Chapter Six: Choice

Back in the hall, Hermione took a deep breath, rattled. I should never have shown him the time-turner! Why did I, why did I?

And then, He won't remember anything. I don't have anything to feel guilty about.

She realized her mistake, though. She had, as Lupin had advised, set the time-turner to bring her back to the same moment every trip. But she hadn't gone far enough back in time. Not for this trip, her last. Because now she had to make her decision, and she had only moments in which to do it.

Ron sensed her agitation and again (again? not really) took her hand and held it. Hermione looked into his honest, concerned face. Was he the one? Was he enough?

"Hermione Granger."

Hermione looked at Ron and Harry, then rose to her feet, awkwardly like the first time.

On the stage, she picked up the ceremonial knife. She cut her hand one last time, but held her palm rigidly upward, so that the blood pooled and did not fall.

Cross off Abnegation, she thought. But all the rest were still in play. Erudite, a home where she could challenge herself against the best and brightest. Dauntless, a life with Harry and Ron and the friends she'd grown up with. Candor, a life without secrets and lies. Amity, a simple life with a –

A soulmate? Did she dare admit that though she loved Ron, that she sometimes felt she'd fallen into a relationship with him because it was easy, almost predestined? But then, Gabriel: Did she dare gamble everything on a two hours' acquaintance?

The time-turner was supposed to make this choice easier. That certainly wasn't the way it felt. For a second, Hermione remember reading that if she could stop time by pulling the knob completely out of the time-turner. Could she close her eyes, pull the pin, and stay forever in this delicious moment of possibility, all futures lying ahead of her? Never having to choose?

No, she wouldn't do that. Everyone else had to make a choice, and so would she.

Hermione extended her arm, turned her palm downward, and let the blood fall.