Hermione was tired, exhausted really. Tired of running, tired of fighting, tired of crying over Ron (the stupid git). But most of all tired of lugging around that stupid locket with the piece of Voldemort’s soul in it.
She wished they could just destroy the damned thing (quite literally it was damned) but they didn't know how.
That wasn't entirely accurate. Basilisk venom or Fiendfyre would both do the job. Trouble was, neither she nor Harry could control Fiendfyre. So they didn’t even try to produce it. Basilisk venom was a bit scarce at the moment.
They were still camped in the Forest of Dean. It was two days before Christmas. Hermione didn’t want to admit it even to herself. They needed to go to Godric’s Hollow and find Bathilda Bagshot. Maybe she would have some information that could help them. In the meantime, they needed to move again.
Closer to Hogwarts but not too close. Maybe one of the parks near Inverness. Hermione had visited that part of Scotland with her parents on a camping trip one time. Harry had never been anywhere.
She thought hiding in plain sight for a bit was a good idea. Polyjuice potion would help them blend in with the Muggles. They both could use the break and a good meal.
Harry had packed up the tent while Hermione was thinking.
“Hermione, are you ready to go? While I’m asking, where are we going exactly?”
“Inverness. There’s a public park. Also a bunch of tourist sights in the area. If we take Polyjuice, we might be able to blend in. We need a break and some real food. Maybe a bed. In an area with such a large concentration of muggles we can blend in for a bit. We’re both of age. We don’t have the trace on us anymore.”
“That sounds brilliant. How long are we staying?”
“Maybe a day or two. It’s almost Christmas. We should go to Mass if we can.” Hermione had been quite shocked to learn (given that witch burning was largely driven by so-called Christians) that many wixen were not only Christian, but Catholic.
Neville had explained it to her. Even though The Protestant Reformation happened before the Statute of Secrecy took effect, the Boleyn family were wixen. Henry VIII executing Anne made the rest of wixen society angry. As a result, wixen families didn’t get caught up in the Reformation. Most just went into hiding.
The Catholic hierarchy in fact knew about the Wizarding world just as the current Queen did. There was a special seminary in Italy to train priests who were also wizards. Two orders of wixen nuns also, one in France and one in South America.
Hermione and her parents were Catholic. So were her grandparents. She had never thought about it, but Neville had suggested she probably had a squib or two somewhere in her family tree. Most of muggle Britain belonged to the Church of England.
Hermione would have liked to research the whole thing, but she hadn’t had time before they went on the run. Something to look forward to if they survived the war.
Harry didn't practice any religion. He hadn’t been allowed to go to church with the Dursleys. They were Church of England, while Sirius was Catholic. Sirius had told Harry that he was baptized as a Catholic, and Harry had been asking Hermione and Ron questions about the Catholic church since Sirius died.
“Ok. Since you know where we’re going, can you side-along me?”
“Sure. Have your cloak?”
“Yep.” Harry had taken to traveling with the cloak at the ready in case they needed to hide right away.
With a crack, the two teens disappeared from England to reappear in a lovely park in a circle of Standing stones, that looked for all the world like a smaller version of Stonehenge to Harry’s eye. Unfortunately, they weren’t alone. Three men were standing on the other side of the middle stone facing away from them. Harry and Hermione ducked down immediately. Harry pulled the cloak over them both.
Without thinking about it, the two began to back away. Suddenly one of the men turned around and sniffed the air. Hermione gasped, recognizing Fenrir Greyback. The werewolf gave a feral smile.
“Come out, come out wherever you are. I can SMELL you little girl.”
Harry wasn’t about to go down without a fight, so he stood up and cast. “Sectumsempra!”
Normally it wasn’t a spell that Harry would use, but it was Greyback. Harry was fine with killing him.
Greyback was too quick though. The curse just caught the fleshy part of his arm instead of his neck which is what Harry was aiming at. With a snarl he started towards Harry.
“Run ‘Mione. RUN!!! I’ll hold him off.”
Hermione wasn’t about to leave Harry. The other two men turned, and raised their wands. Just like that... the fight was on.
Side by side, the teens began to fight. The three men started to herd them towards the center of the circle. Both Hermione and Harry started to hear a hum. The hum became louder, the closer they got to the center stone. Eventually the three men surrounded them. Greyback in the center and one on each side. With the stone to their backs, they were trapped.
“Give it up you two, there’s nowhere left to run.” "Stupify" Hermione shouted. One of the men went down.
“Repulso!!!!” yelled the other snatcher. The spell impacted and slammed Harry and Hermione into the large stone. They disappeared. With a howl, Greyback slammed into the stone after them and he too disappeared. The final man standing thought the stones must be acting as a portkey and dove at the large middle stone. He also disappeared.
At first all Hermione could hear was screaming. Indiscriminate screaming of hundreds of people. Then she heard Harry screaming her name.
“Harry!!!!! I’m here. Where are you Harry!!!” She felt herself fall. Hermione came through the stones and looked frantically around for Harry. She didn’t see him, but she did see the werewolf. Greyback came out right on top of her, grabbing her wrist.
“I’ll just take that wand little girl. Wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt, now would we?”
“No! Get away from me!” Hermione screamed. She thrashed and fought, but Greyback was a werewolf. Not fully transformed but incredibly strong, nonetheless. Hermione screamed again, while the wolfman laughed and licked the side of her face.
“Let the lass go.” Greyback looked over his shoulder and saw a petite dark haired woman. Next to her a very tall red headed man stood brandishing a sword. Wearing a kilt of all things. The werewolf started to laugh.
“Incarcerous” he said. Directed at Hermione, with her own wand. Ropes snaked out, binding her.
“You’re in luck little girl, looks like I get to work up an appetite while you anticipate my return. I’ll take care of the muggle and be right back.” He licked the side of her face again. “Don’t go anywhere now.”
He turned towards the man pointing Hermione’s wand at him. The man raised an eyebrow. “I dinna ken what ye think ye’ll be doing with that wee stick. It's no much use against a sword ye ken." He must be a muggle, Hermione thought.
Meanwhile, Harry had come through the stones. He was writhing around on the ground clutching his head. The other man came through the stones. He immediately cast at the muggle. “Crucio!!!” The man missed the muggle though and hit Greyback instead. Greyback dropped the wand. Hermione rolled on top of it.
The second man had realized his mistake and lifted the curse. Greyback growled, but kept his attention on the muggle, who raised his sword. Fenrir growled again charging. Which was stupid really, since the man took the opportunity to run him through with the large sword he was carrying. Harry yelled at the second man. The snatcher cast again, this time at Harry, who started screaming.
“HARRY!!!!! Stop it you bastard!!!! Leave him alone!!!” Hermione screamed.
The woman started towards Harry and the other man.
Greyback started to pull himself off the sword, growling the entire time. This was a little startling to the tall man, and he didn’t react right away. Hermione saw what was happening and yelled at the stranger, “CUT OFF HIS HEAD! IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO STOP HIM. QUICK! BEFORE HE GETS FREE OF YOUR SWORD.”
The man reached up with his knife to slit Greyback’s throat. Clutching at his throat, Fenrir tried to get off the sword faster.
“NO!!! YOU HAVE TO CUT IT COMPLETELY OFF, OR HE’LL JUST HEAL! HE’S A WEREWOLF!”
If this shocked the tall man, he didn’t show it. With a determined look on his face, he pulled the sword out of his opponent. With a mighty swing, the man cut the werewolf's head clean off. With Fenrir dead, the ropes disappeared from Hermione. Immediately she grabbed her wand and shouted. “Incendio!” Setting the body on fire, then the head. Immediate problem solved, she pointed her wand at the final man.
“REPULSO!” The man flew back into one of the stones. He smacked into it then fell, his head at an unnatural angle to his body.
Hermione crawled over to Harry, who was still lying on the ground clutching his scar.
“Harry, HARRY. What’s wrong? Let me see!!!!” His head was bleeding. He was moaning in pain and his eyes were closed. The Cruciatus removed, he wasn’t writhing anymore, just twitching a bit.
“Harry, move your hands. Please. Let me see. Is it your scar?” Hermione tried to get Harry to take his hands off his scar. She hadn’t forgotten about the man that helped her, but her priority as always, was Harry.
The muggle woman was checking the man at the base of the stone. After a moment she looked at the man with her and shook her head.
The muggle man spoke to Hermione.
“Lass? My wife is a healer. Perhaps she can be of assistance?”
“Unless she knows about curse scars, and coming through the stones, probably not, but thank you.” Said Hermione distractedly.
“I dinna ken what a ‘curse scar’ is, but she does know a bit about the stones, having come through them herself. What’s your name Lass? From when did you come?”
Hermione had managed to get Harry to show her his head. It was bleeding and the scar was open, but it looked smaller and the bleeding was slowing. She took her bag off her shoulder and “accio Dittany”.
“What is that? Dittany?” A new more feminine voice asked.
“It heals bleeding wounds. Well, most of them. It doesn’t work very well on werewolf or vampire bites. Or curse scars usually, but I don’t have anything else and Harry is in pain.”
“Excuse me, did you say werewolf and vampire bites?”
“Yes.” Hermione wasn’t really paying attention to what she said, being more concerned about Harry at that moment.
The Statute had already been violated. She would probably have to Obliviate the couple anyway. After a minute the Dittany seemed to help, Harry was still twitching periodically. Too winded to move, he lay on the ground trying to catch his breath.
“Harry? Are you alright? What happened?”
“I don’t know. We went through the portal or whatever and I heard this screaming. Then my head started to hurt. I heard more screaming, but it was like it was inside my head. I must have blacked out for a minute. The next thing I remember is you screaming my name. What did you use on my scar? It doesn’t hurt anymore.”
“Dittany. But that doesn’t make any sense, it doesn’t work on curse scars.”
“Hermione, you know as well as I do that it isn’t an ordinary curse scar. Not that I care. I’m just glad it stopped hurting. Are you alright?”
Hermione began to answer him, then got a terrified look on her face and started running her hands all over her arms and hands.
“What? Hermione, what’s wrong?”
“Are there any scratches!? Oh Merlin, did he scratch me?” Her movements became increasingly agitated as she became more and more frightened. Harry painfully pulled himself into a sitting position grabbing her hands.
“Hermione. Hermione! Stop. Let me check you over.” Ignoring his own hurts Harry carefully checked her over. “I don’t feel any broken skin Hermione. The blood isn’t yours. It's probably Greyback's from when I cut his arm. It’s ok. You’re ok.”
Hermione looks at Harry searchingly for a minute and he nods. She starts to tear up.
“Oh thank God.” Adrenaline and reaction set in. Hermione started to shake. Harry put an arm around her and they rested their foreheads against one another. After a moment Harry heard the sound of a throat clearing. Startled, he looks up to see a very tall man standing there with his arm around a woman.
"Um…Hermione? Who are those people?” Harry looked past her to the now silent couple.
Hermione had forgotten all about the muggle couple.
“I’m terribly sorry, thank you so much for your help just now. My name is Hermione. This is Harry.”
“Think nothing of it. My name is Claire Fraser and this is my husband James Fraser.”
Jamie and Claire had quietly agreed to let Claire make the introductions. The strangers were obviously from the future like she was. “May I ask what year you come from? I came through the stones in 1945.”
“1945? Wait! What's the date?”
“Monday October 14th, 1743.”
Harry and Hermione looked at each other in confusion. Then Hermione’s face brightened.
“Merlin’s pants Harry, it must be a time portal. I’ve read about them. I didn’t know that any were still active. They were all supposed to have gone dormant in the 60’s.” Hermione turned to Claire. “That would be the 1960’s. When we woke up this morning it was December 23, 1998.”
“Oh my. That is much farther than I traveled.”
“Wait, you traveled through the portal? So, you’re a witch then?”
Claire looked upset. “ What!? NO! I’m not a witch.”
Hermione and Harry both looked startled, then a little offended. Claire reddened and apologized.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to yell. It’s just that three days ago Jamie had to rescue me from a mob that was trying to burn me for being a witch. It’s 1743. They still do that here you know.”
Harry looked understanding; Hermione looked exasperated.
“Wonderful, back home I’m persecuted and called mudblood for being a first-generation witch. I go through a portal, back in time so now I’ll be called evil and persecuted for having magic.”
“Hermione, this shouldn’t be a problem. Let’s just go to Diagon Alley. Then it won’t matter. I’m sure I can find some Potter relatives.”
“That’s fine for you Harry. What about me?”
“As far as I’m concerned, you’re my sister. I’ll even Blood-adopt you when we get to Gringotts.”
Hermione sighed. Then she startled when the man, Jamie, spoke.
“I’m not sure what ye just said, but I do think it would be better if we all got off this hill. There are still redcoat patrols in the area. I’d rather nae run into one if ye dinna mind.”
“Jamie’s right. There’s a cabin a short distance from here. We can show you to it if you’d like.”
Harry smiled. “Thank you very much, we’d appreciate that.”
“We have to take care of the other snatcher first.” Said Hermione. “The last thing we need is for him to wake up and come after us.”
“He won’t be waking up I’m afraid, his neck is broken.”
“What!?” Hermione turned a bit pale. She looked at Harry, then at the man. Hermione covered her mouth with her hands. “I… killed him? I… didn’t mean… I just… he was hurting Harry. I just wanted to...” Hermione started to cry. Harry hugged her tighter into his side.
Jamie crouched down in front of her. “Is this the first time ye’ve killed a man then Lass?”
“Yes, I didn’t mean…”
“Tis never easy takin’ another’s life. If it be any comfort to ye, ye were protecting yer man here.” Jamie’s face was understanding.
“Harry’s my brother, not my boyfriend.” Hermione was probably focusing on the wrong thing, but she didn’t want to think about killing the snatcher.
“Och, I’m sorry lass, ye dinna look anything alike.”
“We aren’t blood related. More like we adopted each other.”
Jamie realized that Hermione was distracting herself. So did Claire.
“Let’s get off this hill, shall we? Formal introductions can wait.”
"Just a second." Harry pointed his wand at the body. He didn't have the same qualms about killing that Hermione did.
Not anymore, anyway.
"Incendio." He slumped back. "Merlin. I'm tired."
Getting down the hill was a little more involved than anyone thought it would be. Harry was still in some pain and his vision wasn’t quite clear. Hermione, continued to shake as the adrenaline in her system dissipated.
Claire instructed Jamie to give Harry a hand while she walked with her arm around Hermione. Jamie offered to carry Harry, who bristled and said he could walk. It was more of a hobble.
"You should just let him carry you Harry."
"I'm not a baby Hermione. I can walk."
Hermione snorted. 'fine then. Men and their stupid pride.'
"I'm sorry, I don't know why I can't stop shaking." Hermione said to Claire.
“It’s the adrenaline, You’ll be alright. You need to get warm and get something sweet into you.”
“Yes, thank you. I’m sorry to be such a bother, this always happens after a battle.”
“I know, it was the same during the war, although we didn’t have woman soldiers. Do they in 1998?”
“Oh yes, although I wouldn’t call myself a soldier, I’m just trying to survive. Usually we just cast a hex or two and apparate away.”
Upon reaching the cabin, Jamie built up the fire. Claire got some water on to boil for tea. Both were shocked and fascinated when Hermione reached into her very small bag to pull out three sleeping bags, a box of tea, and four mugs. She laid one of the sleeping bags down for Harry as padding. Hermione then made him get into the second one.
“Hermione!” Harry hissed at her, “what about the Statute?”
“I don’t think it counts in this situation Harry. Claire is at least a squib, even if she doesn’t know it. She wouldn’t have been able to travel through the portal otherwise. Jamie is her husband so he can know too. Otherwise I would have had to Obliviate them and I hate doing that.”
Harry didn’t say anything knowing how sensitive the subject was to Hermione. She promptly changed the subject.
“How’s your head?”
“Better. My vision is still a little off.” Harry turned to Jamie. “Thank you very much for killing Greyback by the way. He was a monster long before he was a werewolf.”
Claire looked up. “I meant to ask about that. Now that we’re in a safe place and can’t be overheard, may I ask you some questions? There are a number of things you said on the hill that I don’t quite understand.”
Jamie nodded and added, “Aye, I’d like to know as well. I grew up in the Highlands. I’ve great respect for the superstitions of people, but I’ve ne’er met someone who knew a werewolf and lived to tell the tale. O’ course, I'm an educated man so I didna believe in fairies or selkies or witchcraft.” He grinned. “Nor travelers from the future until a few days ago. Yet here ye all are, and I’ve seen yer magic with my own eyes.”
“Of course, ask away. I’ll try and answer, although I don’t know everything.”
“You know almost everything Mione.” Harry smiled and Hermione smiled back.
“Thanks Harry. Not really, I’m just very good at researching.”
Claire and Jamie smiled at each other. A look passed between them, then Jamie waved a hand at Claire to indicate ‘ladies first’.
“I have several questions really. First I suppose, what exactly is a squib?”
“A squib is a person who has a small magical core. Enough to see magical creatures and use portkeys or the Floo or even travel through a portal like the stone back there, but can’t actively perform magic or carry a wand.”
“What is a muggle?” This was Jamie’s question. He had heard the wolfman call him that.
“A muggle is a person who doesn’t have a magical core. Just out of curiosity, do you hear the buzz that the portal makes?”
“If ye mean the stones, no. I canna hear a thing. Although I canna hear music either since I was hit in the head wi’ an axe a few years ago.”
“You were hit in the head with an axe?!” Harry was startled by that revelation.
“Aye, here on the back of me head.” Jamie showed them both the scar on the back of his head.
“You know, a healer might be able to do something about that. I don’t know how advanced magical medicine is in this time.” Hermione shook her head. “Sorry, we can talk about it later, I didn’t mean to get off topic.”
“That’s quite alright. So, there are Squibs, Muggles and Witches?”
“Well the general term is wixen. Women are witches and men are wizards.”
“Exactly like Merlin. He is considered the most powerful wizard in history. He helped create a lot of the wards that hide the magical world from non-magicals. Wizarding space we call it. Whole towns, the estates of the magical nobility, places like St. Mungos which is a hospital and the Ministry of Magic which is where the Wizengamot meets. The Wizengamot is like parliament for wixen.”
Hermione figured she might as well define the terms that were purely magical, to save Jamie and Claire from having to ask.
“I see. So, you have your own government, then?”
“Yes. I mean the reigning monarch always knows of course and the Prime Minister also. But then the Royal family have been squibs since the end of the War of the Roses. I don’t know if you are that familiar with English history, but Elizabeth Woodville and her mother were both witches.
Her children were all squibs, since she married a muggle. Then her children all married muggles as well. All the European royal families have wixen dotting the family tree. Elizabeth I’s mother was a squib as was her mother's brother. Their sister Mary was a witch. Mary Bolyen managed to hide it until she could escape England with her husband. There is some speculation that Elizabeth I was actually a witch, but I’ve never found anything definitive on her.”
Harry smiled at Hermione. It had been awhile since she went into lecture mode. He was glad, it was relaxing for her. He could tell, she was losing some of the tension in her shoulders. Harry just lay back and let her go. I can do with a rest anyway, he thought as he dozed off.
Jamie had another question, this one a bit more practical.
“How do ye plan to travel to this Diagon Alley? Is it nearby?”
“Not exactly. It’s in London. But traveling there won’t be difficult, we’ll just apparate. Which I can’t really explain, just that it’s a form of magical travel that allows wixen to cover large distances quickly.”
“Ah. And when did ye plan to go then?”
Hermione looked over at Harry who had begun to snore.
“I was planning on going in a bit, but Harry is sleeping. Since he doesn’t do that very often, I think we’ll probably just stay here for the night and go in the morning. It’s getting late. It will probably be dark when Harry wakes up. I don’t know what the Alley is like in this time so I’d rather not go after dark. We are going to need something to eat though. Is there a stream nearby? Maybe I can catch us some fish.”
“Dinna fash lass. We’ve plenty and I can go see about some fish. Perhaps even a rabbit or two.”
Hermione smiled tiredly up at Jamie (good heavens the man was tall). “Normally I’d protest, but really I am exhausted, so I’ll just say thank you very much.”
Jamie smile back at her. With a quick word and a kiss for Claire, he left the cabin.
Once Jamie left, Claire helped Hermione wash up and suggested she nap as well.
“I can keep watch until Jamie returns, you had quite a scare earlier. I don’t mean to offend, but you look completely worn through.”
“I am tired. Thank you, Claire I think I will try and get a little rest.”
Hermione lay down on the bed, but her mind was too frantic. After a fruitless few minutes, she sat up and asked Claire.
“How were you on the top of the hill anyway. You don’t live around here do you?”
“No. It’s a bit complicated.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry. Whatever reason you had, I’m glad you showed up.”
“You aren’t prying and I don’t mind telling you. It’s a relief really to have someone to talk to about it. Jamie said he believed me, but I don’t know if he truly did until this morning. He brought me here so I could go back. To my time.”
“Did the stones not work for you?”
“No, they did. I just… don’t want to leave Jamie.”
“Oh.” “Wait a minute. Didn’t you say you’re married? Why would he think you wanted to leave anyway? It’s not like you have to.”
Claire hesitated a minute. “I was married in 1945. To a man named Frank. When Jamie and I got married it was to keep an English officer from taking me prisoner. It was an arranged marriage. When Jamie found out about the time travel, he thought I wanted to go back to Frank. So he brought me here.”
“But you didn’t go.”
“No. I… couldn't, you all came through. And...I don't want to. I love Jamie. I mean I feel bad for Frank, I did love him too… just not as much as I love Jamie. I don’t know if that makes me a bigamist or something, but I can’t leave Jamie.” Claire looked down at her hands.
Hermione touched Claire’s hand. “I don’t know what a priest would say, but considering the men are two hundred years apart, I don’t think you’re a bigamist. I highly doubt this situation comes up very often, even for wixen.”
Claire laughed lightly. "No I don't imagine it does."
Hermione thought for a minute. “Were you married in the church both times?”
“No. I'm Catholic but Frank is Church of England. He and I married at the register office.”
"Were you and Jamie married in a Catholic ceremony?"
"Yes. His uncle had to bribe the priest to waive the banns, but...yes."
“I don’t know if this will make you feel better, but the church wouldn’t recognize your marriage to Frank as a valid marriage. According to the Catholic church, you were living in sin with Frank. You’re married to Jamie.”
“I don’t know if that makes me feel better either.” Claire sighed. “I wish I could send Frank a letter. At least to say goodbye.”
“Well, why can’t you? I mean if I’m right and you’re a squib, you can leave a message at Gringotts. The goblins will hold onto it and make sure it’s delivered to Frank in the 1940’s. You could even have them deliver it the day after you went through the stones. They deliver things to the muggle world all the time.”
“Sure, why not?”
“If I could, that would make me feel better. Could you Help me? I’d like to let Frank know...so he could move on if nothing else. Wait... Goblins?”
Hermione laughed. “I know. There are a lot of things that shocked me when I first learned I was a witch.” Hermione yawned.
“We can talk about it more later. Right now, you should get some sleep.” Claire was firm.
“Thanks Claire.” Hermione rolled over and was out like a light.