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Time After Time

by -> Amynoelle and Heaven
Reviews (952) | Updated : 21/04/09 | Published : 10/12/08 | Romance/Drama | Rating: R
This chapter was posted on: 10/12/08

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A/N: Hereís our new fic- finally! We do hope you enjoy it! The regular Tuesday and Saturday posting schedule will continue as long as this one lasts. BIG thanks to Jo for beta reading this for us!!!

The Power of Goodbye-

Your heart is not open so I must go
The spell has been broken, I loved you so
You were my lesson I had to learn
I was your fortress

Thereís nothing left to try
There's no place left to hide
Thereís no greater power
Than the power of good-bye

The greatest wizard Harry Potter had ever known had warned him that there would come a time when he would have to choose between what was right and what was easy. Harry hadn't really known what that meant until he'd made the decision to leave Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. He wasn't just going to leave behind a building, but he was going to leave behind everything he knew and everyone he loved.

Including one person in particular.

"Harry have you seen my wool socks?" Ron Weasley asked.

Harry turned away from the window and looked at his best friend. "What?"

"I want to take my wool socks and I can't find them," Ron pawed through his trunks.

"Try under your bed," Harry said returning his attention to his own packing. What did one take to take on a dark wizard, Harry asked himself. If Hermione Granger were here, she'd know just what to pack. But, she had no idea what he was doing or what he was planning.

He listlessly tossed a few jumpers into his knapsack, his mind still on his female best friend. Could he really leave her behind this way?

"Found them!" Ron announced triumphantly, holding up his wool socks.

"Great," Harry said gloomily.

Ron sighed. "She knows something's wrong. She cornered me after dinner and wanted to know what was going on with you. Thinks that you're still having doubts about breaking things off with Ginny..."

"I am not," Harry denied. "Ginny and I weren't ever meant to be, Ron."

"I know," Ron said stuffing his socks into his duffel bag. "But Hermione doesn't."

"What's Hermione got to do with it?" Harry asked.

Ron rolled his eyes. "You know everyone thinks I'm the dumb one. But, I see more than you and Hermione think I do."

"It'd be nice if I knew what you were talking about," Harry snapped.

Ron had kept quiet about what he'd observed this past summer. They'd been busy finding out everything they could about horcruxes. Harry and Hermione would sit close together huddled around some book while Ron fought off sleep. He'd seen the way Harry would look at Hermione when he thought no one could see.

"I don't fancy her anymore," Ron said instead. "If that's what was holding you back..."

Harry's head snapped up. "What?"

"I don't fancy her anymore," Ron repeated. "At Dumbledore's funeral, you were a little preoccupied and she and I had some time alone. I told her I wouldn't say anything to you..."

"About what?" Harry asked, panicking. How the hell had RON of all people figured out his feelings for Hermione?

"We snogged," Ron admitted, his cheeks turning red at the memory.

"WHAT?" Harry roared.

Ron held up his hand. "Easy, Harry. It was just one time. It was----it was----it's kind of hard to describe..."

"How so?" Harry asked, his green eyes narrowed.

Ron sat down on the edge of his bed. "Well, Hermione and me, we've always had this love-hate thing going on. She drives me insane most of the time. To tell you the truth, I've always thought she was a bit mental, really..."

"Ron," Harry interjected impatiently.

"I guess opposites just don't really attract, okay?" Ron finally said.

"This was just a few months ago," Harry said angrily.

"I know," Ron said. "But I'm only telling you now because I think you might have feelings for her. When Hermione and I kissed, it didn't mean anything. It was kind of like snogging my sister, actually. Not that I know what snogging Ginny is like----"

'I should hope not," Harry interjected.

"Anyway," Ron said hastily. "We decided we were better off as friends. So, if you were not saying anything because of me..."

"How did you know?" Harry asked bluntly.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist," Ron replied. "I saw how you were this summer when we were doing all that research. I caught you looking at her when she was reading or when she was writing something down that she thought we should all remember. Oh, and you say her name in your sleep. A lot."†

"Shit," Harry raked his hands through his hair.

"How long?" Ron asked.

"Middle of this past year," Harry admitted.

Ron nodded. He'd expected as much. "That's why you don't want her to come with us."

"I can't let anything happen to her," Harry told him.

Ron looked at him. "Harry, you and I both know we'd have a better chance with her than without her. She's smarter than anyone we know and she can handle herself..."

"And he'd use her to get to me," Harry interrupted.

"I'm not going to talk you out of this, am I?" Ron asked him.

"No," Harry said firmly.

Ron was glad he wasn't going to be here when Hermione found out that they'd left her behind. She was always reminding them that she was just as capable as the two of them to take care of herself.

"Well," Ron said quietly. "If tonight's the last time you're going to see her, maybe you should let her know how you really feel."

Harry looked at him. "You think?"

"It's up to you," Ron said standing up. "This might be your last chance, Harry. You--you didn't get a chance to say a proper goodbye to Sirius. You don't want that to happen with Hermione, do you?"

Harry looked away from Ron. He hated to be reminded of his stupidity that caused Sirius's death.

"I'm going down to the kitchens," Ron said. "We're going to need some food to take with us."

"Don't get anything messy," Harry cautioned him.

"Yeah, yeah," Ron said shaking his head as he left the room.

Harry sat down on the edge of his bed and thought about what Ron had said. What if this was the last night he would ever see Hermione?

He had thought that a clean break would have been the best thing for both of them. Besides, this was the best thing for her. She had worked so hard to make Head Girl. A smile played on his lips as he remembered how happy she'd been when she'd received the letter. He'd collected the post that day and he'd given her the letter. Her hands had been shaking and she'd been so nervous, she handed it to him to open. But, at the last minute, Hermione grabbed it from him and read the letter.

"I knew you'd get it," he had told her. "There's no question."

Hermione beamed at him. "I wasn't so sure. I mean, Hannah really did well last year. It could have so easily been her. Oh, Harry!"

She'd thrown her arms around him and given him a hug that would have made Molly Weasley proud.

Ron was right. He had to go talk to her before he left that night.

In the Head Girl's room, Hermione Granger was sitting at her desk. She should be studying for a Transfiguration exam tomorrow, but she was preoccupied. Something was going on with Harry. She knew it. The hunt for those mysterious horcruxes was wearing on him and Hermione felt a wave of guilt as she thought of how she'd let him down. If she was so smart, she would have figured this out already. But, here she was, almost as clueless as she'd been the day they'd first heard about horcruxes.

A knock on her door made her groan. "Ron I am NOT sneaking down to the kitchens with you!"

"It's not Ron," Harry's voice called back to her.

"Oh!" Hermione said. "Harry, come in!"

Harry opened the door and slowly stepped inside. His heartbeat quickened as he saw her. She was wearing her pyjamas and she'd pulled her hair back into a messy ponytail. The thought of never seeing her again tore him up inside.

"What are you doing up here?" she smiled at him.

"Just wanted to see how you were," Harry said, which was true. "Ron said you were worried about me."

"I'm always worried about you," Hermione shook her head.

Harry stepped closer. "I don't have to worry because I know you're worrying enough for the both of us."

"Exactly," Hermione grinned at him.

Crookshanks purred contentedly from his perch on Hermione's lap.

"You know, I've been thinking that we could use our Hogsmeade weekends to try and search for the horcruxes," Hermione said thoughtfully. "It'll be hard to get away, but you know you are lucky, Potter, because I have connections..."

"Sure," Harry was unable to meet her eyes.

Hermione looked at him. "Harry? What's wrong? Is it Ginny? I hope she's not bothering you. I told her if she just let this go..."

"I haven't talked to Ginny in ages," Harry said. In truth, he'd been avoiding the redhead.

Hermione had known that because Ginny kept coming up here every day to lament to Hermione about Harry. Hermione had to remind herself to hold her tongue and not tell the younger girl that she should realise that Harry had more important things to worry about.

"I just... wanted to come say good night, I guess," Harry said.

Hermione put Crookshanks down and stood up. She wasn't about to let him go that easily. "Come here. Let's talk. I feel like we haven't talked in ages."

He instantly felt nervous again. "Uh... about what?"

"About anything," Hermione said taking his hand and leading him over to the sofa. "About nothing."

"I just wish all this was over with," Harry muttered.

"It will be," Hermione said squeezing his hand. "Harry, you're ready. Ron and I are going to be right beside you the whole way. And---and when this is over, you can have that normal life that you deserve."

"Sure," Harry replied. "Normal..."

"Normal," Hermione smiled. "You remember me telling you about that house my parents have in Nice? I was thinking when it was all over, you, Ron, and me could go there for a nice holiday."

"That sounds great," Harry said. Hopefully she would forgive him and they'd still be able to go.

Hermione laughed. "It will be fun listening to Ron try and order French food."

"He'll eat it no matter what it is," Harry also smiled.

Hermione loved seeing Harry smile. She hadn't seen enough of it lately. "I told him he had to try escargot. He has no idea what it really is."

"He won't hear a word about it from me," Harry said.

"Our little secret," Hermione grinned.

"We have how many of those now?" Harry asked.

"At least a hundred," Hermione grinned and moved over to sit closer to him. She rested her head on his shoulder.

Harry gulped nervously. She was so close!

"I know what you're thinking," Hermione said softly.

"You do?" he squeaked.

"Yes," Hermione said. "And you're wrong. Ron and I want to go with you. We're going to be with you the whole time, Harry."

"Right," Harry mumbled.

Hermione lifted her head to look at him. "You're the bravest person I know, Harry."

"I don't feel that way," he said aloud. Inside, he was berating himself for his lack of courage to tell her how he really felt.

Hermione could sense that something was on his mind. "You can tell me anything. You know that, right?"

Harry nodded.

"Why did you really come up here?" Hermione asked him.

"I just... I really just... wanted to say good night," Harry looked at her properly.

"Harry," Hermione said looking right back at him.

"I really should get to bed," Harry told her.

"Don't go," Hermione said.

"I'm really tired," Harry lied.

"How about we meet tomorrow morning before breakfast?" Hermione asked. "We can talk."

"Sure," Harry's voice almost choked. "Sure."

Hermione stood up with him and gave him a hug. "Everything's going to be fine, Harry."

Harry nodded, burying his face in her hair for just a moment.

Some brave Gryffindor he was, he thought to himself. He couldn't tell the girl he loved how he really felt. Maybe when this was all over, he'd tell her. If he made it through this, he vowed he would tell her how he really felt.

"I'll see you in the morning, then." Hermione said. "Get some rest."

Harry doubted he'd get any sleep tonight. He looked at Hermione's face wanting to commit every inch of it to memory.

""You sure you're all right?" Hermione asked.

Harry nodded. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just...fine."

"Okay," she said softly.

Harry thought briefly about kissing her, but stopped to give her one last hug. "You get some sleep, too. Forget about horcruxes for one night, okay?"

"Deal," Hermione replied.

"Good night, Hermione," Harry said softly.

"Night, Harry." Hermione said.

Harry gave her one last look before he left her room. He closed the door behind him and leaned against it. "I love you," he whispered.

Hermione also stared at the door for a long moment after he'd left. She knew something was wrong with him and told herself she'd find out the next day.

Something told her it wasn't Ginny Weasley that was on his mind and for that, Hermione was grateful. She'd never really understood that relationship and how it had seemed to spring up out of nowhere.

With that thought in mind, Hermione turned down her sheets, Crookshanks jumping lightly up to lie next to her.

Hermione smiled at her cat. "We're going to find out what's really going on with him tomorrow. He's never been able to hide anything from me for too long."

Crookshanks yawned, stretching out his paws.

Hermione laughed. "Good night, you."

Ron was waiting when Harry returned. "Did you tell her?"

"No," Harry said shortly. "I--I was thinking we should leave now instead of at dusk. Are you ready?"

"Now?" Ron asked. "Well uh... yeah."

"The sooner the better," Harry said stuffing some socks into his bag. He knew that the longer they stayed, the more likely he'd change his mind or that Hermione would figure it out. He'd already cut it too close with her upstairs. She didn't miss much and with how he'd acted, he wouldn't be surprised if she surmised exactly what he had planned.

"Why didnít' you tell her?" Ron asked as he shouldered his bag.

"I just couldn't," Harry replied. "I'm a coward."

"Harry--" Ron began.

"I've hurt her enough," Harry said. "What good would it do to tell her I love her and then leave her knowing that I probably won't be coming back?"

Ron nodded. "I guess I see what you mean."

Neville pulled back the curtains on his bed. He'd pretended he was asleep but he'd heard every word that Harry and Ron had said. The room was quiet now what with Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan having been pulled out of school due to fears of Voldemort.

"You're really leaving?" Neville asked in a small voice.

Both of them spun around. "Neville?"

Neville climbed out of bed and levelled his gaze at his two friends. "What's going on?" Neville asked them point blank.

Harry and Ron looked at each other. "We're leaving." Harry said.

"With the Order?" Neville asked.

"The less you know, the better." Harry told him.

"Me and Hermione, you mean," Neville said quietly. "She's not going with you."

"Don't worry about it," Ron said.

"Don't worry about it?" Neville asked him incredulously. "You're leaving in the middle of the night to fight---V-Voldemort and I'm not supposed to worry about it?"

"Neville..." Harry shook his head. "Just... give us a head start before you go off telling everyone."

"Yeah," Ron agreed. "And could you---could you look after Ginny for me?"

Neville stared at them without a word.

"And Hermione," Harry said quietly. "Tell her---tell that I'm sorry and that this was for the best."

"She's not going to take to that for a moment," Neville said.

Harry didn't think so either, but it was a chance he was willing to take if it kept her safe.

"If this is the way you want it," Neville shook his head.

"It's not the way I want it," Harry said grabbing his bag. "It's the way it has to be. Take care, Neville."

"Good luck," Neville said quietly.

"Thanks," Ron said, extending his hand. "You're a good mate, Neville."

Neville shook it. "You two come back, hear?"

"Too right we will," Ron said grinning at him. "And we'll throw one hell of a party to celebrate."

Harry nodded, even though he was expecting the worst.

"Look after Ginny," Ron said. "And Luna Lovegood. Merlin knows someone needs to."

"I will," Neville replied. "And Hermione."

"Hermione," Harry nodded.

"Let's just hope she's still speaking to us when we do make it back," Ron muttered.

"Let's go," Harry said abruptly.

Neville watched them go, wishing at the last minute that they'd change their minds and stay here.

The next morning, the discovery of Harry and Ron's absence caused quite an uproar.

There was one person who was completely unaware and that was the Head Girl. In an uncharacteristic move, Hermione had overslept and she'd cursed herself for not setting her alarm. With the way things were, she wouldn't have time for a proper talk with Harry.

She got dressed quickly and rushed down to the Great Hall, determined to corner him.

Lavender Brown descended upon her and threw her arms around her. Hermione was taken aback. She and Lavender had never been close. "It's good to see you too, Lavender. But, I'm really---"

"I was afraid that you'd gone with them too," Lavender said wiping at her eyes.

"What?" Hermione asked. "Gone with who?"

"Harry and Ron," Lavender said. "Everyone's talking about it. They left last night to take on You Know Who."

For a moment, Lavender's words didn't register. "What?" Hermione asked preparing herself that this was nothing but a vicious prank.

She stalked over to the Gryffindor table. "Neville? Where are Harry and Ron?"

Neville jumped. "I uh... what?"

Hermione looked over to where Ginny was crying into her napkin. "Ginny?"

"Gone," Ginny sobbed.

Hermione shook her head. "No. No. They're not gone. Ron's probably upstairs sleeping like a log and Harry's trying to wake him up and they'll be late for classes like they almost always are."

Neville shook his head. "Ginny's right, Hermione. They're gone."

Hermione stared at him. "How?"

"Last night," Neville said quietly. "They said to tell you that they were sorry, but that this was for the best."

Hermione shook her head. "No. NO! They'd have NEVER left without me!"

Neville reached his hand out to comfort her, but she shrugged him off. "Hermione---"

"How could they?" she whispered.

Lavender looked thoughtfully at her. "They obviously wanted to protect you. It's quite romantic, really."

"Romantic?" Hermione snapped at her.

"Yes," Lavender said, not understanding why Hermione wasn't flattered. "I mean, Harry left Ginny behind and Ronald's left you. It's very sweet..."

"Harry did NOT leave Ginny behind!" Hermione's voice wavered. "He left ME!"

The Great Hall grew silent at Hermione's outburst.

Ginny stood up, her eyes red but narrowed.

"Harry still loves me," Ginny said glaring at Hermione. "He thought he was being noble."

"He doesn't love you," Hermione spat. "Can't you see it? He doesn't want to be near you!"

Ginny looked like Hermione had just slapped her. "Well, obviously he doesn't want to be near you, either!"

Hermione just shook her head, her eyes filling up with tears as she rushed from the Great Hall.

That's what last night was about, Hermione thought bitterly. How stupid could she have been?

He had come to tell her he was leaving without her, but hadn't had the courage.

She was just as capable as Ron at defending herself, she thought angrily. She'd worked side by side with the two of them this entire time, planning, plotting and researching. But, that wasn't good enough, was it? In their eyes, she was always going to be the girl. What did they think? She was going to just sit here waiting and worrying while the two of them went off and then welcome them back with open arms?

Hardly even realising what she was going, Hermione flung open her wardrobe doors and waved her wand at her garments. They folded neatly in midair and landed in her trunk.

There was a gentle knock on her door, but Hermione ignored it.

"Hermione," Neville called out. "It's me."

"Go away," Hermione wiped at her eyes.

Neville opened the door and saw what she was doing. "Hermione, don't tell me that you're going after them!" Neville exclaimed in alarm.

"Why should I?" Hermione asked bitterly.

"You don't know where they've gone," Neville argued. "I told them you'd react like this, but they didn't listen. They never listen to me."

"You knew they were leaving?" Hermione spun around. "You knew and you didn't come to tell me?"

Neville looked down. "They asked me to give them a head start..."

"Well I'd certainly say you did," Hermione said furiously.

"Hermione, I'm sorry," Neville apologised.

"Just go away," Hermione said.

"Not until you tell me that you're not going after them," Neville said defiantly.

"I'm not going after them," Hermione told him. "I've chased after the two of them for far too long."

"Then where are you going?" he asked.

"Home," Hermione replied.

"You're leaving?" Neville asked. "Just like that?"

"Harry and Ron can do it," Hermione said opening up Crookshanks' carrier. "So can I."

"But--" Neville was dumbfounded.

Hermione put a protesting Crookshanks into the carrier and clasped it shut.

"But what about school?" Neville asked.

"I don't care," Hermione said coolly.

"You don't mean that," Neville said. "Look, if this is about what happened downstairs with Ginny----"

"I don't care one bit about Ginny," Hermione snapped. "I'm leaving. They left me, and now I'll leave them."

She turned around to pick up some books from her bedside table and her eyes fell on the framed photograph of she and Harry that had been taken two summers ago.

Her eyes burning with unshed tears, she pushed the photograph off the table, watching the glass frame shatter on the floor.

Neville wondered if he should tell Hermione about what he'd overheard Ron and Harry talking about last night. If she knew how Harry truly felt about her, maybe that would change her mind. "Hermione, there's something I think you should know..."

"No," Hermione said. "I don't want to know anything. I'm leaving and there's nothing you or anyone else can do about it."

Neville sighed. "At least let me help you with your things."

Hermione shook her head, waving her wand again and shrinking down everything but Crookshanks' carrier. "I'm fine."

Neville looked at her. "So, this is goodbye?"

"It has to be," she said.

"Take care of yourself, Hermione," Neville said swallowing the lump in his throat. It felt like everyone he cared about was leaving him behind.

"You too," Hermione said quietly.

Neville held open the door for her. "They'll be back, Hermione. I know it."

"I won't be here to see them," Hermione replied. "I'll... I'll see you around, Neville."

"Bye, Hermione," Neville said softly.

Hermione gave him one last look before disappearing down the corridor. She remembered the statue on the third floor that would lead to Honeydukes. From there, she could Apparate.

She didn't really want to go home, but there was no other option, was there? Her parents would tell her that they'd told her the magical world wasn't the place for her. She could almost recite the lecture her father gave her every single time she came home.

"I don't care," she said, brushing away tears again. It had to be better than being left behind.

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