Chapter 12 : Present or Future?
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"Is this why you wanted me to try to date Lily again," James shouted as he stood up from the carpeted (but not so well padded) floor. "So that you'd be free to snog my best bloody friend?" He threw a vicious glare at Sirius before he settled his fiery blue eyes back on Hermione, waiting semi-patiently, and wholly pissed off, for an answer.
Hermione and Sirius had long since broken apart; Sirius was now at one end of the couch, while Hermione had stood up and taken a few steps toward the angry man in front of her. "No, James. You and Lily have to be together. There's-"
"Just stop, Hermione," Sirius demanded, raising his hand to the brunette. Slightly irritated that she was making excuses for their kiss, he decided that, in turn, he would too. "James, it just happened. Neither of us meant it to-"
"Don't you lie to me Sirius Black, I know you better than that. You probably started it, as a matter of fact." James had taken another step closer toward Hermione. There were a few more paces left between them until they were nose to nose.
Sirius watched the two of them, his eyes darting back and forth between them. He cursed himself for even thinking this could end well.
James tried to calm down, and spoke directly to Hermione, ignoring Sirius rising from the couch. "Mione, obviously Lily and I were together in the future. But had I met you, things would have been different."
Finally losing it, Hermione spun around and faced the fire that was roaring behind her, matching her sudden temper perfectly. She stared into it and took a few calming breaths, though they had no effect. Without pulling her eyes from the dancing orange flames, she spoke to James, and hoped that Sirius was paying attention. "No, James. Things can't be different. If things change, the world is affected. It's not just your life and my life that it would mess up. You and Lily, together, ensure the safety of everyone for at least another 11 years after Harry is born." Pins and needles could have been heard dropping miles away due to the heavy silence that settled at her words.
"Harry?" Sirius inquired, breaking the silence. "That bloke who you said is your best friend? The one that you had all those adventures with?"
Hermione sighed deep, wishing that it hadn't come down to this. But, they must know...All of them had to know. Turning around, she captured both boys in hard stares before addressing just James. "Go and get Lily, Remus and Peter. There are things that you need to know."
"I want to know," he started, "is Harry my son?"
Without trying to argue, she nodded her head. A lone tear fell down her cheek before James came striding up to her. He cupped her face in his palm and whispered, "It's okay. We'll figure this out, okay? That's what we're here for," he gestured between himself and Sirius, and sort of let his hand fly around, hoping she would understand that to mean everyone. And, with that, he turned on his heel to go to the Gryffindor common room to retrieve the other half of the Marauders and Lily.
With James gone, Sirius took his chance to speak with Hermione alone. "It's not just a fling," he announced solemnly. "I don't know what you’ve heard, or how you know me in the future, but I do have feelings for you. I don't understand them, but they're there."
Frustrated with her current situation, James’ assertiveness as a friend and Sirius' undying need to constantly confuse her, she flung herself down on the sofa. She barely remembered what he said, and didn't take stock in his feelings when she began talking to herself. "This has not just happened. All of this is a dream and if I tell them what's to come, it won't matter because it's not real. None of this is real. I don't care about James, because he loves Lily. I don't care about Sirius because he's dead. Remus isn't my friend because he's too busy being a spy. Lily is not my friend because she is so much better than I am. I mean, would I sacrifice myself? Peter.... is still a moron...”
"Erm, Mione," Sirius voiced with an unsure tone. “I'm dead?"
"I have to go," she half-shouted as she stood from the couch.
Sirius walked up to her and grabbed her into a tight embrace. It wasn't much, but he wasn't very good with girls and their feelings. But, this girl had a reason behind her abrupt urge to leave and would not be held back.
"I can't...” She just pushed him away and ran through the dormitory door, slamming it behind her.
Wiping the tears roughly from her eyes, Hermione went running to the one place she knew that no one would find her; the one place in Hogwarts that had everything she needed: The Room of Requirement. She had been here once with James already, so she didn't have a hard time finding it, and was thrilled when she walked into the room. The walls were lined with hundreds of books, but even more importantly, there was already one book lying half opened in front of a cauldron filled with ingredients. She noted that some hadn't been put in yet and were lying close to the base, probably waiting for precise timing. The know-it-all had returned, and this time she wouldn’t settle for waiting around while someone else took care of business. This time, she was going to produce outcomes herself.
“Sirius, where did she go,” asked a concerned James after he had stepped into the Head dorms. Lily, Remus, and Peter all followed closely behind, each wearing looks of confusion.
Sirius put a strong hand to his head and matted down his hair. Shrugging, he said, “She just left. She just ran out the door.”
Everyone looked at one another, but it was Lily who took a forceful step forward. “James told us what happened. What did you do to her while he was gone?”
“Nothing. Merlin,” he said aggravated. “I only wanted to comfort her. She seems so lost lately and she said something about…” he stopped for a minute to think about what he was going to say. Deciding against telling them about him being dead, he resolved to let her tell them. “Let’s just go find her.”
Without another word, the Marauders and Lily headed down the corridors, avoiding other friends and conversation, looking desperately for anywhere that Hermione could have gone. Lily had her hand wrapped tightly within Remus’, Peter hung close to Sirius, trying to avoid his girlfriend so that he could help find Hermione. James, who was in front of the group, was walking quickly leading them down several flights of stairs.
“Do you know where you’re going,” Sirius called to James.
“She’s got to be in this castle somewhere. Why can’t we find-”
“The Room of Requirement,” Sirius and Remus chorused.
Hermione had read the potion brewing techniques for the Time-Turner Draught, through and through. According to the color of the potion, it was ready for the final ingredient. Hermione lifted the lacewing flies to the brew and watched it bubble. Just as she was pouring the silver potion onto the ground, four boys and Lily came bursting through the door.
“What are you doing,” asked James as he walked up to Hermione. “Sirius said you….what’s that potion?”
Hermione’s cheeks reddened. She wasn’t going to tell them that she was going back home. She hadn’t even planned it - it just happened.
“Mione,” Lily said as she stepped forward. “That’s the time-turner draught. Why is it on the floor?”
Again, Hermione shifted uncomfortably. Her hair was in a wiry mess about her head, and she had small beads of sweat falling down her forehead. Her eyes shifted to Sirius, and then to James. It was time to go home.
“I’m going home,” she said solemnly. “I can’t keep causing all of this trouble.” She took a step forward to get into the potion and go home.
Lily leapt forward to grab Hermione’s arm, so that she couldn’t go. Sirius tried to grab her other arm. Hermione’s arms were out, Sirius on one side, Lily on the other. Losing her balance, Hermione fell forward, bringing her restrictions with her.
“No,” yelled James.
It was the last thing that the three of them heard before they were falling through a whirlwind of color, heading back to the present…or the future, for Sirius and Lily.
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