Chapter 10 : Apologies and Heartaches
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When everyone got to the Three Broomsticks as planned, James offered his services to go get the drinks. Once he was done, James made his way back from the bar with several butterbeers in his hand. When he finally reached the table, he passed them out to everyone and reclaimed his seat next to Hermione. Remus and Lily couldn't help but gawk at how close the two were sitting; and only Remus noted the annoyed look on Sirius' face. He was also sitting next to Hermione; his eyes kept darting sideways and catching her lips twitch whenever she could feel him watching her. She was more focused, however, on James' hand that was clasped gently over hers, underneath the table, on his lap.
The door to the pub opened once more to reveal a slew of greasy Slytherins, followed closely by the slime ball himself, Severus Snape. He was looking mighty good in his everyday clothes; a black shirt and black jeans topped off with black shoes and black hair. He was definitely not the epitome of happiness. As soon as he entered and started walking toward the bar, his eyes darted to the Marauders, and their women, that were stationed in the furthest corner.
Hermione looked up from her hand, which was now being massaged by James' thumb, and locked eyes with the haughty Slytherin. He wore a mask of annoyance, but she new in his steel eyes she could see the slightest bit of apology. Still, she glared at him through small slits and then turned her head back to James who was showing the same expression. Aiming to upset her new foe, Hermione leaned in a kissed James on the cheek, all the while staring into those familiar cement colored orbs. Flashing a look of disgust, Severus turned his back and walked back to the bar to assume his drink.
When she finally started focusing back on the table in front of her, she met several pairs of shocked eyes. Lily and Remus were almost open mouthed, staring at her in disbelief. Sirius' eyes were narrowed at James, and softened only minutely when Hermione offered an apologetic smile. But James was the strangest of the bunch. His eyes were lit up, and a huge grin was plastered across his face. Instead of reaching back down for her hand, he draped his arm across her shoulder and brought her closer to him. Without loosening his grip on her, he leaned down and planted a feverish kiss on her lips.
"James," she whispered against his lips. "Now is not exactly the best time."
"Right, love," he said with a wink. "Perhaps later."
"I'm going for air," she announced, almost breathless. "I'll be back."
Taking that as a hint, James started, "I'll come with-"
"No, it's okay. I need to be alone." Hermione got up from her chair and headed to the door, feeling the eyes of everyone following her.
The winds were picking up speed outside, and Hermione had crossed her arms over her chest to keep the body heat close to her. Although it was a sunny day, that breeze was taking its toll on those who were brave enough to reveal their skin to the wind. She found herself sitting on a concrete wall in front of a small garden, contemplating the next few days she would be spending with the Marauders and Lily. How was it that she had gotten so wrapped up in their friendship and, more importantly, James. Normally, he wasn't her type and reminded her way too much of Harry. But still, she had found inside of him something that she had been missing for the last few weeks. He made her feel like she was at home.
Tears started to fall freely from her eyes and she began wiping them away furiously with her hand, dragging stray tears into her hair. This resulted in her usual frizzy look to be displayed now, after charms of sorts had been placed to keep it sleek. Huffing at her hair and tears, Hermione's mind began working at top speed. James kissed her, twice. James kissed her in front of everyone, even Sirius. James kissed her in front of Lily! Oh, no! I probably completely botched up the future, she thought as she put her head into her hands.
As if on cue, Lily came walking up to her, nothing but sympathy shining from her eyes. "Hermione," she whispered as she sunk herself down to her knees in front of her. "What's wrong?"
Without thinking, Hermione let out a long explanation, trying her hardest from giving away too much about the future. But some things just need to be said. "I have completely screwed up everything. I shouldn't have started to fancy James - or Sirius - or Severus. What is the matter with me? This isn't me at all! I'm not like this. And I knew better about James. I could have completely messed up Harry's future by now. And now, who knows what's going on back in my time. Will they know me when I get back? And I'm connected to a dead man. And you and James...And Remus. Oh, God," she sobbed harder into her hands, a few snorts leaving her
"James and me? What about Remus?" Lily asked almost selfishly.
"I c-c-can't say," she protested.
"You will say, Hermione. We can fix this," Lily assured her. She put her hand on Hermione's back and rubbed circles. "We're your friends and we will help you sort this out, okay?"
Hermione nodded her head in understanding and finally raised it to look at Lily. Her expression was soft and caring, something Hermione had not gotten used to. "Thank you," she said shakily. "Better get back to the boys."
"No, Hermione. You need to sort things out with James. Now," she insisted. "I'll go get him and tell him to come out here." Lily stood from in front of Hermione and went to walk back to the pub. Before she made it to the door, Hermione called back to her.
"Lil? What do I tell him?"
Lily looked thoughtfully for a moment before she answered, "The truth." And with that, she went back into the bar in search of James, leaving Hermione once again, alone.
Hermione walked briskly to the alley that was near the pub, with the intent on being left alone to her thoughts. And once she got to her destination, they all came rushing to her.
What did I do? She kept repeating to herself. It was becoming her new mantra. What in the name of Merlin’s Beard did I think I was doing? When the thoughts started coming faster and faster like a whirlwind. She couldn’t clear her head long enough to focus on one specific area that she had messed up on.
I have completely mucked up the future! How could I let James kiss me?! Urgh! Stomping her foot hard against the pavement, she was hoping to ward of the tears that were burning her eyes in an effort to escape. Why did I kiss him back? I’m completely leading him on. He can never have me the way he wants me; the most I can offer is a two week snog. I’m from the bloody future!
Her tears were now spilling relentlessly from her honey eyes and, in an effort to keep them from sliding any further, she wiped them away with her shaking hand, guiding them thoughtlessly to her hair. She ran her hands through her hair and cried out in frustration.
You idiot! Are you completely mental? It’s not even about him loving you! It’s about him belonging with Lily. That’s how you got your best friend. Remember him? Harry!!! Harry Potter!
She removed her hands from her hair, which was starting to get frizzy from all of the moisture from her tears. But, that small problem was far from her mind.
Oh God! If Harry ever knew that I snogged his father…What have I done?! And now, the way Lily is acting with Remus. Oh, heavens. I may never know what Harry would think, because there may not be a Harry to worry about. I may never know Harry!
Her mind went back to the day she watched Lily and Remus together, smiling and joking. The way that they had looked at each other and found innocent excuses to poke at one another; and then seeing their hand holding in the Three Broomsticks. It was all too much. But, when they saw her and James kiss, Lily’s eyes flashed green flames and Remus was nothing short of apprehensive. That’s when she saw it; his hazy blue eyes swept quickly over to…
Sirius! Why am I so attracted to that prat? He is so not my type. She could tell, too, that Sirius fancied her. It was much too obvious; especially since the first day they met he would capture her eyes in an intense stare that had never been matched by anyone. But, why on earth had she chose James?
Bloody Potters! Bloody Blacks! Merlin, “What have I done?!”
She screamed the last part at the top of her lungs, just before she heard heavy foot steps making their way back to the ally that she had secluded herself in. The tall swooping and awkwardly handsome image of Severus Snape came into her line of vision. Subconsciously, she backed away, knowing that this situation would not go well; or at least that it was too tempting to resist.
A small, proud glint in his sparkling black eyes caused her breath to hitch slightly in her chest as she took an even more confusing step toward him. It was going to be said, now before she became too confused – she was going to tell him to go away. She knew she needed to be alone, and having a man who was so intrigued by her, near her, was not helping her clear her head. She couldn’t take his silent criticisms.
“Severus, please leave,” she pleaded in a small voice.
“I came to apologise,” he silkily announced. “…For my behavior in the library the other day. I had no right to insult your heritage. I just thought that with brains like yours…”
Hermione interrupted his charming apologies, “How did you find me here?”
“I,” he proclaimed proudly, “am a Slytherin.” With a smooth glance at her, piercing her eyes and nearly stopping her heart, he placed a slender, pale hand to his chest. “Cunning people, we are.” He smirked at her and took a tiny step toward her. “I saw you leave the Three Broomsticks and decided to follow you so that I could catch you without the bodyguards.”
Bloody Slytherins, she thought as she watched his hand leave his chest and come inching, as if in slow motion, toward her face.
"What is it about you that is so intriguing," he wondered aloud, while allowing his finger to trace her jaw line.
She shivered at his touch and silently reminded herself that this man was a horror as an adult - her professor. And, to top that off, no matter how reformed he might be in her time, right now he was still a minion to Voldemort. Slowly, she backed away from him, fear ever present in her eyes. He didn't let her get far; however, he just kept following her backward steps. It didn't take her long to back into the alley wall; the cool red bricks pressed firmly against her back, she could feel the cold even through her halter. His hands were on either side of her head, and his eyes were boring into hers, taking in the river of emotion that she was emitting.
He ducked his head down, an inch away from her mouth, which was partially opened in shock. Before taking the plunge onto her lips, he whispered, "No need to be frightened." His hot breath hadn't even finished sweeping its way across her face before his thin lips were melting onto her own. Hermione hadn't a chance to think about what she was doing, instead she kissed back. Not a second too soon, Severus pulled away from her, with a smirk settling on his lips. They stared into each other, reveling in new lights found. He knew that she had forgiven him for the name calling, and she knew that he had only started tormenting her thoughts.
"Oi! Mione, where are you," called the familiar voice of James. "Mione!"
Hermione twisted herself to face the direction the voice had come from. Severus suggested under his breath, "Just something to think about," before he sauntered off, in search of his Slytherin pals.
She watched him disappear around the corner, just in time. James came toward her, face red and blotchy from the wind that had suddenly picked up its pace. "Why are you over here," he asked her, breathless. She froze, still watching the corner that Severus had rushed away to. Finally hearing James’ questions, she turned her head back to face him.
"What are you doing over here? And," he added a bit hastily, "Why are you alone? It's not safe to be alone."
"I...I just wanted fresh air. And I remembered a shop," she said while looking at her feet. Her face was burning from her previous rendezvous with Severus, and now she was lying, which was something she was not good at.
James noticed that she was a bit flustered and held out his hand to wrap around her waist. Almost skittishly, she moved away.
"What is going on," he demanded in a hurt whisper. "First you run out on me after I kiss you. Then, you back away when I try and touch you."
Hermione’s eyes remained locked on the smooth concrete. How could she tell James that he was meant to be with Lily? How could she tell him that she fancied Sirius? Should she tell him that she just kissed Severus? It was so much for her to handle. Finally able to look him in the eyes, she raised her head so that she was staring directly into his sparkling blue eyes. They held so much confusion.
"I can't love you, James," she blurted out. "You and Lily...That's true love."
"Lily won't show me the time of day, Mione," James protested. "I have strong feelings for you. I don't care if Lily loves me or not. I want you," he reiterated as he took a step toward her. He held out his hands and grabbed hers into a tight, pleading squeeze. "I don't know why I have feelings for you, but they are stronger than they are for Lily."
"It's only because I reciprocate. Trust me," she gave him a hard, determined look, "You and Lily are meant to be."
“I…I have to go,” she said, trembling. With that, she walked quickly away from where James was standing, leaving him staring after her in complete shock and confusion.
A/N - I just wanted to take a quick minute and thank everyone who has supported this fic thus far. All of you are great and I really appreciate everyone!! I'd mention names, but I'm sure I'd forget someone and then I'd feel bad. So, let me just say, that I am thankful for you all! ~Hugzz~
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