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Vivre Aimer Bruler Mourir by shimmy

Format: Novella
Chapters: 3
Word Count: 26,166
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Substance Use or Abuse, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme, Contains Spoilers

Genres: Romance, AU
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Lupin, Sirius
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 03/24/2008
Last Chapter: 09/18/2008
Last Updated: 09/18/2008

Summary:



Enormous thank yous to Musicbox at tda for this amazing banner!

After Ron is recruited by Voldemort in his seventh year, all those who fought to help him are in danger.  Taking refuge at Grimmauld Place, Hermione and her best-friend's godfather find themselves isolated.

As the saying goes, there's no aphrodisiac like loneliness.

Ignore HBP and DH and the title is inspired from an Atreyu song.


Chapter 1: Tragedy Will Change Your Mind
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A/N:  This chapter is named for 'Taking Back Control' by Sparta.  Thank you all for reading (and possibly reviewing.)
Mia xx




“Go!”

“But Sirius-“Harry pleaded with his godfather.

“Harry, just take the others and get back up to the school!” he said running back to rejoin the fight. He was about to protest again but Ginny and Ron grabbed him by the arms.

“Come on Harry. We have to make it back to the Shrieking Shack,” Hermione said heatedly.

*****

Ron Weasley had been recruited by Voldemort.

He received his letter on Christmas day and was to give his answer exactly one month later when he met with a correspondent in the forbidden forest. He didn’t go. Nor did he tell anyone. Far too ashamed of being a Death Eater in consideration, Ron kept the information all to himself. With no one to talk to he had, a one point, considered initiation into Voldemort’s circle. He could not risk having his family and friends become targets.

It took him nearly the whole month to come to an intelligent conclusion. The only reason that Voldemort would want a ‘blood traitor’ such as himself in his circle would be to infiltrate the Order and sabotage plans to keep Harry and others safe. He could not join the ranks of Voldemort despite the consequences which would mark his loved ones for trouble.

Ron was confused. Now that he knew his answer to the recruitment notice he didn’t know whether to turn up to the meeting or not. If he arrived and told the correspondent that he did not want to join it was likely they would Avada him on the spot. He tried to talk to Hermione about it, but he just did not know how to put it. So, in the end, he ignored the letter altogether.

This happened to be quite a lapse in judgment, as Dumbledore had later put it.

Two days after the designated meeting, Ginny was gone with only a note on Ron’s bed to explain it. It was at this point finally when he decided to tell Hermione. She begged him to go to Dumbledore but Ron felt this would only delay his sister’s rescue. Hermione sought out Harry’s help thinking he would be able to talk some sense into Ron but this only added fuel to the fire.

Harry had become increasingly reckless. It was his seventh year and he had still been prevented from becoming a full member of the Order. It was mainly Dumbldore’s doing and Harry resented him for it. Although Ron, Harry and Hermione were now legally considered adults, the other adults, especially Dumbledore, felt it was fitting to continually keep secrets from them and leave them out of important plans. It was for this reason that Harry argued they should leave Dumbledore out of their plans. Ron agreed

It was almost beyond the boys to agree to seek help from the old DA members. Hermione managed to contact Dean, Ernie, Padma, Luna, Neville, Parvati and Colin who were only too happy to help in the current circumstance.

The note that Ron had received stated that Ginny was being held at the edge of Hogsmead and that Ron should come alone if he ever wished to see his sister again. The Death Eaters would most certainly not come alone but the DA members agreed to remain hidden unless they were needed.

The group trudged their way to the Whomping Willow, the Shrieking Shack being their only way into Hogsmead without being seen. This was not before Hermione had sent out two identical letters. She sensed trouble and although Harry and Ron would be mad with her she knew she would not regret her decision. One letter went to Dumbledore and the other to Sirius.

Although by the time Sirius received his letter the group would already be in substantial danger she knew he would want to be notified. Having only been reunited with his godson four years ago and almost pulled apart again two years later, Sirius was protective of Harry. He loved Harry more than anything.

By the same token Harry too loved his godfather. Hermione would never forget the look on Harry’s face as he witnessed his Sirius fall backwards through the veil in the ministry of magic. It was so distraught; she had never seen a person look so broken. Arthur Weasley had found her and Ginny and forced them to stay safe in a small alcove behind a statue while the battle continued. From their hiding spot they witnessed everything. As Harry sank to his knees and eyed Bellatrix Lestrange with nothing but pure hatred, Hermione felt bile rise in her throat. 

This could not be the end for Sirius. As Ginny burst into tears, Hermione heard voices. Soft whispers seemed to be coming from the other side of the veil. Ginny heard them too. They drew the girls somehow magnetically and Hermione knew now what Harry and Luna spoke of earlier. It was bewitched somehow. They burst from the alcove and yelled “Finite Incantatem!” in unison at the veil. Their combined effort hit the dais and they watched as the stone archway smashed in to pieces.

Just when Hermione thought all hope was gone, Sirius’s body descended from the endless ceiling. It floated beautifully and she and Ginny noticed he was not moving. He landed ten meters from the girls and unnoticed by everyone else caught up in the heat of the fight. They ran to him not caring for their own safety at the present. He was not breathing and Hermione asked Ginny if she knew CPR. Of course that didn’t exist in the wizarding world so Hermione tried to imitate something she’d seen on TV in the hopes of eventually reuniting Harry and his godfather.

To this day no one, not even Dumbledore, knows how Sirius came back from the veil. After two unpromising months in St Mungo’s he managed to pull through and Harry and he became even closer.

He would definitely want to be informed of the current circumstance which is why she magically duplicated her letter to Dumbledore. Hopefully neither party would be too mad with her, Harry and Ron afterwards.

Ron arrived at the designated meeting spot to see a masked Death Eater clutching. His pace quicken towards the pair. Ginny looked terrified. He argued with the Death Eater until wands were drawn, one eventually held to Ginny’s neck. Ron slowly dropped his wand and suddenly another three Death Eaters apparated. They chuckled to themselves and beckoned Ron to hold out his arm. He shook his head and the Death Eater threw Ginny to the ground. Just as he was about to curse her, Ron stuck out his arm for them to have. They cursed her anyway and she doubled over in pain. Ron begged them to let her go. One of the other three Death Eaters grabbed his arm and began to draw his wand.

Harry and Hermione knew what was to come so they signaled to the rest of the DA who leapt from their hiding places to rescue Ron and Ginny. Harry stunned the Death Eater holding Ron’s arm and helped Ginny from the ground. Another two Death Eaters apparated into the vicinity and hit Colin with an imperius curse. It took both Dean and Parvati to counter it, after a flesh wound and scorched clothing. Hermione continued, like Harry, shooting out stunning curses at the Death Eaters who were seemingly good at dodging them. The scene escalated quickly and very soon the Hogwarts students were very much in a situation against six grown Death Eaters that they could not control. Ernie was ignoring, with difficulty, a very burnt arm while helping Colin combat a particularly vicious Death Eater. 

Attended by Ginny, Luna lay on the ground stunned or as Hermione hoped as she had not seen or heard one killing curse fired. Padma and Parvati were double teaming nicely and actually seemed to be giving their Death Eater a run for his Galleons. Dean, Neville, Harry and Ron now each had their own separate Death Eater and although they seemed to be on fairly even footing, the Death Eaters were not tiring nearly as easily. Hermione spectated, occasionally shooting a helpful curse where it was needed but mainly searching the distance for the help that they would need to leave the scene relatively unscathed. She hoped that Dumbledore had received her letter.

A stray sectumsempra hit her leg and slashed open her lower thigh several times through her jeans. She doubled over and then fell to the ground, unable to support her own weight. She tried to cover the wounds with her hands but there was too much blood pouring out for her to do much good. Hermione crawled back against a tree and tore a length of material from her top to tie around her leg. As she helped herself back off the ground she noticed Dean taking on two Death Eaters as Neville clutched a bleeding wrist. She stunned one of them which took the other by surprise giving Dean the time to stun him. There were now only three remaining Death Eaters and Hermione felt a glimmer of hope emerge for the group. This was until another four Death Eaters apparated to the scene.

The new group of Death Eaters was far more ruthless and fired curses off left, right and centre, not caring whether it hit one of their own or not. She watched as two of them approached Harry. She tried to chase after them but her leg made it difficult to stand, let alone move. Suddenly a stunning curse flew past from behind her to hit on of the Death Eaters after Harry in the back. She turned to see who it was and gave a sigh of relief. It was Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Molly, Bill, Dumbledore and Hagrid. Each one of them looked fierce, oozing naught but pure determination. Without a moment’s hesitation they jumped into the battle working quickly to protect the teenagers. Harry moved towards Hermione and they both watched the scene in awe.

“You alright Hermione?” Harry asked her.

“Yeah I’m fine,” she said shifting her weight.

“How did they know we were here?” he thought out loud. Hermione looked away uncomfortably. She knew he would be frustrated at her for sending the letter. However, if her informing Sirius and Dumbledore ensured everyone’s safety especially Ron and Ginny, she could certainly take anything Harry would come at her with. Suddenly, there was a loud boom and the tree they were standing nearby began to fall. Sirius launched from behind to move them just in time.

“Thank you Hermione,” said Sirius with pure appreciation and honesty as he helped her off the ground. She knew she had done the right thing sending him a letter as well as Dumbledore. Harry dusted himself off and looked at the pair of them perplexed as Ron and Ginny approached.

“What do you mean-“ began Harry.

“I want you to gather your friends and get out of here,” He interrupted commandingly.

“No,” said Harry stubbornly.

“Go!”

“But Sirius-“Harry pleaded with his godfather.

“Harry, just take the others and get back up to the school!” he said running back to rejoin the fight. He was about to protest again but Ginny and Ron held him by the arms.

“Mate, let’s just do what he says,” said Ron without enthusiasm.

“Come on Harry. We have to make it back to the Shrieking Shack,” Hermione said heatedly.

“But-“

“He’s right Harry. We have to go,” Hermione pleaded feeling light headed from blood loss.

“We can’t continue to leave things to the ‘adults’ anymore. We ARE adults now,” he said sternly.

“For God’s sake Harry it’s not about that! Look around you,” she cried with exasperation. His eyes darted around the group. There were scratches, bruises and blood. Padma now lay conscious with Luna and Colin and Parvati dodged curses in order to drag her under cover to where Luna was. Dean was still fighting fiercely a hundred yards away unhelped and unnoticed by the Order members. Hermione, however, hid her leg and Harry did not see it. He finally sighed.

“Let’s go,” he said defeatedly. Although he wanted to fight, Harry would not continue to risk his friends’ safety. Sirius mouthed a thank you to Hermione before heading off the help Seamus. Harry rushed around and alerted the DA to retreat back to the Shrieking Shack. Ron helped Parvati and Colin with Padma and Luna. They managed to levitate them and move them out of range. The Death Eaters were too pre-occupied with the Order members stop the DA. Although two noticed they could not disengage from the battle to chase them without being gravely injured. Hermione lent on her good leg and watched as her class mates cleared the vicinity. Neville make a break for the Shrieking Shack from behind a tree and would nearly have been hit with a reducto if it had not been for Dean pushing him out of the way.

“Come on Hermione. Everyone else has left,” yelled Neville as she sprinted along with Dean.

“I know. I’m coming,” she yelled in reply. She had not made much ground as her leg was preventing her from running. The gashes stung but her adrenaline masked the pain. She could barely walk. As she quickly dragged her useless limb she began to feel faint. She would make it though. She could clearly see her destination and DA members disappearing inside. It was not far. A curse flew past her head and she picked up her pace putting weight on her leg. She nearly fell as her leg crumpled beneath the strain each time. She was still not out of range from the battle. Hermione flipped her head around to look behind her. 

Black spots appeared in her vision and each shape became a black mass. She fought to stay awake as something moved towards her. She tried to turn around and move but she was stuck in molasses. As she tried to lift her foot her head lolled back and her back arched as she fell backwards. She couldn’t see but she could here rushing in her ears as she prepared to hit the ground. But the impact didn’t come. Suspended but limp as a rag doll, the last thing she heard was the pop of apparition.

*****

As Hermione woke groggily she recognised her surroundings. It was afternoon and she was in the hospital wing. She must have slept through class. She bolted up but immediately regretted this noting the sharp pains in her wounded leg and that it was a Sunday.

“Good afternoon Hermione,” said Harry sitting on the end of her bed with Ron.

“Afternoon,” she replied softly. “Who brought me up?” she asked them both.

“Sirius,” Ron replied. “He caught you before you passed out and apparated-“

“You can’t apparate into the Hogwarts grounds,” she interrupted.

“Nothing wrong with you then,” said Harry smiling.

“As I was saying,” Ron rolled his eyes, “He apparated to the Shrieking Shack but he couldn’t leave you there so he carried you up to the hospital wing.”

“Why didn’t he just levitate me?” she asked.

“What do we look like? Sirius’s crisis thought pattern?” posed Ron. She smiled to cover her slight confusion of Sirius’s action.

“Shut up Ron,” she said jovially but holding her head at the same time.

“Hermione. Why didn’t you tell us about you leg?” asked Harry regarding the bandages with his eyes. “We could have helped you,” he said earnestly.

“I don’t know. I’m sorry. I guess I just personally didn’t want to be the one holding you back from fighting. I should have been quicker and not have been injured and too I feel almost a little... well,” she trailed off.

“Hermione you don’t need to be embarrassed by being injured. I thought you were smart,” said Ron.

“Why thank you Ronald,” she said sarcastically.

“He’s right though Hermione. Please don’t make me give you the ‘we don’t think any less of you, you’re just as strong as everyone else’ speech. I hate that speech,” Harry said.

“I’m not making anyone do anything,” she said defensively.

“Hey. I don’t want to start and argument. Anyway, how are you feeling?” asked Harry.

“Well I would like to say nothing hurt but my pride but my leg refuses to comply,” she said smiling. “And I feel light headed still.”

“Well Madam Pomfrey said you lost a lot of blood,” Ron informed her.

“I can tell,” she noted holding her head. “How is everyone else? How are you two?” she inquired.

“Well you probably suffered the worst of it, with you leg and all. Everything else was mostly minor. Ginny has a sprained wrist and Neville supposedly won’t wake up for another three days. He was hit with a curse that produces a sustained sort of narcolepsy but after that he should be fine,” said Harry.

“However, Mum had a fit. She’s really angry at me for not telling anyone about the letter. She said I’d put everyone in danger and if Ginny had died it would have been my fault,” he said glumly.

“She’s just angry Ron. She doesn’t actually mean it,” comforted Hermione.

“Yeah I know,” he assured.

“Well Sirius and Dumbledore are angry at you and I for not talking Ron out of the situation. I explained to them that Ron didn’t actually tell us about the letter when he received it,” Harry hit his mate on the arm at this point to which he retaliated by hitting him back. “Dumbledore was both angry and happy at the other DA members. He said he was angry that they put themselves in danger but happy that they had saved the lives of their friends. Apparently he didn’t think that the three of us could take on twelve Death Eaters,” said Harry shrugging. Hermione frowned slightly. She didn’t think Dumbledore would be angry at her, especially after she sent him the warning letter. She did try to talk Ron out of going off to fight by himself but he wouldn’t listen.

Upon seeing the look on her face, Harry continued. “Of course they were impressed with your integrity. Despite what your friends said you warned the order et cetera et cetera. Now stop frowning,” he said. However, her frown didn’t diminish. She was sure the boys would be angry with her for alerting Dumbledore and Sirius and not trusting them to be able to handle the situation without help.

“Are you angry about the letters?” she asked them both bluntly. In unison they both replied with ‘no’ but Hermione felt there was still some tension regardless. She stared at them both intensely as if to detect the slight hint of resentment. Harry sighed.

“Well I’m not angry at you. I knew you have taken some measure to ensure our safety but I don’t know Hermione. It feels like we can never do anything on our own. I mean we are all seventeen now. Legally we’re adults and the Order still never allows us to do anything let alone take on responsibility. And you sending the letter to Dumbledore. It’s like you agree with all of them, that we need their help in every endeavour. Don’t get me wrong, what you did yesterday saved us from serious problems but I still would like to think that we could have come out on top. I mean we did out number the Death Eaters. We even knocked a few unconscious,” said Harry resolutely. 

“Harry, I agree with you but think about it from the Order’s perspective. It’s that they think we can’t hold our own quite the opposite really. Everyone is always praising you for your ability and you know it. They just aren’t used to the fact we are grown up. I mean for you especially Ron. You have always been the baby boy of your family and for you to enter adulthood takes some adjusting for your parents. They want to protect us. All the Order have experienced their share of awful things and they want to protect the ‘children’ from dealing with the same things. Harry if Sirius ever lost you. Your all he has and Ron your parents would blame themselves forever if you were hurt or died. It’s because they think we aren’t capable. They don’t see us as adults and as an instinctive mechanism they try to protect us,” she explained. Although Hermione was sometimes frustrated by the Order, she did see their internal reasoning.

“Well thats all well and good but just because they can’t come to terms with our age it shouldn’t mean that we get left out and ignored. Even when we do get to help them out with something we always have to go in a big group and it’s not for anything exciting anyway,” said Ron angrily.

“Well think about it Ron. When the older Order members go out to do dangerous things, do they go alone? No they go in a group. That line of reasoning is completely foolish. Think! Have they ever decided to go and fight individually? No because there is strength in numbers. I thought that would have been obvious,” she chastised. Harry and Ron seemed to contemplate her words with care. This was an unusual thing. She hoped this once something she said actually sunk in.

“It will all change when we are out of school. Don’t worry about it,” she soothed. “Now let’s all take our minds off our trouble with some homework,” she suggested. Ron and Harry giggled which was unfortunate because she was serious. She informed them so which brought about a vast change in their expressions.

“Madam Pomfrey said we are not to bring you any homework. I’m quite serious,” said Ron.

“That’s no matter. I’ll just come up to the common room and we can do it there,” she said in reply.

“Well my first problem with that statement is that you are using the pro-noun ‘we’ implying that I will also be completing homework which I assure you is nothing short of a fallacy. Also, you would have to be discharged for you to come up to the common room with us,” Ron pointed out. Hermione rolled her eyes at him and began to scan the room for Madam Pomfrey. She was in her office. Hermione carefully lifted herself out of her bed. Sensing movement like a Hawk, Madam Pomfrey came out of her office and insisted Hermione get back into bed. She then promptly ushered Harry and Ron out of the infirmary for ‘exciting’ Hermione too much.

“Bring me some homework,” she yelled as they were nearly out the door.

“They will do no such thing! You suffered mass blood loss and need your rest,” she said sternly.

“Told you,” said Ron from the doorway. Hermione frowned. Madam Pomfrey promptly shut the door and then aggressively turned onto Hermione.

“Madam Pomfrey, I must protest,” said Hermione fearfully, most unlike her Gryffindor self. “I feel I should be able to do homework if not be discharged,”

“Miss Granger, you will not do homework and you will certainly not be discharged until I see fit,” she said finally moving to fiddle with bottles in a near by cupboard. “As it remains you have sustained substantial blood loss and need to remain here until I have administered the potion and it has taken affect.” She presented Hermione with a small glass of bubbling vermillion liquid and an even smaller glass of an icy cyan coloured draught. “Now drink this blood replenishing potion,” she said handing Hermione the vermillion glass which she skulled with distaste. “Okay to make it take affect more rapidly we’ll speed up the process with this,” she said handing Hermione the second glass which tasted like peppermint surprisingly.

“What was that last one?” asked Hermione.

“A sleeping draught,” said Madam Pomfrey closing the curtains around her bed.

“What!” yelled Hermione.

“The best way to replenish blood is through sleep. Sleep well Miss Granger,” she said closing the final curtain. Hermione wanted to argue but she was already feeling the affects of the potion. Her head fell back to her pillow as she fell into a dreamless slumber.

*****

When Hermione woke for the second time in her bed it was much later in the evening, probably early the next morning in fact. She stretched her arms slightly and snuggled into her pillow. Despite almost doubling her necessary sleep intake during the past two days, she still felt a little fatigued. She assumed this was a side effect of the blood potion. Feeling slightly parched, she rose to pour herself a glass of water from her bed side table. She yelped in fright, noticing for the first time someone sitting in a chair by her bed. They must have been asleep, as they woke with a start.

“What’s wrong? Hermione?” they asked. She immediately recognized the voice.

“Sirius, it’s so late. What are you doing here?” she asked.

“Oh,” he said lowering his defense, “well I came to ask you some questions but you were asleep and so I decided to wait until you woke and I guess I drifted off.”

“Well I’m awake now,” she said gulping down her water.

“It’s too late now. You’ll want to sleep more because you lost-“

“A lot of blood. I know,” she interrupted.

“Well you did,” he said.

“Anyway, presently that’s beside the point. I slept until the afternoon yesterday and then was forced back to sleep with a potion. I’ve had more sleep than a bear in winter so ask away. Unless you want to go to sleep,” she said far more sprightly than she felt.

“No, I don’t need sleep. I mean I’ve been waiting here to talk so no sleep can wait. But if you’re feeling tired then I can wait,” he reasoned.

“Well I’m fine if you’re fine,” she said jovially.

“Well I’m fine but also only if you’re fine,” he said in reply.

“I’m definitely fine,” she said finally.

“Well then I guess we both can talk,” he said resolutely.

“I guess so. What is it you want to talk or ask about?” she posed.

“I … I can’t really remember,” he chuckled. “I think I more wanted to thank you. I know you didn’t have much time before you went yesterday or two days ago. Whatever the bloody time is,” he said.

“It’s half past one,” she informed him.

“Okay so two days ago. Anyway I know you were rushed so It means a lot that you informed me as well as Dumbledore,” he said seriously.

“Well you ARE Harry’s godfather,” she said smiling knowing that he could not see it through their dark surroundings.

She knew it had meant a lot to him that she sent the letter. Harry was really all he had in the world. After he had come back from the veil, several weeks in St Mungo’s had alerted his presence the public. It was at this point that the Order struggled to find evidence to clear Sirius’s name or he would most certainly be sent back to Azkaban. The circumstances appeared grim. Dumbledore managed to keep him out of jail presently but it was by no means permanent. It was now that another miracle occurred. Or a miracle in disguise anyway. After a botched assassination attempt on Cornelius Fudge, Kingsley Shacklebolt obtained photographic evidence of Wormtail. 

Dumbledore argued with the minister here was no other plausible explanation for Pettigrew to still be alive and when Harry went to the media in favour of Dumbledore’s explanation, Sirius’s fate was sealed. All charges against him were dropped. Hermione had never seen Harry so happy. The Order threw a party which was most out of character. Sirius was happy finally to go outside freely after years of cabin fever. With all good, however, comes the bad. Although legally Sirius was cleared of all his charges there was still much public propaganda. He was ostracized. He could not walk down the street without meeting hostility and stares. In the eyes of the public he could never have a clean record. Through everything though, he had Harry. Finally they could be a real family.

“Yeah, I know,” he chuckled, “sometimes it doesn’t feel like it though. Why couldn’t he have told me himself what he was planning to do. He shouldn’t shut me out,”

“He’s not shutting you out,” she explained, “Harry is just feeling a little inferior and ‘in the dark’ so to speak,”

“What do you mean?” he asked inquisitively.

“Well, he’s seventeen. We’re all adults now and he doesn’t feel that it’s being acknowledged by the Order,” she told him.

Again he chuckled, “in some cases it’s hard to miss,” he said hoping she caught on to his implication. Sometimes Hermione was so strong, level-headed and responsible she surpassed him in terms of adult qualities. It was undeniable that she was now a young woman, but others didn’t necessarily appear the way she did. Hermione was very different from those around her. She resonated and exuded maturity far beyond her years. She was talented and very calculating. She always was able to way up the cost of a risk, a skill which can divide adults and teenagers.

She blushed slightly. “Well Harry feels as though the Order doesn’t feel he can handle fighting among other things,” she continued.

“He should know very well that’s not true,” he started defensively, “he’s handled more than half adult wizards-“

“He IS an adult now,” she pointed out and he fell silent.

“I don’t know. I guess it’s hard for me to consider him a fully fledged adult when it seems like he was a little baby in Lily’s arms just yesterday,” he said solemnly.

“That’s was my line of argument. Especially in Ron’s case, he’s the baby boy of the family. It’s hard for people to let go and understand their children are growing up. We don’t need protecting anymore,”

“Everyone needs protecting,” he reasoned.

“Yes but our generation no longer warrants that paternal and maternal protection we grew up with. Harry wants to become a full member of the Order and he still can’t. It’s no longer his age that prevents him so he sees it as an attack and criticism of his skill,”

“It’s not his magical ability that’s stopping him,” said Sirius.

“Then what is it?” she asked. He had no answer for this.

“It’s just he’s-“

“He’s not a baby anymore. You can’t protect him forever. One day he will go and face Voldemort alone and you can’t protect him then.” She let this image sink into his mind before adding, “and I must agree with Harry in some respects. The Order does leave us out of things. I mean you don’t have to take us with you on all your endeavours but don’t we at least have the right to be informed after all we’ve done in service,” she posed with a sharp element to her tone.

“Hang on a minute here Miss Hermione but it has always been my opinion that we tell you what’s going on. Even when you were fifteen I was in favour of keeping you all well informed,” although his words were stern there was a jocular element to his tone.

“Yes, Sirius. We all appreciate you in that respect,” she said thankfully. He sighed.

“I just wish Harry could tell me this himself,” he said sadly.

“In a way it’s his own personal form of pay back, not telling you. By not telling anyone how he feels he keeps you in the dark just as the Order gives him no information,” she suggested.

“That’s an odd way of looking at it but you’re probably right. I just wish things could be different,” he sighed again.

“Well… they aren’t,” she noted for lack of anything thing else to say.

“Thank you for that clever observation Hermione. Your wits never cease to amaze me!” he said in a forced and sarcastic tone. She giggled slightly.

“You know, you could get in a lot of trouble being here. You know well that Madam Pomfrey doesn’t allow after hours visitors,” she explained knowing her words to be futile when talking to one of the Maurauders.

“Yeah, but that’s half the fun,” he said with a devilish charm.

She rolled her eyes, knowing he couldn’t see. “You still haven’t changed. Well I guess you can take the man out of mischief but you can never take the mischief out of the man,” she chanted.

“Too right. I remember all those times I used to sneak in here to visit old Moony. You know after that time of the month,” he said intentionally. She giggled in response.

“I’m sure he was glad you referred to his condition with such feminine implications,” she said imagining Professor Lupin’s reaction.

“Moony. He loved it. He loved any sort of innuendo but of course such things are not made for feminine ears,” he said to her seriously.

“Why, I can’t imagine you boys being that vulgar,” she exclaimed.

“No, but you are that innocent,” he said with a tone of finality. She giggled which caused him to question. “Is that laugh implying the otherwise?” he asked jovially.

“It would depend on what you call innocent. In a way I guess I am still naïve but I’m seventeen. I think this is where our conversation began, is it not? I’m seventeen, I’m legally an adult,” she pointed out.

“I know Hermione. I know. Anyway considering we have made a full circle, I think I should let you sleep again,” he said rising.

“I hope I could help you understand where Harry is coming from,” she said lying back in her bed.

“Yes, you did. Sorry to keep you up. Night,” and with that he ducked out of the curtains surrounding her bed. She prayed he wasn’t caught by Madam Pomfrey. She would put a certain implication on a simple chat she had with her best friend’s godfather.

*****

Hermione lay in her bed happily contemplating the events of the previous evening. She was surprised that Sirius had sought her out and formally thanked her for such a small act. She was flattered that it meant so much to him and she smiled silently to herself noting that it warranted a chat at such an hour.

To say she had always been close with Sirius would be lie. She had never felt a strong connection between the pair of them. She was sure this was relevant to her previous feelings that he was somewhat reckless and immature. He still was. She would never see him as a stable paternal figure as she perceived Professor Lupin perhaps but with respect to past circumstance she couldn’t expect much more. Sirius’s youth had been wasted in service of the war against you-know-who. 

Much like Harry’s parents, he never had the chance to really live. Even after he escaped from Azkaban, he remained cooped up and hidden and never really able to spread his wings so to speak. It was for this reason that Hermione could identify with his, at times, teenage behaviour. Although Harry saw him as close to a father, Hermione would always identify him as more of an ‘older brother’ figure. He was caring and responsible but he still had a wild side that he was not able to explore as a young teenager.

After he returned from the Ministry of Magic alive, Hermione found herself warming to him more so. Not that she was ever cold towards him. When his name was cleared he seemed to have more of a lust for life and she first began to appreciate the gravity of his past years. After school years of being on top of the world, good looks, great friends and plenty of girls (or so she had heard) he went to being a social out cast locked away without trial. He had never had the chance to intrinsically grow amongst society, develop close bond and find someone to grow old with. After his escape, these prospects still appeared grim due to his still tarnished name and the hope he had for his own future was clearly shown on his face daily. Now he was always somewhat more jovial, he had a future that didn’t consist of running from the law. Although he would never be fully accepted back by society he was finally granted a degree of emancipation. His new attitude was contagious and Hermione felt herself enjoying his company.

Harry would be moving in with him soon. He had spent his last summer with the Dursleys and was now free to live with whom he wished. Sirius asked Harry if he would like to go somewhere other than Grimmauld Place, as it was still Head-Quarters to the Order. They could get an apartment or something. Harry wouldn’t hear of it, Grimmauld Place held so many memories, not necessarily all good, and Harry wouldn’t rather be anywhere else. It was always full of people and action, a very exciting place for two men, who had always been rather lonely, to live. Harry was supposed to have moved in over Christmas but due to some hyper activity from the Order circumstances were made slightly more difficult. Also, Harry thought it may be wise to give Sirius some space over the holiday season. No doubt he wanted a little time to himself.

Of course, Ron, Hermione and Harry had visited him for a couple of days which is when Harry took the opportunity to transport his things. They took the opportunity to stay up late and reminisce over the past. Sirius recalled wild stories of the Marauders and the trio attempted to counter each with one of their own. Although trouble seemed to find Harry, Ron and Hermione during their time at Hogwarts, it indeed appeared the Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs were not short of adventures either. It appeared, however, that the Marauders had a few more female conquests much to the distaste of Lily who apparently tried unsuccessfully to keep the boys in line. Sirius noted that this did by no means imply she did not possess a wild streak like the rest of her friends, a streak which James had to coerce out of her of course. Sirius even went proudly into the details of a few of his conquests. 

They three of them laughed as he told them that sometimes when girls want to go late into the room of requirement for coffee it really is just for coffee. He kept his stories fairly chaste for the sake of young minds but Hermione felt that had she not been present he would have delved maybe into slightly more detail. He knew he was quite the ‘playboy’ while at school, and even afterwards, but she understood that even after all these years he still was not the one to kiss and tell especially in front of ‘feminine ears’. She was surprised at how much he did get away with concerning women but she only had to see him flash his mischievous smile to how he managed to do it. He really was quite the charmer.

Hermione decided to take a stroll around the hospital. She had barely been out of bed for two days. She pushed back the sheet and swung her legs over the bed to rest of the floor. As she stood up she felt light headed, no doubt she had low blood pressure from her lack of movement. She took slow steps around the perimeter, her leg was still aching. She knew using magic healed wounds with impeccable speed so she understood that the cuts in her leg must have been deep. It wasn’t as painful as the first day but every time she put pressure on her wounded thigh is stung severely. Her light headedness still hadn’t faded but she was determined. Maybe she needed a glass of water. As the room began to spin she felt as though she may be sick of mouth. She resided herself to the fact that her walking should now cease and began to stumble back over to her bed.

“Whoa,” she heard as strong arms reached out to catch and steady her. It was Sirius. He took her arm and led her back to her bed and was closely followed by Dumbledore.

“I’m feeling a little light headed,” she commented to both he seniors attempting to excuse her clumsiness.
“No doubt,” said Sirius vindicating her.

“Miss Granger I have something rather important to discuss with you,” Dumbledore said seriously while still maintaining the sparkle in his eyes. It was this way she knew it was nothing grave and it comforted her.

“Yes Professor?” she beckoned.

“After the rash events of the last few days, things must be put in perspective. Mr Weasley is presently at the top of the Death Eater’s ‘head hunt list’ so to speak. Voldemort’s followers are none to happy with any other member of the party that arrived to save Miss Weasley. I doubt any of the party knew the full consequences of their actions and I assume that certain misdecisions were made only in the hope of a greater good. I am yet to chastise any member of the rescue for their rashness as I believe knowledge of the possible repercussions for themselves would not have changed their decision to help save Miss Weasley,” Dumbledore noted this last point with a smile, one which was returned by Hermione. She knew all her friends, despite their faults, were all brave and selfless and was warmed by this acknowledgement from the headmaster.

“While I feel all of my students shall be safe inside the Hogwarts walls, I have sent word to each of their families asking permission to set up wards outside their places of residence. Miss Granger this does not apply to you as your parents are already in hiding,” she noted this with a nod, “Now I think it is time for me to make my point known. As I have said, I have confidence that my students are safe within the walls of Hogwarts, however, I would feel substantially more secure if you along with Miss Weasley, Mr Weasley and Mr Potter would hidden and neutral residence for a little while,” Dumbledore explained to her. She opened her mouth to protest but Sirius interrupted having predicted her response.

“Hermione we can have your class work sent to you. It is the Headmasters wish that you remain hidden for a few days until the issues at hand subsides. Harry and Ron are now known targets and because of your and Ginny’s close bonds to them we feel it would be wise if you were removed from Hogwarts as well,” said Sirius seriously.

“Have you told the others?” she asked openly.

“Yes, your friends have been informed,” the Headmaster continued, “and they are willing to comply. Not to burden your mind further, but it is far less likely there will be an attack on the school if the four of you are not present. It’s not to say that you are the only targets for the Death Eaters but I feel Miss Granger that you too can see the safety advantages in this course of action.” Once again she nodded in agreement.

“Mr and Miss Weasley will be heading back to the Burrow. I understand that the Weasley family already has substantial wards and Mrs Weasley asked the elder Weasleys, Bill and Charlie, to remain as added protection until the delicacy of the current situation subsides,” he told her.

“One query Professor,” she said.

“Of course Miss Granger,” Dumbledore said encouragingly.

“As you said before, My parents are in hiding. I can’t go back to them until the end of the year when they come for me at the station,” she explained.

“Mr Black explained to me earlier that of course you are welcome with he and Harry,” Dumbledore informed her.

“Hermione, I didn’t even think the issue would come up,” he said chuckling. “I just assumed you would come to Grimmauld Place.” She sent him a smile which he returned.
“Okay then,” she said in agreement but without enthusiasm. She did not want to jeopardize her studies.

Dumbledore clapped his hands together, “Well then, there are a few other things I would like to say,” he informed her. Hermione mentally shuddered, no doubt he had spoken to the other members of Ginny’s rescue party and it was now her turn to have house points removed.

“I hope you understand what a lapse in judgment Mr Weasley has made. Had he come forth with the letter earlier, yes he would have remained a strong target for the Death Eaters but he may have prevent others from being further entangled in this fight. I understand from Mr Potter and Mr Weasley that you did attempt to coerce them into seeking help and not attempting such a feat themselves and hence I will not chastise you on that point. I could, however, poignantly stress that it was a great disservice to yourself to accompany them into the fight but this would be rather redundant as I know that given the choice once more you would never dessert your friends in a time of need,” he noted his last point with a very warm smile making his disciplining feel much more like a compliment.

“I do hope that you will, along with your peers, comprehend the seriousness of your action. They have all had house points removed. Miss Granger, I will not remove house points from you as an acknowledgment of your integrity. Had you not sent Mr Black and me the letters you did, I’m afraid it would have meant dire consequence for your friends. For this, I will not punish you beyond this conversation. Please, however, remember this incident with delicacy. Should events repeat themselves, as the often do, I hope the decisions that both you and your peer make will be different,” with that Dumbledore bid her good day. Hermione felt slightly elated inside. Although it was standard procedure for Hermione to be reprimanded by the Headmaster after the previous incidents, she could not help but feeling he was really trying to absolve her of any apparent wrong doings rather than deal out punishments. She looked over to Sirius.

“Madam Pomfrey will formally discharge you in an hour or so,” he laughed at this, “and she wasn’t pleased at all when Dumbledore ordered her to.”

“Are we leaving that quickly?” she asked a little hesitant.

“Harry is already packed. Is that a problem for you?” he asked concerned.

“No… I just thought… It’s not a problem. Beside we wont be gone for long,” she assured, herself more than him.

“Yeah. Less than a month Dumbledore said. Anyway you should get packing,” he told her.

“I guess so. I have to get changed out of these pajamas first. I can’t walk up to my dorm like this,” she said hinting for him to leave. He didn’t. She stared him down and eventually he cried ‘oh’ and backed out of her bed area. She closed the curtains and donned her jeans and t-shirt, somewhat wobbly.

He was waiting for her when she tore open the curtains. They strode out of the hospital wing and he again offered his arm to her seeing her difficulty with walking. She muttered the password to the fat lady and they both climbed into the Gryffindor common room.

“Hasn’t changed a bit,” Sirius noticed. She smiled. “I’ll wait down here for you,” he said to her. She let go of his arm and faintly ascended the stairs to her dorm. Everything was empty as classes were currently running. No one in sight. Noticing the trouble she was having navigating the stairs Sirius offered to help her up and to pack. Hermione thought to herself, was it prudent to have Sirius in her dorm? In situations such as these she always asked herself, what would Professor McGonagall do? As she was not present to ask for advice she numbly nodded to him. As he approached the stairs she remembered the charm placed on them.
“Oh I forgot. The stairs are charmed not to allow boys up,” she said.

“I’m well aware,” he said charming himself so he glided up the staircase without actually touching the rendered brick. He threw her a chaste smile.

“I should have guessed. I didn’t realize you were such a regular visitor of the girl’s dorms,” she giggled again holding onto his arm. When they reached the top of the stairs, he immediately strode to her area of the dorm.

“How did you know which bed was mine?” she questioned.

“Well the other areas had a recognizable mess Miss ‘ordered and cleanly’,” she blushed and began charming things to fold in her trunk. As she moved book after book into the limited space Sirius commented that she would have room for clothing. She identified to him that long ago she had discovered her love of books severely limited her packing of anything else important. Hence she had charmed her trunk to be a lot larger than it let on. As Sirius moved to carry it for her, he noted with distaste that it was no less heavy. He resorted to levitating it.

Class had ended and Harry, Ron and Ginny were waiting, along with Harry’s trunk, near the Headmaster’s office for Hermione and Sirius to arrive. It was the first time Hermione had seen Ginny since she was taken by the Death Eaters. It had been a Hogsmead weekend and Ginny had planned to go with a boy so no one was really surprised when she was missing until Ron discovered the note. Hermione hugged her tightly and promised to write. She would miss the fiery red head although they would only be separated shortly. Ron reached down and enveloped her in a firm embrace. She would miss him greatly too. She assured him that she would save all her disagreeing energy until they were back at school and he laughed. 

Harry took the opportunity to hug Ginny while Ron was not paying attention which was a very wise decision considering the unplatonic implications of such an embrace. Hermione giggled when it was the boys’ time to say goodbye. They clapped each other on the back in a very manly one armed hug. Ginny also found this amusing. This case of male affection always resulted in the man who hit the other less hard to be slightly put off as though the ‘hug’ were a display of alpha male strength. Men were funny. She watched Sirius attempt the same movement with Ron again causing the girls to giggle. Ginny gave Sirius a chaste hug before the trio ascended the stairs to the office above. Dumbledore was not present but the door was open and the floo powder left out.

“Alright Harry first, then you Hermione. I’ll follow with your hernia inducing sack of lead… I mean trunk,” Hermione rolled her eyes as Harry took a hand full of powder.

Chapter 2: I've Done Nothing to Change Anything
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A/N:  This chapter is named for 'La Cerca' by Sparta.  I hope you like it.

Mia xx





Hermione stood over a hot cooker.  She wore a checkered apron as she bustled about the kitchen, hating herself presently for being the embodiment of the feminine stereotype.

 

Hermione had immediately noticed Kreacher’s absence from the House of Black upon there arrival.  When she commented looking around the rooms, Harry predicted she would not like the answer about to come out of Sirius’s mouth.  He instead informed Hermione that Sirius sent him to work for Dumbledore at Hogwarts.  Sirius, after receiving a look from his godson, followed this by explaining that he was lonely in the house without other house elves.  Not that Hermione was glum to start with but after this revelation her mood elated slightly.  Sirius would later inform Harry that Kreacher had accidentally wound up in a sack at Mundungus’s with strict orders not to leave.  As a result it was left to them to make their own food and clean up after themselves, which Hermione added she would have done anyway.

 

Neither of the boys knew how to cook or so they said.  Hermione informed Sirius that had he no cooking skills he would probably be presently dead.  He countered this by explaining that Molly was there every other day to cook something for various Order members and in the mean time he lived off sandwiches and fruit.  Hermione sighed and did not doubt there was truth to this.  It was therefore left to her to make something to eat with the compromise that the boys would do the washing up.  In her apron, the only thing substantial she could find to cook was pasta.  They would need to buy more food soon.

 

After gobbling up the dinner she had made, Hermione wrote out a shopping list.  She would have to trust Sirius to purchase the items as Harry and Hermione were supposed to be in hiding.  He acknowledged the list before he went to bed and the next morning when Hermione woke he had already been to the shops and back.  He had done mostly okay for a man who had never done much grocery shopping.  He, however, came back with three extra bottles of fire whiskey and without broccoli which he poignantly refused to purchase on the pretense that ‘it was not even a real food and normal people don’t eat it’.  Harry grinned in agreement at this comment and even Hermione had to giggle slightly.

 

As Sirius assured her, Harry and her school work was owled to them.  Hermione sat down and attacked hers immediately.  Harry joined her but more reluctantly.  Apparently didn’t think he was going to have to do work while he was away from Hogwarts.  They sat in the den completing their studies, occasionally interrupted by Order members who all frequently dropped by to update others and themselves.  Harry was tempted to stop his work when Sirius and Remus started a game of cards in the kitchen but Hermione said she would write a letter to Dumbledore if she felt this stay was affecting his school work.  He appraised her sourly at this and she came back with the statement, ‘this is not a holiday’.

 

Dinner that evening was a curry from a book that Molly kept in the kitchen.  It was spicy and Harry complained but Sirius and Remus, who stayed for dinner, commented that it was very nice.  Hermione sighed at Harry who sarcastically apologized for not having an acquired palate.  After dinner the boys sat down to cards while Hermione pulled out her well thumbed history book in front of the fireplace.  She read against the warm glow from the fire missing muggle lamps, which were a much more substantial source of light.  Sirius opened a bottle of fire whiskey and offered it around.  Harry accepted a small glass and Hermione initially refused, despite being above the legal drinking age for wizards.  Sirius poured himself and Remus each a healthy glass, both being quite seasoned drinkers.  After some time, Hermione abandoned her book and joined the boys for cards to which they were happily surprised.

 

“Well boys-“ Hermione’s slight cough interrupted Remus to which he added, “and lady.  The game is called cheat and the rules are no legilimency,” he said this looking in Sirius’s direction.

 

“Hey, I’m not even good at it,” he said defensively.

 

“If you call someone and they cheat they pick up the pile or if they are truthful you pick up the pile.  You can not take back a call or a card once it is played.  You can only throw down cards one below or above the previous one set down.  First one with no cards wins,” Remus said.  Everyone nodded in agreement.

 

“Heard of this game before?” Sirius asked Hermione.

 

“Yeah but when I’ve played it we usually call it bull-“ She stopped herself before she said something most unladylike and blushed.

 

“What was that?” asked Sirius playfully.

 

“Yeah Hermione, what was that?” said Harry wanting to hear the profanity escape her mouth.

 

“We call it bullshit,” she said quietly, blushing further.

 

“Sorry?” said Sirius wanting to make her repeat it once more.

 

“Bullshit,” she said gaining confidence.

 

“Okay then, the name of the game is bullshit,” said Remus chuckling.  “I’ll go first.  Two sevens,” he said throwing two cards in the pile.  Hermione checked her hand but noticed Harry and Sirius were staring directly at Remus rather than their cards.  Hermione looked perplexed.  Sirius leaned over to her.

 

“This game is about reading people.  If I don’t have the cards in my hand that some claims they do, you look to their facial expression to see if they are lying,” he explained.

 

“Oh, so it’s more about your skills of deception and your reception of other people’s,” she exclaimed.

 

“Yes Hermione, which is why you are going to lose,” he said with a devilish smile.

 

“How are you so sure?” she asked faking a confidence.

 

“Because you are too honest to be any good at lying to someone’s face,” he continued to smile.  Hermione, who was good at everything, was determined to give this game her best shot.

 

“Alright then, we’ll see,” she said enigmatically.

 

“One six,” said Harry throwing his card on top of Remus’s.

 

“Bullshit!” cried Sirius and Remus in unison immediately.  They turned over his card, it was a four.

 

“Nice try Harry,” said Remus.

 

“Oh shut up,” Harry said grumpily.

 

“Three sixes,” said Sirius.  No one questioned him.

 

“Two sevens,” said Hermione.  Sirius yelled bullshit.  Without waiting she picked up the pile of cards.

 

“You hesitated,” he whispered to her.  The game came around to Hermione once more and yet again, Sirius picked up on her lying.

 

“I wouldn’t have to lie if we were allowed to set down any card and not go in an order,” she said huffily.

 

“But the point of the game is to lie.  And to get away with it, hun,” he said cheekily to her.  He poured another glass of fire whiskey and gestured to her.  She took it without hesitation this time and sipped it.  It smelt like paint solvent but tasted better thank Merlin.  Still, it burnt the back of her throat.  The game continued and Hermione and Harry were appearing to have a large portion of the cards, while Remus and Sirius’s hands were diminishing slowly.  Like Hermione, it appeared that Harry was not a very seasoned player.

 

“Two twos,” said Harry setting down a couple of cards.

 

“Bullshit,” said Hermione.  She had caught out Harry once and Remus twice during the game.  This was only because she had the cards in her hand to prove that they were indeed lying.  This time it based on pure instinct.  Sure enough as she turned over the cards Harry had set down a Queen and a five.  She smiled to herself and took another gulp of fire whiskey.  Sirius really knew what he was talking about.  Not once had she been confident that he was lying.  He was very good at this game of deception and maybe he was even better at sensing the truth about others.

 

“One ace,” she said.  No one called her bluff.  She was, however, telling the truth.

 

“Two kings,” Remus called.

 

“One King,” Harry said.

 

“Three queens,” said Sirius.  Hermione did not have any queens herself but she did note that Harry picked one before.  How likely was it that he or Remus did not have more?

 

“Bullshit,” she said bluntly.

 

“Are you sure about that?” he said trying to intimidate her.

 

“You never can be,” she replied.  He gestured with his head for her to turn over the cards.  Three queens.

 

“Better luck next time hun,” he said throwing her a wink.  She irritatedly took the cards from the table, added them to her hand and then downed the rest of her fire whiskey.  At least she seemed to be doing somewhat better than Harry, who just had another bluff called by Remus.  Hermione managed to disperse many of her cards by playing them one at a time to ensure she lied as little as possible, however, every now and again someone would see through her.  She called Harry’s bluff in stating that he had two nines when she had three.  He dejectedly took up the cards.

 

The fire whiskey she had drunk successfully went to her head.  It was at this point she started doing better at the game.  She supposed it was due to the relaxation and daze she now felt, which made her tension when lying melt away.  She was getting caught out less and less.  Every time she set down cards Sirius appraised her with and icy intensity from his grey eyes.  She learnt not to look away but to oppose his gaze with her own as if tempting him to call her bluff.  Mostly he didn’t.  Remus set down four jacks.  Harry stupidly called his bluff.

 

“Harry do you honestly think I would put down four of anything if I were lying?” asked Remus rhetorically. He then chuckled

 

Harry ignored his laughter.  “One ten,” no called him.  It was now Sirius’s turn.  He had only three cards left and surprisingly he set them all down.

 

“Three nines,” he said calmly.  Hermione stared into his eyes.  There was not hint of anxiety or worry in his gaze.

 

“Bullshit,” she said mimicking his calm.

 

“What?” asked Remus.

 

“I said Bullshit.”

 

“Hermione,” Remus reasoned, “Sirius wouldn’t be lying on his last turn.  After you get the hang of the game you calculate your next moves so you can avoid cheating in your last run.”

 

“She can’t take it back now,” said Sirius smiling, “besides I don’t think she’s acting on more than Dutch courage.”

 

“Is that so?  You think it’s just the whiskey?” she posed.

 

“Yes, darlin’ I do,” he said confidently.

 

“Then turn over the cards,” she commanded.  With a steady hand he slowly moved to over turn the cards he placed on the table.  Two nines and a three.  Remus looked at her and smiled.  She gave Sirius a haughty flick of her head and Harry laughed.  Finally she had caught him out.

 

The game ended not much long after that and of course Sirius won.  Remus was already out half an hour later than what he posed to Tonks, so he hurried off after the cards were back in the deck.  Hermione reclined on a couch still feeling the effects of alcohol and Sirius began to tell the teenagers the tale of his first game of bullshit.

 

“Let me guess, you were a natural?” asked Harry.

 

“Nah.  I was shocking,” he laughed.  Apparently it was always James who would win bullshit out of the Marauders, he was unbeatable when it came to reading people.  Sirius too, was quite surprised that Harry had not inherited the same talent.  Hermione noted that he may have for all they knew.  It was impossible to tell if he could even speak correctly after Harry had his third glass of fire whiskey.  Sirius laughed in agreement.  Harry pouted.

 

“Don’t worry Harry.  First time I ever tried alcohol was at a dinner party my parents were throwing.  I had one and half glasses of elf wine and spent half the party in the bathroom,” he chuckled.  Hermione also giggled slightly.

 

“I must say Hermione; I am surprised at how well you hold your alcohol.  What you drank is more than enough to have an amateur falling off her chair,” he said dipping his head in regard to her.

 

“Are you implying that I’m an amateur?” she asked straightly.  He sat down on the other end of the couch she was on.

 

“Are you implying you’re not?” he countered.

 

“Depends on what you class as an amateur,” she announced.  He stared at her with one eye brow raised and she felt her defense crumple.  “Okay okay, I’ve only been drinking once before. And,” she stressed, “it was on my birthday so it was still legal.”

 

“Always one for upholding the law,” he noted.

 

“Better than breaking it.  All rules are set down for a reason,” she pointed out.

 

“Where’s the fun in that?” he asked.  “You know for someone who’s broken so many rules in her time at Hogwarts, I must say I’m rather surprised at your firm stance on rule breaking,” he said devilishly.

 

“Are you calling me a hypocrite?” she asked with a mock offence.

 

“Not necessarily,” he smiled.

 

“Well, I’ll have you know that sometimes it was impossible to get around breaking certain rules in the scheme of things.  Isn’t that right Harry? Harry?” she got naught but a snore from the hearth rug as a reply.  Sirius laughed hoarsely.

 

“Now there is a boy who really can’t handle his alcohol,” he said shifting his position on the couch uncomfortably.  Suddenly he pulled a book out from under him.  It was the history she was reading earlier. “Is this what you read for pleasure?” he said recognizing it as hers and scanning the front cover.

 

“I’ll have you know it’s very interesting,” she informed him.

 

“Doesn’t look like it,” he replied.

 

“Give it to me and I’ll show you,” she said.

 

“No.”

 

“What?”

 

“You heard me.  I said no,” he said mischievously.  She scrunched her nose playfully and moved over to his side of the couch.

 

“Give it to me Sirius,” she said reaching for it.  He lay back and elongated his body so she would have climb along him to reach her book.  He held it back behind his head on the arm of the couch as she squirmed over him to reach it.  Just as she was about to grab it he rolled the pair of them off the couch and onto the floor.  Hermione hit her hip against the ground but did not feel it thanks to the alcohol in her veins.  She shot up and chased after Sirius, who was now holding the book captive on the other side of the room. 

 

As she approached him, he dodged around her and her grasp.  She followed him around the table to the door which, luckily for her, slammed shut due to a draught.  He was cornered.  He kept his cool however and merely held the book above his head.  He smiled down at her five foot and four inches as she stared up his six foot two.  There was no way she could reach the book.  This did not mean she was going to give up. 

 

She reached up to the arm he had holding the book and struggled to pull it downwards to her, scratching him slightly in the process.  He snaked his arm around her waist in an attempt to keep her down and stop slightly jumping.  The pressure against his body slammed them both into the opposing wall where she stood on the tips of her toes to reach higher.  He held her tighter which provoked more movement in her as she struggled against his grip.  He tilted his head down to watch her fight and he smiled watching the determination in her eyes.  She gripped him tighter and pulled harder against his upright arm which only resulted in her pulling herself upwards.  She could not match the strength in his arms. 

 

She could feel his abdominal muscles contracting every time she made a jarring movement upwards to grasp her book which only resulted in her falling and being pulled tighter against his body.  He could feel and see her breasts heaving against him as she took deep breaths.  She tried a new tactic of loosening his hand around her waist.  As she struggled to unclasp it she arched back backwards and pushed her lower body forward against him.  A button on her sweater popped.  When she felt she had enough leeway she took another bound upwards to reach the book. 

 

The downward tilt of his head and the upwards tilt of hers resulted in their lips meeting for a brief instant.  He dropped her book.  She stopped moving.  It landed with a thud on the ground.  Silence.  Neither of them made a move and the only sound that could be heard was Harry’s snoring.  Suddenly both of them came to a realization of the current circumstance.  It wasn’t the most neutral position that they were entangled in.  He dropped his arm from her and she backed away.

 

“Going to bed.  Good night,” she said running from the room and up the stairs.

 

“Okay.  Night,” he muttered watching her flee from the room.  His eyes pierced the space she had just filled.  What had just happened?  He smiled to himself as he thought of her reaction.  Their lips had barely brushed and she fled, full force, from the room.  It was hardly a big deal, he had been in far worse situations. 

 

Maybe that was it?  Maybe it seemed like nothing to him because he had experience and she didn’t.  Maybe she was too young? She was hardly what one would call a child, she was eighteen.  She was by all rights a woman.  She emanated maturity.  Her mind exuded it and, if he was being honest, so did her body.  She was so collected all the time and yet, she fled like a frightened school girl.

 

Hermione IS a school girl, his conscious mind tried to inform him.

 

He pondered this for a moment.  Yes, technically she still had a semester of school left to complete but she had never seemed like someone you would call a ‘silly school girl.’  She was too good for that.  She was too smart, too savvy.  She was definitely too well shaped to be considered a ‘school girl.’  He could contest to this from the way she had just been pressed against him.  Definitely not the figure of a ‘school girl.’

 

He smiled to himself.  She was obviously overwhelmed by nervousness.  He had seen her body immediately become the picture of unease when she had been asked to stay at Grimmauld place.  She was very easily unnerved and he attributed this to his former conclusion.

 

Yes, Hermione was eighteen but had she ever had a real boyfriend?  Had she ever been on a date?  She was definitely not the type just to ‘fool around’ so he guessed that she probably was lacking in some experiential contact with the opposite sex.

 

Not that he should really care.  What did he care if she had a lack of experience?  Their lips had barely brushed and, in Sirius’s book, that was absolutely nothing to worry about.  It didn’t really matter what she thought or how old she was or what she felt like next to him.  It didn’t matter because nothing was really between them.  There was nothing and so nothing had been disturbed.

 

It shouldn’t matter.

 

However, Sirius was never one to lie to himself.  This did matter and on a second recollection, it mattered to him more than it should have.  Hermione was now a woman and that was something he was going to have trouble ignoring.

 

He strode up the stairs to his room, all the while smiling to himself.  She had looked rather cute when trying to grab that book off him…

 

*****

 

The next morning Hermione avoided getting out of bed for as long as she could.  Her hip ached from last night where she hit the ground and she was not surprised to find a large purple bruise on her side.  She resided herself to the fact that what happened between her and Sirius the previous evening was merely the result of various dynamic and erratic factors.  Alcohol was a primary one of course.  It wasn’t as if anything regrettable had occurred.  Their lips accidentally brushed.  No big deal, right?  The awkward position they were entangled up in was just the result of some innocent fun.  Somewhere in her mind, however, her voice of reason was chanting,

 

Platonic fun? You keep telling yourself that

 

Well maybe their playfulness had insinuated a little more but, it had remained an implication and nothing more.  Nothing had actually happened.  They didn’t even really kiss, at all.  They were just playing around under the influence of whiskey. 

 

Sirius probably didn’t even cast the issue a thought this morning, so why was she so worried?  It was just a one off arbitrary event; it wasn’t as though there was sexual tension all night.  Definitely not.  A completely random accident.  It didn’t have a basis at all.  Hermione would admit that Sirius was rather good looking.  Although, he was several years her senior she would not deny that his ebony locks, high cheek bones and cold grey eyes made him a very attractive man.  However, just because she found him attractive did not mean that in the slightest that she had planned, wanted or enjoyed last night.  Because she didn’t.

 

Hermione took a deep breath to calm herself.  She promptly placed her legs over one side of her bed and rose.  She was determined not to make a big deal of last night.  She headed down to breakfast to find the boys munching on burnt toast.  As she opened the door they both smiled warmly at her and although she felt hot when Sirius, she was not going to show it.

 

“Hello,” she greeted.  “What is that you’re eating?” she exclaimed.

 

“Toast,” said Harry stupidly.

 

“We’ll thank you for that informative statement,” she rolled her eyes.  “Why is it so burnt?”

 

“We did it over a flame,” Sirius answered.

 

“Why would you do that? Why not just use the toaster?” she asked.

 

“What’s a toaster?” asked Sirius.  Harry looked at her with a mock smile as if to say ‘that’s why’.

 

“Oh right.  No electricity either,” she commented.

 

“What’s electrikity?” asked Sirius with a puzzled look.  Upon seeing Hermione and Harry’s faces he raised his eye brows and muttered ‘silly muggles’.

 

“By the way.  Thanks for leaving me on the floor last night.  Now I have a sore back,” Harry said whining.

 

“Oh come one Harry.  You’re a big boy.  I’m sure you can put yourself to bed,” said Hermione patronizingly.

 

“You could have at least woken me,” he pointed out.

 

“But you looked so peaceful.  Hermione can contest to that too,” Sirius said laughing slightly and nodding at Hermione.  She looked at him and smiled in agreement.   She sat down at the table and helped herself to a piece of toast which she transfigured to make less burnt.

 

“I should have though of that,” said Harry.

 

“We should get to work,” she said biting into her toast.

 

“What do you mean?” asked Harry.

 

“Our school work,” she said obviously to him.

 

“Oh yeah,” he replied dully.

 

After they were dressed and fully fed, the pair retreated into the den to complete the work that had been owled to them that morning. Hermione approached hers enthusiastically, while Harry merely approached his.  They flew through most of the tasks, apart from potions which was naturally excessively hard, as the course was written by Snape.  Harry’s success could be attributed to Hermione’s constant hints and help but nether the less they were getting through everything that had been set for them.

 

“Done,” said Hermione.

 

“What!” yelled Harry with utter amazement.  “I haven’t even finished reading the text book.”

 

“Oh well you haven’t go much to go then.  The questions are pretty easy, charms work is always simple,” he groaned at this.  “Think of it this way, after this you are done for the day.”

 

“I’ll just do it tomorrow,” he said moving to put his book down.

 

“No you don’t Harry Potter.  You will finish that now.  There’s almost none left,” he groaned louder this time as he reclaimed his book.  “Alright, I’ll go and make us some tea and when I come back you’ll be half done,” she said sprightly.

 

Hermione rose and headed into the kitchen.  She moved towards the cooker and searched for the kettle.  She turned abruptly to find Sirius sitting at the table, not having noticed him when she entered.

 

“Oh, Sirius you scared me,” she said putting her hand to her chest.  He chuckled and she continued to look for the kettle which she spotted on an opposite counter.

 

“I wanted to talk to you,” he said deeply.

 

“What about?” she asked, knowing full well where the conversation was going.

 

“Last night,” he said simply.  She did not reply nor did she look at him.  “Last night was…“

 

“Nothing,” she added to his sentence.  “It was nothing really,”

 

“Then why have you not been able to look me in the eye since?” he asked her seriously.

 

“Okay okay.  I did feel a little… umm I don’t really know the word for it.  Anyway it’s not like any of it was contrived.  We were playing around and that’s it,” she said trying to convince herself more than him.

 

“Alright.  I just wanted to make sure you were okay with it seeing as you’ve been tense all day,” he informed her in his collected tone.

 

“I have not been-“she flipped around to look at him and stopped mid sentence when she saw the look he was giving her.  “Okay maybe I have been a little … tense.  But I’m fine.  Really,” she assured.

 

“Promise?” he asked her smiling his devilish smile.  She smiled back.

 

“Yes, I promise,” she looked him in the eye.

 

“Okay good,” he said stretching in his chair.  The angle gave her a view of his toned stomach as his t-shirt rode up.  He smiled at her before rising to leave the room.  She turned back around, grinning into the opposite wall as she began to make tea.

 

*****

 

“We want to move Harry,” said Kingsley Shacklebolt.

 

Hermione and Harry had being staying with Sirius for almost a month.  They were still not informed of when they could return to Hogwarts.  Now the Order wanted to move Harry, away from her and his godfather.  The pair was listening just outside the den.  There was no need to listen against the door, Kingsley’s deep bellow and Sirius’s husky timbre were clearly audible.

 

“Why?” asked Sirius with genuine shock.

 

“I over heard Dawlish saying that he knew Harry was here,” explained Kingsley.

 

“That’s impossible.  The Fidelus charm and its secret died with Dumbledore.  No one else can be told of this location.  I thought that was our conclusion,” said Sirius sternly.

 

“I didn’t say they knew where ‘here’ was.  Dawlish said he knows that Harry is at our meeting spot on Grimmauld place.  They still don’t know it’s our head-quarters and they don’t know which number and it’s a long street.  So really they don’t have much information,” he pointed out.

 

“Well then why is it necessary to move Harry?” he asked sounding slightly distressed.

 

“Because this house is still used as the head-quarters to the Order,” Kingsley said.  “People are in and out all the time.  If they put up apparition detecting charms or one of us is seen outside the bounds of the Fidelus charm then we are in trouble,” he told Sirius who solemnly nodded.  “While Harry is here they will stake out the entire street and we can’t afford that in terms of his safety and the secret of the Order.  We can’t let them know this is our head-quarters or we’ll all be in much deeper trouble than we can imagine,” he finished.

 

“Where to?” Sirius asked.  “Where will we send him?” he said with defeat.

 

“Remus has volunteered.  We thought he was the next closest person to Harry besides sending him to Molly’s,” said Kingsley.

 

“How did they find out?” he asked.

 

“We don’t know.  We’ve checked all our members for the Imperius.  I’d stake my life on the information not having passed through a leak.  I trust all Order members with my own life.  Well, maybe except Mundungus, but he never was told that Harry was here for that purpose.  We think that they may have tapped someone’s home floo network, which is bad news because that means our wards are faulty,” he sighed deeply.

 

“I see,” Sirius said staring into the opposite wall.  There was really no other choice and although Sirius would miss Harry’s company, his safety and that of the Order was more important.

 

“We’ll have to set up new wards at every location.  It’s going to take months and we don’t have that much time.  From now on, if anyone wants to talk Order business they must never use floo,” Kingsley informed him.

 

“We do you want Harry and Hermione to leave?” asked Sirius.

 

“Oh, Hermione doesn’t have to leave,” he said.

 

“But I thought you said-“

 

“The Death Eaters have no idea she’s here.  After Harry leaves it will be the safest place for her.  They would never expect that we would move just one person and leave another behind,” said Kingsley.

 

“Oh, of course,” he muttered.

 

“Unless you want some time to yourself,” said Kingsley at Sirius’s expression.  “We could find somewhere else for her to stay.”

 

“No no.  It’s fine.  She is excellent company,” said Sirius hurriedly.  Kingsley raised an eyebrow at him.  Outside, Hermione flushed and Harry seemed inquisitive.

 

“Well alright,” he said rising, “I’ll be back to escort Harry tonight.”

 

“Tonight?” he exclaimed.

 

“Is there a problem?” Kingsley asked kindly.

 

“No.  I just didn’t think it would be so soon.  It’s okay though.”


”Well, I’ll be on my way.  I’ll be back at six,” he said approaching the door.  Harry and Hermione moved quickly and managed to scale half the stairs in the loft before the door to the den opened.  They turned around and acknowledged Kingsley with a fake surprise.

 

“Hello Hermione and Harry.  I’ll see you both later this evening,” and with that Kingsley stepped outside and onto the front door step.  They heard the crack of him disapparating as Sirius stalked out of the den.

 

“What’s Kingsley coming back tonight for?” asked Harry.  Sirius looked up at him with amusement in his face.  “What?” asked Harry again.







“Don’t act like you two weren’t listening to every word that was said in there,” he said shaking his head.

 

“How did you know?” asked Hermione sheepishly.

 

“It’s what I would have done,” he smiled at the pair of them and ushered them down the stairs into the kitchen.  They sat down at the central table.  It was already set for dinner.

 

If Hermione had known that her cooking on her first night at Grimmauld place had volunteered her for the job for the rest of her stay, she would have rethought her decision.  Neither begrudging her new role nor enjoying it immensely, Hermione had prepared meals almost every night for the males thanks to their complete inability with even a spatula.  Sirius was willing to learn, however.  Many a night he sat in the kitchen, or stood over her shoulder, as she stirred and mixed watching her progress.  She had already successfully taught him the secrets to potato bake.  Sirius felt that this was quite a feat and Hermione refrained from mentioning that it was a rather easy recipe.  This evening he had helped readily with the roast.

 

The brief awkwardness surrounding Hermione and Sirius during their first week had melted away in complete entirety.  Hermione concluded to the idea that even the best of friends found themselves in suggestive circumstances.  Merlin knows that she and Ron had been in their fair share previously.  She now found herself drawn to Sirius as opposed to avoiding him.  His light hearted jovial side made him fun to be around whilst his other persona intrigued her more so.  He was insightful and clever.  She had always heard tales of the Marauders’ brilliance at Hogwarts but she never assumed it to be academically.  Remus had been the true brain of the group but Sirius had not been surpassed at Transfiguration and only superseded by James in Defense Against the Arts.  A virtue which had been passed down to Harry, they both had noted on occasion.  His skill at Transfiguration allowed Sirius to be the first Marauder to become a full animagus, three months shy of his fifteenth birthday. 

 

Although he had never read during his Hogwarts years, having been too busy wrecking havoc on the old caretaker, Sirius’s love of literature had developed as an adult and he read whenever there had been an opportunity.  He informed her, however, that a fair percentage of these books had been Qudditch themed but books none the less.  These days, he told Hermione, he was not reading as he did prior to his stay in Azkaban but he was still no stranger to the odd text.  Surprisingly, he had even read Hogwarts, A History but when Hermione attempted to discuss its content, he professed his intense dislike for the book which made her frown playfully.

 

After dinner each night Harry and Hermione would sit and listen to Sirius’s stories like they had in the recent holidays.  Sometimes to Remus’s, as his visits were frequent.  Harry would always attentively soak up every detail, for want of his parent’s history.  He was disheartened to learn that his mother had absolutely despised for most of their school years.  He had always secretly hoped that what he saw in Snape’s memory had been a one off day.  He was comforted, however, when Remus explained that in his mind he always knew the pair would end up together.  Sirius agreed, apparently women never said what they meant.  Hermione huffily disagreed at this but she was over ruled by the males.

 

Sometimes, after Harry went to bed, Hermione and Sirius would linger by the fire to discuss history or politics.  She was happy to note he subscribed to a different set of ideas and philosophies as her which always made their conversations animated and interesting.  Sometimes even a little hostile which was always even more interesting.  It was endearing in a way to watch Sirius getting so worked up.   Politics and history were some of her favourite topics of conversation and she felt far less bookish when discussing them with someone such as Sirius.

 

*****

 

Sirius and Harry had just finished clearing the table when Kinsley arrived as promised.  Harry’s bags were near the door, packed and ready.  Harry would be side-along apparating with Kingsley after he failed his apparition test for the second time.  His next test was set in another month and the Order had promised him that he could leave his confines to try for his license again.  Harry was most displeased with his skill in terms of apparition.  Most magic came quite naturally to him especially when it came to travel.  His skill on a broom was undeniable and professor Flitwick had always commented on his summoning and banishing charms, yet apparition was something else.

 

Hermione hugged him tightly.  She would miss him.  She would miss him dearly.  She made him promise to write and he had agreed under duress.  He claimed that they would be back at school soon enough but Hermione felt different.  She hoped he would be right but from the previously estimated timeframe, they should have already been back at Hogwarts.  The timeframe had stretched dramatically and Hermione was beginning to worry about her studies.  She did every piece of homework that was owled to her but she felt as though she hindered somewhat.

 

Sirius and Harry hugged.  They attempted the affectionate pain inducing male back clapping but some how it died.  Sirius was upset that Harry had to leave.  The pair had limited time together as it is.  Hermione thought it wasn’t fair but then again safety was safety.  After he let go, Sirius attempted to reduce the sentimental tone of the current situation through some jocular chastising.

 

“Now Harry, don’t go running amuck.  Mind your manners and be polite to Mr and Mrs Lupin,” he joked.  Harry punched him in the arm and Sirius laughed.  Harry bent down to pick up his suitcase.  This was it.

 

“Bye,” he said finally.

 

Kingsley nodded politely to the pair of them before, opening the door for himself and Harry and closing it behind them.  The sound of the door closing echoed in the surrounding silence.

 

She and Sirius were now alone, together.

 

*****

 

“What’s that?” Sirius asked pointing to her exposed left hip bone.  Her t-shirt rode up slightly as she reached for tea cups in the high cupboards.  She blushed at the exposure of her skin and moved down to cover her stomach quickly.

 

“It’s just a bruise,” she informed him.  She placed the tea cups and tea pot on a tray for him to carry out to the sitting room.  She followed him as he walked out of the kitchen.

 

It was time for their usual evening chat by the fire.  They took a seat on the lounge, in front of the radiating warmth with their tea and books.  Well a book for Hermione, today Sirius had chosen a witch’s magazine, the kind that made her scoff with cynicism.

 

“From what?” he asked her.

 

“Well, from our wrestling match a few weeks ago.  Remember, I fell off this lounge?” she informed him, attempting to cover the slight blush that appeared on her face as she reminisced.

 

“Ouch! It’s still there?” he said.  He remembered the incident.  He didn’t think of it at the time but her fall had probably hurt.

 

“Well it was a lot bigger before.  It’s pretty small now and it’s fading slowly,” Hermione said as she poured him and herself some tea.

 

“Sorry about that,” he didn’t relish the thought that he had caused her pain.

 

“It’s okay.  I like it a little bit rough and tumble,” she spoke huskily, barely lifting her head as she added milk.

 

Sirius choked slightly.  He never thought Hermione would have been the type to make such a joke.  Maybe she didn’t understand the implications of her words?  From the way she was innocently smiling at him as she handed him his tea, he was sure she understood.  It wasn’t as if he hadn’t heard much worse but he had never heard such things from her mouth.

 

“I’ll bare that in mind,” he replied smiling coyly.

 

“For when? The next time you steal my book? Which tonight is Pragmatic Applications for the Charms You Thought Were Useless.  That’s more than I can say for your choice,” she held up her own book as she eyed the direction of Sirius’s copy of The Wicked Witch.

 

“At least my reading material doesn’t sound like the cure to insomnia,” he said haughtily.

 

“That can be argued,” she objected.  “Sirius, honestly, it’s a load of rubbish and I can’t understand why a grown man would want to read poorly worded articles aimed at the physically insecure.”

 

“Hey!  There’s some good stuff in here,” he insisted.  “It gives me a little insight into the inner workings of the female mind.”

 

“And conversing with a woman won’t produce similar effects?” she questioned.

 

“You women never say what you actually mean, so no,” he concluded.  She huffed at the assumption as he flipped through the pages.  “Have you ever actually opened one of these?”

 

“No, I haven’t,” she replied honestly.

 

“Well I’m sure I can find something you like about the magazine,” he said continuing to flip.

 

“I highly doubt it,” she muttered.

 

“Ahh here we are,” he said ignoring her previous statement.  He handed the magazine over to her.  She grasped the magazine awkwardly and a fold in page unraveled.  Hermione cast her eyes over the picture displayed on the extra long page and realized she was staring at, what was commonly referred to as, a centre-fold.  It depicted a tall, fit, blonde wizard clad in only a set of open robes and a pair of very tight black briefs.  And brief they were, they covered only the essentials and left nothing to the imagination.  All in all, it was a very aesthetically pleasing picture.  She found herself growing hot in the face just looking at it.

 

“Looks like someone’s a fan,” Sirius noted.  Hermione had not yet torn her eyes from the centre-fold.

 

“I am not,” she said shoving the magazine back to him playfully.  “Yes, that picture was…nice but that doesn’t mean I’m a fan of the magazine itself.  Who cares who The Weird Sisters are dating and I do not need to know 5 things that will make him notice you.”  Sirius merely laughed at her.  “You don’t need to know any of that either, so why do you read the magazine?  Fond of the pictures?”

 

He stopped laughing and sobered quickly.  “I am not fond of the pictures.  I told you already, it gives me insight.  Reading 5 things to make him notice you will give me hints as to body language I should see when someone fancies me.  I use the magazine for heterosexual purposes thank you,” he said defensively.

 

“Oh really.  So you’re telling me you just read the pitiful articles and don’t care for the sex tips in the back,” she said opening her book to chapter three.  He choked again.

 

“I never said I didn’t read those,” he muttered.  She lowered her book.

 

“Ah and the true intentions are revealed.  Honestly Sirius,” she laughed slightly.

 

“Honestly what?  You’ve never read them so you don’t understand how informing they can be,” he protested flipping to find a page.

 

“How do you know I’ve never read them?” she asked him.

 

“Ahh miss Granger, you told me before that you had never opened one of these magazines,” he informed her.

 

“Well yes. It was opened for me and I really must say that the advice in there was either too generic or plain weird,” she said firmly.

 

“I beg to differ,” he insisted.

 

“Once again, couldn’t you achieve a similar knowledge through talking?  If you really wanted to hear about someone’s sexual preferences, I think asking them would be a little more informative than a magazine,” she proclaimed.

 

“Well, as I said before women never say what they mean.  I also believe that if you confront said women with intrusive questions they tend to misrepresent the truth more so,” he pointed out.  He picked up the magazine and slapped the front cover.  “However, this advice here is sent in by real women.  They’re readers of the magazine and they send in their own tips and advice.  It’s a pretty comprehensive and informative document,” he finished.

 

She glared at him and then scoffed indignantly.  “Whatever you say Sirius.”

 

“Okay well here’s an example of beautiful women never saying what they mean.  Hermione, if someone asked you of your sexual preferences would you answer completely and honestly?” he asked her narrowing his eyes.

 

She was silent for a moment, her expression blank.  He caught her off guard.  It was by no means the question that unnerved her but if she had heard correctly, Sirius had just implied that she was a beautiful woman.  No, not a pretty girl but a beautiful woman.  She was tempted to comment at this but she had no idea what to say.  She opted to just answer his question straight.  “No, I guess not.”

 

“Exactly, but if you were asked to write into a magazine anonymously, would you?” he asked once more.

 

“Yes, I would,” she admitted.

 

“Thank you,” he said as his argument concluded.

 

She stared down at her book intently.  She was breathing deeply and trying desperately to concentrate on the page.  She had read the same paragraph several times now and could not seem to absorb the meaning of it.

 

Beautiful woman

 

His voice rang in her ears although she was trying to ignore it.  She tried thinking of other things but it was useless.  She looked over to him.  He was enjoying the magazine, reading with a furrowed brow.  She watched as he brushed hair from his eyes and she smiled.  He really was a very attractive man.  Grey eyes, dark hair, bulky arms and a set of very broad shoulders.

 

Quickly she turned back to her back to her book and returned to her breathing exercise.  She felt absolutely ridiculous.  She felt like a silly little girl crushing on a role model or teacher.  Only she wasn’t silly or little and he was not a teacher or role model.  Not for her anyway.

 

“Hermione, is something wrong?” he asked nervously.  The rise and fall of her chest as she took hurried and nervous breaths was very noticeable.  She forced herself to calm down.

 

“I was just thinking,” she said very softly.

 

“Of what?” he inquired.  She smiled at his concerned expression.

 

“Well, I was thinking of what you said before,” she paused and he did not comment.  “You used me as an example of a beautiful woman,” it was not a question.

 

“I did,” he replied calmly without a trace of joke in his face.

 

“Just checking,” she whispered before turning her attention back to her book.  She inwardly smiled.  She felt elated, completely elated by his words.  As much as she told herself she was being silly and trivial, she couldn’t help it.  His words had made her happy and tingly.  He thought she was beautiful.  She smiled into her book at the thought.

 

Sirius felt she should learn the art of subtly.  He watched her as she delicately returned to reading and then smiled into her book.  He smiled himself just watching her face alight with this new revelation.  She tucked her hair behind her ear and continued or pretended to read.  She really was very cute.

 

Her tiny hands clutched her book as her nose scrunched at words on the page.  All the while her mouth never ceased its enchanted smile.  He was drawn to her at that moment.  Her skin looked like silken ivory, her chestnut hair flooded her shoulders and her lips were plump and pink.  She leaned over for some more tea allowing her t-shirt rode up and again he was confronted with her bruise.  It was a yellow colour, ready to finally fade but it was a lot larger than he originally thought it to be.

 

“May I?” he asked piercing the resounding silence.  He pointed at her abdomen and she blushed again.  She looked at his face and merely nodded.

 

Tentatively, he lifted her top slightly to reveal the full extent of the bruise on her hip.  Well, not the full extent, some of it was hidden by her jeans but he didn’t think it would have been prudent to seek below them.  It was right over the bone and curved around to the side of her hip.  He frowned at it.  It looked like it really had hurt her a lot.  Carefully, he reached a finger out to touch the area softy.  He brushed the skin of her abdomen lightly and he felt her breath hitch in her chest.  He looked up to her face to see her eyes closed.

 

He traced the outline of the bruise from the side of her frame, up her stomach and down to the top of her jeans, where the rest of it was obscured.  Her breath was shallow and he smiled hearing her chest gasp at the lightness of his fingers.  Slowly he let the shirt fall back down, covering her once more.  He extracted his fingers and picked his magazine back up.

 

Hermione opened her eyes and tried to rectify her breathing.  She hadn’t intended to be so mesmerized by his touch.

 

“I thought it was a tattoo when I first saw it before,” he said to her, again he broke the thick silence.

 

“Oh, that’s why you were interested in the kitchen,” she said understanding.

 

“Yeah, I was curious because you never seemed like the type to condone a tattoo,” he spoke honestly.  She accepted the comment as an insult.

 

“In who’s opinion?”

 

“Well, mine obviously,” he pointed out.

 

“Well who it the type then?” she asked.

 

“I don’t know.  Someone less pragmatic than you,” he suggested with a smile.  She warmed slightly to this idea.

 

“I wouldn’t say that a tattoo is a bad idea.  It just should take a lot of thought.  You don’t want something completely meaningless on your body forever,” she said.

 

“I agree with you there.  Mine took a lot of thinking, even if it was obtained on a drunken whim,” he said chuckling to himself.  Hermione was not surprised by his confession, Sirius definitely seemed the type.  Not in a bad way, however.

 

“Can I see?” she asked smiling.  He looked her in the eyes and returned her smile.  Slowly he rolled the sleeve of his shirt back to his elbow.  He turned his arm over and revealed his forearm to her.  It was in such a neutral location, she didn’t understand how she hadn’t spotted it previously.

 

On the inside of his arm, next to and parallel to the crease of his elbow, were the bolded words ‘Carpe Diem.’  She brushed two fingers over his inked skin and he flexed in response.  She smiled.

 

“Seize the day,” she murmured.  “Really Sirius, I never thought of you as the philosophical type.”

 

He smiled coyly at her.  “There are many things about me you still don’t know then,” he spoke as he rolled the sleeve of his shirt back down.

 

“Well then, anymore insightful body art?” she provoked.

 

“Yes but you’ll get to see that another time,” he said nonchalantly.  She stared at him inquisitively for a moment and he smiled coyly.  “I promise, you will see it eventually.” His reassurance had her drop the subject.  She sensed there was some underlying meaning to his words but she knew he would not reveal it until she discovered it herself.  She turned back to her book.

 

“Hermione?” it was only seconds later that her eyes were torn back from the page.  She looked up to him.

 

“Yes Sirius?” she answered him.

 

“What are you doing tomorrow?” he asked her casually.

 

“Well my school work obviously,” she pointed out.  He snorted.

 

“You can’t do that everyday,” he suggested.

 

“Sirius, if I was at Hogwarts this is what I would being doing in class.  Unlike Harry I understand that this in not a holiday.  I am here for my own protection and I do not intend to jeopardize my NEWTs because of it,” she ranted.  He rolled his eyes at her insistence.  “Sirius this is serious.” He laughed at her unintentional pun and after a few moments his infectious laughter broke her resolve and she grinned.

 

“I really do have to do my work though,” she reiterated.  He stared at her and shot her his most intoxicating and charming smile.  She felt her insides melt and she sighed.  “Okay what did you have in mind?”

 

“Just a day out.  Shopping and lunch maybe.  You must be very tired of the same surrounds everyday,” he suggested.  She looked at him thoughtfully.  “Oh come on Hermione.  You can afford one day off.  You can make up for it tomorrow,” he insisted.

 

“No it’s not that.  It’s just that I thought I was supposed to stay inside for my own protection,” she told him.

 

“Don’t worry.  I’ll take care of that.  So what do you say?” he raised an eye brow at her.  She wanted to say no but he seemed genuinely excited about getting out of the house with her.  Although she knew it was a bad idea and that they were about the most conspicuous pair that could be seen together, this all seemed rather insignificant compared to being to spend the day out with him.

 

“Yes, alright then.”

Chapter 3: I Don't Mind You Keeping Me on Pins and Needles
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A/N:  This chapter is named for 'Heart-Shaped Glasses' by Marilyn Manson.

As a note, this chapter was originally written differently but to remain ToS compliant, content was cut and much of the remaining was changed.  I hope you still all like it.

Mia xx




If Hermione was going to be honest with herself, she felt a little ridiculous.

 

That morning she had paid special attention to her mascara, going as far as re-doing one eye completely.  She had changed outfits three times, striking all sorts of poses in her mirror.  She wanted to look her best.  She wanted to look pretty.  Although this seems like a perfectly normal desire, it was the reasons behind her wish that made her feel silly.  She knew that somewhere in her subconscious, it was for him.  Sirius.

 

After her arduous attempt at makeup, Hermione had settled on a pale blue dress that she felt showed off her waist.  She had examined this from various angles, feeling horribly narcissistic on recollection.  She had met him near the door, after a quick calming pep talk as she paced in her room.  Honestly, this was just Sirius and she wished that didn’t matter to her the way it did.

 

She grew hot in the face as she felt his eyes assess her.  It was a quick up and down glance but it was definitely enough to make her blush.  She tried not to perform the same eye movements over his figure, but it was inevitable.  He had chosen jeans and a casual shirt, while his shoulders were sheathed with a cloak.  He some how had accomplished a very appealing masculine outfit without it even seeming like he tried.  He probably hadn’t.

 

“Before we go,” he spoke.  “I would just like to do something.”  Sirius raised his wand slowly at Hermione who showed no sign of flinching.  He muttered a spell which she didn’t make out.  Sirius looked at her proudly and she found this odd as she didn’t feel any different.  He must have noticed her facial expression because he told her to go and look in the mirror.

 

When she caught sight of her reflection, she was slightly shocked.  Not because she felt negatively but because it was unexpected.  Her hair, which was usually a cascade of waist length chestnut curls and spirals, was now a dead straight, black, bob.  Naturally, Hermione preferred her original hair but this didn’t look as bad as she could have imagined it might have looked.  The tapered nature of the cut emphasized her jaw and cheekbones in an almost feline way.  She quite liked it.

 

“I thought changing you’re appearance would work as a safety precaution,” he explained.  She nodded in agreement.

 

They strolled at a gentle pace through the streets of London.  It was still a little chilly but no where near winter temperatures and the distinct lack of wind made the day a very pleasant one for an outing.  Eventually, they reached the Leaky Cauldron and Hermione felt suddenly more ridiculous.  As the door squeaked open, she and Sirius were greeted with the unnerving hush of silence in a previously noisy forum.  Everyone in the pub was staring at them.  Some of the patrons tried to hide this poorly but others openly gaped.  She blushed feeling silly, she hated attention.

 

However, Hermione knew it was not her that they were all entranced by; she knew from the way she felt their eyes pierce right through her to the figure behind.  They were all looking at Sirius.  She felt, suddenly, very sorry for him.  Although he had been formally cleared by the Wizengamot, clearly society held their reservations towards the notorious supposed mass murderer.  She could here them all whispering.

 

Sirius did a very good job pretending as though he was temporarily unable to see, hear or care about the patrons of the Leaky Cauldron.  Hermione would have applauded him on this, if it would not wound his ego as she knew it would.  Somewhere behind his eyes, however, she could see that he was not pleased about the effect he had on the public.  It really wasn’t fair; not at all.  Sirius had lost his best friend, been locked up for twelve years, on the run for another two and finally had almost died.  His simple mistake of trusting the wrong man had damaged his life irreparably.  He had suffered too much already, now he was forced to endure this.  Public rejection and notoriety.

 

Hermione would not have it.  She refused to stand in the corner watching an ignorant society judge an innocent man.  She righteously grasped all the courage she owned as a Gryffindor and walked further into the pub.  She haughtily brushed off all the opposing stares she received as she grabbed Sirius’s hand, dragging him with her.

 

“Come on Sirius, let’s go,” she spoke, cutting the resounding silence.  He smiled and walked in line with her as she led the pair of them out the back entrance towards Diagon Alley.  Once outside, he laughed openly.

 

“Honestly Hermione, I think I underestimated you,” he said.

 

“Sorry,” she said quietly letting go of his hand and beginning to look for the magic brick in the wall.

 

“Don’t be sorry.  I just meant that I thought you would definitely shy away from that sort of public reception, rather than walk straight through it.  To be honest, for a moment I thought you were going to back straight out of the Leaky Cauldron altogether,” he informed her with a slight frown.

 

“What kind of a Gryffindor would I be if I fled in the face of some ignorant pub patrons?” she questioned him.

 

“That’s a good point,” he agreed.

 

“I was just so angry at the way they looked at you.  You did nothing wrong and even after you’ve been cleared you still can’t go into a pub without stares.  It’s not fair,” she fretted.  “Honestly, I feel like going back in there and hexing everyone inside,” she said heatedly.

 

“Calm down darling,” he said placing one hand on each of her shoulders.  “I’m used to it by now.”

 

She grunted angrily.  “But Sirius, you shouldn’t have to be used to it!  It should never happen in the first place,” she said with a defeat in her tone.  He shushed her and pulled her into a warm embrace.

 

“It’s okay.  I don’t care about any of those people.  They don’t mean anything to me and all the people who do mean something have never treated me like a fugitive.  So don’t be upset for me,” he explained.  “And honestly, I hardly noticed anyone in the Leaky Cauldron after your little arbitrary act of dominance.”

 

She broke away from him and smiled into the ground.  “Happy to have distracted,” she said returning to look for the brick.

 

“It was most endearing,” he spoke, just as she tapped the brick, from close behind her.  He was so close in fact that she jumped slightly.  She had definitely not expected him to be so near.  She twirled around to face him.

 

Their eyes locked and the moment stretched beyond its traditional capacity.  The archway in the brick wall appeared, providing access to the busy wizard district but the two did not relinquish their gaze.  It wasn’t until a loud thunder bolt cracked through the sky that they turned from each other.  Hermione felt her face heat up and Sirius smiled.

 

“Come on, let’s go,” he said grasping her hand and pulling her into the busy alley.

 

After some much needed fresh air, the pair eventually made their way to a pub down the end of Diagon Alley for some butterbeer.  Hermione had of course dragged Sirius into every book shop in proximity and a few robes shops she might add.  He didn’t actually seem to mind this as much as he should of.  This was particularly evident when Hermione opted to try on a rather low cut set of bottle green robes.  In turn, Sirius had dragged her into several quidditch stores but they were less frequent than her book shops.  They both had enjoyed venturing into the Weasley twins’ joke shop.  Fred and George had bid them a warm hello and had sworn not to inform the Weasley matriarch of their unscheduled outing.  For if they did, Sirius and Hermione would both be sorely punished.  They finished the day with purchasing excessive amounts of sweets, which they would enjoy for the next week.

 

With their arms loaded with their numerous purchases, the pair stalked down the lane further towards the popular pub.  Sirius noticed fine water droplets catching in Hermione’s hair.  They looked almost like delicate crystals against her straight black lock.  It was this beautiful sight that alerted him that it was raining slightly.  They approached the end of the lane and Sirius noticed a crowd by the entrance of the pub.  It had just started to sprinkle and the queue to enter was already far too lengthy in his opinion.  Hermione eyed this with distaste.

 

“I’m sure there’s a back entrance.  We can channel our inner Marauder and sneak in,” she chirped.  Hermione left his side and darted into a nearby small alley.  He smiled and waited for her to come back out.  The queue would subside eventually.  A loud booming thunder was the signal for the light sprinkling to turn into a rhythmic splatter of heavy drops.  Maybe it was good that Hermione was looking for a back entrance, Sirius mused.

 

He let his eyes fall back to the line of people.  Witches and wizards alike were covering their heads with copies of the Daily Prophet, shopping bags, their hands and anything else that might be shield from the rain.  He felt the rain drip down the sides of his face.  He turned to the alley.  Hermione still wasn’t back.  He frowned.  Sirius called her name and then again loudly.  She probably couldn’t hear him through the noise of the shoppers and the storm.

 

He sighed dejectedly and left his place in the queue to go and find out what she was doing.  He reached the mouth of the small alley and was shocked by the sight that greeted him.  A death eater, unmistakable in black robes and a mask, held her around the back with a wand to the throat.  Two others stood on either side of her, each yelling questions in turn.

 

Sirius drew his wand and strode quietly into the alley.  He hoped to catch them unawares, the sound of his feet touching the stone was masked by the now bucketing rain.  Unfortunately, Hermione saw him and the direction of her gaze gave him away.  The two spare death eaters strode fiercely towards him.  Sirius shot various spells at them but he was out numbered and they easily dodged and deflected everything he produced.

 

He would have turned to run but he could not leave Hermione.  One death eater hit him across the face, while the other plucked his wand from his hand.  Each captured one of his struggling arms as he urged forward to free the girl infront of him.  She held her ground vigilantly, as the death eater’s wand dug slightly further into her neck.  Sirius refused to stop struggling.

 

“Where is Harry Potter?  I’m losing patience mudblood,” the death eater beckoned.

 

“I’ve already told you, I don’t know,” she spat forcefully.

 

“We have no veritaserum here but there are certainly other ways of loosening your tongue.  Familiar with the cruciatus curse?” the death eater spoke almost jovially.

 

“It won’t do you any good.  I don’t know where he is,” Hermione cried almost convincingly.  The death eater yanked her head back by her hair, to expose more neck and she screamed in pain.

 

“Don’t toy with me!” he growled.

 

“Let her go!” Sirius cried.  He copped a knee to the stomach for his remark and fell loosely downwards.  He would have fallen to the ground had he not been supported by the death eaters on either side.

 

Hermione screamed through the rain at the sight of a wounded Sirius.  The death eater holding her from behind threw her back against the opposing wall and slapped her hard across the face.

 

“Stay quiet mudblood or I’ll be forced to shut you up manually,” he told her maliciously.  His hands around her arms held her still with a bruising force.  She winced.  The heavy rain had drenched her blue dress.  She felt slightly ill as the death eater noticed its transparency with keen eyes.

 

“You may be a mudblood, but you are a pretty little mudblood aren’t you,” he said ripping her cardigan and slipping a strap of her dress down her shoulder.  Sirius, witnessing this, struggled harder against the grip of the men either side of him.

 

Hermione turned her head away from the brutal man as he shoved his body forcefully against hers.  He reached for the hem of the dress and began to rip it upwards.  She shuddered and flinched.  He pressed his mouth to her neck administering a hard bite to her flesh.  She yelled and kicked at his legs.

 

“Get the fuck off me!” she cried forcefully ramming the heel of her shoe into any available part of the man assaulting her.  He laughed hoarsely and covered her mouth with his hand.

 

She quickly bit down on the available flesh and he yelped in pain.  She took this opportunity to thrust her high heel into the bridge of his right foot.  He groaned and doubled over slightly.  Hermione pushed him backwards and forcefully brought her knee into his groin.  He fell to the ground and hunched over.

 

Witnessing the scene, one of the death eaters holding Sirius had moved to help his comrade.  Sirius had taken his newly freed hand and connected it with the remaining death eater’s face.  He heard a satisfying crunch and then applied the same knee to the groin tactic as Hermione.  As the man lay cowering on the wet ground, Sirius searched through his pockets for his wand.  He found it and immediately turned his wand on the death eater advancing on Hermione.

 

He hit him with a petrificus totalus.  The death eater fell forwards on the slippery stone below.  Sirius ran to Hermione, who was being attacked at the ankle by the first death eater.  He kicked the man in the stomach and grabbed Hermione by the waist.  He ran forwards to the mouth of the small alley and then clutched her tightly as he disapparated.

 

 

*****

 

 

The pair arrived on wobbly legs on the door step of number twelve Grimmauld Place.  Sirius was still firmly clutching Hermione as he opened the door hurriedly.  He backed her inside, dripping water all over the floor.  He didn’t care in the slightest.  He shut the door quickly and locked it.  Once he had cast several locking charms and added and extra ward, he relaxed and leant against the door frame breathing hard.

 

Hermione sat on the floor clutching her arms around herself.  Her ripped cardigan was plastered to her arms and he ripped dress hung limply off her frame and dripped water on the floor.  Sirius peeled off his wet cloak and pulled it around her exposed body.  She flinched ever so slightly at the contact.  She hid it well but he was too perceptive not to notice.

 

“Are you okay Hermione?” he realized this was a useless and redundant question as he asked it but he didn’t know what else to say.

 

“No permanent damage done,” she insisted, although she kept her head down and her arms wrapped around herself.  He could see that she was still very shaken.  He wrapped his arms around her and rubbed her back soothingly.

 

“How could I have let this happen?” she whispered and straightening herself in an attempt to stand.

 

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” he comforted.

 

“But I did!” she yelled throwing up her hands.  Sirius’s cloak fell to the floor and pooled at her feet.  “I put everyone in danger.  If they had brought veritaserum with them, those death eaters could have found out about head quarters.  They could have found out where Harry is!” she exclaimed.

 

“Calm down,” he soothed her.

 

“Calm down?  Sirius how can you just stand there like nothing happened?  This is your bloody fault too,” she pointed out angrily.

 

“My fault?” he said reflecting some of her temper.

 

“Yes! Today was your stupid suggestion!” she yelled at him.

 

“You didn’t have to say yes,” he reasoned.

 

“I know.  I’m not trying to skirt the blame, unlike you!” she accused.

 

“I bloody well am not! I think you should just calm down,” he yelled at her.

 

“I’d like to see you calm the fuck down if you were very nearly raped!” she cried walking from the loft and into the sitting room.  He followed her with angry stomps.  “I can’t believe this!”

 

“Well bloody well believe it Hermione.  You agreed to come out today.  Deal with it,” he sneered childishly.  She drew herself up to her full height and approached him with her flaring temper.

 

“But I wouldn’t have come out today if hadn’t pressured me into it!  I wouldn’t have had those filthy death eater’s hands on me either if you had come to find me a little bit sooner!” she accused.  Sirius growled fiercely and shoved her back against the nearest wall.  Although he immediately regretted his decision, he refused to stand down.  He approached her slowly.

 

“Do not accuse or speak to me like that Hermione! I am an adult!” he yelled.

 

She used his close proximity to slap him hard across the face.  “Then bloody well act like one!” she spat.  Her words should have shocked him more so than they had.  He was used to feeling like one of the children.  Molly certainly treated him this way.  He never thought that it was because a fault of his own that this image was forged.  Maybe that’s what Hermione was trying to say, however bluntly.

 

Hermione was breathing heavily, the shock from being thrown against the wall still evident in her face.  Her cardigan fell around her elbows, while her dress hung off one shoulder exposing a black bra and ripped to the waist baring a milky leg.  She regretted speaking so angrily to Sirius but she was scared and shaken.  She didn’t want to cry and the only other release for her emotions was anger.  So she let her temper soar.  However, the hurt expression on his face after her last words struck her harder than her slap had hit him.  She felt some of her anger relent and tears began to prick the backs of her eyes.

 

However inappropriate his thoughts may have been, with her flushed cheeks, ruffled clothes and soaked body, Sirius had never been more attracted to her.  He watched some of the anger release during their silence and he gently reached an arm out to chastely stroke her shoulder.  She brushed him off, trying to reinstate her temper.  He persisted.  He moved both hands to each of her shoulders and she forcefully moved from his touch.

 

“Get off me Sirius!” she yelled at him, some of her tears leaking out of her eyes.  With an eventual firm grasp on her shoulders, however much she struggled against it, he pulled her firmly and quickly against his body.

 

She weakly kicked at his legs to make him let her go.  She wanted to keep her anger so she didn’t have to cry.  She continued to squirm but he gently shushed her.  She couldn’t take it.  Hermione pushed back from him slightly, enough to move her head back and tilt her face upwards.  He supported the back of her neck as she looked up into his flaming but understanding eyes.

 

Wanton lust over came him and Sirius slowly tilted his head down to hers.  Once noting the invitation, she quickly closed the gap between their mouths with a bruising force.  She grasped onto the sides of his arms as he kissed her with a fiery passion.  She was pressed back up against the wall behind her as Sirius explored her mouth.  She arched a leg around his back, pulling him further into their feverish and rapid kissing.  He clutched her face between his hands as he savoured her mouth and sucked on her lips.

 

They broke for air and he pressed his forehead against hers.  She couldn’t be strong any longer.  Hermione broke down into sobs, sinking slowly downwards.  Sirius held her up as she limply collapsed in his arms, muttering words of apology.  Tears ran freely down her face as she cried out all her shock and frustration.

 

He lifted her frame into his arms as he carried her to warm by the fire with a strong alcoholic drink.

 

*****

 

She awoke with a start.

 

Hermione was breathing heavily.  She placed a hand to her chest to calm her heated gasps.  Once she felt composed, she heard it.  The noise that had woken her.

 

It was a pained moaning, soft screaming.  It wasn’t in the slightest suggestive, quite the opposite actually, she felt frightened by it.  She sat up in her four poster bed, moving the bed hangings aside and trying to adjust her eyes to absorb the darkness.  It was louder now.  It was a sinister noise that almost had goose-bumps on her back.

 

The only other person in the house was Sirius and if he was in trouble, she had to investigate.  She sprang from her bed and tip-toed to her door.  She opened it, managing to quieten its tell-tale creak as she closed it.  Her bare feet padded along the floor boards until they met the end of the hall and the door to Sirius’s room.

 

She gave the door a slight push and was glad it wasn’t locked as she forgot her wand.  The sounds were louder now.  She could see him grasping the sheets of his of his bed tightly and his face scrunched up under the moonlight that poured in through the window.  He was having a bad dream.

 

He looked so helpless.  It was almost unnerving that a grown man as powerful as Sirius seemed could be reduced to such a state.  It was most unusual, especially compared with what Hermione was used to seeing from him.  He was strong and rigid.  He was in control and always took the lead.  Exemplary of his general manner was the incident last week.

 

He had pulled her from the death eaters and taken them back to Grimmauld Place.  He had accepted her anger and managed to diffuse it.  Even after she was reduced into a quivering pile of sobbing, he took her to the fire and calmed her until she fell asleep.  He had then carried her to bed.  He was always so tough and commanding.

 

It was evident even more so during the next few days.  He had forced a discussion about what had happened in Diagon Alley and afterwards, particularly concerning their kiss.  He had informed her that he refused to take it back and circumstances were not allowed to get awkward.  She giggled at his commanding demeanor and internally smiled when she discovered he did not regret their intimacy.  It made her internal organs swell and feel as though they were about to burst.  It made her very happy indeed.

 

Sirius, so calm, so charming, so very much in control, was currently tossing and turning.  He was straining against the imaginary forces that threatened his tough exterior.  It was almost an overwhelming contrast.  It was only a dream, however, that was haunting him.  Dreams were insignificant in the scheme of things.

 

She sighed.  She had expected worse.  She had no idea what she had expected to see but Hermione felt comforted by the fact it was something she could deal with.  She strode over to his bed and sat on the side.  She brushed a sweaty lock of hair from his forehead before quietly muttering his name.  He didn’t stir.

 

“Sirius,” she said louder this time.  He gripped the sheets harder.  “Sirius!” she cried out very near his face.  She crawled over him and shook his shoulders.  “Sirius Black, wake up!”

 

He sat up quickly and violently, throwing her backwards onto the bed.  His eyes were fierce but softened upon seeing her.  He fell back against his pillows and she sat up to examine him.

 

“You were having a bad dream,” she said to him.

 

“I know,” he sighed and closed his eyes.

 

“I could hear it from my room,” she informed him.

 

“Sorry Hermione.  Thank you for waking me,” he replied breathing heavily.

 

“Do you want to talk about it?” she suggested.  He shook his head firmly.  She knew he had a great share of horrors in his past.  She didn’t know they still plagued him but she understood that he didn’t want to speak about it.

 

She moved closer so that she leant over him.  She brushed more hair from his face as she watched his breathing return to normal.  He looked almost calm by the time he opened his eyes and was ready to look at her.

 

His eyes widened slightly as he caught sight of her.  Normally this would have been the chastest situation but the circumstances were different.  It was the middle of the night and the moon was high over head.  Moonlight streamed in through his window, casting an illuminating glow on all the figures of his room, especially Hermione.

 

The light revealed her to Sirius.  She wore a loose, silken and black night-dress.  It was embellished with lace, the straps were brief and the neck-line was low.  She had left her dressing gown in her room in her haste to reach his room.  As a result, he had no trouble tracing the curves of her breasts through the sheer fabric.  They were taut against the silk connoting the cold or her nervousness.  Apparently she didn’t notice.  She merely concentrated on calming him.

 

He rose to a sitting position once more and his sheets pooled at his waist.  His torso was completely bare.  Hermione felt her breath hitch in her chest as her eyes explored the illuminated image of Sirius’s chiseled pectoral and abdominal muscles.  Her sight trailed downwards and she secretly wondered if he wore anything below the waist or if he liked to sleep in the buff.  Her question was answered as he leaned over to encircle her in a hug.  She caught sight of black cotton boxers.

 

His arms wrapped protectively around her.  He told himself it was to shield her from the cold but secretly he needed the contact.  She knew better his feelings than he did.  Hermione understood that he needed contact and comfort at the present.  It was not pleasant to be confronted with demons from the past and her feminine intuition told her he needed the warmth of her body to calm his senses.

 

Immediately, his body relaxed in her arms.  She held him tightly around and rubbed his back in a soothing motion.  He buried his face into her hair and breathed in its scent.  Suddenly, she moved to crawl into his lap but without breaking their embrace.  She straddled him as he rested his head on her shoulder.  Hermione pressed her cheek to the top of his head, feeling the regularity of his breathing against her chest.

 

He broke the hug and rubbed his palms up and down her upper arms, in an attempt to warm her.  She moved back from him slightly and took in his face.

 

“Do you feel better?” she asked seriously.  He nodded at her.

 

“Thank you,” he spoke.  She smiled back at him.

 

“Anytime,” she replied. 

 

Their proximity suddenly caught him like a bullet to the chest.  She sat, straddling his lap, with her scantily clad breasts projected very close to his face.  If he shifted slightly her hips would directly cradle his.  He could hear her steady breathing and wondered what her steady moans and pants would sound like.

 

Lust maintained the better of his will for a moment and he lightly placed a hand on the beginning of her exposed thigh, just near her knee.  She didn’t speak or move.  Slowly he brushed his hand up her leg until it met the fabric of her night-dress at the mid point.  He paused briefly but then continued the light path of his hand under the dress.  He heard her breath catch.  He moved his hand to the top of her thigh before moving his fingers softly down the side.  He traced little patterns on the delicate skin of her inner legs and he felt her quiver above him.

 

A strap of her gown fell down her shoulder and his free hand moved push it down further.  He splayed his fingers over the soft skin of her shoulder.  Slowly he moved his mouth over to place light kisses over the path of the strap.  His hot breath hit her skin and he felt her shudder.  His mouth trailed butterfly kisses up her arm, her shoulder and across her collar bone.  He brushed his mouth up her neck and slowly to her jaw.  Gently, he delicately connected with her mouth.  He touched his lips softly to hers and pulled back.  He moved in again, this time he slightly parted his lips over hers.  He kissed her again and this time she opened her mouth under his.

 

Her lips caught his in a tender rhythm.  Slowly and sensually they molded together, exploring and tasting.  Her lips felt like silk against his and the rough stubble of his upper lips softly grazed hers.  Their kissing was shallow, light and soft while his hand continued its gentle assault on her thigh.  She was warm and soft and the most comforting element in his realm.

 

Hermione had never experienced this before.  She of course had been kissed but never quite like this.  Although the kiss was slow and not in the least bit demanding, she had never felt such a heat.  Her whole body felt hot and she felt a sensual tingling building in her body.  She was aware of every point of their contact and it made her hotter.  She had kissed far more feverishly in the past and yet she had never received this response from her body.  Purely from his hand and their tender, slow kiss she felt unbelievably warm.

 

She broke from him and pressed her forehead to his.  “Sirius,” she whispered.  Her body was reacting so harshly to the simplest touches that she didn’t think she could continue.  She didn’t want to stop but she was afraid to carry on.  If she did, she would go too far.  It was all or nothing in this circumstance.

 

He hadn’t planned on moving further.  He knew he might have if they had continued.  He wouldn’t have known where to stop so maybe it was better that she had broken away now.  This wasn’t an ideal circumstance.  He was craving contact and it may not be specifically hers, this was why it was good for her to stop.  It wasn’t right for him to claim her in this way if it was only contact that he desired.  He knew that he did desire her but at the present he wasn’t clear if he desired her warmth or just the warmth of a woman.  She deserved a clear determination.

 

“Sirius, I’m sorry it’s just that-“ her nervous statement was cut off by him.

 

“It’s okay Hermione,” he insisted, removing his hand slowly from her leg.  Her retreat was induced by nervousness.  She didn’t know what to do with him.  He was older and more experienced.  She didn’t know how to be with him.

 

She inhaled deeply from her position and relaxed for a moment.  She slowly pulled away and off him.  She decided to head back to her room; it was a safer environment for her thoughts.  He watched her slide away and leave the bed in pursuit of the door.  Her sudden absence from his body was alarming and he was slightly unnerved by it.  Before she could envelop the door handle with her hand, he called out to her.

 

“Hermione?”

 

“Yes, Sirius,” she answered shakily.

 

“Would you stay here tonight?  Not for anything but just to sleep,” he spoke with an underlying fragility in his voice.  Normally she would have rejected the offer immediately but this was Sirius and his intentions were not underhanded.  He seemed slightly embarrassed to admit bluntly what he needed but she understood well enough.  He needed the contact.  He needed the presence of another being to comfort him and protect him from his dreams.  Maybe he needed her steady breathing to block out the thoughts of his past?  Horrors had just emerged within a dream and it must be a daunting prospect to face them without company.  She understood completely.

 

She wasn’t worried of ulterior motives, although the context typified that she should be.  He was a grown man, he was crying out to her for help and she couldn’t ignore his plea.  She was safe with him and she knew that.  She was only worried for his state of mind, which she would sooth with her presence.  As long as they kept their positions chaste she could be guaranteed a normal night’s sleep.

 

Without breathing a word, she strode back over to the bed and liberally pulled back the covers.  She entered slowly and heard him sigh audibly at the return of her presence.  His arms wrapped around her, drawing the warmth of her body back to him.  They spooned casually in the large bed feeling each other’s chest expand and contract.

 

Although their kiss had been unexpected, it felt natural to both parties.  It hadn’t worried them.  At the present, Hermione would usually have fretted immensely over the wrongness or the repercussions of their actions.  She would have worried over their circumstance or contextual situation but she couldn’t condone the thoughts.  He would have worried too, about what others would think or her impression of him but his head was calm too.  It was natural and they were natural.  It was indescribable in a way, as though this had been inevitable in the beginning and there was no escape.

 

Neither of them worried beyond the present to the future because they didn’t care.  They both ignored the implications of their actions because they couldn’t focus on that aspect.  They only focused on the feeling of rightness and correctness shooting out of their bodies.  They weren’t school girl and god-father anymore, they were man and woman and they fit like two pieces of a jig-saw.

 

*****

 

Hermione awoke the next morning to find that it was nearly the afternoon and she was still in Sirius’s bed.  The indent next to her was cold.  He had been gone for a while.  She yawned and stretched.  How could she have slept for so long?  She was slightly amazed by it.  She contemplated going down to get something to eat but she opted for a shower first instead. 

 

Hermione pushed down the bed covers and straightened her night gown before heading out of his room.  She stepped lightly down the hallway until she reached the bathroom.  She looked at herself in the mirror.  Her hair was a little messy but that was to be expected.  However, she had almost no trace of under eye-circles.  She must have needed that long sleep and at least she looked a little better for it.

 

She slipped her night gown off her shoulders and it pooled at her feet.  She adjusted the water in the shower to the correct temperature before stepping under the flow.  The hot water had an instantaneous calming effect.  It worked the knots out of her muscles and she began to relax under the stream of perfectly heated water.

 

She thought vaguely about last night.  She smiled at the images that came rushing into her head.  She moaned when she imagined what could have been.  Why had she stopped?  Why had they both stopped?

 

She shook her head when she traced her inhibitions down to inexperience.  What would she do when presented with the opportunity to be with him?  Surely he wouldn’t expect her to be as skilled as he was.  He had had years and years and years of experience to account for.  Hermione had experienced next to nothing.  He couldn’t really have expectations.  This assumption managed to placate her mind and make her more content.

 

Sirius, on the other hand, that was another question.  She had to admit that every intimacy between them, whether it be stealing books or cuddling in bed, had been initiated by him.  He made his actions very clear; he wanted her.  Maybe she had interpreted it wrong.  Maybe he wanted her only as a friend?  Her mind retracted those thoughts when she remembered that both their kisses had been due to him.  Why had he stopped then?

 

Surely it was not because he was afraid she didn’t want to continue.  She hoped that had not been then reason.  The idea that he was self conscious was laughable, so it wasn’t that.  It was something else.  Something she would have to uncover.  Or she could try to make it better known that she too wanted him.  If she made her feelings towards him very clear then maybe all inhibitions would dissipate.

 

She would like that.

 

Sirius had been sitting by the kitchen window with his cigarettes.  He had eaten breakfast and had waited at the table for Hermione to join him.  However, she slept long past him and he had no intention of waking her when it seemed that she needed the sleep.  He had then retreated to the window with cigarette after cigarette.  Remus told him it was a filthy habit but old habits die hard.  Hermione didn’t like it either, so he decided to take another shower before she woke.

 

He climbed the stairs and approached the bathroom.  The door was ajar and he could hear running water inside but for some reason the sound didn’t register.  He walked casually inside and suddenly froze just inside the doorframe.  Hermione was in the shower and he didn’t know why he hadn’t picked up on it.

 

His mind told him to slowly back out and close the door but he was temporarily stunned.  He hadn’t realized just how filled out she was until now.  Her tiny waist rounded out to a set of full womanly hips.  Her legs were fleshy but shapely and slender.  Water cascaded down her body, through her long hair and dripping down her neck, shoulders and chest.  She ran her hands through her hair so it fell in a long stream down her back. She turned slightly as the water continued to caress her skin.

 

It was one of the most sensual sights he had ever witnessed.  Thank goodness she had not yet opened her eyes to ruin the moment and catch him as a voyeur.

 

She was abosolutely stunning.  It was intoxicating to watch and listen as she sighed under the hot water.  She rubbed her chest and massaged her shoulders as her face contorted into an expression of contented pleasure.  Each drop of water that fell down her chest and her backside seemed to taunt him with an excruciating slowness.  She tipped her head back so the water fell more directly to her chest.

 

Finally his body reconnected with his mind, and he managed to back out of the bathroom and close the door.  He let out a breath he didn’t realize he had been holding.  He felt a little seedy for witnessing what he had just witnessed and even worse for liking it.  Sirius did not consider himself a voyeur.  It had been an accident, however, and what man on the planet would not enjoy the sight of a wet and naked Hermione.

 

He shook his head, a manifestation of regained control and began to march back to his room.  He moved to make the bed.  Of course, it was a sloppy male job which really just involved pulling the covers back up to the pillows.  Done.  He tried to shake his head from thoughts of her sensual body but he found it was impossible.

 

Surely she had been moving and sighing just to tease him.  She couldn’t possibly act like that normally.  The thought that maybe she hadn’t been putting on a show was a pleasing one.  All this time that she had been staying with him, she had been moving and moaning like that.  Every morning.  He should have accidently walked in a few times more.

 

He shook his head more violently this time and headed back downstairs.  Hermione didn’t need old men lusting after her.  Of course she didn’t need it.  Maybe she wanted it though?  But even if she did, he should have more sense, shouldn’t he?  But what was sense these days anyway?  He shouldn’t be thinking about her.  He shouldn’t really.  She shouldn’t have thought about him but he knew she did.  He could see it in her face.  It was completely illogical but in this case it seemed that the illogical made the most sense of all.

 

He heard the shower stop.  She was probably getting out now.  Rubbing a towel down her legs and wrapping it across her chest.  His thoughts were again automatically drawn to her.  She was a magnet.  He gritted his teeth angrily.  Usually he had more self control than this.  He didn’t like being out of control.

 

His expression relaxed when he thought of last night.  He had stopped.  He had stopped because he wasn’t sure at that time if he really wanted her or just another warm body.  Now he was positive.  He wanted her and he wanted her in every way imaginable.

 

She had seemed tense under the shower.  Almost as tense as he seemed now.  Maybe she wanted to be calmed down, to unwind, a little release?  The thought didn’t seem so unwise.  He thought again of her bouncing breasts and decided that he should really do her a favour and try to release her tension.  His mind was made up and he had a semi-logical excuse.  With long strides, Sirius began to re-ascend the stairs.

 

A faint knock on the door had her rise from drying her hair.  She slipped on a bath robe before answering her door.  She opened it only slightly and caught sight of grey eyes.  Hermione let the door fall open to reveal Sirius.  He stood tall and strong with his gaze piercing hers.  He took one step inside her room and allowed the door to fall closed behind him.  She took an appropriate step back and he smiled slightly.  He took another step, so she took another.  His mouth curved at the edges every time she moved back from him.  She ran out of room, however, and now found herself backed against a wall.

 

Sirius stared down into her eyes with such an intensity it made her shiver.  He never broke eye contact.  Her breathing quickened.  He lifted one hand slightly to caress her upper arm.  She wanted to look over but his gaze had her eyes locked on his and she could not look away from that fiery grey heat.  She felt warmth rising in her chest and she longed for him to say something.  He didn’t. 

 

He gently and slowly pushed the loose neckline of her robe over her right shoulder as if allowing her time to protest.  She didn’t.  It fell to her elbow.  He, slightly faster this time, pushed the other side over her left shoulder leaving her chest completely exposed.  He finally broke the eye contact to stare down at her.  She could feel his eyes on her body and accordingly grew hotter.  He slid two fingers up and down her cheek as if to calm her somewhat.  She looked back into his eyes and he smiled devilishly at her.  He traced his fingers from her cheek down her neck and across her collarbone.  Further down until his hand met the base of her left breast.  He then proceeded to move his finger back up to the top of her breast and back down again.  She quivered in response and sighed slightly. 

 

He stopped to move his hands down to the tie of her robe which he undid with an abrupt tug.  It fell to the ground and pooled around her feet.  She now stood completely nude infront of a devilish and debonair Sirius Black.  He pressed himself up against her and kissed her full on lips.  She opened her mouth agreeably under his as his tongue begged for entrance.  Her knees buckled from his abrupt certainty but she was not able to fall as she was held so tightly against the wall by his body.  She could feel his eagerness against her abdomen which made her hot and dizzy.  He broke away from her to look down at her face.  She bit her lip and stared at him with a wanton lust which he returned. 

 

She felt sick with lust.  The feeling was not one she could describe in entirety.  It was a burning sensation or a dull ache in the pit of her abdomen.  She had never experienced such a feeling before.  It made her writhe and squirm.  She was missing something.  Him.  She needed him.  She felt mad, temporarily driven to the edge.

 

Once again she could not break from his eyes although she wanted to as she heard the clink of a belt unbuckling.  In one swift movement they united, grabbing her thigh upwards around his waist for access.  She moaned with the sudden pressure and rested her head on his shoulder.  He remained completely stationary until she looked back up into his eyes.  When once again honey met grey, he moved abruptly and she was pressed harder against wall.  Suddenly feverish, she tugged violently at his shirt.  She received an animalistic satisfaction as the buttons burst off and went flying around the room, leaving his shirt open and chest exposed. 

 

Like he had for her, she pushed the shirt over his shoulders and down his back, revealing his bare torso.  He removed his arm, briefly, from supporting her leg to be free of the shirt once and for all and it landed at their feet joining Hermione’s robe.  He drew her into another hasty kiss as she was sent further back into the wall repeatedly.  She was moaning against his mouth and he lifted her higher so she no longer touched the ground and was supported by only Sirius’s strongly manly arms. 

 

Her hands ran through his hair, twirling and tugging to match each of his movements while the wood began to creak in protest.  He backed away from the wall, her legs tight around his waist.  He moved over to the bed and laid her down on the sheets.  Briefly admiring the view, he was pulled down by her.  He could feel her shuddering beneath him and her hot breath on his shoulder.  He supported himself with his arms and his elevation allowed him to see the slightly pained look on her face.  She sucked in deep breaths as his body moved with synchronicity along hers.  Her hands ran up and down his back, clawing him slightly.

 

Hermione was not ‘flying higher to heaven’ or ‘exploding into the night sky’ as romance novels had promised her.  She couldn’t have removed herself from the present had she been forced on pain of death.  All that was in her mind was his slick skin sliding on hers, his muscular arms rigid as they supported his weight, the violent creaking of the bed as they moved and of course the sense of completion she felt.  She arched her back and emitted husky gasps that matched his eager groans.

 

Her legs suddenly locked tightly around him as she flipped him over.  She tilted her head back with her body as she now sat atop him.  Her hair spilt down her back and shoulders and bounced slightly with her movements.  His hands dug roughly into her hips as if begging her to continue on.  His eyes followed her head thrown back, down her long throat to her body that shook in ecstasy.  She panted and moaned with more intensity as she was filled with such a violent heat that she was sure she was about to explode.  Sirius felt her body shudder and before she let pleasure overcome her he spoke.

 

“Look at me,” he said simply.

 

She tilted her head forwards and caught his eyes just as she tensed up and cried out his name.  He caught her hips again and beckoned her onwards as her body still reverberated. As he watched her shaking above him he slowly wrapped him arms around her middle and pulled her down on top of him before flipping them once more.  They had run out of bed and hit the floor over the other side. 

 

This did not deter them in the slightest, however.  Hermione planted her feet and bent her knees.  Using his arms as support, he nuzzled into her neck leaving love bites in his wake.  Her hands were at his back again, grazing him slightly with her nails as she ran them up and down his spine.  His movements became more forceful and his groaning louder.  Hermione pushed his face up to hers as she caught his mouth in a passionate kiss.  With his last movement he grunted against her mouth and in the back of his throat.  She held him tightly as heat coursed through his body and he finally collapsed beside her, panting deeply. 

 

They were both exceptionally sweaty and Hermione wiped the wet sticky hair from his brow and closed eyes, as he lay beside her on the dusty floor boards.  He smiled slightly and pulled her toward him with his arm.  She pillowed her head on his chest, tasting his salty sweat and heaving to catch her breath.

 

“Are you okay?” he asked slowly and in between breaths.

 

She laughed throatily and nodded against his chest, “Yeah.  Are you?”

 

He grinned.  “Yeah I’m fine.”

 

“That was…,” she sighed trying to find the right word.  Sirius felt that the hand she placed over her thumping heart was explanation enough.  He laughed and tilted his head to kiss her.  He gently stroked her shoulder as they basked in silence.  All that could be heard was their bodies trying to catch up on belated breaths.

 

“So do you want to see it?” he asked breaking the silent interlude.

 

She supported her body up with an elbow and stared down at him.  She seemed very puzzled.  “What do you mean?” she asked him in reply.

 

Sirius grinned wolfishly.  “My other tattoo. Do you want to see it?”  His words clicked inside her head and she nodded vigorously.  He took a hand and pointed to an area just south of his hip bones.  There, slung low across the V of his abdomen, were four curly scripted words.

 

“Vivre, Aimer, Bruler, Mourir,” she read.  Hermione gently traced the letters with her finger tips.  He quivered in response.  “A personal motto?” she questioned.

 

“Yeah something like that,” he smiled.

 

“I must say I do prefer Carpe Diem.  It feels a little less macabre,” she breathed.  She thought silently for a moment and then broke out into animated laughter.

 

“What is it?” he asked slightly amused by her actions.

 

“I just had a shower and now I’m all sweaty,” she moaned shaking her head.

 

“Go and have another now,” he suggested brushing her arm.  She stood up suddenly and towered over him.  He was still not used to the sight of her and his mouth hung open slightly as he took in her form again.

 

“Well, Mr Black,” she spoke huskily.  “You’re pretty sweaty yourself, care to join me?” she asked with a sly grin.  He looked devilishly at her and rose accordingly.  She began to grow hot again under his gaze.

 

“My pleasure,” he replied softly.  She reached to take his hand but before she could complete the movement had vigorously thrown her over his wide shoulder.  He picked her up and walked fluidly to the bathroom.  She playfully cried to be put down and he answered this with a little slap on her behind.  She squealed.

 

“Sirius Black!  When I am down, I’m going to give you something to really grunt about!” she threatened.  Sirius chuckled.

 

He had a rather strong inkling that he had just opened the flood gates to a force that could not be reckoned with.  He smiled happily thinking of the days to come.

 

Bring it on.


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