Title: Once Upon an Unspeakable Spin
House Category: Gryffindor
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Hermione Granger, Severus Snape, and others
Beta Reader(s): arynwy and shiv5468
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): For character death (but not main-character character death).
Summary: Things spin out of control for Hermione and Severus on the edge of Hogwarts' grounds.
"You're in the wrong time-stream."
At the woman's words, Hermione and Severus, who had been deep in conversation just inside of the Forbidden Forest, turned about sharply.
"Who are you?" Severus demanded, over his wand.
"Your daughter-in-law." The woman pushed back her hood to reveal herself.
"Shit," Hermione said.
"No, Severus," the other Hermione said, shaking her head. "As I'm exactly when I'm supposed to be, I think it's you who should explain yourself."
"She's got a point," Hermione murmured to Severus, but he didn't lower his wand.
"Severus," both Hermiones said then, their tones exactly the same.
With apparent reluctance, he lowered his wand. "Whom did I marry to make you my daughter-in-law?"
"Don't answer that," Hermione said to the other Hermione. "It's bad enough we've seen each other. If we say anything more—"
"I understand your caution," the other Hermione interrupted, "but inasmuch as I've already overheard the fact that your Time-Turner's malfunctioning, I think it might be wise for you to trust me rather than blindly following whatever procedure you're attempting to—and to avoid any future confusion, please call me Mrs Potter."
At Mrs Potter's words, Hermione found that her present confusion was greatly increased. To her credit, however, she pressed on.
"You said that we're in the wrong 'time-stream'? What does that mean?"
Mrs Potter rolled her eyes. "I should think it would be obvious. Are you married?"
"No," Hermione said again, glancing quickly at and then away from Severus, "not even a little bit."
"Given my connection to my own Severus, I suppose that's comforting—but you are twenty-five?"
"Yes," Hermione replied, frowning.
"So am I, but I haven't been mucking about with a Time-Turner. It stands to reason, then, that you've not gone forward or backward in your own time line but jumped the track, as it were."
"You're married to Harry?" Hermione asked, not quite able to process what Mrs Potter had told her.
"Of course not. I'm married to his brother, Sirius Charlus Potter."
"Perhaps we shouldn't be discussing this," Severus said.
"I told you," Mrs Potter replied, "you're not in your own time-stream. The Dark Lord knows—it couldn't be more obvious to him—and if you come with me, you'll be among friends."
"Will we be?"
"You're one of us, aren't you, Hermione?" Mrs Potter asked, pulling up the right sleeve of her robes to reveal a Dark Mark as she did so.
Severus placed a hand on Hermione's arm and squeezed it before she could speak, and then he sheathed his wand and revealed his own Marked arm.
"Excellent," Mrs Potter said, beaming at him. Turning to Hermione, she raised an eyebrow.
"You won't find one on her. In our time-stream, Lord Voldemort doesn't permit . . . unmarried witches to serve."
"Really? How odd."
"That's not what I'd call it," Hermione said hotly.
Mrs Potter nodded. "I imagine you don't like it, but of course, one must obey."
"Yes," Severus said. "One must."
Mrs Potter smiled. "How confusing this must be for both of you, but as I said, you're among friends, and Lord Voldemort is expecting you to dine with us." Winking at Hermione, she continued, "I believe his lordship is hoping to cause something of a stir at the High Table by hosting you. Things have been dreadfully quiet of late."
"So, you've, I mean, we've won?" asked Hermione, as she and Severus began following Mrs Potter, who was now, or she assumed, leading them back to the school.
"Oh, ages ago!" Mrs Potter exclaimed happily. "Well, just about seven years, now, to be more precise for you, and the anniversary's almost upon us. In fact, we've just been planning the celebratory entertainments."
Something about the way Mrs Potter said 'entertainments' gave Hermione pause; it must have disturbed Severus, as well, because his hand was once more upon her shoulder.
"Do you know, I think Lord Voldemort will allow you to stay for them—given that you haven't won in your own time-stream?"
"That's right," Severus said, "but we are, of course, confident in our victory."
"In the Dark Lord's victory," Hermione added, wanting to play her part.
"I'm sure you are."
"Forgive me, Mrs Potter, but—"
She laughed. "Oh, hearing you ask for my forgiveness is priceless, sir. You've never apologised for anything in your life!"
"That's true enough," Hermione retorted.
Mrs Potter turned to stare at her, her eyes narrowed and a little hard. "If it's true that your Lord Voldemort doesn't permit unmarried witches to serve, he surely wouldn't approve of your taking such an impertinent tone with a wizard, especially this wizard."
However galling, Hermione forced herself to appear chastened. "I apologise, Severus."
She didn't look into his eyes; she didn't want to see the mocking expression that she knew she'd find in them. Their working relationship had always been difficult.
"Better," Mrs Potter told her, moving off again.
Just then, a rustling in the trees startled them, and all three turned towards it, their wands drawn.
Mrs Potter ordered, "Stop right there!" and sent a Stunner flying through the trees in the direction of the sound.
"I'm stopped! Stop casting!"
"Oh, my God."
Hermione looked at Severus. "What is it?" she asked, as Mrs Potter called, "Mother! Why are you out here? I could have—"
"Yes," said a red-headed witch in blood-red robes as she burst through the trees onto their path, "you could have done. What would his lordship say if he knew you were firing off Stunners without sufficient cause?"
"My apologies, Mother."
"Husband!" the witch greeted Severus cheerfully, moving to embrace him.
Both Hermiones gasped as Severus' body went rigid.
"No!" Mrs Potter and Severus exclaimed, as one.
To Lily, for it could only be Lily, Hermione said, "I'm afraid there's been a mistake, er, Mrs Snape, is it?"
"I should say so," Lily replied, stepping away from Severus and looking at Hermione and her daughter-in-law in surprise. "I left Severus in his study when I came looking for Hermione, and now there are two of you! What's going on?"
"They're in the wrong time-stream, Mother," Mrs Potter said, while Severus stood gaping at Lily.
"Oh, dear. Then I'm very sorry for trying to kiss you," Mrs Snape told Severus, reaching for his hand.
He flinched and drew back, and Lily frowned in apparent dismay.
"It's just that his Lily is dead in our time-stream."
"Be quiet, Granger!"
"Oh, Severus," said Lily, her tone kind, "I'm so sorry for you, but don't be so hard on the girl. You must feel terribly shocked, but Lord Voldemort will soon have things sorted."
He opened his mouth as if to speak but quickly shut it.
"Oh, how perfectly dreadful," Lily continued, "but what's happened? No, wait, perhaps you shouldn't tell me." Turning to Mrs Potter, she asked, "Lord Voldemort knows?"
"He does. He sent me out on patrol to find them. I'm supposed to bring them back to the castle for dinner."
"Ah, so that's where you were. I'm sorry I fussed at you, dear."
"Why were you looking for me, Mother?"
"Oh!" Lily clapped her hands. "I couldn't wait to tell you. Lucius has arranged for us to share the first ceremonial kill!"
"'First ceremonial kill'?" asked Severus hoarsely.
"It's a great honour," Mrs Potter told him. "There's still some lingering resistance to his lordship's rule, as difficult as that is to believe, and it's necessary to remind people from time to time just what happens to traitors."
"Your Lord Voldemort surely does something similar?" asked Lily, of Hermione.
Mrs Potter answered her. "They haven't yet won in their time-stream."
Lily smiled. "Ah, but you will be victorious, of that, I'm certain, and then you'll be able to craft your own traditions of victory."
Hermione cleared her throat and forced herself to smile, as well. "So what you're saying is that you, er, sacrifice one of the defiant ones in place of Harry?"
"Exactly!" said Mrs Potter, her curls bouncing as she nodded delightedly. "And it was so wonderful of Lucius to think of us!"
"Indeed," Lily agreed. "I haven't wielded my wand in some time, so I'm greatly looking forward to it. I miss killing."
"And I," Mrs Potter said, "miss watching Harry die. It's such a shame that Lord Voldemort grew tired of reanimating him, isn't it? The same look of stupid surprise every time—it never got old!"
She and Mrs Potter began to laugh at that, throwing their heads back as they did so.
The sight was surreal—like something out of an awful Muggle film—and Hermione fought back bile, unable to look away.
"Avada Kedavra! Avada KEDAVRA!"
Neither Mrs Potter nor Lily had time to look stupid or surprised as they were struck by thick green jets of Unforgiving light. Horrified, Hermione turned to see Severus fall to his knees, his wand sliding from his fingers.
She clapped her hands over her mouth, bruising her lips with the wand she still held. She'd barely begun to process the idea of it being possible to "jump" a time-stream. She'd hardly had time to fully appreciate the fear she'd been feeling since the moment her counterpart had surprised them on Hogwarts' grounds. There'd been no time at all to allow herself to surrender to her shock at finding Lily Snape alive. But now shock was all she could feel.
This sort of thing did not happen to an Unspeakable, which was precisely why she'd accepted Severus' invitation to leave the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to join his research project at Mysteries.
Severus' grief-stricken tone washed over Hermione like a cold rain and brought her back to her senses. She knew what she had to do. Malfunctioning or not, the Time-Turner was all they had with which to save themselves. She sheathed her wand and pulled the Time-Turner up from between her breasts by its chain, running to Severus to throw it over his head, as well, as she adjusted it in what she hoped would be the correct way. She couldn't have done it a moment later; black-robed figures appeared around them in a ring as their surroundings began to spin with sickening speed.
Her last act in the wrong time-stream was to lurch forward and snatch up Severus' wand from the forest floor.
Hermione became dizzily aware of the cold hard ground into which she was being pressed by the weight of Severus' limp body. With an effort, she pushed him off her and sat up.
"You're in the wrong time-stream," she heard a familiar, albeit, entirely unexpected male voice say.
Cringing, she looked up to see Albus Dumbledore standing over her, only he was not as old as he'd been when last she'd seen him; his hair was dark auburn, and he appeared anything but frail.
Fuck! thought Hermione, giving the Time-Turner yet another spin.