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WARNING! THIS STORY CONTAINS A SUBSTANCE ABUSE PLOT LINE. MATURE READERS ONLY!

Chapter Five

Remus

Bothered by the advice that his friend gave to Hermione, Remus decided to try and talk her out of using the potion. Once the sun rose in the sky, he left his quarters and proceeded to walk towards Hermione’s office. As he traversed the vast castle, he went over and over in his head what he would say to her.

Suddenly, Severus emerged from around a corner in a frenzy. His face gave away his mood, which sadly was less than cheery. He took one look at Remus and sneered.

“Out of my way, Lupin,” he spat. Calmly, Remus stepped aside and let Snape pass him.

“Is there something wrong, Professor Snape?” Remus asked.

Severus stopped in his tracks and swung around to face Remus. “As if you don’t know!”

“I assure you, Severus, I haven’t the foggiest.”

“Don’t play dumb with me. You and Black conspired with Weasley and Granger last night to break into my stores!”

“Professor! Listen to yourself! What possible reason would either of us have to break into your private stores?”

“Hmpf! You Marauders all think you’re better than everyone else! Well, this time James isn’t around to save your hide!”

“Those are serious accusations, Severus. I trust you have proof?”

“I don’t need proof. I saw the four of you down by my office where none of you have reason to be.”

“The four of us being down at your office last night is not proof of anything, Professor. I’m afraid you’ll need more than that.”

“Hmpf. We’ll see! I will discover what you and Black are up to! Mark my words!” Severus stormed off, muttering curses under his breath. Remus eyed him until Severus rounded the corner and was out of sight. Remus sighed and then continued on his journey to Hermione’s office. Once again he began to recite in his head exactly what he was going to say to her. When he entered the hall in which her office was located, he noticed a young man standing in front of her office door, staring at it. Remus recognized the young man.

“Mr. Bradley,” Remus said as he walked up to him. The sudden sound of his voice made Xavier jump. He turned around and saw Professor Lupin approaching him. He regained his composure and intercepted his old teacher.

“Hullo, Professor,” Xavier said rather nervously.

“How long has it been?”

“A while. Not since the last time you taught here. I was excited to hear that they’d given you your teaching job back. You always were my favorite teacher. Anyway, I was just leaving.”

As Xavier stepped around Remus and headed down the hall, Remus called after him, “Mr. Bradley!” Remus stepped in closer to Xavier and added, “I am not like most people. I do not judge others for what their relatives do or have done. I judge others for what they themselves do or have done.”

“Sorry, Professor. I meant no disrespect. Ever since my father was accused of being a Death Eater and sent to Azkaban, people have treated me like a low-life. My family’s manor has been seized by the Ministry and I’m forced to work in retail because no one wants the son of a Death Eater working for them. My father is accused of atrocities he didn’t commit and we’re both being punished because of it!”

“I know it seems like that right now, but things will get better. You just have to apply yourself. You are a gifted wizard and I know that if you put your mind to it, you can overcome any obstacle.”

“I wish I could believe that, Professor.”

“Listen. I have some connections with the Ministry of Magic. I could put in a good word for you. I hear they need help in the Muggle Relations department. You would have to start at the bottom. Start to rebuild your family name.”

“I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but what’s the point? This society will never see me as anything but the son of a murderer.” Xavier stormed off in a hurry, leaving Remus alone in front of Hermione’s office door.

This has been an interesting morning, Remus thought to himself as he knocked on the door. When there was no answer, he let himself in. Her office was empty, so he walked around her desk and knocked on the door to her personal quarters.

                                                                ~+~

Warm tears flowed down Hermione’s cheeks as she stared at the pitch-black concoction sitting on the dining table before her. For the past month she had followed the book’s instructions perfectly and yet her potion was not the majestic periwinkle color it was supposed to be at this stage. According to the book she’d bought, she couldn’t add the final ingredient until the potion reached this stage. Before that, the book said to stir the potion counterclockwise continuously until the potion turned the desired color and consistency. So for the past twelve hours she had stirred the potion nonstop. She found herself fighting sleep as she diligently continued to stir.

Her failure to arrive at the right stage of the process had her very frustrated. On top of that, her nightmares had gotten worse. Her dreams were now not only about Harry and Ron, but also about something…else. Like the one she’d had that very night. Once again she found herself in Godric’s Hollow. Harry and Ron were leading the way. Off in the distance the sounds of men and women being slaughtered drilled into their ears like nails on a chalkboard.

“I think we need to get more help, Harry,” Hermione said.

“People are dying, Hermione. We don’t have time,” Harry replied.

Like watching a movie she had seen many times before, they quickened their speed toward the dilapidated remains of Harry’s birthplace. Many dead bodies of Ministry personnel and Order members were strewn everywhere – so many familiar faces. Off to Hermione’s right she thought she heard a baby crying. She glanced in the direction of the sound but saw nothing. Shrugging it off, she continued to follow Harry and Ron. Just as they reached the front door of the house, Kingsley’s lifeless body was thrown through the front window. The sight of the immense amount of blood made Hermione’s stomach turn. Moments later Voldemort emerged from the house. The moment his eyes fell on Harry, Harry collapsed to the ground, clutching his forehead.

“Ah, Harry. So good of you to come. Witness the end. Avada Kedavra!” Voldemort cried. A jet of green light shot towards Hermione. Ron jumped quickly in front of the blast and instantly fell to the ground, dead.

“RON! NO!” Hermione screamed as she ran to his lifeless body. Harry, ignoring the intense pain he was in, saw his dead friend lying on the ground in an unnatural position. Immediately Harry was overcome with rage and charged at Voldemort. The two of them simultaneously cast Killing Curses at each other. The two spells passed by each other and hit their intended targets. With Voldemort’s Horcruxes destroyed, he fell to the ground along with Harry.

As Hermione relived this tragic event in her sleep for the umpteenth time, she soon began to notice that time seemed to have slowed down. On top of that, the only sound she could hear was of the baby crying. Once again she couldn’t help but look around for the source of the noise.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Voldemort appeared in front of Hermione. He raised his wand and a jet of green light shot out of the tip.

At that moment, Hermione woke up with a start. Drenched in sweat, she frantically searched her room. When she was satisfied that she was in fact alone, she sighed a deep sigh of relief. It was only a dream, she thought to herself. Suddenly feeling the need to clean herself up, she tried to get out of bed. Much to her surprise, she was unable to move. After several attempts, whatever was keeping her muscles from working properly started to fade. She finally got out of bed and proceeded to take a quick shower, not giving her temporary paralysis another thought.

When she was refreshed she immediately returned to her potion. It was now time for the next phase, the part that had reduced Hermione to tears this morning. Never before had any potion caused her as much trouble as this one.

As Hermione reminisced about her nightmare, her dismal trance-like state was broken by a light knock on her door. Wiping the tears from her cheeks, she slowly went to answer it.

                                                              ~+~

Outside the door, Remus could hear the sounds of approaching footsteps. Moments later the door cracked open and Hermione’s face peeked out. “Professor! Uh, is something wrong? Did you need something?” she asked.

“No, nothing is wrong. I just thought you could use some company. Are you all right?”

“Oh, yeah. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’m sorry, Remus, but now isn’t the best time. Perhaps tomorrow?”

“I was hoping I could persuade you to go for a walk with me. I won’t keep you long. I know you have many responsibilities.”

“Uh…okay. Just give me a second.”

“Certainly.” Hermione closed her door and then re-emerged seconds later, putting on a light coat. As the door to her dorm slowly swung shut, Remus saw a potion brewing on a small table. He sighed. Hermione looked up into his eyes in response to his sigh. “Hmm? Did you say something?”

“Nothing. Shall we?” Hermione smiled and the two of them headed off down the hall.

“We shall,” she replied. As the two of them casually walked down the halls of the old castle, not really heading anywhere in particular, Remus patiently waited for Hermione to tell him what was wrong. When he realized she wasn’t going to say anything he decided to break the silence. “I couldn’t help but notice you’ve been crying. Is there anything you want to talk about?”

“It’s nothing, really. My nightmares are just getting worse and the potion isn’t ready yet.”

“I see.” Once again they walked in silence, neither of them truly wanting to speak first. Finally Remus added, “I got another owl from Molly today.”

“Oh? How is she doing?”

“She’s doing well. She’s hoping you’ll be going to Ginny Weasley’s baby shower.”

“I…I’m very busy. I don’t think so.”

“Now, you and I both know that’s not true.”

“So what if it isn’t! What’s it to you?”

“Hermione, I’m on your side! There’s no need to get angry.”

“I’m sorry.” Hermione stopped as fresh tears poured down her cheeks. Remus stopped with her and immediately pulled her in to him.

“Come, now. No tears. Might I ask what it is that scares you so about being in Molly’s presence?”

Hermione looked up into Remus’ eyes as she wiped the tears from her face. “I can’t go. If I do…if we’re in the same room…she’ll know.”

“You don’t know that for sure.”

“I can feel it, Remus. Mothers know things. They have intuition. She’ll know.”

“Well, maybe now is the time for you to tell her. It doesn’t do well to bottle up pain like this, Hermione.”

“NO! I can’t!” Hermione started to walk away from Remus.

“You must tell her, Hermione!”

Hermione spun around and exclaimed through more tears, “Tell her what? That not only did I get her youngest son killed, but I also killed her grandchild? Just how exactly do you think she’d react to that?”

“You won’t know until you confront her! You have to stop hiding from your pain.”

“I’ll do what I feel is right…for everyone! I won’t be told what to do!” Hermione was done with the conversation and swiftly stormed off. She immediately went back to her office and re-entered her quarters, slamming the door behind her. Resting her head against the cold surface of the door, she closed her eyes and let the pent-up tears fall.

Once she regained her composure, she wiped away the tears for a third time. When she opened her eyes and turned around, she suddenly got the impression that someone had been in her quarters. She systematically searched her apartment but found nothing that would support her theory. Finally, dismissing the odd feeling, she returned to her table to throw out the black potion and start over. When she glanced at her cauldron she gasped. Her black potion was now the periwinkle color it was suppose to be. Someone had broken into her apartment while she was gone and fixed her potion for her.

“Sirius!” Hermione exclaimed as a smile spread across her face. “He must have sneaked in here after Remus and I left.”

Hermione was now beaming as she added the final ingredient and reduced the simmer to an even lower flame. Come this time tomorrow, her potion would be ready.

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