Continuing Tales

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 2 of 29

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Thirty-One Days

When her feet hit the floor again she was back where she started, in the Headmaster's study, but something was different. The large portrait of Dumbledore was gone, the desk was neater, and there wasn't the acrid smell of smoke and destruction hanging in the air. The Pensive was also gone, instead the desk was covered with correspondence and paperwork.

There was a soft cry and the ruffle of feathers behind her. She turned, coming nearly face-to-face with a beautiful red and gold colored bird.

"Fawkes!" she smiled, reaching out towards the Phoenix. The bird studied her for a moment, then leaned into her touch, making happy clicking sounds with his beak.

"I don't supposed you can tell me what I'm doing here or what's going on, can you, Fawkes?" she murmured, dropping her hand and moving slowly towards the desk. She craned her neck to read the letter on the top of the stack of correspondence, and had to do a double-take on the first line.

Seventh October, 1976

"This can't be right," she murmured, and she pushed it aside, but the top three letters all bore the same date. She suddenly remembered the box under her arm. She put it down on the desk and opened it again, her hand snatching up the letter. The wax seal had the crest of Hogwarts on it, and she turned it over to find Dumbledore's name written in his own script. She debated opening the letter anyways when she heard the sound of footsteps outside the door. She grabbed the box and scrambled away from the desk as the door opened, and a younger looking Dumbledore entered. He paused when he saw her, and she realized that she must look a sight, blood slowly seeping from a wound on her face and another on her shoulder, covered in dust and burns from the stuff in Bellatrix's vault, clothes burned, torn and splattered with mud and other peoples' blood.

"May I help you?" he asked slowly.

"I, um… I'm not sure…" she couldn't figure out how to tell the younger Dumbledore about what was going on, because she wasn't sure herself. Still trying to stammer an explanation as to her disheveled state and sudden appearance she thrust the letter towards him. Dumbledore took it with a confused look, sat at his desk, and motioned for her to sit across from him. He opened the letter, and they both sat in silence as he read the parchment several times before folding it carefully, putting it back in the envelope, and setting it on fire.

"What are you doing?" she cried, terrified that her only hint as to what she should be doing was now curling up in flames.

"No need to worry yourself about it, Miss Puckle," he smiled.

"Puckle?" she asked in surprise. Puckle was her mother's maiden name, but there would be no way that Dumbledore in 1976 would know her mother.

"That letter told me that is how I am to address you. Hermione Puckle. It says that it would be best if no one here knew your true name, and so I don't want you to correct me if either name is incorrect. For your time here, you are Hermione Puckle."

"Where is 'here'?" she asked.

"Hogwarts, Miss Puckle, though probably not as you remember it. This is Hogwarts in 1976. I don't want to hear the differences, it would be best if I did not, nor do I want you to tell me how I managed to get that box to you or why you have apeared in the state you have. In fact when you leave this room it would probably be best that you and I interact as little as possible. Right now we must get you cleaned up, and make sure you have a plausible story. What house are you in?"

"Er…" she said, looking up to the ragged Sorting Hat. "Ravenclaw."

The hat seemed to perk up at this, but did not speak up, though how would it know years in advance, before she was even born, that she was going to ask to be sorted into a different house? Dumbledore's eyebrow raised, and she got the uncomfortable feeling that he knew the lie and was waiting for her to tell the truth, but she was sure that the best way to make sure Snape never looked twice at her would be to be a Gryffindor, so she said nothing and just looked back at him. He relented, and they spent half an hour devising a cover story, just thinking up the major points. Dumbledore left it to Hermione to fill in the details if asked, thinking that she would be better able to remember what she made up rather than what he made up for her. He cleaned and repaired her clothes, healed her fresh wounds and did the best to diminish the appearance of the older ones. Finally he conjured up a set of Hogwarts robes.

"These will get you through dinner, which is going on downstairs. We will have two more pairs sent up as quickly as possible, as well as whatever clothes I may be able to scrounge up for you and a set of books. Is there anything else you need before you go?"

"Yes, sir," she said, rolling up her sleeve, and showing him the scars where Bellatrix had carved 'mudblood' into her arm. "It would be easier for me if I didn't advertise this fact while I'm here."

He stared at her for a moment, and she set her jaw and stared back defiantly. "Would you like me to try to get rid of it?"

"No," she said forcefully as she shook her head. "I had to go through a lot getting it, and I'd rather say I earned it."

"Your homework from me, if you could call it that, is look up glamour charms. This should hold for a couple days, but you should learn to do it yourself for when it starts to wear off. If you have difficulty you can find me again," he said, waving his wand over the spot. She felt an odd tingling, and when she looked down she could see the scars fading and disappearing.

"You do know how long you're here, correct?" he asked.

"Thirty one days, sir."

"Good. I trust you know where you are going?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then you are excused."

"Thank you, sir," she said, grabbing the box, shrinking it, stuffing it in her bag and heading towards the door.

"Good luck, Miss Puckle," he called after her. He waited until the door closed before he sat at his table, tapping his fingers together. He had been mulling trying to create a spell to move back in time farther than a time-turner would allow, and now he would have to get working on that. Other than that he had been deliberately vague in the letter, and he wasn't sure exactly why Miss Puckle was here, when she came from, who her target was, or what she needed to do with that target. She was too young and the time was all wrong for her to be going after Riddle herself, but it was obvious she had recently been in a fight, and the fact that she had 'mudblood' carved into her arm made him suspicious that all his recent efforts might be for naught. Miss Puckle's appearance raised a lot of questions that he would have to try to avoid answering. He had encouraged himself to stay away from it other than helping Miss Puckle get set up in the letter he wrote himself. In fact, the only other thing he said was short and to the point- "trust her".

The scent of dinner had wafted all the way up to the corridor outside the Headmaster's office, and it was just then Hermione realized how long she had gone without food. They had a light breakfast at Shell Cottage, one she had mostly ignored due to the knot in her stomach, before they had gone to break into Gringotts, and after that she had been too busy or too upset to eat. Her stomach growled loudly, and she hurried to the Great Hall. The Ravenclaw table was second from the left, right next to the Slytherin table. No one seemed to notice the newcomer in their midst as she moved along the table until there was a large enough gap she could sit down and start spooning food onto an empty plate, and ladled a generous portion of soup into a bowl, hungrily taking a couple of spoonfuls, the hot liquid warming her to the bones and making her thank Merlin for soup not made of nettles and mostly water.

"Hey," the girl sitting about ten feet away from her called. "Come here."

Hermione swallowed the bite of bread she had just taken, then slid over on the bench to meet the girl and two others who were sitting with her.

"I'm Jennae," the girl said, offering her hand. "Sixth year."

"Hermione," she replied, shaking hello. "Also sixth year, but at Beauxbatons."

"Really?" one of the other girls asked.

"Yeah. I'm just here for a couple of weeks."

"Why is that?"

"Danielle!" Jennae interrupted. "Manners. What do you think we are, Slytherins?"

"Sorry," she smiled. "I'm Danielle. Sixth year, too."

"And I'm Selena," the final girl said with a smile. "Sixth year, as you may have guessed. Now we can ask, why are you here for a couple weeks?"

Hermione gave the quick explanation she and Dumbledore had made up, that she was at Hogwarts because her grandfather was dying and the family moved back temporarily to be by him, and that she was exchanging schools so she could be close enough to visit occasionally and be there quickly when the time came. The girls seemed to take it without question.

"You're going to love Hogwarts," Jennae said. "And I am going to do everything I can to help you through this. You've been sorted, obviously…"

"Yes. Dumbledore put some old hat on me in his office earlier," Hermione lied.

"Good. Ravenclaw is the best house, naturally, because we're in it. Being the smartest kids in the room helps. Gryffindors are good enough, but tend towards having big heads and more of a desire to have fun than prove how smart they may be. The Hufflepuffs are the friendliest group of people you could ever hope to meet, but not the brightest. And then there's the Slytherins."

Hermione took the opportunity to look up at the table as Jennae motioned towards it. To her surprise she saw several familiar faces, each with twenty years taken off their lives. Her jaw set as the first person she saw was Lucius Malfoy, Head Boy badge on his chest, ego practically visible, a younger Narcissa at his side looking thrilled to have caught his eye. Across the table from Lucius were Crabbe and Goyle senior, completing the Trio-From-Hell-Senior party. If possible her jaw clamped even tighter when she looked next to Narcissa, where Bellatrix Black sat, not looking as insane as in later life, but still fucking crazy, laughing at her own joke in a shrill pitch. Hermione was tempted to end a lot of pain in her time, and Bellatrix would never see the curse coming, but she could probably kiss her soul goodbye if she killed another student within an hour of arriving at Hogwarts and with no good explanation other than 'the bitch is an insane murderess'. She looked away, and finally saw what she was looking for, sitting on Lucius' other side, but further away from the group. Snape's hair curtained his face, he was looking down into a book as he ate, but she saw the distinct outline of his nose through the hair. He looked as greasy as ever, and she got the impression that Lucius' group were friendly with him, but not overtly so. Getting close to him would be easier if he wasn't always flanked by the Future Death Eaters of Hogwarts Club, because she was sure there was only so long she could be civil to any of them, asking more than a minute might be enough for her patience.

"Cunning lot, they are," Selena said as she caught Hermione looking at them. "Most have a mean streak a mile wide. Obsessed with blood purity, too. But some of them are smart, too. Very good at finding their advantage and playing it. The greasy one, Snape, he'd probably be a Ravenclaw if he wasn't such a bloody git. We're sure he's one of the smartest in our year. Knows more than he should, actually."

"Now don't scare her. We have several classes with the Slytherins," Jennae laughed, digging in her bag. She came up with a book that she held out to Hermione. "Hogwarts: A History," she announced. "By the time you're done reading this, you'll be more knowledgeable than most about our fair school."

They discussed different teachers and subjects with Hermione until they finished eating, then the girls showed Hermione the way up to the dorm.

"Say my name, and I disappear," the doorknocker said as they approached.

"Silence," Hermione replied automatically.

"Oh, she's good," Jennae smiled as they entered. "She'll do well here. Maybe we'll have to even try to convince her to leave Beauxbatons for us."

Hermione smiled, taking in the new surroundings with unabashed interest. The common room felt very open, done up in the richest of the Ravenclaw blue and bronze colors, with books and study spaces galore. For a fleeting moment Hermione felt like she could have enjoyed her years here, if she hadn't asked the Sorting Hat to send her to Gryffindor. At least if she had been in Ravenclaw her years at Hogwarts would probably have been much less stressful.

"You look tired," Jennae said as Danielle and Selena hurried to claim the last four-top study table. "We have a Care of Magical Creatures exam to study for, so we're going to stay up…"

"I'm not going to take Care of Magical Creatures here," Hermione said. She had pared down her courses to only the ones she felt she really wanted to take, a mini-refresher course before she returned to her own time, or the ones she would share with Snape. Seven classes in total- Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Charms, Arithmancy, Herbology, and Runes. She had already taken the sixth year of all the classes, which would help her appear bright, and would hopefully convince Snape she wasn't a dunderhead unworthy of his time.

"Then I'll show you the dorm. You look like you've had a rough day."

"You have no idea," she murmured as she followed her through a door and up a flight of stairs to a door labeled 'Sixth Years'. There was an open bed with a new trunk sitting at the foot, opened to reveal the clothes and supplies Dumbledore had arranged for her.

"Get some rest, and I'll wake you up a bit early tomorrow for a quick tour of some of the more important places before breakfast. Alright?"

"Sounds great. Thank you," she said, feeling her muscles relax in relief as she sunk onto the comfortable bed.

"Anything you need, let me know. Goodnight, Hermione."

"Goodnight, Jennae," she smiled, and a couple seconds later was left alone in the room. Her muscles began to ache from the day as she stripped her clothes off, folding them carefully and placing them in the trunk that Dumbledore had proivded for her, with a mental note to wear them again on day thirty-one so she didn't look like she had changed in the midst of the battle. She changed into a nightshirt, chuckling at the lurid purple Dumbledore picked out for her, and laid on the bed. A smile crossed her face as she thought how of how easily Jennae and her friends had welcomed her to the school and treated her as though they had known each other for years. Perhaps it was because she was in Ravenclaw, where brains were valued above all, and therefore among people like herself, but she already felt closer to these girls than she had ever felt to her own dorm mates, and her last thought before she let herself succumb to sleep was a vow to herself that she wouldn't look up any of their fates when she returned to her time.

Thirty-One Days

A Harry Potter Story
by keelhaulrose

Part 2 of 29

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