Only Time Will Tell
Summary: After spending a summer in seclusion with Remus Lupin, Hermione Granger is faced with a love deeper than she ever thought possible. Will he still be there to love her back?
A/N: This is a sequel to a Midsummer's Journey by Andrian (located at the Astronomy Tower on Fiction Alley - do a Google search if you aren't sure). Many thanks to Andrian for creating such a wonderful relationship between Hermione and Remus. This was written prior to OotP so Sirius is still alive.
Chapter 1 : Sweet Goodbyes
It was dark when they Apparated at the front gates of Hogwarts. Remus tightened his embrace around Hermione, inhaling her sweet scent, knowing that their time together would soon be over. He kissed the top of her head and laid his cheek gently on her soft brown hair.
"I will miss you, Remus." Her voice was full of tears.
"Hermione, sweet, sweet, Hermione," he said, rocking her gently back and forth in his arms.
"We have to get up to the castle. Professor Dumbledore will be waiting for us." He thought he saw panic flash momentarily in her beautiful, brown eyes but she just nodded and let Remus lead the way.
When they reached the headmaster's office, Hermione stopped. Remus watched as she closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and squared her shoulders.
"It'll be okay," Remus said, although he wasn't sure that he spoke the truth.
As the stairs revolved upwards, Hermione grabbed Remus's hand. He squeezed her hand gently, his eyes closed. What had Snape told him? He let go of her hand before they reached the top of the stairs.
The office door swung open and Dumbledore stood to greet them. "Remus, Miss Granger."
Dumbledore looked over them appraisingly as if to verify they hadn't been harmed in their journey. "It is good to see you both doing so well. Please, have a seat."
Hermione nodded, careful not to meet his eyes.
"How was your summer, Miss Granger?"
She blinked. Well, at first it was really awful, and then it got better, and then I fell in love, and then... "Fine, thank you."
"Remus, any problems?"
"Other than the incident in the forest that I've already told you about, no." Remus met his eyes. As well as he could read people, Dumbledore had always been a bit of a mystery. Remus only hoped Dumbledore found him just as unreadable.
"Professor Snape told me of his visit this morning," Dumbledore said calmly.
Hermione's head shot up at the sound of Snape's name.
Remus groaned inwardly; he had been very careful not to react in the slightest to Snape's name, but Hermione had practically come unglued.
Dumbledore shot Hermione a curious glance. "Is there something you'd like to say Miss Granger?"
"No, headmaster," she said quietly, returning her gaze to the floor.
Dumbledore turned his eyes on Remus. This time, there was no mistaking the look in them.
Just then, Hermione's head shot up again. "Yes, yes there is something I'd like to say, Professor."
Dumbledore turned to look at Hermione.
"I– this summer– I did a lot of things this summer that I never thought about doing before."
Like me, Remus thought wryly.
"And I thoroughly enjoyed them."
Oh no, where was this going? Remus thought, holding his breath.
Both men watched her expectantly.
"For instance, Remus, I mean, Professor Lupin, taught me how to defend myself against numerous curses and hexes and I've even managed to conjure somewhat of a Patronus."
Dumbledore nodded as Hermione began to run out of steam.
"I see. Thank you Miss Granger. The others are waiting for you in the Great Hall and I'm sure they will be delighted to see you."
Hermione nodded and took the hint to leave.
An icy silence hung in the air after the door shut. There was no need for words. Sitting in the presence of the greatest headmaster in history was enough to make Remus Lupin want to crawl in a hole and die of shame.
"I'm sorry," he said solemnly, not meeting the headmaster's eyes.
"You're sorry? That's all you have to say for yourself?" Dumbledore was standing now, a cold fury in his eyes. "I trusted you with that girl! My God, Remus, she's just a child! I never thought... you of all people... "
The words of a betrayed man pierced Remus's soul. And just what could he say for himself? Well, headmaster, I really do love her you know. Remus shook his head. You really are a monster, he thought to himself. Who was he ever kidding?
When he'd finally been dismissed, he slipped through the door and closed it behind him, leaning against it with his eyes closed, shaking slightly. His heart was racing and he was trying to steady his breathing. He had to leave and fast. He couldn't bear to see her again, see the wounded look on her face.
He felt something warm brush against his cheek and then lean softly against his chest. He didn't have to open his eyes, he could smell her magnificent scent. She's just a child, what were you thinking?
"Hermione, no." He put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her away from him.
She looked into his eyes, a startled expression crossing her face. "Remus..."
He shook his head and made his way to move past her down the stairs.
She stepped in front of him, her hands on her hips. "Remus Lupin, I won't let you do this."
He pulled her away from the edge of the spiral staircase. "Do what?" His voice was cool as he forbade his emotions to get the best of him.
"I won't let you walk away from me like this. I don't know what he said to you, and I don't really care. I am not a child, Remus, not anymore."
Great, I took that away from her too, Remus thought bitterly to himself.
"Before now, before this, you knew that. And now he's convinced you otherwise." The frustration was building in her voice and Remus could sense the fear starting to emanate from her. "Remus, please look at me."
He turned his cool eyes to her, unwilling to let his warring emotions show.
She took a deep breath. "Do you love me?"
The question caught him off guard.
When he didn't answer, she asked again, "Remus, do you love me?" She stared into his eyes. He wasn't budging. "Remus, are you trying to hurt me? Because if you're not, you're doing a damn good job of it!"
Tears welled up in her eyes and the walls he'd built around his heart began to melt. As he looked into her eyes, those eyes, he couldn't stand it anymore. He swept her into his arms, "Of course I love you Hermione. How could I not?"
She sobbed softly against his shoulder, hanging on to him tightly. "Then wait for me Remus."
"What?" he held her out from him so he could see her face. Are you asking what I think you're asking?
"Please, I know it's not fair. But this time next year, I'll be done with school, I'll be a legal adult, and... and..."
His soft face hardened. "And what Hermione? We can play house?" He saw the wounded look he'd been trying to avoid settle upon her face.
"Dammit, Remus, what the hell are you doing? Is that all these last few weeks were to you? Because I could have sworn it was something else."
Her brown eyes bore into him. He wasn't sure which was worse, hers or Dumbledore's. His heart was racing. He knew what she was asking, but he didn't want to rob her of her last year of school. What they had done, what they had been, was nothing. He couldn't let it be anything.
"Hermione," his voice was pleading, "What kind of life can I give you? Think about that. It's very difficult for me to find work. I don't have any money. I don't even have a home anymore," he sighed, exasperated. "You deserve better than that."
"I have thought about that," she smiled shyly, "more than I'd like to admit. One year, Remus, that's all I ask," she pleaded. "After I graduate, we can reassess things."
"Hermione, I don't know..." Remus closed his eyes. He knew he couldn't resist her for much longer.
She cupped his face in her hands. "Remus, I love you, please say you'll wait for me. Please."
He felt his resolve disintegrate when he opened his eyes and looked into the unwavering brown ones staring back at him, innocent and full of hope. How could he refuse her? How could he refuse himself? Finally, he relented, nodding his head. "I will wait for you, Hermione. I promise."
She wrapped her arms around him and held him tighter than she ever had.
"But," he whispered in her ear, "I will let you lead."
He walked heavily to the gates of the castle. How could he not wait for her? He knew Dumbledore would be furious but the headmaster didn't need to know. And this time next year, Hermione would be an adult and neither of them would need to answer to him. If things worked out, maybe Dumbledore would forgive him, eventually. If not, Dumbledore would be right––and he usually was. Remus sighed and turned his thoughts to his next assignment.