Hermione was literally shaking as she stood before Lord Voldemort. The serpent had his eyes focused on her and an ugly sneer stretched across his snake-like face.
“Ahh, the Mudblood,” he hissed. “How nice to see you. Please, do have a seat,” he added as he waved his hand and a chair appeared.
This was supposed to be over by now, she thought frantically as she sat in the chair provided.
“Now, to what do I owe this pleasure?” Voldemort asked, not nervous at all.
“I – I don’t know,” she said softly. “I was just brought here.”
“Do you wish to join me, Mudblood?” the Dark Lord responded with a hiss and a sneer.
And then it started. Her stomach started aching badly. Her hands gripped it and Voldemort’s eyes flew to the slight glow that was originating from it. “What is this? A pregnant Mudblood?”
“Master!” Lucius Malfoy shouted as he rushed into the room, Bellatrix Lestrange at his side. “I’ve just received correspondence from Draco …” he said but his voice trailed off.
“Oh, lookie, Lucius! It’s a Mudblood. Can I play with her?” Lestrange asked as she turned her eyes to the Dark Lord.
“No!” Lucius barked. “No one may touch her. Do not anger her …”
“Why not?” the psychotic witch pouted.
“Because she’s the one.”
“Lucius, please explain yourself,” the Dark Lord demanded in a calm tone.
“It said Potter would have the power. The prophesy. We got it from Snape. But it didn’t mean Potter directly.”
“Lucius, my patience is wearing thin,” Voldemort hissed.
“It’s her. And her children.”
“What do you mean?” Bellatrix asked.
“The war is about to end,” Voldemort said slowly. “You know, Mudblood, I never thought it would be you. How pathetic! Turning your back on your friends to help the side who’s captured your beloved parents.”
Hermione’s mouth opened wide as Severus Snape walked into the room dragging Hermione’s mother and father behind him. The professor gave Hermione a significant look before shoving the Grangers to stand on their own.
“Now, Mudblood, make your choice or they die.”
“It’s been longer than five minutes,” Ron said needlessly.
“Lupin is on his way,” Harry said as he pulled his head out of the fireplace.
“I sent Hedwig to Mum and Dad,” Ginny told them. “And then I sent an express to the Ministry. Dad should be at work.”
“I don’t understand,” Headmistress McGonagall said. “I was sure it would be instantaneous.”
At that moment, Remus Lupin stepped out of the fireplace. “I have news,” he told them.
“What is it?” Ron asked as he jumped out of his seat.
“Voldemort has people who look like the Grangers. Polyjuiced. Snape informed me before he was called away.”
There was dead silence in the room. They all knew what that meant. Hermione’s mind was already out of whack because of the hormones but now it would be worse. She wouldn’t be thinking about the fact that a dead person couldn’t kill her dead parents.
“Well, at least we know she hasn’t taken their side yet,” Harry offered. “I mean, I haven’t kicked it yet.”
“She’ll choose us,” Ron said with determination. “She will. I know it.”
“Of course she will,” Ginny added. “It’s Hermione.”
Hermione was still shaking as she closed her eyes. She saw visions of herself as a young girl, hugging her parents, playing with her family, going out on picnics and walking in the park. Then her mind flashed to Ron. And then to two children, both around two years old. They had stunning red hair and deep blue eyes.
She watched as run chased them around the back yard, stomping around like a monster.
Her daughters squealed with delight.
She wanted that. It was the only thought that crossed her mind. She wanted that. Her hands moved to her stomach and she inhaled deeply.
Her eyes opened and they were a deep green, much like Harry’s – or the Avada Kedavra. “I’ve made my choice,” she said calmly.
“Take my hand, Mudblood,” Voldemort requested.
“I don’t want to be hit by the aftershocks,” she said just before her stomach began to glow bright green. And then it happened.
A blinding flash of green.
The lasting bright white light.
And then everything faded. Lucius, Bellatrix and Voldemort were on the ground, completely still.
Snape stared at her hard before releasing … holograms. “Well done, Miss Granger. Excuse me, Mrs. Weasley,” the man said in his monotone voice.
“Thank you, Professor,” Hermione said weakly.
“I am glad you realized your parents were no longer alive.”
“I didn’t,” she admitted. “I just saw what Ron and I would have if I chose the Light. And it was what I wanted. Besides,” she added as an afterthought, “my parents would have lived if I chose Harry. Or Voldemort, since they didn’t choose a side.”
“Well done,” Snape said again. “Let’s get you back to Hogwarts now. I’m sure there are some people missing you.”
The room shook violently as Ron’s eyes flashed green.
Ginny screamed while Harry rushed to stabilize his best friend. “Ron! Ron, talk to me! Say something! Anything!”
But Ron couldn’t. He was chasing his daughters around in the grass, thumping around like a great monster.
And then he was pulled back to reality. “She’s making her choice,” he said. “And she’s choosing us.”
“How do you know?” Ginny asked with a shaky voice as she helped Harry get Ron to a seat.
“Because I think I just saw what she saw … and there’s no way she’d give that up,” Ron said with determination.
“What did you see?” Lupin and McGonagall asked at the same time.
“Our daughters,” Ron smiled.
Ginny squealed. Harry patted him on the back. Lupin smiled and McGonagall got a grandmotherly look on her face.
“You should be proud of your wife,” Snape intoned as he and Hermione walked out of the fireplace.
“I should be proud of my children as well,” Ron said as he walked up to Hermione. “I saw it too,” he whispered to her.
“Girls,” Hermione whispered back. “And they look just like you.”
“Our boys will look like you,” he responded as he leaned down to kiss her.
“Oy! Let her get these two out first!” Harry shouted as Ginny playfully whacked him on his arm.
“Now you really are the Boy Who Lived,” Ron said to Harry.
“Thanks to your wife and kids,” Harry smiled.
“Wow,” Ginny whispered as if something had just hit her.
“What, love?” Harry asked.
“Right you are,” Lupin said.
“And you’re alive,” Ginny added to Harry.
“I sure am,” he responded.
“No more Voldemort …” Ron said.
“Or Deatheaters,” Hermione added.
“Just a whole lot of happily every after,” Harry laughed before kissing Ginny as Ron did the same with Ginny and Lupin flooed to find Tonks.
Minerva McGonagall looked up to see the portrait of Albus Dumbledore smiling down at her. “They did it, Albus,” she said as a tear fell down her wrinkled cheek.
“I had no doubt, Minerva. They are just as special as their parents were.”
“And as their children will be.”
“Alert the students, Minerva,” Dumbledore said softly. “It’s time for a real Christmas celebration.”
“This is the best gift any of us could ever ask for.”
“Indeed it is,” said Dumbledore. “Indeed it is.”
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