Hermione came to consciousness and suddenly felt as if a part of her was being ripped out of her own body. She saw Ron and he faded away from her when she reached out to touch him. “RRRROOOOOOONNNNNN!“ she screamed to no avail.
She then found herself on the very fluffy grass. Fluffy? She looked around and realized she was suddenly somewhere she’d never been before. It appeared to be the lake by Hogwarts, but there was no one else around and the ground was amazingly soft. Her head felt fuzzy, which annoyed her to no end--nothing good had happened to her lately that had started with a fuzzy head. She began to rise slowly, looking for any signs of the battle she last remembered. There was chaos everywhere and although the sky was darkening, the air was lit with different curses and hexes being thrown from every direction. The killing curse was headed at Harry, when she ran in front of him.
Did that mean she was dead? But why was she at Hogwarts? Why was the sun shining brightly? Hoping this wasn’t another incident with time, she began walking to the castle thinking to herself. “Ok, if it were a time change situation, then I’ll figure out what time I’m in and how to get back. I still have my memories this time.”
“Hermione!” she heard someone yell and turned around to see a tall man with very messy black hair.
“Harry?” she asked, still a bit dazed.
“Not Harry, just me,” he said as he came to a stop a few feet away. “It’s so good to see you again, Gyps.”
“James!” she screamed as she flung her arms around him.
He held her for several moments, savoring the feel of the sister he barely had a chance to know. Slowly, however, he put his hands on her arms and pulled them down.
Foreheads touching, he said softly, “I missed you, too. But we need to talk.”
She nodded her head and said sadly, “I’m dead, aren’t I? I’m dead and you’ve come to collect me or something. Where’s Lily?”
“She’s with Harry,” he said sadly.
“Oh Harry!” she sobbed. “Then he’s dead, too?”
“You’re not dead, exactly, and neither is Harry.”
“Exactly? How can you be not exactly dead?”
“Because,” he said grinning, “this is you and Harry we’re talking about and nothing is ever the way it’s supposed to be with you two.”
“Well, what’s going on then, Prongs?”
He smiled at her and said, “haven’t been called that in awhile.”
“So, when did you remember me? And why aren’t you with Harry as well? Can I see him? Why are you even here? Why am I here?” she asked question after question until he put his hands up in mock surrender and she relented.
“Easy,” he laughed, “we have awhile here, so there’s no rush. Okay, one, I remembered you, and so did Lils, when you went back, just like all the others. Two, only one person can greet another, or whatever this is, and we both thought Harry might need a mother’s touch. Three, no, I’m sorry, but unless you both wake up, you can’t see him. As for why we’re here, I’m not exactly sure. All I can tell you is what I know.”
They walked over by the tree they had always sat at in their days there, and sat side by side and hand in hand. “Technically, you should both be dead. You were both hit by the curse from Voldemort. You tried to save Harry and he tried to protect you. In the end, you were both hit. The curse however, rebounded and hit Voldemort. Without his horcruxes, he really is dead now. He’ll never come back, again.”
“So, what’s to come of us?”
“No one knows. Lily and I agreed to come to this ‘in-between’ to keep you guys company and tell you what’s going on.”
“So, what is going on?”
“Well, you two are trying to die and live, both at the same time. I believe the Healers are saying you’re in a ‘suspended death’ which is a very accurate deduction. Sam is your Healer, by the way.”
“Sam? Wow, I never knew.”
“You’ve only been back two weeks, Gyps. So, tell me, how are Sirius and Remus? Have you two gotten back together yet?”
“Oh no! Sirius and Remus! They could be dead and I wouldn’t know!” she said as she made to stand up.
He pulled her back down and said, “they’re alive, love. They both made it. Sirius is beating himself up over you two. Remus had a broken back and several deep gashes, but Sam healed him. He’s with you now, oh and your parents.”
“How do you know?”
“I can see glimpses into your room. Your parents just found out about you two, because Sirius is an idiot with a big mouth,” he laughed. “They seem really upset that you never told them very much about your, um, other life.”
“They’ll hate me now. Remus can tell them, can’t he?”
James helped her to stand and then placed his hand on her forehead and said, “tell Remus to tell them and they’ll hear you. You can’t stay for long, I’ll bring you back.”
She then concentrated on Remus and said, “Tell them Remus, tell them everything. I can’t wake up just yet, he won’t let me.”
She almost collapsed before James caught her in his arms. She stood up weakly and they saw two figures appear in much the same situation.
“Harry? Lily?” Hermione asked as Harry ran up to her and hugged her tightly.
“Hermione are you ok?”
“As well as you, I believe,” she grinned, both knowing that they weren’t doing well at all.
Harry shortly became angry with her. “How could you have been so stupid?”
James and Lily both gasped and she replied, “Stupid?! I was trying to save you so you could kill him, not be killed by him!”
“But he got you, too. What if you die?”
“Don’t start, Harry. As usual, we’re in this together, only,” she said as her voice broke, “without Ron.”
“You felt that, too?” he asked as tears formed in his own eyes as well. “Like he was being ripped from you? So, it’s true then, he’s really dead?” he asked as he faced Lily.
“Yes, son,” said James sadly, “I’m sorry, he’s dead.”
“D…D…Dad?” Harry stuttered as he finally saw the man behind Hermione.
They embraced lovingly for the second time in his memory, as Hermione and Lily did the same.
“Wait,” said Hermione as she composed herself, “I thought I couldn’t see him.”
“I don’t understand either,” Lily answered.
“So, do you know how we get back?” Harry asked. “Not that I’m not happy to see you two, because I am, more than you know. It’s just that Ginny just lost her brother and another one of her best friends is almost dead. I think maybe she could use me.”
“Would you like to talk to her? It will have to be quick, I can’t let you wear yourself out, but you can at least say you love her or something.”
“Thanks Dad, but Mum already let me do that--then you two appeared. How did that happen?”
“I believe,” came a familiar voice, “I can answer that.”
“Dumbledore?!” the four said in unison.
They all hugged him tightly as even more tears fell from their eyes. James, himself, was misty eyed at seeing this old man again.
Harry smiled broadly at his mentor and said, “we did it, sir. Voldemort is dead!”
“Yes, Harry, he is,” Dumbledore beamed back at him.
“Well then, sir, where do we go from here?”
“And where is here?”
“Here is where you two feel most at home. You’re in what we call the ‘in-between’. It’s a place where you go when you’re not dead, but not alive either. You’ll have to stay here until you leave. First, we have to find out what will allow you to leave.”
“I consider the ‘in-between’ home, sir?” Harry asked, grinning.
Dumbledore smiled back and said, “the weight of the world is no longer on your shoulders, son, and I hope to see you smiling a lot more. You too, Hermione.”
“Sir, is it true you never forgot me?” Hermione asked as she rubbed her right hand with her left.
“Always on top of things, aren’t you? Yes, I thought that since you didn’t know much about the future, it wouldn’t hurt. And I was right. Since I’ve kept my memories, I was able to send you back each time.”
“Each time? She only came back once,” James said, confused.
“Come on, Prongs, think about it. I left older Remus and Sirius and went back, but as younger Remus and Sirius grow up--I’ll go back again.”
“Ya know, Gyps, you really are a know-it-all. And you’re too cheeky for your own good.”
“I like to think I learned from the best,” she grinned at him.
“So,” Lily interjected, “when Remus taught Hermione, you knew they’d get together in a few years?”
“Ok, that’s getting gross again,” Harry said and then both he and Hermione’s faces fell.
“Your Mr. Weasley was a remarkable young man,” Dumbledore said, laying a hand on each of their shoulders. “He saw what he believed to be his two best friends die, and thought that the rest was up to him. He tried to save his girlfriend as well, but did save his sister before he was cursed from behind.”
“Yes, I’m afraid so. Along with Severus.”
“This is too much,” Harry said sadly as Hermione wiped away her tears. “Sirius and Remus are ok though, right?”
“Yes, son, they’re fine now,” James said. “They both were pretty banged up, but they’re with the two of you right now. That’s why we’re here together, right sir?”
“Exactly. Young Miss Weasley has apparently taken over Harry,” Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling brightly, “much to Molly and Sirius’ dismay. She had you two moved into the same room, which is now quite full of well wishers. It appears they’re hearing bits of what you’re saying, which is reassuring them. There also seems to be a very disheartened werewolf sitting with you.”
“I can feel him,” Hermione said in awe as she looked at her hand again. Only this time knowing what the feeling was, she imagined squeezing Remus’ hand and said, “I feel him with me.”
“Is it the same for you, Harry?”
“Yes, I feel Ginny.”
“Can you feel anyone else in the room?”
“Well,” Harry began, thinking hard, “I can tell some are around me, but I can’t feel them, per say. Like I know Sirius is there and Molly.”
“Same with me. I can tell my mum is in the room and Sirius. Wait, now I can sense my dad. Why do you ask, Professor?”
“I believe they are now what’s keeping you two alive. It appears your bodies are wanting to let go the longer you’re here with those that you love, especially you, Harry. However, being grounded by the two you love most is what’s keeping you alive. I would venture to guess you now have to consciously make the choice of whether to live or die.”
“Sir, the prophecy said neither could live while the other survived, it didn’t say they would both die.”
“Hermione, don’t make the same mistake as Voldemort and put so much emphasis in the prophecy. It never said both would die, but it never said they wouldn’t either. Also, they have both been alive for three years while the other survived.”
“Not really, sir,” Lily said while putting her hand up to stop the interruptions. “Harry hasn’t really lived and I’d say, neither has Voldemort. He’s been obsessed with the prophecy and Harry the whole time. Harry has been constantly reminded of the final battle and it has weighed heavily on him. He almost lost the girl he loves because of it. He’s had to watch his back constantly. His only reprieve was Quidditch and he had to give that up as well.”
“So, how did love come into it then?”
“Harry, as I’ve said before, you’re an amazing person because you can love. When you thought Sirius was dead and you went after Bella, it was that love that kept you from being possessed for long. Right now, it is your love for Ginny, Sirius, Remus, and the Weasley’s that’s keeping you from moving on, along with their love for you. Voldemort doesn’t have that love and that’s why he is dead.”
“Well, what about Hermione?”
“While the prophecy never said you’d have help, it never said you wouldn’t either. The pendants that Lily and Hermione shared, that you now share with Hermione, are what reflected the curse back. Your mother’s blood was already encased within them, add that to your best friend’s and your own, well, that was a lot of love and promise they held. I daresay any of you realized the significance of what you did with that oath. But like I told Hermione before, blood does indeed hold some importance. When Voldemort took your blood at his rebirth, Harry, he took your mother’s blood into him as well. When the pendants reflected the curse, they amplified the love and effectively killed him with it.”
“Well, that wasn’t exactly what I was going for,” Hermione said as she looked at her now bright blue pendant. “I thought that if someone loved Harry enough to die for him, like Lily, that it would have the same effect. I was close.”
They all sat lost in thought for a few moments before Harry asked, “Sir, have you enjoyed this adventure?”
“Immensely Harry, but I lived a long and full life before I died. Now,” he said looking up, “I must take me leave. You two will have a decision to make soon, you need to think about it. Remember, I’ll be watching over you both. James, Lily, enjoy this time with your son, and with Hermione.”
Harry and Hermione hugged him tightly in turn and both told him they loved him. His eyes were shining brightly with tears and he responded, “this has been a true gift. To have the love of the truly greatest wizard of all time and the smartest witch of her age, is amazing indeed. Know that I love you both as well. Good bye.”
With that, he disappeared, leaving everyone to wipe away their tears and think of what the future may or may not hold for Harry and Hermione.
As they began talking again, they found themselves sitting around their tree. Harry couldn’t help but feel overjoyed as he leaned against the trunk and sighed. Although the situation was amazing and quite scary, literally his and Hermione’s life or death, he was spending time with his parents again. It became very clear that the relationship they shared with Hermione was very close. He sat and watched with interest as they talked about the past and her relationship with Remus. Surprisingly, even to himself, he found he wasn’t jealous.
When the conversation went to Sirius and Remus all but fighting over Hermione, Harry asked, “So, I don’t want to know the answer really, but did you, you know, like her as well?”
“Oh, totally,” he said and laughed at the expression on Harry’s face, “I like her a lot. My feelings towards Hermione are the same as yours, son. She’s like the sister I never had. I’ve been in love with your mum since my fourth year. No other girl could compete.”
“Although some tried,” Lily laughed.
“Hmm, yes, they did. You know, if I were alive, this would be a very disturbing conversation. This girl is like my sister, and she’s also like my son’s sister.”
“I’ll say,” Harry said, “it’s bad enough with Remus and Sirius calling her Gypsy and hearing her use their names. Not to mention she’s even more affectionate than before. The thought of her and Remus kind of creeps me out though,” he laughed as she scowled at him.
“Think of it this way,” Lily said, “when Remus is 150, she’ll be 132. Not so bad like that.”
“It’s not my fault you’re too scared of the Weasley sons to make a move on Ginny,” she said as she laughed at his expression.
“True! Although, I think Ron, the one who’s supposed to take up for me, would kill me first,” he said. When he realized what he said he paused, then grinned. “Yea, he would have been first in line. Just like when I broke up with her. That’s not the reason though.”
“So, son,” James asked with a glint in his eye, “what is the reason you’ve not shagged your hot girl yet?”
“JAMES!” Lily yelled, eyes wide with shock as Hermione doubled over in laughter.
“What? When else am I ever going to get this chance again? And remember, my son may be 17, but I’m technically only 19!”
“Well,” he said sheepishly, “I didn’t want to die and take the chance of leaving her pregnant or anything. If she’s like Molly, we’ll probably have more kids than we’ll know what to do with,” he added grinning broadly.
“True! And Hermione can’t make Remus wait too long, he’s old enough as it is. He’s definitely older than me now!”
“He was always the youngest, but you have to remember that we just got back together or whatever two weeks ago. We’ve only spent a few days together since and he may decide this just doesn’t work for him.”
“The love you two shared was very strong, and is now as well. Otherwise, you wouldn’t feel him,” Lily said.
“There have been times that I’ve felt him all over,” she said softly. “Like maybe he’s laying with me. I can barely sense the others though.”
“Same here. I feel Ginny, but barely anyone else. I know Sirius is there, though.”
“I really like Ginny, Harry.”
“Me too!” he quipped, then added, “You remind me of her.”
“Yep, we Potter’s have great tastes in our girls!”
Hermione suddenly touched her fingers to her lips. Everyone looked at the surprised expression on her face before they covered their ears. As her body slowly began to disappear, she started screaming violently. They ran over to her, trying to touch her, but unable to do so. Then she suddenly came fully back.
“Wow, that was terrible,” she said slowly.
“What happened?” James asked with concern as Harry held her shoulders tightly and started looking her over.
“I felt Remus kiss me and then I couldn’t feel him anymore. I suddenly felt like I was being ripped apart when I felt his hand in mine again. That’s when I came back.”
“So, Dumbledore was right. They’re the only thing that’s keeping you here?”
“I guess so,” Hermione said sadly.
“Well, hopefully he won’t let go again!”
“Who is that?” James asked and they followed the direction of his gaze.
“Ron!” Hermione yelled as she and Harry ran up to the dazed figure.
“Hermione, love, I can’t breath!” he said, grinning as she slowly let go.
“I thought I’d never see you again!” she sobbed as he continued to hold her and looked at Harry as well.
Harry too had tears in his eyes, but a grin on his face, “breath, mate?”
“Well, it worked. You know how she is,” he replied as he hugged Harry tightly.
They made their introductions to Lily and James before going back to the tree.
“So, you two going to sleep forever down there, or what?” Ron asked. “Emma’s waiting for me. Of course, I do have eternity.”
“That’s not funny, Ronald!”
“Ah Hermione, I’ll miss you. But I’m happy. Tell everyone I love them and I’m happy.”
“Ron, if you’re here, does that mean you have a choice too?”
“No, Lily, I don’t. These two, it seems, were waiting for me here. Apparently the world feels it owes it to us, on some cosmic level, to at least say goodbye to each other. Now, about this choice. You two have to live your lives, you’ll see us all when it’s your time. There’s no rush to get here.”
“I miss you, Ron. It’s always been the three of us, what are we supposed to do without you?”
“You grow up, Harry. You live for the first time in your life. You take care of my sister and my other sister,” he said as he nodded at Hermione. “Hermione, start living your life as well. Give Remus time and you two will be happy together. You’re the best friends a guy could ever ask for and I love you both. Harry, I know choosing is hardest for you. Do you choose your girlfriend or your parents? Life or Death? The fame and glory you’re sure to get and hate or the peace you feel here? But the decision is yours to make. I’ll watch over you both, just like James and Lily have done. The only exception,” he added as he smiled, “is when you’re, um, with my sister.”
“Oh Ron, I love you!” Hermione sobbed as she hugged him again. This time he didn’t pull away like before, only hugged her tighter to him.
“I love you, too. Goodbye Hermione,” he said softly and she vanished.
“What…Where?” Harry asked, looking around.
Hermione woke to find herself in a hospital bed, with Remus talking gently to her. She heard the muffled voices of others whispering, but could only concentrate on Remus.
“Hermione, I really can’t do this without you. I didn’t even realize I had been waiting my whole life for you until recently. I can’t just let that go. Please come back to me, love. I‘ll do anything, I‘ll give you anything I can.”
“I want four, Remus,” she said softly.
He suddenly jumped up and yelled “Hermione!” as everyone turned and rushed to her bed. “Four what?” he asked curiously as he wrapped his arms around her and she hugged him tightly.
“Four children,” she said as she slowly pulled from his embrace and began to stand.
They were all looking very confused at her, except Remus who was beaming. Realization hadn’t set in for most that she was here, that she was alive. They just kept wondering what was going on and what she was doing now.
Finally spotting Harry’s bed in front of her, with Ginny sitting next to him, she walked quickly to him. “Don’t let go of his hand, Ginny,” she said as she knelt on the bed. “Harry, I’m going to say this as nicely as I can. Wake up, now! Do you understand me?”
She began to get very agitated when he didn’t respond. All the others, including Ginny were looking at her with hope, but that hope turned into confusion and worry very quickly.
Hermione slapped Harry’s face, not hard enough to leave a mark, but enough to make everyone jump back. “Harry, you don’t have a choice!” she said as her voice began rising and tears welled up in her eyes. “I don’t care what they’ve said, you can’t leave me too! Don’t you understand? I need you here, Harry, we all do! I lost three of my best friends and I refuse to lose another. I love you, Harry, please don’t leave me, too!” she sobbed as she collapsed on his chest.
“She went back, Harry. Hermione chose to live. What about you?”
“I don’t know! I love Ginny with all I am, but here I have you and my parents that I’ve never had before. And I could watch over Ginny and Hermione and Sirius.”
“Watch, Harry,” Lily said sadly, “but nothing else. I couldn’t pick you up when you fell, or stop Petunia from allowing such cruelty to my little boy. I couldn’t tell you how much I love you or hold you, or anything. I could only watch and be proud of the wizard you have become.”
“Do you want that for her, Harry? Do you want to watch Ginny fall apart and slowly die of a broken heart, or watch her have your children with another man? Or have Hermione name her first child after you, but never be able to hold him?” James asked.
“We’ll always be here, Harry. And when you do die, we’ll have each other again.”
“Hermione,” Harry breathed. “I feel her. I can hear her,” he chuckled as he touched his cheek and added, “she’s telling me off right now. I really do have to go back, don’t I?” he asked as tears filled his eyes and slipped down his face.
“Yes, baby, you should,” Lily said as she wrapped her arms around him. “We love you and we’ll see you when you’ve lived your life and you’re done.”
“I’m proud of you, son,” James said as he took his turn hugging Harry. “Go make her yours and have my grandchildren. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Dad. And I love you, Mum,” he said, crying softly now.
“Harry,” Ron said slowly, “it’s time. Take care of my family, Harry, my mum will need you most. Be there for Hermione. You were always part of the family, always like my brother, and the only one I trust with Ginny. I love you, Harry.”
“I love you, too, Ron,” Harry said as both boys cried on each other’s shoulders.
Harry suddenly found himself in a hospital bed with Hermione sobbing and yelling at him. He could feel Ginny’s hand holding his own tightly. Hermione was on his other side crying and yelling that he couldn’t leave her. Then she said she loved him and broke down. He wrapped his free arm around her back and said softly, “I love you, too, Hermione. I’m back. Ron wouldn’t keep me,” he laughed as Hermione kissed all over his face.
“He wouldn’t keep me either!” she laughed and cried. “You ready to start living, Harry?” she asked as he sat up and looked around.
He grinned at everyone and said, “more than ever!” as he pulled Ginny on his lap and kissed her lovingly, in front of her parents, brothers, and everyone.
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