I present the next chapter. I don't know if this will quite live up to your expectations, but I certainly hope expectations or not, you enjoy it. And once again, thank you so much for your sweet reviews.
The walls are closing in around
We hold our silence like a gun
Your stare is empty and a scene that keeps repeating
And I just bite my tongue
Footsteps will fade away the memories
Unload the words and breathe again
Our eyes are focused on unexplored horizons
At what has always been
They can't take this away, it's far from over
We can't stay in a place we don't belong
For one more day, I'm not afraid to fall
For one more day, we try to save it all
One More Day – 10 Years
"Granger. Granger! Hermione!"
Dimly, Hermione became aware that someone was shaking her as her sleepy mind processed her name being called. It had been her first time sleeping in such a comfortable bed knowing that she was safe in such a long time, and she had been fairly exhausted after recent events, that she had fallen nearly straight asleep after dinner. She was, of course, sharing a room with Ginny, and while it was an old trundle bed she was sleeping on, it was heaps better than camping and wondering if she would be alive the following night.
Processing the thought that someone was in fact calling her name and shaking her awake, the gears in her head began whirring into motion, shifting through who it might be. It was certainly male, which ruled out Ginny, Mrs. Weasley, and Fleur. Percy wasn't here, so he was out. They hadn't gotten Harry yet, so it couldn't be him, and she knew Ron was far too heavy a sleeper (and knew far better than to wake her up) to be up this hour, whatever time that happened to be. Not to mention whoever it was had called her Granger, which ruled out Mr. Weasley, Bill, and Charlie, who, despite not knowing her as well as Ginny, Ron, the Twins, or even Percy, had taken enough of a liking to her to call her Hermione, which she was rather grateful for as it made her feel more at home.
But that only left the Twins (who called her Granger only because they knew it bothered her) and that meant she had a fifty/fifty shot at guessing correctly. As Hermione blinked sleepily up at the face that was hovering over her in the darkness, she tried to make out enough features to distinguish which twin she was being rudely awakened by, but the combined exhaustion and pure darkness made it near impossible. Sighing she gave up, and rubbed her eyes, wearily sitting up on her bed.
"All right, I'm awake. May I ask who has rudely awakened me, as I don't possess the power of seeing the dark quite yet and I don't wish to wake Ginny by lighting the whole room," she whispered, still trying to adjust to the lack of light as she focused on whichever twin was standing beside her.
"It's George. I would apologize for waking you, but what I have to say is more important. Can we talk?" he whispered back, and Hermione felt a jolt of irritation flash through her, quickly quelled by both curiosity and concern. She was deeply interested in what George had to say, but more so concerned at why he had come to her of all people, instead of turning to his counterpart, which would have been the more obvious choice.
"Okay. I'll meet you outside in five minutes," Hermione told him, and she barely made out the nod that he gave her before she heard him exit the room almost silently.
Sighing once more, Hermione remained in the bed for a few moments, contemplating whether she really wanted to do this. She briefly considered whether this was a prank or not, but decided nearly instantly it wasn't; something in George's voice had seemed a bit off. So, sliding reluctantly out of her bed, she pulled on a pair of sweat pants and sneakers and threw on a loose-fitting long sleeve shirt to cover her tank top. It may be summer, but nights at the Burrow got a bit cold outside.
She crept out into the hallway, peaking carefully both ways before daring to step out. She edged ever-so-carefully down the stairs, making sure none of them squeaked, and then darted across the living room and out the back door to where she assumed George would be waiting. She nearly crashed into him when she turned around after closing the door slowly to prevent the slam, and he steadied her, never letting go of her arm as he led her through the darkness away from the house to a different part of the yard where they could talk and light their wands without being heard or seen or breaching the wards.
Sitting down on the soft ground, Hermione mumbled 'lumos', and immediately her eyes sought the minute differences that made the twin sitting before her George. Hermione mumbled Incendi Mortis and a gentle blue ball of flame came between the two of them, settling on the ground. George watched it for a moment, awed and baffled slightly, before turning back to Hermione.
"I made that up, you know. I got lonely on the dark nights, and so I made that up so I would always have a little light to keep me company. I combined Incendio with the leg-locker jinx, and there's a bit of the flame-freezing charm in there so it won't burn anyone. I figured if the leg-locking jinx locks something in place, why can't it do that to fire? It took a bit, but I got it after awhile. Burned myself, although I surmise you and Fred have sustained worse injuries testing your inventions," Hermione babbled softly. She knew that she was rambling, but she was rather proud of her invention, and she was also very nervous about what George needed to talk to her about.
"Not exactly a charm I would have thought book-worm Hermione Granger would invent, but it is rather brilliant. It might even come in handy for a few inventions back at the shop. Fred had this idea for…" George had initially grinned, seeming very much himself and highly interested in the little flame nestled in the grass in front of him. But a few moments after he mentioned Fred the grin slid from his face as he realized that in reality, he had just watched his brother die. He turned his eyes to the blue flame in front of him, a deep pain filling his body at the thought that he had just lost his twin. For a few minutes, he dared not speak, afraid of what would happen if he did.
Hermione waited patiently for George to gather himself, wondering what could have possibly caused this sudden change in mood. He had seemed perfectly fine during dinner, and even just two minutes prior he had been acting himself. Now, however, as she looked upon him, he had seemed to deflate and fold in on himself, and there almost seemed to be a dark cloud of sorrow hanging over him. she had no idea what could have caused it; he certainly couldn't feel this terrible about Dumbledore's death, could he? What was it then? He had been so excited about her invention…
No… Hermione thought, her body going rigid. There's no way.
before she could think further on what she was trying incredibly hard to deny possible, George looked up and caught her eye.
"Hermione, the reason I wanted to talk to you is because…. Fred died. I saw it. You saw it. Merlin, who didn't? He was gone, and two days ago I was kneeling next to his body wondering how I was going to survive without him. I-" George choked, trying not to cry as the memories flooded over him. He swiped a hand across his eyes, taking a deep breath to calm down while Hermione looked on, tears forming in the corners of her eyes, unsure what to do.
"But yesterday I woke up in the bedroom I share with him expecting to see the bed across from me empty have someone in it. He was there! Fred was there, alive, after I, after my entire family, cried over him. If I hadn't been so confused, I might've smothered him in how happy I was."
Hermione smiled at the peaceful expression that had crossed over George's face, although it was quickly replaced by one of confusion and determination, which had Hermione biting her lower lip in worry. A million thoughts were racing around in her head, but before she could begin sorting them out, he continued talking.
"Then we, Fred and I, go downstairs, and I find out that we're expecting you any time that day, and that it's only been a few days since Dumbledore's funeral and that's why everyone is so distressed. It also explained why Bill and Fleur were in the living room acting out scenes I was almost positive I had already witnessed; they were planning their wedding, a wedding I've already attended. I went through the rest of the day doing things I had already done, thoroughly confused. Add on to that I suddenly have both ears again, which I've had to stop myself from checking at least four times. `To top it off, Fred had noticed, and had been giving me the most concerned of glances. But what could I tell him? That I had seen him die not even twenty-four hours earlier?
"Then you arrived and I knew it wasn't just me. I could tell by the way you were looking at everybody, like you were seeing them for the first time, especially Fred, that you knew. Then when you hugged us; you never hug me or Fred, Hermione. I knew that whatever was going on, you would know. So please, tell me why I've suddenly found myself nearly a year in the past?"
Hermione stared at George in both shock and horror, the color draining from her face completely. No. Nononono. Nonono! This wasn't how it was supposed to be! She was supposed to come back alone, do her good deeds, save some people, and be done with it! There wasn't supposed to be another person!
There was a long moment of silence as George watched Hermione and waited for her to answer him and tell him exactly why everything had happened as it had. Hermione only stared at him, completely clueless as to how to proceed. She hadn't planned on there being another person from the actual future, not the one she was changing. It felt comforting to know that someone else would know what really happened, but she felt the comfort wane knowing that the person who knew was the twin brother and partially the reason of why she had come back in the first place. Why oh why did the fates do this to her?
Hermione exhaled softly, turning her eyes towards her hands that she had folded in her lap, trying to muster the courage to explain. He pretty much had everything figured out already; he was really only looking for conformation. But she'd explain as best she could anyway.
"Well, you see… I was just distraught and panicking and wanted to help you all because you all looked so sad, and I hadn't really lost anybody, so I figured that it was the least I could do. So I retreated to the library and found a book, or rather the book found me, as it really took no time at all, since it did sort of pull me to it, though it was in the Restricted Section, so that makes sense. But anyways, in my third year I used a time turner, so I knew time travel was possible. I just wanted to see if I could return to a previous me and possibly prevent some events from happening, such as certain… deaths… And suffice it to say, I found my answer. Here I am, returned to my existence of what would now be 4 July 1997, and apparently, so are you. What I don't understand is why you're here too, I mean I killed myself to get here, and unless you read the book and did that too, which you can't have if you have no idea what's going on, then you must have gotten here another way," Hermione explained rather hastily, slightly mumbling, her sentences jumbling together as everything fought to come out at once. She couldn't help but twiddle her thumbs a bit, feeling as if she had been caught in a tremendous lie and was being held in front of the Wizengamot. Her nerves were simply frayed beyond repair and her mind was melting as she felt George's eyes rest on her.
"Bloody hell! You killed yourself? Are you mental!" George practically shouted, jumping up, startling Hermione from her antagonizing breakdown.
"Well, no, that's just… what the book… told…me…to do…"She trailed off, her words fading under George's intense glare.
"And you listened? For someone who is supposed to be the brightest witch, that was certainly a stupid idea. Books can't solve everything. What if the book had told you to chop off only your right hand; would you have done that? What if it told you that in order to save someone you had to kill someone else, would you have done that? Could you live with that guilt? And what about all the things that could go wrong from you messing with the time line? What if you save someone and that kills someone else, someone more important? What if you being here changes the outcome of the war? How would you live with that?" George gave her a patronizing stare from above, daring her to speak out against him. "Blimey, Hermione, you killed yourself. What if it hadn't worked? You'd be dead, and there would be one more body added to the pile and instead of helping us, we'd all be grieving another person. Could you live with that?"
Hermione listened to his rant in seething silence, staring determinedly at the ground just behind him. His words struck deep within her, stinging. She knew they were true but she just didn't want to accept it. Suddenly an irrational anger bubbled up in Hermione from whatever reserves she had. How dare he accuse her of a lack of sanity? How dare he yell at her for thinking irrationally! She had come back for him, hadn't she? For his brother and his family? Wasn't killing herself worth it then? He had no right!
Standing up, she curled her hands into fists, glaring back at the angry twin.
"Don't you dare yell at me! I was panicked and scared and lonely and desperate, and did the only thing that I could think of, which is more than I can say for anybody else! Would you rather I left you all there to cry and grieve and look positively pitiful? Because I can let things happen the way they were supposed to. I'll just let everybody die like they already have. No big deal, it already happened. What's it matter anyway; we still win! Would you like that? is that what you want me to do? Would you rather I let it flow normally, so there's no chance that anything will change the time line, and you get to watch Fred die again? Would you like that? Because I'm not okay with that, but if you are, then who am I to say anything? After all, it's not like I came back here to save him or anything!"
Hermione knew it was a low blow, like hitting an enemy while their back is turned, and she regretted it instantly when she saw the anger leave George's eyes to be replaced with fear and torment, the memories of his brother's body probably playing in his head. But she couldn't bring herself to apologize; he had damaged her pride, and that was one of things she clung to dearly. Her tense body relaxed a bit, taking a tiny step forward, as George half sat, half fell to the ground, eyes tightly shut. She wanted to comfort him, tell him she didn't mean it, but deep down, she sort of did, and he knew that.
There was a long, awkward silence while she stood there fidgeting, wondering, not for the first time, how on earth she was supposed to comfort the man that was supposed to be pranking and laughing and smiling twenty-four/seven. And he sat there, knees bent, the heels of palms pressed harshly into his eyes as he remembered, not for the first time, how terribly, awfully, heart wrenchingly agonizing it had been to see his twin dead. Finally, eyes red, he looked up at her.
"You wouldn't do that, would you?" He asked quietly, his voice hoarse as if he were holding back sobs, which Hermione figured he probably was. his eyes were filled with the deepest fear, panic, dread that she would actually let things happen as they already had; that she would let his best friend die again while he could do nothing to stop her.
"Of course I wouldn't. I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that by the time this war is over, he'll be standing next to you, and both of you will be planning your next prank and already working on your next invention. And as much as I love you both individually, it's not the same. I love you far more as the annoying, obnoxious, ridiculously brilliant prankster twins, and I'm going to give the world back what it lost when it lost half of you," She said softly, placing a hand on his shoulder. She crouched down in front of him as she gave him the gentlest of smiles. "So you have nothing to worry about."
He gave her a brilliant smile, the one that she had been searching for, and she grinned back. Standing back up, she offered him her hand. He took it, more for comfort than for assistance, and stood next to her. For a moment he almost hugged her, but he changed his mind, having felt far too many emotions in the short span of a morning. Trailing behind her, they walked back towards the house, just as the sun was starting peek over the lands, washing the earth in a faint blue glow.
He is my most beloved friend and my bitterest rival, my confidant and my betrayer, my sustainer and my dependent, and scariest of all, my equal. – Gregg Levoy
Well that certainly didn't go as I expected it to go. I had no plans to write the yelling and the fighting and the sad George and the comforting Hermione speech… but that's how these things go. You don't write the story, the story writes you.
Well, anyways. I hope you liked that. I was really concerned about writing from George's voice, and I'm still worried when it comes to writing from Fred and George's in the future. I hope this was okay. I think this is one of my favorite scenes that I've ever written.
Reviews, as always, are lovely. But you guys are pretty good at those. I'm so proud! *tear*