Chapter 11 : Halloween Day - Eleven
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Ron scowled at The Baron, who was hovering nearby, then sighed and closed his eyes.
He was standing in the Room of Requirement, holding his wand alertly in his hand. He concentrated wholly, trying to remember every detail of where he was 12 hours past, softly muttering the incantation under his breath.
Ron knew that he had been alone in the library at that time. He remembered that it smelled vaguely moldy and stale. He focused on the feel of the wooden chair he had been sitting in, his legs carefully set out in front of him, his hands resting on his knees. He had been staring at a shelf of books; the Herbology section, one title, Carnivorous Plants of Transylvania had stuck out amusingly in his mind because the spine had a bite out of it.
Suddenly, Ron heard a loud thump and his eyes sprung open, he whirled up and out of his chair....wait a second. He looked down and realized he had been sitting in the chair in the library. The chair. He had been successful!, he thought triumphantly.
“Ron?” He heard a voice inquire.
That was the farthest jump yet. Twelve hours into the past. He was actually getting the hang of this Temporancy thing.
“Ron!” The voice repeated.
Ron looked away from the chair and realized that Neville was staring at him, his arms burdened with many books. Damn. He thought the library had been empty.
“Err..hullo Neville. What are you up to?” Ron said, straightening, and pocketing his wand nonchalantly. He glanced at his watch to double check that his Temporant jump had been accurate. It was precisely 6:45. He smiled to himself.
“I’m fine. I was going to do some extra research for Professor Sprout, but I’ve got the worst headache. I was just going to check these books out...” Neville’s voice trailed off as he continued to stare at Ron, perplexed. “I didn’t see you come in....?”
“I kinda ran in quickly.” Ron elaborated, feeling somewhat guilty over Neville’s headache.
“Oh.” Neville said, nodding. “Um, Ron. I had a question...been meaning to ask you...”
Ron glanced towards the door; he really didn’t have time for this. He exerted a lot of willpower to restrain himself from tapping his foot.
“Sure, Neville. Uh..what?” Ron said.
“Um, right. About,” Neville dropped his voice to a whisper. “It’s about, you know, the D.A. meetings. Are we going to start up again? I know Harry’s busy, but...” Neville’s voice tapered off, as he flushed a bit. “It’s just, they were quite helpful, you know? And I could really use the help with some of Professor Snape’s non verbal spells...”
“I dunno, Neville.” Ron shook his head; he really didn’t know. “But I’ll ask Harry, ok?”
The Baron walked through the bookcase to their right, and Neville jumped back in fright, toppling his books over onto the ground.
Ron shot The Baron an annoyed glance over his shoulder as he helped Neville with his books.
“Okay, see you later Neville.” Ron said, and walked around the bookshelf; getting out of Neville’s line of sight, completed a quick suspension charm and walked back.
“You occasionally amaze me, in small trifling ways.” The Baron drawled.
“If you’re finished wasting my time with insults,” Ron said coldly, “I’m ready to finish this. Can we get started?” Ron looked away from The Baron, and glanced at Neville to make he was still frozen.
The Baron stared at him inscrutably for a long minute. “Well, if you’re ready,” He shrugged delicately, “...We can begin. But you’ll need a large amethyst to assist in focusing your thoughts.” He said and dissipated with a slight nod.
Ron stared at Neville who was starting to blink ever...so...slowly. He swore softly, strode out of the Herbology section, and left the library. Ron made it all the way to the Divination tower before he ran into anyone. Literally.
“Ooof!” Ron said.
Lavender was reading a piece of paper, not paying attention to where she was going, and they actually collided with no small amount of force. Ron looked down at Lavender, who was now sprawled on the floor, her books scattered.
“I’m really sorry!” She said, straightening out her skirt demurely.
“I’m sorry!” Ron said, his voice cracking embarrassingly, he held out his hand, and helped her up. “I wasn’t paying attention.” Lavender was pretty, and she smelled...he sniffed the air suspiciously...like coconuts? Did all of the girls at Hogwarts use the same shampoo?
He bent over to pick up her books, but she must have had the same idea because their foreheads cracked painfully when she started to reach down.
“Ouch!” Lavender said, holding her forehead, but she was smiling, laughing even.
“Wizard! I’m really sorry, Lavender.” Ron laughed and handed her the Divination text.
“No, I wasn’t paying attention, either.” She blushed prettily and looked up at him.
Ron blushed. “Well...then.”
“What are you doing up here?” Lavender inquired. “I thought you dropped Divination?”
“Umm..” Ron looked around. “I was thinking about taking it up again...I always liked the tea leaves.” He said, hoping that sounded realistic.
“Really?” Lavender said excitedly, “That would be great. If. Well...if you were in my class again.” She blushed again.
Ron felt his ears redden.
“Yeah, well, I’ve gotta get going.” Ron said, “See you later.” He hastened down the hallway, still rubbing his forehead.
“’Bye Ronald...” He heard Lavender say softly behind him.
But he was already walking swiftly towards the ladder up into the Divination tower. Inside, it was as hot and smoky as he always remembered. He didn’t see Trelawney, so he walked quickly to the side board and nicked one of the amethyst stones that were for classroom use. He’d put it back later, he thought with a shrug.
As he was leaving the tower classroom, he pocketed the crystal and made his way through Hogwarts towards the Room of Requirement, where he assumed The Baron would be waiting. He thought miserably about Hermione, who was, he looked down at his watch, probably eating breakfast at this moment, with quite a headache. Actually, the entire castle would soon be heading up to Madam Pomfrey’s for a headache remedy before long if he didn’t fix this whole mess.
He quickened his steps and was rounding the corner in front of the Room of Requirement when he nearly ran into another, less pleasant, denizen of Hogwarts.
“Weasley.” Snape said, looking down his nose at Ron. “Why aren’t you at breakfast?” He narrowed his eyes in contempt, “And five points from Gryffindor for skulking about corridors.”
“None of your business.” Ron said, and brushed past Snape.
Snape grabbed a hold of Ron’s arm. “I believe it is.”
Ron tried to shake off Snape, but he persisted. Snape must have noticed something heavy in his pocket, because Snape reached in and pulled out the large focusing Amethyst.
“A focusing crystal? And what is this for, Weasley?” Snape inquired softly, looking at the crystal, then at Ron.
Snape eyed Ron, if possible, with more suspicion.
“None. Of. Your. Bloody. Business.” Ron repeated mulishly and pulled his arm away forcefully, pushing Snape in the process.
Snape staggered away slightly, and pulled out his wand. Suddenly Ron was unable to move, his whole body rigid. He couldn’t grab for his wand. He focused hard on summoning his wand to his feebly moving fingers, but to no avail, he remained frozen.
“You will never learn, will you?” Snape said, straightening and pocketing the stone. “Are you going to tell me...?” He leaned in closer, a wicked look about his face. “I will know if you are lying.”
Logically, Ron knew that Dumbledore trusted Snape, that he was a member of The Order, but emotionally? It was hard to separate his dislike and loathing for the man from circumstances. Should he confide in Snape? He might even be able to help him...and wasn’t that all that was important? It was his ruddy potion that began this whole nonsense in the first place. He should help him straighten it all out.
“I...” Ron started, torn with indecision.
“Yes?” Snape leaned in closer, his greasy hair glistening in the light of a nearby torch.
“It’s your bloody Praeteritus potion that started this whole mess!” Ron exploded. “Why on earth would you have us do a potion like that!?”
“What?” Snape looked puzzled, as if that wasn’t the answer he had been expecting. “The Praeteritus potion?”
Suddenly, over Snape’s shoulder, Ron heard a rustle of fabric, and spied a pair of disembodied feet creeping closer. Snape must have heard it, too, because he twirled around, wand still at the ready.
“Accio Wand!” Ron heard a voice say, from beneath what looked like Harry’s invisibility cloak. Snape’s wand went flying down the corridor.
“Potter!” Snape shouted.
Ron felt an arm touching his frozen shoulder.
“Subsisto!” The voice said again. Ron knew that wasn’t Harry’s voice.
Then the stranger pulled off the invisibility cloak, and Ron was abruptly looking into his own face. He supposed this was himself from a future Temporant jump. What a weird feeling. Did George and Fred feel like this?
“Hullo.” Ron said, grinning. “Thanks, mate.”
The other Ron nodded his head and looked down the hallway suspiciously. “We should get going.”
“Should we pull his trousers down?” Ron laughed, looking at the frozen Snape. “Or punch the git? I’m all for-”
The other Ron rolled his eyes. “Bloody hell. We don’t have time for that.”
“But-” Ron started.
The other Ron took the focusing Amethyst out of Snape’s pocket. “Let’s go.”
“C’mon...we’ve gotta do something to him...” Ron wheedled.
“No. First of all, he’ll know exactly who did it – well, sort of – he also thinks Harry’s involved. Secondly, he is a member of the Order, and we must treat him with respect, even if he doesn’t respect us. And lastly, most importantly, we have more pressing things to do right now.” The other Ron said, pulling him into the Room of Requirement.
“Well, I’m a prat in the future.” Ron said.
Inside the Room of Requirement, it looked a great deal like the library. The Baron was hovering by a couch, looking annoyed.
“You took your time, Weasley.” The Baron said.
“I came as fast as I could-” Ron started.
“Oh, sod off.” The other Ron said to The Baron.
“Are you going to disappear or something?” Ron said to the other Ron, who looked at The Baron for clarification.
The Baron sighed, “Yes, he will disappear when the timeline is aligned. Did you bring the crystal?”
The other Ron set the focusing Amethyst on one of the tables.
“Good, good.” The Baron looked at them. “Which one of you is going to complete the final jump?”
He looked at the other Ron, who shrugged. “We’re the same person, I guess.” Ron said to The Baron.
“Are you?” The Baron inquired, tilting his head to one side.
Ron looked over at the other Ron, who was standing next to the table with the Amethyst. Did his hair always look that messy? They looked the same.
“Where in the timeline are you from?” Ron asked his other self.
“Roughly one day ahead. After that incident with Snape, he took our wand away and we had detention for the rest of the day. Later, you confided in him about the Praeteritus potion, but he didn’t help at all. The next morning I, err, borrowed Harry’s wand and cloak, and got our wand back. Then I spoke with The Baron about which point in time I could jump back to avoid the whole situation. We both agreed that you shouldn’t confide in Snape.”
Ron looked back and forth from the other Ron, to The Baron. It was a very odd feeling indeed to feel like your life had gone on without you, to be told you did things, but to have no memory of it.
“Oh.” Ron said, running a hand through his hair. He looked over at the other Ron, and noticed that he, too, was running a hand through his hair.
“Weasley.” The Baron said, looking at the other Ron. “We don’t have all day.”
“I guess he should do it. He does have more experience.” Ron said, feeling slightly disappointed.
The other Ron nodded, as if he had expected this. That Ron was looking down at the Amethyst, and The Baron was moving closer to next to him. He told himself it was foolish to feel jealous and let down, that was himself over there, even if he was a bit of a prat.
“Should I be here?” Ron asked, feeling suddenly superfluous.
The Baron looked at him coldly. “It matters naught.”
The other Ron shrugged again. “I dunno. Don’t suppose it matters.”
“So, when you straighten out the timeline, I’ll just disappear? Will I remember anything?” Ron asked.
“You will be the one disappearing..” The Baron gestured with his incorporeal hand towards the other Ron, “This Ron will continue on. Will he remember everything that has transpired if he is successful? I cannot say.” The Baron turned away from him, and started speaking softly to the other Ron.
Ron looked around the room and realized that he didn’t want to be here when it happened. “I’m going to go, then.” He said to nobody in particular; they barely looked up at him as he left.
Outside the room, Snape was still frozen from the other Ron’s suspension charm, which had apparently been quite potent. His thoughts were muddled and soon he found that his feet had brought him to the hospital ward. He walked into the room quietly, and found quite a large number of students either lying in beds or sitting in chairs, all complaining of headaches.
Ron looked between the beds until he found Harry and Hermione, who were both by the windows on the secluded right side of the Hospital ward. Harry was snoring softly, so he walked up to Hermione, who was trying to read, but she kept rubbing her forehead.
“Hey ‘Mione.” Ron said, smiling slightly, feeling burdened by guilt.
She smiled up at him brightly, which made him feel even lower. “Hello Ronald. Happy Halloween! Where have you been?”
“Oh...I overslept.” He said lamely, sitting on the side of her bed.
“Do you have a headache, too?” She asked as she set her book aside.
He shook his head, smiling ruefully, “No, I just came up to see you.”
She flushed prettily and he sighed. How long before he disappeared, he wondered.
“I’m really sorry.” He said, taking her hand. He looked over at Harry, but he was still asleep.
“About what?” Hermione asked, a frown creasing her features.
“Oh, everything....I’m a bloody idiot.” Ron said.
“Language.” She admonished out of habit, but she was grinning. “But I don’t think you’re an idiot.”
This was exactly where he wanted to be. Where he belonged, he thought, as he looked down at his hand that was holding hers.
“Ron!” Hermione said, alarmed.
“What?” He asked, looking around the room in anxiety, but they were still alone.
“Your...fading” Hermione whispered.
Ron looked down at his body, and she was right. He was...fading. This was it, he supposed.
“Yes, I believe I am.” He sighed. This all felt so...anticlimactic after everything he had been through.
He looked at her, and she was looking very distressed. He smiled, leaned down and kissed her gently on the forehead. “Shhh, Hermione...don’t worry, everything is going to be...just fine.”