Thank you, Wolf’s Scream, for once again being my beta!
Chapter 10: Oh To Be The Adult
Hermione glared down at Ron, the man she loved, in complete disgust. Just because I love him, doesn’t mean that I can’t see his faults, she reasoned with herself. Sighing heavily and rubbing her tired eyes wasn’t going to solve anything though. “Ron, chew with your mouth closed!”
Ron froze and looked up at her, his mouth still open. He swallowed quickly and started to gag; Harry pounded hard on his back and something small flew from his mouth, hitting Neville in the forehead. Neville wiped his face while Ron coughed and tried to regain control of his breathing.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to cause you to choke,” Hermione told him apologetically.
Ron waved it off although she could see that his eyes were watering. “I’m fine,” he wheezed and gulped down some water from the pail that they had brought from the stream.
“So, did you learn anything from Snape and Malfoy?” Harry asked slyly.
“Not really,” Hermione said with a sigh before realizing what he had asked. She glared down at him. “How did you know I was seeing them?”
“You didn’t come straight back here and you weren’t with Ginny and I so I just put things together and guessed that that is where you had gone.” Harry kept his green eyes fixed upon her and she could see the merrily dancing firelight reflecting off of his glasses. The dusk was rapidly fading into night as they finished up their dinner.
“I think… I think that Snape knows about, about you know what.” She placed a heavy emphasis on the last three words, trying to convey to him exactly what she meant. “He told me today that Dumbledore knew that Snape was going to have to kill him, that Snape had made an unbreakable vow to do so.”
Harry and Ron both turned bright red with anger and both began yelling at the same time.
Harry stood up suddenly. “The arrogant, little-”
Ron’s yells drowned out what Harry was saying. “I can’t believe he’d spin some ruddy effing tale about how Dumbledore would have wanted this! He nothing but a low down, dirty-”
“And that’s another thing!” Harry bellowed as he stomped around the fire, all the while watched by a nervous looking Neville and a tranquil looking Luna. “Dumbledore knew that I needed him! He wouldn’t have left me to do this on my own if…” but Harry stopped, his voice fading out, dying as surely as the anger inside of him died.
“You see now, Harry?” Hermione asked him quietly.
“Well, I don’t see anything.” Luna told them. “But what I understand is that Dumbledore probably felt like he was in the way.”
Harry shook his head, clearly in disbelief and Hermione’s heart ached for the pain she saw in him. His life has always been too difficult! It’s just not fair.
“We needed Dumbledore to defeat You-Know,” Neville halted at the angry look Harry shot at him. “Okay, Vold-Voldemort.”
“I don’t think so, Neville.” Luna contradicted as she twirled a strand of hair through her fingers. It had apparently come loose from her cap. “I think that Harry is the one to finish him off. It’s all over the papers and in any case, Dumbledore never could kill him before this.”
“We can’t be sure that he tried,” Neville countered.
Luna’s eyebrow raised, ever so slightly and she smiled benignly. “Do you think Dumbledore wouldn’t have tried?”
“I’m not sure that he could have killed anyone!” Neville replied huffily. “He was always so against violence.”
“Except for Grindelwald,” Hermione muttered and Neville blushed.
“But it is better to rid the world of a man like Voldemort!” Harry interjected and they all jumped and turned to look at him. His face fell, crumpling under their gazes. “It has to be done.”
Luna nodded and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Of course it does Harry and you will be able to do it. I have faith in you.”
Harry studied her for a moment and nodded. “Thanks Luna.”
Neville straightened his shoulders and Hermione watched him march over to place his hand on Harry’s other shoulder. “We’ll always be there to help you.”
Harry shut his eyes and shook his head. “I need to go.”
“Go where?” Ron asked and Hermione could see that he was pale.
A hard glint came to his eyes. “I just need to… I’ll be back before morning and the tournament.” With that he walked off towards the castle and likely towards Ginny.
“Harry…” Hermione called.
He paused but did not turn. “Don’t bother trying to stop me.”
“I’m not,” she assured him quietly, completely understanding his need to see her. “Just don’t forget the grappling hook and her room is the third window from the left on the second level.”
He turned and picked up the long rope with the hook and nodded towards her before leaving again.
Silence filled the campsite, except for the crackling of the fire, although it did not last long. As soon as Harry was out of sight, Ron spoke up.
“He can’t be going to see Ginny at this time at night!” Ron protested, his face drawn.
“He needs her,” Hermione told him quietly.
“Ron! Just stop this!” She was nearly in tears now, wishing that she was not stuck in this contraption and that she could hug him and to take some of the worry from Ron’s shoulders.
Ron threw his hands into the air, clearly miffed. “How can you say that? He doesn’t care about her or he wouldn’t have dumped her!”
“I think we’ll go on a walk to the stream,” Neville said quickly as he grabbed Luna’s hand and dragged her off, away from their argument.
He watched and she didn’t answer him, couldn’t answer him. She still marveled that he was able to look at relationships that way. It’s so simple to him, she thought morosely.
“Well? He can’t need her if he is able to leave her and you can’t tell me I’m wrong.” Ron told her.
“You’re wrong,” Hermione said simply. “Harry is trying to protect her from Voldemort so that she doesn’t end up like his parents… Sirius and… and Dumbledore.”
Ron’s jaw dropped. “That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard and I grew up listening to Percy. Then again, I can’t say I’m too surprised. This is Harry we’re talking about.” He sighed heavily and sat down on a large rock. “He just doesn’t get it.”
“Doesn’t get what?” She probed gently.
“He doesn’t get what it means to be in love,” he told her as he absently picked at a spot on his arm. He seemed to be refusing to look up at her.
Hermione had to suppress a sob, not daring to hope that his words meant anything. “Ron… I just-”
But he interrupted her. “I really wish I could hold you right now,” and finally he looked up at her so that she could read the longing in her gaze.
“I wish you could too,” she informed him, her voice husky and her entire body began to feel heavy.
“It’s been maddening, having you stuck up there,” he went on. “I never realized before how much I’ve been taking you for granted. You were always there, within reach, even if we were not speaking.”
“I suppose…” Hermione said slowly, still irritated with herself for behaving so badly the year before. Jealousy will do horrible things to a person, she reminded herself. After all, it was only Lavender Brown. It wasn’t like they were going to get- she halted her thoughts, not daring to go that far, even in her mind.
“Anyway, what did Snape say to you?” Ron asked, his voice full of malice.
So Hermione told him everything that Snape had said. “Now I don’t know what to think,” she finished morosely, wishing desperately that she had even the smallest inkling of understanding.
“You can’t believe him, though.” Ron said slowly. “He did kill Dumbledore. You know he can’t be trusted.”
“What I know,” Hermione replied evenly, “is that you and Harry have always been biased about him! Snape has saved Harry’s life several times and he had the chance to kill him after he killed Dumbledore, when Harry chased him onto the grounds, but he didn’t. Snape made sure that the others didn’t harm him.”
“He said that it was on You-Know-Who’s orders, though!”
Hermione’s eyes filled to the brim with tears. She didn’t want to have this argument with Ron, especially not now when things were going so well between them, but she couldn’t keep it to herself. She needed to process this situation out loud. “Yes but… but what if Snape was only saying what Dumbledore told him to?”
Ron didn’t answer straight away. Finally he ran a hand over his eyes and stood. “Even if Dumbledore asked him to, Snape still murdered him. You’ve always put more faith in teachers and books than in-”
She waited, but apparently he didn’t want to finish it. “In what, Ron?”
“In yourself. You’re always checking and rechecking facts and you’re always turning to others for confirmation. Why can’t you just trust how you feel?”
Hermione gasped and felt as though her entire body was being dumped into the frigid stream. Is that why I am the narrator of this story? This puts me above them and… the book! She quickly fumbled for her copy of Robin Hood and turned through the pages, noting that all of the pages were blank. She should have been surprised but funnily enough, she wasn’t. Dumbledore put me in a place where I could run the show and then took away all of my resources so… it was just as Ron had said, she needed to learn to trust herself. So what were her instincts telling her to do right then? Well, that’s easy… kiss Ron for being so smart but of course, I can’t since I’m stuck up here. Maybe separating us was part of it too… we’re both more appreciative now of what we had before.
She looked down and saw that Ron was fidgeting and not looking up at her. “You’re right. I should listen to my own heart more often.”
Ron visibly relaxed and nodded. “I don’t want to fight with you.”
“No, I don’t want to fight with you either,” she hesitated for a moment but decided to go. “Sometimes we’ll disagree but I think we should both try to be open to what the other has to say.”
“Okay,” he said and smiled, his eyes dancing in mirth. “I think we can do this so how do we convince Harry?”
“Harry has his own problems and too much on his plate already. Right now he’s not willing to listen to anything we have to say about Snape or Malfoy, for that matter and I can’t say that I blame him. Snape is the reason that Harry’s parents, his godfather and his mentor are all dead. I can’t see him ever changing his mind, which is sad if you consider that the rivalry between Sirius and Snape was so outmoded and pointless towards the end. I wouldn’t want Harry to be that stubborn.”
“So what do we do? I’m not saying that I agree with you but I am willing to listen and often Harry is right about things, like Malfoy being up to something, so we need to listen to him but… what if he won’t?”
A slow smile spread across her face, a knowing smile that had Ron shifting uncomfortably. “Then we’ll simply have to appeal to a higher power in Harry’s life.” Ginny’s face flashed into her mind and Hermione had to stifle her laughter. After all, who did Harry run to when he needed comfort?
Ron sighed heavily. “All right then, we’ll talk to her. But I am not going to attempt to reason with my sister if she’s still got that sword!”
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