Continuing Tales

Past Imperfect

A Harry Potter Story
by Vitellia

Part 8 of 27

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Hermione arrives in the same chambers, but instead of an empty room with half-hung wallpaper, it is paneled and furnished with dark wood and olive green draperies. It looks lived in.

She pulls the invisibility cloak out of her bag and slips it over her head, wanting to get out of this unknown person's quarters in case they're somewhere inside. She moves toward the door and gasps when she nearly steps on something long and black and moving.

The person appears not to be home, but his or her familiar is, and that familiar is a snake. Hermione wasn't crazy about snakes to begin with, but she's hated them with a passion since she watched Nagini tear Severus's throat open. She doesn't know whether this snake is poisonous – no one would actually keep a poisonous snake as a familiar, would they? – but she's not taking any chances so she casts a Protego. Except that nothing happens. She tries again, and nothing.

She has no idea how long until her magic is functional again. Severus told her that the Unspeakables who went back experienced everything from just a few seconds to a little over an hour.

"Nice snakey," she murmurs, backing away from it slowly, slowly, slowly. She makes a wide arc around it toward the door and never taking her eyes off the snake. The snake hisses and raises its head up off the ground, swaying back and forth.

She's nearly there when the snake coils as if to spring. Lunging for the door, she pulls it open and stumbles out into the corridor and slams the door behind her.

"Who is that?" a familiar voice growls.

It's Moody with his thrice-damned magical eye. Or, rather, Barty Crouch, Jr. What are the odds she'd run into the one person in the whole damn castle who could see through her invisibility cloak? She takes off down the corridor as fast as she can. Moody/Crouch fires a stunner but she throws herself against the wall and it misses.

She ducks behind a tapestry, hoping it's the one that hides the secret passage. "Lumos," she whispers and a soft light glows. She sags with relief. Her magic is working again, and in the light she can see that this isthe alcove with the passage. Slipping inside it, she throws a Confundus charm out past the tapestry and hopes it hits Crouch as she hurries off down the passage.

She exits the passage on the fifth floor, and makes her way quietly up the staircases until she reaches the seventh and the hallway where the Room of Requirement is located. I need a bathroom with a shower, she thinks, and a door in the wall appears.

Inside, she slides to the cool marble floor, her back against the wall, and just breathes. Getting rid of Crouch is the first thing on her list, right after modifying her appearance and convincing Snape to trust her.

She rummages in her bag for the dark Muggle hair dye that should have been right on top but after Peeves dumped everything out, it's all a jumble. She sorts through the shrunken contents of the bag to see what's missing. Her favorite jumper, naturally, half her bloody knickers, and her snacks are gone (she's starving) but the worst thing is that there's hardly any of the Time Turner potion. She has enough for a few days, but she needs to brew more and for that she needs Severus to let her use his lab and supplies, which means she needs to convince him to help her much quicker than she bargained for. Bugger Peeves all to hell.

It could be worse. The books with the instructions for both potions are there, as are her supplies for changing her appearance.

She applies the dye to the roots of her hair, waits a few minutes, then works the rest of it down into the mass of her curls. After the prescribed time, she washes it out in the shower. Dried and dressed, she uses Narcissa's wonderful straightening potion, which is so much better than Sleekeazy. It's a pity the woman was born an aristocrat. She might have become a magical beauty products mogul instead of a trophy wife.

Hermione puts in the contact lenses that turn her eyes from brown to blue and casts a Tempus charm. Dinner is just starting. The Marauders' map will show her where Snape and Moody are - or it would, if it were in her bag instead of on the floor of Minerva's office where Peeves dumped it. She decides to wait another fifteen minutes and then make her way down to the dungeons under the cloak, hoping Crouch-as-Moody is at dinner.

She sees a few students on her way to Snape's quarters, but no one who can see her. When she gets there she knocks, not really expecting him to be back from dinner yet, but either he finished early or skipped it, because he opens the door right away.

"Who's there?" he demands, and Hermione pulls the invisibility cloak off. "Who are you?"

It's a shock to see him in the flesh, stern and forbidding, after so many weeks chatting easily with his portrait.

"I said, who are you?"

"Helena Greene." It's the false name she and Severus decided on. Close enough to her own to help cover up minor slips of the tongue. "I can explain everything if you'll let me come in."

He doesn't move. God, enough with the bloody glowering and looming, she thinks.

Please," she says. "It's about Riddle."

There's only the barest twitch of a reaction but he steps aside and lets her enter.


"I know this is going to sound crazy –"

"Never a promising beginning."

"I suppose not." She pulls the Time Turner out from under her blouse. "You know what this is."

"Of course."

"The Department of Mysteries successfully modified the Time Turner so that a person could go back up to nine years into the past."

"I've never heard anything about that. Nor do I believe it's possible." Unfortunately, he wouldn't begin his consulting work with the Department of Mysteries until after Riddle's return so this Severus knows nothing about the modified Time Turners.

"It is. They did. Or, rather, they will. The verb tenses get a little confusing."

"I suppose you're going to tell me that you've come here from nine years in the future, Miss Greene?"

"No. Only seven years."

"Oh, well, in that case, of course I believe you."

"Your future self told me some things only he – you – would know so that you would believe me."

He crosses his arms and looks down his formidable nose at her. "Such as?"

"When you were a little boy, the person you loved more than anyone else was your grandmother."

"Many little children love their grandmothers."

"Her name was Becky Snape, and she died when you were six."

"A matter of public record."

"She used to bake you cinnamon raisin scones."

"A common enough thing."

"She used to call you, and I quote, a pet name so embarrassing that you would not tell me even to bring down the Dark Lord."

"Many grandparents call children embarrassing names."

"She gave you a stuffed toy. A donkey."

He sits in an armchair and gestures to the coach.

"Eeyore," she says, sitting down. "From the stories she used to read you." She can tell some of the fight's gone out of him. "You couldn't be parted from it, until it was destroyed."

He swallows, hard. "And how was it destroyed?"

"Your father was drunk and angry and threw it into the fireplace."

Severus looks at her long and hard. Most people squirm when he looks at them like that. This woman doesn't. He has never told a living soul about that stupid toy. How can she possibly know? Even if she has come from the future, which he doesn't for a moment believe, why would his future self tell her something like that? Something so embarrassingly personal?

He continues studying her, waiting for her to fidget or look away or start babbling, but she doesn't. There's something familiar about her, but he doesn't think they've met. He generally remembers faces, as spies who aren't observant don't live very long. He particularly remembers the faces of attractive, age-appropriate women, because he meets so few of them in his line of work. But hers is familiar and yet not quite, and recognition feels just outside his grasp. It's maddening.

"What am I like at 42, Miss Greene?" he says when it becomes apparent that she's planning to outwait him.


He raises his brows.

"You died at 38. It was your portrait I got to know well, not you in the flesh. I knew you when you were alive, but we didn't become friends until after you died."

"We were friends?" he says, his skepticism apparent.

"As much as a living person and a portrait can be, I think."

"How did I die?"

"Tom Riddle's familiar. A snake."

"Well, that's where your story falls apart. Tom Riddle has been dead these thirteen years."

"Then why hasn't that Mark on your arm faded?" she asks, and he glares at her. "Why is it getting darker? Why can you feel it itch sometimes, when you haven't since 1981?"

His eyes bore into hers. "Legilimens," he growls, but she snaps her eyes shut before he gets the word out.

"None of that, Professor Snape," she says, keeping her eyes averted. "Non-consensual Legilimency is the worst kind of violation. It's rape of the mind."

"Spare me your dramatics."

"It's not drama. It's the truth. Maybe you got so used to having Riddle and Dumbledore in your head that you were desensitized to just how awful it is."

"I'm not going to believe you unless I can see for myself."

"You can look at my memories in a Pensieve."

"Memories can be modified."

"You can watch me pull them out right now."

He thinks about it. He's good with memory charms, and is confident that he can spot a modified memory. "All right," he says and gestures to a large Pensieve sitting on a table by the wall.

Hermione walks to the Pensieve and uses her wand to pull one silvery strand after another from her head. When she's finished, she looks at Severus and waits.

"You're coming in with me," he says. "I'm not leaving you alone in my rooms."

The first memory is him and a snake-faced monster in the Shrieking Shack. "Is that…?"

"Riddle, yes. Or what was left of him after seven Horcruxes."

From the perspective of Potter and his two sidekicks hidden in the passageway, Severus watches the thing the Dark Lord has become hiss that he knows Severus is loyal but he has to kill him anyway and no hard feelings. So much for all those long-winded speeches about loyalty and how it would always be rewarded. He flinches as the biggest snake he's ever seen lunges and fastens onto his neck. He watches himself struggle, fall, and bleed.

He'd swear the memory isn't modified. And the only female in that memory is Hermione Granger. The woman who stands beside him watching Memory Severus hemorrhage blood and memories is older. Her hair is darker and straight, and her eyes are the wrong color, but her face… Severus looks at her and then at Memory Granger, who looks to be around eighteen and minus the buck teeth. She's too skinny and there are dark circles under her haunted eyes, but she looks uncannily like the woman who calls herself Helena Greene.

The next memory is Potter and Riddle killing each other in battle. Then there are bodies all over the Great Hall. Bellatrix. Potter's friend Weasley. Lupin. One of the Weasley twins. Severus winces. Gryffindors and hellions they might be, but those boys are the most daring and clever young potioneers he's ever taught. He has to feign contempt, of course, but secretly they're among his favorite students.

Memory Granger is older in the next scene, and no longer haggard and undernourished. Draco is there and he's older, too. Draco and Granger are talking with two portraits, Snape's and Phineas Black's. The memories start and stop abruptly, giving him only disjointed snatches of conversation about Time Turners about Horcruxes.

"Miss Granger," he says when they emerge from the Pensieve. "If that's a glamour, you've gotten quite good at charms."

"Muggle contact lenses and hair dye," she says. "I'm good but not that good. You and Albus and probably Filius would detect any glamour I might use."

"Horcruxes," he says. "The crazy bastard made Horcruxes."


"Seven Horcruxes. I didn't know a soul could be split that many times."

"Not and remain human, it can't."

"When does he come back?"

"This year. In the spring. That's why I came back now. Once we destroy all the Horcruxes –"

"Once I destroy them."


"You've delivered the message, Miss Granger. You can return to your time as soon as you give me the complete list of the Horcruxes."

"I didn't come here to deliver a message, Professor."

"You came to destroy Horcruxes," he sneers. "A girl barely out of school."

"A woman who fought in a pitched battle against Riddle and his Death Eaters. A woman who has been teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts for four years."

He looks at her thoughtfully. "Take the contact lenses out."

She vanishes them to the case in her bag.

Definitely, without a doubt Granger.

"Do you know there's a Death Eater in the castle?" she asks. "Besides you and Karakoff, that is."


"Barty Crouch, Jr."

"He's in Azkaban."

"He's here at Hogwarts, Polyjuiced as Mad-eye Moody."

"Miss Granger –"

"Want to see the memory?"


She pulls it out and drops it in the Pensieve. When they both come back out, Snape collapses back into his chair. "How could I not have seen it?"

"Albus and Minerva and all the rest of them missed it, too."

"But I was a spy. The only reason I'm still alive is because I don't miss things like that."

"Well, in my first go-round here you missed it all the way until April."

"It's bloody embarrassing, is what it is."

"Don't fret. You've had over a decade of your spy skills getting rusty. All the more reason for me to stay and work with you. There are a lot of moving parts in this plan," she says. "A plan your future self helped me come up with, by the way."

"Miss Granger," he begins, giving her his best glower.

"Oh, come off it, Severus. I'm not your student and I'm not afraid of you."

"I don't believe I gave you permission to use my given name."

"Fine. If you don't want to be Severus and Hermione we can be Snape and Granger. But we've got too much work ahead of us to be Professoring and Miss Grangering all over the place."

Who does this girl think he is? Potter? Weasley? But she's not a girl, is she? And his usual intimidation tactics aren't working on her. If he tries more of the same without success, he's going to look ridiculous. Biting back a sigh, he says, "What's your plan, Granger?"

"You expose Crouch and get Albus to hire me as 'Moody's' replacement."

"Hire you?"

"I've been doing the job for years. Why not?"

"Is Moody dead?"

"No, but he's been stuffed in a trunk all these months and is in no condition to teach anybody anything. He's going to need some recovery time. Ideally, just enough for us to finish Riddle off. And I need a reason to be here at Hogwarts. I can't very well go sneaking about under the invisibility cloak all the time and sleep on your sofa, now, can I?"

He stares at her, speechless.

"Though I suppose I'll have to stay here until I have the job. Unless I sleep in the Room of Requirement, but that would involve unnecessary skulking about under the cloak. When's the next staff meeting?"


"That's convenient. You can get Crouch sorted and recommend me to Albus. Tell him I was educated privately and taught Defence at Ilvermorny. I'm sure he's too lazy to actually check my references. If he was one to check references, we wouldn't have had to put up with some of the incompetent teachers we've had."

"Since the cock-up with Lockhart, he's been having Defence applicants duel with me when they interview."

"Your portrait told me. I'm sure you'll disarm me, but it won't be as easy as you probably think. I'm good enough to pass muster."

"You think so?"

"After looking down the wrong end of Bellatrix Lestrange's wand, it's hard to get too worked up over a demonstration duel. Oh, and Snape? I'm starved. Can you order some tea and sandwiches?"

Looking as though he's been hit with a Confundus charm, Severus calls for an elf while Hermione pulls her lists out of her bag and starts making notes.

Past Imperfect

A Harry Potter Story
by Vitellia

Part 8 of 27

<< Previous     Home     Next >>