Time in a Bottle Chapter 3
Hermione lay in the quiet solitude of her infirmary bed and stared at the smooth white ceiling.
She was trying to recall the events that led her to the 19th century, desperately trying to think of anything significant.
Hermione had been walking down a corridor in Hogwarts thinking about her next lesson, potions, when two brawling Ravenclaws stumbled around the corner. She had gotten shoved into a wall and heard a faint crunching noise. She vaguely remembered a falling sensation.
Then she was waking up to a teenaged Dumbledore ordering her to cover her identity.
Thinking back on it, she wondered why.
She knew the Dumbledore from her time, but she knew very little of the Albus of this time. He had grown to be a great wizard, but what of his teenage years?
She may have just gotten herself into serious trouble.
“Miss Dumbledore,” Headmaster Phineas Nigellus began, his hands folded on the table before him. “You have caused quite a disturbance in our school with your arrival.”
Phineas had thin receding black hair that sharply pointed into a widow’s peak. His thin mustache and small pointed beard twitched around his mouth. Dark brown eyes fixed unblinkingly at her.
“I am sorry sir,” said Hermione in a light French accent. She was planning on losing it quickly. “I obviously did not think things through. I could have died, not to mention disrupting the studies of others.”
She was repeating to
herself in her head that her name was Hannah Dumbledore. She had always been
home schooled. She was raised in
Aberforth had slipped her a note briefing her on a few details, thankfully. The ink had faded after a day, but it was long enough for her to memorize it.
“Quite,” said Nigellus quirking a thin slick eyebrow. “Your apology is accepted.”
He smiled maliciously and Hermione had the feeling it wasn’t over yet.
“Your father has written to us and you will be staying with us for the rest of the year,” Nigellus smiled thinly. “Perhaps he thinks his coddling has affected your sense of reason.”
Hermione nodded silently. How long was it going to be until someone found her?
“You will have the chance to apologize to the pupils tonight,” Nigellus said, looking slightly amused. “Before the meal.”
She didn’t know anyone in this time besides Dumbledore and he didn’t really know her.
She had to give a speech to the ancestors of her classmates, apologizing for something she hadn’t done.
She only had a prayer that anyone would figure out where she was.
“Yes sir,” Hermione said, her heart sinking.
Hermione made a brief, stammering speech, trying to be as unmemorable as possible. Albus Dumbledore nodded and looked relieved when it was over.
To her surprise, although she should have expected it, the Sorting Hat was brought out.
She sat on the small wooden stool and a tall wizard with burgundy robes and brown hair set the hat on her head.
“Aren’t you early and late all at once?” the Sorting Hat echoed in her head.
“Certainly wasn’t my idea,” Hermione whispered, annoyed. It probably wasn’t often the hat sorted a Seventh Year, though.
“Well then,” the Sorting Hat said. “Gryffindor!”
The hall resounded with applause and Hermione smiled slightly as she made her way to the long wooden table holding her new house mates.
Hermione noticed the Hufflepuffs clapped politely, if at all. The Slytherins smiled and a dark haired boy nodded at her, appraisingly.
She frantically tried to recall anything she had read about the history of interhouse rivalries, but came up blank. At least she was as clueless as she was expected to be. Her false French origins would be a plausible cover for most potentially embarrassing situations.
Aberforth and Albus, she kept repeating to herself, had already saved her a place between them.
Hermione tried not to notice that the other sexes seemed to be segregated. She assumed since she was supposedly family with the boys they would be expected to escort her. This was going to be convenient, yet bothersome.
It wasn’t as if Harry and Ron hadn’t been with her most of the time, but she had some time to herself. Hermione had the feeling her privacy was about to completely disappear.
Hermione bowed her head with the rest of the school as the Fat Friar, the Hufflepuff ghost, blessed the evening meal. She wondered when that had changed. It was probably something so small no one had bothered to mention in Hogwarts: a History.
Hermione picked absentmindedly at her chicken as she let the boys make light conversation so she could get her bearings.
During the meal, Albus passed her a copy of her classes. She blinked twice.
History of Magic
(Ladies) Household Management
(Ladies) Household Management
Care of Magical Creatures
History of Magic
“Household Management?” Hermione blurted out. A homemaking class?
“You can spend that hour in the library, if you wish,” Albus said. “Contact Madame Church so she can drop you from the roster.”
“It may be informative,” Hermione said weakly. It would give her a great opportunity to find out what was normal in this time period. Hopefully no one would speak to her. “Perhaps I should attend.”
“Not like you have to learn how to manage a household,” snorted Aberforth as he tapped her foot with the pointed toe of his shoe. She mentally noted that the French branch of the Dumbledore family was well off.
“I find Household Management a most interesting hour,” a blonde witch interrupted. She was seated behind them at the Slytherin table between two large blonde boys. They seemed to become even more interested in their dinner, if that were possible.
“You would,” Aberforth said under his breath so only Hermione could hear.
“Hannah,” Albus began neutrally, “this is Rachel Black.”
Hermione hoped her face didn’t register any recognition at the other girls’ surname. Hermione nodded at Rachel.
“As I was saying,” Rachel said, as if the introduction were intrusive on her opinion. “Household Management is quite interesting. It’s not as if your husband will be interested at all in anything that happens in the house he resides in, except that the bed is warm and the food is plenty.”
Rachel glared at the men accusingly. Aberforth rolled his eyes at the ceiling without turning around to face the bossy girl. Household Management might be interesting after all, Hermione thought to herself. Rachel passed Hermione a basket of bread.
“These animals live with you, work a bit, bring home some gold and think their job is done,” Rachel continued loftily. “Our work is never done. We don’t have the pleasure of earning our own wages beyond servitude, leaving for exclusive clubs to shirk our family duties, or pursuing worthwhile activities like sports or scholarly studies.”
“No one is saying you can’t live in the library if you wish,” Albus began, but Rachel didn’t let him get very far.
“But there are still branches of literature people would discourage me from for being a woman!” Rachel jutted her chin out stubbornly.
“Really,” Hermione said interestedly. “What do you plan on studying?”
“Anything she’s told not to,” Aberforth said under his breath.
“I heard that, Aberforth Dumbledore!” Rachel said, annoyed.
“You know, it’s not everyone that can demolish half a charms classroom trying to prove how smart they are,” Aberforth finally turned around to glare at Rachel.
Albus took Hermione’s arm and scooted her closer to him, out of immediate reach of Aberforth or Rachel.
Hermione suddenly realized she was in extremely close proximity to a very good looking boy. He smelled slightly of spices and soap. She shifted her posture so she could be close, without actually touching him.
This was Dumbledore, for Merlin’s sake! Good Lord, Harry was right. She needed to get over Krum and get on with it. She was obviously getting desperate and silly.
The scent had muddled her senses enough to have missed the end of the argument. At least the speaking part.
Rachel had finally clobbered Aberforth on the shoulder and he had responded by throwing a goblet of water in her face. She lunged and the scuffle had begun. The students seemed just as enthusiastic at the prospect of a fight as Hermione’s classmates had been. The noise level rose above them as people climbed onto their benches to get a better look.
Hermione couldn’t help but notice the large blonde boys had not come to their cousin’s rescue, but were watching with mildly amused looks on their faces.
Come to think of it, it didn’t seem like any real blows were being thrown.
“Does this happen often?” Hermione asked Dumbledore over the rising din of cheering students.
“Once a week or so,” Albus said, sighing and turning his back on his brother and Rachel. Hermione followed his lead and tried to look as invisible as possible as Headmaster Nigellus stormed between tables, zapping students out of his path with small sparks of lightning from his wand. “I expect they’ll be announcing their engagement any day now.”
Hermione snorted as she reached for her own goblet of water. She chanced a glance at Dumbledore.
It was still Dumbledore’s long nose, his soft eyes, but goodness that twinkle looked drastically different under that crown of red and above that little intriguing line of freckles that ended-
For crying out loud, it was Dumbledore!
“Dumbledore! Black!” Nigellus roared with a trick that amplified his voice and rattled the walls of the Great Hall. Aberforth and Rachel shot to their feet, straightening their robes.
Hermione noticed a First Year Hufflepuff standing on a bench, quietly accepting coins and nodding at whispers from other students. If the betting pool was this organized, Albus wasn’t kidding.
“Fifteen points each for Gryffindor and Slytherin! Detention for a week! Go to your common rooms immediately!”
Most students groaned, but Hufflepuff laughed. Hermione threw an amazed look in their direction. When did they become such a bunch of jerks?
Aberforth shot Albus and Hermione an apologetic look before gathering his things and trudging out of the hall.
Rachel shot Aberforth a dirty look before gathering her things and storming out, shoving her way past him.
“Uppity,” Hermione heard from behind her in a female voice.
“She’ll grow out of it,” a male voice answered. “Her father indulges her too much.”
Hermione fought back the urge to turn around and give the Victorian students a mind full of modern ideas.
She didn’t realize she was gripping her fork in a death hold until Albus carefully took it away from her and passed her a fingerbowl of strawberries. She also noticed him moving the cutlery out of her reach.
Perhaps strong-willed women weren’t that unheard of after all.
Albus walked Hermione to the Gryffindor common room after the meal. As Hermione followed him through the familiar twists and turns of the Hogwarts corridors she was a bit relieved she had some practical knowledge, like where her room was.
To her surprise, the portrait of the Fat Lady was nowhere to be found where the entrance portal was, instead there was a large painting of a piano. Hermione watched as Dumbledore reached his hand inside and plinked out a few bars of an unfamiliar tune.
Her heart sank. She didn’t know anything about music, or the piano. What on earth was this?
The portal swung open and Hermione breathed in at the sight of the common room.
The stairs were in the same place, as was the fireplace and the Gryffindor banner, although this banner seemed to be a hand woven tapestry.
The furniture was covered in rich red velvet. Gold glinted from everywhere she was used to deep rich wood. A small stream of steam snaked from a tea service in the corner. A small piano sat in a corner.
"Do you play chess?" a young, dark haired boy demanded to know the instant they had entered the common room.
"It's so nice to see such an impressive use of manners, Williams," Dumbledore said to the boy.
The boy went slightly pink and bowed to Hermione.
"Pleased to meet your acquaintance, Miss Dumbledore," the boy said.
"One usually waits for an introduction before he's acquainted," Dumbledore gently pointed out.
"Bugger, Albus!" the boy said frustrated. "I'll never get it right!"
"Of course you will," Hermione insisted. When the boy got frustrated his voice went from clear, slightly over enunciated speech to a clipped cockney. "And I play chess poorly, I'm afraid."
"Smashing," the boy said, looking somewhat cheered.
"May I introduce James Williams," Albus said with a sigh.
"How do you do," Hermione said with a bob. She was thankful she had run across an ancient book of etiquette in the library.
"Chess?" the boy asked hopefully.
"Perhaps later," Albus said with a frown. "Mistress Watson let you slip by with no work at all for this evening?"
"Well," Williams hesitated. "Perhaps a bit."
"A bit?" Aberforth spluttered from a small table where books were stacked and rolls of parchment lay unfurled.
Albus quirked an eyebrow at Williams and he scuttled off. Albus shook his head.
“Lower born muggle parents. Couldn’t even read when he got here.”
Hermione’s mind boggled at the idea of print eluding the senses. She felt a shiver course through her.
“Cold?” Albus asked, looking a bit concerned. “Your constitution may not have returned completely. You came a long way. Perhaps we should sit by the fire.”
‘Constitution?’ Hermione choked back a laugh, but followed him to the fire.
He chatted lightly about ‘their’ family affairs in Britain, the muggle High Nobs, and points of interest about Hogwarts and the small town of Hogsmede that had just been founded nearby.
“It’s such an ever so wonderful idea,” a red haired girl interjected. “So our babies can grow away from all the dangers we’re beginning to see.”
‘You ain’t seen nothing yet,’ Hermione thought to herself.
“How so?” is what she really said.
“The streets are getting dangerous and overcrowded,” the girl said seriously. Dark brown eyes absorbed Hermione. “The muggles are discontent. I want my children to grow up in a place where I don’t have to fear for them.”
“I think you’re over exaggerating,” a sandy hair boy said, looking annoyed at the red haired girl.
“Hannah, this is Francis Bulstrode and Christina Weasley,” Albus introduced them.
Hermione lightly shook hands with the pair, because they were obviously a pair.
She remembered Ron telling her all the Weasleys were in Gryffindor. Apparently that changed at eventually when that branch went to the Bulstrode line. It was strange watching history happen. Maybe the Bulstrode switch was fairly recent, by her standards. Somehow, she couldn’t believe Millicent Bulstrode descended from Gryffindor. It was wrong, somehow. Maybe they were cousins.
“It’s not healthy to be terrified of Muggles,” Francis said, patronizingly.
“I’m not terrified,” said Christina. “But if I found out that some of my countrymen and women wielded powers above and beyond any sort of control or regulation I would be a bit nervous and perhaps would not make rational decisions at times.”
“So to avoid reactionary behavior, you’re going to hide yourself away?” Francis argued.
“It’s the best for children not to be exposed to that type of thing,” Christina argued.
Hermione looked at Albus questioningly. The argument made sense, but it’s context was a bit screwy.
“I think you will be fine living at the Bulstrode Estate,” Albus reassured Christina. “Even with the muggle neighbors and family. They are quite kind people.”
“I know,” Christina looked nervous. “I never met muggles before I met Francis. His mother is very pleased at the idea of magical grandchildren.”
“How could she not be?” Hermione interjected. “For a household that has never seen the privileges of magic the idea would be wonderful! Imagine seeing the children develop their talent as they get older, for a muggle grandparent it would be rapture. They will never suffer any of the pains muggles go through.”
Albus nodded behind her.
“It will also benefit them to see that not all people have the privilages they have,” he added. “They won’t take as much for granted.”
“My mother would love to see them grow,” Francis said softly.
Christina’s face softened. “Of course, Francis. I wouldn’t dream of it any other way. We’ll live at the estate.”
“It doesn’t mean we can’t visit the town often,” Francis said, laying a hand on hers.
Hermione noticed the Christina’s cheeks flushed furiously and she pulled her hand away. Francis took her hand and held it.
“We are engaged, I will hold your hand if I feel like it,” Francis declared, his voice rising. Then his voice lowered to nearly a whisper, “Not as if I gave you a solid pat-“
“Francis!” Christina said looking very nearly scandalized if she hadn’t been trying so hard not to laugh.
“I think the last thing you need to worry about is outside your household,” Hermione commented, hoping the reply wasn’t too cheeky for this time.
“No doubt,” Christina snorted. She gave Francis’ hand a light slap and snatched her hand back.
“Ten more months, my love,” Francis reminded her before he scurried off.
“Don’t remind me,” Christina groaned. “I don’t know what my mother was thinking.”
Hermione looked at Albus and laughed as Christina made her way to the girls’ dormitories.
“Has history changed courtship rituals?” he asked interested.
“Not nearly as much as you would imagine,” Hermione snickered.
As the common room emptied out as the hours grew, Aberforth joined them near the fire. Once they had the room to themselves, their conversation didn’t have to be so guarded.
“I can’t play the piano,” Hermione sputtered.
“You’ll find it to be a simple tune,” Aberforth insisted.
“It only took him a month to learn,” Albus said dryly.
“Either way,” Aberforth said, his voice a little high. “You’ll probably be with either of us most of the time.”
“I suppose I will be,” Hermione said lamely. She really hoped these boys liked to read. Perhaps they wouldn’t have a problem with her being alone in the library. There would be the librarian, it wouldn’t be like she was alone, really. Perhaps.
“Our father has sent along some feminine articles,” Albus said. “It will be up in your room, although we had to guess as to size. In the morning a house elf will be up to tailor your clothing before classes start.”
Hermione nodded. This was an era where ‘off the rack’ was a completely foreign concept. She had a feeling that starting SPEW wouldn’t be a good idea, either.
“Thank you,” Hermione said, swallowing dryly. “Your family is most kind.”
“The pleasure is all ours,” said Albus, more than a little relieved.