A Terrifying Night
I had to run.
Around me, shouts calling others to action echoed between trees interspersed with Father's pained screams and orders for me to keep running. And I did, harder than before. Branches reached for me, as if the very trees were breathing, attempting to stop my mad break for freedom.
It had never crossed my mind that someday a mad dash through the Forbidden Forest might be necessary. If it had I would have done proper research on the area and memorized it's grounds instead of running around blindly as a headless chicken.
A noise from behind caught my attention. A glance over my shoulder revealed a small group of snatchers bearing down from behind. Rapidly.
Unfortunately, my status check took attention away from the forest in front of me. A simple rock, loose in the ground, proved more troublesome than might otherwise be assumed. As my foot connected with the top of the aforementioned rock, it disconnected from the surrounding soil and sent me tumbling off the edge of the path. I tried not to scream. Then, nothing.
The first thing I became aware of was the cold forest floor beneath me and a large overhang of ferns shielding my body. With my green cloak, I knew no one on the path above would be able to see me. Why is that important again?
A torrent of memories slammed my conscious. Voldemort telling Father that he would allow me to marry that snake of a man. No, he told Father to betroth me to him. Ugh. I'll say this, Voldemort had some screwed up ideas about what could force family loyalty, especially given he's already married to my great aunt Bellatrix, the insane bitch that she is. Yes, even an 11-year-old can recognize the woman's a nut-job and psychopath barely able to maintain the facade of a quasi-normal mental state. When she bothered to try.
Memories of Father's refusal came next, followed by Voldemort's torture of him, Mother's attempts to shield me from the evil gits liberal use of crucius against Father, Father's insistence we flee and our subsequent discovery. Tears momentarily flooded my eyes as his screams of pain echoed though my head.
“Poor little child, lost in this world. Tell me, Traveler, do you wish to make all of this right?”
The words trickled though my mind like a stream between stones. It took less than a second for what exactly the voice had said to register before I was up and glancing around wildly.
From the edge of the treeline, I caught sight of a whitish-blue form just as it slid further into the surrounding forest. Quickly, I chased after the figure with complete disregard of any danger which could be associated with this action. With someone like Bellatrix in my family, there has to be at least a hint of insanity somewhere.
My rapid steps fell softly against the forest floor, as muffled as the swish of my green and silver cloak. Ahead, the white -blue glow darted in and out of sight, though never fast enough to fall from view. Always in view.
Where is this thing leading me?
Upon rounded a rather large tree, I emerged in a large clearing which currently featured several good sized rocks and a swirling white-blue magic portal.
“What in bloody hell...”
“If you want to fix your world, enter the portal.”
I blinked faintly for a moment before refocusing on the swirling vortex before me. Am I REALLY going to consider following the advice of a disembodied voice?
My mind replayed the voice's words, reminding me of my father's sacrifice. Of course I would. Damn conscious.
With a sigh, I held my breath and walked blindly into what I suspected my be an elaborately built trap leading to my doom.
The first thought I had was that, whatever this was, it tickled. All amusement fled with the appearance of stomach dropping nausea. Followed by a dizzying sense of free-fall almost as bad as that which I had sustained falling off my fathers damn broom at 7. It wasn't until my knees hit the ground that I became aware of the forest again. The same forest I had just left.
“What in bloody hell...”
“The portal will reopen when your mission is complete.”
There was that voice again. Dammit, I had been tricked. A rustle of leaves caught my attention and I scrambled to my feet, prepared to run. Unfortunately, my little trip had left my dizzy and I promptly fell over. Bloody hell.
Heavy footfalls came barreling into the clearing, causing almost everything in the immediate vicinity to bounce. I stayed pressed to the ground and hoped that whatever this creature was it would leave. Immediately. So I could be very sick in private.
“Hagrid, what are you doing so far out?” questioned an older voice. Quieter footfalls followed and I dared a peek from beneath my cloak. Neither party appeared to have noticed me and neither were familiar.
“I was just checking out a strange light Headmaster.” replied the large fellow who I assumed was named Hagrid. However, the gray-haired man who stood with him who was presumably the aforementioned 'Headmaster' completely baffled me. Severus Snape was the only headmaster of a school anywhere NEAR the forbidden forest.
“I'm sure it was nothing Hagrid,” explained the man kindly. “Why don't you head back to Hogwarts? The first years will arrive in less than a week and we need to be ready.”
The half-giant (I could see that now) Hagrid simply nodded. “Of course Dumbledore.”
That name struck a bell. My father had spoken of him before. He had
been headmaster when Father was in school. Before Snape killed him.
The sound of heavy footsteps drew my attention back to the two men present just in time to see the one called Hagrid disappear into the trees while Dumbledore wondered closer to me. Several feet from where I lay, the man changed directions and sat upon one of the heavy stones littering the area.
Several moments of silence passed, during which I prayed to Merlin for this man's expedient exit from the area so I could finally move.
“The soil must be cold. You really should stand up.”
His words caused me to jump then fall on my rear when my knees gave out mid-jump. I was so graceful today it was astounding.
“Dammit,” I muttered while rubbing my arse.
The man just smiled. “Stiff knees need a moment before being used,” he advised before offering me a hand. When I was stable on my feet again, he continued. “So who do I have the pleasure of addressing?”
I started to snort, checked myself as I remember my grandfather's reprimand, and curtsied instead. “Hermione Lilia Malfoy.”
The man looked taken aback for a moment before slowly nodding. “I suppose it makes sense the forest would have sent you back.”
I cocked an eyebrow in my best Malfoy 'excuse me?' expression. All this Dumbledore fellow did was nod. “Yes, I see the resemblance now.”
This time I did snort, etiquette be damned. “And what does THAT mean?”
Again, Dumbledore smiled. “I means you are perfect as one to help tip the tables and ensure Voldemort's defeat.”
Now I really was confused. And my source of answers was currently strolling away.
I began to dart after the man, cursed when my feet refused to function for a moment, then continued after him.
“What do you mean I'm 'perfect as one to help tip the scales against Voldemort'? Everyone knows he's invincible!”
The man continued to smile and walk. “As, but he has yet to rise again. There for, we have a chance.”
“What in bloody- dammit!” I cursed as a tree root tripped me. Damn homicidal forest. “What year is it?
“1991,” replied the man calmly.
“And you are...?”
“Headmaster Albus Dumbledore,” replied the man, confirming my earlier suspicions. Dammit, I'd traveled through time. Wonderful. Just what my day needed.
“So what am I supposed to do?” I questioned as I managed to catch up with the crazed old man.
“Attend Hogwarts,” explained Dumbledore mildly. “Under an assumed name of course. Tell me, how much do you know about muggles?”
The question threw me for a momentary loop and led me to stumble again amid violent curses. I really needed to stop doing that. Malfoy's were nothing if not graceful and poised. An image of my father tumbling down the stairs had me correcting both statements immediately.
Dumbledore clearing his throat brought my attention back to the question at hand. “Um, very little?”
The man just nodded “Well, you have a week. Tell me, what is your learning curve?”
Again, I blinked. “Very high?”
He nodded in approval. “Wonderful. Then you should have no problems. A quick flew to the Granger's and you'll be in perfect shape. You should be able to learn everything you need to about muggles in a week.”
As I shook my head and followed this clearly deranged man towards the glow of lights resting in the castle which housed Hogwarts, one thought kept circulating though my head: Bloody hell, what did I get myself into?