Chapter 18 : Leaving the Past Behind
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At a quarter past eight, Hermione was down in the Head Dorms, waiting to see if anyone was going to go with her to the Headmaster's office. As if on cue, Lily came down stairs and Remus along with Peter came into the dorm. Still, no movement came from either of Hermione's beaus. After fifteen minutes of silent waiting, the quartet made their way up to Dumbledore's study, nervously anticipating the morning events.
Hermione smacked herself mentally for the goings-on from the previous night. While she loved the support of Lily, Remus and Peter, she couldn't help but be disheartened that neither James nor Sirius were coming to see her go. Maybe it would be simpler; but she needed them now more than ever. It was unfair that she couldn't see them one last time - she was the one who would remember them!
To her, they were acting immature and childish, and sure, her actions could be viewed the same, but in the end it all came down to her choice, her decision and her sacrifice. She would have to pay for her actions, whereas they would have no repercussions. They had no reason to complain. None.
"Hermione," came Lily's voice over Hermione's thoughts. "Are you absolutely certain-"
"If they don't come, that's their choice," Hermione answered shortly. "I can't keep worrying about them; I've got things going on in my own life."
For once during this whole situation, and the sadness it brought, she did not cry. Why cry over the inevitable? Why make it that much harder on herself and everyone around her? Why show remorse for those who couldn't care less about her actions? No tears today - that was final.
"Bumblebee," Lily spoke to the gargoyle. It leapt aside, leaving a grand set of stairs for climbing. Lily pushed Hermione onto the steps so she could go first.
"Lily, why are you being so-" Remus started but was cut off when Lily put her finger to her lips. She was showing Hermione that it had to be done. It wasn't to be mean, but it was the way to do it. Like ripping off a band-aid - get it over with quickly.
"She has to do this, and I'm helping her," she hissed out of the side of her mouth. Remus nodded and Peter slinked up behind them.
Just as they reached the top of the stairs, the Headmaster’s door opened, revealing a content looking Dumbledore and a jolly potion-mixing Slughorn.
Hermione made her way into the room slowly, eyeing the potion with anxiety. This was it, she was going back to the way things should be. A part of her was excited to see her friends. Harry, Ron and Ginny were flashing like photographs in her mind’s eye. It was almost unbearable knowing that she had been without their friendship for the last few weeks. And, yet, somehow she felt them near her wherever she went. Somehow, it felt that they were in her heart, in her mind and in her soul, watching over her while she was away. Even though that was impossible.
And, another part of her was sad to leave what she had built here. It was complicated, and broken, but it felt right; she had amazing equals here; people that were in her intelligence ranking and actually liked her without tormenting her.
She wanted to cry, but she knew better. It wasn’t worth her tears. This was what had to be done. The best part was that she wouldn’t have to see James or Sirius’ face before she left. She could imagine it now, their sadness and their anguish, after everything she put them through. Sighing, she realized that she never should have been here in the first place.
“Hermione, are you ready to proceed?” Dumbledore asked while extending his hand toward the potion. “Professor Slughorn assumes the potion should be ready in five minutes.”
“Y-yes,” Hermione squeaked. She was nervous.
Lily grabbed Hermione’s hand and spun her around. “You’ll be fine. Just think, you get to be best friend’s with my son!”
Hermione smiled genuinely. Yes, she got to be back with Harry, and Ron and Ginny. But, she wasn’t sure how she felt about it. She could have been Harry’s mum! “Thank you, Lily,” she said unconvincingly.
Remus moved in to hug Hermione when Lily moved away. “Thank you for everything, Hermione,” he whispered as he held her. “I’m going to do the right thing, you know?”
Hermione sighed. “You won’t remember.”
“I’ll have a familiarity.” He smiled and winked at her. She couldn’t help but smile back at him. He was making her feel better about what she was doing.
Peter walked up to Hermione. “I don’t know why you hate me, but I’m sorry for whatever I did.”
“You were just being Peter. Don’t apologize. Things are okay,” Hermione reassured him. It felt weird, but somehow, she was understanding Peter a bit better. After watching him for the last few weeks, she knew that he had done what was right by him. It was cowardly and horrible, but it was who he was.
“Alright, Professor. Let’s get it over with.” Hermione let out a deep breath and let some color come back to her paled face.
“Horace, please pour the potion over here,” Dumbledore pointed to the space in front of Hermione.
“On my count of three, Miss Granger,” he instructed.
Hermione nodded and looked to her three supporters for strength. Peter looked scared, Lily looked approving, and Remus looked sad.
But Dumbledore was cut off by two men barging into the office, like frantic beasts. They stopped as they got inside of the threshold. Both were panting like mad, clutching their chests and trying to catch their breath.
“Sir,” Sirius wheezed. “Sorry we’re…late.”
“We…Peeves, he held us up,” James lied. He looked to Hermione in apology and received a small smile in return. “Is there still time?”
Dumbledore cleared his throat. “We have only moments before the potion goes bad. Please make haste with what needs to be done.”
James walked up to Hermione and wrapped his arms around her waist. He breathed in her scent for the last time as the tears began welling up in his eyes. “I can’t believe I’ll never remember you,” he murmured.
“You’ll have comfort in Lily in no time, James,” Hermione forced out. She shoved James back lightly and looked in his hazel eyes that were rapidly getting redder. “I do love you, you know?”
He nodded. “Be safe there, okay. And tell my son…well, tell him hi from dad.” James stepped away from Hermione and stood next to Lily, Remus and Peter.
Sirius stepped forward, a shameful look on his stone face. “Hermione…I..”
“It’s alright. I know,” she answered before he even finished. Before she knew it, he had engulfed her in a hug.
“Don’t get into too much trouble in the future, okay?” Sirius joked as he squeezed her.
“I’ll try. It’s sort of hard after the legacy you Marauders left.”
Dumbledore coughed, signaling that the potion was about to be useless. “Miss Granger-”
“Coming sir,” she replied as she locked eyes with Sirius. Behind those cement colored eyes was harbored feelings she had never seen before. It was then that she knew every word he had ever spoke to her was true. She formed words with her mouth, not wanting to say out loud what she was thinking. “I’ll remember for the both of us.”
Sirius looked to the floor, hiding the pain in his eyes. “Bye, Mione.”
“Good bye, everyone,” she said loudly as she stepped toward the potion.
“Okay, on my count again, Miss Granger,” Dumbledore asserted. “One…Two…Th-”
“I can’t do it!” Hermione shouted as she jumped back, spun around and ran to Sirius. Before she reached him, her arms flung out to circle around his neck. She was all but climbing on him. Sirius enveloped her and held her tightly against him as she sobbed into his chest. “I don’t…Sirius,” she cried. “I don't want to go back.”
Sirius soothed her by caressing her hair. He knew that she was going to have a hard time going through with this. But, ultimately, this is what she wanted, and he was going to help her the best way he knew how. “Hermione, this is what you have to do,” he assured her. “You need to do this for yourself.” He felt his heart break at his words.
“I can’t. Sirius.” she was sobbing so hard into his shoulder that it was making Sirius tremble. She was shaking and wouldn’t loosen her grip around his neck. “I want to be with you… Please. I change my mind.” Tears were soaking through Sirius’ shirt, he could feel them as they fell from her eyes.
He looked around for support, and everyone wore the same sympathetic face. James, at first with an emotionless expression, had tilted his head just a mere millimeter in recognition of what was going on around him. Lily stepped closer to James and took his hand in hers. Remus had his hand on the small of Lily’s back, ushering her toward James.
When Sirius caught sight of James’ hand in Lily’s, something clicked in his brain. He knew what had to be done. Sirius began speaking to Hermione honestly, in a warm, comforting voice. “I love you, Hermione. But, you have to go back. There is a war going on, a war that you do not have the power to stop no matter what you do.”
“Sirius,” she bawled as she embraced him even tighter. “I love you, I love you, I love you…Please, don’t. Don’t tell me to go. I want to be with you.”
“You are needed in your time; that’s why you were there,” he responded to her cries, still soothing her by stroking her back. “They need you. I need you there.”
“But,” she sniffed as she looked into his shadowed eyes. “I need you. I can’t pretend that we never…Please,” she begged. She was fighting going. Now was her break down, though she never wanted it to happen.
“You’ll remember for the both of us,” Sirius added stubbornly, pretending as though he didn’t hear her words. “Just... you have to do this. You have to go back. You know that, I know that, everyone knows that.”
Dumbledore coughed again, the potion was near its final whim. If Hermione was to go back, she needed to do it now. “It’s time.”
Sirius pulled her toward the potion and cupped her face in his hands. “You know what you have to do. Please, do it.”
Hermione bit her lip as tears cascaded down her face, mixing with her mouth and dripping off of her chin. “You don’t want me here? After we…I gave you my…”
“You were a…” Sirius asked, not wanting the answer to his question. When she nodded, felt his world crumble just a little bit more. He softened more, and understood her need to stay. And, though her words were true whether she had been a virgin or not, Sirius felt more humble toward her. “Hermione, I love you, and I’ll never love anyone else.”
Hermione lost what little presense of mind she had. Her shaking hands balled into tiny fists. “No, you’ll die,” she sobbed as she beat her fists against his chest. "You're just going to die! You just...die!" The last word, the scream that echoed after it, was painful for both Hermione, whose throat was now aching, and the people around her, whose ears were now ringing. She whispered horsely, as she brought her hands down to her sides. “You’ll die…and I’ll never see you again.”
“One…,” Dumbledore started counting, this time for the final time. “Two…”
“I love you Sirius,” Hermione pleaded. “Don’t you love me?”
“More than you know,” he assured her. While she had been hitting him, he just stood there and winced. She needed to let out her frustration, and he knew she didn't want to hurt him. She loved him, just as he loved her. “I love you more than you know.”
Hermione stepped backward into the potion, her wet face looking at everyone in the room before locking eyes with Sirius. She hated that he was right, and it tore her apart to say goodbye, but as much as she hated to admit it, he was right.
“I’ll remember,” she whispered as she was lost through the silvery liquid from whence she came.
A/N - I have good news everyone! Chapter 18 is not the last chapter of Complicated Hexagon! I decided to split the last chapter into two parts, that way I could keep the focus where it was needed. And, I didn't really leave you on a cliffy - the evilness in me wore off a tad ;) Stay tuned for Chapter 19 - Reunion. *huggles all reviewers* ~Jessi
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