Chapter 15 : The Greater Good
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"Sirius," she hissed at him and poked his naked shoulder. When he didn't move at all, she hissed a little louder. "Sirius!"
"Nu-uh," he responded in a dazed voice.
Hermione cocked an eyebrow, semi interested to see if he was dreaming. The moment passed and she prodded him again, this time harder than the last.
"Nope, not getting up..."
"Oh yes you are! We can't stay here all day," she whispered, still afraid that Lily would hear the conversation. "We have to get dressed and go-"
"Here," he said more clearly as he opened up his gray eyes and smiled genuinely at Hermione. "We can stay here."
Hermione jumped from the bed and covered herself with the blanket while she looked for her clothes. She kept bumping into the drapery that was surrounding her bed area. She huffed in frustration, "No, we can't stay here. Lily will be up at any second. And," she said as she pulled on her pants, "I have to go to Harry."
Sirius sighed and stood from the bed unabashedly. "I can't believe we are still going to talk to Harry. You said you wanted to stay with us."
Hermione blushed as Sirius started putting on his clothes. Last night was brilliant, but now it was time to put it in the past. She had an important decision to make, one that didn't involve Sirius and their relationship. If you can call it a relationship Hermione thought.
With his black shirt buttoned up, he pulled on his robes and smoothed them out. Sirius walked over to where Hermione was standing in deep thought. He wrapped his arm around her waist and dove in for a chaste kiss, which Hermione barely returned.
Of course, he noticed her lack of interest in the kissing session and pulled away. A sad grimace pulled at his lips as he softly let his thumb travel the length of her cheek. His eyes shining with sorrow, Sirius walked quietly from her bed area and drew the curtains of his. He sat himself down on his bed and let a tired hand run through his wild, dark hair. When had his feelings turned from care to love, he’d never know.
“Hermione, are you sure you want to do this alone?” Lily asked apprehensively. The last she knew, the three had decided to talk to Harry together-- a group effort. “We want to be there for you.”
“I don’t want to make him more uncomfortable than he’ll already be,” Hermione answered surely. It was true, she was doing this for Harry, however, she needed space away from Sirius. He was constantly stealing glances at her and it was making her nervous. Small beads of sweat were forming on the back of her neck. She still had no idea how Lily was oblivious to the happenings of the night before.
“If you need us…” Sirius started.
“You can’t drift too far away, Sirius. I’ll be fine,” she added with a pointed look to Lily. She stole a peek at Sirius before walking from the Room of Requirement to find Harry.
Harry began pacing back and forth across the empty classroom floor. He had bumped into several desks, but took no notice of their new positions lying on the floor. Disgruntled, he ran his rough hand through his hair and sighed. "So I was right, then? You're my mum."
A brief pause greeted his question. Her eyes squinted as she thought of the wording to her answer. "No, not technically. I'm a seventeen year old girl stuck in the future."
Harry grunted in frustration. What was she playing at? "But," he started assertively, "you're the same girl who'll grow up to be my mother." His hand ran to the back of his neck, scratching it absentmindedly.
Only if I actually marry James, she wanted to scream. In short, she settled for "Maybe."
The hand resting on Harry's neck ran up the back of his head and over the top of it, matting down the untamable hair that rested on his forehead. He looked at the ground and scrunched his eyes closed, trying to process this whole situation. Finally, he gave up trying to find an explanation for the confusion. "You're not making any sense. First you tell me that you're my mum, which I already knew by your eyes." He held up a skinny finger to signify making a point, before throwing up a second finger. "And then you tell me that you're not my mum because you're only seventeen." Then, he added as an afterthought, "But everyone that has talked to me about you and my dad say that you two were inseparable in your seventh year. Which would make you my mum because you were already with my dad at the age you are now. It's inevitable, right?"
If Hermione hadn't been through time twice and had to speak these confusing sentences to others, she would have passed out from the baffling thoughts Harry tried to form. As it was, Hermione knew exactly what he meant. "True. We all were really close; James, Sirius, Remus, Lily and I," she paused and rolled her eyes, "and Peter."
Shifting his weight to one foot, Harry asked, "But, you're not like that with my dad now?" There was a deep sadness etched in his voice, as if he was straining to keep from crying. Did she hate his father?
Noticing the change in Harry, Hermione chose her words more carefully. She didn't want him to think that she and James didn't matter to one another. She wanted to keep Harry believing that his parents were in love; even if it was only until she left again. "We're close, but we're just friends."
Out of the calm that Hermione had almost started to settle into, Harry voiced very quietly, "Do you love him?"
Swirling lights flashed before Hermione’s eyes. Her face was flushed and her hands immediately clenched into fists. She wasn’t angry, she was stunned and scared to answer that question. Sticking to her previous idea of keeping Harry happy, Hermione stuttered while looking at the ground, “O-Of course.”
“You're lying,” Harry announced, a frown pulling on his lips. Hermione’s eyes snapped to his. “Your eyes always betray you, you know that? It's just like when Uncle Sirius takes me to Mungos to see you and dad.” New tears welled up behind his soft brown orbs, stinging as they began to spill over, much to his protest. In a strained voice, he said, “The look in your eyes tell me that you don't belong there…”
Hermione had long been frozen in place. This time, she asked exactly what was on her mind. “Sirius takes you to see James and me?”
“Once a month. I floo from Professor Dumbledore’s office and meet Uncle Sirius at Mungos. He said I could go more, without him, if I wanted, but it's too hard for him.” Harry wiped his cheeks with the arm of his robe, sucking in a breath and continuing. “Anyway, I don't think I could handle seeing the two of you more often than I do.”
It was a comfortable silence that they had reached. Harry had found a seat on one of the overturned chairs that he had finally picked up. Hermione sat on a desk, deep in thought about how to progress the conversation to where it needed to be. Every few seconds she would huff, resolving that it was far too difficult to go about this in an appropriate manner. Besides, he wouldn’t remember the conversation anyway.
“Is it really hard, Harry?” she asked, still staring intently at nothing in particular. She knew the conversation she was drawing him into. And, she braced herself accordingly for his response.
Without a thought, Harry shouted, “Bloody right it is!” A small grunt escaped his throat, followed by a harsh chuckle, that was a little too unsettling for Hermione. “What kind of question is that? Do you know what its like to have your parents not have any idea who you are?” He began to pace the classroom again, this time he hands were on his hips, looking as though his fingers were digging into them. “And then have to hear from all of their old friends how great they were? Do you have any idea what that is like?” His jaw clenched as he awaited her answer.
“No, I-” Hermione stuttered.
"Sometimes I just wish... It would be so much easier if they were-" He couldn't finish the sentence. How could he tell his mum that he just wished that they had died instead of been addled?
Hermione, though, knew what Harry meant. She had, after all, been friends with Neville and had seen the turmoil that he felt everyday. “I understand, Harry.” She stood from her seat on the desk and walked to Harry. Placing a calming hand on his arm to stop him from pacing, she looked him square in the eyes. So much pain was held behind those brown eyes, Hermione could barely stand it. “It's alright. Everything will be alright.”
He shook her from his arm and glared at her. His anger was now being directed to her, the one that he needed the most, that could never be around. “No, it's not going to be alright! You-” His eyes softened in realization and a glow came about his cheeks. “You...Now you know! You could go back and hide from the Death Eaters.”
Hermione’s eyes were stinging with tears. This wasn’t fair to Harry - none of it. He had a horrible life no matter how you sliced it. Her heart crumpled as she looked up into his eyes once more. “Harry.” She placed a hand gently on his shoulder. “Time is never that simple.”
Remorsefully, she took her and from his shoulder and turned to leave, walking slowly while the tear drops slipped down her cheeks.
“Mum, no!” Harry called out, taking long steps toward her. When her pace quickened he laid his palm down on the table and took a shaky breath, “I didn’t mean it!” He sobbed as his knees hit the ground. “Don't... don't go!” He reached out for her. Seventeen long years of pain and torment danced behind his eyes, pleading with the back of her head to come back.
She paused mid step with her hand grasping the handle on the door. With one look over her shoulder, she whispered, “I'll see you soon, Harry.” As soon as she closed the door behind her, she walked about two paces before sitting against the wall with her head in her hands. The tears were cascading down her cheeks, and her sobs shook the portraits around her. One of them ran from their station while the others whispered words that Hermione couldn’t comprehend.
She thought of Harry, and how much it pained him to see her the way she was in St. Mungos. But, as much as she wanted to go back to her time and be by Harry's side as he fought Voldemort, she was still pulled by the Marauders and Lily. She belonged with them; she could feel it.
Some time later, a familiar voice made a pleasant hello. Hermione wiped at the dried tears on her face, but could not hide the crimson flush that embedded itself upon her cheeks.
“Miss Granger, follow me to the Head office,” Dumbledore requested. “We have much to discuss.”
"Professor, I have another favor to ask of you," Hermione asserted. "It's about my choices."
"What is it that you require, Miss Granger?"
"I wish to stay one more day and observe Harry," she answered with conviction. Knowing full well that the old man would say no.
Dumbledore considered her for a minute before he responded. "Absolutely not."
"But sir, if I could just see..."
"No." His voice spoke finality, letting Hermione know that it was not up for discussion. "I have already allowed you to pry far enough into the future. I never should have allowed you to stay last night. If I had known that you were going to speak to Harry-"
Hermione cut him off this time. "Don’t you mean that if you had known what Harry was going to say, sir?" Her voice was accusatory. As much as she liked Dumbledore, she knew that he was aware of things as they were happening and couldn't believe that he didn't know she was going to speak to Harry. "Do not lie to me, Professor. You are forgetting how well I know you."
The twinkle in the Headmaster's eyes did not fade, however there was an essence of anger in the air, which caused Hermione to recoil a bit. "You will mind your manners in my presence, is that understood?"
Hermione nodded solemnly.
"Now, I do not feel that I need to explain my reasoning for every decision that I make. You, of all people, should know that I look out for the best interest of my students."
A sparkle appeared in Hermione's eyes and her posture became more upright. She smirked and said airily, "I would never doubt it. However, there are times in the past where you have felt things are the best, only to feel differently in the long run."
"Humans are liable to mistake," he responded simply.
"And, if they are able to change them?" She countered smartly.
"Time should not be meddled with, Hermione. There is never a definite answer; there is no telling which choice would lead to the greater good."
There was a deafening silence, in which Hermione took the chance to process what the Headmaster said. It was, without a doubt, true and intelligent. He had, however, lead himself into a trap; the trap that Hermione had been hoping for. "But, Professor," she started with a sly smile on her face, "wouldn't that mean that if I go back with Sirius and Lily, with determination to stay with them, that I may not fall in love with James? Because of the knowledge that I hold now, doesn't that mean that I can choose differently?"
Of course, it was true; The intelligent thought she had put behind her statement took Dumbledore off his guard. He was beginning to grasp at straws, wanting Hermione to choose to stay with Lily and Sirius. Sure, it wasn't exactly the best life she was opting for, but it kept Voldemort at bay, and it kept him one step closer to death. Dumbledore sighed and raised his wrinkled hands to his temples, rubbing them soothingly before choosing his words.
"From what I know, this is the best that life has ever been in the Wizarding world. And, your choice of staying with James was the cause of it." He glanced back up at Hermione. The sparkle in his eye was gone, and he now looked old and tired.
Hermione stayed silent again and nodded her head in understanding. As much as she wanted to take this pain from Harry, this was the future, as they knew it. Her only choice, the choice that was fair to the rest of the world, was for her to forget what her heart told her and to fall in love with James. She knew it was possible; he was sweet, kind and gorgeous. But, she thought, He's not Sirius.
A/N This chapter is dedicated to Nephele - you have no idea how much you have kept this story on track, if it weren’t for your reviews mentioning little things, I’d be really confused as to where I’m going. ;) And, also to Nic, who forced me to update along with her, meaning a faster update for everyone. :P Thank you to all of you who have read and reviewed thus far. It means a lot to me!! ~Jessi
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