Chapter 25 : Which Is Reality?
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Hello everyone :') Im so sorry for the late update- exams going on STILL ughh. But i managed to get this through so welcome back- I won't say much except please please read the A/N at the bottom which is amazingly long but PLEASE DO! Until then, enjoy xx
Hermione jolted awake, the covers twisted around her legs and her heart pounding fiercely. She raised a hand to her head and closed her eyes, trying to slow the pace of her heart down. After a few deep breaths, she opened her eyes and felt her throat go dry. Around her were not the walls of her bedroom back...home. Instead, red curtains surrounded her. She was not sitting on a king sized bed. Instead she was sitting on a single bed with rich red and gold covers.
She looked down at her hand first. Then at her stomach.
Her heart returned to beating frantically in her chest as she ripped apart the curtains and stumbled out, her feet coming to contact with soft carpeted floor. She looked down. Deep red. Four other beds sat against the wall across her's and the one against which her bed was, two canopies closed and two open. She looked behind her to her bedside and the date and time of her digital watch stared back at her- 2nd September 07:20. She hurried to the bathroom and shutting the door behind her, she hunched in front of the sink, her hand across her mouth. Shaking her head and refusing to believe it, she leaned over and splashed cold water on to her face. She looked back up at the mirror, the water dripping down her face and felt tears sting the back of her eyes.
Was it all a dream? Had she really just dreamt out almost five months of her life with Draco Malfoy? Could it have been just an intricate dream?
She shook her head, squeezing her eyes shut. It couldn't have been a dream. It was all too real... Just too damn real to have been a dream.
A knock sounded at the door and she jumped. Wiping her face with a towel, she took a deep, ragged breath and opened the door.
"Are you alright?" Was the first question that escaped the mouth of the redhead in front of her.
Hermione tried to speak but found that no sound would leave the premises of her throat. Ginny looked, once more, like her seventeen year old self and the sight overwhelmed her. It was true. This confirmed it. Hermione had returned to her seventh year at Hogwarts.
"Hermione?" Ginny asked softly, placing a hand on the older witch's arm. "Are you okay? You didn't wake up early as you usually did at The Burrow and I got a bit scared but then I thought perhaps you were just tired but now- you- you don't look so good."
"I- I-" She choked out but couldn't speak any further. She felt tears rise to her eyes and the next second, she found herself wrapped tightly in Ginny's embrace.
"Hey, its okay, ssshh. You're okay. You're fine." The youngest Weasley mumbled soothingly.
"It seemed so real- it felt so real..." Hermione said, allowing herself to break down completely. It couldn't have been a dream! It just couldn't!
"It was just a dream, it's not true, you're okay..." Ginny said, hugging the brunette tightly. Her words only made Hermione feel worse. Ginny had assumed that she was referring to a nightmare. It was just the opposite. She didn't say anything, though. What could she? How could she explain it? So she just allowed herself to cry, his voice and words resounding in her head.
'Will you marry me?'
* * *
Reassuring Ginny that she was okay and getting her to leave her alone was quite the task. But she managed it. And here she was, the corridors of Hogwarts feeling familiar yet unfamiliar.
Her hand instinctively went to her stomach when she tripped over somebody's foot, catching herself in the last moment. She froze in the middle of the corridor, her hands on her stomach. Her flat stomach. Tears stung the back of her eyes. Adriana.... Aaron.... It had felt so real. And it was over.
And Draco? If it was true, he would've come to find her, right? She hadn't gone to find her because... well, she didn't know if it was real. She couldn't possible go up to him and question him about her dream, could she? If it was just a dream...
She bit her lower lip and squeezed her eyes shut. This couldn't be happening. It just couldn't! One minute she was going to sleep only to wake up in a completely different world with Draco Malfoy and a son, only to realize that she was pregnant with his second child, then to eventually fall in love with him and soon he was proposing to her and she had said yes and then? Then it was the end. The next second she was waking up back in her- reality?
What was her reality? This or that?
Was this, perhaps, a dream? Her being back in Hogwarts?
She didn't understand why but she wished so dearly that that were true.
"Why do you care about her, Draco?"
Her eyes flew open and she froze, her hand fisting around her skirt as she waited for the response.
"I dont. Never did, never will." His voice. The same voice she had been running through her head. The same voice that had asked her to marry him. The very same. The words she had just heard made her refuse to believe that it was him!
She turned around slowly, tears rising to her eyes. It was him. She had memorized every inch of his face, his build. It was all so familiar yet so... unfamiliar.
She pursed her lips together as she stared at him, trying to keep the sob back. Trying to resist the temptation to go flying at him and holding him tight and never letting him go.
"What're you staring at?" Pansy Parkinson- the seventeen year old by his and Blaise Zabini's side- asked, an eyebrow raised.
"N-nothing." She stammered, gripping her bag tightly.
"Do step out of our way then." Pansy said. Her tone made Hermione's heart break further. The first time Pansy had spoken to her in... The Other Reality came back to her- 'How are you?' She had asked, concern in her voice
Her eyes floated to Blaise, who was standing rigid, his hands in his pocket. She expected him to capture her in a bone-crushing hug like he- always did. 'Hermione! Looking great, woman!' Was what he had said the first time...
But nothing came. No concern, no hugs. Nothing. They just stood there, a few feet away yet they felt so much farther.
She looked once again at Draco, who was staring at her, his face showing no expression.
"I'm sorry." She choked out before brushing past them, her hand across her mouth as a sob escaped her throat and tears escaped her eyes.
Half way down the corridor, she stumbled and landed on her knees, the tears completely blurring her vision. Footsteps echoed behind her she froze.
Another sob. There it was again. 'Granger'. No Hermione. Granger.
She stood up, trembling slightly but refused to look behind as she walked on. A hand caught her elbow and she was spun around. She met his confused eyes.
"What's going on with you?" He asked, his voice and face once again revealing nothing.
"You don't care. Never did, never will." She said, her face crumpling once again as she wrenched her arm out of his grip and turned to hurry away.
"Can we talk?"
"This really isn't a good time." She said, continuing forward though her pace was restricted due to her shaking legs.
"Please, this is important." He said, striding forward and grabbing her wrist. She spun around, anger and humiliation burning in her eyes.
"Leave me alone!" She cried, trying to twist her arm away from his hold.
"Not until you calm down and listen to me!"
"Leave me, Malfoy!"
"Just listen to me, Hermione!" He screamed and her struggling immediately stilled. Her eyes widened and she looked up at him slowly.
"What?" She breathed, barely able to believe it. "W-what did you call me?"
She saw him swallow hard. "Do you remember?" He asked in a strangled whisper.
Her mouth opened and closed a few times but sound didn't seem to come out. Finally, she nodded. And the next second, she was being clutched to him, his arms around her waist. She moved her own around his neck and they held each other tightly, the fabrics of their shirts fisted in their hands.
"I thought it was a dream." She sobbed, her tears flowing again as she held tightly to him. "Oh god, Draco, I thought it wasn't real."
"So did I. I didn't know what to believe." He said, burying his face in her neck and just breathing in her scent.
They stayed that way for a few minutes, just sinking into the feeling of knowing it had all been true. Just sinking into each other.
Even after they split apart, they remained as close as possible, their foreheads together.
"What do we do now? We came back..." She whispered.
"I don't know. I don't want to forget but I can't live like this- things are too different."
"I keep looking for Aaron and expecting Adriana to kick and- gods, Draco..."
"I know. I can't believe we're back. I keep thinking this is just a dream and that we- we no longer belong here..."
"We need to go to Dumbledore." Hermione said, her hands resting on his chest. "We need to go ask him where it was that we went and if that's our future and- and everything."
"Now?" He asked, pulling away slightly further.
"Now." She nodded affirmative.
So they went. Because of the several times they had both been to the Headmaster's office, they relied completely on muscle memory to reach. And it did not disappoint them either. In less than three minutes, they were standing in front of his office, Hermione ready to knock.
"Ready?" She asked. He reached out to squeeze her hand, not letting go even after doing so. She knocked and a soft but audible "come in" drifted to them from the other side of the door. They entered together and came to stand across the Headmaster.
"Ah, Miss Granger and Mister Malfoy. I expected you both to come." Dumbledore smiled, looking at them through his half-moon spectacles.
"Was it a dream?" She whispered.
His smile softened further. "No it was not." Both the students breathed out and she slumped into one of the chairs in front of the desk. He sat down beside her, their hands still together.
"I dont understand, Sir. If it wasn't a dream and it wasn't our reality- I mean, we're back here- and its been only one day. How is it possible?" Draco asked, shaking his head.
"In the magical world, everything is possible, Draco my boy." Dumbledore said, leaning forward in his seat and towards them. "Tell me, how realistic was it?"
"How realistic was it? It was like we were living the reality- like that was our new life." Hermione said. "But what do you mean, how realistic was it? Was it just something we imagined?"
"Oh most definitely not. It was not your imagination or mind playing tricks on you. It was indeed your reality. It was your future."
"We figured that much out because of the age difference and such but... was it our real future?" Draco asked, afraid to know the answer. He felt Hermione tense beside him, her fingers tightening around his.
"It was." The older man nodded, the smile still on his face. "It was your real future."
"Before anything else- tell us please, Professor, how we got to this other reality?" Hermione asked, her grip slightly looser.
"It was the object I gave Mr.Malfoy yesterday as Im sure you figured out." Dumbledore said and Draco nodded. "It was not what you thought it was- what I told you it was. Well, not precisely that. I made a logical assumption that Miss Granger would grow tired of your insults and begin ignoring them and soon you would resort to something on a whole new level- my little device was ready to pick up anything said about the future. It just so happened that what you wished for was what your future consisted of."
Both the students processed the information.
"How did we land up in the future?" Hermione asked in a small voice.
"The device was charmed to take Mister Malfoy into the future and it was also charmed in a way that as soon as he woke up in your other reality, soon after so would you, Miss Granger." Dumbledore explained. "You woke up after Mister Malfoy, did you not?"
Both their minds returned to that first day where he woke her up from her nightmare.
"I did." Hermione nodded. "Sir with- with all due respect, how would you have any clue how our future would be?"
"I know for a fact that you are familiar with a time-turner are you not, Miss Granger?" Dumbledore asked. She nodded again. "I have something that works in a similar way except it is much more complicated."
"What's a time turner?" Draco asked.
"It is something with which you can go to the past and change it." Hermione said. "Except in that case, there will be two of you and you cannot be seen."
"How does that work?"
"It's rather complicated but that is what you need to know. What I have can take one to the future but there will be only one of you. You will live the experience rather than just see it."
Hermione took a deep breath, trying to register all the information. She usually did it easily enough but this? This was a bit too much.
"Does this letter look familiar to you?" Dumbledore asked, sliding across a parchment to them. They scanned it together and nodded, looking back up at him.
"Dear Hermione and Draco,
As you have probably figured out, this is the consequence of Mr.Malfoy wishing bad for Ms.Granger.
Just to teach you both how consequences of your words work, I have sent you both 7 years into the future. You will come across a few problems and situations, but the way you handle the situation is entirely up to you. Your decisions will affect your future. You can either chose to stay together or leave eachother- time will tell which one.
That is all I can say for now. I will keep in touch when relevant.
"It's what we received on our first day." Hermione said.
"That is correct."
"But how do you have it?" Draco asked.
"The same way I know of the conversation between Miss Granger and myself in the future- where she told me the basics of your happenings." Dumbledore smiled.
Hermione's mouth dropped open. "How do you know about that?"
"That, my dear, is something I shall keep to myself." He winked at the two. "I do not know the details of your future- only you, yourself, will know it and nobody else. But I do know my future and this little episode included it."
"So all you know about what happened was what Hermione told you?" Draco asked.
"That is all. The basics."
"I'm sorry, Headmaster, but this is all a little overwhelming. It's all a bit much." Hermione said, leaning back in her seat.
"And understandably so."
"It's awfully hard to believe." Draco mumbled, staring down at their intertwined fingers. "But we're living examples that it was true."
"You are." The headmaster said.
Hermione suddenly sat up. "Your- uh- future self told me that when our emotions would reach a particular designated point that you- he- uh, you set, it would reverse time automatically. Is that what brought us back? Our emotions reached that point?"
"It was love- perhaps more." Dumbledore said, grinning now in a way that made Draco quite uncomfortable. What if he had been watching them all along? Its not like they had done anything inappropriate, it was just... unnerving. "Do not worry, Mister Malfoy, I was speaking the truth when I said that I cannot look into your future. I am simply stating the point I had set on the device."
"So you can basically set a point on the device? Like setting a time on the time turner?" Hermione asked.
"Yes, it works differently in several ways- this being one of them." He replied.
"Uh- Headmaster, is it- is it our exact future? Will it play out exactly like what we lived through?" Draco asked and Hermione sat up further. It was something she just had to know as well.
"It will." Dumbledore said. "It will be exact except your real selves will go through it."
"I dont understand- if we continue remembering- we'll experience the same thing twice knowingly?" Hermione asked, her eyebrows furrowed together.
"Miss Granger, tell me- in your third year- did things change when you returned to save our friend Buckbeak?"
"What do you mean?"
"Did you see him being killed when you experienced it the first time?"
Hermione thought back. "Well... not exactly. We thought he had but- I can't explain it."
"But he had already been saved, isn't it? By you and Mister Potter? Because of the time turner?"
"Y-yes, that's right." Hermione nodded.
"So it had already been written in all your fates for Buckbeak to have survived and Sirius to have escaped?"
"I guess so."
"Could somebody mind explaining?" Draco interrupted.
"What have you inferred already?" The headmaster asked, turning to Draco.
"That in third year- when the hippogriff and Sirius Black were supposed to die- they didn't because Hermione and Harry went back in time and saved them." Draco said, uncertainly.
"Precisely. It was never written in their fates to have died. Take it that there are two present times- the first and the second. Miss Granger and her friends were currently in the first when they supposedly saw Buckbeak being killed but actually- Miss Granger and Mister Potter had, in the second present time, already saved Buckbeak and in turn saved Sirius. The two present times ran parallel but the second present could only occur if they had used the time turner later in the first present." He spoke slowly, allowing Draco to process his words.
"Okay, I think I get it."
"Right then, in the same way, your futures are written like that." Dumbledore said. "What you lived through was your second future. What you will live through will be your first future. The only difference is that things went in reverse- instead of going to the past to change things, you went to the future to change things."
"I dont understand, Sir!" Hermione said, tiredly. "Are you saying that when we reach seven years into the future as time goes, we will come to a deja-vu, stand-still kind of thing where we KNOW we've already lived through it?"
"Tell me, Miss Granger and Mister Malfoy- would you live your seven years the same way knowing the consequences of your actions? Miss Granger told me about a Miss Mcenzee in the future- would you return to her?"
"Of course not! I'd never do that to Hermione again!"
"Precisely my point." Dumbledore said. "Right now, you don't know how your first future will turn out but you do know how your second future will turn out."
"But that isn't the same as the time turner then!" Hermione exclaimed, the overload of information taking a toll on her mind.
"Exactly." Dumbledore said calmly. "This case is different because you know your future and you will choose to change it on the way- drive it away from hurting each other or yourselves, isn't it?" The two nodded. "But that isn't what is written in your fate. Your fate is your second future- everything that you lived through was your fate."
"So we would be changing fate then?" Hermione asked in a small voice.
"You know of the dangers of being seen in the past when using a time turner isn't it?" The older man asked her. She nodded numbly. "It could throw the world into chaos. This situation is a little different. It would cause your two worlds to exist differently when in reality, it was supposed to blend together at one point."
"So what do we do?" Draco asked, releasing Hermione's hand and running his fingers through his hair. Hermione dropped her head into her hands.
"That is your decision."
"What are our choices?" She asked.
"You can either take the risk of the two different worlds existing without blending- who knows what could happen? Or you could choose to forget."
Both their heads snapped up. "Forget?" They asking in unison.
"Indeed. Forget that you lived your future."
"Why would we do that?!" Draco exclaimed.
"What happens to our future if we choose to forget?" Hermione asked instead.
"Your second future will wait while your first future will play out as fate has written it to play out and will go exactly as you lived it." Dumbledore said. "After all, you did end up with a happy ending, did you not?"
"Why would we want to forget?" Draco asked, calming down a bit. "Why would we want to put each other through what we did? I can't do that to Hermione!"
"So that we could fall in love the way we're supposed to. The way fate has written it for us. The right way." Hermione said, softly. Draco turned to her, surprised and a little confused. "Draco, we already- love each other. We're stuck here. Imagine how much things would change- our friends aren't friends yet. We're not supposed to be friends. We're not supposed to look at each other with anything but hate. Things can't just change suddenly if we decide to walk out right now. Things will be expected of us and we will expect something entirely different. Imagine knowing how things are going to play out- knowing that we're going to get transferred, knowing that Hayley and Ron are going to fall for each other- knowing exactly what's going to be happening. Where's the natural flow in that? How is that living life? It's expecting life to be lived in a certain way."
Draco slumped back into his seat, finding logic in her words. She was right...
"We were rushed into love in a span of five months, Draco. Five months because we were forced to be with each other- that wasn't fate. That was compulsion at the beginning. Im not saying I regret it or that it was wrong. Im just saying that it wasn't the way we were supposed to fall in love." Hermione went on, reaching out to take his hand. He laced their fingers together as she brought her chair closer to his. "Earlier today, I expected Blaise to sweep me into his arms in a bone-crushing hug. I expected Pansy to hug me and ask me how I was. I expected my son and my daughter. I expected a ring on my finger. But none of those happened or were there. Do you really want to live everyday like that, Draco? Knowing and wanting but not having?"
"No." Draco whispered, his throat suddenly dry. He looked to Dumbledore, who was watching them with a sad smile on his face. "If we forget... When we reach our future- will we live it like we know whats going to happen? Will we feel like we don't know where we are?"
Dumbledore shook his head. "That is the only thing that will change. If you choose to forget, your memories in both worlds will be erased from that part of the future- causing that section to be fresh in both worlds- it is where the two worlds will finally meet. You will live it like you've not lived it before and that is it. The storyline will go the same way- exactly the same way except for details such as not knowing where you are, not knowing how you're there, not knowing who your son is, telling Miss Weasley about how you got there- those things. But the storyline will be the same. From what Miss Granger told me in the future, Mister Malfoy- you will still leave to go to Miss Mcenzee, and Miss Granger- you will still get pregnant and then Mister Malfoy will still leave the other lady for you. Those things will be the same. The only thing that will be slightly odd at first when you leave this office, if you choose to forget, is that you will feel a bit dazed- when you see each other again, it will be like you were yesterday except you will feel like something is missing. You will not, under any circumstance, be able to place what it is but the feeing will be there for a few instances but that, too, will fade."
Hermione turned to Draco and they stared into each other's eyes. "What do you want to do?" She asked, a part of her already knowing the answer. The same answer that she felt was right.
"I want to live like we're supposed to without expecting it. I want life to be a surprise for me. I want to fall in love with you for the third time- yet the first."
Hermione placed her hand on his cheek and smiled at him sadly through the tears that had gathered in her eyes. "Me too."
"Are you sure?" He whispered, tightening his grasp on her hand.
"Yes." Hermione nodded. "I want to forget."
* * * *
IRJFPEWINRFPWUEGNPRUIETGNRPIU OHMYGOD. I sat for two hours straight and finished this chapter. Wow. My eyes are red from rubbing them and I am tired as hell but I didn't stop writing until I was done. I know what you're thinking! You probably hate me right now! you probably really really do! But Im sorry! I also know that those explanations were UNBELIEVABLY confusing but I tried cutting it down into parts and explaining it slowly so I really do hope you understood! There wasn't any simpler way I could explain things :/ But yes, again, i know you're probably really angry that I did that! Making them forget! But I had to!
I promise you that things work out- they DO end up together and have the SAME future and belong together just as in the last 24 chapters. I know its difficult to believe any of that ^ but its true. Im sorry again, so very much. Please please don't hate me! A writer's got to do what a writer's got to do! I love you all so insanely much, please don't hate me! The next chapter will start with Dramione and then move on to the beginning of "the seven years missed in TOR" and then it will move to scenes and flashes of the seven years and after a bit, is what I'm thinking. And the chapter after that will be an epilogue and Im already thinking that up and i promise you it will be worth it and brilliant!
I love you guys so much and thank you for everything. I touched 510 reviews this time so I can't say thank you enough to all you reviewers and readers. You're the best and will always be so :) Do review this one with as little hate as possible! Two more chapters to go- do review to your maximum capacity as you will not be able to after Chapter 27.
Chapter 26 is going to be called Living The Reality and Chapter 27 will be called Any Other Reality. (It might change but these are what Ive thought of!)
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