care of this? It’s required to notify them of time travellers right away, isn’t it?”

Harry shrugged and Ron averted his eyes as well.

“So Professor McGonagall didn’t report the incidence?” Ginny dropped on a dusty box. “What’s the matter with her? She’s the one, who always insists on rules and principles.”

Harry leant into Ginny and whispered something into her ear. “Oh, Merlin!” she muttered, staring at Hermione with wide eyes.

“Well...“ Hermione turned quickly away from her. “We don’t want to waste your time, Sir.” She took the time turner from Harry’s hand and gave it to Monsieur Foucault. “We definitely know now that the girl has come from the future, and we want to send her back where she belongs as quickly as possible.”

“I’ve already had a closer look at this device, and I think I’ll be able to help you.” Monsieur Foucault stepped closer to the dusty window of the Shrieking Shack. “This device is a lot more advanced than the models we currently work with,” he said appreciatively. “Too bad you have to erase my memory after our little adventure,” he added with a smile. “It’s such a shame, because this model would bring our studies forward for many years.”

“How do you activate the device?“ Ron stepped next to Monsieur Foucault. “Is there actually a special barrier or something?”

“Yes, I think there is.“ Monsieur Foucault waved the others over to him as well. “Have a look at the 12th link of the chain,” he asked them, pulling a magnifier out of his pocket. Indeed, a tiny hourglass was carved into the chain that Monsieur Foucault now touched with his tongue. Immediately, the device started to buzz, and the stars on the golden stone started to revolve around each other while the stone slowly extended. When it had reached the size of a snitch, several rows of numbers appeared. “Now I can enter a certain year, month, day, hour and minute, and then touch the small spot beneath the numbers,” Monsieur Foucault explained. “But I won’t do that because in that case I wouldn’t be with you anymore,” he joked.

“Can time travelling cause a coma?” Hermione asked. She had already read about this in her research but found it safer to ask an expert in person.

“Yes, Miss Granger. We do have to deal with comatose states occasionally in our experiments. So I would guess that the child lost consciousness without external forceful impact.”

“That would explain why you didn’t find any external injuries on the girl,” Ron mused. “Everything fits, doesn’t it?”

“Has there ever been brain damage after such a coma?” Even though Jean didn’t seem to be physically or mentally harmed in any way, Hermione needed to have this question answered.

“I’ve never heard of that, Miss Granger.” Monsieur Foucault brushed over his bald head. “But I wouldn’t exclude it, especially if somebody travelled a long distance on the time continuum.”

“Thank you.” Hermione exhaled, relieved. She was sure Jean hadn’t travelled more than two decades, considering that Professor McGonagall was still Headmistress at Hogwarts in her time.

“But why is the girl here anyway?” Ginny asked.

“Time turners are usually stored in high-security wings,” Harry agreed with her. “That won’t be different in the future.”

Monsieur Foucault took up the time turner again. “I can’t answer your question, but if you take a closer look at the device you will notice that on this model you can adjust the time, but not the place. So the place would stay the same.”

“Are you saying the girl must have taken the time turner here at Hogwarts?” Harry asked in surprise.

“It could have happened at a demonstration in class,” Hermione pondered aloud. “Maybe an accident?”

“We can go on speculating about these issues, of course,” Monsieur Foucault remarked with a smile. “But it wouldn’t be very productive. You’re certainly aware that all of the people in this room have to forget this conversation very soon.”

The four friends nodded gloomily. Especially Hermione didn’t like the idea of forgetting everything she had learned in the last few days at all. But of course she knew they had played with time more than enough.

They left the Shrieking Shack together and the four friends accompanied Monsieur Foucault to the exit of Hogwarts’s grounds. On the way through the hilly area Ron suddenly grabbed Hermione’s arm, intentionally walking slower to get some distance between them and the others. “Even though we won’t remember anything, it might be better to break our engagement,” he said in a strained voice. “Since you’ve told me about the girl I thought a lot about us. I was wondering if we are really a match...” He cleared his throat. “I mean… you know… forever…”

“I know what you mean.” Hermione cast a grateful glance at him. “Forever is a pretty long time, don’t you think?”

“Maybe we’re better as friends,” Ron suggested, but Hermione could see that he didn’t agree with his own words. It wasn’t what he wanted.

“How about we decide today that we’ll let each other free?” Hermione suggested cautiously. “And if we come to the conclusion in a couple of years that we are made for each other we’ll get married, time turners notwithstanding.”

“If you haven’t married Old McGonagall by then,” he said bitterly.

“Or you Fleur’s little sister.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek. “No matter what happens, I will always love you, Ron. But maybe in a different way.”

“Gabrielle isn’t so little anymore. She’s fourteen now,” Ron objected and reciprocated Hermione’s kiss. “Let’s go, the others are almost there.“

“No, wait.“ Hermione pulled out a parchment from her inner robes and started to write a few lines. Then she took her wand. “Geminio!“

“What are you doing?“ Ron watched suspiciously as Hermione put the copy of the parchment in a pocket under her robe and handed him the original.

“I just wrote down some notes about our talk,” Hermione explained while trying to keep pace with his long steps. “Soon, we both will have forgotten our conversation.”

Ron skimmed the document and put it in his pocket with an affirmative nod. He didn’t seem to be eager to have this conversation a second time either.

When they had left Hogwarts’s grounds behind, Hermione shook Monsieur Foucault’s hand so affectionately that the French scientist looked at her with surprise. “I can’t thank you enough, Monsieur Foucault.”

“You’re very welcome, Miss Granger”, he responded good-naturedly. “Like I said, it’s an honor for me being able to help you. Scarcely anybody has done so much for the wizarding world like you three. I’m very sorry to not remember our encounter in a bit.”

Harry turned to Hermione. “You should be the one to cast the memory charm on us,” he said matter-of-factly. “You’re the only one, who still needs to remember everything. At least for now.”

Ginny discretely tugged at Hermione’s sleeve. “I just wanted to let you know that I like the idea of you and McGonagall being a couple in the future. Ron and you… you don’t really match, and I always thought both of you would be happier with somebody else,” she whispered into Hermione’s ear. “I’m sure I will be equally happy in the future when I’ll hear the news.”

“That’s really nice of you, Ginny.” Hermione gave her a firm hug. “You’re a great friend.”

“Will you tell me the name of your daughter?” Ginny whispered. “I won’t remember it anyway.”

“Jean Ginevra McGonagall,” Hermione whispered in her ear.

“Really?” Ginny leaped on the grass for joy. “That’s so sweet of you!”

“Can we get to business now?” Ron asked, irritated. “I don’t want to stand around here forever, and Monsieur Foucault surely wants to go home, too.”

“Okay, okay.” Ginny was all smiles when she obediently walked to the others.

Hermione stopped in front of Ginny, raising her wand. ”Obliviate”, she said distinctly. Monsieur Foucault was next, then Ron, and eventually Harry.

“You can’t know, why we’re standing here right now,” she explained to her four companions when they looked at her quizzically. “We just finished a mission. Since it had to do with a time turner, I had to delete certain parts of your memory.”

After they had said their farewell, Hermione and Ginny walked back to the castle. Unlike the others, Ginny wasn’t quite satisfied with Hermione’s brief explanation. The entire walk, she drilled her with questions, but Hermione remained steadfast. However, every now and then her hand wandered to the small golden device under her robes to make sure it was still there. Soon, she would have to say good-bye to her prospective daughter, and nobody would be able to tell her whether she had arrived in the future safely.

 

 

* * *

 

 

Jean’s recovery progressed quickly over the following days. Hermione spent as much time as possible with her, even though she fell hopelessly behind with her plans for the exam preparation. At least she slept better now, and to her surprise she hadn’t had any more nightmares. The recent events seemed to have the power to chase away the horror of the past, and the prospect of a nice future made her heavy heart feel a lot lighter.

Professor McGonagall visited Jean as often as she could too, and sometimes the three of them just sat together, chatting about everything and nothing. With every minute they spent with the girl, Hermione found it harder that she would have to send her away again, and the idea of always having her around in the future was only a small comfort. But time progressed mercilessly, and finally the day came when Hermione was interrupted in her class and summoned to Professor McGonagall’s office. She knew exactly what would come next.

“Madam Pomfrey gave Jean the green light,” Professor McGonagall informed her, as soon as she had poured Hermione a cup of tea. “It’s time we let her go.” The Headmistress looked pale and exhausted. The prospect of sending the child on an unknown journey seemed to take all energy from her.

“I know.” Hermione nodded bravely.

Professor McGonagall poured herself a cup of tea as well and Hermione noticed that her hands were trembling. “To be honest, I’ve already delayed the time two days,” she confessed. “But Jean has to go back. There's probably a time window and her parents certainly will be worried about her.”

“We don’t know whether time passes for her mothers in the same way ours does,” Hermione pointed out. “Perhaps only a few minutes have past for them.”

“Yes, that’s possible.” Professor McGonagall nodded absent-mindedly. “I…” She put her teacup down and drummed nervously on the armrest with her fingers.

Hermione had rarely seen the Headmistress so down and started to get seriously worried. Involuntarily, she pushed her armchair closer to Professor McGonagall’s, silently asking her to continue. The Headmistress was obviously fighting with herself and Hermione tried to give her the time she needed.

“I have a request of you, Miss Granger,” Professor McGonagall said eventually, and the way she spoke the sentence told Hermione how much it had cost her.

“Of course.” Hermione leant slightly forward. “What can I do?”

Professor McGonagall covered her face with her hands for a moment, then she folded her fingers and looked at the ground. “I can’t let the child go,” she said so quietly Hermione could hardly understand her. “I can’t.”

Hermione ignored the heavy lump in her throat, gently reaching for Minerva McGonagall’s cold hand. “It’s difficult, isn’t it?” she said softly, stroking over the cool back of her hand with her thumb.

“Would you do this?” Professor McGonagall slowly raised her head, tears in her eyes.

“Of course.” Hermione had no idea herself how to manage this task but she sensed that she had to be strong for both of them. “Wouldn’t it be better for the peace of your soul if you said good-bye to her, Professor?” Hermione said carefully.

Professor McGonagall shook her head. “I won’t remember.“

Hermione looked horrified into her watery eyes. ”You really want us to erase our memories?”

“There can be no talk of wanting.” Professor McGonagall sighed heavily. “But we have to do it. We already know much too much about the future, and that’s never a good thing.”

Hermione’s chest convulsed painfully. “But I don’t want to forget that I will love you,” she objected quietly. “That I love you,” she corrected herself.

“You shouldn’t have broken your engagement with Ron Weasley.” Professor McGonagall looked past Hermione out of the window. “You’ve already taken action because of a knowledge you shouldn’t have.”

“Sooner or later I would have done it anyway,” Hermione justified her decision. “The last days were just some kind of a… catalyst.”

A small smile washed over Professor McGonagall’s face at Hermione’s words. “It’s strange to imagine that…” She fell silent and blushed. “Well… that…”

“… we will be a couple?”

“Yes.“ Professor McGonagall turned her face towards Hermione and the tenderness in her eyes took Hermione’s breath away.

“I think it’s the most wonderful image I can picture for myself.” Hermione looked down at the older hand that was still resting in hers. “And if I could keep this vision, it would give me strength for the next years.”

“I know what you mean, Hermione.” It was the first time Professor McGonagall had addressed her with her forename. “I never expected I would…” Her fingers absent-mindedly brushed over the sensitive skin of Hermione’s palm. “I’d closed that chapter long ago… The idea of…”

Hermione nodded wordlessly. It wasn’t necessary to say it. The idea of loving somebody again, even start a family, gave Professor McGonagall strength and security as well. “I would love to know how long it will take, until I will find you,” Hermione said with wistfulness in her voice. “How long will it take me to finally understand?”

“It will be sooner for you than for me, for sure,” Professor McGonagall remarked dryly. “You’ve seen how stubborn I can be.”

“I knew that already,” Hermione smiled and took a deep breath. “I have a request of you, too, Professor.”

The Headmistress lifted her head in surprise. “Which is?”

“I want a kiss.”

“Miss Granger!” Professor McGonagall immediately let go of Hermione’s hand, pulling away, appalled. “You’re still my student!”

“Please, Professor. Consider we’ll have forgotten everything in less than an hour.“

But Professor McGonagall didn’t seem to find that a sound argument. “That’s absolutely out of the question!”

But Hermione wasn’t ready to give up so easily. She had read in the previous edition of the Journal of Charms that a memory charm only deleted the memory of what had happened, but it didn’t delete the affections and sensations memorized by the body. Hermione was convinced that a kiss would give her strength for the future, even if she didn’t remember it. It would make her cells happy, and maybe it would even accelerate that she and Minerva McGonagall found each other one day.

“We have to abide by the rules like everybody else,” Professor McGonagall added, pushing herself up from the armchair.

“I do understand that, Professor.” Hermione stood up as well and walked next to her. “But I ask you to take the following into consideration.” She pulled the time turner from her robes. “Shortly, I will go to our daughter and help her to travel back to her own time. I would have liked to do this with you, because I don’t know from where to take the strength to do this. But I will accomplish it, because one of us has to do it. And then I will go back to your office and we will cast a mutual memory charm … And then everything will be over.” Hermione brushed an annoying tear from her face with her sleeve. “These are very, very bleak prospects, and it would give me the strength I need for all of this if you agreed to grant me one single kiss. I don’t think the stakes are too high. You don’t need to be afraid, I will take care that it will be quick.”

Professor McGonagall looked at her in such bewilderment that Hermione had to smile. “These are the facts, aren’t they?” she added sheepishly.

“You are incredible, Miss Granger.“ Professor McGonagall looked up at the sky as if some kind of deities could save her. “One kiss,” she said strictly. “That’s all.”

“Yes, Professor.” Before the Headmistress could change her mind, Hermione pulled her away from the window. Her heart was beating out of her chest and her knees were so weak she was afraid she wouldn’t make it to the middle of the room. But like a miracle, they suddenly stood next to the massive desk and Hermione shyly put her hands around Professor McGonagall’s waist. Someday in the future her hands would be allowed to slip under these green robes. Her fingers would run endlessly over the soft skin and her lips would touch the long neck. She would bury her face into the dark hair, deeply inhaling its sweet scent. She would kiss the red lips and hear Minerva McGonagall’s quiet moaning.

But not today.

Hermione wiped a tear away from her cheek. All of a sudden she felt Professor McGonagall’s comforting arms around her, and immediately she felt her spirits lighten. She closed her eyes, breathing in the faint scent of rose oil and snuggled deeper into the tender embrace. She wanted to live in this moment for eternity.

But time marched on and Hermione’s left hand wandered to Professor McGonagall’s hair and her right hand to her neck. Slowly she inched forward to the red lips, so soft she could have never imagined. Instinctively, her mouth opened, intensifying the delicate touch of their lips. Minerva McGonagall moaned softly as Hermione increased the pressure, and the sound raised a storm inside of her. Once again Hermione’s mouth brushed over the full lips, felt them answer, then she pulled back.

Professor McGonagall still kept her eyes closed and Hermione saw a faint blush had covered her face. She looked so beautiful that Hermione would have loved to pull her back into her arms. But she had made a promise that she needed to keep. “Thank you,” she whispered, brushing Professor McGonagall’s cheek with her fingertips.

At the tender touch Professor McGonagall opened her eyes that looked so similar to Jean’s. They were dark and full of longing, and Hermione was on the verge of chucking the whole plan.

But it wouldn’t have been the right thing. “I’ll go to Jean now,” she said reluctantly and took the time turner in her hands. “Is there anything you want me to tell her?”

Professor McGonagall nodded, her voice failing. “Please give my regards to her,” she said finally. “And tell her that… that I love her.”

“I will.” Hermione bravely fought back her tears when she headed for the door with shaky knees. “Let’s get it over with,” she muttered and left the office without looking at Professor McGonagall again.

 

 

* * *

 

 

“Where’s Mum?“ Jean asked immediately when she saw Hermione coming to her with the time turner.

“As Headmistress she often has very important appointments she can’t cancel.” Hermione hadn’t thought it would be so difficult to lie to her daughter. “But we can’t postpone your journey any longer, Jean.” She sat down on the chair next to Jean’s bed. “You urgently have to travel back to your own time, and I’m sure your mothers are already awaiting you longingly.”

“But I like it here,” Jean protested. “Can’t I stay just a little bit longer?”

“That could be very dangerous,” Hermione explained patiently. “We don’t know enough about time yet.”

Jean looked up at her with wide green eyes. “I want to go back, Mummy, but right now it’s so interesting here. You’re more like a big sister, and it’s funny that Mum treats you like you hardly know each other, though she loves you like crazy.”

“Really?” Hermione’s heart took such a leap that she forgot to rebuke her daughter for her loose tongue. “And both of your mothers love you like crazy, too,” she said, pressing a kiss on Jean’s forehead. “That’s why it is so important that you go back to them quickly.”

“But I’m scared.” Jean snuggled into Hermione’s arms. “Time travelling feels a bit unpleasant, you know…“

“Yes, I know.” Hermione patted her daughter’s head. She remembered the side effects all too well when she had constantly travelled back and forth through time in order to attend as many classes as possible in her third year at Hogwarts. She had felt like she had jetlag for almost a year, and Jean had to cross at least twelve years.

“Can’t you come with me, Mummy?”

“I would love to, but it’s too dangerous, my dear.” Hermione pulled a small flask out of her robes. “At least Professor Slughorn brew a special potion for you, which will prevent you from getting unconscious at your arrival.”

Jean shuddered with disgust when she saw the brown juice. “I’m sure it tastes horrible,” she complained.

“I’m afraid it does, but it’s very important that you drink it anyway.” Hermione put the time turner into Jean’s hands. “Do you know how it works?”

Jean shook her head, which confirmed Hermione’s assumption that the girl had only travelled through time by accident.

“Then let me show you.” Hermione showed Jean the different symbols on the device and explained their meanings. “You didn’t intend to travel through time, did you?”

“No.” Jean seemed to be a bit embarrassed about the accident. “We had a visitor from France in Charms who showed us several new time turners…”

“In the second year?” Hermione interrupted her disapprovingly. “That’s pretty early for a matter like that.”

“Mum had arranged that Monsieur Foucault would visit all classes,” Jean countered, noticeably proud of her mother. “He only didn’t visit the First Years.”

Hermione shook her head, trying to hide her smile. It was rather ironic that Monsieur Focault had tried to understand his own time turner from the future a few days ago. “And you’ve touched one of these devices?”

“We all touched them, we were allowed to. But I don’t think anything happened to the others.” Jean’s eyes started to beam when she suddenly had an idea. “I probably activated the time turner when I touched the chain with my tongue,” she said excitedly. “And when I tried to stop the stars from rotating, I accidentally hit the spot beneath the numbers and was catapulted here, right Mummy?”

“That’s possible.” Hermione nodded, impressed by her daughter’s quick mind. “But why did you touch the chain with your tongue?”

“Because Lily Luna claimed the chain would be of brass, but I was sure it was of pure gold,” Jean explained as if it was the most natural thing in the world. “So I licked it to taste it.”

“Lily Luna?“ Hermione asked with an arched eyebrow.

“Oh, oh, oh!” Jean covered her mouth with her hand, startled. “I’m talking too much, aren’t I?“

“Well, I will have forgotten it anyway in less than an hour,” Hermione smiled indulgently and kissed the girl’s cheek. “But we should focus on your journey now,” she said, serious again. “Obviously the time turner doesn’t work very precisely when it comes to physical distance. After all, I found you in the bushes near the Forbidden Forest and not in a classroom. So it’s possible that you won’t return into your classroom, but somewhere nearby.”

“Don’t worry, Mummy.” Jean patted her mother’s arm. ”James has this special map. It helps you to see where everybody is in the castle. So if I get lost somewhere at Hogwarts, I’m sure he will find me.”

“Well, that’s good to hear.” Hermione tried to hide her chuckle in vain. Being at Hogwarts in the future didn’t seem to be very different from her own schoolyears.

“Mon Dieu, I can’t believe the girl is still here!” Madam Pomfrey ranted, as she brought an injured Forth Year to the hospital wing. “Professor McGonagall promised me she would travel back today.”

“We’re working on it,” Hermione calmed the enraged healer, pulling Jean from her bed. “Please put on your school uniform, darling.“

Jean nodded sadly and started to put on her Gryffindor uniform. She also drank the potion obediently, although she made a face as if Hermione had tried to poison her.

There wasn’t anything left to do now that could have given her an excuse to postpone their farewell, as much as Hermione wanted it to. “Your Mum wishes you all the best and asked me to tell you that she loves you very, very much,” she told Jean as the girl stood in front of her, ready to go. “And I love you very, very much, too,” she added, enfolding her prospective daughter in her arms one last time. “I can’t tell you how glad I am that you exist,” she whispered in a shaky voice.

Jean wiped a tear from Hermione’s cheek with her small fingers. “When I’ll be finally born, you won’t forget me anymore, Mummy,” she said soothingly, looking so much like her older mother that it almost hurt.

“That’s a nice prospect, at least.” Hermione smiled bravely and averted her gaze so that Jean could adjust the day, hour and estimated minute of her accidental leave. But she wouldn’t have been Hermione Granger if her curiosity hadn’t won in the last moment, making her take a quick glance at the numbers on the stone. The time turner showed the year 2019, so Jean would probably be born in 2007.

Would it take this long, until her and Minerva McGonagall would become a couple? Hermione didn’t think she could wait eight more years, even though she wouldn’t remember anything that had happened over the last days. At least, there was a chance that they would already be together for several years by then, but in the year 2007 somebody would find a magical way that would make it possible for two witches to get children. This thought was somewhat comforting.

“I’ve done everything you told me, Mummy,” Jean reported, and Hermione realized that she wouldn’t hear her silvery voice for many years.

“Very good, my darling.” Only with great difficulty Hermione resisted her impulse to spontaneously elope with the girl. “Do you want me to watch?”

“Yes.“ Jean tried to be brave, but it was clear that she was really frightened. All of a sudden she threw herself back into Hermione’s arms, begging her that she could stay.

Hermione had to gather all her strength not to give in. “I’m sure everything will be fine,” she assured Jean, tenderly stroking her cheek. “Monsieur Foucault wouldn’t have showed you the time turner if he hadn’t been convinced by its reliability. And as soon as you arrive home, you’ll be glad to see everybody again.” Against her own instincts Hermione gently pushed the child away. “Good luck, my darling.”

Jean nodded bravely, touched the spot beneath the numbers with her index finger, and suddenly disappeared.

Hermione stared at the spot where Jean had just stood for several more minutes. Then she pulled herself together, and with mechanical moves she removed all traces of Jean in the hospital room.

Afterwards, she cast a memory spell on Madam Pomfrey and walked back to Professor McGonagall’s office. Inside of her everything felt empty, numb and bleak.

Professor McGonagall was still standing at the window, as if she hadn’t moved from there at all. She turned around when she heard Hermione entering her office and took a deep breath after her silent question had been answered with a nod. “It’s time then,” Professor McGonagall whispered, stepping towards Hermione.

Hermione thought of the way her slender hands had felt on her back and the soft lips on her mouth. Without thinking, she wrapped her arms around the older woman, never wanting to let her go.

Professor McGonagall gently ran her fingers over her back, and for a while they just stood there without moving. “Thank you for everything,” Professor McGonagall said softly. “I’m really looking forward to a future with you.”

Eventually, the two women loosened their embrace and stood opposite to another like in a duel. The younger one with tears on her cheeks and a determined expression on her face, the older one with a dignified posture and quivering lips. At the same time and with the same sweeping move, as if connected by an invisible bond, they both raised her wands, pointing at each other:

“Obliviate.“