Continuing Tales

Past Imperfect

A Harry Potter Story
by Vitellia

Part 4 of 27

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Hermione walks straight from Minerva's office to the gates and apparates to Grimmauld Place. She's cutting it close, but she should still get to her seventh year class in time, provided there are no histrionics from Kreacher.

"What brings Mistress home in the middle of the school day?" asks the elf in question, who pops into the library the moment she arrives.

"Just stopped in to pick something up," she says. Can she not have a moment's privacy in her own home? Why do people want to have servants when you have to answer to them? It's like living with your parents forever. "Nothing I need. You can go back to whatever you were doing, Kreacher."

"Kreacher lives to serve, Mistress." He bows low and disappears with a pop. He knows all about S.P.E.W. and says things like that just to yank her chain, she knows. She really should give him clothes, but Malfoy assures her it would be cruel, so she hasn't. Yet.

She walks over to the empty frame where Phineas Nigellus Black normally is. "Headmaster?" she calls, leaning toward the canvas.

"You don't need to shout, Professor Granger," he scolds, moving back into the frame. "I'm dead, not deaf."

"Sorry, Headmaster. If you don't mind, I'd like to bring your portrait back to Hogwarts with me."

"Why would I want both my portraits in the same place? The life of a portrait is tedious enough when I have free run of only two places, and you want to deny me even that?"

"It won't be for too long, Headmaster. I just need your portrait in my chambers at Hogwarts for a while so I can talk to Professor Snape."

"That's Headmaster Snape to you, missy."

"He doesn't like being called Headmaster."

"How would you know?"

"He told me."

"Nonsense. He hasn't spoken to anyone since he died. Even me," he adds, affronted.

"He talked to me today. And to Albus. Well, he yelled and swore at Albus. But he talked to me very nicely. Nicely for Snape, anyway."

"I'll believe that when I see it."

"Yes, you will, as soon as I get you back to Hogwarts," she says, and lifts the painting from the wall. Shrinking it and putting it in her bag, she apparates back to the school gates.

She's slightly out of breath when she gets to her classroom, just a few minutes before class is to begin. Phineas is going to complain about being left shrunken in her bag for the rest of the afternoon, but it can't be helped. This class is preparing for NEWTs and most of them can't cast a Patronus to save their lives.

She barely makes it to dinner because she spends a good half hour stroking Phineas Black's antiquated male ego in hopes that he'll calm down enough to agree to go see Snape and ask him to come to her chambers at eight o'clock.

"You only brought me here to get Snape for you," Phineas huffs when she returns to her rooms and hangs his portrait on her sitting room wall.

"Well, yes. I told you that myself at Grimmauld this afternoon. And excuse me for wanting to save the wizarding world," she snaps crossly.

"Gryffindors and their savior complexes."

"Headmaster, please…"

She has trouble concentrating while she helps the NEWT students with their Patronuses for an hour after dinner, but when she gets back to her chambers shortly before eight, there are two dead Headmasters waiting for her.

"Good evening, gentlemen," she says.

"Good evening, Professor Granger," Snape replies cordially.

Hermione resists the urge to tell Phineas told you so. "Thank you for coming, Professor Snape."

He nods, waiting.

"I have some questions about our conversation this afternoon."


"The potion to remove a Horcrux. Could you teach Malfoy and me to brew it?"

"Is there another Dark Lord people have forgotten to tell the portraits about?"

"No, but there will be someday. Man's inhumanity to man is a renewable resource."

"Constant vigilance?"

"I am the DADA professor. It's in the job description. So, about the potion?"

"I can tell you in which book to find the instructions, and help you brew the base, but not produce the full potion."

"Why not?"

"There's an ingredient that's rather difficult to obtain."

Phineas yawns. "I hated Potions when I was at school. I'm off to have some fun being in two places at the same time."

"But remember, Albus can't know you're here, and especially not that you're in my chambers."

"Yes, yes. I may be over 150 years old, but I'm not senile, you know," he huffs as he disappears from the portrait frame.

"You still brew?"

"I help Malfoy with the potions for the infirmary."

"I used to do it on my own."

"He could easily enough, but it keeps my skills sharp, and keeps him company."

"You speak of him as though he were a friend, but you call him Malfoy."

"And he calls me Granger. It's what we always called each other in school, and by the time we got to be friends, it was what we were used to. After all these years it would be strange calling each other by first names. There's a point at which these things get set in stone, don't you think, Professor?"

"I do. Which means you should probably start calling me Severus now."

"If you'll call me Hermione," she says, keeping her tone neutral as her inner voice shrieks, Snape wants me to call him Severus? Either the painter couldn't imbue the canvas with all the vitriol of the living Snape or he's mellowed after four years of silent brooding.

"Severus, why wouldn't you talk to Malfoy when he went to see you?"

"I wouldn't talk to anyone, Hermione."

"So why did you talk to me?"

"At first, because you surprised me and made me laugh. I hadn't laughed since, well, I can't remember. Before I killed Albus anyway."

"Would you talk to Malfoy now?"

He doesn't answer.

"It would mean a lot to him. He doesn't have a lot of people in his life who care about him."

"He has you."

"You're his godfather."

Severus sighs.

Hermione picks up her wand and casts her Patronus. She looks at Severus, waiting for him to tell her no, but he doesn't. "Malfoy, can you come to my chambers?" she says, and the otter disappears to deliver its message.

"Uncle Severus!" Draco gasps when he arrives.

"A reasonable facsimile, at least," his godfather's portrait says.

"Granger, how…?"

"I made him laugh."

At that, Draco laughs, too, and lifts Hermione off her feet, swinging her around.

"Put me down and talk to your godfather, Malfoy."

"Still bossy, I see," Severus observes.

"You have no idea," Draco says.

"If the two of you are going to gang up and pick on me…" It's like Harry and Ron all over again, she thinks, which makes her sad, and her smile fades. She walks to the door that leads to her office. "I'm going to do some marking, give you two a little privacy to catch up."

When she comes back, head spinning from what her third years don't know about Boggarts, Draco is asking Severus, "Could I bring you to see Father sometime?"

"Headmasters' portraits can't be moved from Hogwarts."

"But if you were in this portrait, not yours, like now, and we moved it?"

"I don't think it works like that, Draco. But Lucius could come here to see me."

"He's under house arrest. He and Mother both."

"For how long?"

"Indefinitely. They have a hearing every year, and every year the cattle breeders decide they're still too dangerous."

"Cattle breeders?"

"That's what Granger calls the Wizengamot. Because of the marriage law."

"Ah, yes. I've heard Minerva talking about it."

"Severus?" Hermione says. "What did Dumbledore mean about the Time Turner?"

"Wait. You call him Severus when you still call me Malfoy?" Draco interrupts before Snape can answer.

"I pointed out the oddness of that to her before you arrived."

"You call me Granger."

"Hermione," Draco says, trying it out. "Hermione." He sighs. "No, it's just too weird."

"As I said," Hermione says. "So about the Time Turner."

"Time Turner?" Draco asks.

"When we were in Minerva's office, Dumbledore said there was a Time Turner that could fix things," she explains. "I remember hearing rumors about the Department of Mysteries developing one that would allow someone to go back years rather than days, but I always thought it was just an urban legend. And even if it wasn't, I thought they were all destroyed back in our fifth year."

"Budge over, Snape." Phineas shoves his way into the center of the frame. "Didn't anyone ever tell you guests shouldn't overstay their welcome?"

"Fat Lady turn you down?" Severus drawls.

"Don't be crass, young man." Phineas notices Draco. "You have the look of a Malfoy."

"Draco," Severus tells him, "Narcissa's son."

"Ah, so that would make you my great-great-great-grandson. Pleased to meet you, my boy. How is your mother? Lovely woman, Narcissa."

"She's been better," Draco says. "House arrest. But she's alive and sane, which is more than a lot of people these days."

"So. About. The. Time. Turner?" Hermione says, as if talking to the mentally challenged.

"No manners at all," Phineas sniffs.

"You get used to it," Severus sighs. "The Department of Mysteries was working on one that allowed you to go back years."

"How many years?"

"Nine was the most they'd attempted successfully. Further back and there were accidents."

"We'd only need seven. Our fourth year, when Riddle came back."

Draco stares at her. "Granger, are you seriously –"

"Even though they could go back nine years," Severus continues, "they couldn't stay back for more than a few hours without serious health problems. That's how I came to know about the experiments. The Unspeakables asked me to develop a potion to counteract the effects of the temporal shift."

"And did you?"

"I was working on it, had developed one that could keep a person alive and healthy for a few months in the past. I probably could have extended it, but after you lot had your little shoot-out in the Department of Mysteries and damaged all the Time Turners, there didn't seem much point in continuing."

"I'd only need a few months anyway."

"You'd need?" Draco says.

"Do try to keep up, Malfoy."

"Maybe you should keep up, Granger. The Time Turners were destroyed, remember?"

"Albus said they weren't, not all of them anyway."

"You can't trust Albus as far as you can throw him," Severus says.

"And you can't throw a portrait at all, really," Phineas points out. "Though I suppose you or I could, Snape."

"You could also ask him about the Time Turner," Hermione says.

"He wouldn't tell me. Not without a lot of cloak and dagger nonsense, anyway."

Hermione shrugs. "So we let him play cloak and dagger."

"No, thank you."

"Were you or were you not a spy?"

"I'm sick and tired of being a spy."

"Don't whinge, Severus."

"Is she always like this?" Severus asks Draco.

"Pretty much."

"So we let Albus in on a bit of the plotting," she continues, ignoring them. "Not all of it, mind. Just enough to whet his appetite. But not here. I don't want him to know there's a portrait in my rooms. Phineas, can you ask him to meet with us in some other portrait someplace else, tell him that's where we've been meeting?"

"I live to be your messenger boy, Professor Granger."

"Are we really not using first names yet?"

"I do not recall giving you permission."

She sighs. "Fine. My apologies. Headmaster Black, would you be so kind as to find somewhere we can pretend to plot with Albus?"

"As my lady wishes," he says, and moves out of the frame.

"Are all the former Headmasters drama queens?" Hermione asks, and when Severus lifts a painted brow, adds, "Present company excepted, of course."

Past Imperfect

A Harry Potter Story
by Vitellia

Part 4 of 27

<< Previous     Home     Next >>