Hermione watched as Sirius disappeared into the crowd. Her eyes were transfixed on the dozens of people who were laughing about, clearly not suffering the heartache that she was feeling. James and Lily watched on from across the room, in disbelief as tears fell down Hermione’s face. They slowly made their way back to the table, unsure of what to say. Hermione wanted to run after Sirius but she knew she had no idea what to say to him. Lily sat down beside her and put her arm around her shoulders.
“Hermione, what happened?” She asked softly.
“He still has my ring.”
“What ring?” James asked, playing stupid.
“The one that is on his necklace. That’s my ring, that I gave to him.”
“Oh right, that ring.”
“He hasn’t taken it off since you left.” Lily answered.
“What happened after I left?” Hermione asked, bravely.
“Are you sure you want to hear all of this.” James asked, finally sitting down.
“Things were really bizarre after you left.” Lily started. “Don’t you remember James? We were all really down for a couple weeks. No one was really themselves. And then there was Sirius.” Lily cast James a funny look. “You know more of what he was like then me hunny.”
“Only because he barely left the dormitory.” James said. “It took him the longest to actually get back on his feet again. When he finally did, seventh year came around and well―”
“Remember how Dumbledore said that you could come back?” Lily cut James off as Hermione nodded. “Well he waited for you to come back…even though the date past and Dumbledore said you couldn’t come, he still waited.”
“What have I done?” Hermione muttered, running her hands over her head.
“Sweetie, its not your fault. Don’t even blame it on yourself. He wouldn’t trade that time up for anything.” Lily said, rubbing her back.
“Are you sure?”
“What?” Lily questioned.
“Are you sure that if he was given a chance to erase that part of his life― the part with me in it, that he wouldn’t do it?”
“Has he ever said out loud that he doesn’t regret me being there?”
“I shouldn’t have to.” Said a voice from behind her.
James looked up at the person behind Hermione and cast him a friendly smile. Lily was startled when he put a hand on her shoulder and gave it a small squeeze. Hermione, however bolted upright and felt her face burning with embarrassment. She could recognize that voice from anywhere.
“You’re back?” She said, before turning around to see Sirius standing there.
“So are you.” He said with a smile. “And that’s why we should talk. Sit down.” He directed at Lily and James who were starting to leave. “Hermione, look, I’m sorry I made you feel uncomfortable, it was not my intensions. I imagined your return going more smoothly then that. Here.” He said, pulling off his necklace and placing it in her palm. He closed her fingers over the chain and held her hand closed.
Hermione looked down at her hand and saw his fingers wrapped around hers. Her eyes widened in shock as she realized she was holding his hand. Lily coughed and Sirius pulled away. Hermione opened her hand to see the chain with the small ring on the end.
“I gave this to you Sirius.” Hermione said quietly.
“And I’ve had it for about 20 years. I think you should have it back.”
“Do you give back all your gifts after a certain amount of time?”
Sirius laughed under his breath.
“You don’t want it back?” He asked quietly, sounding like a teenager.
Hermione threw it back to him jokingly when it landed in Remus’ coffee cup, splashing liquid all on his shirt.
James and Lily broke into a fit of laughter as Sirius tried not to laugh himself. Hermione grabbed a napkin and pulled him out of his seat and started to wipe down his shirt.
“Hey this looks cozy.” Rafe’s voice said from behind Hermione.
“She spilled on me.” Said Sirius to Professor Lupin.
“Sure Uncle Sirius, blame it on Hermione.” Rafe joked.
“So Remus, did you see the broom Rafe wanted?” James asked.
“Yeah, I saw it alright. And the price tag!”
“It’s not that bad.” James commented.
“Ohhhh, so you know of this broom do you? Let me guess, my son planted the bug on you so you can torment me to buy it for him right?” Remus said with a laugh.
Behind him, Rafe was shaking his head for James to say ‘no’.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” James said, trying not to laugh.
“C’mon Dad, it can be my Christmas and Birthday present combined since they’re practically on the same day!” Rafe begged.
“Not now.” Remus cut him off. “Speaking of Christmas, whose house is it at this year?”
“I believe it’s a Potter Christmas vacation this year.” Sirius said, finally sitting down with his wet shirt.
“You guys do Christmas all together?” Hermione questioned, eyeing Ron.
“Yeah they always do. I stay at the castle to Christmas Eve then stay with them from then to when school starts.” Ron answered.
“You’re going to come too, right?” Rafe insisted.
“You’re more then welcome to come Hermione, unless you’re going home for Christmas?” Lily asked, standing up to put her coat on.
“Well, I’ll have to see with my parents…thanks though.” Hermione said quietly. “Wait so Harry will be there?”
“No Hermione, we kick him out of his own house so we can use it.” Ron said sarcastically.
“It will give a chance for you to get to know him again.” Lily piped up. “I’m sure you guys will get along just great.”
Hermione looked from Ron back to Rafe and all three of their looks were identical. They knew they wouldn’t get along but they smiled to humour Lily and James. Hermione quickly thought on whether or not she should go to the Potters for Christmas. She knew her parents wouldn’t mind, but would Sirius?
“You three should get back to school now. I’m sure you have work to do. Are you okay getting back on your own?” Remus asked.
“No Dad we can’t walk a few yards. Please come hold our hands.” Rafe said sarcastically.
“Where does he get these sarcastic comments from Rem?” Sirius said with a shove.
“Enjoy your last few weeks of school. Ron and Hermione, if you want to come earlier I’m sure Harry would love the company.” Lily said.
“I’m sure he would. I’ll talk to my parents.” Ron rolled his eyes.
“See you later.” James said.
Ron, Rafe and Hermione said their goodbyes and started for the doors. Hermione gave one last look at Sirius before they stepped outside.
“Lily and James have no idea what Harry is really like do they?” Hermione burst out.
“No idea whatsoever. And my Dad doesn’t have the heart to tell them. He believes that he’ll miraculously turn nice one day.
“I’d like to see that!” Ron joked.
They slowly walked back to the castle as fresh snowflakes fell from the sky. Christmas break was a few weeks away and Hermione felt like she wasted her entire term. She had no idea how she would ever catch up all the work she missed. She hoped that her countless nights at the library and fast tracking in the summer would keep her from failing her sixth year.
Later that day, Hermione found herself in the Library, trying to catch up on work. She was sitting in a pile of books that obstructed her view from the outside world. She couldn’t walk by anyone without getting constant stares so she felt that if she hid from them, it would go away. She was known as the ‘time-travel girl’ now. Hermione pulled from her pocket the picture that she brought back from the past. She looked down to see young Sirius lift her up and twirl her then eventually fall to the ground. She studied the way he looked at her and wondered if anyone would ever look at her like that again.
“Studying on a Saturday? How pathetic can you get?” Asked a cold voice, which she recognized.
She looked up to see Harry standing there with his arms crossed. Draco Malfoy was standing right beside him, looking just as smug.
“Granger, you’re not as ugly as I remember.” Draco sneered.
“Too bad I can’t say the same about you.” Hermione shot back, getting red in the face.
“Attitude on a mudblood? Ooo I’m scared.” Draco silkily said.
“Oh Potter, I was out to breakfast with your mommy today and it appears that I’ll be at your house for Christmas.” Hermione said, trying to keep in her laughter.
“You’re having mudbloods over for Christmas?” Draco asked as Harry went red in the face.
“It’s my stupid parents and their stupid friends. I― they always have strange company.” Harry shakily said.
“It’s funny…” Hermione started.
“What’s funny?” Harry spat.
“You call me a mudblood and all…but your Mum―”
“What about my Mum?” Harry cut in with a nervous look.
“Oh, Malfoy doesn’t know? Well you see Draco, Harry’s Mother is muggle born…yes that’s right, making him only half-blood.” Hermione said saucily.
She smirked as Draco’s face practically melted off in disgust. Harry tried to say something but Draco sneered at him and walked away.
“Pity… that you’re so ashamed of your family. If you only knew how much you’d miss them if they were gone.” Hermione said seriously, before leaving Harry in her pile of books.