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Chapter 16 : Slytherins and Decisions
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Slytherins and Decisions
Hermione walked from Dumbledore's office in a daze. She knew what she should do, what she had to do, and what she wanted to do. All of those were completely different things, and only one could be done--and her choice had to be made soon. She informed the Headmaster that she would let him know what her choice was as soon as they went up to get sent back, though, she knew she would tell him privately as not to get bombarded with questions from Lily and Sirius. It was going to be her decision, and no matter which way she organized the future, they would definitely want to annoy her with a thousand what ifs and questions.
As much as she loved being in the company of the Marauders, she felt just as guilty with the future that Harry had now because of her selfishness. Though, if she chose that future now, it would be an act of sacrifice. However, if she went back to the days that the Trio were in school, she would subject him to a lifetime with no parents, something she knew he'd rather have, yet it wasn't so easily decided-- she would be James and Lily's cause of death. Her hand flew to her head, clearly signaling an oncoming headache from all the thoughts, confusion and decisions.
Everything around her began to become more cheerful as she watched a hundred happy faces leave the Great Hall after breakfast. The smiling faces and the vibe that was given off of everyone was insatiable; she wanted that happiness back...The oblivious nature of ignorance.
While in her trance of watching the blissful people around her, she fell hard to the floor after slamming into someone. Embarrassed, she looked up and into the familiar face of one of the men she left behind. Standing in a set of worn Slytherin robes, was Ron Weasley, his face angry.
"Watch where you're going next time," he sneered.
Hermione was in too much shock to speak. Her mouth was open and her eyes kept betraying her, looking to the ground and back up, avoiding his eyes by looking over his shoulder. She could feel the tears coming up in her eyes as she thought of her last few encounters with Ron, how he treated her in the future and how she treated him. And, without the Chosen One and the bookworm, he was just another pureblood Slytherin, with a smirk to match Draco Malfoy's ugly grimace.
"Merlin, don't cry," he whispered in annoyance. "Pathetic. It's not like I cursed you."
"Ron," Hermione called hoarsely as he retreated.
He turned around slowly and cocked an eyebrow, intrigued with how this girl knew his name, because he just realized he had never seen her before. "Who are you?" He asked snootily. "And, why are you still on the ground?" He reached down and gripped her arm, pulling her to the standing position.
"Let go of her," came another familiar voice. It was Sirius, followed closely by Lily. He came striding up to her side and looked viciously at the redhead who was holding her arm. Ron let go and glared at Sirius; it wasn't like he was hurting her, in fact, he was helping her.
"What do you want," he chided. "And who the bloody hell are you people?"
Hermione stood trembling between the three of them. It wasn't that she was afraid of Ron, it was more that she knew that she had caused this difference in him, and it scared her. Somehow things in the past started to make more sense and she realized that without the friendship of the Golden Trio, everything was different. In a low voice she said, "No one, we're no one." And with that, she turned around and left, with Sirius and Lily by her side.
The tears were becoming increasingly harder to keep back. They finally spilled over when she looked over her shoulder to see the adorable confusion written on Ron's face. She missed him, though she knew he would always be a part of the past, no matter what her decision would be.
Lily was the first to notice Hermione's tears, and instead of trying to comfort her, which never worked, she decided to force her to talk about it. "That boy, he was the other friend you were telling us about?"
No words answered her, but Hermione nodded her head and wiped away at her tear soaked face.
Lily continued, "He wasn't always a Slytherin, was he?"
Again, Hermione answered Lily by shaking her head.
Sirius butted in, "He was your boyfriend, wasn't he?"
Hermione spoke, though just barely. "He was my boyfriend. He-"
"Ah, the cheater," Sirius finished knowingly. "What did you see in him again?"
Hermione gave Sirius a 'don't even start with me about who I date' look. But, she quenched his thirst anyway. "He is my best friend. Harry and him both. That was enough for me."
It got really quiet as they walked past the Room of Requirement wall, each in thought about what was to come of this day, Hermione's choice and how the past might effect the future more than they knew. Lily was the one to grasp the handle on the door and walk in first. Once the door was shut and potential eavesdroppers were shut out, she looked to Hermione and decided to ask the question she knew had to be answered today. "What are you going to choose?"
Here we go, Hermione laughed to herself sarcastically. She knew the start of the questions were coming, she just didn't know how long Sirius and Lily could wait-- though she did think that Sirius would be the first to crack. "There's a lot to think about, and a short time to do it in. Can we not do this," she asked of them.
Sirius, though, knew better. "You're not going to tell us, are you?"
"Hermione! You have to!" Lily shouted in a high pitched voice. "You can't expect us to just ignore the fact that you may be leaving us forever!"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "I was planning on telling you when we get back. Because, if I decide to stay, things will be different. If I decide to go back, I want to say goodbye to all of you. So, can we please drop it until then?"
She drew the curtains of her bed and sat there, alone in thought, for another half an hour before getting up from the bed and rousing the others from their thoughts. "Let's get this over with."
The stone gargoyle leapt aside for the trio and they ascended the stairs to the Headmaster's chamber. Everything was the same as it previously was --spindly silver, books and gadgets -- except for one large cauldron brewing in the middle of the room, being stirred by Professor Snape. He held a look of contempt on his face as the trio walked in, almost as if he was angry to have been called from his studies to help with the time turning task.
“Miss Granger,” Professor Dumbledore welcomed, “I trust you know what you are going to do?” That annoying, all knowing look appeared on his face. He gathered, from their chat earlier that Hermione took his advice.
“Yes, sir,” Hermione answered with a small voice. “But, I do not wish to announce it to everyone.” Her eyes darted from the Headmaster to the Potion’s Master, and then back to Sirius and Lily.
“Understandable.” He smiled and rolled up the sleeves of his twilight robes. Hermione was shocked that he hadn’t tried to scan her mind for her decision; she knew what he must be thinking.
“See you soon, Professor,” Hermione twittered to Severus. “And you, sir,” she added to Dumbledore.
“I see that you are ready, then?” Dumbledore looked over Hermione’s shoulder to Lily and Sirius who nodded silently, watching as Snape sneered at the potion. “On the count of three then.” The Headmaster signaled to Snape to pour the liquid; then he began counting as soon as the first drop hit the floor. “One…Two…Three…”
The loud thuds from landing after traveling through time were heard once again. The trio landed in the Room of Requirement, just a centimeter away from the puddle of silver potion that was in front of them when they left.
James, Peter and Remus rushed over to help them up, James’s arm lingering on Hermione, giving her extra attention and making sure she was okay.
“We were just about to go to the Headmaster,” Remus said as he helped lift Lily from the ground. “What happened?”
Sirius, who whom Peter was helping up from the floor, huffed and found a seat on the sofa that had materialized. “It was an interesting turn of events,” he started before his eyes darted to Hermione. She shook her head a little to let him know that she wasn’t going to be the one to explain everything; it was much too difficult, especially since James played such a big part in it.
Sirius continued, with Lily jumping in at random points to explain things better. By the time they had started explaining Harry and Neville, Hermione was sitting on the sofa with her head in her hands, thoughts swirling around. It was almost time to make her decision final; she would have to go see Dumbledore again. She had to believe that she was doing the right thing, in the long run it would benefit everyone. The more she thought, the more she came to realize that no matter what she did, the future was still a guess to anyone. Now, all that mattered was that she knew what might happen and what she wanted to do in the here and now.
When the room went quiet, Hermione looked up and noticed all eyes on her. Her anxious face was nothing compared to the almost giddy face that James was displaying. He seemed too happy about the choice she had to make. It made her stomach churn and she would have heaved had their been a loo nearby. Lucky for her, the Room of Requirement must have been reading her thoughts, because in the corner of the room a stall had became visible. Hermione stood up, wobbly legged, and ran for the stall.
The others turned a deaf ear to her troubles and let her go on about her business, knowing full well she would just tell them to go away if they tried to help her. Some time later, Hermione emerged from the stall, her hair sticking up in odd places and beads of sweat clinging desperately to her forehead.
“Are you okay?,” James broke the awkward silence.
“We need to talk,” she informed, looking at each of them. “I’ve made my decision.” Her eyes lingered on each of them in turn, however there was an immense sorrow when she looked at Sirius; they would never get to indulge in each other again. As her eyes began to sting that familiar feeling, she walked back to the sofa and made herself comfortable. James sat one side of her, Sirius on the other. Lily, Remus and Peter all sat in front of her, eager to hear what Hermione had to say.
She began shakily, “I wasn’t sure until this morning…our morning, in the future,” she acknowledged the confused looks on James and Peter’s faces, “what I wanted, or needed, to do. I think I figured it out, and I’m prepared to do the right thing.”
Hermione recalled the words of Dumbledore as she spoke to the Marauders. He had told her when she first came to the past that she would make the correct decision when the time came. All the power in her being was urging her toward her final choice; the on that she knew deep in her heart was the right thing to do. “I’ve decided…”
A/N Holy Merlin, am I evil or what? What did Hermione decide? Can you figure it out? Are you sure? Positive? Leave me a review and let me know what you think! Oh, and let me know if the writing is good as well. ;) Thank you to all of you lovely readers and reviewers, I just adore you all!! ~Jessi *hugglies*
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