Chapter 15: Promises, Promises

"It'd be almost funny if it weren't so serious," Ron said to Harry as they walked back to the castle.

"I know," said Harry. Harry now had three people to worry about; Remus, who was obviously in grave danger, Hermione, who was deeply in love with Remus, and Sirius, Remus's best friend, who surely would not be taking Remus's loss lightly. Why didn't Sirius tell me? But he knew the answer to that. It was so close to exams, Sirius wouldn't have wanted to worry him. He shook his head sadly. That's why Sirius had stopped writing, and why Hermione had given him that pained look when he'd complained about it. What had been a glorious day marking the end of exams and graduation had quickly become one of worst days of his life. The thought of losing yet another person he cared about was overwhelming.

As they climbed up the castle stairs, they ran into Professor Flitwick. "Professor McGonagall is in her office if you still need to speak to her."

Harry and Ron took one look at each other and raced to her office.

"Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, please come in."

They noticed that she had a particularly pleased look on her face, not the tight, stern expression she usually wore. Even her voice sounded more cheery.

"Professor McGonagall, we know about Professor Lupin," Ron blurted out.

McGonagall looked between Ron and Harry. "And what is it that you think you know?" Her voice and facial expression returned to normal as she asked this question.

Harry cleared his throat. "Well, we know that Professor Lupin has been captured by Death Eaters," Ron swallowed loudly at this pronouncement, "And we know about Hermione and Professor Lupin. Being together, I mean."

"And we can't find Hermione," Ron bemoaned. "We're worried about her. And we wanted to lend our support, now that we know."

"And we're worried about Professor Lupin too," Harry added as Ron nodded in agreement.

The smile crept back across Professor McGonagall's face. "Well, I can assure you that Hermione is just fine. And, Professor Lupin has been found and is recovering quite nicely as we speak."

Harry and Ron exchanged glances. "Does Hermione know?" they asked in harmony.

Professor McGonagall laughed. "Yes, she's with him right now. But don't worry, I'm sure she'll be delighted to speak with you at this evening's feast."

Although it was a relatively warm day in June, Remus had lit the fire for old time's sake as they snuggled together on the couch.

"Hermione…"

She loved the way his voice wrapped around the syllables of her name.

"I have something for you. I was going to wait until you'd officially graduated, but after everything that's happened…" he trailed off. "Well, there's no time like the present."

She sat up, watching him curiously. He had a mysterious glint in his eyes.

He reached inside his robes before taking her hand in his as he slid off the couch to kneel in front of her. He watched as her eyes grew larger.

"Hermione Granger, would you do me the honor of marrying me?"

She gasped as he held out a gorgeous, antique-looking gold ring with a delicate diamond in the middle surrounded by tiny sapphires, emeralds, and rubies.

"Yes, Remus, yes I will marry you," she whispered, her wide eyes filling with joyful tears, her hands shaking.

He slipped the promise ring over her finger. "This ring has been in my family for generations. My mother, bless her heart, always hoped I'd meet a wonderful woman that I could give it to. I never thought I'd be so lucky." With that, he swept her into his arms. "She would have loved you, Hermione. Both of my parents would have," he said before kissing her deeply.

They talked about many things in the intervening hour. Hermione tried desperately to steer the conversation in a certain direction, but without much success. Finally, looking into his gray eyes, she said what had been on her mind all afternoon.

"You look so young."

He shifted slightly, looking uncomfortable.

As he opened his mouth to explain, she laid her fingers on his lips. "I know why, Remus. I figured it out after the Spring Ball. It all made so much sense after that."

Remus looked at her in amazement. "I should have known you'd figure it out, such a smart woman."

"You know," Hermione said, looking bashful, "I was thinking maybe we could grow old together." She paused for just a moment, "I kind of like looking the same age."

She startled as the expression on Remus's face turned from amusement to anguish. "What is it?"

When he didn't respond, she suddenly understood. "I'm sorry, Remus, that was quite selfish of me. I had no right to ask you to–" but his fingers touched her lips this time, stopping her mid-sentence.

Remus shook his head, tears in his eyes. "You are the most unselfish person I've every met," he whispered. "It's not that, I look forward to growing old together with you. It's just that I will live so much longer than you, and the thought of losing you––"

Hermione took his face in her hands. "Remus, neither of us has any idea how long we will live. Besides, when my time comes, if you want to join me, I'm sure that can be arranged. But, please, I can't bear to think about that now, I just got you back..."

He smiled slightly, leaning forward to kiss her, "Do you have any idea how much I love you?"

"Took you long enough," was Sirius's comment as he hugged both Remus and Hermione in turn.

"I do hate to break up the happy couple, but we did promise Dumbledore we would have Cinderella back to the castle in time for the Ball," Sirius said, winking at Hermione who blushed at his words.

As Hermione entered the Great Hall, Dumbledore was clearing his throat to get the students' attention. Seeing her hurrying to her seat, both Dumbledore and McGonagall smiled at her, a twinkle in their eyes. Oh, to be young again, she could practically hear them saying. She blushed, smiling, as she sat down next to Ginny, her hands clasped in her lap. Ron and Harry were staring anxiously at her from across the table. The students quieted as the headmaster commended the students for successfully completing another year and wished the graduating seventh year students an exciting and fulfilling future.

After Dumbledore had sat down and food starting filling the plates, Ron and Harry exchanged knowing glances and looked at Hermione.

"What?" she asked, still not able to wipe the smile off her face.

"We know." They said in harmony.

"Know what?"

"We know about you and Professor Lupin," Harry said. Hermione's eyes got very wide as she looked around the table to see if anyone else had heard, before turning to Ginny.

"We figured it out," said Ron proudly. "Well, actually, Harry figured it out."

"It's about time!" Ginny chimed in.

"And we are very happy for you." Harry said as Ron nodded. Hermione smiled genuinely at them. "Thank you, that means a lot to me. I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner, I was just afraid that–" But she stopped speaking as a collective gasp burst from her three best friends.

"What?" she said, as she set back down the goblet of pumpkin juice she had just picked up. Her face grew warm as she realized they were looking between the ring on her finger and her face. "Oh, yes, well, I guess it's definite now, isn't it?"

Harry and Ron cheered as Ginny gave her a hug.

Just then Dean Thomas joined the conversation. "What's all the fuss?"

"Ginny just told us you got engaged," Harry said jokingly. But from the sudden electrically charged air, the look on Dean's face, and the way Ginny's mouth fell open, Harry soon realized there was something more to his statement than he had intended.

"I WAS JUST KIDDING!" Harry said quickly.

Dean recovered, and Ginny laughed, patting Dean's white-knuckled hand on her shoulder. The tension broken, they began to eat. Hermione leaned over and whispered in Ginny's ear, "Looks like I'm not the only one who's been keeping secrets."

It was Ginny's turn to turn a bright shade of red.

A/N: A sequel to this story, Loves Lies Bleeding, can be found at www . adultfanfiction . net (no spaces, it won't let me list the link here). Specify that you are indeed 18 years of age or older, select Harry Potter, then Search "Authors" and "chrimsha", then select chrmisha and it will show my stories. Enjoy!