A/N: Hello, good readers!
Couple of points before we start. First off, yes I'm back with a new chapter! Hooray! Second, I am so very sorry its been so long. A combination of exams, writer's block and the calling of the outernet has kept me from getting this finished. Third, a fair bit of this chapter was lifted directly from the text again, but it does contain something that you've all apparently been very interested in finding out about.
Now I'm babbling and I think I've kept this chapter from you long enough.
Chapter 14: You Failed Me
Ron was waiting at the foot of the ladder to Professor Trelawney's room, his back against the wall and his foot tapping against the stone floor idly.
He had come up here shortly after Harry dashed off after Hermione, since the common room was nearly empty and they would need to be here in a few minutes anyway.
He was glad to have fixed things up with his two best friends. His talks with Hagrid and Neville had given him a better perspective of the situation. It was true that Scabbers' death still hurt a bit. As useless as the rat was, Ron had grown up with him around and things felt different with him gone.
However, it was also true that Ron had been a prat these past few months. Harry and Hagrid were right, he should put his friends before pets and brooms. The fact that he'd been neglecting his promise to Hagrid had also hit him hard, especially since Harry and Hermione had both found a way around their other commitments.
He already felt guilty, but he knew it was only going to get worse if the Hippogriff died. He simply would not let that happen.
His thoughts were interrupted by a cacophony of clanging from just down the hall.
The redhead turned towards the sound and caught sight of a certain round-faced Gryffindor boy, who had somehow collided with one of the many suits of armour in the castle. Neville had the metal suit propped up with one arm and was using the other to stop himself from falling. Ron jogged over to him.
"Neville? You all right mate?" he asked, grabbing the arm of the suit to help him.
"Ron? Sorry, I... I just wasn't looking where I was going and I turned the corner and I knocked it over. I didn't bother you did I?" The boy's face somehow managed to look simultaneously flushed with embarrassment and pale with fear.
"Nah, it's fine," said Ron, finally hoisting the offending ornament back onto its plinth and stepping back.
"Thanks," panted Neville, who also stepped back and looked at Ron with a frown, "What are you doing up here anyway? I thought you'd be with Harry and Hermione."
"They had to go do something," said Ron, thankful for someone to talk to instead of waiting for his friends in silence, "Well, Hermione did and Harry ran off after her. Worried about her or something I think. Did you know she missed Charms?"
Neville nodded, "Yeah, it was a bit hard not to notice really, without her hand up every time someone asks a question."
"Yeah, I suppose," Ron said, then he had a thought. It was a thought he'd had a couple of times since he'd apologised and he decided to share it with Neville, "To be honest though, sometimes I think they're not telling me something."
"What do you mean?"
Ron frowned. He wasn't quite sure what he meant. It wasn't any one thing they did that he could use as evidence, just a feeling he'd had recently when he was around them. Maybe it was just a bit of distance they still had after their last spat, but Ron didn't think that was it.
"I dunno," he replied honestly, "Sometimes they'll start talking about something that I can't make any sense of, yet they seem to get it perfectly. Then other times, they're talking and they just forget I'm in the room. D'you know what I mean?"
Neville looked at him a bit surprised, "Yeah I do. They did stuff like that with me and Luna as well. I thought it was just because we weren't as close to them as you were, but maybe you're right."
Ron was a bit taken aback by that. He hadn't realised that Neville may have noticed something too, but it made sense. After all, he'd been spending a lot of time with them lately.
"How did you meet Luna, anyway? I don't remember you ever talking to her until recently," Ron asked curiously.
Neville scrunched his brow, "It was a bit odd. She just sort of came up to us while we were with Buckbeak and asked if she could help with his case."
"She's a little barmy, don't you think?" put in Ron.
"Maybe, but she's really clever and she's nice as well," Neville shrugged.
"I never said there was anything wrong with being barmy, mate," clarified Ron.
The two boys continued to chat while the corridor around them filled with people. They talked about things of non-importance; Quidditch, Exams, Snape being a git. The beginning of the lesson drew nearer and there friends still hadn't shown up. It was only right before they were to ascend to the attic room that Harry and Hermione finally appeared.
"Where've you two been?" asked Ron, while his friends hurried towards him, looking a bit out of breath.
"We were with..." began Harry.
"Professor Lupin," finished Hermione and Ron turned his eyes to her, "He wanted to talk to Harry about his Dementor Lessons."
Ron noticed Harry give her an odd look, before he nodded in confirmation of the story. Ron's eyes narrowed slightly, but he pushed his thoughts about their hiding something to the back of his mind.
"Well, come on then," he said, moving over to the ladder, "Let's find out which omen of death you've attracted this week Harry."
Harry and Neville laughed at that and Hermione rolled her eyes slightly, but she had a small smile on her face. Ron grinned and climbed up to the room.
Harry stole a glance at Hermione as he pulled himself through the trap door.
She hadn't really lied, they had been stopped by Lupin on their way here, but he hadn't wanted to talk about Dementor lessons. In fact, he hadn't wanted to talk to Harry at all, he'd come to ask Hermione about when her Boggart training would be happening.
Harry wasn't sure why she didn't want to tell Ron what she was doing, but he wouldn't push it. He recalled her terrified face when she'd faced the Boggart in their lesson and the insecure stance she held when he confronted her afterwards.
Whatever it was she was afraid of, it was obviously something very personal to her and Harry didn't want to press her about it.
Harry, Hermione, Ron and Neville took a seat together around one of the rickety tables, all of which were topped by glowing crystal balls filled with pearly white mist.
"I thought we weren't starting with these until next term," said Ron, nodding at the orb in front of them.
"Don't complain, this means we've finished palmistry," said Harry, casting a wary eye about in case Trelawney was lurking nearby, "I was getting sick of her flinching every time she looks at my hands."
Neville opened his mouth to say something, but was cut off by the Professor making her usual dramatic appearance from the shadows. "Good day to you," she said, in a misty voice. Across the room, Parvati and Lavender quivered with excitement, while the rest of the room seemed not to even have noticed her entrance.
"I have decided to introduce the crystal ball a little earlier than I had planned," explained Trelawney, seating herself with her back to the fire, "The fates have informed me that your examination in June will concern the Orb and I am anxious to give you sufficient practice."
Hermione snorted. Harry turned to her and raised an eyebrow.
"Well, honestly," she said, not troubling to keep her voice low, "The fates have informed her? Who set's the exam? She does! What an amazing prediction!"
Harry tried to stifle his laugh and Ron sniggered. Neville looked at them strangely. He had never sat with them in this lesson before and wasn't aware of their hobby of mocking the teacher.
Trelawney did not seem to hear them and carried on with her speech, "Crystal gazing is a particularly refined art. I do not expect any of you to See when you first peer into the Orb's infinite depths. We shall begin by relaxing the conscious mind and external eyes..."
Ron was beginning to have serious trouble stifling his laughter. He stuffed his fist into his mouth to stop the noises from escaping. The other three attempted, in vain, to focus on what the Professor was saying as she continued to describe what they should be doing.
Finally, they began. Harry, feeling very foolish, stared blankly at the crystal in front of him. He tried to clear his mind of thoughts, but it didn't help that Ron broke out into giggles every so often and Hermione kept tutting.
After fifteen minutes of pointless staring in silence, Harry turned to his classmates and asked, "Seen anything yet?"
"Yeah," replied Ron, "There's a burn on this table, someone spilled their candle."
"This is such a waste of time," hissed Hermione, "I could be doing something useful, like catching up on Cheering Charms. Instead, I'm sat here looking at an oversized paperweight."
Harry's lips twitched, but he restrained his laughter as Professor Trelawney rustled past. "Would anyone like me to help them interpret the shadowy potents within their orbs?" she asked, her question clearly directed at their table.
"I don't need help," Ron whispered, "It's obvious what this means. There's going to be loads of fog tonight."
Harry and Hermione burst out laughing. Neville smiled uncertainly, he didn't seem keen to be caught laughing at a teacher in the middle of a lesson.
"Now really!" huffed the professor, stalking closer to the table, "You are disturbing the clairvoyant vibrations!" The whole room was staring at them now. Lavender and Parvati looked positively scandalised.
Professor Trelawney loomed down over them and peered into the crystal ball. "There is something here!" she whispered, her voice ringing out across the silent classroom, "Something moving... but what is it?"
The teacher looked up at Harry, a mournful look on her face. Harry gazed back impassively, fairly certain he knew exactly what it was.
"My dear... it is here too, plainer than ever before... stalking towards you, growing ever closer... the Gr..."
"Oh, for goodness sake!"
All eyes in the room snapped to Hermione, who's face wore an expression of utter annoyance. "This ridiculous Grim, again," she continued, rolling her eyes for emphasis, "Honestly, it's like the highlight of your day is telling us that we're going to die."
Professor Trelawney raised her enormous eyes to Hermione's face, surveying her with an unmistakable anger that was mirrored in the eyes of Lavender and Parvati. The rest of the room just watched in shock and anticipation.
"I am sorry to say that from the moment you arrived in this class, my dear, it has be apparent that you do not have what the noble art of Divination requires. Indeed, I don't remember ever meeting a student whose mind was so hopelessly Mundane."
Harry breathed in sharply. He had heard people insult Hermione before, but the one thing no one ever accused her of was being stupid. He watched her eyes harden from irritation to fury, then...
"Fine!" she said, getting up suddenly, shoving her copy of Unfogging the Future into her bag, "Fine! I give up! I'm leaving!"
The class watched in amazement as Hermione strode over to the trapdoor and kicked it open. She stopped for a short second just before descending and her eyes met Harry's. He continued to stare back in disbelief. She snorted and ducked through the opening.
The class sat in stunned silence for a few moments before the tension was broken by a loud, "Ooooo!" from the front of the room.
Everyone jumped and turned to the sound, as Lavender babbled about Professor Trelawney having predicted this event.
Everyone except Harry, that is.
The boy-who-lived continued to gaze at the trapdoor through which his best friend had just left. Part of him wanted to go after her, to just forget about this stupid lesson and gigantic black dogs, but...
He turned back to the crystal ball, he may laugh about it with his friends, but inside he still wasn't sure. What if Trelawney really had seen the Grim there? If it were just her, then he wouldn't believe a word of it, but he'd seen the dog too, outside of the lesson. 'It's not just me though,' he remembered, 'Crookshanks could see it too.'
Sighing, he settled back into his chair. As much as he would love to go with Hermione, he couldn't leave until he had made sense of all this.
Was the dog really a dangerous omen, or was he just going completely mad?
Two days after her dramatic walkout from Divination, Hermione was knocking on Professor Lupin's door. Harry had offered to come with her, but she had refused, again telling him that she needed to face this on her own.
"Come in," the werewolf called from within.
She pushed the door open and closed it behind her. The professor was sat in his usual position at his desk. To his left was a tall wardrobe that shook slightly every so often.
Hermione glanced at it apprehensively before making her way towards the front desk.
"Hermione," Lupin greeted, smiling at her, "Please, take a seat."
She did so, trying to calm her nerves about what she was about to face.
Professor Lupin continued to smile at her. "I heard about what happened a few days ago," he said, "I never knew you had such a taste for the dramatic."
Hermione grimaced and looked at the ground, "Professor, I know there were better ways for me to have handled it and I shouldn't have shouted at a teacher or..."
"Relax, Hermione," he said, raising his hands to calm her, "While your method of departure was... shall we say, unorthodox, the staff do not hold you in the wrong for your actions and neither do I. On the contrary, some of the teachers found your little walk-out to be highly amusing."
Hermione smiled sheepishly. She was still astounded at herself for being so disrespectful, even if it was to that teacher.
"Now," continued Lupin, his face turning serious, "I believe we met here for a reason."
Hermione, felt her nerves surge up again and shot another look at the wardrobe. She gulped audibly and nodded.
Lupin mirrored her nod and spoke patiently, "Would you like to talk about it first, or would you rather we start immediately."
She took a deep breath, "I'd like to just get it over with. Once I've seen it, then it will probably be easier for me to think of how to fight it."
Lupin nodded again and stood moving over to the wardrobe. Hermione followed him a few feet behind, wringing her hands as she did.
The werewolf placed a hand on the door and gave her a look. "Before we see what's behind here, I have a bit of advice," he said, "Don't believe anything that comes out of here. Whatever it is, whatever it does, just remember that it isn't real. It can't hurt you." Hermione nodded thankfully and drew her wand.
Lupin gradually took a couple of steps back and pulled his own wand.
"Ready?" he asked.
She swallowed and answered with another nod. With a swish of his wand, Lupin unlocked the wardrobe with a click.
With a deafening creak, the doors swung open and Professor McGonagall stepped out from inside. In her hand was a short roll of parchment.
"Miss Granger," she said sharply, "Dear me..."
Hermione felt her blood run cold at the tone in her voice, the clear disappointment that it carried.
"Transfiguration: Fail, Potions: Fail, History of Magic, Defence Against the Dark Arts, I don't believe there's any passes on here at all actually."
The professor finally looked up at her and Hermione cringed when she saw the same disappointment in her eyes. She raised her wand in a trembling hand.
"My child, I expected bett..."
Where McGonagall stood, there was now two people. A man and a woman stood side by side, again with a little piece of parchment between them.
Hermione felt her breath catch in her throat as she recognised them, "M- mum? Dad?"
They looked at her and she choked. They wore the same look that McGonagall had.
"Hermione," her Father sighed, "We expected so much more from you. We thought you'd fit in at this school, that you'd make us proud."
Hermione felt tears begin to brim in her eyes and she shook her head.
"But, all these failures," her mother continued sadly, "Maybe sending you to this place was a bad idea."
"No, no," Hermione protested weakly, her tears ready to fall now, "R- Riddikulus."
Hermione's eyes widened as the next figure appeared.
'No,' she thought desperately, 'Not him, I can't...'
She had looked into those green eyes so many times, but never had she seen such a look in them before. It wasn't just disappointment this time, there was also... hurt.
"You failed Hermione," Harry said in a broken voice.
She shook her head violently, her tears falling freely down her face. Her voice was little more than a whisper, "No, no, please Harry, please I..."
"You failed," he repeated, "I needed you and you failed me."
She collapsed to the floor and buried her face in her hands, sobbing wretchedly and pleading, "No! No, please, I tried, I promise! I did my best, please!"
She didn't even notice when Lupin stepped up beside her and banished the Boggart with a lazy flick of his wrist. She was too busy crying her eyes out at the revelation of her greatest fear.
A/N: I know, I'm evil to leave it there, but It felt like such a good place to stop. Hopefully, the wait for the next chapter won't be quite as long this time. Until then, my good readers.