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Stories from Sixth Year - Intermission

Monday, ten days later.

I am back at work — not as punctual as usual, but my boss is well aware of my situation and is cutting me some slack.   I truly do work for the world’s best boss.   I pull a can of diet coke from the little fridge under my desk and fire up the computer.   While waiting for Windows XP to grace me with its presence, I check my phone.   The voice mail waiting light was dark.   Good, no messages.   It then winked on to spite me.   I must have just missed the phone — it was probably ringing as I was trudging up the stairs.   I punched in the appropriate codes and was soon faced with another mystery.

"Uh, hullo?   Mr. Kokopelli?   This is Hermione Granger.   We have a bit of a situation here and I need to get a hold of you as soon as possible.   I’ll be calling back later, okay?"

Checking the little display window on the phone I discovered that I had indeed just missed the call.   Oh well, she said she’d be calling back.   On Friday, I’d left a "to do" list on the table next to the computer, reminding me of all the undone work that needed my attention.   I scowled at the list, not because it was inherently distasteful, but because I was feeling under the weather.   I won’t bore you with my recitation of symptoms, but the only reason I was at work was the probability that I’d get more rest at work than I would at home, given the current level of chaos.

Windows finally graced me with its presence and I opened up the office e-mail and then the personal e-mail.   I began to open messages, writing out quick responses where I could, and promise updates where I couldn’t.   The biggest part of my job was managing expectations — I was quicker than a number of attorneys in the department, but that just meant that a number of my clients had grown accustomed to immediate gratification.  

Three phone calls and goodness knows how many e-mail replies later, the phone rang again.   The caller ID window indicated INCOMING CALL, which meant that it was either the Government Accountability Office, the US Attorney’s Office, or our office in Auburn, Washington, where is wasn’t even 6:00 a.m. yet.

"Counsel’s Office," I said, cradling the phone against my shoulder.

"Uh, hullo?   Mr. Kokopelli?   This is Hermione Granger," said a youngish voice with a cultured British accent.

"Hi, Hermione, how are things?" I replied.

"Uh, not so good, actually," she answered.

"Where did you go to school before Hogwarts?" I asked.

"Um, Belhaven Montessori?" she answered, sounding a bit odd in her response.

"In what faith was your Mum raised?"

"She’s, uh, kind of Catholic?"

"And your dad?"

"He’s Jewish."

"What date is it today?" I asked.

"August 7th," she answered.

"What year?"

"Uh, 1997 — yeah, 1997."

"Okay, I’m satisfied.   What can I help you with?"

"Um, Mr. Kokopelli," she began.

"It’s Kokopelli," I interrupted, "no mister, just like Abelard."

"Erm, okay, whatever."

My other line began to ring.   It too was from INCOMING CALL.   "Excuse me, I need to put you on hold," I said.

"Sure," she said pleasantly.

"Counsel’s Office," I answered.

"Uh, hullo?   Mr. Kokopelli?   This is Hermione Granger," said a youngish voice with a cultured British accent.   It was the same voice as the first caller.   I looked up at the phone — the first line was still connected.   Apparently I had a situation on my hands as well.   I put this Hermione on hold and switched back to the first line.

"Hermione, what year did you just finish at Hogwarts?"

"Sixth year," she answered.

"Who was Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team?" I asked.

"Why, Harry, of course," she replied as if I were dim-witted.

"Okay, one last question — name the boys you’ve kissed on the lips," I asked.

"What?" she barked.

"Bear with me — it’s important," I said.

"Well, there was Krum in fourth year," she began.


"Then there was that pig McClaggen at the Slug party. . . and finally there was Ron on the King's Cross platform in June of this year," she said slowly.   I’m fairly certain that she was smiling, but that’s hard to tell when talking on the phone.   I suspected that there had been more instances with Ron than just at King's Cross, but I remained silent; for a long time.

"Uh, and there was Harry too, when we were doing the dance lessons in July," she said with a bit of a fluster.

"Thank you; now I know which Hermione I’m talking to," I said.

"What do you mean, ‘which Hermione?’" she asked.

"You know when I put you on hold?"


"That was Hermione on the other line," I explained.

"Hm, I wonder what she wants," she said.   Apparently, the notion of multiple Hermiones didn’t give her much dissonance.

"Let’s find out — I’ll conference her in," I said.

Hoping that I didn’t drop both calls I pressed the conference button on the phone and then the blinking light for the second line.

"Miss Granger?" I asked.

"Yes?" two voices answered.   The voices were the same.

"Hold on just a minute — I have just conferenced in another call to my first conversation.   Both of you callers claim to be Hermione Granger.   This is going to be a bit daunting to keep straight.   Hermione?"

"Yes," they answered.

"Let me start again — the Hermione who just finished sixth year with Harry as the captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, you’re Hermione A, okay?"

"Okay," one of the voices replied.

"So, the other Hermione — who was captain of your house team?"

"Ron, of course," she replied smugly.

"And the two of you are dating?"


"When did Ron first ask you out?"

"The night of Harry’s birthday, last summer," she replied.

"How did you correspond with Harry last summer?" I asked.

"By Passbox," she replied.

"Okay, I can state with a fair degree of certainty that the Hermione who is not Hermione A is who I would call TLOS Hermione.   Hermione A — did you just finish the Delacour-Weasley wedding?"

"Yes," she said quietly.

"Did Harry end up in the Daily Prophet the day after the wedding?"

"Yes, of course," she replied.

"Did you write the article?"

"Of course, but I used a penname."

"Of course," I replied.   "Hermione A, I’m going to call you Maskirova Hermione or Hermione-M for short.   TLOS-Hermione, I’m going to call you Hermione-T.   So, ladies, to what do I owe the honour of this call?"

There was a long silence.

"Erm, it’s about Harry," one of the voices said.

"Who is speaking?" I asked.

"Me, Hermione, uh, Hermione-M," she answered.

"What about him?"

"Harry came to the Burrow after the wedding — he was supposed to join us, but he had no idea what we were talking about," Hermione-M said.

"Join you in what?" I asked.

"In the search for the Horcruxes."

"And that’s when you figured out that this Harry was not the Harry you were familiar with?" I suggested.

"Exactly," Hermione-M replied.

"And you, Hermione-T?"

"Same situation turned around — Harry came to visit the Burrow after the wedding, expecting that Ron and I were going off to join him on some search, but we didn’t know anything about it.   Ginny figured out pretty quickly that this wasn’t our Harry, although she says he’s really, really close," Hermione-T volunteered.

"How long has he been at the Burrow?" I asked.

"About a week," Hermione-T answered.

"Has she gotten sick yet?"

"No, evidently this Harry is close enough for those purposes," she said in an oddly embarrassed tone.

"Would you two mind cluing me in to what you’re talking about?" Hermione-M asked.

"It’s a long story," I said, "but I will try to answer that in a minute."

"So what’s going on?" Hermione-T asked.

"Well, it seems that you two have switched Harrys," I suggested.

"How could that happen?" they asked in unison.   The effect was musical — eerie, but musical.

"As to the how, I’m at a bit of a loss," I said.

"Have you had any head trauma in the last month?" one of the Hermiones asked.

"No, but, ohhh," I said as the light began to dawn.

"What?" they asked in unison.

"I had surgery about a week and a half ago," I said.


"I was under general anaesthesia — perhaps the two of them got bobbled during the process.   Tell me, did Harry Apparate to the Burrow?"

"Yes," they replied.

"That’s probably when it happened," I guessed.   "So, Hermione-M, how is Harry getting along with your Ginny?"

"Uh, okay, I guess.   They’re a couple again," she answered.

"So they’re affectionate together?"

"Well, duh, of course they are, this is Harry and Ginny we’re talking about," Hermione-M replied.

"Any out of the ordinary behaviour for either of them?"

"Well, Harry did ask to go to church this Sunday," Hermione-M said.

"And that’s unusual?"

"Yeah, he’s not much of a churchman," she replied.

"Did Ginny go with him?" I asked.

"Yeah — she said she liked it," Hermione-M said.

"Well, I guess this mix-up isn’t a total loss," I said.   "Hermione-T, how are your Harry and Ginny pair getting along?"

"They’re touching, if that’s what you’re asking," she said warily.

"Any odd behaviour?"

"Not to mention — my Harry went to church this weekend too."

"Hm, Ginny probably talked him into it.   Well, ladies, I need to make some phone calls and see what I can do to help you out with this situation — can you call me back in about an hour?"

"Sure," Hermione-M replied.

"No problem," Hermione-T said.

My head hurt before this phone call — now it really hurt.   I choked down some acetaminophen tablets, hoping that life would improve.   It was too early to call Mr. Intel, given the time zone difference, but Full Pensieve should be at work already, he was only one hour behind me in the Central time zone.  

Full Pensieve thought I was pulling his leg when I first explained the situation to him, but then he applied some of his formidable brain power, suggesting a few things that had not occurred to me.   Right out of the box, he suggested that I had a hole in my head, and that the two Harrys had fallen through the hole into each other’s time/space streams.   His parting comment was, "Don’t cross the streams," to which I replied, "Thank you very much Dr. Venkman."

I actually got some work done before the phone rang again.   It was one of my clients in the building — I told them that I’d be free to meet with them after lunchtime, which made her happy.   It was close to the end of the government’s fiscal year and my Contracting Officer clients were going batty with the workload.   The next phone call was Hermione-T.   We chatted for a bit about nothing much in particular until Hermione-M called on the other line.   I conferenced her in without dropping either line.   Wow, I was on a roll.   "Hermione-M, is Harry available?"

"Not exactly," she replied.

"Which means?"

"I’m calling from my mum’s office at the Uni — using a voice over IP line," she answered.

"Me too," Hermione-T volunteered.

"Okay, Hermione-T, where’s Harry and your Ginny right now?"

"They’re at the Burrow," Hermione-T replied.

"Okay, make sure that they stay together for the next hour or so," I said.   "Hermione-M, can you Apparate back to wherever Harry is right now?"

"Certainly," she replied.

"Good, when you do, have Harry call Abelard’s Portal.   When it comes, have him send it to his Ginny, the one he marked.   Use exactly those words.   When he does that he can open the portal and he can swap himself out for the Harry that’s hanging out with Hermione-T," I said.

"He’s to call Abelard’s Portal, sending it to his Ginny, the one he marked.   I assume that this will make sense to him," Hermione-M said.

"It should.   Hermione-T, it’s important that your Harry-Ginny pair stay close to each other for the next hour or so while Hermione-M gets things rolling," I said.

"Got it," Hermione-T said.

"Okay ladies, call me back either way," I said, reaching under the desk for another diet coke.   I really need to cut back on those, but today was not going to be the day.   I started work on a memorandum my boss had asked me to write for the new General Counsel, which was a challenge as I had to summarize about fifty years of esoteric background without being boring or pedantic.   Oh boy, my type of writing assignment.   I was almost through with my explanation of post-award audits, and the most-favoured-customer discount policy, hoping that I could get away without explaining the concept of defective pricing when the phone rang again.

It was, of course, from INCOMING CALL.

"Counsel’s Office," I droned.

"Hello, Kokopelli, this is Hermione-T," the pleasant voice said.

"Hey Hermione, can I assume from the happy tone of your voice that your Ginny has her Harry back now?" I asked.

"You may so assume Mister Author, you have one very happy girl here," Hermione-T said.

"Well, good, I’m glad I could be of some assistance," I said, looking back at the last paragraph I wrote with some distraction.

"Any clue on how this happened?" she asked pleasantly.  

"Not a clue.   One of my colleagues says that I have a hole in my head and when I was under general anaesthesia the two Harrys fell through the hole," I explained, not that it was much of an explanation.

"So, are you going to be going into surgery again anytime soon?" she asked.

"I certainly hope not," I said, "I’m still recovering from the prior surgery.

"What was it for, if I might ask?"

"I have a moderate case of sleep apnoea, the surgery was supposed to straighten out a deviated septum in my nose and make it a bit easier to breathe," I said.

"Was it a success?" she asked.

"Ask my wife in a couple of weeks.   Given all the stuff that I carry around in my head it’s a lucky thing that we had an even swap between stories — you could have just as easily received a Balrog or a fleet of angry Klingons," I said.

"You’re a Trekkie?" she asked incredulously.

"Not particularly, but I did watch Star Trek -The-Next-Generation with near religious devotion when my son was a wee tot.   It got us through colic."

"I wanted to ask you some questions," Hermione-T said, her tone changing as her voice got quieter.

"What sort of questions?" I countered.

"What’s going to happen in my life questions," Hermione-T replied.

"Are you certain you want to know the answers?"

"Reasonably certain," she said.

"This is your future you’re peeking into — didn’t they warn you about that when you were working the Time-Turner?"

"They only warned us about trying to change the past — you can’t go into the future with a Time-Turner," she explained.

"Of course you can’t," I said soothingly.

"Do we win?" she asked earnestly.

"Voldemort is destroyed at the end of your seventh year," I answered.

"Does he survive?" she whispered.

"Your immediate circle survives — the crew that went to the Ministry of Magic at the end of fifth year all make it, your Mum and Dad make it."

"What about afterwards?" she asked.

"You go on with your lives."

"What’s that mean?"

"You do a magical apprenticeship and some years at a Muggle university.   You marry and have children, when your children are ready you go back to work and have a fairly successful career."

"Do I stay married?"

I was silent for a while.

"Well?" she asked.

"Your marriage does not end in divorce," I said, hoping that she wouldn’t press the issue.

"And after that?"

"You mourn your losses.   After a measure of time you remarry and get something that few of us get in this life; a second chance," I said.

"Was the first marriage bad?"

"No — not bad — difficult, but not bad.   You were faithful, your husband was faithful, you had good times and bad times — you raised some beautiful children who were successful in their own lives," I said.

"What about Harry?"

"What about Harry?" I countered.   "I thought we were answering what was going to happen in Hermione’s life."

"Harry is a part of my life," she hissed.

"And he remains a part of your life.   He marries and lives a very quiet life.   Not as quiet as he would have preferred, but he is surrounded by friends and family.   He works very hard at sheltering his family from the corrosion of fame and wealth."

"Is he happy?" she asked.

"Is he happy now?" I counter.

"Very much so," she said.

I didn’t say anything.

"So he stays with Ginny," she said.

"That’s a reasonable inference," I replied.

"I know about the story," she said.

"What story?"

"The story that comes after Stories from Sixth Year," she said.

"What story might that be?"

"Ever after," she said.

I don’t say anything.

"I marry Ron, have a rocky relationship for twenty-something years and then become a widow the same time that Harry loses Ginny, then you throw the two of us together," she says.

"Would you prefer to remain a perpetual widow?" I ask rhetorically.

"That’s just sick," she protested.

"Your attitude will change over time," I said.

"I still think it stinks," she whinged.  

"What do you want me to do, Hermione?" I asked.

"Make it better," she protested.

"I do," I replied.

"Not like that," she croaked.

I really hate it when women start choking up on the phone.   My Mum’s been doing it this summer ever since Dad got really sick and died.   It’s not that she’s not entitled to the emotion; I just don’t care for it.  Listening to Hermione evoked the same response in me.

"There is such a thing as too much knowledge," I said.

"What are you saying?" she asked.

"I can make you forget certain things," I said flatly.

"You’re a Muggle," she protested.

"You’d be amazed with what I can do with a keyboard," I replied.

Hermione-T was silent.

"I think it’s for the best.   Do you trust me?" I asked.

"Yeah, I do — you seem to like me," she said.

"Of all the characters, you are my favourite," I said.


"Really — of course I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t share that with Jasmine or Gabrielle from Maskirovat," I said.

"I’ve been meaning to ask you about that — what’s with pairing Harry with a 10 year old girl?" she asked.

"In your time stream Gabrielle Delacour is 10 this summer — in that time stream Gabrielle is a precocious almost 14, fully matured part-veela.   It’s one of those things that I can do with a keyboard," I explained.

"My head is starting to hurt," Hermione-T exclaimed.

"Mine’s been hurting all day," I said.

"Well enough peeking behind the curtain — do what you think is best," she said.

"Goodbye, Hermione — I’m glad you called me and glad that I could help out," I said.

"You’ve helped more than you know," she said cryptically.

I didn’t think much more about this, taking a late lunch after I finished the memorandum for the General Counsel.   When I came back from my post-lunch stroll, I quickly banged off a drabble for my Live Journal.   The final paragraph contained this text:

Hermione hung up the phone, a knowing smile on her lips.   As she closed her eyes all recollection of this afternoon’s conversation was moved into a part of her brain that was not reachable by her conscious mind.   In her lap was a sealed envelop addressed in her careful neat hand: "For Hermione — do not open until your 45th birthday."   She opened her eyes, looking down at the envelope in her lap.   She peered at it intently for a moment before putting it at the bottom of her school chest.   She had things to do and people to see; summer holiday didn’t last forever you know.

I hope I did the right thing.


Copyright ©   2005 — J Cornell — all rights reserved.   - write to me, I write back.

This is an intermission, similar to the two intermissions found in TLOS (the intermissions are found only on the archive).   The idea for the intermission is not mine, but borrowed from some clever stories on, the most notable being The Attack of the Clones.   When I first read that story it make my head hurt, but it grew on me as I was slogging through After the End.   As always, your mileage may vary.

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