Since 1970 @francehufflepuff
Chapter 57

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Chapter 57:

January 2, 1996

(present time)

"It's all thanks to you, Hermione. Or I should say, the other Hermione."

"What?" she gasped, turning to Amelia. Her friend didn't say anything. She just offered her a small smile.

"I couldn't understand it at first," Regulus explained. "I couldn't understand how someone could be in the cave with me... Someone who looked like you, but older. She was wearing tattered and bloody robes. Her hair was shorter than it used to be but still brown and curly. She just landed in front of me when I was reaching for water to drink, but the Inferis surfaced from the water and surrounded us. I was weak... too weak, and I couldn't raise my wand to perform any magic. But I watched her. I watched her fight all the Inferis with all her might, then she took us both out there."

Now, she was confused. Did she - this Hermione and not the one that sent Leo - travel back in time to rescue Regulus and there was a time loop? Did this conversation already happen for the Hermione that rescued Regulus? She had so many questions in her mind, but she didn't voice them. She decided to let Regulus finish the talking.

"I passed out after we made it out of the cave. I woke up in my bedroom, and Kreacher and Amy were taking care of me. I asked them what happened, and I asked them about the witch that brought me there."

Amelia reached out for her hand, so she turned to her friend. "The witch that rescued Reg Apparated the two of them to Grimmauld Place where Kreacher was waiting. She ordered Kreacher to find me and Alona. We were horrified when we saw three unconscious bodies in Regulus's room. We didn't know who we'd help first."

"Three?" she asked her friend, confused.

Amelia's eyes were glassy and held her tightly as if she was her lifeline. "Yes. The older Hermione appeared in the cave... with her husband's body."

Hermione gasped and covered her mouth with her hands, tears falling down her cheeks. "Oh, Merlin... Severus. No, no, no." She shook her head. "No, don't tell me about the time loop. No!" she almost yelled, then her hands were now on her chest as if shielding herself and protecting her heart from breaking. The thought of Severus being dead, not because of old age, almost gave her a heart attack.

"No, Hermione, no," Amelia said in a hushed tone, wrapping an arm around her waist and trying to calm her. "No time loop, no time loop, I assure you. The other Hermione assured us. When she saw me, even though she was very weak, she told me and Alona to take care of Regulus. She muttered something about the Department of Mysteries, but we didn't understand it clearly. The only thing that was clear was the words: 'Not in this universe.' It will not happen this time."

"Fucking Salazar," she cursed. "I bet that was Leo's birth mother."

Amelia nodded mournfully. "I guess so. She looked drained. Before we could even save her, she was gone. She and her husband... We buried them side by side."

"Were they wearing rings? How did you know they were husband and wife?" She remembered there were rings in Leo's bag. Wedding rings. Therefore, Leo's birth mother shouldn't be wearing a ring.

"The binding cord, Hermione," Amelia told her. "When a witch or a wizard loses their other half, the binding cord that's only seen during the binding ceremony - the wedding, appears again, wilted and broken. The other Hermione was carrying the cord in her robes."

Hermione heaved a sigh and rested her head on the back of the chair, looking up at the ceiling. "Shite. I think my brain stopped working."

"Tea, Hermione. This will help," Amelia offered.

"I think I need a gin. A Muggle gin."

Aeons later, when Hermione, Regulus, and Amelia finished their meal, they sat around the tea table again. Despite Hermione's 'need' for Muggle gin, she settled for a calming tea. She wanted to be sober when she returned to Severus and Leo.

"So, for many years, you've been hiding and using a different name?" she asked Regulus.

He looks more relieved and calmer now, so he smiled and nodded to her. "Yes. You may also add, that I've been hiding under the DoM's skirt. "Arturius Brown, that's me. There are a lot of things Unspeakables don't divulge. We have our own world, but since it was Alona and Amy who helped me gain a new identity and secure a job at the Department of Mysteries, I tell them almost everything."

"What about the Mark?" she inquired, eyes landing on his covered left forearm.

"For some reason, it stopped working. It stopped burning, and I couldn't feel the darkness imbued in it. Amy and Alona suspected it was because of the emerald potion I had. It's now like a normal Muggle tattoo."

"Kreacher's still at Grimmauld Place. Where have you been living?"

"I ordered him to keep the secret and act as if I no longer exist," Regulus said softly. "I stayed with Amy for a couple of months. She took care of me like I'm her baby brother."

Amelia laughed. "You are my baby brother."

Hermione smiled. "So, are you going to forgive Sirius? Obviously, you still love him."

Amelia sighed and offered her a sad smile. "If only it were that easy, Hermione. Let's get through this war alive, and maybe I'll run back to his arms willingly, yeah?"

Hermione beamed. That was enough for her.

"How's your son, Hermione? Leo, is it?" Regulus asked.

She quirked up an eyebrow.

Regulus shook his head and gave her a sombre look. "Alona and Amy said the other Hermione was crying for Leo during her final moments. And then, a few days ago, they finally told me about your time-travelling son. We really thought you were dead, you know. The Hermione here. We had never thought you were cursed and had to study at Hogwarts again. This time, with James Potter's son... and as Severus's student."

"He was devastated, you know. He felt like everyone had left him. First, you, then me... Toyin, and then Frank and Alice."

"I'm sorry. I couldn't show myself to him and tell him I'm alive," he said with an apologetic look.

She nodded. "He'll understand. By the way, Leo is fine. Safe. Enjoying being Molly Weasley's only grandchild... So, how are you going to kill the snake?"

"I guess it's time to reach out to Draco and introduce myself to him, even as Mr Brown."

She rolled her eyes. "Can't Draco just stay at Hogwarts with his friends? Why does he want to kill the snake, anyway?"

"Oh, perhaps Draco and his friends were thinking it would be the sweetest revenge for making their lives a living hell. Kill the Dark Lord's familiar."

"Not good enough."

"Voldemort's taken residence at Malfoy Manor," Amelia reminded them. "Meaning, Draco saw the snake every single day in the summer. The boy is allowed to carry a chip on his shoulder."

She shrugged. "All right, then. Draco and his friends are your responsibilities, Reg. If any of them dies under your care, I'll hunt you. I don't want any underage fighting. They should be protected, not sent to missions."

"I'll do my best to protect them, Hermione. I'll kill the snake myself. Give me time to prepare. I'm not the best when it comes to magical creatures," Regulus replied.

"So, when are you going to show yourself to Sirius and Sev?" she inquired. "Can't keep this from Sev, you know?"

Regulus nodded. "Don't lie to him, Hermione. Don't keep secrets from him. Tell him what you have to, but I can't meet him today. I'll have to go to Dumbledore first."

Just as she was going to ask Regulus if he was sure about going to Dumbledore and if he required her help, Severus's Patronus appeared from the room's window and stood in front of her.

"Come to the Burrow after, the Weasley residence. A minor incident happened. No rush, dear."

His voice was calm, and perhaps, he handled it well. "Well, there'll be no need for me to go back to the castle," she announced.

"Let's wrap this up and Hermione can go back to her family and the Order," Amelia said.


Hermione Apparated outside the Burrow. There was no alarm, or whatsoever. Molly and Arthur Weasley altered their wards to accommodate friends like her anytime. She thought she heard the voices of Fred and George, but ignored them and walked briskly to the kitchen door where she could see Severus, Molly, Ginny, and Arthur.

"Hey, what's up?" she asked, removing her outer coat before facing them.


To her astonishment, a familiar little figure hugged her legs and waist. "Leo?" She turned to the people in the room, giving them questioning looks, except for Sev whose back was on her. He was hovering over someone Hermione couldn't see. Hermione wanted to chastise him for acting like "the overgrown bat of the dungeons" again. It meant he was in his professor mode and was already intimidating someone.

Leo pulled away and looked up at her. To Hermione's horror, her precious little boy was sporting a black eye. "What happened to your eye?" she asked incredulously.

But Leo beamed. "Unca George pranked me again. Look, there's two of him!" He pointed in Sev's direction.

Sev stepped aside, revealing Fred and George, sitting in the mismatched dining chairs. Their eyes widened when they saw her.

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