Time in a Bottle 4

Hermione woke early and stretched. Long white sleeves of a heavy cotton engulfed her arms and her bed covers seemed heavier than she was used to. Her bed was a lot softer than she was used to. She suspected the mattress was stuffed with feathers.

To her surprise she found she was to share a room with half a dozen other girls besides herself and Christina Weasley. The floor her dorm was on wasn’t the same floor she had occupied at Hogwarts in the future. This room was significantly bigger and four beds lined up on each side of a rectangular room. Each girl had a large trunk at the foot of her bed and a wardrobe near her bed. There was also a small stool under her bed and grooming implements on a shelf in her wardrobe.

When she went looking for a night shirt the previous evening she was surprised to find a small selection of dresses alongside her uniforms. Not much clothing by modern standards, but more than four or five changes of clothing in this time were extravagant.

Hermione swung her feet out of bed and winced when her bare skin hit the cold stone floor.

“Poppy will help mistress dress.”

A small voice startled Hermione. She looked around to find an unusually small house elf smiling near the foot of her bed.

“Oh!” Hermione quietly said, flustered. “Thank you.”

“Mistress will stand as I hem?” Poppy the elf said, motioning to the stool and levitating it to an open spot in the room. Hermione moved quietly so she didn’t bother her roommates. She had no idea what time they were used to waking up.

To Hermione’s horror, a screen encircled her and her bed clothing vanished, only to be replaced by bloomers, a long shirt, a corset and petticoats. She bit back a howl of displeasure.

‘The bra isn’t used here,’ she reasoned with herself. ‘This is what you get.’ The petticoats were unnervingly heavy. Hermione couldn’t believe she was expected to lug around this much fabric.

To her relief, the elf wiggled her ears and the corset tightened in a way that wasn’t completely unpleasant. It forced her to stand straight and wasn’t as tight as she expected. It was something she could live with, even if she didn’t like it.

Then the light metal bell appeared around her waist, ending in a hoop above her feet.

“What the hell!” Hermione exclaimed before she could stop herself.

A few of the other girls woke up, including Christina.

One of the girls, a dark haired, pale skinned, big nosed girl, looked offended. Hermione didn’t know if it was from being woken up or her language. Hermione tried not to stare and wonder if Snape had Gryffindor beginnings.

“You do not have to wear it,” Christina said. “I threw mine away.”

“It’s vulgar,” the dark haired girl said with a disapproving look at Christina.

“The trees are vulgar to you, Victoria,” a small, dark skinned girl said. Her long dark hair snaked over her shoulders in tangles. She stretched her skinny arms and smiled at Hermione. “Because they jut at the sky just like a man’s-“

Charlotte!” Christina said halfway between laughing and sounding shocked.

“Hat,” Charlotte said with a grin.

Victoria looked furious and tore her bedclothes from her body, knocking over a stack of books and waking the rest of the room.

“Already?” a girl yawned. Hermione spied a tuft of light brown hair peeking out of a pile of disorganized bedclothes. “Can’t the fighting wait until breakfast? At least then I’ll have the chance at making a bit of coin for the inconvenience.”

“Games of chance are a tool of the devil,” Victoria sniffed.

“You’re a bloody tool of the devil,” Charlotte muttered as she padded past Hermione on her way to the water closet. Victoria didn’t comment if she heard the remark. Hermione was thoughtful for a moment, knowing about a bit of Professor Snape’s past. She didn’t know Victoria’s family name or if she were eventually related to the Snape line, but the nose and attitude were uncanny.

Poppy the elf dressed Hermione with a wave of her hand and tailored her school robes with a wiggle of her ears. Hermione found them to be shapeless, voluminous, and thick. It was no wonder Christina didn’t bother to wear a bell under her robes, there was no need for one.

Hermione tried not to stare while Victoria dressed in her long shirt and corset, then added several petticoats and proceeded to put a light metal bell followed by an overskirt. Then she attached large puffed sleeves and a put on heavy black dress that buttoned up the front and, finally, her school robes.

Although Victoria didn’t seem to notice, Charlotte seemed amused at Hermione’s expression. Hermione noticed Charlotte threw on 3 petticoats and a long shirt before reaching for her robes, then heard Victoria sniff in disapproval. Charlotte made an ugly face and practically bounced out of the room.

“For once, I’d like to start the day pleasantly,” a soft voice came from behind Hermione. To Hermione’s surprise, she was looking at an exact replica of Victoria, although this twin had a much more pleasant expression on her face.

“I don’t know how you stand her, Winifred,” Victoria said, rounding on her twin. Hermione was slightly glad she was still behind the dressing screen. “If father knew what rabble you associated with-“

“He’d have to deal with it like the stiff, pompous ass that he is,” Winifred said flatly. “He has no power over us here.”

Victoria snorted a most unladylike sound.

“Well, I’m never going home,” Winifred, sounding unimpressed with her sister’s argument. “I’d probably end up testing curses on him.”

“Winifred!” Victoria said, obviously shocked.

“Well, I would,” Winifred snorted, nodding a hello to the brown haired girl who had finally emerged from her bedding with a grouchy look on her face. “Morning, Amanda.”

“If I was your father, I’d be unpleasant too,” Amanda grumbled as she got out of bed and stormed to the water closet. “Poor man probably never got a decent night’s rest.”

Hermione snickered and Winifred smiled at her. “Winifred Moss,” she said introducing herself.

“Hannah Dumbledore,” Hermione said as she stepped off the stool and both the elf and screen disappeared. The use of magic was a bit unnerving in this era.

“Quite a trick you pulled,” Winifred said, looking impressed. She did a thing with her eyebrows that made Hermione sure the Moss line turned into the Snape line at one point. The resemblance was uncanny.

“It certainly wasn’t planned,” Hermione said, blushing slightly.

“I’m glad to hear it,” Victoria said.

Hermione suppressed the urge to slap the sarcastic girl.

“Just ignore her,” Winifred said. “And tell us about Paris!”

Paris?” Hermione said weakly. Good lord, she would have to grab some fashion magazines fast. She vaguely remembered they were around during this time period.

“Not everyone is interested in indulging the urge to look like a peacock,” Victoria said as she grabbed her school bag and fastened a bonnet on her head.

“Not everyone wants to look like a corpse, either,” an annoyed voice came from an undisturbed bed. A short shock of blonde hair popped out, sticking out in all directions.

Victoria threw a furious look in the blonde girl’s direction. “Better than looking like a man.”

“Anyone who cannot tell a man from a female when properly dressed has far deeper problems than even magic can solve,” the short haired girl said, visibly annoyed.

Victoria sniffed and flounced out of the room.

“Just ignore her,” Amanda said to the blonde girl, as she returned and threw a dirty look after Victoria. “It is not your fault that your family is not magical.”

Hermione looked confused for a moment before realization dawned on her. The Victorian era was pretty filthy if you weren’t highborn. Hogwarts was an exception because it had both magic and a fleet of servants, but most others didn’t have that privilege. The girl’s family probably had a breakout of lice over the summer. Hermione tried not to recoil in horror.

“Could you not use a potion to enhance hair growth,” Hermione said carefully, trying to memorize speech patterns.

“We did attempt that,” the blonde girl said, looking slightly embarrassed.

“It was tragic,” a dark skinned girl said in a clipped Middle Eastern accent as she stepped out from behind a dressing screen. Hermione started. She didn’t know anyone was behind there. This girl was already in her school robes, but a dark red scarf trailed out of the collar. “All of the remaining bits of hair that were on her head fell out. She looked much like Professor O’Brien.”

“Charity Anderson,” said Winifred introducing her to the dark skinned girl. “And Matilda Potter,” she said, gesturing to the blonde girl.

“Charmed,” Charity said, smiling and grabbing a bag full of books. “I will see you soon, if you decide to eat.”

Hermione scrutinized Matilda. If she were a relative of Harry’s, there was no resemblance whatsoever. Potter was a popular name.

“We won’t be long,” Matilda yawned. Hermione smirked as Matilda rolled out of bed and casually waved her wand. Her clothing flung to her, much in the way Charlotte was dressed beneath her robes. She flung her school robes over her under things and grabbed a small cap to cover her head.

“You could take a little care in your dress,” Christina admonished.

“I have better things to do,” Matilda said stubbornly. “Professor Snape is demanding extra work of me.”

Hermione started at the mention of the surname. Then had to force down a laugh as she realized Snapes taunting Potters must be a long standing school tradition. If Matilda’s line had turned magical and Harry was the end result. Hermione felt like kicking herself for her assumptions. She would have killed to have bothered to research her friend’s family lines before she was flung back in time.

“You did cause a bit of a disaster with those bubotubers,” Christina remarked as she buttoned her school robes shut and reached for a black bonnet.

“Not enough to justify fifteen inches of parchment,” Matilda grumbled. She rifled around in the trunk near the foot of her bed and pulled out a roll of parchment with a red ribbon tied around it.

“Your cousins will be waiting,” Christina said to Hermione. “They are always are the first to be prepared for a meal.”

“I am not surprised,” Hermione said as she searched her pockets from the night before for her schedule. Herbology and Household management. Right.

Hermione packed her school bag appropriately and tied a grey bonnet under her chin. She walked with Christina down to the common room.

Hermione saw Francis’ face light up as he spotted Christina. Her heart panged as she thought of Ron and his family.

“We may be late,” Aberforth said, practically dancing in excitement.

“I’m sure they will still have food if we arrive on time,” Albus said from the couch in front of the fireplace. He used a purple ribbon to mark the place in the book he was reading and packed it away in his bag.

Aberforth looked slightly guilty.

The portal swung open and they walked through it, making their way down the staircases and through corridors leading to the Great Hall.

Students were already eating when they got there. Aberforth practically rocketed into a seat and began piling his plate full of food. Hermione was relieved to see familiar plates of fruit, eggs, and breakfast meats.

She ate lightly, talking with the other girls at the table and meeting the rest of the Gryffindor boys in their Seventh Year. There were only six boys, counting Francis and Albus, as opposed to the eight Gryffindor girls. Hermione looked around for the first time and realized how many students there were.

Thomas Hewson and Alfred Barker were cousins, both talkative with sandy blonde hair and golden freckles. Their mothers were sisters and their families had always been magical, as far as they knew.

Patrick Poole was a dark haired quiet boy. Apparently he was something of a prodigy in chess. His family was also old, but no one had seen his parents in years. Their dark, gothic manor was located in a remote location on Scotland.

John Sterling was something of a mystery, even to the other Gryffindors. His mother was rumored to be ‘a woman of negotiable virtue,’ according to Winifred, although his clothing was fine and he always seemed to have gold in his pocket. It was rumored his father was a lord that lavished on the only son he had managed to sire, even if he was illegitimate.

The night before, Hermione had been embarrassed and nervous, not really looking out over the hall as she made her speech and she was sorted. Now that she was relaxed, she looked at her surroundings. Attendance was nearly a third larger than in her time. She was slightly shocked. She had heard about the older wizarding families dying out, but didn’t actually think about what that meant. Did families really start dying out because of their refusal to marry Muggles? Was it the wars to come that wiped them out? She would be spending a great deal of time in the library if she got back.

If she got back.

She glanced at her own table realized Albus was looking at her with a concerned look.

“Is everything to your liking?” Albus asked. “You look slightly pale.”

“I just realized I might not make it home,” Hermione said, her voice almost a whisper.

“Our fathers are working on it,” Albus said quietly. The clank and jingle of other students eating made it easy to speak semi-privately.

“I know,” said Hermione, her voice breaking slightly. Albus finished his breakfast quicker than Hermione would have imagined and packed some biscuits in a cloth napkin.

Albus excused them both from the table and whisked her in the direction of the greenhouses. To Hermione’s surprise, he walked quickly down a corridor and into an unused classroom.

“Are you in need of anything?” Albus asked. “Anything at all?”

“You have been so kind to me already,” Hermione trailed off. She felt tears pooling in her eyes and felt embarrassed that she couldn’t stop them.

“It is not a problem at all,” Albus said, handing her a hankerchief. When she dabbed her eyes lightly, he put an arm around her shoulder. She fell into his arms and began to cry.

Her mind was racing. She was stuck in the past. The only person she knew didn’t know her yet. She had assistance, but who knew how long that was going to last? What professions were available to her in this time? Would she be punished for affecting a timeline? Was she affecting it? How much damage had been done by her presence?

“There, there,” Albus said, stroking her hair. He certainly did know how to hold an upset woman. Perhaps he had a smaller sister. He waited until she had cried herself out before he pulled away and daubed her face with the handkerchief. “You have held up quite well, under the circumstances.”

Hermione nodded miserably.

“You have been very brave,” Albus continued, pointing his wand at her face and bringing down the swelling caused by her crying.

“Thank you,” Hermione said, brushing hair out of her face and tucking it back beneath her bonnet. He smiled slightly.

“You need not thank me,” Albus said. “Aberforth sent the pieces of the Time-Turner to our father. Perhaps it will contain clues to help them progress.”

“But that would change the course of time!” Hermione exploded.

“How do you know this was not your destiny?” Albus asked, confused.

Hermione opened, then closed her mouth.

“Well, I don’t know,” she admitted. “But it seems kind of dodgy.”

“Indeed,” Dumbledore gave her a small smile. “Sometimes things are not what they seem.”

“I suppose not,” Hermione mused. A bell rang through the halls of the school. “Either way, we need to get to Herbology.”

“I suppose we do,” Albus said. “Professor Snape certainly will not wait for us.”

“No,” Hermione said dryly. “I don’t suppose he would.”