October 31, 1981
Potter Cottage, Godric's Hollow
It was Halloween night and she was so nervous that she was afraid she might be sick. He was coming—she could feel him coming. She glanced at the baby, the beautiful black haired, green-eyed baby who was sleeping peacefully in his crib. It had been so easy to convince James and Lily to sneak out to visit Sirius, almost too easy. Sirius was hiding in the Fidelus Charmed house and he was slowly going mad with boredom. She had arranged for Remus, James and Lily to go and cheer him up. They had tried to convince her to come along, but they had allowed her stay and watch Harry. She wasn’t a part of their group—not really. They were polite to her and treated her nicely as Sirius’ girlfriend, but she would never be a part of that inner group. They didn’t even realize how much they excluded her with their little inside jokes and stories. One of them would tell the punch line of some story and the rest of them would start laughing hysterically. She would sit there and smile politely, but each time they did it was a reminder of how she did not belong—not here and not with them. She told her inner self that she didn’t mind. Really, it was for the best. It didn’t matter anyway since she was going to die tonight. She was going to die and Harry Potter and his family were going to live. She kissed his soft, silky cheek.
“Pretty baby,” she whispered and stroked the so soft baby skin with her knuckle.
The house rocked as the wards were blasted open viciously. She worried for a moment about the magical backlash. She hoped that James was all right since most of the wards were keyed to him. Her fingers tightened around her wand. He looked at her disdainfully and she could see Peter lurking in the shadows. Was that relief? Was he glad that his friends weren’t here? She shot him a look of confusion and was surprised at the misery in his face.
“Stand aside you foolish girl!” He commanded her in that cold, high voice. She tossed her head at him.
“Never,” she said flatly.
“Stand aside or be killed,” he snapped, losing his temper.
“No, you’ll just have to kill me,” she said with a strange sense of calm and peace. “You see, Tom, friendship and love really are worth dying for and I’m glad to give my life for the ones I love.”
“That has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” Voldemort said cruelly. She smiled at him and her smile held pity.
“That’s too bad, Tom,” she said quietly. “You’ll never be half the wizard that Harry Potter will grow up to be. He has the greatest capacity for love of any person I’ve ever known. I’m proud to be his friend and I’m proud to die for him.”
“Lea, you don’t have to d-do this,” Peter said from his dark corner.
Oleandra was the name she’d used because it was a) god-awful and b) not linked to her real name in any way. Everyone had quickly christened her ‘Lea’ and she glared at Peter for daring to assume any kind of familiarity with her.
“I would just as readily die to save you, Peter,” she said gently. “That’s what love is, what friends do. It’s a shame you didn’t learn that.”
“Do you think they would have died for you?” Peter sneered suddenly. “You aren’t part of their special little group, are you? You’re on the outside and you’ll always be on the outside looking in. You’ll never really belong. You’ll only be there on sufferance.”
“Is that why you’ve done this? Betrayed your friends? Because you didn’t feel as though you were part of the group?” She asked curiously.
Voldemort was growing impatient and he bellowed at the both of them.
“Enough! If you won’t stand aside, girl, that’s your problem. Avada Kedavra!”
The body lay at an odd angle with the long blonde hair coating it almost in a curtain. The baby screamed in his crib, but his favorite baby-sitter never moved. His parents came within minutes alerted by the backlash into James. His mother scooped him up and clutched him to her chest crying with relief that he was okay. James caught his wife’s eye and they both exchanged a guilty glance. Neither of them had credited Oleandra Puckle as being more than Sirius’ latest flavor of the week. Her body’s position—planted firmly in front of Harry’s crib in a defensive maneuver spoke volumes. James felt shame fill him. He ought to have given the girl a chance at least.
Hermione woke, gasping for air. She sat up in bed, clutching her chest and looked wildly around her bedroom. She was alive. She was alive. Why was she alive? She was supposed to be dead. Why wasn’t she dead? The whole reason she’d gone back, the whole reason she’d said yes when Sirius had asked her out had been because she knew she was going to die. She couldn’t screw anything up because she was going to cease to exist. Had she bollixed it up that badly then? She lay back down and stared at the ceiling.
Memories were starting to flood her mind, her senses and she gasped in pain. She curled in on herself and whimpered as the new world she’d just created super-imposed itself on her old memories. Images flipped themselves over and over in her mind and she tried to pay attention. The Hermione Granger of this new world had been Sorted into Ravenclaw where her abrasiveness hadn’t won her any friends—just as it hadn’t in Gryffindor. However, without the annual risk to life and limb, and the friendship of Harry Potter, there was no way for this Hermione Granger to shine so she had ended up as just another face in the crowd. She’d been picked on and bullied and her only true friend had been another Ravenclaw who’d been bullied as well—Luna Lovegood.
This world’s Hermione was quiet, circumspect and a little mousy. Due to the fact that she’d never been friends with Harry Potter, she’d never attracted the enmity of Draco Malfoy or Severus Snape. In fact, she had helped Draco study for his OWLs and later his NEWTs. After school Draco had gotten her a job with Malfoy Industries where her brilliance was appreciated. This world’s Hermione counted him among her tiny circle of friends.
“Hermione?” Luna’s voice called to her. She tapped gently on the door. Hermione sat bolt upright. She’d forgotten that Luna was her roommate.
“Look, love, I’m sure she’s fine, come back to bed,” the deeper voice that she recognized instantly, her eyes widening in shock.
Harry. Harry Potter was Luna’s boyfriend of six months. They’d started dating after Luna graduated Hogwarts and the Hermione of this world had had very little contact with her friend’s boyfriend.
Hermione ran to the door and whipped it open, not caring that she was clad only in a tank top and a pair of shorts. Harry Potter blinked at her in surprise, his eyes dipping briefly to her full breasts and her rounded hips. He seemed shocked more than pervy. Perhaps he hadn’t realized that this Hermione was a girl? Luna was watching her with concern.
“I had a dream,” Luna said absently, her brow wrinkling. “Harry and I were locked in some sort of dungeon with his friend Ron and another Gryffindor...I don’t remember his name. Anyway, you were being tortured. I could hear you screaming and Ron was calling your name. He seemed really upset, which is sort of odd, isn’t it?”
“You had a dream about Malfoy Manor?” Hermione said without thinking and then clapped her hands over her mouth. Luna blinked at her.
“That was Malfoy Manor?” Luna asked curiously. Hermione rubbed at the inside of her arm and nodded. “And you dream about it as well?”
“Sometimes,” she admitted.
Luna grabbed her arm and turned it over, showing the smooth unblemished skin.
“It’s not there,” Luna said, almost as though she were trying to reassure herself.
“No,” Hermione agreed, staring at her arm.
“Er,” Harry looked confused and a little leery of the both of them. Hermione frowned at him for a moment. He looked very different from the Harry she’d known. He had an air about him that suggested that he’d been well-taken care of and well-loved. He was confident and perhaps a bit cocky.
“Harry dear, why don’t you go to bed,” Luna said suddenly, eyeing Hermione with interest. “I think Hermione and I need to talk.”
“Erm, I think I might,” Harry agreed. Hermione flashed him a warm smile.
“Good night, Harry,” she said automatically with fond affection. Then she grabbed Luna’s hand and dragged her into her room, shutting the door in his face.
He stared at the closed door for a moment before he shuffled down the hall to his girlfriend’s bedroom and her bed. Luna’s roommate had never spoken more than a word or two in front of him before, and she had always treated him like the Boy-Who-Lived, which he hated. The woman he’d just seen treated him like a friend. It was weird, and a little disturbing. He wondered what the two of them were talking about and then shook his head. It was best he didn’t know.
“What have you done, Hermione?” Luna asked with a strange intensity. Hermione blinked at her and blushed. She shrugged helplessly.
“Changed a few things?” She murmured with a small wave of her hand. Luna watched her for a moment, her head tilted.
“Now you belong nowhere,” Luna said absently. “You’ve given up so much, sacrificed your life in more ways than one.”
“It was supposed to be just the one sacrifice,” Hermione muttered in irritation, frowning to herself. “I wasn’t meant to come back at all.”
“Hmm,” Luna murmured, her eyes taking on a far off look while she thought.
“That is odd, isn’t it?” Luna said after a moment. Her eyes narrowed on Hermione. “My dreams…they were your world, weren’t they?”
“Maybe,” Hermione said carefully, tugging at the hem of her shorts. “Malfoy Manor definitely was.”
“You were an exceptionally brave woman,” Luna said admiringly. She smiled slightly. “Pity no one here will ever know.”
“It’s most likely for the best,” Hermione said absently. She bit her lip. “Luna, you aren’t going to, er, tell anyone about this. Are you?”
“No,” Luna said with a slight smile. “This is somewhat farfetched. Even for me.”
“Oh, excellent,” Hermione said with a genuine smile. She hugged Luna tightly. “Thank you.”
“You are my friend, Hermione,” Luna pointed out and Hermione nodded firmly.
“That I am,” she agreed. “No matter the world, I am your friend Luna Lovegood.”
“Hermione, dear, are you all right?” Luna called worriedly through the bathroom door. Harry was standing next to her cringing when he heard his girlfriend’s roommate throw up again.
“No, I’m not bloody all right,” Hermione yelled back in between bouts of retching. “I’m bloody well dying!”
“Maybe we should take you to St. Mungo’s,” Luna suggested anxiously. Hermione moaned in response.
A very reluctant Hermione was dragged to St. Mungo’s by a bossy Luna. They waited patiently while Harry stood near them awkwardly, looking horribly out of place. He looked like he wanted to crawl under a rock when a red-headed healer marched over to them looking very professional and competent. Hermione realized with a dawning sense of surrealistic horror that the healer was a much older-looking Lily Evans. Sweet Nimue’s toes, could this night get any worse? Hermione was leaning against Luna and moaning helplessly every few minutes.
“Granger, Hermione?” The redhead asked crisply.
“Unfortunately, yes,” Hermione said flatly. The redhead blinked at her.
“Come along then, let’s get you into exam room three,” the healer continued. She glanced at Harry for a moment. “Why are you here, Harry?”
“Er,” Harry mumble and flushed.
“He’s my boyfriend, Healer Potter,” Luna said cheerfully. “He sort of followed along once he realized that I wasn’t going to abandon Hermione to the toilet all night long.”
“I see,” Healer Potter said, with a formidable glint in her eye. Harry seemed to shrink under that gimlet stare. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, er, what is your name dear?”
“Luna Lovegood, ma’am,” Luna said cheerfully as she chivvied Hermione toward exam room three.
“Ah, I knew your mother in school,” Healer Potter said absently, sparing her a brief glance before she focused on Hermione. “What are her symptoms?”
“Severe nausea and abdominal pains,” Luna supplied immediately.
“Well, let’s get her in here. Harry, you can sit down and wait. I’m sure Miss Granger doesn’t care to have you privy to her private concerns,” Healer Potter said firmly. Harry sat obediently and Hermione stifled a slight smile.
She was most assuredly not smiling at the end of her healer visit.
“Pregnant?” Hermione squeaked in horror, her eyes wide. Healer Potter patted her gently.
“Yes dear, about eight weeks along, I’d say,” Healer Potter said gently.
“Merlin’s pants!” Hermione moaned. Luna patted her on the arm.
“There, there, Hermione,” Luna tried to console her. “I’ll be there for you.”
“What about the father, dear?” Healer Potter tried to suggest. That was apparently the wrong thing to say. Hermione started wailing hysterically.
“He…we…oh god, Luna! How can I? What the hell would I say? Excuse me, you don’t remember me because we’ve never met, but I’m carrying your child?” Hermione started laughing and crying until Luna administered two sharp slaps. Hermione hiccupped. “Thanks, Luna. I needed that.”
“Er, how about I just leave you two ladies alone for a few minutes? I’ll set up a follow-up appointment for you Miss Granger with a healer that specializes in obstetrics,” Healer Potter said in her firm, professional-sounding voice.
Hermione had a hard time contrasting this woman with the red-headed girl of her memories. She nodded, still sniffling slightly.
“Thank you, Healer Potter, we would appreciate that,” Luna said in calm voice. As soon as the healer left she regarded the young woman on the bed. “Hermione, are you going to be okay?”
“I don’t know,” Hermione said, hiccupping slightly. Luna paused and snuck a peek at the door.
“Whose baby are you having?” Luna whispered. Hermione bit her lip.
“The dreams you have, they are of another life—you know that bit, right?” Hermione whispered back. Luna nodded.
“You were my friend in both lives,” Luna said with a fond smile for Hermione, who smiled back weakly.
“Well, the reason you’ve got this life, where your mum is alive and you’re dating Harry is because I went back to fix things,” Hermione whispered. Luna stared at her for several moments, her protuberant eyes bulging even more.
“You were Oleandra Puckle, weren’t you?” Luna whispered fiercely. “You said it, after I mentioned sacrifice you said you weren’t meant to come back at all.”
“Yes,” Hermione whispered quietly, glancing nervously at the door.
“Merlin’s beard!” Luna whispered her eyes huge in her face. “That means that your baby…this baby…it's Sirius Black’s, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Hermione said sadly, her shoulders slumping in defeat.
“Oh, Hermione,” Luna whispered, staring at her in fascinated horror. “What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know,” Hermione whispered back.