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To Prevent An Unfortunate Series of Events by Unicorn_Charm

Format: Novel
Chapters: 26
Word Count: 127,893
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Strong violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Hermione, Dumbledore, Lupin, Snape, James, Lily, Sirius, Pettigrew, OtherCanon
Pairings: Hermione/OC, James/Lily, Sirius/OC

First Published: 01/16/2014
Last Chapter: 12/08/2016
Last Updated: 04/06/2017

Summary:
Banner by aborsen@tda :)




After the Battle at Hogwarts, Voldemort remains at large. Dumbledore has chosen to send Hermione to the year 1977, where she must prevent certain events from taking place, save the Marauders' and Lily's lives and defeat Voldemort before he becomes too powerful. Falling in love with Sirius Black is just a perk... or inevitable disaster.


*Chapters 1-6 rewritten/new - 12/4/16*


Chapter 1: This is your mission, if you should choose to accept it.
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A/N - So this was the second fic I ever wrote, and honestly needs a bit of work. This whole story is under construction and is being heavily rewritten. I would suggest not going any further than the which chapters are stated as updated down below. :)

And I'd like to thank my wonderful beta for my rewrite, motherconfessor! ♥


**Chapters 1-6 new/rewritten as of December 4, 2016**

***

Hermione Granger fidgeted as she sat and faced Professor Dumbledore’s desk. Her heart raced as she thought of at least a dozen reasons he could have asked for her that evening. The letter that he had owled to her earlier that morning was still firmly clenched in her hand.

She swallowed loudly as she watched Dumbledore scribble with haste across the parchment on his desk. Whatever he wrote seemed to have been very important. The look on his face was one she had seen him wear on few occasions; usually when something serious had happened. It left her feeling exceptionally unsettled.

As she waited for him to finish, she couldn’t help but to think that it felt quite odd that he had summoned only her to his office. Never could she remember a time when she had been called to see him -- especially without Harry or Ron. She didn’t enjoy keeping secrets from the boys if she could have helped it, yet Dumbledore specifically stated not to tell them anything. She worried she done something wrong.

Finally Dumbledore rolled up the piece of parchment, and with a quick swish of his wand he sent it neatly into an envelope, before sealing it with purple wax. When he looked into her eyes she immediately felt more anxious than before. A crease formed between Dumbledore’s brows and his shoulders sank as if he bore the weight of the world on them. It was the first time he had ever appeared as old as his grey hair and wrinkles would suggest he was. She had never seen the man look so tired and defeated. There was something incredibly wrong about it. Someone so powerful should not have looked that way.

His piercing blue eyes screamed of sadness, which caused Hermione’s brown ones to widen. Whatever he summoned her for could not have been good news.

“I would like to thank you, Miss Granger, for agreeing to meet with me this evening,” he began solemnly. “I am afraid I have a rather large task to ask of you.”

Hermione grew more nervous by the moment.

“Sir?” she asked, her voice trembled.

Dumbledore clasped his hands together; his eyes seemed to lose their signature twinkle.

“As you know, Harry, Mr. Weasley and yourself have successfully destroyed all, but one, of Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes, yet he remains at large. Despite numerous efforts, I have detected neither hide nor hare of him.”

Dumbledore sighed heavily as he stroked his long, snowy beard. Hermione waited patiently for him to continue, still unsure as to why he had called for her, and how she could possibly have done anything to find him. If Dumbledore, who was the greatest Wizard she had ever known, had not located Voldemort, what on earth could she have done differently?


“Perhaps I had been going about this incorrectly,” he said quietly. “If there were a way we could destroy Voldemort, before he became so powerful, that would change everything.”

Hermione cocked an eyebrow, she was undeniably confused.

“But sir, the prophecy?”

Dumbledore smiled kindly. “Miss Granger, do you honestly believe that all of the prophecies which lie in that hall come true? Or for that matter, are accurate? Certainly not.”

“So what is it that you needed me for, sir?”

Dumbledore opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a small wooden box. “Time. What we need is more time,” he answered cryptically.

Slowly it began to dawn on Hermione. He had given her a similar response four years prior, when she and Harry were desperate to find a way to save Sirius Black from the Dementor’s Kiss. But surely he was not asking her to travel back in time? All of the time-turners had been destroyed. She was there when it had happened.

“Sir?”

Silently, Dumbledore opened the box; Hermione caught a glint of gold resting inside of it. Her mouth popped opened when he began to pull out the thin golden chain, and she gasped as her eyes rested upon the small hour glass pendant dangling before her.

He had a Time-Turner.

“But -- but how, Professor? I thought they had all been destroyed?” she whispered.

“Ah, but you see, Miss Granger, I happened to have had one in my possession on that very evening. I’ve kept it ever since, biding my time and waiting for the correct moment to present itself. As it seems, that moment has arrived,” he explained.

Hermione’s heart thumped wildly in her chest. How far had he planned on sending her back? When would she return home? Would she return home? And most importantly…

“Why, sir? Why me?”

Dumbledore’s eyes softened and a hint of the twinkle she had become accustomed to over the years made a small appearance.

“Why not?”

Hermione opened her mouth to provide at least a dozen reasons as to why not, yet Dumbledore raised his hand to silence her.

“You are exceedingly clever, more clever than most, also exceptionally brave. Those two traits rarely go hand-in-hand. I do not feel I could trust this task to anyone else,” he explained, sincerely.

Hermione felt a lump in her throat, and tears prickle at the corners of her eyes. She felt nothing but shock and gratitude at Dumbledore’s words.

“Thank you, sir,” she paused to wipe away a single tear that slid down her cheek. “That means more to me than you know.”

Dumbledore smiled warmly and inclined his head towards Hermione. She took a moment to compose herself before asking for more clarification regarding this mission he chose her to partake in.

“Sir? I was wondering, just exactly how far are you intending to send me back?”

Dumbledore leaned back in his chair, and his expression turned businesslike once more.

“To the year nineteen seventy-seven, Miss Granger.”

Hermione’s heart felt as if it had stopped beating altogether.

“So far…”

“That is the year that Lord Voldemort truly began to build up his army, when the war was just beginning. Yes, before that he had committed many atrocities, but up until that time, he did much of his work underground. Only I, and a few others, were aware he had been behind such matters,” he began explaining.

“But what am I to do to prevent the war?” she asked, panic leaked into her voice.

He looked at her over the top of his half-moon spectacles. “Alas, I am afraid I cannot provide the answer to that, Miss Granger. It will be something you will have to discover on your own.”

How could he send her into this practically blind? How could he not have had a plan for her? What would she discover on her own?

“When will I be leaving, sir?” she asked, trying to mentally prepare herself.

“I will allow you to return to your dormitory for the evening and give some more thought to the seriousness of this task I lay out in front of you. It is imperative that you do not breathe a word of this to anyone. If you succeed, the present that you have come to known will no longer exist. Everything and everyone you have known may be different. It is important that you understand that,” he told her.

Hermione felt her body grow cold at Dumbledore’s words. When she returned, would she still be friends with Harry and Ron? Would it be possible for Harry’s parents to survive? And if they do, would Harry still be the same person she had grown to think of as a brother? Would he even still exist for that matter? Only then did Hermione truly begin to understand the implications of what her presence in the past could possibly mean.

“I understand, sir.”

Dumbledore stood up, signifying the end of their meeting for the evening. He walked towards Hermione and gently patted her shoulder.

“Get some rest, Miss Granger. If you should decide to accept, please be at my office by nine tomorrow morning. You may take whatever belongings you feel are appropriate, but please keep things to a minimum,” he advised her.

“Yes sir.”

***

When Hermione arrived back to the common room, she was relieved to find it empty. She knew she did not have the acting skills to pretend as if nothing was wrong. Besides, she did not know if she could handle seeing her two best friends, knowing that it might have been the last time she would ever see them. At least, as they were now. Next time she would see them -- if there was a next time -- they would be completely different than what she had known.

Hermione dragged herself up the stairs and into her dormitory. Lavender and Parvati were fast asleep, their soft snoring filling the room. After she undressed and tucked herself in bed, she closed the hangings around her and whispered, “Muffilato.” She let herself cry as she wondered how she would be able to face seeing Harry’s parents and Sirius Black, knowing that in her time, they were all deceased. What if she failed?

A dark thought crossed her mind. That traitorous rat, Peter Pettigrew, would also be at school with them. How would she handle meeting him, knowing what he had become? Would she be able to control herself, or would she whip her wand out on the spot, and blast him away?

Hermione turned on her side and closed her eyes, praying for at least a few hours of sleep. She knew that she would end up taking on this role, but worried that she was in for more than she bargained for.



Chapter 2: King's Cross - Nineteen Seventy-Seven
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Hermione woke early the following morning feeling groggy and not particularly well rested. She did not have much luck with sleep and spent most of the night tossing and turning. Her stomach was a tangle of nerves as she thought of what awaited her mere hours from then. Thinking that a hot shower might calm her, Hermione got out of bed slowly, stretched, then padded her way towards the bathroom. 


As she stood and let the hot water pound on her tense muscles, her mind raced with hundreds of questions. How was she supposed to help defeat Voldemort in the past? What could she possibly do then, that she hadn’t already done? Why her? It was Harry who was destined to bring down Voldemort, not Hermione. Everyone had known that. Harry was the Chosen One. Why had Dumbledore chosen her?


After she got out of the shower, dressed and tried to tame her frizzy hair, she began wandering around her room looking for things she could take with her. Of course she would bring her books, she wouldn’t feel right without them. She picked up her battered copy of Hogwarts: A History and stared at the worn cover. That book had been with her ever since she was eleven years old. Should she bring it? With a heavy sigh, she placed the book back on her bedside table. There really would not be a practical use for it; Dumbledore advised her to pack lightly. 
 

Luckily she found a few articles of clothing that would be time appropriate for the late nineteen seventies, but still, she would need to do some shopping once she arrived. Before she closed her trunk, Hermione crouched on the floor and pulled a box from under her bed. Inside contained years worth of photos of herself, Harry, Ron, Neville, Luna and Ginny. She went through them and watched the occupants wave and smile brightly up at her. Her eyes prickled as she watched and her lips tugged upwards in a sad smile. She decided she would bring them with her, just to have something of her old life to hang onto. Especially considering that if she succeeded, everything would be different once she returned. 
 

Once she was finished packing, Hermione charmed her trunk so she could easily place it in her pocket. She took one last glance at her dormitory and walked out of it for the last time, closing the door gently behind her.


The common room was empty, which she was grateful for. She did not want to face Harry and Ron; she knew they would immediately be able to tell something was wrong. With a deep breath, Hermione marched straight through and out of the Portrait Hole, and tried not to let the fear consume her as she made her way towards the Headmaster’s office.

 
At nine o’clock sharp, Hermione found herself in front of the large wooden doors, which led into Dumbledore’s quarters. She knocked gently and felt her throat tighten. 


“Come in, Miss Granger,” Dumbledore called out. 


Hermione walked inside and inclined her head towards Professor Dumbledore. 


“Good morning, Professor,” she said in a sand papery voice, then cleared her throat. 

 
Dumbledore gestured at an armchair in front of his desk. “Please, have a seat. We have a few more issues we need to discuss before you make your departure.” 


“Yes, sir.” 


As Hermione sat down, Dumbledore pulled out the box containing the Time-Turner, a few pieces of parchment, and the envelope she watched him seal the previous evening. He set everything out in front of him, then placed the tips of his fingers together, as if in prayer. 


“Now, Miss Granger,” he began with purpose, “you will be arriving at King’s Cross Station on the first of September, nineteen seventy-seven. While you are there, you will be posing as a seventh year student, who is a transfer from Ilvermorny -- the wizarding institution in the United States,” Dumbledore explained, assuming Hermione was not familiar with the name of the school. 


“Yes, sir. I’m aware of the school,” she told him. Hermione had read up on different wizarding schools throughout the world during her fourth year, when they were the host school for the Triwizard Tournament.


“Of course,” Dumbledore smiled then reached for one of the parchments on his desk. “This,” he began as he held it up in front of him, “contains your new identity. Transcripts, a birth certificate and transfer papers.” 
 

He reached forward and Hermione took the documents from him. 


She looked down and began reading. Her new name would be Hermione Winters. Her date of birth remained the same, only the year was changed to nineteen fifty-nine which would make her eighteen on the nineteenth of September, nineteen seventy-seven. Next she looked at her transcripts, which she was surprised to see all of her grades remained the same, they were just falsified to look as if they had come from Ilvermorny, instead of Hogwarts. Her transfer papers stated that she had lost her parents in a car crash, and had to reside with her only living relative, a great aunt, who lived in England. 


Seeing everything in front of her truly made the journey she was about to partake in feel more real. She looked up slowly and saw Dumbledore’s eyes piercing into her. 


“Thank you, Professor,” she whispered. Her heart almost felt like it was about to beat out her chest. 


Dumbledore nodded then stood from his chair. “Miss Granger, it is imperative that you try to befriend James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Lily Evans, and Peter Pettigrew as quickly as you can manage.” 


Hermione’s eyes widened. Peter Pettigrew? Why on earth would she try to befriend him only so he could betray her at some point as well?
 

Almost in response to Hermione’s thoughts, Dumbledore’s tone turned stern as he said, “Yes, Peter Pettigrew as well.” 


Hermione exhaled loudly then nodded. “If you say so, Professor.” 
 

Dumbledore appeared to fight a smile as he handed her the box with the Time-Turner. 

 
“The Time-Turner has been set for you to arrive at the correct moment. Once you arrive, please keep it on your persons at all times. It would not do well for anyone to discover you have it, or for it to fall into the wrong hands,” he advised. 


“I understand, sir,” she said as she placed the golden chain around her neck. 


“Miss Granger, I will ask you only once more. Are you positive you wish to do this?” he asked solemnly, surveying her over the top of his glasses. 


Was she positive? No. But did she feel as if it was her duty to do this? Absolutely. Of course she was terrified. She was venturing into a world that would be completely alien to her. She would be befriending people who were either deceased, or people she had known as an adult during her life. She would be entering a world where the first war was in its infancy. A world that was unknown and possibly more dangerous than the one she was in at the moment. But fear had never stopped her before. Hermione always faced everything head on, regardless of how terrified she was.


Hermione took a deep breath to center herself and looked Dumbledore directly in his eyes. “Yes, sir. I can do this,” she said, even though she wasn’t entirely sure if she could. 


Dumbledore looked satisfied by her answer, but only just. He patted her shoulder gently and gave her a small smile. “Very well, Miss Granger. Are you ready?” 


Her hands trembled, yet she stood straight and tried to appear confident. “I am, sir.”

 
Hermione took all of the documents Dumbledore had forged for her, stuffed them in her pocket and reached for the Time-Turner around her neck. 

 
“Good luck and be safe, Miss Granger. If you should need anything whilst you are in the past, please do not hesitate to find me. I know that my past self would be more than willing to assist you with anything you should require,” he told her sincerely. 


Hermione gulped. “Thank you, sir. I will see you soon, I suppose,” she said. 

 
Her brow furrowed at the idea of all the implications coming with this task. Mere seconds would pass for Dumbledore and yet, she had no idea how much time would pass for her. What her face would look like. If she would even make it back. 

 
She tried not to show it, but she was terrified beyond comprehension. How she stood there so calmly, she would never know. With a shaking hand, she activated the Time-Turner. The last thing she noticed, before everything blurred around her, was Professor Dumbledore’s attention turn towards his office door. A look of relief was visible on his face. 


Suddenly everything around her became a swirl of whirling colors. Although she believed herself to be prepared for the sensation of travelling backwards through time, this time if felt much more intense. She had the sensation of falling a great distance and was becoming extraordinarily dizzy. 


Just as she was sure she was about to vomit, or faint, everything stopped just as suddenly as it came on. She swayed back and forth due to the weakness in her knees. Hermione took a moment to collect herself before looking around at the scenery around her. Her heart pounded and she began feeling more isolated than ever before, despite the numerous amount of people all around. She quickly stuffed the Time-Turner down the front of her shirt and began to walk towards the wall between platforms nine and ten. 


Chapter 3: Meet the Marauders
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Hermione stood staring at the red brick wall in front of her, surrounded by steam, buzzing conversations and whistling off in the distance. Her heart raced as she took a deep breath and watched a handful of Hogwarts students disappear before her eyes. She kept up an internal mantra: Deep breaths. You can do this. Deep breaths… After glancing around to make sure the coast was clear, she squared her shoulders and began walking briskly towards the entrance of Platform 9 ¾; she kept her eyes closed the entire time.

Suddenly she was aware of the more familiar, usually comforting sounds -- owls hooting, spells being cast, frogs croaking. Her body began to tremble as she took in the scene around her. The large scarlet steam engine sat on the tracks; for the first time in her life the sight did not fill her with the feeling of coming home. Instead, she was filled with trepidation, for the train looked more like transportation to a prison, rather than to the school she had loved. The students around her definitely looked like they were from the nineteen seventies. Most of the boys had hair as long as hers, a majority of the girls had long, sleek hair, parted neatly down the middle. Almost everyone had on bellbottom trousers or muggle and wizarding band t-shirts. She looked down at her maroon jumper and tan trousers and suddenly became quite self conscious.

Hermione shook her head in an attempt to pull herself together, then removed the trunk she had shrunk from her pocket. She took her wand out, returned the trunk to normal size and began to tow it towards the train; she hoped to find a compartment alone in order to work out some sort of plan.

As she struggled trying to store her trunk on the train, she heard a voice behind her that she immediately recognized. Hermione froze.

“Oi, Prongs. Fresh meat.”

Hermione shut her eyes and prayed he wasn’t speaking about her. She pleaded to any god or goddess who would listen that he would just pass her by.

“Not bad, Padfoot,” said another voice, which had a slight hint of familiarity to it, yet was somehow just off.

Bile slowly made it’s way up her throat as she heard footsteps approach. Unfortunately, she knew it was her they were discussing. Her heart raced.

“Well, let’s not deprive the poor thing of my presence,” she heard the first boy say, before she felt a light tap to her shoulder.

When Hermione turned around and looked at the two boys, who were grinning from ear to ear in front of her, it took every ounce of strength she had to remain upright. It was Sirius Black, and, who she instantly realized must have been, James Potter. She suddenly felt very dizzy.

“Hello there, beautiful,” Sirius spoke first and flashed a perfect set of straight white teeth. “I don’t believe I’ve seen you before.”

Hermione was speechless. Not only was she face to face with two people she had known to be dead, she wasn’t immune to the fact that a young Sirius was exceptionally handsome.

James and Sirius shared a concerned look in response to Hermione’s silence -- and, she assumed, the dumbfounded look she was sure was plastered all over her face.

“Erm,” James reached up and ruffled his hair. “You’re new, I’m assuming?” he asked.

Mentally scolding herself for acting so stupid, Hermione forced a smile onto her face and hoped it looked genuine.

“Y-yes,” she whispered. “Er -- a transfer from Ilvermorny.”

She felt the heat slowly rise up her cheeks and began to realize this would be far more difficult than she had anticipated.

James offered her his hand. “I’m James Potter,” he told her, though she was more than aware. He was the spitting image of Harry. Except for the eyes. James’ eyes were hazel, and obviously, he was missing the lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead that his son would come to have.

“Hermione Winters,” she said as she returned his handshake.

Sirius nudged James out of the way. “Lovely to meet you, Hermione Winters.” He took her hand delicately, “Sirius Black,” he winked. The blush on her cheeks only intensified.

As she was drawn into his grey eyes, and admired his long, wavy black hair, she had to remind herself that it was not appropriate to find Sirius Black attractive. He would be Harry’s godfather. An adult. Someone she had no business staring at, in that way.

Sirius seemed to have noticed and flashed her another smile. “Ilvermorny, you say? Why do you not have an American accent?”

Hermione winced. How silly were she and Dumbledore not to have factored that in? She had to think of something quickly.

“My family is from England. We moved to the United States when I was small, due to my father’s work,” she lied.

Not wanting to get more into details of her life, Hermione turned around and continued her battle with getting her trunk on the train. James and Sirius came up alongside her.

“Let us,” James offered, as he and Sirius each took an end of her trunk and hoisted it in with the others.

“Thank you.”

For a few seconds, the three all stood in an awkward silence. Hermione didn’t really know what to say to the two of them.

“Well…” she began. “I better go find a place to sit on the train. It was lovely meeting you both.”

Before waiting for a response, she turned and hurried her way inside, but it seemed James and Sirius were not letting this mysterious new girl go quite so easily.

“Winters!” Sirius called after her. Hermione turned around. “Why don’t you come sit with us?” he offered, gesturing towards a compartment he and James stood next to. “I promise we won’t bite...much,” he grinned.

Although she truly wanted to turn down his offer, she remembered what Dumbledore had said about befriending the boys. At the time she worried about how she would achieve that, but now it seemed that fate had simply offered her an answer, one she shouldn’t ignore.

“Alright. Thank you, Black.”

James and Sirius let Hermione enter first, and when they both came in, Sirius took the seat right next to her, and James sat across from the pair of them. James reached into his pocket and pulled out three small items.

“Chocolate frog, Winters?” he asked.

Hermione shook her head. “Oh. No thank you.” She was far too sick to her stomach to even considering eating anything.

James shrugged and tossed one to Sirius. “Suit yourself.”

Just then the compartment door opened and Hermione nearly fell out of her seat. Looking towards her, with obvious surprise in his honey colored eyes, was a teenaged Remus Lupin. Hermione was stunned at the complete difference between this boy standing before her and the man she had come to know. The most prominent difference was the absence of most of the scars on his face. Yes, he did still have quite a few, but not nearly as many as he had in her time. And there was something about his eyes that were different. They didn’t look as hollowed. They appeared to have more light in them -- hope.

“Remus!” Sirius exclaimed, “Come meet the new girl.”

Remus plopped down next to James and offered his hand to Hermione. “Hello there. I’m Remus, as you might have guessed from Sirius’ outburst,” he chuckled. “Remus Lupin.”

Hermione couldn’t help but to smile back. For some reason, she had felt more comfortable meeting Remus, as opposed to when she first encountered James and Sirius.

“Pleasure to meet you, Remus. I’m Hermione Winters.”

“Now I feel I should warn you,” Remus smirked as he sat back in his seat. “You should be careful around these two. They’re nowhere near as innocent as they’ll pretend to be.”

James and Sirius both wore identical looks of overly dramatic shock on their faces. Hermione giggled at their reaction, and had a pretty good feeling that Remus was right.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” she laughed.

“James, did our dear Remus just tell the new girl that we would pretend to be innocent?” Sirius gasped.

James shook his head sadly. “I believe he did, mate. How could he ever speak of us in such a way?”

Remus rolled his eyes which only caused Hermione to laugh more. The three of them were truly something. She was already starting to like them all very much. They had an easy-going, friendly nature to them, that immediately began to make her feel a bit at ease.

As the boys caught up and recounted stories from their summer holiday, Hermione looked out the window of their compartment. She noticed a lot of the students slowing down when they saw her, and nudging one another as the looked in. Some were even rude enough to point right at her, fully aware that she was looking at them. She sat a little lower in her seat and tried to hide herself behind Sirius as much as she could.

It seemed the boys noticed Hermione’s discomfort and turned their direction towards their classmates. Two girls were standing in front of their compartment whispering back and forth, clearly talking about the random girl who was sitting with James, Sirius and Remus.

“Move along there,” James called out to them.

Both girls jumped and quickly scurried away. Hermione heard their giggling trailing behind.

“Don’t worry about them, Hermione,” Sirius told her. “No one will bother you as long as you’re with us.”

Knowing that Sirius was probably right, she gave him a small smile and thanked him.

“So what year are you in?” Remus asked, attempting to bring Hermione into the conversation.

“I’m in my seventh year,” she sighed. “It’ll be strange to finish my final year in a completely new environment.”

Hermione felt a lump in her throat, since she had not technically lied. Yes, she may be on her way to Hogwarts, but it was not the school she had known. She wasn’t even sure if the staff would be the same, let alone knowing that all of the students would be completely foreign to her. It truly did feel like she was attending a new school for her last year.

“That is completely understandable. But don’t worry, we’re all in our seventh year, as well. Hopefully you’ll be in Gryffindor with us,” Remus reassured her.

Hermione cocked an eyebrow and pretended to feign ignorance. “Gryffindor?” she asked. After all, she was supposed to be from a completely different school.

“Hogwarts has four houses,” Sirius took over and began to explain. “Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.”

At the mention of Slytherin, James snorted. “Slimy gits,” he mumbled.

Hermione tried to stifle a giggle at James’ comment.

“Well I hope I am in Gryffindor with you all, because you’ve been exceptionally kind to me so far,” she told them and honestly prayed the Sorting Hat would place her in Gryffindor once again in her life.

“Our daring, nerve and chivalry set us Gryffindors apart,” James joked with a wink.

The compartment door then opened; Hermione felt like the blood drained from her body. Staring at her with his mouth wide opened, was a short, pudgy, blond-haired boy with watery eyes. Peter Pettigrew.

“Alright there, Pete?” Sirius asked.

Peter nodded, but had not taken his eyes from Hermione. The question of, who is this, was clearly written all over his face.

“Peter, this is Hermione Winters,” Remus told him. “She’s a transfer from the States.”

Hermione gritted her teeth and balled her hands up tightly to keep them from shaking. She felt the hatred and the desire to slap him across his pink face coursing through her entire body.

“This little git is Peter Pettigrew,” Sirius said.

Peter reached his hand across to shake Hermione’s. At first she did not move, but realized she must remain civil. It would have looked peculiar for her to have taken to the other three boys so quickly, but flat out dismiss Peter without even knowing him. Slowly she reached forward and wrapped her hand in his clammy one. She felt as if she could have vomited.

“Pleasure,” she said shortly.

Peter’s eyes widened, he looked shocked at the less than warm introduction to Hermione. “Hi,” he squeaked.

As Hermione sat back in her seat, the whistle from the train sounded and it began to make it’s way from the station. Hermione’s heart rate picked up as they began moving, knowing it would not be much longer now until she would be beginning her mission here in the past. Soon she would be at Hogwarts and had no idea of what was to come. But for now, Hermione decided to put those worries aside, and just try to enjoy these few hours with James, Sirius and Remus as they laughed and rode their way through the countryside.

Chapter 4: Welcome to Hogwarts
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The afternoon, thankfully, went by rather smoothly for Hermione. James and Sirius did most of the talking; they truly were quite funny together. Remus tended to roll his eyes often at the pair of them, and Peter mostly looked on with obvious admiration in his eyes for his friends. It was hard for her to believe while watching him, that he would one day betray everyone in that compartment. He seemed so sweet, and soft spoken, not to mention, just as witty as his friends - which was a total shock for Hermione.

Maybe there could be a way for her to possibly stop him from joining Voldemort, she thought.

Soon the sun set behind the hills and twilight had arrived. It would not be long until the arrived to Hogsmeade Station.

“Hermione?” Peter asked timidly.

Her skin crawled when he called her name, yet she tried to appear as friendly as she could manage. “Yes?”

“I hope I’m not being too forward, but I was just wondering what made you move back to England and come to Hogwarts?” His cheeks turned a brighter shade of pink.

Hermione sighed and hoped she would be able to lie convincingly enough, since she knew it would probably not be the last time she would be asked the same question.

“My parents passed away this summer,” she answered softly. Thinking of her own parents, safely tucked away in Australia, with their memories wiped, helped bring a genuine tear to her eye.

The four boys all looked at one another with sympathy clear in their eyes. Sirius patted her forearm gently. “I’m so sorry to hear that,” he said in the most serious and genuine tone she’d heard from him yet.

“Me too, Hermione. I’m sorry for bringing it up,” Peter told her.

“If there’s anything you need...” James trailed off, but Hermione understood the sentiment.

“We’re here for you,” Remus finished.

Hermione was sincerely touched by the authentic kindness all four boys were showing her at that moment. It made her feel horribly awful for lying to them.

“Thank you. I truly appreciate that,” she sniffled.

After a few uncomfortable moments of silence, Remus cleared his throat and suggested they all put on their robes, since they would be arriving at the school in no time.

When the five of them were changed and sat back in their seats, Hermione’s palms began to sweat, upon seeing the village of Hogsmeade come into view out of her window. She felt the color slowly drain from her face as the panic began to set in. Sirius must have noticed her discomfort and put an arm around her shoulders to give her a gentle squeeze.

“You’ll be alright. Just stick with us and you’ll be absolutely fine,” he assured her with a dazzling smile.

Hermione squirmed from under his arm and tried to return his smile. Though she had the feeling that she looked quite manic.

“Hope so,” she whispered more to herself than in response to him.

Soon the train came to a stop at the station and she watched as dozens of students passed by their compartment. Most of them were laughing loudly and talking with the excited voices many students had on their first day of term. When the year was new and all felt as if they had a fresh start.

Hermione stood and stretched from the long day of travel.

“Come on, Hermione. We take carriages up to the school,” Sirius informed her as they all made their way out.

Hermione and the boys fell in line with the other students and slowly walked towards the exit. Despite the fact that she was surrounded by all of those people, she had never felt more alone. Her stomach churned and she worried she might become sick.

“You’re going to love it here. Promise,” Remus said from behind her, causing her to jump.

Hermione responded with a shrug and a half-smile.

Once out on the platform, some people called to James, Sirius, Remus and Peter. Many asked if they had a good summer, and some inquired on what kind of prank they might have been planning for the first day of term. No one seemed to pay Hermione much attention, and the few who had only gave her a quick, curious glance. Never had she felt like such an outsider in a place that had once been so familiar to her.

When she heard Hagrid calling out to the first years, directing them towards him, Hermione had to stop herself as she almost waved and shouted a hello to the half-giant. Her throat grew thick as she reminded herself that the Hagrid towering over the many students to the left of her, would have no idea who she was.

Her attention was quickly brought back to the boys when she heard Sirius groan.

“Get a grip, Prongs. You’re not still on about Evans, are you?” he chastised.

James flushed a dark tint of red as he stared longingly towards the carriages. Hermione turned in the direction James stared and gasped quietly. A beautiful girl, with the longest red hair she had ever seen, was laughing with a few girls before climbing into the carriage with them. Lily hadn’t noticed the five students who were now all looking in her direction.

“Give it a rest, James,” Sirius continued. “How many times does she have to tell you that she’s not interested? You’re just embarrassing yourself at this point, mate.”

“Piss off, Sirius,” James said with a glare towards his best friend.

After Sirius replied by giving James a particularly rude hand gesture, a carriage pulled up in front of them.

“Ladies first,” Sirius said, offering Hermione his hand to help her inside.

Hermione thanked Sirius and felt a steady warmth creep up her cheeks when she placed her hand in his rough, calloused palm. She assumed Sirius had noticed her blush, since he winked and the side of his mouth curled up into a cheeky half-grin.

Hermione had to get ahold of herself and not be taken in by the charm of her best friend’s future godfather.

When the four of them were all seated, and the carriages began to move -- pulled by Thestrals, which Hermione assumed only she had been able to see -- Hermione took a look out the window and watched the magnificent castle rise up from the scenery. The site of the glistening windows, and lanterns lit throughout the grounds, which used to fill her with a sense of homecoming, now caused her to feel nothing but apprehension. Normally Hermione could plan and figure out every last detail of whichever task she was meant to do, yet this time, she felt as if she were just floating in the breeze. The feeling of not being in control terrified her as much as it angered her.

“Hermione? Did you hear me?” Remus asked.

“Oh, sorry!” She jumped. “What did you say, Remus?”

She heard James snigger as Remus smiled politely at her.

“I asked if you would like me to show you the way to Professor Dumbledore’s office? He’s the headmaster, and I’m assuming you probably need to speak with him before joining us for the feast.” he repeated.

“I do, actually. That would be lovely, thank you, Remus,” she said, then noticed Sirius’ expression darken to something that looked very much like disappointment. Hermione suppressed an eyeroll.

Once they entered the school, Hermione took a moment to let the familiarity of it wash over her, to try to give her a bit of comfort. She stood in the Entrance Hall and attempted to ignore the fact that she was currently standing with James, Sirius, Remus and Peter, and just took in the sites of the moving staircases, suits of armor, and even Peeves, who was floating above their heads cackling. For a brief second in time, Hermione closed her eyes, drew in a deep breath and tried to convince herself that although she was in an entirely different year, she was still at Hogwarts - her home.

“Hermione?” Remus spoke up next to her. “Are you ready?”

Hermione opened her eyes and smiled at Remus. She managed to bring her heart rate down just a bit, and tried to control her breathing. In through her nose and out of her mouth, she mentally reminded herself.

“I am,” she said with more meaning than he could have possibly known.

With a quick goodbye to the other boys, Remus turned and led the way up the stairs and towards the entrance to Dumbledore’s office. Hermione made a conscious effort to trail behind just a hair, to keep up with the pretense of she being a new student at the school.

“I’m sure you’re probably very nervous, but Professor Dumbledore is a great man. A little different, but great all the same,” Remus tried to comfort her.

Hermione almost laughed out loud. He was dead on about Professor Dumbledore. Different was certainly an understatement. But she couldn’t ignore the obvious admiration and respect that rang out in Remus’ voice as he spoke of the headmaster.

“So I’ve heard,” Hermione said with a little chuckle.

When the two finally arrived at the bust of the stone Gargoyle, Remus’ mouth turned down in a frown. “I’m so sorry, but I don’t know the password. I’ve just realized.”

Hermione shuffled through the papers she had with her and gave Remus a reassuring smile. “That’s alright, Remus. I actually have it right here,” she said raising up one of the documents she held. “Thank you for showing me the way, and also for being so kind to me.”

A hint of color tinted Remus’ cheeks as his mouth pulled upwards. “It was nothing at all, Hermione.”

Hermione turned toward the stone bust and said, “Jelly Slug,” then brought her attention back to Remus as the Gargoyle moved out of the way and the spiral staircase began to appear.

“I’ll see you in the Great Hall, I suppose.”

Remus nodded as Hermione took a step onto the stairs.

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you end up in Gryffindor,” she called after her, as she began to rise up and out of site.

When she reached the top and found herself facing the wooden doors of Dumbledore’s office, Hermione’s panic began to crescendo again. What if he didn’t believe her? What if he threw her out of the school, assuming her to be some sort of trap sent by Voldemort? What if he attacked her?

With a deep steadying breath, Hermione raised her shaking hand and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” she heard a familiar, albeit younger voice call out.

When Hermione walked into the office, she was somewhat surprised to see that it hadn’t really changed between the time she was in and the time she had known. Dumbledore already had many of the same spinning little trinkets on his tables, some letting out puffs of smoke. His Pensieve resided in a cabinet to her left, and his desk was set in the middle of the room, with two red armchairs sitting in front of it.

Dumbledore looked up from his desk as she entered, and she watched his eyes briefly widen in surprise.

“Hello,” he said politely. “I was not expecting any visitors at the moment.” His eyes narrowed just a fraction as he bowed his head and watched her over the top of his glasses, as he had done so many times in the future. Though this Dumbledore was much younger, his face softer and less wrinkle-filled, his hair not quite as silver, and he seemed to be holding himself differently.

She gathered the documents that she had brought with her, squared her shoulders and tried to mentally prepare herself. “Please, sir. My name is Hermione Granger, but I will be known as Hermione Winters for the duration of my stay here. That is, if you permit it.” Dumbledore remained silent, yet watched her with thousands of questions now swimming in his eyes. He inclined her head as to tell her to continue on. “You’ve sent me here, sir. From the year nineteen ninety-eight, that is.” She paused for a heartbeat. Something flashed through Dumbledore’s eyes. “I was sent here to set a certain chain of events right. I - I have an envelope to give you from yourself in the future.” She held up the documents the future Dumbledore had given her, before slowly walking towards the headmaster’s desk and placing them before him.

As Dumbledore picked up the envelope and opened it, Hermione’s blood raced. “I know it sounds mental, sir. But, I swear, I speak the truth,” she said with a hint of desperation in her voice.

Still he had not spoken another word to her, but he did read over the letter she had given him. An occasional ‘hmm’, ‘oh yes,’ or ‘I see,’ was all said.

After nearly ten minutes, Dumbledore had finished going over all the of the information that Hermione had given him. When he looked up, she was beyond relieved to see that twinkle in his blue eyes, and a warm smile form on his face.

“It does seem that everything you have said is indeed the truth, Miss Granger.”

Hermione felt her shoulders release a small amount of the tension they were holding as a sigh of relief escaped her. “Thank you, sir.” She was entirely grateful for whatever it was the future Dumbledore had written for his younger self to read.

“Please, Miss Granger.” Dumbledore gestured towards the chairs in front of his desk. “Have a seat.”

When Hermione sat down and took a look up at this Professor Dumbledore, she watched as he clasped his hands together and looked back at her as if she were some sort of experimental spell - some sort of oddity. His scrutinizing gaze made her squirm uncomfortably in her seat. She felt extremely exposed.

“It seems I have advised myself here,” he held up the letter from the sealed envelope,” that it would be in your best interest not to let anyone know who you really are, or where you have come from.”

Hermione, who had figured as much, nodded. “Yes, sir.”

“If you would prefer, I shall accompany you to the Great Hall, where we could sort you into one of the four Houses.” His mouth curved upwards. “Although, considering what you have done today, I would venture a guess at Gryffindor.” He winked.

Hermione let a nervous chuckle out, as she assumed her information stated which House she was in during her time at Hogwarts. “Thank you, sir.”

Dumbledore flourished his wand, sending Hermione’s documents into a drawer next to the cabinet containing the Pensieve. With another swish, it closed and Hermione heard the click of a lock, securing her true identity away. Dumbledore then rose from his chair and Hermione quickly followed suit.

“Shall we, Miss Winters?”

Hermione felt a jolt in her chest upon hearing her new fake name used so conversationally by Professor Dumbledore.

“Y-yes, sir.”

When they entered the Great Hall together, Hermione’s face burned with embarrassment seeing that every eye in the room was on her. The only thing she wanted to do in that moment was run towards the table she had sat at for the last six years of her life, and hide amongst the rest of the Gryffindors. She glanced that way as she walked, and happened to make eye contact with Sirius, who winked and smiled at her. For whatever reason, she felt herself calming slightly after he had done that. It must have been the fact that he was someone familiar to her, she thought. With a clearing shake of her head, she continued to trail behind Professor Dumbledore, and tried to tune out the whispering that followed her on her way towards the staff table and Sorting Hat.

Just when she reached the front of the hall, the last of the First Years was being sorted. “RAVENCLAW!” the hat shouted, as a tiny and terrified looking sandy haired boy hopped off the stool and ran to his new House’s table. Dumbledore then walked towards Professor McGonagall, who was looking at Hermione with her lips pressed thin and obvious curiosity in her eyes. Dumbledore leaned in and whispered something to Hermione’s former Head of House, who also was much less wrinkled and grey than the woman she had known. McGonagall’s eyes softened as Dumbledore spoke to her, and she offered Hermione a rare smile.

“Of course, Albus,” McGonagall said as Dumbledore backed away.

With a comforting pat on Hermione’s shoulder, Dumbledore walked away from the two women, and headed towards his seat in the middle of the staff table.

Professor McGonagall spoke quietly to Hermione as she lifted the Sorting Hat off of the stool. “This is the Sorting Hat, Miss Winters. I shall place it upon your head, and it will decide which House you will reside in for the remainder of your time here. Your House will be where you live, sleep and spend a majority of your free time. It will be your home,” she advised her, although Hermione was more than aware.

“I understand, Professor,” Hermione said then took a seat on the stool in front of her.

When the hat was placed upon Hermione’s head, she blanched as the rough and eerie voice spoke in her mind for the second time in her life.

Secrets and deceit, the hat began. Hermione stiffened. There is also an abundance of courage, yet also an exceptionally clever mind...where to place you…? Hermione silently pleaded for Gryffindor, as her mission there very much depended it. Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, the voice repeated three times. Hermione swallowed loudly. Yes, yes, I see. Better be… “GRYFFINDOR!” the hat shouted. Hermione let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding in until that moment.

Chapter 5: Gryffindor Tower
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The Gryffindors clapped for Hermione - the loudest applause coming from her new friends. She smiled at Professor McGonagall, who pointed her towards the correct table, and Hermione hopped off the stool and headed that way. Sirius and Lupin moved apart to make room for her when she arrived.

“Well done, Hermione! I’m so pleased,” Remus said brightly.

“I’m just happy I was placed somewhere with some familiar faces,” she told him honestly.

Sirius poked her in the side, causing her jump and to let out a squeak of surprise. “You’re just happy, because now you get to see me all the time,” he joked with a cocky smirk.

Hermione gave Sirius a playful slap and narrowed her eyes. “Watch yourself, Sirius Black,” she scolded.

James, Remus and Peter went completely silent when she slapped Sirius, then all broke out into raucous laughter.

“I”m starting to like this one more and more,” James said between laughs. “She’ll put you right in your place, Pads!”

Remus bumped Hermione with his elbow and had at a warm and affectionate look in his eyes. “Yes, Hermione. I think you’ll fit in quite well. Plus,” he looked pointedly towards Sirius. “He could afford to be knocked down a peg or two.”

Sirius threw a dinner roll at Remus for that comment, which Remus just barely dodged.

At that moment, someone sat down across from the five of them. Hermione’s mouth popped open when she saw the almond shaped green eyes of her best friend staring at her. She then knew what everyone had always gone on about, Lily’s and Harry’s eyes truly were exactly the same. Out of all the things Hermione had experienced so far that day, that was by far the strangest and most difficult thing for her to take in yet.

“What are you lot doing to this poor girl already,” she asked sternly, yet a playful smile played on her lips.

Of course it was James who answered. “Nothing, Evans. Hermione here was just teaching Sirius some manners.”

Lily looked back at Hermione and let out a tinkling laugh. “Good luck with that,” she said with a wink.

“So is this the year you finally give in and go out with me?” James asked Lily, with an over exaggerated wiggle of his eyebrows.

With a snort, Lily rolled her eyes. “Please, Potter. I’ve already told you that I’d choose the Giant Squid before choosing you.”

Although her words were harsh, the tone of her voice was certainly light and teasing. James seemed to have picked up on that as well, since he broke out in a toothy grin.

“Duly noted,” he said.

Lily’s face went pink, then she turned her attention back to Hermione. “You better be careful sitting with this lot. People may think that you’re trouble,” she teased.

“I’ll be careful,” Hermione laughed.

“I’m Lily Evans, by the way; Head Girl. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask me.”

Hermione’s heart felt heavy as this friendly girl introduced herself and treated her so warmly without even knowing her. She’d always heard that Harry’s mother was a wonderful woman, and now experiencing it first hand, she could see that all of those people had been correct. Even in the few minutes they had spoken, Hermione could tell that she was a genuinely nice person.

“Thank you, Lily. I’m Hermione Winters. Transfer from Ilvermony.”

Lily then stood up from the table and gave a serious look to the four boys. “Be nice to her. I’m sure she’s scared enough already.” Then her eyes moved to Sirius. “Especially you, Black,” Lily said with an edge of steel in her voice.

Sirius’ brow furrowed as he stabbed at a potato on his plate. “Oh pipe down, Evans. She’ll be fine with us.”

Hermione couldn’t fight the smile that played on her lips when she heard the protective tone in Sirius’ voice.

“Well it was a pleasure meeting you, Hermione,” Lily said after huffing at Sirius. “I have some start of term things I need to attend to, but I’ll make sure to catch up with you later on in the common room.”

“Absolutely. It was so nice meeting you, too,” Hermione said, her mind still reeling from the entire experience.

After the feast, Hermione and the boys made their way up to Gryffindor tower. Again, Hermione tried to be extra careful to linger behind and give the impression that she was unsure as to where to go. She even let herself fall into the trick step, the one Neville so often forgot about.

When her leg disappeared, and Hermione staggered forward, Sirius stopped and immediately helped her up.

“Oh shit!” he exclaimed. “I’m sorry, Hermione. I forgot to warn you about that.”

“That’s alright. Thank you,” she said, pretending to be shaken up as he lifted her out of the hole.

Finally they all arrived in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady, and Remus gave the password, Gillyweed, then they led her through and into the common room.

Once they were all inside, James spread his arms wide. “Well, this is it. Home sweet home,” he told her.

Hermione looked around at the fluffy couch and armchairs she had so often occupied in front of the grand fireplace. Her eyes then glanced over the red and gold rugs on the floor, the tables the students used for homework and games, then the portraits on the walls. The common room hadn’t changed in twenty years, she realized, as she looked around and pretended to be in awe of her new home. “It looks very cozy,” she whispered. There was a strong part of her that wanted to cry. It was so familiar, yet so different that it caused a lump to form in the middle of her throat.

“It’s not so bad,” Sirius said with his chest puffed out.

Hermione noticed he was looking intenetly at her as he said that. She bit her bottom lip and looked away from him, as she felt the blush spread across her face. Internally she cursed her physical response to the obvious attractiveness of young Sirius Black. He was too charming for her own good.

She needed an escape.

“It’s been a long day, and I’m exhausted,” she announced and forced out a yawn. “Which way to my room?” she asked.

Remus pointed towards the stairs ahead of them. “Just go straight up there and to the right. I’m sure Lily will be up there with you shortly, in case you have any more questions or need help with anything.”

“Or you can always come and find me,” Sirius said with a wolfish grin.

Hermione shook her head. “Lily should be perfectly fine, but thank you anyway, Sirius.”

James, Remus and Peter sniggered.

Dragging her feet, Hermione walked towards the stairs then stopped before going up and turned around. “Thank you all for helping me and showing me around today. I truly appreciate it.”

The boys waved her off and all told her it was now problem, all talking over one another and making it hard for Hermione to distinguish what they were saying.

“It’s been a pleasure meeting you. I’ll see you all in the morning, I suppose.” She took a few steps up the stairs before calling over her shoulder, “Goodnight.”

She heard the boys call after her.

“Goodnight!” James yelled.

“Sleep well, Hermione,” came from Remus.

“Just wait, you’ll love it here,” said Peter.

Then she stopped short when Sirius shouted, “Try not to have too many dreams about me.”

Hermione slowly turned around and narrowed her eyes. “You sure think highly of yourself, don’t you, Sirius?”

Again the three other boys laughed loudly as she continued up the stairs, leaving an open mouthed Sirius behind. Although she did feel a small flutter in her stomach at his following words. Words she knew that she was not intended to hear.

“Merlin she’s something. Quite pretty, too. Don’t you think?”

She heard James next. “If you ask me, I think she’s too good for you, Padfoot.” His tone was joking, but it seemed Sirius didn’t feel that way, since she heard a slap followed by a grunt from James.

Remus and Peter both laughed and seemed to be on James’ side.

Hermione’s heart skipped a beat, and she truthfully felt sort of good about herself after hearing that someone as clever, kind and handsome as Sirius felt an attraction towards her.

No, she told herself. Stop it right now, Hermione.

Upon arriving in her dormitory, she found it empty. She took out her wand and summoned her night clothes from her trunk, then quickly got changed before climbing into her four poster bed. Prior to closing the curtains, she noticed the trunk next to the only other bed in the room had the initials L.E. inscribed on it. A part of her felt relieved, but a bigger portion of her felt incredibly nervous when she realized that Lily would be her only roommate. She truly liked the girl already, but knew that it was going to be difficult sharing a room with her, when she knew what Lily’s future held.

After curling up on her side, Hermione waved her wand and closed the hangings around her. She changed her position a dozen times as she attempted to become comfortable and thought of the previous several hours. While living in the magical world, she had experienced many abnormal things, but everything that she had been through that day took the cake.

Since she had not slept well the evening before, Hermione soon found herself taken over by exhaustion, and not much later she was fast asleep. She’d made it through her first day.


Chapter 6: Good Morning, Hermione
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The following morning Hermione was woken up by someone gently shaking her. She groaned and attempted to roll back over, yet cruelly they would not just leave her be and shook her once more. When she opened her eyes Hermione saw a pair of familiar green ones staring down at her.

“Stop, Harry. I’m awake,” she said groggily, still half asleep. Then through a yawn she added, “I had the strangest dream. I was at school with your par--”

Hermione froze when she heard a girl’s voice giggling. “Harry? Hermione, it’s Lily.”

Just then she realized where and when she was, and sat straight up. It felt like all of the warmth drained out of her as she looked at Lily, whose head was half cocked to the side, watching her as if she had lost her mind.

“Who’s Harry?” Lily asked.

After rubbing the sleep from her eyes, Hermione smiled sheepishly and lied. “I’m sorry, Lily. I was still sort of dreaming, I suppose.”

Lily stepped away and headed towards her wardrobe, where she began to rummage through her clothing. Hermione heard Lily’s muffled voice call back to her, as she stretched and swung her legs over the side of her bed.

“Well you better not let Black hear about you dreaming of some boy named Harry. From the way he was looking at you last night, I think you may have an admirer.”

Hermione felt a slight jolt in her stomach, but determinedly ignored it. It didn’t matter if Sirius admired her or not, because nothing could or would come of it. She snorted loudly at Lily’s comment and headed towards her own wardrobe. Lily turned around and raised a skeptical eyebrow at Hermione.

“So you don’t find him attractive at all? Most of the girls here won’t shut up about him,” Lily told her with a slight hint of disgust in her voice. It was obvious that Lily had never fell for Sirius’ charm. Either that, or she had and was rejected by him at some point.

Deciding to settle on the truth, Hermione shrugged. “I’m not saying he isn’t handsome...because he is. But I’m just not looking for anything at the moment. I’d rather focus on my studies.”

Lily looked over Hermione as if she was appraising her, and smiled like she was happy with what she saw. She nodded and returned back into her wardrobe, throwing bits of clothing on the floor as she tried finding something for her first day of classes.

“You’ve got a good head on your shoulders, Hermione. I feel that you and I will get along just fine.”

Hermione couldn’t help but to feel as if Lily was right. She did seem like the type of person who Hermione could easily become friends with and was glad to see that the two of them were hitting it off so well already.

“Lily?” Hermione called over. “I was just wondering why there aren’t any other girls in here.”

When she first arrived into the dorm and saw that there were only two beds in there, Hermione found it strange. She always had multiple roommates when she attended Hogwarts.

“Oh, that’s because we’re seventh years,” Lily explained. “Before this year I shared a room with two other girls, but this year they have their own dorm, and I -- well we, we have our own.”

Lily pulled herself out of her wardrobe and began walking towards a dark brown, tarnished, wooden door on the opposite side of the room. “Also this,” she said as she opened it with a smile on her face.

When Lily pulled the door opened Hermione was honestly surprised. She didn’t know of the special privileges seventh years received when it came to living arrangements, and wondered if it was the same in her time, because she didn't remember any of the seventh year girls talking about it before. Not only did the girls get to share a room with only one another, but they also had their own private bathroom attached to it. That meant no more sharing showers with a dozen other girls from all of the years. Granted, when she became a Prefect her fifth year, she did have more privacy in the Prefects’ bathroom, but this was entirely different. This was like having your own place with a flatmate. It comforted Hermione, because it meant that it would limit her interactions with too many students in that time frame. If she could help it, she would spend as much time with only the four boys and Lily as possible. She didn’t want to tamper too much with the future. Who knew would could happen.

Hermione nodded in appreciation as Lily stood next to their bathroom, like someone showing off a prize on a gameshow.

“That’s lovely, Lily,” Hermione said.

After gathering her things, Hermione headed in to take her shower, and more importantly, to try to calm herself thinking of the day ahead of her. Her nerves were on the fritz as she fretted about her first day of classes in the past, and encountering many students who she had only knew of by name, or knew of as adults for most of her life. A part of her was also morbidly curious about the Slytherins of this time, knowing how a good majority of them would grow up to become Death Eaters, or very sympathetic to Voldemort’s cause.

Suddenly a thought came to her, and she dropped her bottle of shampoo on the shower floor. She stood completely immobilized as she just then remembered who one of those Slytherins would be. It hadn’t even occurred to her before that moment that he had attended school with Lily and the boys as well. Professor Snape would be one of her classmates. Would he remember her in the future?

Hermione had listened to Professor Snape insult Harry’s father for the better part of six years, and she knew that they had not got on well at all. A part of her was sort of anxious to see their interactions together first hand, since she had already met James and did not think he was nearly as bad as Snape accused him of being.

When Hermione was dried and properly dressed for the day she grabbed her Gryffindor robes and attempted to put them on with trembling fingers. Now that she was ready and prepared to begin her day she was terrified. Again she had to remind herself to breathe and to take deep breaths as she opened the dormitory door, and made her way down the stairs into the common room.

For reasons beyond her comprehension, or her control, her eyes landed on Sirius the moment she stepped off of the stairs. She hated to admit it, but it appeared that Lily might have been right about her gaining an admirer. Sirius leaned against the back of the couch with his arms crossed over his chest, giving off an aura of extreme confidence and casualness. A grin with just a hint of mischief spread across his face when he saw her, and she wanted to slap herself when she felt a returning smile form on her own. Not only was he incredibly good-looking, he also had one of those smiles that seemed to be infectious; those ones in which you cannot help but to smile back.

Again she had to tell herself to pull it together when she felt her palms begin to sweat as he walked towards her.

“Morning, Hermione. Sleep well?” he asked.

Hermione nodded and answered in a cracked voice. “I did, thank you.”

Sirius playfully elbowed Hermione while flashing his teeth at her. “So you did dream about me then?” he joked.

Hermione snorted loudly at his forwardness and shook her head. “I don’t think I mentioned anything about nightmares, Sirius,” she responded with exaggerated sweetness.

She heard James chuckle before he leaned in a staged whispered, “Bad luck, mate,” to Sirius, who shrugged.

Remus then intervened, which Hermione was entirely thankful for.

“Sirius, leave Hermione alone, would you? She’s only been down here all of two minutes and I’m sure she’s feeling stressed enough since this is her first day of classes,” he scolded with a look which made him look far more like Professor Lupin than the teenager he was.

Hermione gave Remus a small nod and a half-smile to express her thanks, which Remus returned. She then noticed Sirius as he rolled his eyes and began fiddling with his tie, trying to loosen it even more than it already was.

Thankfully Lily tapped Hermione on the shoulder and handed her school bag to her.

“Come on, Hermione. We better get going so we don’t risk running late,” Lily said.

As Hermione and Lily turned to leave, James called out behind them. Lily audibly sighed.

“Oi, Evans. Save me a seat, yeah?”

Hermione watched Lily’s shoulders tense as she pinched the bridge of her nose. “Potter, aren’t you ever going to give it a rest?” she asked through her teeth. Hermione suppressed a laugh.

“Not until you say, ‘yes,’ I’m afraid,” James responded cheerfully.

Lily shook her head and opened her mouth to respond, but then appeared to think better of it. Hermione wondered exactly what happened to cause James and Lily to get together, since it felt as if Lily just barely tolerated James. Perhaps there was more to the situation than Hermione could see at the moment? Did Lily just require a gentle nudge in the right direction? James really wasn’t that bad, was he?

After leaving the common room, Hermione and Lily had a lovely conversation on the way to the Great Hall. They talked about their favorite courses and Hermione found out that she and Lily had quite a lot in common. Lily’s favorite subject was Potions, which Hermione did enjoy, but her favorite was Ancient Runes. And to her surprise, that was a class that Lily took, so she would at least have one person she knew in there with her.

When they arrived into the Great Hall it was starting to fill up with students from all four Houses. Lily and Hermione took a seat at the half-empty Gryffindor table, and began to load up plates with eggs, sausage and bacon. Hermione poured herself a cup of coffee and began to tuck in, shocked at how incredibly hungry she was, despite how nervous she felt.

Just as she was nearly finished with her food, Sirius plopped down beside her, and as he did, Hermione stiffened. She silently reminded herself to knock it off and relax, not wanting to give into whatever this effect he was having on her was. Remus and Peter then sat across from her, and James slid in next to Lily.

“Damn good food, isn’t it?” Sirius commented looking at Hermione’s plate. “I reckon that’ll be what I miss the most about this place,” he continued as he began to load up a plate for himself.

Hermione never really thought about it before, but Sirius was right. She’d never had food anywhere else like at Hogwarts. Not even at the Weasleys, and that was saying something, considering how amazing Molly’s food was. She would actually miss the meals at Hogwarts, too, she realized.

Before Hermione could answer, she was interrupted by James. “Look at our luck, Sirius. Best seats in the place, yeah?” he said loudly, with a pointed look at Lily and then Hermione.

Lily gave Hermione a look which clearly said, Please help me. Hermione couldn’t hold in the laugh that escaped her while looking at the wide panicked eyes on Lily.

“Sorry, Lily,” Hermione mumbled.

As the group fell into a mutual silence while they ate, Professor McGonagall stopped by to hand out their time-tables. Hermione gave her a tentative smile, which she was shocked to see McGonagall returned, then she unfolded the parchment to see which courses she had been assigned. She was taken aback when she saw her time table was exactly what she intended on taking up during her actual seventh year. Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Herbology and Charms.

“This is one of the best Mondays I’ve ever seen!” James exclaimed and caused her to jump.

Sirius leaned across her while holding his time table in the air. “Cheers, Prongs. Free period first thing, then right to Charms, followed by lunch. How easy of a morning could you get?” He then draped his arm around Hermione’s shoulders causing her to tense up once again. “Hermione, would you like to join James, Peter and myself during the free period?” he asked hopefully.

Hermione wiggled herself out from his hold and shook her head. “I’m sorry, Sirius, I can’t. I have Arithmancy.”

She noticed Remus’ head pop up when she said that and she was about to ask him if he would be in the class as well, but Sirius groaned loudly.

“Not another bookworm?” He looked horrified at the thought.

What’s wrong with that? she thought, slightly offended.

“Don’t listen to him, Hermione,” Remus said. “It’s about time Lily and I have another friend who takes their studies seriously.”

Sirius flipped off Remus then brought his attention back to Hermione. “Well...you were bound to have at least one flaw,” he joked then stood up and jerked his head at James.

Hermione narrowed her eyes and huffed. Her cheeks flushed with a bit of anger. “Goodbye, Sirius,” she snapped.

She heard Sirius let out a bark of laughter as he, James and Peter began to make their way out of the Great Hall. Right before they reached the door, Sirius turned and looked back at her. “I’ll save you a seat in Charms,” he yelled with a wink.

***
A/N - This is the end of what has been rewritten so far. The following chapters are going to be be severely edited, so you may continue if you wish to, but they're going to end up being significantly different.

Thanks for reading, hope you've enjoyed it so far!



Chapter 7: Unrelenting
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N - From this point forward the chapters have yet to be rewritten. These were originally written over 3 years ago, and honestly are not my best work. You can continue reading if you want, but after these are rewritten, a lot of this chapter and the subsequent chapters will be different.

**

"You know, he's not going to leave you alone until you say yes to him, right?" Remus was saying to Lily on their way to class. "And you can't tell me you don't fancy him, Lily. You've softened towards him, I can tell," he added.

Lily didn't say anything; she just stuck her tongue out at him.

"Very mature Lils," he said while Hermione giggled, knowing Lupin was right.

"Oh, and what are you laughing at? It looks like you're going to have the same problem with our dear Sirius," Lily asked, causing Hermione to stop walking for a moment.

Her heart felt like it had dropped out of her. "He – he’s only joking, right? I mean, he's just met me. He's just doing it because I'm like - like the shiny new toy… right?" she stammered to Lily and Remus.

"I wouldn't be so sure..." Lupin said cryptically.

Hermione found herself feeling butterflies in her stomach at the thought. Well, if you're going to be here for a while. You might as well have some fun. She thought for a moment, at least until the rational side of her brain took over. No. That isn't going to help or solve anything. Just stick to the task at hand, Granger.

The three of them entered the classroom and all found seats together. Hermione – her head still buzzing with thoughts of Sirius -  settled in to have her first lesson, wondering how different it would be than it was twenty years in the future. She was surprised to see an exceptionally young Professor Vector.

"Professor Vector is new. Only her second year teaching. She's nice enough, but gives a ridiculous amount of homework," Lupin whispered to her.

Hermione, obviously knowing this from her own time, pretended to look disappointed.

"That's alright, my old Arithmancy professor gave a ton of homework as well," she said with a smile.

An hour and a half later, the lesson was over and Lupin and Lily were more than impressed with Hermione. They themselves were both a brilliant Witch and Wizard, but they have never seen anyone who even remotely compared to Hermione. They were awed, happy to have someone else in the group who appreciated the value of knowledge, and slightly jealous.

"Wow Hermione. You really are quite brilliant, aren't you?" Remus asked her after class.

Hermione, of course, was the first person to shoot her hand up in the air to correctly answer every question. She earned 20 points for Gryffindor in her first class alone and she still had the rest of the day to go. Though she may not be in her own time, she was not going to let her grades suffer. That part of her is just too deeply ingrained at this point of her life.

"Yeah, seriously Hermione. You're the only person who has ever out answered me," Lily said, sounding amazed.

Hermione found herself blushing deeply and mumbled, "Thanks guys."

As Remus and the two girls entered the Charms classroom, Remus busted out laughing. Hermione and Lily turned deep shades of red and looked as if they could kill the two boys sitting grinning at them. Sirius and James, each at a different desk, have charmed red and gold, flashing, sparkling signs at both empty seats. They each read almost identically, only the names were changed. "Reserved: This Seat is Property of Lily Evans" the one next to James read. "Reserved: This Seat is Property of Hermione Winters" read the one near Sirius. Hermione had never been so embarrassed in her life and was just now realizing how it had taken Lily so long to say yes to James. These two boys were completely unbelievable.

"They. Cannot. Be. For. Real." Lily said through her teeth.

Every one of the students in that class were rolling with laughter, which made Hermione want to run from the classroom, hide under a desk, or hex Sirius right in his smug face. How anyone could possibly think this was a fool proof way to get a girl to like you, was beyond her. Already feeling like an oddity as it is, the last thing Hermione wanted was more attention her way.

"Lily? Do you think I would be in too much trouble if I murdered a student on my first day?" Hermione nearly growled.

"As Head Girl, you have my permission and my blessing," she answered sharply.

They both stood there for another moment, each looking for different seats but, sadly the only two seats left were the ones next to the boys. They each took a deep breath and marched over to them.

"Take that down now before I jinx your ass so badly you won't be able to ride your broom for a month," Lily shouted at James.

"Black. Get rid of it. Now." Hermione snarled while she held her wand threateningly in his face.

Something about the girls' expressions had the boys taking them seriously. They each waved their wands and the signs were gone.

"Geez ladies, take it easy. We only wanted to make sure you both had prime seats," said James rather sadly.

"Yeah, I mean, who wouldn't want to sit with us? We wanted to make sure you had your chance," Sirius said as cocky as ever while winking at her and leaning his chair back on its two hind legs.

Hermione and Lily both sat eerily similarly to one another. They each had their arms crossed across their chests so tightly, it looked like they were trying to squeeze themselves to death, while they both had looks on their faces that would make Voldemort himself cringe in fear.

Not even looking in Sirius’ direction, Hermione took out her books and prepared for class. A few moments later, Professor Flitwick – who Hermione knew was teaching at this point, but was glad to see regardless – bounced across the room and took his usual place, standing on a chair in front of the classroom. He greeted the class and gave them all their instructions for today’s lesson. 

Professor Flitwick had them reviewing turning water into wine. Hermione was the only one to get it perfect on her first try, again, earning her 10 more points. Sirius tried to catch her attention and speak to her the entire class but Hermione completely ignored him. She was not going to give in and make him think that sort of behavior would be acceptable with her.

After class was over, Lily and Hermione got up and left so quickly, they looked like blurs. Hermione was still fuming mad and did not wish to speak with either of those boys at the moment.

"Winters!"

"Evans!"

"Girls, wait up!" They heard the boys yelling.

Taking Lily by the arm and beginning to walk faster, Hermione whispered, “Just keep walking, Lily. Maybe they’ll go away.”

“Fat chance,” Lily said, as she was being stopped by James.

Hermione squared her shoulders and continued her half-walk, half-run, to the Great Hall.

Seconds later, Hermione felt someone pull her around by her elbow and that familiar fluttery sensations formed in her stomach. "Let go of me Black, if you know what's good for you," Hermione threatened flatly.

She noticed the slight hurt in Sirius’ eyes while he ran his hand through his hair, looking as if he were searching for the right words to say.

"Look, I'm sorry. We didn't mean to embarrass you. We thought it would be funny... and kind of cute," he said looking at her with puppy dog eyes.

She felt her heart melt when he looked at her like that. As much as she tried, she couldn't stay mad, which annoyed her to no end. Reluctantly, she grinned at him.

"That a girl. Come on, let me walk you to lunch," he said offering her his arm.

As she looped her arm through his, her heart rate picked up and she noticed Remus giving her an ‘I told you so’ look. Hearing James cat-call, she looked back and saw James smiling widely while Lily raised her eyebrows in question. Hermione shrugged and turned back around, continuing her walk with Sirius; a few girls shooting her daggers along the way.

"So what was your old school like?" he asked her suddenly. 

"Different,” she found herself answering without hesitation. “It's more modern. Not a castle, like here. This place is huge in comparison," she finished, glad that she had done some research on some of the other Wizarding schools a few years prior.

"It must be so hard losing your parents and moving so far away from all of your friends during your final year. I'm so sorry that all happened to you," he said kindly, surprising her.

"Thank you. I miss them more than you could imagine," she answered truthfully.

Thinking of her parents, Harry, Ron, Ginny, Neville and even Luna made her eyes tear up. Sirius, seeing she was close to tears, stopped and faced her.

"Hey, don't cry,” Sirius whispered; both hands on her shoulders. Hermione gave a tight smile as a tear rolled down her cheek, which Sirius gently wiped away. “I know it must be tough, but I promise we really are a good group. Even Evans is alright, I guess,” he chuckled. “You're not alone, ok? We treat our friends like family, Hermione. We'll take care of you," he said before taking her in for a hug.

After the initial shock of being in his arms, Hermione realized that under all the cockiness and jokes, he was pretty much the same guy she knew in the future. He was alright after all.

"Thanks Sirius. I really appreciate that. It- It's hard losing and leaving everything you've known, you know?" she said in a thick voice.

"Trust me, I have a slight idea of what you mean," he mumbled darkly.

She thought he must be referring to him recently running away from home to live at the Potters.

"Everything happens for a reason, Hermione. You must be meant to be here for one reason or another," he stressed, looking her right in the eyes.

Hermione let a laugh escape her. He had no idea how correct he was in that assumption...

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As they sat down for lunch, James pulled out his Time Table.

"Looks like Double Potions after lunch, that's not so bad. Oh wait, scratch that, it's with the Slytherins," grumbled James.

"Look on the bright side, at least we'll have Snivellus to entertain us," Sirius said with a wicked gleam in his eyes.

"Yeah, I guess you're right," James laughed.

"Can't you just give it a rest with that?" Remus pleaded.

"Er... Let me think about it. Ok, thought about it. Nope," Sirius answered.

Remus sighed impatiently while Peter laughed with glee.

He really is a little rat. Hermione found herself thinking. No, I mustn't judge. He hasn't done anything yet. He might still be alright. I just need to find a way to keep him from turning to Voldemort.

How she would do that, she had no idea. Then a thought occurred to her; what if I tell Dumbledore about the Horcruxes? Hermione knew what and where they were, he could destroy them now, in the past, and maybe Voldemort wouldn't be around during her lifetime. She would have to send a letter to him requesting a meeting.

Then, it wouldn't matter if Peter turned or not because, there would not be a Voldemort to join. Lily, James, and ultimately, Sirius would live. Harry would have the life he deserves, filled with family and people who love him. She was becoming very excited at the prospect.

Suddenly, someone snapped their fingers in front of Hermione’s unfocussed eyes. "Hello? Hermione? I said, are you ready to go? We're going to be late," Lily said while looking concerned for Hermione.

"Oh! Sorry. I was just lost in thought, I guess," she said, shaken out of her revelation.

"Clearly," Lily laughed.

Hermione gave Lily an apologetic smile, stood up and gathered her belongings. They left the Great Hall and all together, the six of them, took to the familiar path down to the dungeons for Potions.

Once they were in the class room, Sirius looked down at Hermione, giving her a pathetic look.

"Would you like to sit with me?" Sirius asked her, once again giving her the puppy dog eyes.

"I have a choice this time?” Hermione tapped at her chin while she cast her eyes towards the ceiling, giving the impression she was in deep thought. “Hmm… Well in that case, no thank you," she teased.

Sirius pretended to wipe tears from his eyes, stuck his bottom lip out and made it quiver. "B-B-But pweeease will you sit with me?" he asked her in a sad, stuttering, baby voice.

She was only joking; she already knew she was going to be sitting with him. But she enjoyed making him sweat, figuratively.

"Well..." she said, drawing it out longer, "I suppose I could", she said with mock disappointment.

"Yay!" he said while jumping up and down clapping like a child.

People were staring, again, so she grabbed his arm to make him stop. "Oh, will you knock it off, you look ridiculous. Come on,” she began to tow him towards an empty desk, “let’s get a seat near Lily and James. Merlin knows he'll guilt her into sitting with him as well," she muttered.

Sure enough, they found Lily and James sitting at the table right in front of them. Hermione laughed and tapped Lily on the shoulder. Lily looked back and shrugged to Hermione, who just nodded and said, "I know..."

Since this was the first class Hermione had with the Slytherins, she couldn't help but look around at some of the future Death Eaters. As her eyes scanned the room - three desks to her left - she noticed a greasy haired boy with oversized robes and a hooked nose. Besides the dirty hair, he wasn't horrible looking when he was younger, she thought. Severus Snape then looked up from his desk and straight up at her. His eyes were full of contempt. 

"I see Black found himself a new whore. What's the matter? Have you run through all of the girls here so quickly you have to settle for that?" he sneered.

As Hermione opened her mouth to make a retort, she was distracted by the sound of four chairs, simultaneously, scraping against the ground. The response to that statement was instantaneous. James, Lupin, Sirius and – she was extremely shocked to see – Peter stood up and pulled their wands on him faster than she would have thought possible.

"Take that back, Snivellus!" Sirius roared.

"How DARE you call her that!" James yelled.

"Completely inappropriate, Snape!" Lupin said.

"You greasy git!" Peter yelled.

Snape stood and pulled his wand on the boys and before he could get a spell out of his mouth, he was hanging upside down, as if he were hooked by his ankle. He was red in the face and incoherently shouting obscenities.

"I SAID take it BACK! Apologize to her! NOW!" Sirius looked beyond mad.

Snape spat down and the glob hit James in the face. At that moment the four boys jumped over their desks to get to Snape and Professor Slughorn walked in. Seeing the fight that was brewing in his classroom, Slughorn became rooted to the spot, his hand gripping at his chest.

"BOYS! What is all this?! Detention, the four of you! 20 points from Gryffindor as well! Put him down now, and return to your seats!" Slughorn yelled.

"But sir! He called Hermione a whore!"

"Yeah, we were just defending her, sir. He SPAT on me!"

"Sir, it was disgusting what he called her."

"He's a slimeball," the four boys were shouting at once.

Professor Slughorn sighed and turned to Snape, "Is it true you called her that disgusting name and spat at Mr. Potter?"

"Yes, sir," he answered reluctantly.

"Detention and 10 points from Slytherin for you as well, I'm afraid.” Slughorn waddled his way up to the front of the room and began speaking to the class. “Now, let’s all settle down and open our books to page 187. We are going to be attempting the Elixir of Life. It's rather tricky, so make sure you read the directions carefully.” He aimed his wand at the chalkboard and covered it with instructions for today’s lesson. “I shall be coming around at the end of the lesson to see how your potions have come along. You have one hour, supplies are in the cupboard. Now, off you go," said the teacher who, even now, looked quite similar to a walrus.

While Hermione and Sirius went for ingredients together, she still could not believe what had just happened. She looked back at Snape and saw that he was looking murderous. The Marauders and Snape did not get along, to put it mildly, but she did not realize how quickly things could escalate between them. All of the little fights and tiffs she saw between Sirius and Snape in her own time seemed tame by comparison. After they collected what they needed and began on the potion Hermione felt a wave of guilt.

"I'm so sorry you've got detention because of me. You didn't have to do that, I'm terribly capable of taking care of myself, you know," Hermione said to Sirius.

She felt terrible that he had detention, a little irritated because he didn't even let her attempt to stick up for herself and rather flattered he came to her aid that quickly.

"It was only a matter of time before James and I landed ourselves in detention, so don't worry, love. This still doesn't beat our record. Third year, we had a detention under our belts before breakfast our first day," he said proudly.

"You really are something else," Hermione said laughing.

Hermione began to chop up ingredients while Sirius lit the fire under their shared cauldron. She was completely engulfed in her work when Lily turned around, a sympathetic smile on her face.

"You alright, Hermione?" Lily asked her.

"Yeah, I'm fine. It's honestly no big deal. I knew someone like that at my old school, so nothing new," she said thinking of how Snape reminded her of Draco.

“Well. That was completely out of line. I’m sorry about that,” Lily said softly then turned back around. 

Knowing Lily had not spoken to Snape in over a year, it struck Hermione as odd that she was apologizing for Snape. Which left her wondering how many times in Lily’s life had she apologized for something Snape had said or done.

By end of the lesson Hermione, unsurprisingly, made a perfect batch of the Elixir of Life. "Oh my! Looks like we have another little potions genius on our hands! Simply delightful, Miss Winters. Ten points to Gryffindor," Professor Slughorn exclaimed, now eyeing Hermione with interest. Looks like I'll be receiving another invitation to the Slug Club. She thought to herself.

"Blimey Hermione, is there anything you don't do well?" Remus called over.

"Fly," she simply answered.

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Herbology was the next, and last class of the day. As they were all trekking past the gardens to the greenhouses, Sirius turned to Hermione.

"So you don't fly?" Sirius asked her.

"No, I'm not particularly comfortable with heights. I prefer to stay safely on the ground if I can help it," she said thinking of how she had hated riding Buckbeak, the Thestral, the Dragon they escaped Gringotts on, or any time she has been forced to ride a broom.

"Well that's a shame. I'm going to see what I can do to change that. I'll have to take you flying sometime," he said with a sly smile.

"Not a chance, Black," she said sharply.

They entered into the greenhouse and Hermione was pleased to see a young Professor Sprout was already teaching. "Good afternoon, class! Today we're going to be working with Venomous Tentacula. We're going to be juicing them. Be very careful, we don’t want any trips to the Hospital Wing on your first day back. Please make sure you have on your goggles and protective gloves. You can start now".

Hermione was relieved and not at the same time. She had done this last year, but she also remembered how horrible these plants were. There wasn't much time for conversation during today's lesson, due to the fact they were all wrestling with these tricky plants and trying their hardest not to be stung by the tentacles. The hour seemed to be up before she knew it and they were on their way back to the castle for a quick wash before dinner.

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The walk back to the common room was lovely and Hermione felt herself beginning to feel extremely at ease with Lily and the boys. Everyone joked and talked about their first day back and asked Hermione how her first day ever was going. She didn't do too much talking, just smiled and laughed a lot.

It was quite a different, yet pleasant, experience for Hermione. School during her time was constantly planning and scheming and trying to stay alive with Harry and Ron. It felt nice to just feel like a typical student for once. Even if she was anything but. Finally they arrived at the Fat Lady and one at a time they climbed in.

"Need help in the shower, Winters?” Sirius asked while giving her a wolf-like grin. “You know I'm always around to lend a helping hand. Or any other part of me you'd like," Sirius added as they entered the common room.

He wants to play? Alright, Sirius. Let’s play. "Not today, thank you. But if I should change my mind, you'll be the first to know," she replied with a wink.

Sirius stared in disbelief, clearly stunned that she was flirting back. "You - you sure you don't want to change your mind now?"

"Don't push your luck, Black." And with a flip of her hair, something she has never done in her life, she made her way up to her dormitory and to the shower.

She arrived back in the common room a half hour later feeling refreshed, recharged and a little empowered from her exchange with Sirius before her shower. The boys were all there already, they were just waiting on Lily. As Hermione walked towards them all, Sirius had the most breathtaking smile break out on his face at the sight of her. Once again, the butterflies in her stomach went crazy. She really wasn't sure how long, or if, she would be able to continue resisting him. But she knew she would try like hell.

"Took you long enough. You didn't have to spend all of that time fantasizing about me in there with you. You could have had the real thing," Sirius said while draping his arm over her shoulders.

For a moment, Hermione stood with her mouth gaped open in utter astonishment. Sometimes she really could not believe how full of himself he was. 

She shook her head and huffed. "Do you even hear yourself sometimes? I have never met anyone more in love with themselves in my life, Black. How do you even get that gigantic head off your pillow in the morning?"

"Well, seems like she's got you pegged, Padfoot," Remus said laughing.

"Bite me, Moony," he retorted.

A few minutes later Lily was finally ready and the group headed down for dinner. While they sat and ate, she couldn't help but notice Snape glaring at her for most of the meal. The way he looked at her was quite frightening and a chill ran through her at the sight of him. Sirius apparently mistaking the shudder for her being cold, put his arm around her shoulders. Her initial instinct was to playfully shake it off, but she honestly felt a little better with it there.

After they finished eating, they were trying to figure out what to do what the rest of their evening. Hermione, Lupin and Lily had a fair amount of homework to do; James and Sirius decided on Wizard's Chess; Peter played the part of the James and Sirius fan club. Hermione found herself starting to feel more comfortable, with the new friends she had made, than she honestly felt with people from her own time. Thinking of her own time brought her reason for being here back to the forefront of her mind. If she were being honest with herself, she hadn’t really given much thought to why she was here, and making all of these wonderful new friends, all day.

Alright, Hermione. You need to get your head back in the game. Remember, you’re not here to make friends. She needed to contact Dumbledore and began to write him a letter requesting to meet with him this Saturday. By the time she was finished with her homework and her letter to Dumbledore, it was too late to walk to the Owlery, so she figured she would get up extra early and send it before breakfast. It was now 11 pm and she was beyond tired. She stood up, stretched and yawned.

"Alright, I'm off to bed. I can't stay awake another minute," she announced to the room.

Lily closed the book she was reading and yawned as well. "Me too, Hermione. I'll come with you.”

While Lily put her books back in her school bag, Hermione turned her attention to the boys, who looked like they had no intentions on going to bed anytime soon. "Goodnight, boys. We'll see you in the morning," said Hermione. She and Lily started up to the girl’s dormitory when Sirius stopped her. Oh for Merlin’s sake… she mentally groaned.

Sirius, who looked genuinely hurt asked, "What? No kiss goodnight?" while puckering his lips.

Hermione rolled her eyes and took a step away from Sirius. "You cannot be for real. No, Black. No kiss. Now, goodnight," she said dryly as Lily stood laughing.

Leaving without another word, Hermione walked up the stairs; Lily laughing in front of her. When she entered the room, she slammed the door, clearly frustrated. She stormed right in the bathroom to brush her teeth and change. 

What is his problem!? I have made it abundantly clear, all day, that I am not interested. Why won’t he give it a rest?

But Hermione… You are interested…

No! No, I’m not! I can’t be… She argued with herself the entire time she was in the bathroom. 

Taking a deep breath, Hermione came out of the bathroom and flopped down into her bed. She laid on her side and propped her head up in hear hand, noticing Lily was smiling like a fool at her. 

“What?” Hermione snapped.

"I think Black has really got it bad for you, Hermione" Lily laughed.

That was the last thing Hermione needed to hear right now. "I'm sure he's like that with all the girls,” she tried to justify.

She knew that he had quite the promiscuous reputation while he was at school. Maybe he was just looking at her as another conquest, which would never happen. She refused to be used like that by any man. No matter how handsome and charming he was.

"Yes and no. Normally he'll throw the charm on, they'll fall right into his arms and a week later he's finished with them. Now there have been a few, a very few, who completely turned down his advances. He normally just shrugs it off and moves right along. But with you, he's unrelenting. I've never seen him like that with a girl before," Lily explained, clearly as baffled as Hermione felt.

Unfortunately, Hermione couldn't deny the little bit of glee she just felt at Lily's words. "I don't know Lily. I've only just met them. I'm not going to do anything yet. I just want to get to really know everyone first, you know?" she said.

"No, that's understandable. I keep forgetting I've only known you for two days. We've clicked so quickly, I feel like I've been friends with you forever," Lily admitted.

That touched Hermione to her core and she tried her best to hold back the tears that were threatening to fall. She felt the same way as well, mostly because of Harry, but she couldn't tell Lily that. "Thanks Lily. That really means a lot. I feel the same way, honestly. I'm so glad I met you all," she said.

"Trust me, we're all glad too. I can tell Remus adores you already, he's glad there's another brain in the group. James thinks you're hilarious, the way you keep putting Sirius in his place. Peter thinks you're nice. And I think you've already got Sirius wrapped around your finger," she added with a grin.

We really need to get off this topic of Sirius. It is all just rather confusing right now. 

"Ok, ok. Enough about me. What about you and James then?" she said, desperate to change the subject.

"What about us?" she answered slyly.

"You love him and you know it," Hermione said in a sing song voice.

"And on that note, Goodnight Hermione Winters!" Lily pretended to be angry, while turning her back on Hermione.

Hermione was laughing and said, "Goodnight, Lily Potter". Oops!

Luckily, Lily took it as a joke. "Ugh! Don't make me take back all the nice things I just said!" she jokingly screeched at Hermione, before she threw a pillow at her. Hermione laughed and tossed it back.

"Night Lil," she said, flopping over onto her pillow.

"Night 'Mione," Lily answered.

You need to watch what you say more carefully, Granger! She scolded herself before rolling over and instantly falling asleep, exhausted from her first full day.


Chapter 8: The Inevitable Breakdown
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A/N - Thank you, thank you, thank you!!  My editing hero, Mischief_managed18. You are the bestest!!! <3

**

The morning seemed to arrive mere seconds after Hermione closed her eyes. She was nowhere near rested enough, but she wanted to get her letter to Dumbledore as quickly as possible. Hermione dragged herself out of bed, showered quickly, grabbed her letter and threw on her cloak. It was just after sunrise by the time she was making her way to the common room, a time no one should be awake at, so she would not have to answer any awkward questions. When she came down the stairs, she realized she may have just jinxed herself with that thought. Sitting on her favorite arm chair by the fire was a, wide awake, Sirius. He looked towards the noise and his face was full of surprise as he saw Hermione. Oh for the love of… 

"Good morning, gorgeous. Where are you going so early?" he asked her.

"Good morning.” She tried sounding cheerful. “I had to send a letter actually. I wanted to get it sent out before breakfast." she answered truthfully.

"How do you know where to go?"  He cocked an eyebrow; looking at her a little suspiciously.

"Oh. I- Well… I don't really" she lied. "I thought I would explore and find it myself, which is why I'm leaving so early." There, that sounds believable. I mean, it is the crack of dawn. He’ll totally believe me.

"You don't have to wander aimlessly looking. I'll show you where you need to go, love," he said, looking excited about the prospect of time alone with her.

Of course you will… I really tell him ‘no thank you,’ but I have a feeling he will not take no for an answer. After debating whether she should turn him down, she eventually decided that it would look much better if she agreed. Well. I’m not supposed to know where I’m going, am I? I suppose there is no harm in Sirius accompanying me.

"Thank you, Sirius. I would appreciate that very much," she said, forcing a small smile.

Sirius made a face that made it appear as if Christmas had come early. Oh brother… Hermione rolled her eyes and walked across the common room to climb through the portrait hole. 


When she and Sirius reached the bottom of the stairs, Hermione turned the wrong way on purpose. Sirius grabbed her arm – which sent an electric shock right through her -  and pulled her in the right direction. Why is he affecting me this way? I knew him. Why does it feel so different now? With her heart pounding, they began their walk through the castle before walking out the front doors and over to the Owlery.

They walked together in an uncomfortable silence.  The tension that was forming between them was almost tangible. Hermione couldn’t deal with it any longer.

"So what are you doing up so early, Sirius?" she asked him, realizing he’d asked her and yet didn’t mention why he was up.

"Couldn't sleep. Gave up and decided to sit in the common room, I didn't want to wake the rest of the guys up," he told her with a shrug.

"I'm sorry. Is there something the matter?" she pressed.

She realized after asking him that may have been a little too personal. Come on, Hermione. You’ve only known him for two days at this point. He didn't reply and instead just looked ahead moodily.

"I'm sorry, that was rather forward, wasn't it?" she ask, feeling embarrassed.

"No. No. It's alright, I'm not offended. I just didn't know how to answer..." His eyes burned into hers, as if trying to silently communicate something to her.

Uh oh.
She thought, feeling rather uncomfortable. "It's ok, Sirius. You don't have to talk about it. I'll mind my own business." And I really don’t want to hear it. I can’t hear it.

"Hermione?" he asked quietly.

She was beginning to think she should have declined his offer. She didn't like where she thought this was going. Keep it together, Granger. Breathe.

"Yes?" she responded, her voice tiny.

Sirius cleared his throat. "The first Hogsmeade weekend is on the third Saturday of October," he said, but didn't continue.

"Oh. That's... nice?" she knew what he was trying to do, and she wasn't helping him get there. She figured that she would just play dumb. Maybe he'd chicken out and not ask her.

"Do you want be my date for it?" he blurted out.

So much for hoping.
She thought sarcastically.

They had stopped walking and she turned to look him in the eye. "Sirius-" she started.

"Wait, Hermione. Before you turn me down, because I can tell by the tone of your voice you are about to, just hear me out," he pleaded.

"Okay," she said cautiously.

"Look, it doesn't have to be a date, date. It can just be as friends for now. If it turns into more than that, great. But for now, we'll just say 'as friends'. Does that work for you?" he asked, still looking incredibly hopeful.

She thought there really couldn't be much harm in going as friends, even though she knew that was clearly not his intentions.

"Well... I- I guess that would be fine,” she reluctantly agreed. This is stupid. This is very, very stupid. You shouldn’t be encouraging him.

Sirius broke out in a huge smile. "Great! It's a date!" he said cheerfully.

"Sirius Black! You just said it wasn't a date!" she reminded him, angrily.

"That was before I got you to say yes. Now you can't take it back!" he smirked at her.

"You- You... I- I don't even know what to say. You're unbelievable, you are!" she shouted before she started walking away briskly.

"Hey! Hey! Wait! Come on, Hermione. So we're going on a date? What's the big deal? You only live once, right? Might as well enjoy it," he said to her.

Well in your case, Sirius. You may be able to get a chance to live more than once.
She thought. "Fine. Fine! You're right. So we're going on a date. Yay..." she gave in, quite unenthusiastically.

"That's the spirit! I told you I'd get you to say yes to me," he finished smugly.

Sirius was quite lucky he had good reflexes, he just barely missed a smack to the side of his head by millimeters.

An hour later Sirius and Hermione walked into the Great Hall together to much surprise. As for Lily, James, Lupin and Peter they had a sneaky suspicion they may have been together the moment they found them both missing.  Her new friends knew nothing had happened between them, but some of the other girls in school were a different story. 

Hermione, in all of her life, could not remember getting looks like that from anyone due to a boy. She made eye contact with a pretty brunette in Ravenclaw who was shooting daggers at her. Hermione, who thought the whole thing was rather amusing, burst out laughing.


"What's so funny?" James asked as Sirius and Hermione sat at the table with their friends.

"Girls,” she simply replied. She loaded up her plate with eggs and bacon while explaining further. “You should see the looks I'm getting from half of them. All because I walked in with you," she finished by poking Sirius in the ribs, which caused him to jump.

Sirius shrugged. "I told you babe, I'm a hot item. I didn't introduce myself as the famous Sirius Black for nothing," he said, as cocky as can be.

Hermione shared a look with Lily, whose eyebrows were meeting her hairline. The girls laughed so hard they felt as if their stomachs would split.

"Oh har har. So funny girls. Just wait until you start seeing your competition lining up, Hermione. You'll be begging me to turn them down and only have you. You could beg me now if you'd like. I just might consider," he said, putting his arm around her and pulling her close.

"Wow… Just- Just wow. You honestly think I would become jealous? I guess it's true what they say about the pretty ones, they're not too bright," she told him while squirming away from him.

James, Lily, Lupin and Peter laughed so hard, milk ended up coming out of Peter’s nose.

"You'll see, Hermione. I know you're already in love with me.” Hermione stood up, she was beginning to become quite irritated with his persistence and needed to get away. “You just don't know it yourself yet," he shouted after her as she quickly walked away from the table. Besides, I need my books from my room. She justified.  

"Of all the crazy, asinine, ridiculous- ugh! In love with him, indeed. Never in my life- The nerve of- Where does he get off?" Hermione was muttering to herself the whole way to the portrait hole.

"Hey. When you're finished talking to yourself, let me know so I can join in, ok?" Lily said from behind her. Hermione jumped violently, she hadn’t hear her approach at all.

"It seems like a certain someone has gotten under your skin," she said sing-song like.

"Him!? N-No! Not at all. He is the most intolerable, insufferable, big-headed, conceited, annoying-" she rambled until Lily cut her off.

"So why did you agree to go on a date with him then?" Lily asked.

I’ll kill him, myself. I swear on Merlin’s wand, I will. Hermione's mouth opened with a slight pop. "He told you? Already? It's not a date!” she nearly shrieked. “He tricked me. He asked me to go with him as friends and as soon as I told him 'yes', he starting calling it a date! He's insufferable," she shouted.

"Yes, I know. So you've said. You know, Hermione. It seems like you're resisting mighty hard. Why is that?" Lily asked wisely.

"Yeah? Say yes to James yet?" she demanded. She was becoming angrier by the second.

"Hey now. Don't take it out on me! All I'm saying is, for someone who claims to dislike him as much as you do, you certainly let him get to you enough. Is there someone at your old home still?" she asked.

Hermione gave the password and the girls climbed through the portrait hole. She thought of just ignoring Lily as they both walked up to the dormitory, but she changed her mind. I shouldn’t be taking this out on Lily. She’s been nothing but kind to me.

Hermione sighed; her shoulders fell. "No. It's nothing like that. It's just complicated," she admitted.

"You do like him though, don't you?" Lily pressed.

Hermione thought about it for a moment, exhaled loudly and finally admitted, "I might..." Even though you shouldn’t. You’re not meant to be with him, Hermione. You’re not meant to be here, period. This isn’t right, her conscience screamed at her.   

"Then what's the problem?" she asked kindly.

"I don't belong here, Lily! I can't do this!" she exclaimed and ran out of the dormitory, through the common room and out of the portrait hole to the nearest bathroom. She locked herself in a stall and cried all through her first Ancient Ruins class. This was all beginning to feel a whole lot like her real first year at Hogwarts.

Hermione came out after a while, avoided the whole lot of them and attended the rest of her classes. She found seats away from all of them for the rest of the afternoon, ignored their many attempts to gather her attention, did not go to lunch, and returned to her room after her last class intending to skip dinner as well.

Now that she had admitted it, not only to herself, but to Lily as well, she was a complete mess. It was one thing to feel as if she maybe had something for Sirius, but a completely different thing to say it out loud. She could not think of a time that anyone had made her feel anything like this. Not so quickly, at least. Never was she one to believe in love at first sight and she still wasn’t. It wasn’t love, but there was definitely something between them, which frightened her horribly. She placed a charm on her curtains so they would not open and immediately began to cry again. I’m from the future! I knew him as grown man, which he will be when I go back – if he survives. This shouldn’t be happening! I’m only supposed to save these people, not form relationships with them. Certainly not a romantic relationship. Get yourself together, Granger!  

Lily, of course, was completely worried about Hermione. She searched everywhere for her before she found her in bed with the curtains drawn. Not knowing what else to do, she attempted to open them but they would not budge.

"Hermione?" she asked softly. Lily received no reply, save for a sniffle. "Hermione, you know you can talk to me, right? Please- I- what's wrong? What did you mean you don't belong here?" she asked her, her voice gentle.

Hermione took a deep breath and gave in. She opened the curtains from around her bed, "I- I j-just m-mean that... I-I'm not f-f-from here originally. T-That I'm n-new," she hiccupped.

"Oh honey, you mean you feel like you don't belong? That's not true. Listen to me, okay. We all like you very much. You fit in with us instantly. That doesn’t happen often, honestly. You really do belong with us," she leaned over to give Hermione a hug.

Hearing Lily tell her that she belongs with them brought on a whole new round of hysteria, which honestly frightened Lily slightly. Lily didn't know what to do for the poor girl that sat before her, who was clearly having a hard time adjusting to her new school and new life.

"Shhh. Shhh. It'll be alright, Hermione," she tried to sooth Hermione as best she could. "Come on, get up. I'll have the boys bring some food up to the common room and we can all eat here. I know that the guys are worried about you too. Come on honey, up you go," Lily said while physically trying to pull Hermione off the bed.

Hermione stood up, pulled herself together and began to feel rather embarrassed of herself. "I'm s-sorry Lily. I don't know where that all came from," she sniffled. “I’m usually not this hysterical.”

Today was her third day in the year 1977. She had made it through her first two days alright. Today however, it seemed the reality of when and where she was, and who she was with, came crashing down. Today she was not the brightest witch of her age, as she was so often told. She was a scared and overwhelmed eighteen year old kid. She needed this breakdown like she needed air. It helped clear her head and she was beginning to feel a little better already.

"Are you alright now, honey?" Lily asked her.

"Yeah. Yeah, I think so. I'm so sorry about that, again," she answered.

"Please don't apologize. I'm surprised you've held it together as long as you did, considering what you've been through recently. It would be enough to make anyone break down," she told her with a smile.

You have no idea. Hermione thought. "I'm going to wash up and clean my face quickly. I'll meet you downstairs?" she said, returning Lily’s smile.

"Sure. I'll go grab the boys and have them bring up some food!" When Lily reached the door, she looked back and asked, "You're sure you're ok? I feel terrible leaving."  

"No really, I've got it together now. I'm fine. Thank you Lily," she said, smiling at her once again. Lily gave her a fleeting smile in return and headed out the door. 

While Hermione was in the bathroom, she gave herself a little pep-talk. Alright, Hermione. You really need to pull yourself together. For Merlin’s sake, you’ve broken into Gringotts and the Ministry! You were almost killed more times than you can count. You can handle this. She took a deep breath and splashed some water on her face.  

Hermione was back in the common room 20 minutes later to find it full of laughter and food.

"There she is!" Sirius exclaimed. He jumped up and darted across the room. He pulled her in for a bone crushing hug upon reaching her which – as much as it bothered her – made her knees go weak. "Hermione, I'm sorry. I feel like everything was entirely my fault. I'll take it easy with you from now on, I promise," he said and she was surprised by her sincerity.  

Even thought it was partly his fault, she hated him feeling that way. "No Sirius, really. It wasn't you. I guess it was just everything piled up and it all got to me today… finally. You know, moving, switching schools, my family, missing old friends and all of that. It was nothing you said or did," she, somewhat, lied to him.

"I'm sorry. I keep forgetting how hard this must all be for you. Still, I'll calm down a bit. I don't want to make it harder for you," he said while looking directly into her eyes.

His eyes were so beautiful, she felt as if she could lose herself in them forever. They didn't have the hallowed and deadened look in them that she had come to know. He was still young and carefree and untainted from that awful prison. They must have stood there holding one another's gazes for quite some time because one of the boys cleared their throats loudly.

"Sooo… are we going to eat tonight? Or are we saving this all for breakfast?" James asked them, looking rather amused.

"What?" Sirius said, still locked onto her light brown eyes.

"Oi! Padfoot! Food!" James yelled.

The volume of his voice seemed to snap Hermione out of her trance. She jumped and said, "Oh lovely, I'm starving!"  She walked to the couches and armchairs in front of the fire and began filling her plate with food. What in the name of Merlin’s magical pants was that?! Something had happened between them at that moment. She had butterflies in her stomach and her mouth had gone dry. It was then that she realized, while everyone else was eating and joking around, she was really falling for Sirius. Oh no! She thought desperately. 

After dinner was over, the group stayed lounging around the fire. James sat in one of the armchairs while Lily sat on the floor in front of him; resting her head against his knees. Lupin sat in the other armchair, reading a book. Peter was lying on his stomach on the floor, looking through his chocolate frog cards. Sirius and Hermione were on the couch, his arm around her shoulders while she rested her head on his shoulder; feeling very at home there. Around eight that evening he leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Come on a walk with me?"

Her whole body tensed up. She knew, with every bit of her, that it was a terrible idea. Yet there was some part of her that wanted to take that risk and she found herself saying yes anyhow. They both got up and started to walk towards the portrait hole. This is going to end badly. I just know it.

"Where are you two going?" Lily asked.

"To get some air," Hermione said while giving her a look which, she hoped, conveyed everything was alright.

They walked right out of the castle and towards the Black Lake. Just tell him that you’re not interested. Don’t lead him on. You need to tell him that you do not have any feelings for him. She repeated this in her head the whole walk down to the tree that she had spent so many hours before with Harry and Ron.

Together they sat down in the grass, as she waited for Sirius to break the silence. "Hermione, look," he began and swallowed loudly. "Something happened between us back there, you can't deny that. I felt it… and- and I know you did too."

He was right, she could not deny it. But she would.

"I don't know what you mean,” she whispered, staring out across the lake.

"Come off it, Hermione! You know that there is something there between us. You've known it since I first saw you on the platform. We couldn't take our eyes off one another!"

Again, he was right. Again, she could not deny it. But, again, she would.

"Sirius..." she said slowly, unsure of what to say.

Sirius stood up quickly, running both hands through his hair. "No. No, Hermione. I don't know what you're afraid of, but I'll tell you the truth. I've never felt like this about anyone before. I don't know what it is with you!” He began to pace. “I'm not saying this to make you jealous, or to make myself look cool but, I have turned down six girls already, just in the three days we've been back. You can ask James, I've never turned down a date before. Ever.” Stopping his pacing, he turned and stood right in front of where she was sitting. “At first, I had no idea why I was saying no. I thought I was losing it or something, but then tonight up in the common room, that's when I knew. It's you. I can't get you out of my head. Please tell me you feel the same way," he pleaded with her.

For the third time, he was right.

But she couldn't let this go on. If she failed, went back to her own time and he was dead... It would destroy her. Even if she didn't fail and he was alive when she returned. She would be so much younger and he may not want her any longer. This was a no win situation for her. She had to nip this now, before it got any more out of hand. Oh Sirius… I’m so sorry. A single tear rolled down her cheek.

"Hermione, please say something. I'm dying here," he said desperately.

She took a deep breath and said, "Sirius, I don't know what to say. I just... I can't. I just can't".

It tore her apart to say it, but she knew it had to be said.

“Why? Give me one good reason why not, and I'll leave you alone for good, I promise," he challenged angrily.

She didn't know what to tell him. The only legitimately good reasons she had, she couldn't tell him. She could hardly say, Because, I'm from the future, about 20 years in the future in fact. Oh, and by the way, you're dead. So are James and Lily. Peter turned out to be a traitor to all of you, framed you for their deaths, and he is dead as well. I'm here to try to change that from happening. So if I succeed, I will go back to my own time, you will have to wait 20 years for me to grow up, and then I will be quite a bit younger than you. Good enough reasons? She let out a short bitter laugh at the thought.

"I'm glad to see you think this is so funny,” he spat sarcastically.

Hermione’s eyes softened. "No, I don't. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to laugh. It was just because, I can't give you a good reason. I'm sorry," she admitted while doing everything she possibly could to avoid his eyes.

"Then I'm not going to give up," he said stubbornly.

What is wrong with him?! "Well then I hope you enjoy being disappointed!" she yelled as she got up and started to run back to the castle.

She just made it back inside when she heard faintly from far behind her "Hermione! Please! Come back!" She did not stop and she did not turn around. Her feet carried her all the way to the portrait hole, past everyone in the common room and straight up to her room.

"That couldn't have been good," James said to Lily as they watched he fly by.

A few moments later, Sirius came barreling through the portrait hole. He looked around the common room for Hermione, his eyes and hair wild.

"Padfoot? What happened?" James asked him.

Sirius didn't answer, he stormed past everyone and went straight to his dormitory and slammed the door. Neither one of the came out for the rest of the evening.

Hermione changed for bed and put a sealing charm on her curtains again. There was no way she could answer any of her friends’ questions tonight, as she was sure they were wondering what had happened. She could not properly explain without revealing who she really was. Just as she was expecting, she heard Lily enter the room a little while later.

"Hermione?" she whispered. "Hermione? Are you awake?" she asked.

For a moment she thought about answering her. Desperately, she needed someone to talk to, someone who she could really confide in, who could know the whole truth. Unfortunately, she did not have that luxury. She remained silent and heard Lily's footsteps go back down the stairs to the common room. Well this is a right mess you've gotten yourself into! She thought to herself.

Flipping over on her side, she closed her eyes and attempted to sleep. She could not afford to miss another class this early in the year. Eventually, sleep came, along with dreams of a dark hair, grey-eyed man, a shaggy black dog, her and Sirius soaring high in the air on Buckbeak.

Lily would never tell her, but she heard her say Sirius... longingly in her sleep. That was when Lily vowed to figure out why Hermione was so reluctant and to help get her friends get together. She also realized, after watching them, she decided she should probably give Potter a break as well.



Chapter 9: These Foolish Games
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A/N - I, once again, must give my sincere thank you to Mischief_managed18 for taking the time to do such an amazing job editing for me! <3



 

***

 

The following morning Hermione woke up feeling ill at the mere thought of the night before. It was still rather early and Lily was not yet awake so Hermione slipped out of bed as quietly as she could. She had a quick shower and thought she would take the long way to the Great Hall. By the time she entered the hall there were only a handful of students there. Most of the students wouldn't be arriving for another fifteen minutes at least. After glancing around to make sure no one was there, she sat at the Gryffindor table and began to eat her eggs and bacon. In the middle of her breakfast an owl dropped a letter in front of her. 


 

Miss Winters,

I would be delighted to meet with you. I shall see you in my office 10 am this Saturday morning.



Hope you are enjoying your time here.


 



Yours, Most Sincerely,

Albus Dumbledore




P.S. I still enjoy Jelly Slugs. 




 

She put the letter from Dumbledore in her bag, feeling quite relieved. From the past few days alone, she was already feeling extremely overwhelmed and really just needed someone to talk to. A few moments later, much to her relief, Lily sat down next to her.

"What-" she started upon seeing Hermione’s face.

"I don't want to talk about it." Hermione said quickly, cutting her off.  

Lily looked slightly crestfallen but seemed to know not to push her, figuring that she would talk when she was ready. "Ok. We don't have to talk about it," she said, putting some food on her plate and picking at the toast.


The girls ate in silence as Hermione seemed to just push her food the plate more than anything else. She was dreading seeing Sirius again and was hoping that Lily would finish quickly so they could get out of The Great Hall.
 

Finally, ten minutes later, Lily's plate was clear. Then, Hermione glanced up and saw the boys entering the hall. Her heart stopped for a moment and then restarted, beating double time. She needed to get out of here… now.

 


"Ready?" Hermione asked, looking over Lily's shoulder. Upon noticing where Hermione was staring, she turned around to see the boys walking in and agreed to leave.

The girls rose from their seats and collected their belongings just as the boys reached the table. James and Lupin looked slightly hurt and confused. Although, after seeing what happened last night, they weren't very surprised that the girls weren’t all that anxious to stay.



 

James looked at Sirius and noticed he swept right by without saying a word or even glancing at Hermione. He sat down and began filling his plate, all the while never looking up. Hermione felt the pain spread slowly throughout her body.


 

She shot a panicked look at Lily, which Lily knew meant that she needed to get out of there as quickly as possible. After giving the boys an apologetic look and shooting a glare at Sirius, she hooked her arm around Hermione's and pulled her away. James and Lupin started to yell after them.

 

 
"Where are you girls going?" James asked them.


"Yeah, we just got here!" said Lupin. 

Sirius, however, continued stabbing at his breakfast as if it had personally offended him. Lily glanced between Hermione and the boys, trying to come up with a good excuse.


"Hermione wanted to see where the Library is, so I told her I would show her before class," she lied.
 

Lupin smiled in approval while James looked disgusted at the thought of anyone actively seeking out the Library. "Brains..." he muttered.
 
Lily rolled her eyes at James's attitude towards anything involving applying yourself. She steered Hermione towards the door, realizing that her friend was on the verge of tears.
 
"We'll see you in class", said Lily to the boys.



"Bye", mumbled Hermione and they left the Great Hall. "Thanks for that, Lily", she said, grateful for the fact that Lily had lied to the boys.


"Don’t mention it. I could tell you two were not ready to be near one another quite yet. Are you ready to talk about it?" she asked her, sounding very concerned.

Lily's eyes were full of nothing but compassion. For a moment, Hermione considered telling her to bugger off but could tell Lily was genuinely concerned. She could tell that Lily was not just looking for gossip so she decided to go ahead and tell her.

She sighed, "During our walk last night, our conversation became a little intense. He began to tell me he thinks he is beginning to have real feelings for me, how he's never felt this way about a girl and how he's turned down numerous dates so far this year... He kept demanding me to admit I feel something as well," she poured out in a rush.
 
In all honestly, she did feel a little bit better now that she spoke about it with someone.
 


"Well? Don't you?" Lily asked her. Starting to become really concerned with how Hermione was adjusting and handling the given situation.


Yes… every word he said was true. "It's complicated, Lily," she snapped.  

"Only because you're making it that way,” Lily said flatly.

She was right, but Hermione had a good reason for doing so. She did not want to let her heart go to someone who may either not be around at all, not want her  for any number of reasons, or have to watch him with someone else upon her return. She didn't answer, she just gave her a sad grin and they continued towards they're Defense Against The Dark Arts class.

As they were waiting outside of the classroom, they could hear the boys loudly joking and messing around as they came down the hall. Hermione's stomach was doing back flips.
 
"Evans! Hey Evans!" James yelled as Lily rolled her eyes.

"Dear Merlin... Help me," she muttered to Hermione. "What, Potter?" she yelled back at him, though she was smiling now.

"Go out with me?" he was still yelling, grinning ear to ear.

Lily took a look at Hermione. Clearly she was being silly about Sirius and yet, she was doing the same with James. It took some outside perspective to see how ridiculous it was to deny someone access to your heart, when in actuality, you wanted them to have it. She did fancy him, so... why not?


Lily took a few steps towards James and looked him straight in the eyes. At first, James thought she was going to hex him, but then he saw the small smile on her lips. One unlike he had ever seen on her before. He began to look slightly hopeful.

"Ok, James. I'll go out with you," she said, completely serious.

The reaction was comical:


Lupin's jaw dropped so fast, it was a wonder that it didn’t fall off.

Peter's eyes were bugging out of his head.


Hermione looked at Lily like she had three heads.


 

Sirius exclaimed loudly, "Well holy shit! About time, mate!" While clapping James on the back.


James looked similar to someone who was just hit over the head. He stood there blinking rapidly, staring at Lily as if she just started to speak in Mermish.


Lily was beginning to become worried. James was looking slightly ill all of a sudden and Lily was wondering if maybe he really didn't fancy her and the past six years had all been some sort of a joke from him.
 
"P-Potter? Are you alright?" Lily asked, looking and sounding concerned.


"You... You... Did you just- You? Yes?" was all he was able to say.

Lily was relieved. He was just stunned that after so much persistence she had finally said yes. She then began to feel a little irritated that he didn't immediately kiss her or hug her or smile or show any sign of happiness after so many years of chasing her.


"Yes, James. I said yes," she said rather impatiently.



After that, he did not hesitate. He ran over, picked her up, spun her around and pulled her in for a bear hug. It was clear that he was happier than anyone could possibly imagine. He had finally managed to get her to say yes.


"Can't... breathe… Potter!" Lily gasped.

"Oh! Sorry, Lily," he said as he gave her a soft kiss on the cheek.

Lily blushed deep scarlet, and to general astonishment, giggled. Hermione could not stop smiling. She was so happy she was able to witness the day Lily and James became a couple. She couldn't wait to tell Harry.



Though, if she succeeded in what she was meant to do here, maybe she wouldn't have to be the one to tell him this story. They could tell him together on their own. The mere thought of Harry made her think of Ron and that lead to thinking about everyone else she had left behind.
 

She was becoming overrun with emotion yet again, but pulled herself together quickly. They all entered the classroom and took their seats. James and Lily obviously, as they would from now on, sat together. Peter grabbed the empty seat by Lupin. Hermione looked around and the only empty seat was...

 


Of course,
she thought. Right next to Sirius.


As she took her seat, he did not bother to look at her but instead, more or less, tried to pretend she was not there. She couldn't help but be bothered by this and was unable to concentrate on what the short, stout, mousy haired Professor Clearwater was saying during the entire lesson.

She thought she heard something about Fiend Fire, but wasn't quite sure. Which was fine, after everything she had been through, there was nothing this class could teach her. She tried to look at Sirius, to gather his attention more than a few times to no avail.  After what seemed like hours, the bell finally rang. Sirius got up quickly, leaving a miserable looking Hermione behind. She stood there for a few moments, just staring after him. Lupin came over and put his arm around her sagging shoulders before he picked up her bag and pulled her gently towards the door.

"If you just talk to him about it he'd be ok, you know," Lupin said to her as they walked out together. "He's really not that bad, Hermione. I think you would be really good for him actually," he said kindly to her.

As she looked at the slightly scratched face of Lupin, she knew he was right. There was just no way to truly explain why she was being so stubborn.



As she looked at Lupin and really studied his face, she noticed he was looking a little ill. The full moon must be approaching soon. Thinking of that made her feel so sad for the poor boy who was trying to comfort her. She then pulled herself out of it and decided to try to give him the best response she could.


 
"Remus, I've been through so much recently. I just can't do this right now," she told him.



"Well, have you explained that to him?" he asked.


Partly. "Not exactly..." she admitted.

"Just tell him the truth, Hermione. He'll understand," he added.

The truth, yeah. That's easy.




 

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For the rest of the week, Hermione and Sirius did not speak to one another unless it was absolutely necessary. Sirius was acting like normally with everyone else- joking loudly, pulling pranks on people, flirting with anything that gave him attention and the whole time, it was driving Hermione mad.


Friday night, she excused herself from the rowdy common room very early. It was only 9 o'clock. She had her meeting with Dumbledore in the morning, but that wasn't until 10. She really just couldn't stand watching some fifth year floozy hanging all over Sirius.
 

"I'm going to bed," Hermione said while staring at Sirius and the tall, blonde, blue-eyed, plastic doll type girl. Typical.

James watched Hermione staring straight at Sirius and the girl he was flirting with, with an unread book sitting in Hermione's lap. He was aware Sirius was hurting more than he was letting on. Though he didn’t know here well, he hated seeing the pain Hermione was obviously in. James had no idea why she was so reluctant to give him a chance as they both clearly felt something for the other from the go. That much was obvious to everyone from the first hour they met.

"Hermione, you know he's only doing it to make you jealous. And from the look on your face, it's working," James said to her. 


"I. Am. Not. Jealous." she nearly snarled at him.

"Please, Hermione! You look like you're ready to claw her face off" Lily laughed.

"There is nothing between me and Black," her mouth twisted around his name. "He is perfectly able to do whatever he pleases. Now, if you don’t mind, I'm going to bed," she said, slamming the book shut.

She hugged Lily and James goodnight, stood up and marched across the common room, her head held high the entire way. She appeared to be proud and uncaring of what was going on around her.  She did not want to give him the satisfaction of knowing how much this was bothering her and she managed to get to the stairs without even glancing in his direction. What she didn't realize was that Sirius watched her the entire time.


Once in bed, Hermione tossed and turned for hours yet sleep would not come. She was nervous about meeting with Dumbledore and was scared that she would fail. It terrified her that the people she was growing to love could be dead when she returned to her own time. Hermione absolutely adored her new friends. Lily was one of the kindest, funniest and smartest people she has ever met. James really was an arrogant arse, but he had a heart of gold. Lupin she had already known, loved and respected and she was now finding herself loving him more as his peer. Peter was... alright. He was nice enough, or at least now he was. Sirius was loud, cocky, obnoxious, insufferable... kind, handsome, funny, charming.

No! She thought to herself. Stop it right now. You're not here for any kind of social life, you have a job to do.

And with a frustrated punch of her pillow, she gave up on sleep. She got up out of bed and went down into the common room, thinking she would read for while. She picked up a book and sat down on the armchair in front of the fireplace. The fire was burned out now, as it was very late, so she pointed her wand down to make it reignite, a large, crackling fire now in the center.

A good hour must have passed while she was reading and suddenly, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She took in a quick breath and her whole body stiffened- she didn't have to turn around to know whose hand it was.

 
"Couldn't sleep either?" Sirius asked softly.


"No," she whispered.
 

Does he ever look unattractive, she thought as he walked over to sit across from her. Even in a pair of blue flannel pajama pants and a tight grey t-shirt he was gorgeous. The way the pants hung loosely off of his hips and how the t-shirt emphasized his chest and arms was mind boggling. Sirius was thinking the same thing about her in her red and white stripped pajama pants and white tank top. After they both managed to stop checking the other out briefly, they both began to speak.

"Look," they said at the same time. 

Sirius smiled at her, "You first," he said, nervously running his hands through his hair.


Hermione wasn’t entirely sure what to say to him. She couldn't tell him the truth, but she would try not to lie. It was a very fine line to walk, but one she must. She didn't want to lose him… she couldn’t.
 

"Sirius, I- I've been through a lot recently. So much has changed very quickly for me," she said, now close to tears.


"I know, Hermione. I was being foolish and selfish. I didn't even think of the fact that you've just lost your parents, moved from your home and entered a new school and new environment during your last year. It must be exceedingly difficult," he said kindly to her.
 

"You can't even imagine," she said softly.

While staring intently at the girl, Sirius could see the genuine pain she was in. He hated himself in that moment for contributing more pain to her life. How he ever thought his aloof and jealously inducing attitude would work on this girl was beyond him. She was better than that and he knew it. From now on, he would play nice.

"Listen, I'll ease up. For real this time. We can just be friends and if something happens, it happens. If not... well I'd rather have you around as a friend than not at all. Ok?" he told her.

"Thank you, Sirius," she said as a tear fell from her eye.


He reached over and wiped the tear from her cheek. "Anytime, beautiful. Now, why don't you go and try to sleep?" he said.



"Alright... You should too", she told him



"I will shortly," he said with a sweet smile.
 

Sirius and Hermione both stood up and he pulled her in for a gentle hug. The only thing he wanted to do was make her feel better, and take all of her pain away. He rubbed up and down her back as he held her for a moment, savoring in her sweet floral sent. She sighed quietly while all she was thinking was how good it felt to be in his strong arms. 


"I know it all seems a bit much now but, everything will be ok in the end", he told her and she couldn’t help but believe him.

He then leaned down and gave her a very soft, sweet kiss on the cheek. She closed her eyes to the feel of his lips on her face and said, "I hope so,” unable to say much more than that.

She then turned and went back up to the dormitory and fell into her bed, falling asleep soon after with her hand touching the spot he had kissed.



 



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She woke very nearly late for her appointment with Dumbledore the following morning. Flying out of bed, she dressed quickly and ran down the stairs.


"Whoa, where's the fire?" Lily asked from a chair in the common room.


 
"I'm supposed to see Professor Dumbledore in five minutes!" she said, running through the common room and out the portrait hole.



She arrived at his door just in time and gave a small knock.



"Come in, Miss Granger," he said.


Hermione was out of breath as entered the office and sat down in the chair in front of his desk. Looking around for a moment, she was surprised to find it looking exactly the same. The silver instruments were turning everywhere, bits of smoke puffing from some and the Pensieve sitting in the cabinet to her right. She had hardly realized it last time she was in here, as she was still in quite a bit of shock from arriving twenty years in the past mere hours before.
 

"I'm sorry.. Professor. Over- Over slept," she huffed.
 
"Not to worry, Miss Granger. You are right on time. Now, after you catch your breath, how can I help you?" he asked her.

 

Hermione smiled, grateful that she had a minute to collect herself.


"Sir, I was wondering if I could speak to you, about the future," she said.
 

"I daresay you could, Miss Granger. But I have to impress upon you the seriousness of passing the secrets you possess on to those of us here at the present time," he said. 


"I understand, sir. I was just thinking… Well, I know something about Lord Voldemort. Something that could help bring him down now," she said in a rush.

Dumbledore did not say a word, but let her continue."You see sir, he had Horcruxes. Seven in fact," she told him


Dumbledore's face seemed to lose a bit of color at this information. "Seven- My word... I had my suspicions, but- seven?" he said clearly stunned.
 

"Yes sir. And not only do I know what they are, I know where they are. You see, sir. In my time, in the future, I had just returned from months of hunting and destroying them with my friends. With Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley. Harry will be James and and Lily's son. Ronald will be the youngest son of Molly and Arthur Weasley," she explained when she realized he wouldn’t have known who they were.


"But, why three young people such as yourselves?" he asked, shocked.


Hermione then proceeded to tell Dumbledore of the Prophecy would come to pass, Snape's involvement and Pettigrew's ultimate betrayal. When she had finished, Dumbledore was speechless.

"Sir, I was thinking that, maybe, you know, if we found and destroyed the Horcruxes now, we would be able to take down Voldemort before any of that happens," she said hopefully. "And Sir," she added, "at this point in time, he would only have five." She had just realized Nagini would not be a Horcrux due to the fact that Voldemort did not make her one until her fourth year. Harry, not having been born yet, would not be the seventh yet.

"That is a small comfort I am afraid, Miss Granger. I will have to think this over. For now, I will send you back to your friends. There is much research I must get done. I shall send for you at a later date and we will discuss this further," he told her with a nod.

Hermione was rather shocked at the quick dismissal she was receiving from her Head Master. She assumed he would want to get started on this right away. But, as she has known for quite some time, it doesn't do to question Albus Dumbledore. Never has she been steered wrong by the man in her present, and she doubted she would be in the past. With a gracious smile for Dumbledore she began to rise from her chair.



"Thank you sir," she said, and walked towards the door.

"Oh, and Miss Granger?" he called after her as she opened it.

"Yes, Sir?" she asked, turning to face him. 


"Do try to live your life as normally as possible while you are here. Do not stop living just because you are in the past. You may find wonderful things can happen if you, live in the moment, as they say," he said looking at her knowingly.

"Y-Yes sir. Have a good afternoon," she said, absolutely stunned.

As she was walking down the stairs and through the corridors she was wondering what he could have meant. Does he know about Sirius? She thought to herself, slightly amused. What doesn't that man know? She walked back to the common room thinking deeply about the advice she had just been given.


Chapter 10: Hogsmeade
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The weeks Hermione spent in the past seemed to be flying by. Before she knew it, September had passed and it was the middle of October. She had become exceptionally close with The Marauders and Lily. Her relationship with Lily was often mistaken for one that had existed for years. She absolutely loved James as he reminded her through and through of Harry. Lupin was brilliant and she loved being around him, it was comforting to have someone to share intelligent conversations with. She even found herself not exactly hating Peter, more tolerating him. He was actually a very sweet kid. She couldn't imagine him becoming the traitorous rat she had come to know in her time.

 

As for Sirius... She and Sirius bickered, flirted, playfully fought, sat near one another and spent time together so often, mostly everyone assumed they were a couple. He has not so much as looked at another girl since the night Hermione watched him with the blonde bimbo. Needless to say, with most girls thinking she was with Sirius, she did not have any female friends besides Lily. 

Friday night of the third week in October, the six of them were hanging around the fireplace in the common room. Lily and James were cuddling on the couch while Peter and Remus were in a conversation, sitting in the two armchairs and Hermione and Sirius were both laying on their stomachs with their homework between them on the floor.

"I never thought I would see the day where Sirius Black would be doing homework on a Friday night," James said, absolutely stunned.

"Trust me, Prongs, it wasn't by choice," he said while looking at Hermione and muttering something about her being "a bad influence."

Hermione gave him an appalled look and threw a rolled up piece of parchment at him. He caught it right before it hit his face and simply laughed. 

"I'm doing you a favor. You'll have it done tonight, so you'll have the whole weekend work free. Priorities, Black," she said smugly, sticking her tongue out.

"She's got a point you know. Maybe we should get ours done as well," Lily said to James rather sadly.

"Absolutely not happening. I'll do mine in a panicked rush on Sunday night, like a normal person," he said. 

Lily looked at him in disbelief. She got up, much to James’ dismay, and retrieved her books before she started on her homework as well. The three of them sat together, working on their homework for another hour as James went to join Lupin and Peter. All the while, Sirius looked at Hermione and gave her a cocky grin or a little wink. She found herself staring at his mouth quite often, wondering what it would be like to feel his lips on hers.

 

She was, as she had been quite often, thinking about what Dumbledore said to her when she left his office that day. Could she possibly give in and try a relationship with him while she was here? She honestly didn't know for how long she would be in the past, after all. And she couldn't deny to herself that she had feelings for him. Feelings that have absolutely intensified during the past month and a half. She was more than shocked he has not had anything to do with any other girls. She knew his reputation quite well after hearing stories while living in Grimmauld place during the summer before her fifth year.

 

Obviously his feelings for her must be real, she imagined. The thought, Everything happens for a reason, entered her mind. Could this be part of it? Could me possibly falling in love with Sirius help change the future?, she wondered. Could that be why Dumbledore gave her that bit of advice? She wasn't sure, but something deep in her gut told her maybe it would be the right thing to do. But, as she always had to do, she would need to really think this over. Some part of her knew she would never be able to handle the pain if she failed. If she succeeded however, she would have to tell him who she was and what she was doing there. What would that do to him? She couldn't stay here and grow old with him, she did not belong here. Would he wait nearly twenty years for her to be born and grow up? If he didn't and he found someone new, she would be crushed. But she would be able to live with it as long as she knew he was alive.

 

She consoled herself in the thought that it would be alright as long as James, Lily and Sirius survived this whole ordeal. She knew that it would be horrible enough losing Lily and James if she failed, but if she let herself love Sirius, and she failed... it would break her. She was abruptly taken out of her thoughts when Sirius spoke. 

"So are you ready for our hot date tomorrow?" he asked her while wiggling his eyebrows. 

"Date? What the hell date are you talking about, Black?" she asked, her eyebrows furrowed together in confusion.

"The first Hogsmeade trip. Have you forgotten you agreed to be my beautiful date for the afternoon?" he finished with a poke to the tip of her nose. 

"Well since I have a habit of blocking unpleasant things from my memory, I guess I did forget," she retorted playfully. 

If she was being honest with herself, she did remember that they had made a date, just had not realized it has arrived so quickly. She felt as if she had just gotten here, and couldn’t help but wonder where all the time had gone. 

"Oh ha, ha, ha. Quite funny, Miss Winters. Are you excited, though? Can't stop thinking about it? Dreaming about it constantly?" he said playfully.

Hermione did not answer but rolled her eyes and smacked him in the arm. Just nervous beyond belief.

"Don't worry, Hermione. You won't be subjected to spending the whole time alone with him. We'll all be going down together and we won't let him try to seduce you or anything," Lupin said with a smile.

"Good! Because Merlin knows I wouldn't be able to contain myself. I could never resist the boyish good looks and undeniable charm of Sirius Black, if I were ever to be left alone with him," she joked. 

"That's what I'm hoping for, love," Sirius said quietly. 

She found herself melting at the sincerity with which he spoke those words and before she was able to stop herself she said, "Well then, better keep that hope alive."

She felt her face heat with blush and had to look away from the intensity in which he was gazing at her. Her head clearly wasn’t in the right place and she needed to get her mouth in check. Despite her feelings for him, she still wasn’t sure if she wanted to pursue anything with him. She could not afford to let her emotions take control.

 

If only she could have been born in this time. She and Sirius seemed to have been made for one another. Their relationship was natural. As easy as breathing. They complimented one another so well and she put him in his place when he needed to be and on the flip side, he made sure she loosened up a little. They were soul mates… she knew deep down it was true and she was also quite sure that he knew it too. There was only the unfortunate complication of her being a girl sent back twenty years in the future. One who was currently trying to save them all from dying in her time. When she’d accepted this task, she hadn’t realized how difficult this all would be. She never, even in her wildest dreams, thought she would begin to fall for any one of them. 

It was becoming late and everyone agreed they should get to bed. They all wanted to try to get up early so they could enjoy as much time away from the castle as they possibly could. Peter and Lupin were the first to head to their dormitory while Sirius and Hermione were waiting for James and Lily to say a rather thorough goodnight to one another.

 

It was extremely uncomfortable to be sitting there with Sirius while Lily and James were kissing so fiercely. She had been sitting playing with her fingers when she looked up and saw Sirius looking right at her. There was no mistaking his expression; he was looking at her imaging the two of them in the exact situation as James and Lily. Hermione knew her face was beet red as she stared at Sirius's lips, imaging the same thing. Sirius stood up and walked over to her, taking her hands and pulling her up to him. He placed his hands on each side of her waist as she stood, unable to look away from his eyes. They began to inch closer to one another when James cleared his through rather loudly.

"And what is going on here?" he asked loudly with a tone of amusement.

"James, honestly!" Lily said while smacking him on the back of his head. 

Hermione and Sirius jumped at the noise and backed away from each other immediately saying "Nothing!" in unison. Hermione felt as if she were blushing from the tips of her toes all the way up to the crown of her head. She was mortified that she had been caught almost kissing Sirius, and also extremely irritated at James's interruption. How she did not pull her wand out and jinx him, she would never know. Sirius, she noticed, was rather red in the face as well. Although his red face looked mostly anger related. She was extremely surprised he did not jinx James either. 

"That most certainly didn't look like 'nothing' from where I was standing. Did that look like 'nothing' to you, Lily?" he said accusingly. 

"Well, no. It definitely looked like something," Lily said, giggling now. 

"It just-" Hermione began.

"We-" Sirius said.

"What happened was-" tried Hermione again.

"She had-" Sirius attempted.

Lily and James were laughing so hard at this point, they were both clutching at their stomachs and Hermione and Sirius were growing angrier by the moment. Hermione had to get out of there, she could not stand another moment of it. She huffed and said, "Goodnight", turned and stomped up the stairs to the dormitory.

 

Right before she opened the door she heard the sound of a slap and Sirius yelling, "Dammit, Prongs!" She knew exactly how he felt. After she had changed and climbed into bed, Lily entered the room.

"Hermione, I'm so sorry," she said, her eyes begging for forgiveness. "I know James can be an absolute prat at times and I shouldn't have laughed."

Hermione, while looking at how sincerely sorry Lily looked, could not stay mad at her. James, on the other hand, was a different story. He was no doubt hearing it from Sirius now and he would absolutely hear it from her tomorrow.

"It's ok Lily, honestly," she said, which caused Lily to beam up at her. "I'm actually glad we stopped. I'm still not one hundred percent sure what I want to do about Sirius. That and I wouldn't have wanted our first kiss in front of you and James… in the common room.” she finished lamely before adding, “no offense.”

"That's completely understandable about the first kiss, but I don't know why you're still unsure about Black," Lily said, sounding confused. "After watching you two all of these weeks, you seem completely perfect for each other. You both do almost everything together. You sit together in every class you share, walk to classes and lunch together, sit with each other in the common room. It's like you are already a couple, just without the title," she said to her with a shrug.

"You're right," Hermione said simply.

"So… then what's the issue?" she asked her.

Right then Hermione wanted to tell Lily the truth so badly that it hurt. This girl was becoming like a sister to her and she hated keeping anything from her. But she knew that if she did tell her, Lily either wouldn’t believe her, or would want to know her future. Telling Lily she was dead, while Hermione was alive, was the last thing she wanted to do. And if she didn't believe her and thought she was crazy, she may lose Lily along with the rest of them.

 

Not to mention she was also afraid if she kept stringing Sirius along, he would get bored and find someone else. The thought of that happening almost knocked the breath out of her. She realized right then and there that she needed him. If she was completely honest with herself, she needed him more than anything, more than air or water. With a shaky breath, she began to realize that she had reached her decision. Regardless of how badly it may hurt her in the future, she was going to have him now, in the past. She would rather have him for at least a moment in time, rather than never at all.

"You know what, Lily? There is no issue. I have just been acting silly. Tomorrow, when we go to Hogsmeade, I'm going to tell him how I feel," she said suddenly, feeling elated.

 

"Really? You are? Oh, Hermione, that's so great! You two will be so happy, I just know it! I can't see him ever hurting you or ever leaving you. That boy is crazy about you!" Lily began talking a mile a minute, clearly beside herself with excitement.

 


Yes, but I will eventually leave him. And he may leave me as well... One way or another. She thought while smiling happily at Lily, lest she suspect anything.

"Ugh James will be nauseating. I can see him planning a double wedding now," Lily laughed while Hermione couldn’t help but join in.

"Yeah, I could definitely see that," Hermione said, clearly able to picture the whole situation.

For another hour, the girls gossiped about their boys. Things they liked, things they hated, things they liked but pretended to hate, things they hated but pretended to like. They squealed and giggled and just acted like girls. Hermione realized she had never had an experience like this in her life, and she found herself truly enjoying it.

 

Besides Lily, none of the girls here had bothered with her. It was the same way in her own time as well. Ginny was the furthest thing from a girly girl because, she suspected, growing up with six brothers would do that to you. Luna was just far too spacey to be girly and the two of them had been the only other females she was ever close to.

I wish I could stay here with them forever, she found herself thinking rather wistfully. Eventually the girls settled down, pulled the curtains around their beds and fell asleep. Now that she had finally made up her mind, she was thrilled and yet she had never been so terrified.

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The following morning they were woken up by a couple of obnoxious boys.

"Evans! Winters! WAKE UP! Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up!!" James and Sirius were yelling together from down the stairs.

"You have five minutes to prove you're awake, or we're coming up there!" Sirius yelled

Lily got up to open the door while Hermione trailed behind her. When she opened it, Lily stuck her wand out and gave it a flick. All of a sudden, Sirius was hanging upside down as if hooked by the ankle while James and Hermione roared with laughter.

"There's your proof, Black! We're up!" Lily yelled back.
 
"Arg! You just wait Evans! You're done for!" Sirius yelled up to her.

"I'm shaking in my nightgown," she said, while laughing at the sight of him. "I'll let him down in about five more seconds," she whispered to Hermione.

"Do not feel like you have to on my account," Hermione said, still laughing.

Lily winked at Hermione and turned back towards the stairs. "This was a warning Black. If you ever wake us up like that again, it will get much, much worse. Got it?"

"Sure, sure. Just let me down!" he yelled.
 
When Lily flicked her wand again they heard a thud and, "Son of a bitch!" Sirius yelled, which brought on another round of laughter from everyone else.

"I don't know what you're laughing at, Potter. The same goes for you", said Lily and she flicked her wand once more and James went into the air. Lily turned around and said to Hermione brightly, "Mind if I have my shower first?"

Hermione laughed even harder and said, "Sure, no problem."

At that, Lily headed to the bathroom as they heard from downstairs, "Lily! LILY! Come on! Let me down!" from James. At this point Hermione could hardly breathe from laughing. A moment later, she went and picked out some clothes to wear for the day.

 

A few weeks prior, she had finally managed to order some time-appropriate clothing. She picked out a tight, black, turtleneck sweater, high waisted, wide bell bottom, blue jeans and a pair of black ankle boots. She had a knee-length, burgundy, velvet coat which had light tan, shaggy fur lining the cuffs, collar, and down the button line.

 

Shortly after, Lily was out and dressed and Hermione took her turn to get ready. By 10:30, both girls were dressed, their hair done, poker straight in Hermione's case, makeup on and ready to go before they walked down to the common room.  

Looking at Sirius stand there in his usual casual manor, Hermione thought she would never get used to how undeniably handsome he was. He looked unbelievably sexy in his black leather jacket, dark blue jeans, and black combat boots. His hair, as always, fell with a beautiful elegance which is only achieved naturally. He kept his eyes on Hermione the entire time she walked to him wearing a very approving smile. It was almost enough to take the breath from her.

"I would complain about how long you've taken, but it was well worth the wait. You look beautiful, as always, Hermione," Sirius said while pulling out a single Daisy from behind his back.

Hermione was speechless. She only mentioned once, in passing, that Daisies were her favorite flower. She couldn't believe he remembered.

"You remembered?" she whispered in complete and utter shock.

"Of course. I remember everything you tell me," he said with a smile.

She pulled him in for a big hug, kissed his cheek and whispered, "I remember everything you've told me, too," into his ear. Sirius shivered and pulled her against him a little more tightly.

"Eh hem... Are you two ready to go?" Lupin asked while everyone was staring impatiently,  though somewhat amused, at them.

They broke apart but Sirius took her hand in his and intertwined their fingers together. Hermione smiled widely.

"Yeah, let's get going. I'm in desperate need of Zonko's. I'm running low on supplies," Sirius said.
 
The Marauders and Lily proceeded to climb out of the portrait hole, walked through the castle, and out onto the grounds and towards Hogsmeade. They agreed on having breakfast in the village, rather than at school today.

 

The long walk to Hogsmeade was freezing and the wind was absolutely biting. Hermione was more than grateful when Sirius put his arm around her and pulled her in close. She was a little more quiet than usual on the walk down, because she was nervous about spending some time alone with him and revealing her true feelings. She was 99.9% sure her reciprocated those feelings, but it was that .01% she was unsure of that made her extremely nervous.

"Everything alright, dear? You're rather quiet," Sirius asked her when the village was finally in sight.

"Oh yes. Everything is wonderful. I'm just a little cold," she lied, pretending to shiver.

"Ok," he said while eyeing her suspiciously.

They all had a quick discussion on where they would head to first and all decided The Three Broomsticks for some butterbeer and food to warm up. It was decided that once they were finished there, the six of them would split up for a while.

 

Finally, they arrived at the pub and made their way inside. It was still rather early, just before noon, so it was not very crowded. They saw Professor McGonagall sitting with Professor Flitwick in the corner, a few witches and wizards who must have been from town and just a small hand full of Ravenclaw fifth years. They found a table, which did not have many people around, and sat down together.

 

The owner of the pub, who Hermione saw was not Madam Rosmerta yet, was a little old wizard with long white hair, a wispy beard and eyebrows so bushy they almost covered both of his eyes. He came over to the table and asked, in a pleasant, wheezy voice what everyone would like. They ordered butterbeers, eggs, bacon, toast, sausage and pancakes all around. He returned a few moments later with everyone's drinks.

"I would just like to say, to Hermione, that I know the circumstances which brought you to us were horrible but, I speak for everyone when I say, I'm so glad that you're here," Sirius said while raising his drink in a toasting fashion.

"Yeah, Hermione. You are the coolest girl we have met since Lily. We couldn't be happier to have adopted you into our little family," said James with a wink, raising his glass as well.

"You know that my sister and no longer speak, so I just want you to know, I've come to think of you as the sister I no longer have. I love you dearly, 'Mione," Lily said, with tears in her eyes as raised her glass as well.

"I'm just glad I have someone who could help me keep those two in line. I don't know how we got along without you. You have truly become a best friend," Lupin told her while his glass was in the air.

"I'm glad we met you, Hermione," Peter said, smiling at her while also raising his glass.

 

"Hermione!" they all toasted as one.

 


Hermione didn't know what to say. She was so moved by how quickly and entirely they had all accepted her. Her eyes filled with tears and she beamed at all of them. The longer she was in this time, the harder it was to think of ever leaving them to go back home. Deep down, she knew that if she managed to keep those who died alive, she would see them again. But it would be entirely different. She would be the best friend of their son, god son and best friends' son. Would they still remain friends then? This was proving to be more emotionally exhausting than she ever thought. She knew she would like them, never did she imagine growing to love them.

"Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I have lost so much in such a short period of time... I'm just so glad that I've met all of you and that you've all made me feel as loved and welcome as you have. You will never know how much that means to me," she said as a tear fell down her face. 

 

"Don't cry, love. Be happy. You're on a date with the most sought after bachelor in the school, Sirius Black," Sirius joked with her as he wiped the tear from her cheek.
 

 


 

 

Hermione gave small giggle and said softly, "Leave it to you to spoil the moment, Sirius".
 

 

"You wouldn't love me any other way," he said jokingly.
 

 

"No. I supposed you're right," she said.
 

 

He raised his eyebrow and looked at her. His eyes searched hers as he wondered what she had meant by that. Could she possibly mean she loved him? If that were the case, it would easily make him the happiest man alive. Though he would never say, unless he was completely sure she felt the same, he was madly in love with her. Despite not having told anyone, he had known it for the past three weeks.

 

 

 

At first he thought it was just a lust, just another pretty face. Then a little more time passed and he thought it was just a silly little crush, one that would go away with time. But then he realized... he really did love her. She was everything he had never realized he wanted. Yes, she was beautiful, but that was only the beginning of it. She was smart, kind, funny and she didn't take his crap. She challenged him and resisted him, which was exactly what he needed. All of the other girls would do exactly what he wanted when he wanted, simply because he was handsome. They were shallow and fake, and she was anything but.

 


Soon the food came and the group ate through enough to feed a small village. They laughed and joked and gossiped. They told stories of their misadventures from earlier years to Hermione and there were some that even Lily didn't even know about. They had just finished telling the story about the time they locked Mrs. Norris, the caretaker Filch's cat, in a closet for five hours before Filch finally found her. They had earned a month's detention for that event.

"You think you guys are really something, don't you? My first year my friends and I battled, and defeated, a full grown Mountain Troll, we had a run in with a twenty foot high, three headed dog, fought our way out of Devil's Snare and played across a life-sized Wizard's Chess board, which attacked the same as regular Wizard's Chess," she said to general astonishment.
 
"Blimey. And here I thought Hogwarts was dangerous. What other kind of stuff happened at that nutter American school of yours?" James asked, sounding perplexed.

Hermione couldn't help but laugh, because all of that did happen at Hogwarts, just some fourteen years from now.

"Oh, a little of this and a little of that", she said airily.

Soon, they were finished and their bellies were full. They were all about ready to go their separate ways for a while. Lily and James were off to Madam Puddifoots for coffee, Lupin and Peter were stocking up on sweets and Honeydukes and Sirius wanted to take Hermione to Zonko's. James paid everyone's tab for brunch, he wouldn't take no for an answer. They planned on meeting back at the pub by four and everyone went on their way.

 

Sirius took Hermione's hand in his, which was routine by now, though the gesture still made Hermione smile like crazy. They walked towards the joke shop hand in hand, Hermione growing more anxious by the second. Luckily, however, it was not quite as cold as it had been when they were on their way down to Hogsmeade. The sun had come out ,which made it less chilly, but the wind was still chilly. Right before they went to enter the building, Hermione spoke up.

"Sirius? Can we talk?" she asked him and he gave her a nervous look.

He had no idea what she could possibly want to talk about. Though he knew it might be too much to ask, he was hoping beyond all hope that she was not about to tell him, yet again, that he needed to back off. He knew he was coming on strongly with her again recently, but that was only because of how close they had become. Despite not being religious, he was praying hard in the hopes that she had finally come around and would reveal her deep passion for him. Although, he knew that would never happen. She has made herself clear, on more than one occasion, that they were just friends. He was not going to get his hopes up.

"Sure, Hermione. There's a bench right over there, would you like to go sit down?" he asked, gesturing to the left of Zonko's. There was a wooden bench sitting in front of the cobble stone wall which lined the trail to Hogsmeade.
 
"Yes, lets," she said quietly.
 
Once they sat down Hermione found herself unable to speak, something she’d never had much problem with until Sirius. She could feel her hands sweating and shaking. Let's get this over with, Granger. She thought to herself. She took a deep breath and went to start talking when Sirius spoke first.

"Listen, Hermione. I'm sorry. I know I've been coming on strongly again with you. And I know you've told me, at least a dozen times, that we are just fiends so-" he stopped because Hermione put her hand up to his mouth to quiet him.
 
"Shut up and listen, Sirius," she said smiling at him. “Please?”

He was completely confused. She didn't agree with him, she stopped him. As much as he said he would not, he let himself begin to get his hopes up.

"I know I've said that we could only be friends on numerous occasions. But, in all honesty, I was lying. Not only to you, but to myself. I was scared Sirius. I'm still scared. I know you have a bit of a reputation and I have just lost so much that I really just didn't want to get hurt,” she began and took a deep breath.

 

 Sirius nodded at her encouragingly and she continued, “At first, I thought your flirting was purely superficial and with no feelings behind it. But then, these past few weeks I’ve seen how you, not only don't talk to, but don't even look at anyone else. You ignore any and every girl who tries to talk to you and spend all of your time with me. So, Lily and I had a talk last night... That's when I decided I would tell you the truth. I fancy you, Sirius. And if you would like to move beyond a friendship with me,” she hesitated for a moment but smiled.  “I would be more than happy to do it," she said all in a hurried rush, the better to get it over with faster.

Sirius did not say anything for two whole minutes. He stared at the girl and secretly pinched himself, checking to see if this was a dream. When he decided he wasn't dreaming, he waited for her to laugh, or say she was joking. Hermione was getting nervous. Why isn't he saying anything?! She thought, panicking. Oh Merlin! I'm an idiot. He really doesn't have feelings for me at all, does he? What the hell was I thinking. She was scolding herself. She couldn't sit there any longer, she was too embarrassed.

She quickly stood up and said, "I'm sorry. I- I shouldn't have said anything. I must have been mistaken." Her voice was shaky and she blinked back tears.

She turned and started to half run back to the castle but only made it about fifteen feet when she was stopped by someone grabbing her by the elbow. Sirius turned her to face him but she couldn't bring herself to look at him, keeping her eyes firmly on the ground.

"Hermione, please look at me," he said softly

She refused, shaking her head.

"Please. It's not what you think. At all. Please look at me," he begged her.
 
"Fine," she mumbled and looked up into his grey eyes.

As she did, she saw nothing but heat and desire radiating from them. Sirius did not say another word, but leaned down and crashed his lips onto hers. The feeling was unimaginable. She felt as if her lips had been electrified. She felt his tongue at her lips and she opened her mouth immediately to let him in. Her whole body tingled and felt as if it were burning as they kissed more deeply and more passionately than any couple had before. He pulled her tightly against him and all she could think was that it wasn't tightly enough. She gripped his hair in her hands and he dug his fingers into her back. It was the most amazing thing she has ever experienced. During the kiss, she realized something... Oh my... I'm in love with him.

"It's about bloody time!" they heard James yell.

"James!" Lily shrieked as she tried to pull him in the opposite direction.

Hermione let go of Sirius, pulled her wand out and pointed it directly at James's face.

"That's twice now. If you ever interrupt us again I will blast your head off," Hermione threatened. She was still smiling from her kiss with Sirius, so James didn't take her too seriously.

 

"I won't stop her either, Prongs," Sirius said, smiling as well. “It would be in my best interest, after all.”
 

 

"Hermione, I'm so sorry. I tried to stop him, but he's such a child," Lily said, though she was looking thrilled for her friends.

"Sorry, guys. I was just really happy for you and couldn't help myself. I knew it was only a matter of time! Looks like you finally found the one who could tame you, huh Padfoot" James said.

Sirius looked down at Hermione with such love in his eyes that she thought her heart would burst. She was smiling from ear to ear.

"Yeah. I guess I have", he said without taking his eyes from hers.  

Lupin and Peter spotted the rest of them and walked over to join their friends.

"What's up guys? Little early, aren't we? It's not even three yet," Lupin said.

"Something happen?" Peter asked, looking worried.

Lily and James both smiled and looked at Hermione and Sirius. They would let the happy new couple share the news.

"You broke your promise, Moony. You let me seduce her. She finally agreed to be with me," Sirius said with happiness pouring from every inch of his body.

Peter punched his fist in the air and Lupin broke out in a huge smile. Everyone knew they would be good for one another. James, Lupin, and Peter have been forced to listen to him pining in their dormitory for weeks over how she did not reciprocate the feelings he had. Although, they all knew she had feelings for Sirius that she would not admit too. Needles to say, they were very pleased to see them happy when they have each suffered so much in the past.

"Good for you two. I knew it was only a matter of time," Lupin said with a grin.

"Yay! I'm so excited!" Peter squealed

"Clam down before you wet yourself, Wormtail. It's not like she's dating you," James said.

Peter's blushing face fell as James insulted him. Hermione noticed that they did seem to pick on him often and wondered if that was part of the reason he ultimately turned. She would have to have a talk with Sirius and James about maybe being a little nicer to Peter and make him feel more like an equal in the group, as opposed to their cheerleader.

"James, be quiet!" Hermione shot at him. She turned and gave Peter a very kind smile and said, "Thank you, Peter. I really appreciate that. I'm excited too".

He seemed to perk up when she said that but she could tell that he was slightly shocked. She had never been overly nice to him before. Sirius squeezed Hermione's hand to get her attention. He then jerked his head up towards the castle, silently asking her to go back up with him. They told everyone they were going to leave a little early. They did not tell them why, but they wanted to enjoy the first few moments of being a new couple alone together. With her hand wrapped in his, they began their walk back up to Hogwarts. Neither Hermione nor Sirius had felt this happy in a very long time.

 

***

 

A/N - Mischief_managed18, you are amazing. Thank you for smoothing out all of the rough spots with your brilliant editing! :)


Chapter 11: No more fooling around.
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

During the next month, Hermione was as happy as she could ever remember being. She and Sirius had so much fun together and she felt as if she were constantly smiling or laughing. Not only was he horribly handsome- she didn't think she could ever get enough of how he wore his tie always slightly loosened, his top button always unfastened and his sleeves rolled carelessly up to his elbows. His Muggle attire was even hotter. Almost always in black or dark jeans, a Muggle or Wizarding band T-shirt and black combat boots- but he was incredibly kind and thoughtful towards her. They still bickered and made sarcastic comments to the other, but it was truly more playful than in the beginning.

 

For the first two weeks of their relationship, she endured many icy glares and cruel whispered words as she passed by nearly every girl in the school. She thought it had been bad when they only thought she was dating Sirius, but it turned out it was nothing compared to when they knew she was. Luckily for her, she didn't let it bother her in the slightest and she and Lily often laughed about it when they were together. Most of the female population was not the biggest fan of Lily either, because James was fancied nearly as much as Sirius was.

 

Hermione had been so caught up with Sirius, her new friends, supporting her boyfriend and James during Quidditch, having fun and just acting her age that she completely forgot about Dumbledore and the reason she was there. Of course it crossed her mind briefly during that small period between being awake and asleep, but she would forget all about it by the time she woke. She found her niche in the Marauders and Lily and truly felt as if she belonged here. This was why, in the beginning of December, it came as a complete shock to her when she received a letter from Dumbledore one Thursday morning.

 


Miss Winters,


 I apologize for the amount of time I have kept you waiting. 


I would, kindly, request your presence in my office Saturday morning at 9 am. 
I am glad to see you have taken my advice since we have last spoken.
Enjoy the rest of your week, dear.




Until Saturday,

Albus Dumbledore


P.S. I have recently taken a liking to Licorice Wands.




 

Hermione read the letter over three times before it hit her how she had completely abandoned her mission here. She folded the letter up and put it away in the hopes that no one would ask her about it. Though she should have known it was foolish to think Sirius would not notice.

 



 

"What's that all about?" he asked her, giving her an odd look.

 

"I don't know. Dumbledore wants to see me Saturday morning," she said, trying to act clueless.

 

"Uh oh. Is Little-Miss-Perfect-Straight-O-Student in trouble?" Sirius joked with her.

 

"Ha! Please. He probably wants to tell me to watch out for boys like you," she said and poked him in the side. She learned that Sirius was rather ticklish and she always took advantage of that as much as she could.

 

Sirius jumped, squeezed her thigh and gave her a not-so-innocent look. The kind of look that made her stomach tighten, her pulse quicken and her mouth go dry. No boy had ever made her feel, with just a look, what Sirius Black could. She looked at him, her eyes heavily lidded.

 

"You better watch yourself there Black. You might find yourself in trouble," she said in a rather husky voice, so unlike her.

 



She watched his eyes widen for a fraction of a second. He then moved her hair from her shoulder, leaned in and brushed his lips against her ear saying, "What kind of trouble... exactly?"


 

She shivered in response and put her hand under the table and rubbed the inside of his leg very lightly. "Keep testing me, and you may find out one of these days," she heard herself answer as if someone else spoke the words.

 


Sirius froze. He could not believe what she just implied and he could not have been any more delighted. The two of them have made out quite often, but it has been mainly innocent. He wanted her horribly, but was not going to push it with her as he normally would. She was special and not like the other girl's he has been with.


 

Hermione knew she wanted him too, she wanted him any and every way she possibly could. She loved him and wanted to show him in the most intimate of ways. The only problem was, they hadn't said as much to each other. She was terrified of saying it first, as was Sirius. They both loved the other, but both were too cowardly to voice it. Hermione and Sirius seemed to realize their behavior was becoming more and more inappropriate for the middle of the Great Hall, being that it was filled with students and staff. She took her hand off his leg and turned and kissed his cheek. Sirius smiled at her, but was beyond frustrated.

 

"You're going to be the death of me, do you know that?" he growled quietly so that she was the only one to hear.

 


She couldn't explain it, but that sentence knocked the wind from her. She knew that could very well be a possibility. If she did not get her act together and remember why she was here, she really could be the death of him.


 

Without being able to help it, she started picturing him, as an adult, falling into the Veil and not returning from the other side. She was more than upset when he passed in her time, but it was nothing compared to the complete anguish she was in picturing it happen now, in her mind's eye. Before she knew it, she was hyperventilating and felt as if she might lose her breakfast. Before anyone could say anything, she stood and ran out of the Great Hall to find a bathroom immediately. Sirius and the rest of the group watched in complete shock as she ran out. Lily and Sirius shared a panicked look and were the first to rise up and follow her.

 

"Dammit Lily, I can't go in there! Please go see what that was all about. Make sure she's alright," Hermione heard Sirius shouting from outside the door.

 

"I'm going, I'm going. Calm down, Black," Lily shot back.

 

Hermione was on the floor of a stall. She’d just vomited what she was starting to think was everything she has eaten since birth. The door opened and she heard footsteps shortly before seeing Lily's feet from under the stall.

 

"Hermione, are you ok? What happened?" Lily asked her, clearly worried.

 

"Something I ate, I supposed," she lied.

 

"Come on, let's get you to the hospital wing. I didn't like the color you were turning," she said to Hermione, sounding a little frightened.

 

Hermione didn't answer but instead groaned and picked herself up off the floor. Lily gasped when Hermione opened the bathroom stall, seeing that she now had the complexion of Nearly-Headless Nick. They walked out of the bathroom to find a pacing Sirius waiting for them. He was a nervous wreck.

He had never seen anyone look so normal one moment before turning pale and getting so sick the next. Despite Hermione's many feeble protests, Sirius insisted on carrying her to the Hospital Wing. When they arrived he set her down, still keeping a hold on her while Lily went to find Madam Pomfrey.

 

"Ok, tell me what happened," Madam Pomfrey asked walking towards Hermione and Sirius

 

"I don't know honestly. One moment we were joking around and the next she turned completely white, hyperventilated, ran from the Great Hall and we found her vomiting in the bathroom," Sirius said looking exceptionally harassed.

 

Hermione did not anything and was instead lying there, sort of moaning. It was a few moments until she became aware of her surroundings and realized she was in the Hospital Wing before she remembered why she was there, followed by the reasons for bringing this whole situation on. After that, she could not help herself and started to think of Sirius’ death again, Lily dying for Harry, James dying for the pair of them, Lupin alone, Pettigrew the reason behind all of it... She had been blocking it all from her brain for weeks now and everything had come crashing down on her at once. The last thing she remembered was Sirius's strong arms catching her and his voice yelling her name. Everything went dark.

 


She was still somewhere between sleep and consciousness when she heard voices.


 

"Mr. Black, if you do not stop pacing and refuse to sit down, I'm going to have to ask you to leave. There are more people in here than just Miss Winters and you are going to disturb them," Madam Pomfrey said sternly.

 

"But I just don't understand why she's not waking up! It's been so long!" he shouted angrily. He sat on the chair next to her bed and grabbed two fists full of his hair. "What's happened to her?" he asked in a small whisper.

 

"Nerves, it seems. Have you two been fighting or is she becoming overwhelmed by her school work? Could you think of anything that could have brought this on? Her body and mind seemed to have shut down to protect itself from a rather large amount of stress." she told him.

 

"I don't know how that could be...” he said, rather sadly. “She's been nothing but happy this past month- we've been happy this past month." He said, completely confused as to why this would be happening.

 

"Well, Mr. Black,” Madam Pomfrey began gently, “did she not just recently lose her parents and move away from the only home she had known these last seven years? If she had been appearing as nothing but happy to you, then she must have been hiding quite a bit of sorrow deep down. It seems it may have finally been too much for the poor girl," Madam Pomfrey explained, her tone sad.

 

Sirius only nodded and looked back at his girlfriend. As Madam Pomfrey left to tend other sick students, he took Hermione's hand, which felt very cold, and gave it a gentle squeeze. All he needed was to see her awake to really know that she was fine. He needed to have her in his arms and tell her everything would be ok. He needed to, finally, tell her he loved her.

 

Hermione seemed to come around a little more now and she returned some pressure to Sirius's hand.

 

"Hermione! Are you awake?" he exclaimed excitedly.

 

Hermione squeezed his hand harder and opened her eyes a fraction. She had one of the worst headaches she could remember. Her mouth and throat were extremely dry and had the nasty aftertaste one gets after vomiting. She needed a glass of water horribly.

 

"Mmm hmm," she responded sleepily to him.

 

"Madam Pomfrey! She's awake!" Sirius yelled, nearly jumping up and down.

 

"Ugh, not so loud. My head is pounding," she whined.

 

He took her hand, kissed it, and said, "I'm so sorry, love. We'll get rid of that headache for you as soon as Madam Pomfrey gets over here."

 


Madam Pomfrey returned to her and gave her a quick check over with her wand. She gave her a potion for her headache and said she could return to her dormitory if she would like. Hermione was more than grateful she did not have to spend the night.


Spending the night in the Hospital Wing has never been something she's enjoyed. Being the student she was, she also didn't want to miss her classes tomorrow, since it was dark out and she had obviously missed today. Sirius gathered her belongings, helped her out of bed and they set off.

 

"Oh thank goodness I didn't have to stay. I would hate to miss classes tomorrow," she said as she and Sirius were walking back to Gryffindor tower.

 


He stopped her and looked down at her sadly, "Hermione... I hate to tell you this. But it's Friday night. You've been out for two full days."


 

Hermione thought he was joking and kept waiting for him to laugh. She stood there, waiting for him to tell her it was a joke for a good, solid minute, but he did not.

"WHAT?" she shouted. "Two days? Two days!? What the hell was wrong with me?", she demanded.

 

Sirius looked quite scared. He had never seen her lose control like that before. He'd seen her angry, frustrated, and annoyed, usually because of something he'd done, but she looked slightly mad at the moment. Sirius didn't know the reason she was so freaked out was because she had not thought of a single thing to say to Dumbledore and with it being Friday, it meant her meeting was now tomorrow. She was not prepared to see him so soon.

 

"Hermione... It's ok. She just said it was stress related. That you were under too much pressure. Is there something you're not telling me? I thought you've been happy lately." he said, his voice full of sadness.

 

She did not want to lie to him, but she had to. There was absolutely something she was not telling him, not yet at least. Eventually she knew that she would have to because she would never be able to just return to her own time without saying goodbye or giving any sort of explanation. But she knew in her heart of hearts, this was not the time to tell him. She looked him straight in the eyes, hoping that her blush wouldn’t give her away.

 

"No, Sirius. There's nothing I'm not telling you. I didn't even realize I was under a lot of stress, honestly. Must just be exams coming up before the holidays. That and not having anywhere to go for the holidays. Staying here alone and everything," she said, which was partially true. It wasn’t a total lie.

 

Hermione was not looking forward to spending her Christmas alone here at all. She knew that Sirius would be going to James's. Remus and Peter would each be going to their own homes, and then arrive at James's the day after Boxing Day. Lily would also, unwillingly, be returning home.

 


Hermione would spend Christmas with her books. She had a fleeting thought that she could visit Hagrid, but then she remembered, they were not friends in the past. She knew that wouldn't be a problem and he would most likely still graciously welcome her into his home. But it wouldn't be the same and she did not think she could handle that. Sirius watched the sadness on Hermione's face and completely forgot she didn't know the good news yet.


 

"But you won't be here alone, Hermione," he said rather cheerfully.

 

Hermione lifted her head and smiled saying brightly. "You're staying too?"

 

He shook his head, "Nope. You're coming home with me!"

 

Hermione could not believe her ears. She would be going to Grimmauld Place with him? She was quite sure he didn't live there any longer based on what she knew that from her time and from him telling her about it more recently. She raised her eyebrow in confusion.

 

"We're going to your parent’s house? But I thought you don't live there any longer?" she asked, completely shocked.

 


He looked at her like she was insane, "No. There is no way in hell I'm going there for any reason. I'm talking about the Potters’ house. That is my home now, Hermione.”

 

Oh that's right, he did refer to that as "home" now, she thought to herself. "Oh! That's wonderful, Sirius! And they don't mind you bringing a girl home?" she asked, obviously quite surprised.

 

"No not at all. James received a letter from his mother today. She invited both you and Lily. James had mentioned to her how you had nowhere to go and her heart broke for you. Don’t worry, she absolutely wants you to join us for the holidays. It'll be a great time. Just wait, they throw a wicked bash for New Year’s every year. Half the school and their parents show up. And don't worry, while the dress code might be a little formal, the party is anything but! You're going to love it at the Potters, trust me," he said, clearly well beyond excited.

 


"Oh thank you Sirius! I'll have to thank James too! I'm just so happy I'm not going to be all alone. We have to talk Lily into coming instead of going to her parent's. From what she's told me, that Muggle her sister is dating is a right pain in the arse," Hermione said, knowing full well Harry's Uncle was the worst kind of person.

 


"So you'll come, for sure?" he asked her, his eyes full of hope.

 


"Of course, silly! Didn't I just say that?" she said and rolled her eyes at him.

 


"Best Christmas present ever, love!" he said.

 


Sirius picked her up and held her tightly. He was so glad she was ok and that she would be spending the Holidays with him. He truly loved the girl in his arms more than he ever thought he could love any woman. She was perfect and he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. When he set her down, she looked up at him with such an endearing expressing it almost made him tear up. He kept wondering how this perfect creature in front of him could actually be his.

 


He constantly wondered how he had become so lucky when all his life, he’d never had any luck at all. Though that certainly didn't mean luck in the woman department, sure he's had his share of females in the school, but it had never meant anything. It was just a disconnect from the pain he constantly felt. Because of his past, he’d never let himself get attached before because under the tough exterior and the swagger, he had always been afraid of getting hurt. That, and he had never found a woman quite like Hermione. She was special and if she ever left him, it would break him. It was something he knew with ever fiber of his being. It was absolutely imperative that he tell her he loved her, she had to know. But now, right after she’d spent two days in the hospital wing, was not the time. He wanted to do it right.

 


Hermione was wondering why he was looking at her so intensely. He was looking at her like she was the only woman in the world and as if she might disappear in the blink of an eye. She noticed something else in his eyes as well... love. She knew it deep in her heart, it was love. Despite everything, she would still not be the one to say it first; he would have to break that barrier. Hermione stood up on her tiptoes and placed a soft peck on his lips.

 


"Come on, let's go back to the common room. For all of the sleeping I've done, I'm still exhausted," she said to him.

 


"Sounds good," he said while smiling at her.

 


When the two of them entered the common room it was empty. They didn't realize how long it had taken them to walk back from the Hospital Wing. They glanced at the clock and saw that it was nearly midnight. Before going to bed, they decided to sit on the couch with each other for a little while. Sirius lay down on his side and pulled Hermione down to lay on her side facing away him. He gave her a few short, sweet kisses on her cheek and neck and next thing they knew they were fast asleep, Hermione still wrapped in his arms.

 

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There was something very warm on her neck and extremely loud in her ear. Her neck was stiff and she wasn’t very comfortable. Hermione opened her eyes and realized where she was sleeping. The warmness on her neck was Sirius's breath and the noises she was hearing were his very loud snores. She startled herself upon taking in her surroundings and toppled right off of the couch onto the floor. Sirius opened his eyes at the noise, saw Hermione on the floor and immediately began to laugh.

 


"Ha Ha, very funny. Help me up, please?" she said angrily.

 


Sirius regained control of himself, "Anything for your dear. Are you alright? Did I push you off?"

 


"Yes, I'm fine and no you didn't push me off. I was a little confused when I woke up and saw where I was. What time is it by the way?", she asked him groggily.

 


He looked at his watch, "It's 8:30. You're meeting Dumbledore at 9, right?" he asked.

 

"Yeah, I am. I better wash quickly and get changed. I'll see you when I get back!" She leaned up and kissed him lightly on the lips.

 

Washed and dressed in brown bell bottoms and a cream jumper she, once again, ran to Dumbledore's office and barely arrived on time. As she was came up to the door she heard voices and was hoping he hadn’t forgotten about their appointment. It sounded like quite the heated argument. She heard little snippets like, "Destroy everything", "Change the future", "Too Dangerous" and she was completely shocked when she heard her own name. She hesitated for a moment before knocking on the door.

 

"Come in please, Miss Granger," she heard Dumbledore call to her.

 

Hermione opened the door and walked across the familiar office. There was no one else in there with him, so she could assume the discussion he had been having was with the portraits of the previous Head Masters and Mistresses. He looked overly tired and was starting to look a little more like the older Dumbledore she would come to know in her time. Clearly, she was not the only one with stress related problems at the moment.

 

"Good morning, Miss Granger. It is a pleasure to see you my dear. How do feel you are holding up? I heard about your unfortunate incident which led to a two day stay in the Hospital Wing. I do hope you are feeling better," he said as he appeared to be x-raying her over the top of his glasses.

 

"I am sir, thank you. I'm- I’m alright, I guess. I miss my friends and family from my time horribly, but I have become extremely close and comfortable with my friends... and boyfriend, in this time," she tried to mumble the word boyfriend hoping, rather foolishly that he wouldn't catch it. "I find myself, more and more, not wanting to go home. I don't know what to do, professor," she said desperately.

 

"Miss Granger," he started kindly, "I cannot begin to imagine the emotional turmoil this situation is bringing you. I am afraid I do have to tell you, if you choose to stay here, there is a possibility the person you are now may never exist. You would disappear right in front of the eyes of whomever you were with at the time."

 

"Sir? I’m- I’m not quite sure I understand," she said, rather confused.

 

"If you choose to remain here, in the past, the moment you are born it will cause a paradox in which the person you are now will simply disappear. You will, once again, grow up and live your life and never know what happened here. As long as you return before the day of your birth, you will return intact. You will go back to your present time and have a chance to rehash any sort of relationships you may have made here, or cope with the pain of their loss if you should fail," he told her gravely. 

 

He watched sadly as Hermione’s eyes began to fill with tears.

 

Hermione's head was spinning. She only had two options laying ahead of her now. Either Sirius would live and she would have to hope he waited for her when she arrived in her own time. The other option was far worse- if she failed, he would die. Her heart was breaking at the thought of never being able to stay, live and grow old with him. She knew she would have to tell him the truth, even if that meant he will leave her. Twenty years was an awfully long time to expect someone to wait for you. It would kill her if he didn’t wait, but she could never ask him to do such a thing. If he decided on his own that he would, she would not stop him. He will be there when she returned, of that fact, she was absolutely determined.

 

She would do everything in her power to help Dumbledore destroy the current Horcurxes and then Dumbledore will destroy Voldemort. There was no question on if Dumbledore could do it. He was the most powerful Wizard of their age and the only one Voldemort fears. She even knew where he spent his time gathering an army during the time period she was in, there would not even be the problem of finding him. Enough time has been wasted here, she must act... now.

 

"Sir? Have you seemed to have trouble keeping a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher in recent years?" she asked Dumbledore. She watched his eyes widen in shock for a moment and then smiled.

 

"Why yes, Miss Granger, we have. I have not been able to keep a Professor for that subject for more than a year in these past five years. Why do you ask?" he said rather curiously.

 

Hermione didn't answer. In her mind's eye she saw a secret room filled with alleyways of hidden and stolen items from generations of past students. She saw a stone bust with a wig and a Tiara on the top. Now, she knew Harry had placed the Tiara and wig on the bust in her time, but she also knew they were close by that area. How else would Harry have found them to mark the spot of where he hid his potions book? She gave a quick gasp and stood up rather fast.

 

"Sir, I'm sorry, but could you give me half an hour? I will be right back and explain everything then," she said rather quickly. 

 

Dumbledore could not possibly imagine what was going on in the young woman's mind, but he could tell from her tone it was obviously massively important.

 

"Yes I believe I can. I shall wait for your return," he told her.

 

Hermione did not hesitate and was already running through the door of his office with a quick, "Thank you sir!" over her shoulder. She ran down the stairs and through the corridors while the students, who were now out of bed, watched her as if she had lost her mind.

 

Running full speed, she did not stop until she reached the left corridor of the seventh floor and was opposite the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy attempting to teach trolls ballet. I need the place where everything is hidden, she repeated in her mind as she walked by the wall three times. After the third time, a marvelous door appeared and she checked to make sure no one was watching and ran through the doorway.

 

It was almost exactly as she remembered when she walked in. She remembered the approximate area where the Lost Diadem, now a Horcrux, was hidden and took off. Her feet pounded the ground as they carried her through mounds of books, cages, cauldrons, couches, tables, chalk boards, banned items and just about anything else you could think of. Finally, she made a left turn down one of the hundreds of alleyways, completely out of breath and clutching a horrible stitch in her side she looked to her right; there it was.

Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem sat on a table next to dusty, old wig mere feet from where the stone bust stood. The Vanishing Cabinet was not there yet, which made initially finding the location altogether slightly more difficult. "Yes!" she exclaimed and ran over to collect it. Though she wanted to celebrate more, she merely stuck it in her robes and began her run back to the door.

 

She had just closed the door behind her when she heard a silky-smooth, sinister sounding voice from behind. 

 

"Well, well. Black's little play thing out all on her own. How unusual for your...dog of a boyfriend to let you out of his sight," Snape said with a wicked gleam in his eye.

 

Dammit. We get held up by Malfoy retrieving this in our time and now I get held up by Snape in the past, she thought angrily. "Get your greasy ass out of here, Snivellus. I have nothing to say to you," she spat at him.

 

Snape’s face contorted with rage. He’d had enough of being called "greasy" and "Snivellus" and she was going to pay. He’d absolutely hated this girl after she’d out shown him in Potions class, combined with the fact that she was Black's girlfriend, he only hated her more now.

 

"Watch your mouth, you disgusting girl! SECTUM-" He began to scream, but Hermione was too quick for him.

 


She pulled her wand out more quickly than he’d anticipated and shouted, "PROTEGO!"

 

The shield charm caused Snape's spell to rebound back to him and he dodged out of its way just in time. Hermione took advantage of this minor distraction and yelled, "PETRIFICUS TOTALUS!" She watched Snape's body freeze up as he fell over like a wooden plank. She walked towards him and stood right over his frozen body, his wide eyes watching her.

 

"Now you listen to me, Severus Snape. I am not going to tell Sirius about this, or James. Trust me, you might not think it, but I am doing you a favor by this. But just know in case you try anything against me again, I can and will take you. And next time, I won't stop Sirius and James from tearing you apart. Think it over... Snivellus,"  she said as coldly as she could possibly manage.

 

She spared him one more contemptuous glare, turned on her heel and continued her run back to Dumbledore's office, leaving Snape frozen on the floor.

 

Her half hour was nearly up as she reached the door to Dumbledore's office.

 

"Come in," he called out.

 

Hermione walked in red-faced, sweating, and out of breath. Dumbledore noticed a wild excitement in the girl's eyes and still could not imagine why she ran out of his office a half hour prior. He watched as she reached in her robes and pulled out a beautifully decorated, small, sliver tiara, which looked as if it were engraved with something. She placed it on his desk gently.

He picked it up and read, Wit Beyond Measure is Man's Greatest Treasure. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. Without a doubt, he knew this was Rowena Ravenclaw's Lost Diadem. How did this young woman know where to find it? Hermione saw the shock in Dumbledore's eyes and began to explain.

 

"I know you realize this is the Lost Diadem of Ravenclaw, sir. But I must warn you, it is a Horcrux," she told him. Dumbledore did not say anything, but he let her go on. "While Tom Riddle was in school, he learned from the Gray Lady where it was. He found out she was Helena Ravenclaw- Rowena's daughter. From there she told him how she had stolen it and hid it in a hollow tree in Albania. He, of course, found it and turned it into a Horcrux. The night he came here asking you for a teaching position, he hid it in the Room of Requirement. He knew you were not going to give him the job, sir. His main reason for coming here that night was to return the Diadem back to its home, while ensuring his Horcrux would be safe in the process. If you had given him the job, that would have been an added bonus. Furthermore, he jinxed the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts so that no one will be able to teach it, for one reason or another, for more than one year. That jinx will stay in place until he dies," she finished, once again out of breath.

 

Dumbledore sat quietly for a few more moments, twisting the Diadem around in his hands. He stared at it intently as he did so, as if he were searching for some long lost answer.

 

"You are indeed right, this is a Horcrux. It has known dark magic. I always had a feeling the night in which he returned and asked for that position, there was an ulterior motive for being here... Now I know," he said, more to himself than to Hermione. “I know I was right.”

 

"Sir, I know you would have more luck destroying this than I would at present time, which is why I brought it straight to you. And I feel that now is the time to discuss the other ones and where they are hidden," she said, her voice full of authority. 

 


He looked at the remarkable young witch in front of him proudly. He now knew why he must have sent her back to this time to set things right. He nodded and inclined for her to proceed. Hermione then told him of the lake and the locket, the ring and the shack, the Lestrange's vault and the cup, Lucius Malfoy and the diary.

 

Hermione explained the Diary and how it provided the knowledge, and instructions on how to open the Chamber of Secrets. She told him how they had used the Sword of Gryffindor and the Basalisk fangs, before she stated the problem of the Basalisk still lurking beneath the school, which would render the sword useless for destroying them currently. She was not entirely worried about that, as she was positive Dumbledore would know of other ways to destroy a Horcrux. The only real concern on her mind was the lake and the locket. She knew, from what Harry told her, it could not be retrieved alone.

 

"Sir, if I may, I would like to accompany you to the underground lake for the locket. One cannot simply do it alone. I know how to get in and what lurks in there, from what Harry told me. I could be a valuable asset to you in there," she said, rather determinedly.

 

Dumbledore was, again, giving her the impression of x-raying her from over the top of glasses. He thought for a moment and finally spoke.

 

"I believe you, Miss Granger. I shall take you with me when I go to retrieve Voldemort's locket," he told her, much to her surprise. She looked slightly taken aback before nodding and holding her head up proudly.

 

"Thank you, sir. I appreciate the trust and confidence you bestow on me," she said quietly.

 


She was pleased that he had agreed to take her, but also terrified. What she didn't tell him yet, but would insist on when they were there, was she was going to drink the potion this time. She knew they would have a better chance returning home safely if she were the one incapacitated from the potion, rather than Dumbledore. Now the only question was, when would they go? Almost as if she had asked the question out loud, Dumbledore responded.


 

"I will first, alone of course, go to the Gaunt Shack for the ring and then to the Lestrange's vault for the cup; after which, I will break into the Malfoy Manor and seek out the Diary. Once they, as well as the Diadem before me are destroyed, we will seek out the locket. I am not sure how much time it all will take me. I encourage you to go on living day to day no differently than you are currently. Speak of this to no one. Not even Sirius. Once the Horcruxes are destroyed, I will find Voldemort and put an end to all of this. After which, I suggest you reveal to Sirius who you really are and then return to your own time. You do not want to run the risk of the young woman you are now ceasing to exist, I'm sure?" asked Dumbledore, knowingly.

 


Hermione thought about that for a moment. If the girl she was now did not exist any in the future, Sirius could get on with his life. Move on and find someone new. He could create a future, with her unknowing of their past. Hermione would be treated as nothing more than any other child.

 


But did she really want to give up the greatest love she has ever known? And if he would be willing to wait for her, could she do that to him? No, she was not willing to take the risk of giving up everything she has known her whole life. More importantly, she was not willing to give up Sirius, regardless if she wouldn't remember. 


 


"No sir, I wouldn't," she finally said. 

"I would think not. Well, Miss Granger, it looks as if I have quite a bit of work ahead of me. I shall send for you when we are ready to depart on our little adventure. Until then, enjoy the remainder of your semester and have a Happy Christmas," he said, indicating the meeting was over.

 


Before she left, there was something of vital importance she needed to tell her professor. Gathering her nerve for the boldness of what she was about to say, she began.


 

"Sir, there is one last thing you must know. When you retrieve the ring from the Gaunt Shack, you must not put it on under any circumstances. I know you will be tempted, but sir, you must remember it is a Horcrux with curses protecting it. It will not bring you what you seek. Please, sir. You have to trust me," she said, determined to bring about what happened in the future.

 

Dumbledore simply nodded at Hermione.

 

"Thank you. Have a Happy Christmas as well. Goodbye, sir", she said and walked out of the office.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 


While she was walking back to the common room, she was a whirlwind of emotions. Of course she was terrified, but she was also confident everything would work out and her friends would live. She still had a nagging feeling there was something else she should be doing. Something that would absolutely ensure her mission here would be successful. That was when she saw the short, round faced and watery eyed figure of Peter Pettigrew nearly twenty steps in front of her. Peter. That's it! I need to really befriend Peter and gain his confidence. If he realizes he is truly loved and accepted by this group, he may never stray, she thought as she was running to catch up with him.


"Hey Peter!" she called out, running a few steps towards him.


Peter turned around and surprise registered on his face, he couldn't not remember Hermione ever actively seeking out his company before. He had liked the girl very much and did not understand her less than warm attitude towards him most of the time. The way she treated him was as if he had killed her best friend. He was glad to see she was, possibly, finally coming around to him. He gave her a big smile, one he couldn't help at the thought.


"Hey Hermione! Finished with Dumbledore? Sirius told us where you were," he asked before answering her unspoken question.


"Yeah, just now actually. He was just checking up to see how I have been coping with the new school and everything so far," she lied far too easily.


The two of them walked side by side towards the common room when an idea struck her. 

"What do you say we talk a walk outside? The sun is actually out today, so it may not feel too cold. I don't feel like we have really gotten the chance to know one another yet," she said, giving him a friendly smile.


To say Peter was shocked was an understatement, he was completely flummoxed. She must have forgotten about the Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, and he was sad they would not have time. If they were to make the game on time, they needed to head down to the pitch within twenty-five minutes.


"Hermione I would love to, but can it wait until after the Quidditch match? James and Sirius would kill us," he told her, looking truly disappointed. 


Dammit, I completely forgot... Quidditch. He's right, they would kill us. "You're right, I had totally forgotten about the match. Being out for two days left me all discombobulated. Well, why don't we go to the common room so Remus and Lily could walk down with us?" she asked brightly.


"Sounds good to me. Although, I'm not sure about Remus yet. He said he wasn't feeling very well today..." Peter said, looking slightly uncomfortably. 


Hermione had not realized, either, that the full moon was tomorrow. Lupin always began to look and feel very ill three days before the full moon each month. Then, the day of, some excuse would be made. It would be either that he had gone home to see a sick relative, he himself was ill, or, like the last month there was a "Great Aunt" who passed away. She knew if she were to look out her bedroom window tomorrow night, she would see the shadows of three large animals running wildly across the grounds.


It was last month during the last full moon that she had peered out, hoping to catch a glimpse of them, which she had. Peter, being as small of an animal as he was, she was not able to see. Her heart broke from Lupin. She wanted to hug him and tell him she knew what he was and she loved him regardless. She was hoping he would trust her and tell her himself. That would mean the world to her for him to instill so much trust in her. He was such a kind, gentle, and sweet young man. Lupin definitely did not deserve the cards he’d been dealt.


Peter and Hermione chatted, mostly small talk, the whole way back to Gryffindor Tower. She gave the password and Peter helped her through the portrait hole like a perfect gentleman. As Sirius and James saw them enter together, it was evident from their faces that they were shocked, but pleased. Everyone else had noticed how Hermione seemed to disregard Peter most of the time. They were glad she finally seemed to be warming up to their insecure little friend. For as much as they picked on him, he was a brother to them as well.


Hermione saw Sirius sitting on the couch waiting for her to return, he and James both in their Quidditch uniforms. Looking at Sirius in his uniform was a problem for Hermione, one in which she could not find herself able to look away... He was stunning. When she walked over he got up and gave her a hug and a kiss then looked over her shoulder to Peter.

"Not trying to steal this away from me, were you Wormtail?" he joked.
Peter turned bright red and squeaked, "No! We were just talking, that's all!" He truly looked terrified.

Sirius, seeing his friend look as if he were about to have a minor stroke, smiled and told him, "Easy there. I'm only joking. As if anyone could steal her from me. I mean, look at me." He spread his arms wide open as if to give everyone a better look, all the while puffing his chest out.
 
Hermione stepped back and looked at him in disbelief. Sometimes she really could not believe the things that came out of his mouth.


"You know, Black. You really aren't even half as handsome as you think you are. And your hair looks pretty flat today," she said with a smirk while winking at Peter.


She was lying through her teeth, but his reaction was exactly what she had been hoping for. He looked at her with his mouth wide open in shock. James and Peter were rolling on the floor laughing. They really could never get enough of how Hermione would knock him down a few pegs, which they felt he needed immensely. Sirius' blatantly shocked and disbelieving look faded and changed to a mischievous one. He gave her a half smile and slowly starting walking towards her.


Hermione had an idea of what he was about to do and began to backpedal before Sirius pounced and tackled her onto the floor before he began tickling her mercilessly. While she was squirming, laughing and pleading for help, James and Peter pulled Sirius off and held him for Hermione. She took out her wand and pointed it at him.


"You're going to be sorry," she taunted. "Rictusempra!" she shouted as the silver jet of light hit Sirius and he doubled over with barking laughter. 

"Don't mess with me, Black. I'll always win," she smirked.


Hermione lifted the charm after only fifteen seconds or so. Sirius lay panting on the ground, aiming a look toward Hermione as if he might strangle her.


"Oh, Winters...You shouldn’t have done that. You are going to get it so badly. Not now. Maybe not even later. But when you least expect it, you're done for," he teased threateningly.


"Please, love. I'm not scared. Bring it on," she teased back with a wide grin.


After she helped him off the floor she gave him a big hug and an innocent smile. He just gave a short laugh, shook his head and kissed her. At that moment Lily and Lupin arrived in the common room. They slept in a little later than the rest and were both just returning from breakfast. Lupin really did not look well. He was a little paler than normal and quite clammy looking. However, he insisted he was fine and would be going to the game with everyone. It was nearly noon and time to walk down to the pitch.


When they arrived outside Hermione was happy to see the sun was still shining. It was windy and cold, but the little heat from the sun helped out quite a bit. The group parted ways when they reached the changing tent for the team. Lily and Hermione gave James and Sirius each a kiss for good luck and they all went to find seats in the stands.


The game was exciting, but did not last very long. James was an exceptionally good chaser, scoring 11 of Gryffindor's 18 goals and Sirius was one of the most brilliant beaters she had ever seen, only a shade better than Fred and George were in her time. The seeker, a tiny fourth year boy whose name she couldn't remember was good, but did not come close to the skill of Harry.


Every so often Sirius would fly near where they were sitting and wink at Hermione and James would do the same only blowing kisses at Lily. The two boys were completely silly and ridiculous and the girls would not have them any other way. They truly were the stars of the show and it was clear that they knew it. After only an hour and a half, the snitch had been caught and Gryffindor won 330-60, which moved them just ahead of Ravenclaw for the lead in the Quidditch cup.


Lily, Lupin, Peter and Hermione ran out onto the field after the game to congratulate the team with the rest of the Gryffindors. Sirius spotted Hermione and made a beeline towards her. As he reached her he picked her up, spun her around and brought her in for an enthusiastic kiss.


"We're in the lead!" he yelled excitedly.


She absolutely loved seeing him when he was like this. He looked so young, sweet and innocent when he was overly happy and excited about something and it made her heart melt.


"I know! I'm so happy for you guys! You played brilliantly, honey!" she told him, smiling widely.


"Come on, James and I are going to nick some food from the kitchens and we'll have a party in the common room," he said to her.


Hermione really wanted to get on with getting closer to Peter. She figured a good time to do it would be while those two were raiding the kitchens.


"Actually, Peter and I were going to take a walk. I realized I don't really know him that well yet, and I wanted to rectify that. He's one of your best friends which means I would like him to be one of mine as well," she told him.


Sirius was honestly a little surprised. He just figured she didn't like Peter that much since she barely spoke to him. It made him happy that she was really trying to get to know him better. He gave her a small kiss on the tip of her nose and smiled.


"I think that's a great idea, love. Just make sure you guys don't take too long and miss the party," he told her with a lopsided grin.
"Right, because it's not like you two won't keep that going until McGonagall show's up in her nightgown, at one in the morning, making everyone go to sleep," she said sarcastically.


"You know me so well," he joked, kissing her forehead.


"Alright, I'm going to find Peter before he takes off. I'll see you in about an hour?" she asked.


"Absolutely. Hurry back to me," he said. Hermione and Sirius gave one another a kiss goodbye and she turned around to look for Peter.


Peter was a few yards away talking with Lupin, James and Lily. Hermione pushed through the crowd to reach her friends.


"Congratulations James! First place! Brilliant," she said to James.


"I know, I can't believe it! Ready for the party?" he asked her.


"Sure, but first I wanted to ask Peter something," she turned to Peter who watched her in surprise, again. "Peter, I was wondering if you still wanted to take that walk with me?" she asked, smiling warmly at him.


Lupin smiled brightly, glad she was finally giving the boy a chance. Lily and James just looked slightly stunned. Peter wondered if he was dying and no one told him.


"S-sure Hermione. I'd love to," he stammered.


"Excellent. Let's head over by the lake," she said. 


They said goodbye to the rest of the group and began their slightly awkward walk together. They began with small talk, again. Classes, homework, other students, a fifth year Hufflepuff he was slightly interested in, their families and then they touched on an issue Hermione found massively important. How Peter felt about James and Sirius's constantly picking on him and putting him down.


"I don't know, Hermione. I mean, I think they like me but, sometimes I feel like I'm a pity friend. Someone they let hang around them so they look better," he said dejectedly.


She actually felt herself feeling sorry for him because, if she were being honest with herself, he had a point. They would laugh at him, not take him seriously, tell him to shut up often and make him feel like a fool if he praised them for anything. She was beginning to see how it may have been easy for him to be swayed. She was going to put a stop to this, once and for all, starting now.


"Oh Peter, don't think that way. Honestly. It's just how James and Sirius are, you know that. Do you hear how Sirius and I speak to each other sometimes? It's just in his nature to be a bust ass. You've seen what they do to Snape and how they treat him. That is how they treat someone they don't like, and they do nothing of the sort to you. They love you, Peter. We all do. You're such a sweet kid and you're like a brother to them," she said sincerely. 


Peter's eyes filled with tears. He wanted to believe her, she sounded so sure, but he couldn't be positive she was right.


"You really think that, Hermione?" he asked, his voice beyond sad.


"I know it, Peter. Trust me. They would kill or die for you. You have to know that," she said rather forcefully.


He was beginning to wonder if she had already known he was feeling this way, and was the reason she asked him to take this walk. He has been feeling, more and more lately, as if he really was not a part of the group and she was making him feel a little better.


"Don't take them too seriously, Peter. I certainly don't," she laughed. "But honestly, we do love you Peter. You are a part of this group, an important part. You're the sweet one, the one that balances out the craziness that is Sirius Black and James Potter. Nothing would be the same without you with us, trust me," she told him.


If it took her every single day, for the rest of the time she was here, she was going to ingrain this in his skull. Everything she told him was true, he just needed to come to see it and believe it himself. Once he knew how much they really did love him, he would never do anything to betray that.


"Come on, we better get up to the party before it gets too out of hand," she said.


"Ok... Hey Hermione?" he asked tentatively.


"Yes, Peter?" she said


"I- I just want to say... thank you. You really made me feel a lot better. And I'm glad you asked me to hang out with you. It's been so nice to really get to know you,” he said, his voice thick with emotion.


Hermione's eyes teared up as she watched the boy before her get choked up with tears, he really never was bad, was he? Just felt alone and misunderstood. "You know what, Peter? I'm really glad we did this too. I only hope we can continue to become closer," she said to him with a small smile.


He looked so pleased and completely hopeful when she said this. Peter was beginning to feel like he would maybe have someone who he could really confide in. Someone who would listen, take him seriously, and would not judge or make fun of him. He had no idea what he would have done if he never met Hermione.


"I am too, Hermione. I really am too", he answered. 


They walked back to the common room together and the conversation became a little lighter. They laughed and joked around and she found that she honestly did like spending time with Peter, he reminded her of Neville a little. Maybe he could end up being a great friend. She smiled at the thought and felt like another weight was lifted off her shoulders today. There was one Horcrux almost done with and she felt Peter was on his way to choosing the right path, at least this time around.


 


***


A/N - I want to thank you again, Mischief_managed18 for doing such a wonderful job in your editing. The time and work you are putting into a stranger's story will never go unappreciated. You are truly a wonderful person! 



Chapter 12: Peter Pettigrew's Potential Problem
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In the blink of an eye exams were finished and the Christmas Holidays were upon them. It was the Saturday before Christmas and students would be returning to their homes tomorrow to spend time with their families for the holidays. Tonight however, The Maruarders and the girls would be attending Slughorn's annual Christmas Party.

 

 

 

Sirius, Hermione, Lily and James were the only ones to receive invitations of their own since they were the only four who were in The Slug Club, as Hermione knew she inevitably would be. As it were, the guests were allowed to bring dates to the party. Hermione recommended the idea that she would invite Peter as her date and Lily could invite Lupin, since James and Sirius were already going, and they could all go together. Of course they talked it over with their boyfriends first, but it was no matter, they both thought it was a great idea and were disappointed they haven't thought of it.

 

 

 

Hermione knew she would never forget the look on Peter's face when she asked him to be her date to the party. He was more than excited and touched that she found a way to include them and gave her the biggest hug he had ever given anyone. Lily told Hermione later on that Lupin was absolutely ecstatic at the idea as well. He told her how boring it was when everyone was gone and it was just he and Peter left alone. Hermione was fairly confident that she was making headway with Peter. She had a little talk with James and Sirius about toning it down with him and asked how they would feel if someone treated them that way constantly. Of course they still did pick on him, it was in their nature, but they had definitely minimized how much they were doing it and how cruel it sometimes became.

 


The girls were hardly seen the whole day of the party. They wanted to look their best and surprise the boys. As soon as they received their invites Hermione and Lily owl ordered dresses from Twilfitt and Tattings which arrived, luckily, just yesterday morning.

 

Lily's dress was stunning, there was no other word for it. It was a deep emerald, which matched her eyes perfectly, silk, halter-top, backless dress with a plunging neckline down to her right above her naval. Emerald jewels were sewn sporadically all over the dress making it shimmer; it was tightly fitted to the top of her thighs and flared out slightly down to her ankles. Hermione's dress was a satin, full length, deep red, sleeveless v-neck, which was gathered at the empire waist line with a perfect circle cut in the center of her ribcage. The dress hugged her slim figure perfectly all the way down to the bottom.

 

Lily wore her hair up in an elegant twist with wispy curls hanging loosely here and there and Hermione let her hair down with tight curls falling to her waist. Their makeup was done beautifully, yet subtly. Needless to say, they looked absolutely breathtaking. When they were finished getting ready it was 7:30, which meant they had half an hour until the party. They each gave the other one last check, told the other how beautiful she looked and prepared to make their way downstairs to the boys.

As the girls walked down the stairs the boys could not believe their eyes. Of course Hermione and Lily were beautiful but tonight they were unworldly. James kept blinking as if he thought he was imagining Lily and she would disappear next time he opened his eyes. Lupin had a wide smile and said, "You two will be the envy of every girl at that party". Peter agreed by nodding his head so quickly, he appeared to have a twitch. Sirius stood casually with his arms crossed across his chest, wearing a very approving smile.

 

For as sloppy and carelessly those boys normally can dress, they cleaned up very well. Peter had very simple black dress robes with a white shirt, red and green tie and his hair combed neatly down the middle. Remus had deep burgundy robes, a silver shirt, a striped bow tie comprised of the two colors and his hair artfully messy. James was wearing dark red robes, and emerald shirt, a deep red tie and... there really was no hope for his hair, just like Harry, it never lies flat. Sirius was almost in all black with his hair flowing as long and perfect as usual. Black robes, black shirt, black pants, black shoes and white tie; the effect was unbelievably sexy.

 "Well don't you boys clean up nicely," Hermione said, smiling at them. 

 

"I could say the same for the two of you... damn," Sirius said wickedly while looking her up and down.

 

 

 

"I was thinking the same thing, Padfoot old friend... damn indeed," James said while checking out Lily as well.

 

 

 

James and Sirius walked over to their girls, pulled them in close and kissed them a little more passionately than they usually would have in mixed company. A couple seconds later, Lupin cleared his throat.

 

 

 

"Excuse me, gentlemen. But I believe they are our dates you are man handling," he said in a highly pompous tone.

 


"I believe our friend Lupin is correct, gentlemen. Unhand our dates, now!" Peter joked.

 

Peter and Lupin pulled the girls from James and Sirius while offering them their arms. Hermione and Lily laughed and looped their arms right through theirs and walked towards the portrait hole with their dates. James and Sirius looked on with blatant disbelief while their two best friends walked off with their girlfriends on their arms.

 


"Just because we're cool with them bringing you as their dates doesn't mean you can steal them!" James yelled at the retreating figures.

 

 "Seriously. I'm keeping my eye on you Wormtail! One wrong move and we'll kill you both!" Sirius shouted. 

At once, the all turned around and laughed right at them. James and Sirius shrugged at one another while James offered Sirius his arm in a similar fashion.

 

 
"Shall we my dear?" James asked.

 

Sirius gave a very fake girly giggle and put his arm through James's. He put the back of his hand up to his forehead and said in an American Southern Belle accent, "My sweet James, I thought you'd neva ask!"

 

 

 

The four up ahead had been waiting not too far away and had heard and seen the entire thing and were all laughing. Hermione rolled her eyes and looked over to Lily.
 
"I had a feeling it would happen eventually. Lucky for us we have dates tonight," she said smiling at Peter.

 

 

 

"Yeah, I knew it was only a matter of time. Good thing I have you Remus," she said jokingly to Lupin.

 


And all of them were on their way to the party, James and Sirius arm in arm the whole walk down.

 

Finally they arrived at Slughorn's office and none of them could believe their eyes. It was beautiful. The ceiling was bewitched to make it look as if it were snowing. There were sparkling red and green baubles hanging in mismatched lengths all though out the room, tiny silver candles with light green flames were hovering just out of reach above them, silver, gold, red and green streamers draping every which way. And scattered around the room, there were about two dozen small round tables with deep red and green table clothes were set around the room and each had a poinsettia center piece in the middle.

 

 

 

At the back, there was a small stage with instruments for a band he must have hired, with a small dance floor in front. He clearly bewitched the room to make it bigger for the party, for no professor could possibly have an office this large. Slughorn beamed and darted right to Lily, Hermione, James and Sirius as soon as they entered. Even though they were Gryffindors, they were his absolute favorite students. Slughorn cherished looks, talent, wit, and charm above all else and this group had that in spades.

"Oh ho! If it isn't my favorite foursome! So glad you all made it to my small get together. Please, find a table and have some drinks. There are people you must meet, my dears," He was speaking right to the four of them, completely ignoring the fact Peter and Lupin stood right next to them. "I'm afraid I must mingle and play the part of gracious host, but I will seek you all out again shortly, don't you worry. Go! Have fun!" he said and bounced over to some important Ministry official who must have been an ex-student of his.

 

Peter and Lupin looked dumbstruck. They could not believe a man they have had in class for seven years had treated them as if they were part of the furniture. Granted, he did not say much to either of them in class, but that was class. They rather thought he would be a little more gracious during a Christmas Party of all things. Hermione, Lily, James and Sirius took one look at their faces and all laughed.

 


"Yeah, we should have warned you. If you're not part of his little Slug Club, you kind of vanish into thin air. It’s like you’re ghosts, invisible ones at that," Hermione laughed.

 

"Please don't take it to heart, I mean, he's only a teacher. What does it really matter if you're one of Ol' Sluggy's favorites or not. If it were up to us, we would rather be part of the invisible crowd, trust me," Lily said kindly. 

 


James and Sirius agreed with the girls and the lot of them went and found a table well away from Slughorn's. Little trays of appetizers were, seemingly floating, but carried by house elves around the area. Slowly more and more students and staff began to arrive and find seats of their own.

 

Hermione glared over where some Slytherin's, including Snape, were sitting. Snape caught Hermione's eye and gave her a death stare, which she returned right back, unafraid of the greasy git. He had not bothered her, spoken to her, or even come near her group since that day he attempted to attack her in front of The Room of Requirement. She thought perhaps he took her words seriously, something he most definitely should have.

Soon dinner arrived and there was anything and everything you could think of. They had their choice of roast beef, turkey, chicken, fish, or pork chops, along with all the trimmings. Once they were well fed, mead, butterbeer, firewhiskey, and several other drinks started flowing and the music and dancing began. All of the boys took their turns with Hermione and Lily and after two hours of continuous dancing Hermione needed a restroom break.

 

She noticed that Peter had been missing for a little while and was wondering if he perhaps worked up the courage to ask out the little Hufflepuff who he admired. Hermione knew that she had been invited to the party as well and arrived dateless. Excusing herself from the rest of the group, she walked outside and began down the corridor to the girl’s restroom. That was when she heard his voice, Snape's voice, sounding threatening a little down the corridor. She quickly ducked behind a suit of armor, not to be seen, and listened.

 

"Don't be stupid Pettigrew! They do not care for you at all. You are nothing more than a walking punch line to Black and Potter," he spat, his mouth twisting around their names.
  
Hermione gasped quietly. That bastard was the one who turned Peter? Not on my watch, you greasy, git!, she thought to herself and continued to listen.

"B-But S-S-Severus... They're my friends. I can't turn my back on my friends and join him," Peter said sounding fearful and unsure at the same time.

 

 

 

"Friends?" Snape exclaimed harshly. "Give me a break! The only people they care about are themselves, that mudblood, and that whore of Black's."
 
"Hermione is not a whore! And p-please don't call Lily that. That's what made her stop talking to you to begin with," Peter said, sounding a little angry.

 

 

 

Hermione heard a smack followed by a whimper from Peter. She was feeling sick to her stomach and was thinking of making her presence known, but something told her to keep hidden.

"Don't you dare tell me what I can or cannot say. Now you listen to me. Our patience is running thin, Pettigrew. We give you until graduation to make a sound decision, or suffer our... displeasure," he sneered coldly.

 

She heard the sound of flesh coming into contact roughly with flesh one last time and then footsteps. Snape flapped right by her without noticing she was there and seconds later she watched a scared and anguished looking Peter walk by. She was frozen to the spot and did not move for nearly five minutes. What am I supposed to do?, she though, her mind running wildly.

After she returned from the restroom and hearing what she heard, she was more than ready to leave.

"Sirius, I'm kind of tired. I'm going to go back to the common room, ok?" she said to him.

 

 

 

As she watched his face fill with disappointment, she felt terrible but she could not stomach another moment in the same room as Snape. Sirius gave her a sad smile and insisted he would go too. After telling him for ten minutes straight he needn't leave, she had given up and they began to make their rounds saying goodnight. Once out in the corridor, she took her heels off and they began to slowly walk to Gryffindor tower.

"Everything alright, love?" he asked her, eying her cautiously.

 


Without a doubt he knew something was not right. The second she returned from the restroom her whole demeanor changed. She gave him a fake smile, which she hoped was convincing and squeezed his hand for reassurance.

"Everything is perfect, honey. I'm just exhausted and my feet were killing me", she lied to him.

"If you say so..." he said sadly. 

There was no way she could tell him what she had overheard. First of all, he would murder Snape and secondly he would be beyond hurt that Peter's loyalty to his friends ever wavered, even if only for a moment. As far as Sirius, James and Lupin were concerned there was no high dishonor than betraying your friends, so she was not going to be the one to tell him.

 

 

 

She also knew that she was starting to get through to Peter. He did not sound eager while talking to Snape, he sounded more intimidated than anything. Keeping Peter on the right track has now become her number one priority, because if something went wrong and she and Dumbledore did not get to the Horcruxes and Voldemort fast enough, Peter was her last hope at keeping everyone alive. 

Before she knew it, she and Sirius were climbing through the portrait hole and entering the common room, which was completely empty. They took their place on the couch in front of the fire, did not speak and just held one another. Sirius was starting to suspect that Hermione had been hiding something from him. Ever since the day she met with Dumbledore she has been more quiet, reserved and slightly jumpy. Not to mention the whole thing with her trying so hard to get close to Peter. He started to become worried that her feelings for him were waning and the thought terrified him. Squeezing her a little tighter and pulling her closer to him, they dozed off shortly after.

 

 

 

After sleeping for forty-five minutes, Lupin, Lily, James and Peter entered, gently woke them up and reminded them they needed to be up and at the train by 11 the following morning. Hermione barely remembered getting undressed and into bed; the last thought she had was the horrified look on Peter's face after his conversation with Snape.

They would all be boarding the Hogwarts Express in another hour to begin their two week holiday away from the school. Hermione was a nervous wreck over meeting Harry's grandparents, which pushed all thoughts of Peter and Snape from her mind for the moment. This was just never anything she anticipated when she came back to 1977. Lily, sadly, was not allowed to stay at the Potter's until Boxing day, which meant Hermione had three and a half days to endure with just the two boys. It wasn't like she was not used to spending the majority of her time with two other boys, but just never with one being her boyfriend. Still, even with the nerves, she was so excited to get out of the castle and see some of the outside world in the past. She felt that it all would be a fascinating experience.

 

 

 

With the students' trunks packed and cloaks on, they all began the walk down to Hogsmeade station. The four Marauders and the two girls all found a compartment together for the ride back to London. Hermione sat with her legs across Sirius's lap, with Peter next to them. Lily sat with her head resting on James's shoulder and his arm around her and Lupin next to them. They started making plans about what kind of mischief they could get in to, as soon as they were all together, at James's house. That was when James slipped up and mentioned he was excited for their Full Moon Adventure which had Lily and Hermione's ears perk up and Lupin, Sirius and  Peter looking at him as if he went bonkers.

"What do you mean?" Lily asked looking confused

 "Yes James, what's this Full Moon Adventure? Sounds like fun," Hermione asked, trying to weed it out of them all once and for all.

 


Lupin kept his eyes down and was very red in the face, Peter started to whistle like he didn't have a care in the world and Sirius was still glaring at James for his big mouth. They didn't want the girls to know, not yet, and in Lupin's case, not ever. But the girl's were persistent. They were going to find out what he was talking about that made the others look, now, so angry and uncomfortable.

 


"What's going on? Is there something you guys are hiding from us?" Lily asked, getting angry now.

"Of course not, Lily. Our boyfriends and best friends wouldn't ever hide anything from us. Would you, boys?" Hermione said rather passive aggressively.

At that moment Lupin sighed. He looked up at his friends and nodded to them. He figured he better get on with telling them, if they were going to be around for the long haul, and he had a feeling they would, they would find out sooner or later. He opened his mouth to begin when he was cut off by James.

 


"Moony... I'm so sorry. It's just... They're around so much and we're so comfortable with them, I completely forgot. Please. I'm sorry," he looked devastated.

Lily whipped her head around to James so fast it was a wonder she didn't get whip lash.

 


"You guys are hiding something from us? Why would you do that? Don't you trust us?" She was furious but also sounded rather hurt.

"Lily, you have to understand. It's not- It's not like that. It's- It's-," James stuttered.

That was when Lupin held his hand up to stop him and began to speak.
 
"Lils please. Don't take it out on James. The reason he has never spoken of this was because it wasn't his secret to tell. It's mine," he said gravely.

 


Lily looked at Lupin, her eyes burning with curiosity. Hermione, trying to keep up the pretense of her ignorance, also looked at him questioningly. Lupin looked at the floor, unable to meet anyone's eyes, and began to tell his story.

"I trust whatever I say in this compartment stays in this compartment, correct?" he asked and everyone nodded. "Good. Now if either of you would rather not be around me after this, I would completely understand. I would just like you both to know that the reason I have never told you... was because I was afraid to lose you both. I love the both of you as if you were my sisters and losing you over something that is beyond my control would kill me," he ended, his voice hitching.

 


Hermione and Lily both began to protest, saying nothing he could tell them would change their opinions and they'd love him no matter what. He just shook his head and continued.
 

 

"Thank you, but we'll see about that. The reason we have little Full Moon Adventures is- is-,” he paused for a moment and took a deep breath, “is because I am a werewolf," he said, still looking at the ground.

Lily and Hermione gasped. Lily out of pure shock and Hermione because he had finally come clean to them. A few emotions passed over Lily's face: Suprise, Sorrow, Anger then Acceptance. Lily then reached over and put her finger under Lupin's chin to raise his eyes to hers. She looked him right in the eye and said to him in a strong clear voice.

"Remus Lupin, I want you to listen to me right now. I could never, ever stop caring about you or loving you over anything. Anything, Remus. Not even that. I've known you and have been your friend for seven years now. You have never harmed me or have given me any reason not to trust you and that is not going to stop now. I am just a little upset that it has taken you so long to tell me," she told him sweetly.

Hermione reached over and put her hand on his knee. When he looked over to her, his eyes were tearing up. Her heart was breaking because she knew how ashamed he was of what he was and how hard this must be for him to admit.

 


"Remus," she said softly, "I don't think any less of you. I want you to know that. I adore you more than I could probably ever tell you. Nothing, and I mean nothing, could ever change that. To me, you are the same person I have known these past months- the same person who’s like a brother to me. Nothing has changed, except we all know now."

As she finished Lupin put his hand over hers and told her, "Thank you," while tears were falling from his eyes.

"Now, the only thing I want to know is, how do you all go on little Full Moon excursions with him? Wouldn't he bite you when he's in that state? Unless.... Are you all werewolves as well?" Hermione asked the others, trying to get them to admit to Lily what she already knew.

Lupin seemed a little overcome with emotion and was not able to speak for the moment. He just mumbled out a few thank you's and I love you's to the girls. Lily and Hermione were staring holes through James, Sirius and Peter. That was when Peter, of all people, finally spoke up.

 


"Well, girls, you see. The- The reason we can go is- well it's because... We're unregistered Animagi," he said in a small voice.
 
Again the girls gasped. Lily and Hermione whipped their heads around to glare at their boyfriends for not telling them. Hermione, obviously knew, but she was still pissed he hasn't told her yet.

"Explain," Lily said to James, her arms folded across her chest.

 


Sirius and James looked to one another as if they were the other person's life line. They stammered for few moments and then became rather quiet. They wanted to tell the girls, but when the moment was right. Both of them hated hiding something this big from the women they loved, but how could they have told them without revealing Lupin's secret. Hermione and Lily still were not saying anything. They were staring, impatiently, waiting for their boys to speak up. Finally Sirius sighed, sat up straight and began.

 


"Ok, so... Our first year we noticed something odd going on with Moony. He would always have to go home or would get 'sick' around the full moon, every month. We didn't think too much of it at the time, we just thought the poor guy had some majorly bad luck. Then by our second year, it continued. It didn't take the three of us long to figure out what was going on with him. We researched werewolves and he showed a majority of the symptoms. So, partly through our second year, we cornered him and told him we knew,” Sirius began, looking to James before he continued the story.

 

 

 

“At first he was extremely upset and denied it, thinking we would not want to be around him any longer. We were the first and best friends he'd ever know. He felt dirty and contaminated and avoided us for a few days afterwards. Finally we got around to telling him he was being mental and we were not going to abandon him. He's our best friend. So then we did something to make life easier for him... We taught ourselves how to become Animagi. It took us until our fifth year, but we finally got there. So then during the full moon, he's taken to the Shrieking Shack and James, Peter and I sneak out and transform. While we're in our animal forms- I'm a rather large Dog, James is a Stag and Peter is a rat- he doesn't harm us. He sees us as kin, as equals, not prey. We're able to communicate and keep him out of trouble. James and I are big enough that we can control him if there were ever a reason to, and there have been a few close calls. It has made his transformations exceptionally easier and brought the four of us closer. We don't say we're brothers lightly, we really are in every way except blood," Sirius told them both.

Although Hermione had already known the story, hearing the way Sirius told it, the love and admiration that shone out of his eyes while speaking of his friends and the unwavering loyalty he had shown- and always would show- his friends brought Hermione to tears. It was absolutely heartwarming what these four boys had done for their friend while he is in his worst time of need.

 

 

 

She looked over and noticed that Lupin had silent tears streaming down his face, as did Lily. The love in the compartment was almost tangible. They were not six friends, four of which were couples, they really were a family and Hermione was heartsick she would have to leave them one day. Lily looked at James through tear filled eyes told him,

 


"That's beautiful. Just absolutely wonderful how you would do that for him. Do you realize how dangerous it was for you all to try that without supervision? You have all put yourself at such a risk... and it's absolutely moving."

"I would go to the ends of the earth for the people I love, Lily. You know that," James said, giving her a hug.

 


Sirius looked at Hermione, wondering if she was going to shout at him for keeping such a large secret. He had quite the caught-with-his-hand-in-the-cookie-jar look on his face. She wasn't angry, not in the slightest, but was awed and amazed by the people before her that she had grown to love. They really were some of the greatest Wizards and Witch of their time. She gave him a watery smile and hugged him.

"Lily is right. You are all amazing friends to him. We're all so lucky to have one another." After hugging Sirius, she turned and took Peter's hand and gave it a squeeze and whispered quietly so no one else would hear, "I told you so."

Peter smiled widely at her. He had just been extremely moved by what Sirius said about them all being brothers. Maybe he had just been paranoid lately and they really did care for him. He did not know how he had ever doubted the love and loyalty his friends had for him. Sirius and James could be arrogant arses, but they had never done anything to actually harm him and if anyone else ever messes with him, they always had his back. And it was in that moment, Peter knew, he would never do anything to bring harm to his friends. His family.
 
Soon they arrived at King's Cross Station, reunited with their families and prepared to go their own ways. Hermione and Lily were greeted warmly by Mr. and Mrs. Potter, or Dorea and Charlus, as they preferred to called. Lily then dragged Hermione over to meet Mr. and Mrs. Evans, who were really wonderful people. Where the hell did Petunia come from?, she thought after meeting them.

 

 

 

Hermione hugged Lily, Lupin and Peter goodbye and wished them a Happy Christmas. Promising not to have too much fun without them, she left with the Potters and Sirius to find the portkey to James's house. She couldn't explain it, but something happened on that train. It felt as if the bonds of their friendship became as indestructible as steel cables. It took a lot of bravery for all of them to admit the truth… maybe she could be strong enough to do the same.

 

 

 

**

 

A/N - Thank you to all who have been reading, reviewing and favoriting!! I truly appreciated the love that you have all shown me and my story! And, once again, thank you Mischief_managed18 for such an awesome job editing for me! 

 

 

 

Love you all!! 

 

 

 

xoxo - Meg


Chapter 13: Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone.
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


A/N - Hey everyone! I just wanted to say how grateful I am for the lovely reviews I have received and everyone who is reading or favoriting! It's truly mind blowing to me that some crazy little idea in my head has been received so warmly by you! Well, here is chapter 8. It's a little intense, but I hope you all enjoy it!

**Once again, a GIANT thank you to Mischief_managed18 for editing! 

xoxoMeg. <3

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Arriving at the Potter's, Hermione could not believe her eyes. It was by far the most spectacular house she had ever laid her eyes on. Grey stone, four stories, more windows than she could count, ivy growing all up the front of the house, a long dirt driveway lined with trees leading to the gates and high bushes surrounding the house. There were trees, flowers, and bushes everywhere and a large stone birdbath in the front yard. There were six stone steps leading up to the giant oak door which had a large brass door knocker hanging.




It was more mansion than house and was truly marvelous. She could not wait to see what the inside looked like. Although, she always had known James had money, seeing his house put in perspective actually how much. Charlus caught her looking up at his house in awe and smiled kindly at her.




"Welcome to our modest little home," he joked with her.





Hermione gave a nervous little laugh and said, "Right."




Sirius put his arm around her shoulders and gave a little squeeze for reassurance and they all walked up the stairs and into the house. If she thought the outside was something, it was nothing compared to the inside of the house.




They stepped into a large foyer with marble floors, a high ceiling and a large crystal chandelier hanging from it. Directly in front of them, beyond the chandelier was a grand, marble, twisting staircase, with what looked like golden banisters leading upstairs. About twenty feet in front of and to the right stood a pair glass doors leading into what may have been a ball room. On the left, there were more glass doors where she could make out a dining room. To the right of the staircase and the glass doors, there was a hallway leading to what she could only imagine were more doors. She had only seen houses like this in movies and was completely blown away.




"Wow. It's - It's beautiful," said Hermione, completely awestruck. 




 




"Thank very much, dear. We really do hope you will be comfortable and enjoy your holiday here with us," said Dorea, smiling brightly at Hermione.




 




"I'm absolutely sure I will, Dorea. Thank you so much for inviting me. The thought of spending my holiday alone was devastating. I really appreciate this," she answered with a dazzling smile.





"It was nothing, my dear Hermione. Nothing at all," she answered with a kind smile. "Now, boys. Why don't you both go show Hermione where she, and Lily when she arrives, will be staying. Your father and I will be in the dining room in an hour for dinner," she told the boys.





"Ok mum. We'll show her, and we'll see you in an hour," James said and gave his mother a kiss on the cheek

"Sure thing, Dor. We'll make sure she's comfortable," Sirius said and gave her a kiss on the other cheek.

Hermione was very touched seeing the love and tenderness in Sirius's eyes while he spoke to and kissed Dorea. It was completely evident that he thought of the Potters as the parents he never really had. As much as his home life was terrible, she found herself thinking he was lucky for being, somewhat, adopted by two very warm and loving people. Saying a quick goodbye and another thank you, Hermione and the boys walked up the stairway to the bedrooms.




 




At the top of the stairs the hall was lined with portraits of passed family members who watched as they took a left and headed to the west wing of the house. They walked down a long, red hallway, with artwork everywhere. There were stone busts of mid-evil looking wizards, moving portraits, paintings of landscapes of the country side and large cherry wood doors leading into different bedrooms. The first door they passed on the left had a golden plaque that read, ‘Sirius’,  on it.





"My room. You know, if you want to sneak down at all to give me an early Christmas gift," he said, winking at her.
 
"Yeah... Don't hold your breath for that, love," she said after smacking him in the arm.

James laughed and told them, "I wouldn't have put it passed my mother to have put charms preventing us from entering the girl's room at night and vice versa, Padfoot."
 
"Well, we can test that out later," he said with a mischievous look in his eyes.





Hermione rolled her eyes as the boys laughed and continued to make their way down the hall. They passed another door a little way down with the same plaque as on Sirius's door which read, ‘James’.
 
"Obviously my room, but don't be offended if I don't ask you to sneak in later as well," he joked.
 
"Damn. There goes my Christmas," Hermione said while laughing.
 
Sirius stared at her in disbelief, which only served to make the other two laugh at the sight of him.





"Har har. Very funny, Hermione," he said dryly.
 
She winked at him, kissed him on the cheek and pulled him farther down the hallway. Finally they arrived at a guest room a few more doors down the hallway. When they opened the door, again, Hermione was awestruck.




 




The room was huge. It was easily the size of the whole Gryffindor common room, maybe even a little bigger. There was a stone fireplace already lit in the right back corner, with a large floor to ceiling window next to it. Against the wall stood a king sized four poster bed, with burgundy dressings and curtains. To the left of the bed was a large, dark wooden chest of drawers. Across the room was a mahogany desk and chair with a grand mirror, intricately decorated with brass flowers. In front of the fireplace were two fluffy, burgundy armchairs with a thick golden carpet between the chairs and the fire. There was a door to the right of the bed, presumably leading into a private bathroom. It was the most beautiful bedroom she has ever seen.





"I'm staying in here? It's absolutely wonderful, James!" she beamed.





"What, this? I was about to apologize because it's one of the smaller rooms," he laughed.




 




"Smaller rooms? Holy cow... No, James, this will be lovely," she said a little faintly.
 
"Good. I hope Lily feels the same way", he said looking nervous.




 
"Trust me. She'll be just as blown away as I am. You'll have nothing to worry about," she told him honestly.




 
"Here’s to hoping…" he said and then appeared to be lost in thought.





Sirius clapped James on the shoulder and gave him a look, which was clearly asking for a minute alone. James took the hint and told them he was going to wash and get ready for dinner. With James barely out of the room, Sirius closed the distance between him and Hermione, took her in his arms and brought his lips roughly and possessively down on hers.




 




As always, when kissing Sirius, she felt the weight of the world slip away. Nothing seemed to matter in those moments besides the feel of his lips on hers, their bodies pressed together tightly and the wild tingling sensation that exploded throughout her entire body. Beginning to feel nervous about being wrapped up so intimately in Sirius while being a guest at the Potters', she pulled away. He looked down at her with slight confusion, not remembering a time she had broken a kiss off early.





"Something wrong?" he asked, looking slightly hurt.




 
"No, no. It's just, I don't want to disrespect Charlus and Dorea. Not when they have been so kind to let me stay here during the holiday," she answered honestly.

"They're all the way across the house, they won't hear or walk in on a thing," he said pouting slightly.

Hermione thought it over for a moment. They did say they wouldn't see them for another hour. Maybe she could spare a few moments with Sirius before she washed and dressed for dinner. She up at him with feral desire in her eyes and all but jumped on him, bringing him down on the bed. The two of them enjoyed a few moments alone with one another.

After fifteen minutes of some intense making out, Hermione rolled off of Sirius while laying on her side and propping her head up in her hand. She watched him stretch out, put his hands under his head and look at her with the most loving smile she has ever seen.

"Wow, Hermione. Where did that come from?" he asked, entirely breathlessly.

Something had come over her after all of the love and honesty that was shared on the train ride home. She felt as if they had all become bonded together more tightly than ever before. It's not that she has been exactly innocent with Sirius prior to now, but she was never as wild as she just had been with him. Never had she let herself climb on top of him, kiss his neck and ear passionately, run her hands all over his chest and arms, or allow him to run his hands all over her body. She wanted him and needed him as close to her as physically and emotionally possible for two human beings to be, and this holiday, she was going to make that happen. She had decided she was going to come clean with Sirius. Come clean about who she is, where she is from, how she feels about him and what she desires from him. He is going to find out sooner or later, she thought, Might as well tell while we're here. When we have more opportunities to be alone.

"I don't know. I just felt I needed to be close to you, I guess," she answered, still slightly out of breath herself.

"Well, feel free to get even closer whenever you'd like, love," he said, trying to sound like his smart ass self, but still sounding rather in shock.

"You never know, I may take you up on that, Sirius..." she said while playfully slapping his arm and jumping out of bed.

Sirius growled in frustration, told her he'd see her later and left her to get ready for dinner. Still laughing at his growl, she grabbed some clothes out her trunk and headed to the bathroom to shower quickly and get dressed for dinner. She picked out a simple black, long sleeved, roll collared, knee length sweater dress, dark grey tights and classic, knee high, black boots. Her hair was left straight and hanging gracefully to her waist, with a little black mascara and nude colored lip gloss; she was ready a half hour later.




 




She met the boys out in the hall and noticed they had dressed rather well for dinner themselves. James was wearing a brown blazer, cream colored t-shirt and dark blue jeans with his poor hair still sticking up every which way. Sirius was as handsome as ever in a black button down shirt and black jeans, his hair, as usual, was hanging perfectly around his stunning face.




 




Sirius watched Hermione walk towards them and let out a low whistle, she blushed in response and looped her arm through his, sneaking a quick kiss. They all walked down the hall and down the staircase before they made a right and entered the glass doors into the dining room. She wondered if she would get used to the grandeur of the house she would be spending her next two weeks in.




 




The dining room had a long, dark wooden table with seats for fourteen people- one seat at each head of the table and six seats lining each side. There was a large fireplace to the right of the table, portraits on the walls, and several large antique vases filled with real flowers on the floor. Charlus took his place at the head of the table, Dorea to his left, with a seat for Hermione on her left. James was to sit on Charlus's right with Sirius to James’ right. As they took their seats, Dorea smiled warmly at Hermione.

"You look stunning, my dear. I'm so glad to see Sirius has found himself such a lovely, charming, polite young woman after all this time," she told her.




 




Hermione felt herself, once again, blush profusely. "Thank you,” she mumbled, quite embarrassed.

"It wasn't easy, Dor. Never have I met a women who was able to resist my, oh so obvious, charm for so long. I thought she would never come around," Sirius joked.

"Oh, so you mean she has a decent head on her shoulders then?" she joked back with him.

Hermione couldn't help herself and began to laugh. They bickered like an actual mother and son and it was lovely to see. "Yes, your obvious charm just became too much for me to handle, and I just had to give into it, dear," Hermione said.

The Potters laughed at Sirius's smug smile and Hermione rolling her eyes at his cockiness, something she secretly adored about him.

"I like this one, Sirius. She's a definitely a keeper. Lots of spunk!" Charlus chortled, with a wink to Hermione.

"She definitely puts him in his place, dad. It's hilarious, wait until you see," James said to his father.

Hermione sat there, red faced and embarrassed. She did not notice that Dorea was watching her intently and warmly, knowing that there was much more to this young woman than met the eye. This was the first that Hermione really looked at James' parents- Harry's grandparents. James and Harry both looked so much like Charlus, they were all about the same height and build and all three wore glasses. The only differences were the laugh lines, white hair, and the nose, they clearly both had Dorea's nose. James did look far more like his father than Harry did, though. Supposing it was the hazel eyes and scar-less foreheads they had.




 




Dorea was magnificent. She had jet black hair, with little streaks of grey, stunning, clear blue eyes. She had the most profound laugh lines around her mouth, which indicated quite a happy life. She had long eyelashes most women would trade their souls for and full lips surrounding a mouth with dazzling, straight white teeth. It was not just her physical appearance that made her beautiful, it was the way she carried herself. She gave off the aura of immense power and confidence. Clearly, this was a woman not to be messed with, despite her friendly nature. The house elf soon brought out dinner, much to Hermione's dismay, and they began to eat their roast turkey, boiled potatoes and vegetables. Light dinner conversations of school work, the other Marauders, and Lily filled the air. Laughter was echoing around the room as tea and dessert were brought out. At the end of the meal, Dorea turned towards Hermione, "I would be delighted if you would accompany me for a stroll around the gardens, my dear."

Hermione, extremely nervous, said, "Th-That would be lovely".





She liked the woman very much, but she had a sneaky feeling Dorea could see right through her. The women excused themselves from the table and walked out of the dining room, down the hallway next to the stairs, and straight out into the back yard.




 




It was hard to see, now that it was getting dark, but it looked as if wild life grew everywhere. There were high hedges, flowers, a few benches, and a stone path leading out of sight through the hedges and a koi fish pond to her right. They began to take their walk on the path through the maze of hedges when Hermione decided to break the silence.

"Your house is absolutely wonderful, Dorea. As are you and Charlus. I, again, must tell you how much I appreciate the invitation," she said nervously.

"It is no worry at all, my dear. No worry at all," she said while waving her hand dismissively.

They walked on for a few more moments, Hermione wondering why she asked her to join her, when Dorea began to speak.

"I'm sure you are aware of the abysmal people who have raised Sirius, and why he lives with us now. They treated him horribly, all because he did not buy into that purebred nonsense which so many of us, sadly, do," she began.

Hermione merely nodded and let her continue.

"I care about that boy a great deal. I think of him as another son in all honesty. I can tell he is enamored with you, my dear. As you are with him," she stopped for a moment and looked directly into Hermione's eyes.
 
For some reason, unbeknownst to Hermione, she seemed to be having many flashbacks at that moment. Her first day at Hogwarts, Harry and Ron saving her from a Mountain Troll, Hundreds of Dementors swarming towards her, Harry and a much older Sirius, her teeth growing at an alarming rate out of her mouth, Cleaning Grimmauld place with the Weasley's, Harry, Lupin and Sirius. Then there was an empty room with an arched veil, Waking up in the Hospital wing to find out Sirius had been killed, Placing a memory charm on her parents and sending them far away, months of camping in the woods, finding and destroying Horcruxes, an enormous battle at Hogwarts, Dumbledore handing her an envelope and time turner, her arriving, scared and alone, on Platform 9 3/4 on the first of Sept, 1977, her first meeting with a young Sirius, the day she agreed to be his girlfriend, and finally, the ride to the Potters’ on the Hogwarts express.





Hermione did not know what was going on, but she had a feeling that Dorea might have just found out who she really was, or what she was, to be more accurate. She didn't know how, but she was sure Dorea knew and it frightened her horribly. They both continued walking along the path.

"Yes. You do care about him a great deal. That I can tell. But there is something you are keeping from him, is there not?" she asked boldly.

Hermione stopped dead in her tracks. Her heart felt as if it dropped out her stomach, returned to its proper placement, and then began to beat wildly and furiously. How does she know? Unless she read my mind...? She could have. That's why I was just having all of those flashbacks. I didn't even think of arming myself with Legilimency while I was here. Dammit, Granger! she was thinking, panicked. She still did not speak, but continued to stand there, her mind a mess.

"It is obvious there is true love between the pair of you, but you mustn't keep anything from the ones you love. It will only end in anger and heartbreak. If there is anything you feel you should tell him, do it. He loves you. He will understand," Dorea said, gazing up at the sky above them.

Loves me? No- He couldn't. He hasn't said it., she thought. But, you love him as well and haven't said it... And she obviously knows what you are, maybe she knows that too.

"I do, Hermione. I do," she said simply.

Hermione did not notice she was staring directly into her eyes while she was thinking that. She gave a little jump of shock and smiled sadly at Dorea Potter.

"It's- It's not that simple. There is so much I can't tell him," she said sadly.

"Can't? Or won't? He has a right to know that you are here from the future and the reasons for it. He loves you, my dear. He must know the futures that may lie before him. It is only fair," she told her.

"I know. You can't say anything, Dorea. Please!" Hermione begged. "I know I must tell him, but I am waiting for the proper moment. I am just waiting for the right time to tell him I love him... And-and that I am here twenty years from the future".

Suddenly they heard an intake of breath, a low swear and the sound of someone falling to the ground. They had not noticed Sirius walking up behind them as they were speaking to ask if he may join. He heard the last things Dorea and Hermione had just said. The sight of Sirius down on his knees tore at Hermione's very insides. He looked absolutely anguished and it broke her heart. She had not meant for him to find out this way and had no idea now what to do or what to say.

"My dear, I'm so sorry. I had no idea," Dorea said sincerely. "I'll let you get to it then," she said and began to walk back to the house, pausing only to place her hand on Sirius's shoulder and whisper something Hermione could not hear. Hermione was frozen to the spot. She had absolutely no idea what to say or do so she took one step forward with her hand outstretched.

"Sirius...", she whispered.

Nothing.

"Sirius, please", she said.

He looked up at her with confusion and fury in his eyes. It was terrifying to see him this way, she never had.

"You're... You're from the future?” he asked, completely stunned.

Hermione opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out. She merely nodded.

"Why are you here and why are you with me? Why did you make me fall in love with you when you are not even from here? Has this all been a lie?" he asked her.

For a moment the only thing that registered with Hermione was the fact he admitted he was in love with her. She pulled herself back to bigger issue and began to speak.

"Yes, yes I am from the future. Dumbledore sent me here from the year 1998..." she started.

Sirius's eyes widened in shock and let her continue.

"You see, the time I come from was dark, very dark. Lord Voldemort had returned to full power and we have suffered many casualties. Dumbledore sent me back here to set it right. To make sure the future I return to is brighter and with many more survivors. But I swear Sirius, I never thought this would happen. It wasn't part of the plan! I didn't mean to let myself fall in love with you, too! I knew you. I knew the man you were in my time. You were my best friend's god father. You were a man and I was a child. I always thought you were very handsome, mind you, but I did not set out for this to happen. You have to believe me!" she pleaded, tears threatening.

"When you say casualties, are-,” he choked for a moment and swallowed. “Are we involved? Myself, James, Remus, Peter and Lily? Is that why you have become friends with us?" he asked her.

Hermione did not know what to say. She was not ready to get into Lily and James dying for Harry. Peter's betrayal. Lupin living alone until he found Tonks. But the thing she was the most ill prepared for was telling him of his twelve years in Azkaban and, ultimately, his death. She did not say anything, but instead nodded once more.

"Well that's just shit, Hermione! You have been here three months, almost four, and have not said a word to us? To ME! You supposedly love me and you couldn't tell me who, or what you are? What kind of love is that?" he spat at her.

Hermione recoiled. Her heart was breaking. He did not understand that she was forbidden to release this information until the time was absolutely right. It could jeopardize everything, including her life.

"Sirius, please! I wanted to tell you, trust me! But I was forbidden. Dumbledore absolutely forbade it until the time was right! You have to believe me!" she pleaded, again.

Sirius looked at her with disgust. He needed nothing more than to get as far away from this little fraud as possible.

"Believe you? BELIEVE you?! You want me to believe you when you have lied to me for MONTHS! Months, Hermione Winters! If that is even your real name!" he yelled.

Well... Might as well drop this bombshell as well, she thought to herself.

"Not entirely..." she whispered.

"Can't say I'm surprised. Are your parents even dead? Or was that all bullshit too?" he said.

Hermione flinched. No, her parents were not dead. They were, in the future, living in Australia. Unaware they had a daughter. The tears that were threatening to spill over finally did. She wiped her face convulsively and went on with her truths.

"They're not. When I left, they were living in Australia. I had wiped their memories before I left on a long and dangerous mission. They are under the impression their lifelong ambition was to move to Australia, their names have been changed and they do not have a daughter. I did that to save their lives..." at this time, she became overcome with emotion barely spitting out, "And my last name is really Granger. I'm a muggleborn."

As he watched this women he loved break down in front of it, it softened him up a bit. He absolutely hated to watch a woman cry, especially the one he was in love with. Of course, he was furious with her for not telling him, but he wanted to believe she loved him. Extremely conflicted, he hesitated for a moment before he walked over and put his arms around her, trying to stop her from sobbing.

"Listen, Hermione. This is just all a lot to take in. I don't know how to handle this. I mean, obviously you're going to go back at some point, right?" he asked.

She continued to cry in his arms and nodded.

"I figured- I don't know. I don't know if I could wait. Twenty years is so long. And you said I knew you. That would mean I would watch you grow up... Do you know how awkward and uncomfortable that would be?" he said, more to himself than to her.

At this point, Hermione could not hear anymore. It was just as she feared. She would let herself love him and she would lose him. One way or another.

"Why do you think I fought you so hard, Sirius! Do you think I did not consider this!? I- I can't right now!" she said before she got up and ran away from him, back to the house. She did not stop until she reached her room.




 




She locked the door behind her, pulled the curtains shut, and placed the charm on them so they would not open. Though she knew she’d have to tell him at some point, she just could not believe he overheard and found out like this. Despite her worst fears, she’d never anticipated him reacting quite so poorly. She thought she had experienced heartbreak watching Ron with Lavender her sixth year, but that was nothing compared to this.

After quite some time, Hermione managed to cry herself to sleep. It was around three in the morning when she heard someone knock softly on her door, unlock it, and then enter the bedroom. There were a few carpet muffled steps on the floor and the sound of someone taking a deep breath. She noticed the hangings around her bed attempting to move, but would not budge. She heard another sigh followed by the sound of muffled footsteps making their way back towards the door when she sat straight up in bed.

"Wait!" she said, removing the charm and opening her curtains.

There, standing in the dark was a sleep-deprived looking Sirius. She was beyond shocked he had come to see her after how he had reacted earlier this evening. Not knowing what to do or what to say, she sat there looking sadly up at the man who just might break her heart beyond repair. He hesitated for the slightest moment before he walked back to where Hermione was laying. Taking a seat on the edge of the bed, he faced away from her, clearly not knowing where to begin.

"Hermione... I - I don't really know what to say," he started.

"I know..." she said.

Here it comes. The part where he breaks up with me, saying he just can't wait nearly twenty years for someone, she thought as tears threatened, once again, to fall from her eyes.

"I want you to know something. I- I... I love you, Hermione. With every fiber of my being, I love you. I have never said that to a girl before and meant it. I truly have fallen completely in love with the girl I thought I knew. But do I even know the real you? Or has this all been an act?" he asked, his voice thick as he turned to look right into her eyes.

Of course it hasn't been an act. Hermione has been nothing but her true self the entire time she had been here. It was a fact she was not entirely truthful about her past, her last name, or where she had come from, but everything else has been one hundred percent her. She did not know how to begin to tell him that and make him believe he had truly fallen in love with her.

"
Sirius, I know you may not believe me, after what I have kept from you, but the Hermione you know is the real me. The only things that have not been true have been my real name, where I am from, and bits of my past. Everything I have mentioned of my friends at home, and things we have done are entirely true. Only, that most of the crazy stories I had told did take place at Hogwarts, not The Salem Witch Institute. If you have fallen in love with me, then you have fallen in love with me. Not anyone I was pretending to be," she told him truthfully.

There was nothing but silence after that for a few moments as Sirius only continued to look deep into her eyes, searching for any sign that she may be lying. He wanted so badly to believe her, but he could not be entirely sure. The only way he could be sure would be if she told him everything. The full reason she was here, who may have died and what she was doing to try to fix the future he may or may not come to know. Only then could he make a sound decision.

"I want to believe you, I truly do. I think the only way I could be entirely sure is if you tell me everything. I need to know what happens in the future that’s clearly so bad, it’s forced Dumbledore to send you here. Anything you tell me will be between the two of us. I will not breathe a word to anyone. Not even James," he told her sincerely.

As Hermione looked at Sirius, she wondered what the harm would be in telling him. She knew he was fiercely loyal and would never betray her secret. It would go against what Dumbledore told her, but she had to do what she could to keep Sirius. There was also a feeling; something that she couldn't explain in the pit of her stomach telling her she should let him in on everything. She cleared her throat, took a deep breath and began.

"Ok. I will tell you everything. But you have to promise not to interrupt, not to tell anyone, and to please don't fly off the handle. Ok?" she said.

Sirius thought about it for a moment before, reluctantly, agreeing to all of her terms. She then began by explaining how James and Lily will become married shortly after leaving Hogwarts and Lily would become pregnant with a son- her best friend, Harry.




 




Next, she moved on to the prophecy, Snape overhearing it, Dumbledore putting the Potters in hiding and them being betrayed by someone they trusted, without mentioning who. She did not feel it was fair to throw Peter under the bus. He did seem like he was more loyal to the lot of them this time around and she did not feel he would betray them. Still, if the time ever came, the prophecy is heard and the Potters go into hiding, she would let them know to never let Peter be Secret Keeper. Feeling that, in this matter, it would be better to be safe than sorry.




 




She continued speaking for a quarter of an hour straight and even told Sirius of his own death. The shock and pain that flashed across his face at being killed by his own cousin, no matter how much he hated her, almost brought Hermione to silence. But she continued on, right to the end of she, Harry and Ron destroying the Horcruxes, returning to Hogwarts, Dumbledore sending her back to Kings Cross Station the day they had met.




 




She proceeded to tell him of how she felt drawn to him immediately, could not explain it to herself and tried so hard to resist his advances. Inevitably realizing she couldn't deny her feelings any longer, not being sure when and if she would return to her own time and deciding on progressing their relationship to where it was today.




 




Finally, she told him how she could not remain in this time past the 19th of September, 1979 or she would cease to exist in her current form. Many times Sirius looked as if he were to interrupt, be sick, or punch something, but he somehow managed to control himself and let her speak until she had finished.




 




Not quite sure what to do or say, he remained quiet for a few moments more. One thing he could not deny was the overwhelming respect and awe he felt towards the brave young women who he loved. It had taken a great deal of courage to come here and to do the things she has done in the future, or, technically her past. Knowing full well he wanted to be with her forever, he still was not sure if he could wait that long for her. Could he wait and suffer for nearly twenty years? That seemed such a very long time to be alone. Maybe she was right and they should just enjoy the time they have together here, in the now, while they can.

"Sirius… There is one last thing you should know," she said after a few moments of absolute silence.

"What's that?" he asked her, sounding nervous.  

She took another deep breath and began, "I love you. I love you with all of my heart. But we both know that I will eventually have to go back. Twenty years is an awfully long time and I could never ask you to wait for me. I understand that for me it will be merely moments, but for you it will be nearly two decades. If you should choose to live your life and move on, I will understand completely. I'm not saying I will be happy or really ever get over you, but I just want you to live your life and be happy," she finished, nearly in tears.

It broke her heart to say it, but it had to be said. Really, she was hoping to have this conversation at a much later date, but he had to know she was not expecting that from him. She loved him too much to make him suffer and wait for that long and could not begrudge him happiness if he found it along the way. Being the constant little thing that she was, it would kill her to see him loving another woman, but she would rather him be alive to do so. She would spend the rest of her life never quite getting over him, but at least he would be alive. That, after all, was the main reason for her return to the past.

Sirius had no idea what to say to her and could not believe that anyone could possibly be so selfless. The more he thought about it, he would not have expected anything less from her. Of course she would never ask him to wait for her; it was not in her nature to think of herself. That much he did know about the girl, that she was the type of person who always put others above and beyond herself. He realized she was the type of woman any man would be lucky to have, he began to think maybe twenty years really wouldn't be so long.




 




She loved him and he loved her, deeply. They were soul mates and had a love which, apparently, transpired time and space. Feeling a terrible ache for the burden in which she carried, he longed for nothing more than to be close to her at this moment.




 




Slowly, he crawled up on the bed next to her and wrapped his arms around her before he kissed her like he has never kissed her before. Hermione was surprised by this kiss, but happy never the less. He still loved her and wanted to be with her, she hoped. Not caring about how much it may hurt her in the future, she kissed him back and put all the unsaid things into that kiss. How much she loved him, how much she wanted him to wait but would never ask, and how much she needed him close to her now, more than anything else. For a brief moment they broke apart, both of them panting.

"I love you, Hermione Granger. I love you more than anything and I am so sorry for everything that has happened to you," he said as his eyes burned into hers.

"I love you too, Sirius Black. More than I ever thought possible.” She hesitated for a moment but was never surer of herself about anything before, “Make love to me Sirius. I need to be close to you," she responded.

They were both more than shocked at the words that came out of her mouth. Hermione was shocked that she had been bold enough to say it and he was shocked that this was the moment it would finally happen. Soon after, his lips came crashing down onto hers, their clothes thrown off in a frenzy and Hermione soon felt the almost unbearable pain followed by unbelievably mind-blowing pleasure at having Sirius Black show his love in the most intimate of ways.




 




She knew she would look back on this night always. Either it would bring her immense pain and sorrow, or unbelievable happiness at reliving their first time. But none of that mattered in this moment; the only thing that mattered was the two of them. The rest she would take as it came. One way or another.
 
Soon after, Hermione and Sirius lay naked under the covers, her head resting on his chest as he traced light patterns with his finger on her back. She still could not believe the emotional turbulence this night had contained. All at once, she became overwhelmed by the love she felt- which seemed to continue to crescendo- towards Sirius. There was still so much more they needed to discuss and now may not be the best time to do it, but she did not care.




 




"Sirius? So what happens now... with us? Do we continue on like nothing has changed? Or are we ending this now, before it gets more out of hand?" she asked him.
 
Feeling his body tense up at the mention of ending it, she knew she had her answer even before he spoke. He kissed the top of her head and squeezed her a little tighter.




 




"I love you, Hermione. No matter what else has changed, that hasn't. Let us just continue on and we'll take whatever happens as it comes," he told her.

Being overjoyed by his words of reassurance, Hermione turned her head and placed a few soft kisses into his chest. She then sat up, threw her leg over his hips and began to kiss him roughly.





"Again?" Sirius chuckled as he broke briefly from their kiss.




 
Hermione did not answer with words, but rather showed him her answer was indeed, yes… again. They once more became lost in one another, both feeling that if they did not have much time here together, they might as well enjoy the time they did have.




 




A half hour passed and Hermione and Sirius both lay on their backs, panting and glistening with sweat. If she thought the first time was incredible, it was nothing compared to what had just transpired. She felt her body still tingling, heart pounding, lips swollen, and feeling like she had the consistency of the Giant Squid.




The smile she was wearing, she was afraid would never fall off her face. Knowing it was very late, even though she hated the thought of it, she needed to kick Sirius out. She felt it would not do well to have the Potters find out what had happened in here this evening.





"It's nearly five in the morning, love. As much as I don't want you to, you should probably get back to your room before anyone wakes up," she told him.




 
He looked over and pouted at her, clearly not wanting to leave.




 




"Charlus and Dor like to sleep late. Plus, they never come to this side of the house. Their room is all the way on the other side. Really, Hermione, they'll never know if I stay," he said, giving her that puppy dog look she always melted from.

Debating it for a moment, she decided, ‘What the hell? I'll kick him out before breakfast then’.





"Alright, you can sleep here for a few hours, but at least let’s put some clothes back on. Just in case anyone decides to pop in early," she said.




Sirius put back on his boxers and a t-shirt, while Hermione put on small cotton shorts and a tank top. They crawled into the grand bed with one another, Hermione resting her head on his chest and they soon fell asleep.





After what seemed like mere minutes, the sun poured in on the bed right onto their faces. They woke up to the figure of a shocked, messy haired and chuckling young man standing over their bed.




 
"Well, well, well. Looks like mum didn't put a charm on their room after all, huh, Padfoot?" James said with a knowing smile.




 
Sirius didn't answer, just groaned at James while placing a pillow over his head to block out the light. Hermione, who was completely embarrassed, threw the covers up over her face.




 




"Come on guys. You know I don't care, but if mum catches you sleeping in here, you're done for mate. Get up and get dressed, it's nearly ten and breakfast will be ready soon," James told them.





Still groaning and not moving, Sirius rolled onto his stomach and tried to go back to sleep.




 
"So we're going to do this the hard way, Padfoot? Alright, you asked for it!" James said while using the oh so popular Levicorpus on Sirius.




 




James flicked his wand and Sirius shot right up out of bed and into the air. For a few moments, nothing intelligible came from Sirius; all that was heard was a few swear words here and there while he was flailing around like mad. Hermione could not help herself and began to laugh with James, for Sirius truly did look ridiculous.





"You up now? Good. Go get dressed and I'll meet you in the hall in fifteen minutes," he said while flicking his wand once more and Sirius came crashing down on the ground.




 
"Dammit, you prat!" Sirius yelled at James and began to bolt out of Hermione's room after him.  A few moments later, Hermione heard a very loud noise, sounding like the two boys coming to a crash on the ground and wrestling one another.

Laughing, she got up out of bed, grabbed a pair of jeans, a red hand knit sweater and a pair of black flats; she had a quick wash and was ready and waiting in the hall, fifteen minutes later.
 
After breakfast James and Sirius wanted to have some Quidditch practice in the back yard. Hermione, not one for broom riding, told them she would retire to her room to do some light reading. While she was sitting in one of the armchairs by the fire place, a soft knock came at the door.
 
"Come in," Hermione called out.
 
Striding across the room and to take a seat in the other armchair was Dorea Potter.
 
Uh oh. Time to block out last night. Hermione thought as she watched the impressive figure sit down next to her.
 
"Hermione, I've come to apologize for last night. It was completely inappropriate of me to invade your mind like I did. I do hope that you and Sirius have worked everything out. As I was leaving I told him to hear you out and if you truly loved one another, you would find a way to work this out," she said rather sheepishly.

Hermione was surprised to see the woman looking so embarrassed by her behavior. Already knowing what type of woman she is, Hermione knew of how hard it must be for her to admit she was wrong.
 
"Please, don't apologize. I know you were just looking out for Sirius. It seems you care for him as if he were your son. We did… I think, work everything out. I told him everything and I believe, and hope that he understands," Hermione said.

"He does. And he will wait, Hermione. He will wait. I have noticed an immense change in him since you have stolen his heart. I do not believe he will ever find another woman who will have the effect on him as you do. I believe, when you return to your present, he will be there waiting for you," she told a stunned Hermione.
 
"I certainly hope so. Though, I would never ask him to," she replied.

Dorea looked her over for a minute, impressed by the maturity and undeniable bravery of this young woman. After a few moments Dorea said simply,

"Which is precisely why he will."





After a few moments, she stood up and patted Hermione gently on the top of the head, letting her return to her reading and walking out of the room. Hermione's book lay all but forgotten on her lap.
 
I hope she's right, she thought as a single tear escaped her eye.
 
The next two days passed rather quickly. There were no more deep conversations and Hermione, Sirius and Dorea acted as if nothing more than polite conversation happened in the gardens that evening. They laughed, played games, stayed up late and wandered the house and grounds. For all that had happened between them, Sirius and Hermione appeared more in love and more deeply bonded than ever. She found herself, once again, pushing from her mind the day she would inevitably have to leave him.




 




Sooner than anyone realized, it was Christmas morning. Hermione, Sirius, and the Potters gathered in the sitting room to begin opening their gifts. From Lily she received a silver charm bracelet, it had a charm of a lily, a daisy, and a little silver circle engraved with the word Sisters. It was beautiful and Hermione knew she would cherish it forever. From James she received a small bottle of floral smelling perfume. Lupin had sent her a copy of her favorite Muggle classic romance novel she had mentioned losing. Her gift from Peter was a beautiful eagle feather quill and a box of sweets. The Potters gave her a box of cakes and candy and a little homework planner, Sirius had told them what an excellent student she was.




 




Lastly she opened her gift from Sirius; he had been waiting and left his gift from her unopened. Inside was a small mirror, one quite similar to the one he and James used to speak to one another while in separate detentions, and a small white gold necklace. The necklace had a large diamond heart hanging from it with a small charm of a key next to it.

"It's just so you know, you'll always have the key to my heart," he told her, his eyes blazing with sincerity. 

Hermione was speechless. The necklace was truly beautiful, but the meaning behind it made it even more incredible. She began to think that maybe Dorea was right and he would wait for her. Beaming at him with a bright smile, she hugged him tightly and kissed him directly on the mouth in front of everyone.
 
"I love it, Sirius. I love you!" she said. After she broke their embrace, she noticed his gift still sitting unopened. "You're turn," she told him. 

Sirius unwrapped her gift and first saw a shiny new beaters bat, "Wow! Thanks Hermione!" he exclaimed.

"Keep going," she said impatiently. 

He dug further down the in the box and pulled out a brown leather bound book. Opening it, he noticed all the pages were blank, except for the first.




 





My dear Sirius,

If there ever comes a time we must part, for any reason, I leave you this book in which you could write down everything you would wish to say to me.
With this, you can always feel as if I am near.
Just know, if that time ever comes, it will not be permanent. I will find my way back to you.

I'll love you always and forever.




 




Yours always,
 - Hermione


Under her note there was a picture Lily had taken. One of Hermione and Sirius sitting, kissing  and then waving from the couch in front of the fire in the Gryffindor common room.

"I was planning on telling you during the Holidays. Just didn't plan on it happening so soon or in that way," she whispered to him.
 
Honestly, he did not know what to say. Seeing this journal, and the words she had written, and the picture of them so happy and in love, made the fact she would not always be there that much more real to him. He was very moved that she left him this way of communicating with her, even if she wouldn't see it for nearly twenty years after she would leave him. It would almost be as if he still had her to talk to during the bleak time which lay ahead of him.
 
"You won't miss a moment. I'll make sure of it. I will love you always, Hermione," he whispered in her ear.
 
"That's what I'm hoping for, love," she said smiling, repeating the words he’d said to her the day before they had became a couple.
 
Unaware of what was happening between Sirius and Hermione, James suddenly yelled across the room, "Wow! Nice one, Hermione! I couldn't wait to get this!" He was holding up the book Quidditch Through the Ages, which had just been released.
 
Snapped out of her private moment with Sirius, she smiled and called back over, "No worries, James. I thought you'd like that!"
 
The rest of the Holiday passed rather nicely. They ate, sang, admired their new gifts, played Wizard's Chess, and pretty much lounged around. Sirius hardly strayed from Hermione's side. It was as if he was afraid every moment could be the last moment and refused to let her out of reaching distance. Soon it was time for bed and the rest of their friends would be arriving in the morning. Hermione showered and changed into her favorite red striped pajama pants and white t-shirt when there was a knock at her door.
 




"I couldn't stand to be away. Even for just the evening. Can I stay? I swear I'll leave before anyone wakes this time," Sirius said, walking in the room.
 
Hermione had to admit to herself that she completely agreed. Any moment away from him seemed like precious time wasted.




 




 "Yes, you can stay. But make sure James doesn't find us in here together again," she said to him with a smile.




 




He smiled wickedly and began to walk towards her. Soon their clothing and worries were lying forgotten on the floor as they lost themselves in one another again this evening. If there really was a Heaven, they were both quite sure this was as close to it as possible.




 


Chapter 14: I would if I could, but I can't.
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Upon waking up the following morning, Hermione found that she was alone. Sirius must have snuck off while she was deep in sleep. She didn't remember him kissing her forehead and whispering that he loved her before leaving and returning to his room.

 

 

 

It was still hard for her to believe that he knew everything, that she would one day have to leave him and return so much later. After his Christmas gift and everything that he had said to her, she was starting to feel hopeful that maybe he would still be there for her when she returned. After stretching for a few moments, she got out of bed and felt the unfamiliar soreness of their previous few nights of love making. She still could not believe she was no longer a virgin and that she had lost that innocence to Sirius Black of all people.

 

 

 

The others would be arriving shortly so Hermione picked out some clothing and went into the bathroom to have a shower and get dressed for the day. She dressed in a white, bell-sleeved, long flowing peasant top, light blue bell bottoms and brown clogs. Then, she curled her hair and applied her makeup. As soon as she slipped her shoes on, a red headed blur in the shape of Lily Evans came bursting into the room.

 

 

 

"Hermione! I've missed you! How was your Christmas? Mine was horrible. That Muggle, Vernon," her lip curled as she sneered his name, "is the world’s biggest prat! And thank you so, so much for my necklace! It was lovely! But, why the otter and doe?" she finished all in a rush.

Hermione had bought Lily a gold necklace with an otter and doe charm in reference to their Patronuses. She still wasn't sure, at this point, if Lily could conjure a Patronus Charm, but Hermione knew she would eventually understand the meaning behind the necklace.


"Well, my Patronus is an otter, and something about you made me think of a doe. Kind of funny now, knowing how James's Animagus form is a Stag..." she said while trying to ignore the awestruck look on Lily's face from hearing her best friend can conjure a corporeal Patronus at her age.

"I didn't know you could do that. Why didn't you ever tell me? Can you teach me?" Lily asked, sounding both hopeful and intimidated.

Hermione laughed, thinking of the possible look on Lily's face when she finds out her Patronus is a doe and said, "Yeah, absolutely. After the holidays when we get back to school. I know just the place." She, of course, was thinking of The Room of Requirement.

Lily clapped excitedly and thanked Hermione for agreeing to teach her. She then proceeded to ask Hermione how it has been the past three days with just the boys. Hermione tried her best to tell as much of the truth as possible, Lily didn't need to know where Hermione was really from yet. One person she loved was enough for a while to be burdened with that truth. She did decide to tell her that she and Sirius had finally made love. Lily’s reaction was nearly priceless as Hermione began telling her what happened. Her jaw dropped to the floor and she shrieked, "Are you serious? You had sex with Sirius? Here?" Then laughed at having said "serious" followed by "Sirius". Hermione then told her, not in too much detail, about the past few nights with Sirius.

"So... Do you think you and James..? Maybe?" Hermione asked her.

Lily turned bright red at the question.


"You haven't already, have you?" she asked, stunned.

Lily, if possible, turned even brighter red.


"You have? When?" she pressed on.

"A few weeks back. You and Remus were in the Library studying for exams and Sirius and Peter were sneaking into the kitchen for some food. We went up to his dorm, he locked the door and it just kind of happened," she said all the while avoiding eye contact with Hermione.

"Why didn't you tell me!? So you two are pretty serious then, huh?" she asked her

"Yeah, I think we are. I really love him, Hermione. I didn't think it would be possible. I always thought him quite the arrogant toe-rag, honestly. But he's changed. I mean, he still can be a toe-rag, but he's turned down the unbearable arrogance a little. I think he might be the one," Lily said with a big smile on her face.

Hermione found herself feeling happy for, but slightly jealous of, Lily. Lily and James were as meant to be as she and Sirius, but they can never have the same life and opportunity. Not when she cannot remain behind and grow with Sirius. Not wanting to spoil this moment of clarity for Lily, Hermione plastered a smile, which she hoped looked genuinely happy, on her face.


"That's really lovely, Lily. I knew you two were meant to be," she said

"Really? It was even that obvious from the short time you knew us before we got together?" she asked her, looking surprised.

Ugh, me and my mouth, she thought. "Yeah. A little," Hermione said with a sheepish smile.

"From how you talk about Sirius, it seems maybe I am not the only person here who has found 'The One'," Lily said, smiling.

The smile on Hermione's face now took all the effort she had.


"Yeah, I think I have as well," she answered in a fake cheery voice.

Lily began to unpack and the girls talked about some other things. They talked about how lovely the Potters were and how they absolutely doted on Lily. Charlus and Dorea fell in love with her instantly, which was hard not to do, as Lily was such a wonderful person. They discussed Remus's furry little problem, how the boys can turn into animals at will, what the New Year's Party would be like, what they would wear to it, who might be there and what they would do while they were here. A little while later there was another knock on the door and four boys walked in. Hermione and Lily jumped up to hug Peter and Lupin and they all thanked each other for the Christmas presents they had all exchanged.

"Hermione, thank you so much for the watch! It is incredible," Peter beamed at her.

She had ordered Peter a watch that, when set to different times, would yell out "Time to wake up!", "Time for class!", "Time for dinner!" or "Time for bed, sleepy head!". As Peter would so often over sleep and be late for class, Hermione thought it would be a great gift for him.


"Yeah, Hermione. Thank you for the book. I really love dark Muggle literature!" Lupin said excitedly.

Lupin's gift was a collective works of Edgar Allan Poe book which she thought Lupin would very much enjoy.


"I'm glad you guys liked your gifts. I really appreciate the quill, candies and my book as well! Thank you both!" she said to them, beaming.

 


The girls were all but ignoring their boyfriends at this point and they were getting more and more irritated by the moment.


"I see how it is, Prongs. Moony and Wormtail get here and we're chopped liver!" Sirius said to James.

"Yeah, Padfoot, old man. I guess we know who they really love. That leaves us free to date each other, then?" James joked back

"You are the fairest maiden in the land, Jamesy," Sirius said while taking James's hand and kissing it. James giggled and pretended he was blushing by hiding his face.

Hermione and Lily looked from the men they loved, back to each other and busted out laughing.


"You know, Lily. Sometimes I really wonder how much of it is a joke," said Hermione

"I was thinking the same thing. One of these days I think they really will run off with the other," Lily said while James and Sirius blew kisses at each other.

After the lot of them stopped laughing at the ridiculousness that is Sirius Black and James Potter, they all agreed it was time to eat. It was now eleven in the morning and they ate their way through a spectacular brunch. Eggs, bacon, sausage, finger sandwiches, breakfast potatoes, coffee, tea and water were finished in the blink of an eye.


 

 

 

The boys all grabbed their brooms and made plans for a two-a-side Quidditch match and the girls agreed to watch. James was, easily, the best flier of the bunch and Peter was the worst, so they paired on one team. Sirius was an excellent flier and Lupin was not horrible, so the teams were pretty evenly matched. Lily didn't much mind flying, and she wasn't terrible, but she wanted to keep Hermione company, knowing her fear of heights. They chatted and cheered the boys on for nearly two hours before it became too cold and they all went back inside.

 

 

 


The rest of the afternoon they hung out in the sitting room all together. They dueled, talked, and played some games of Exploding Snap and Wizard's Chess. Around five they were told they had an hour before dinner and all returned to their rooms to wash and get changed for dinner.


Dinner was as lively and spirited as a huge party. Charlus joked and laughed loudly with the boys, he was basically a big loveable kid himself. Dorea and Lily chatted cheerfully the entire meal with Hermione joining in here and there. It was evident that Dorea, already, was thinking of Lily as a daughter. There did not seem to be anything to worry about as far as Lily getting along with her future in-laws. Butterbeer and wine flowed throughout the early evening while Hermione sat thinking, Wow the Potters sure do know how to have a good time. She was finding herself loving it more and more in the past each day and truly wished she could just stay with everyone here forever.

After dinner was over the Marauders and the girls were all debating on what to do with the rest of the evening. Hermione and Lily thought it would be fun, since the house was so large, to play a game of Hide and Seek. Sirius, James and Peter, having all been Purebloods, never heard of the game before. Lupin, Lily and Hermione explained the rules and they all broke into pairs since it would be easier in teams. Of course, Lily and James were a team and Sirius and Hermione were another, which left Lupin with Peter. They played Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would count and who would be hiding. Lupin lost, therefore he and Peter would seek out the two couples.


 

 

 


Peter and Lupin covered their eyes, began to count and the other teams ran opposite ways. Sirius and Hermione ran up the stairs, took a right and ran down the hall and into a door leading into Charlus's study. The walls were lined with bookcases full of books, brown leather chairs and a couch to the right of the room and a large wooden desk to the far left of the room, which was in front of two large windows. Hermione grabbed Sirius's hand and dragged him towards and then under the large desk. Giggling quietly she leaned over and kissed him.

"They'll never find us in here!", she whispered excitedly.


"No, it'll be hours," he laughed.

He turned and gave her a look that indicated he needed her that very moment before he took her face in his hands and kissed her hungrily. After a rather exciting make out session, they broke apart to listen for any sign of their friends. Sirius decided to take this little bit of time alone to ask her some of the question that had been eating at him the past few days.

"Hermione?" he began

"Hmm?" she answered, her face tucked into his shoulder.

He hesitated for a moment, not wanting to anger her, or to become angry himself. Slowly, he ran his hand through his hair and carried on.

"I was just wondering... About- About my future. I mean, besides the fact that I - I... die. You didn't say much more about it. And I was just figuring, since you're here to change it, and it may not happen anyway, can you tell me about it? You said you knew me, when did we first meet?" he asked.

Even though she was going to make damn sure he would not have the same life he had in her time, she didn't know how to tell him that in a few short years he had begun a twelve year sentence in Azkaban. How do you tell someone that right after their best friends die, you are framed for having a hand in their murder, murdering twelve muggles and another "friend"? Also, she still didn't want to tell him about Peter. He would never be able to look at him the same again if she did, and that could ultimately lead Peter astray once more. Desperately she was trying to think of any way she could tell him some of the truth, but could not see how.

"Sirius... I - I don't know... I don't think that would be a good idea", she answered honestly.


He looked at her very sadly. From her hesitation, he figured he must have had a horrible life after James and Lily died. But he still would have had Lupin and Peter, right? It couldn't have been all that bad. Suddenly, he began to think it may have been one of them who betrayed Lily and James, because Hermione did say they were betrayed by someone they trusted. He absolutely knew that it would not have been him. Or was it...? He was beginning to question himself and try to think of any reason he could ever do that to them. He couldn't think of any. He would die before he would ever betray anyone he loved. So it had to have been Lupin or Peter.

"So who was it then? Me, Remus or Peter who betrayed James and Lily?" he asked bluntly.

And there it was. The number one thing Hermione did not want to discuss with him. Not now. She knew he was going to be beyond angry with her for not telling him, but she would deal with his anger. There was no possible way he could know this now.

"Sirius, please trust me when I say, I cannot discuss this with you now, but-", she was cut off by Sirius.

"Why not? This is something I have to know. I have to know if I am the reason they died!", he nearly shouted.


 


"Listen to me, Sirius. I will tell you. I will tell you what happened to you in my time. But not now. You have to trust me, please. If I tell you too much right now, it could jeopardize everything. And I will be damned if I go back to the same future I left," she explained.

 



Staring directly into his eyes, trying to convey without words that he needs to just listen to her for now. He looked angry, sad and then defeated.


"Fine... I won't badger you about it again. But swear you will tell me eventually," he said.

Hermione sighed deeply and nodded.


"I swear," she replied.

Just then the door opened and they heard whispering voices.


"I bet they're in here. It's pretty much the last place we've looked," said Peter

"You check the closet and I'll check under the desk," Lupin whispered.

Hermione and Sirius tried to crawl as far back under the desk as possible when they heard footsteps approaching. Soon Lupin's feet were visible and he knelt down to see them crouched under the desk.

"Ha! Gotcha! Well done, you two. We found Lily and James ages ago. Peter! They're under here," said Lupin, grinning.

"Looks like you two won this round!" said Peter.

Hermione and Sirius almost had forgotten they were playing a game and were both still somewhat tense from their conversation. Each of them tried to look happy and as if nothing was wrong.


"Brilliant!" Hermione said if an overly chipper voice.

"Of course we won. I am part of this team and I am the best at everything," Sirius said, trying display his usual cockiness.

Peter snorted in response and Lupin said, "Riiiight" and Hermione rolled her eyes, fearing they may fall out of her head for how much he caused her to roll them. They crawled out from under the desk and left the study to catch up with James and Lily.

 

 

 


They played one more game afterwards in which James and Lily were the seekers and the other four hid from them. Hermione and Sirius hid in the kitchen in a tiny lift in the wall which they barely both fit into. There were no further discussions involving the future and what may or may not come, for the rest of the evening.


 

At midnight, everyone was pretty tired. They all said goodnight and went into their different bedrooms. James, taking a page out of Sirius's book, sneaked Lily into his room for the night while Sirius, once again, stayed in Hermione's room. Becoming quite used to sleeping in his arms, she was beginning to wonder how she would be able to sleep when they arrived back at Hogwarts.

The next few days passed quite the same way. They would get up, eat, play games, rest, eat again, bicker, play more games and then go to bed. It was the best time Hermione has ever had in her life. During dinner on the night before New Year's Eve, Dorea spoke to a sickly looking Lupin. The full moon would be tonight and he would need to be taken to a shack they've had made for him, far away from the house, on their land.


"My dear, everything is set up and ready for you for tonight. The boys will take you out shortly after dinner and the girls know not to wander from the house this evening. I will be ready to tend to any wounds you may have when you return after dawn... I'm so sorry for what you have to endure each month my dear Remus," she said, speaking to him as if he were a surrogate son as well.

Lupin smiled sadly up at Dorea with love in his eyes. It was obvious he cared for Dorea and Charlus, almost as much as Sirius did. The Potters did have an incredible way of making you feel loved. They were truly amazing people.

"Thank you, Dorea. I'm so sorry for the trouble I put you and Charlus through when I stay here," he said sadly.

Dorea hugged him and told him not to worry, that it was no trouble.


"Don't be silly, Remus. The missus and I are not being put out at all. We only care about your well being. You never asked for this to happen, it wasn't your choice and no one should treat you differently for something beyond your control. You deserve to spend the Holidays with your friends just as anyone else does. So what if we have to make a few extra accommodations?" Charlus said to him while clapping him on the back.

Lupin thanked them both and tried to look happy, but he still felt as if he were a burden on everyone he loved. All of the extra safety measures and holding places that had to be made wherever he went were becoming a bit daunting on him. Even with his family and loved ones telling him, constantly, that they loved him and it was a non-issue, he still felt like a disease. One that he would never be able to inflict on any woman and was doomed to live alone for the rest of his life.


 

Sometimes he felt that if had not made friends with, and become so close to, the other Marauders and by extension, Lily, Hermione and the Potters, that he may have ended his life a while ago. None of them knew how much they truly did mean to him. As much as he hated himself, they made him truly feel as if he belonged with normal society, at least most of the time.

Hermione and Lily walked the boys to the back door after dinner to say goodnight.


"Be careful boys. Come back in one piece to us," Hermione said as she was wrapped in Sirius's arms.

"Don't be so negative. We do this all the time," Sirius told her.

Hermione shot him a look.

"
I know you do, but that doesn't mean I still can't worry about you all," she snapped.

"Sorry mum", Sirius retorted.

Hermione huffed and pulled out of Sirius's arms. She walked over to Lupin and gave him a big hug.


"Love you, Moony," she said, smiling at him. This was the first time she had used his nickname.

Lupin tried to smile back. He was beginning to look paler by the moment. The full moon must almost be out.


"Love you too, 'Mione. I really need to be off. Now. I'm starting to not feel that great,” he said, letting go of her quickly.

Lily and James were in the middle of a wordless goodnight while Hermione hugged Peter then returned to Sirius one more time. She gave him an enthusiastic kiss and whispered into his ear.

"See you at dawn?"

He gave her a quick kiss, winked and said, "Definitely."


Lily and James broke apart, Hermione hugged James goodnight while Lily said goodnight to the other boys. They were off and Hermione and Lily began their way back to their bedroom. Once they arrived, they each took a turn showering and changing into pajamas. Both of them have not had a night alone together since they left Hogwarts.

"So you and Sirius seem a little more... intense lately. The way he's been acting and how close he is to you all the time, you would swear you were just going to up and disappear on him," Lily said.

She is way too observant for my own good, Hermione thought.


"Have we? I haven't really noticed," Hermione said airily.

"Well yeah. You two are hardly ever more than two feet away from each other and he sleeps in here every night and sometimes when he looks at you it's like he's... I don't know. Scared? Anxious? Is everything ok?" she asked.

Hermione was cursing Lily, for being so perceptive, in her head. She needed to talk to Sirius and tell him to tone it down a little bit before everyone notices him acting so mental.


"I don't know, Lily. I've hardly noticed. Maybe it's because he's never fallen in love before? It's a pretty intense feeling the first time," she said, hoping that would be sufficient.

Lily considered that for a moment.


"Yeah. Maybe... I'm shocked you haven't noticed it though. I mean you guys were close before, but it's been a lot different since I've gotten here. I mean, I’ve barely had a moment alone with you yet," she said sadly.

She began to think she really shouldn't let Sirius monopolize all of her time here. He wasn't the only person she loved, she loved Lily, James, Remus and Peter as well. In a completely different way, of course, but she did love them and should spread her time out a little more wisely. Just in case.


"You're right, we haven't. I'm sorry, Lily. Like I said, I haven't even really noticed. I will definitely make it a point to have more girl time with you," she told her.

Lily smiled widely and said, "Good. Let's not speak any more of it then."

They then moved the armchairs over near the window, hoping they might catch a glimpse of the boys running around as animals. Not having much luck, they began having a conversation about what they wanted to do when they left school.

"So what do you think you want to do after Hogwarts?" Hermione asked Lily. Harry truly did not know what his parents did after they left school, so Hermione was genuinely interested to hear what her plans for life were.

"Well. I was kind of tossing the idea around of becoming and Auror. I mean with more and more attacks happening from Death Eaters and You-Know-Who, it just seems like the right thing to do, you know? What about you?" Lily asked.

"Yeah, I know what you mean. I thought of that as a possibility as well, but then I thought I might want to work in Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures," Hermione told her honestly.

She then began to explain her feelings on house elves and the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, aka S.P.E.W, she tried to start her fourth year. Lily, just as her son would in the future, thought the idea was a little silly, but knew Hermione's heart was in the right place.


No luck was had at seeing the boys all evening and it was becoming rather late. Around one in the morning they both yawned and agreed it was time for bed. It felt strange to not be resting her head on Sirius's chest while she fell asleep, but at least she was not alone. What seemed like a few moments later, Hermione and Lily were woken up to the sound of hooves and padded feet muffled slightly, walking across the carpet. Sirius, as Snuffles, leaped onto the bed on top of Hermione and licked her right across the face. James trotted over to Lily and began to prod her with his antlers.

"Ew! Gross, Sirius! What the hell is wrong with you?" Hermione yelled.

She heard a few barks, which were almost laugh-like, come from Snuffles as he jumped off the bed and began to run in circles wildly. Meanwhile, Lily was holding James, as Prongs, by the antlers he prodded her with.


"You ever do that to me again and I will mount your antlers on my wall. Got it?" she said angrily.

Prongs snorted and wiggled his antlers out of Lily's hands. He stood in front of her and began to jerk his head as if he were pointing to her and then to his back.


"Lily... I think he wants you to ride him." Hermione said, breaking out into a laugh.

Lily looked horrified at the thought and returned her eyes to Prongs.


"Seriously?" she asked him.

The stag nodded and began pointing his head at her and towards his back again. Hermione fell into a fit of laughter at the look on Lily's face. Prongs began to prod Lily again with his antlers and then huffed impatiently.

"I can't believe I'm actually going to do this... Fine James. I'll climb on. If any of you ever breathe a word of this, you will wish you were never born. Clear," she snarled.


Hermione, while attempting to stifle her laughter said, "Crystal."

Standing up on the bed with Prongs next to it, she threw one leg over his back and sat down. Prongs then trotted towards the door taking Lily with him to his room.


"Goodnight guys," Lily called over her shoulder on her way out.

As soon as they were gone Sirius, still Snuffles, jumped back on the bed and wagged his tail wildly.


"You know dear, I'm not much into bestiality... Why don't you change back so I can welcome you properly," Hermione said.

In what seemed like a second, Snuffles was off of the bed and Sirius now stood in front of her, looking as handsome as ever.

"Hi," he said lamely.


She smirked at him and beckoned him to her with her forefinger. After they really got a chance to say hello to each other she wanted to know about his evening.


"Have fun?" she asked.

"Always. There's nothing like it. Well... Almost nothing," he said while trailing his hand slowly up her thigh.

She playfully pushed it away and began to question him further.


"How's Remus? Is he back to human or is he still Moony?" she asked while looking out the window. It was still mostly dark, but the moon was surely gone for the night by now.

Sadness crossed Sirius's face for a moment as he thought of his friend, now alone, in the shack the Potters have built for him.


"Nah, not yet. He won't be himself again until the sun fully rises. The transformation back is almost as painful as the initial transformation. He would rather be alone when either happens, so we always return just a little before sunrise. He's locked up in the shack now. As soon as he's back to human he will be able to let himself out and will return to the house," Sirius sad sadly.

Hermione's heart broke for Lupin out there all alone and in pain.


"He doesn't deserve this. I wish I was able to change that as well," Hermione said.

Sadly, that would never be an option for her. Whatever else might change, that never will. Poor Remus would remain a werewolf always. She sat thinking that hopefully he'll find Tonks a little earlier this time around knowing how happy she made him in her time.


Something in the way she spoke about Lupin began to make Sirius think that he could not have been the one who betrayed the Potters in the future she had know. She obviously cared for him a great deal and that must have stemmed from knowing him in the future as well. There was also the thought that it couldn't have been him either since she had fallen in love with him. Suddenly, he remembered her treatment of Peter from their initial meeting up until early December. He’d always thought she used to treat him as if he didn't exist and used to look at him with such hostility in her eyes. Obviously she had warmed up to him and they have become rather close, but it was odd how she didn't seem to take to him as quickly as the rest of them.

 

That was when Sirius knew. It must have been Peter. Why else would she have been so adamant on them being nicer to him. Apparently, the way they used to treat him caused resentment and hostility. Extremely conflicted, he wasn't sure if he should go beat the hell out of Peter or try his hardest to keep him close so he never turns from them. He didn't realize it, but he was shaking.

Hermione felt Sirius shaking while he was holding her and wondered what happened. Looking up at him, she noticed he looked murderous.

"S-Sirius? What's wrong?", she asked stunned.

Debating for a moment if he should tell her he has figured it out, he decided not to.


"Nothing, love. Everything is fine," he said shortly.

Hermione was not buying it.


"I don't think so. You're shaking like a leaf and you look like you want to hit someone. What is the matter?" she pressed on.

Hesitating for a moment, he sighed and looked right into her eyes.


"It was Peter," he stated, looking at her face and searching for some sort of denial.

Hermione's eyes widened for only the shortest of moments. Immediately, she looked away from his eyes. Son of a bitch, she thought.

 

 

 

**

 

A/N - Many thanks, once again and always, to Mischief_managed18 for reading over and editing! :)


Chapter 15: The New Year's Party
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After a few hours of arguing, Hermione and Sirius both sat there in silence, both unable to get any sleep. Hermione was determined not to tell Sirius he was right, although he knew he was and the longer they sat there, the more dejected they both became.

 

 

 

The morning was rather awkward as Sirius and Hermione were barely speaking and he was less than friendly with Peter. Hermione noticed Lily watching them closely all morning and would give Hermione a questioning look every now and then. Whenever Hermione noticed, she would just shake her head slightly, trying to indicate that nothing was wrong.

 

 

 

Peter was more than confused, not knowing what he may have done to earn such hostility from Sirius this morning when everything had been fine the previous night. In all honesty, he felt like Sirius was treating him as Hermione used to and could not understand why.

 

 

 

Early in the afternoon, Hermione thought it would be a good idea to spend a little time with Peter as she had noticed him looking quite dejected as a result of Sirius's attitude towards him. Pulling him aside to ask if he fancied a walk, they put on their cloaks and went out into the back yard.

 


"Hermione? Did I do something to Sirius? He has barely spoken to me all day," Peter asked, clearly confused.
 
"No, Peter. We had an argument early this morning. He may just be taking it out on everyone else," she told him, not knowing how to make this situation better.

That was slightly believable since Sirius has been moody and rather short with almost everyone today. They walked on together for a few moments more, while Peter looked as if he were contemplating something rather important. Finally, he stopped and looked at Hermione, his eyes filling with tears.

"I'm scared Hermione," he said suddenly, his voice trembling.
 
"Of what? Sirius? Peter, it's not that-" she said as Peter cut her off.
 


"No, not of Sirius... It's. It's Snape. And a few of the others, too. Avery, Mulciber, Wilkes and Rosier. They... They keep approaching me about joining, him. I'm scared Hermione. I don't know what to do. They'll kill me!" he said, absolutely terrified.

Hermione was stunned that he had shared that information with her. It was clear the poor thing was terrified but, more importantly, not anxious to join them. She thought that if he did want to become a Death Eater, he would not have divulged this information to her.

"Oh, Peter... I'm so sorry," she began as she pulled him in for a hug and Peter began to weep. Pulling out of their embrace she took a step back and looked him directly in the eyes. "Peter, listen to me. They are not going to do anything to you. Do you understand? I won't let them. Please never, ever feel pressured into turning your back on all who love you. And we do all love you, Wormy. We won't let anything happen to you," she told him.

Peter pulled himself together slightly and looked at her with a panicked expression.


"You can't tell anyone about this! They can't know. Promise me!" he begged her.

Great... More secrets, Hermione thought. "Ok, Peter, ok. I won't say anything. Just promise me that if they continue to seek you out that you let me know. I can take care of Snivellus," she told him with loathing in her eyes.

"B-but I don't want anything to happen to you, Hermione. I love you too much to see them hurt you. And, trust me, they're not nice people. They fight dirty and horribly," he told her with worry in his eyes.

Hermione was extremely touched to hear Peter tell her he loved her and to see the concern he showed for her safety.  She felt horribly for him but he need not worry, she knew what they were capable of and being the incredible witch she was, she could take care of herself.

"Don't worry about me, Peter. I'm more powerful than I appear, trust me. I can hold my own," she told him sincerely.

He looked her over for a moment digesting what she had just said. If he were being honest with himself, she did seem to give off the impression of immense power. Now that he really came to think of it, he had never really seen a witch or wizard, their age, equal to her. She was absolutely the best in their year, and the school, with non verbal spells. He has seen her do things with a wand, which he could only dream of, accomplished in their classes and she was undeniably brilliant. He began to feel a lot better that he confided in her because now he would not be alone. Beginning to pull himself together, he hugged Hermione again.


"Thank you Hermione. I am so glad I told you," he said.

Patting his back she said to him, "I am too, Peter. You can come to me about anything, ok? I'm here for you."


"I know," he answered simply.

Walking back into the house, Hermione tried to find Sirius, she needed to speak with him. They found the rest of the group lounging around the sitting room and she went straight for him. She sat down next to him and whispered in his ear, "We need to talk. Now. Upstairs."


He looked a little shocked and, still, slightly angry.


"Fine," he retorted.

They both stood up and told everyone they would be right back and went up the stairs to Hermione and Lily's room. She sat down on the bed, he next to her.


"What?" he snapped.

Hermione was about ready to spit fire.

"You need to listen to me and listen to me now, Sirius Black. This is all beyond ridiculous. You need to stop treating myself and Peter like pieces of shit right now. Do you understand me?" she said angrily.


He snorted and turned away from her mumbling something about "Killed my best friends". She was becoming furious.


"Sirius! Stop it! You don't even know if that's what happened! You only assume. I am here to stop whatever future I knew of from happening. It. May. Not. Even. Happen! None of you, right now, are the same people I knew, or knew of. People change. It's as simple as that. James, Remus and Peter, at this moment, are the same people you have always known. Nothing has changed and I am here to make sure nothing does change! You need to cut your shit before you fuck up everything!" she nearly shrieked.

Sirius was stunned. He has never heard her so angry or use that kind of language. Hermione sat there fuming while Sirius mulled over her words. As he thought it over he realized she was right, although he would never tell her, as she usually was. Nothing had happened at this point and he should help her make sure it does not, however he could. He would help make sure their bonds of friendship become stronger than ever, rather than brood and possibly make them fall apart. Right now it didn't matter what happened in his future, her past, if it ultimately doesn't come to pass at all.

"You're right. I'm sorry, I'll behave, ok?" he said rather sheepishly. Something quite uncharacteristic for him.

"Good," she said sharply.

He gave her a devilish smile and said, "So does that mean we can have make up sex now?"

Reluctantly a slight smile spread across her lips, "Not on your life, Black. A. I'm still pissed at you and B. Lily and I need to get ready for the party shortly."


"I bet I could sway your decision," he said wickedly, walking towards her.

He pushed her down, none to gently, and crawled on top of her. Then he began to kiss up her neck, across her cheek and finally landed on her mouth. He grabbed her hair roughly as she dug her fingers into his back the door opened.

"Oops! I'm so sorry!” an embarrassed Lily said, standing horror-struck in the doorway.

Sirius growled slightly in frustration and Hermione wanted nothing more than to disappear. She sat up quickly, red faced and slightly out of breath, she said, "No Lily, it's fine. Sirius was just leaving actually."

Sirius looked at her with a highly offended expression, stood up, gave her a small kiss and began to make his way towards the door.

"Thanks a lot, Evans," he said to Lily as he was leaving.

As soon as he was gone she closed the door. Lily couldn't contain herself and burst into giggles.


"I'm s-sorry!" she laughed

"It's fine," Hermione replied shortly.

"I see everything is alright with you two then?" Lily asked her.

'Yeah, we're alright. I guess," she told her.

"What happened? If you don't mind me asking," looking genuinely concerned while she asked Hermione.

Hermione sighed while trying to think of some lie to tell Lily. Obviously she couldn't tell her the whole reason for their argument.


"No, I don't mind. It was nothing really. You know how he can get. Just him being a stubborn arse. But it's fine, we've talked it out," she told Lily.

"It's a good thing he has you, Hermione. You know, to keep that big head under control", she said smiling at Hermione.


"Ha. Not always. But never mind all that. We need to start getting ready. Would you like to shower first, or may I?" she asked.

"Go for it, 'Mione. I'm going to try on a few dresses I bought first," Lily said.

Hermione gathered her toiletries and prepared to take her shower. All the while trying to push away the anger she was still feeling towards Sirius and the future Death Eaters who were tormenting Peter. Truly she has grown to love Peter Pettigrew as much as Lily, Remus, and James, and there was no way in hell she was going to let anyone harm or change him.
 
At 8:30 that evening, the girls were dressed and ready for the party. Once again, the girls looked absolutely enchanting. Hermione was wearing a strapless, skin tight, black, full length, silk dress. Her hair was pinned up in loose curls while a few fell down, framing her face. Lily was in an A-Line, sequined, golden dress that seemed to flow like water down to her ankles. Lily wore her hair down and stick straight.

 


When they walked out into the hallway the boys, once again, were blown away by the elegant beauty of their two favorite girls. The boys were all dressed simply in black dress robes which resembled tuxedos. James was staring at Lily as if he were looking into the sun while Sirius stood casually trying to look nonchalant towards Hermione.


"You look stunning, ladies," Peter said to the girls with a shy smile.
 
"Yes, once again, you will be the envy of every woman in the room," Lupin told them, looking almost proud.
 
Hermione and Lily thanked Peter and Lupin and walked over to their men. James took Lily in a passionate embrace for a few moments while Sirius looked Hermione up and down, smirking the whole time.

"Not bad, love. Not bad at all," he told her.
 
"Yeah, I guess you look pretty alright yourself," she told him just as casually.
 
He then laughed and pulled her in for a heated kiss. Lupin and Peter, becoming impatient with the excessive PDA in front of them, cleared their throats.


"Shall we make our way down then," Lupin said.

The two couples were pulled out of their private moments and agreed to head off to the party. Hermione looped her arm through Peter's as she held Sirius's hand with her free arm. When they entered the ballroom, it seemed every eye was on the girls. All the girls from their school looked on with jealousy and rage, while all the guys looked on with jealousy and desire. Hermione and Lily were not quite aware, but they were each fancied by the male population as much as James and Sirius were by the female population within Hogwarts.

 

Looking around, it seemed that a lot of prominent witches and wizards of the day were there. She noticed Barty Crouch Sr. with his family, Cornelius Fudge and his wife, the Malfoys and even the Minister of Magic, Millicent Bagnold, was there. Seeing Barty Crouch Jr. and Lucius Malfoy caused her to see red. It took every bit of strength she had not to kill them herself right then and there.

"Hermione? Are you alright? You're shaking and staring at Malfoy like you are about to blow him up," said Sirius softly so no one could hear.
 
"What? Oh. I'm sorry... It's just. I hate him, Sirius. If I could, I would kill him right here," she said with quiet rage.

Sirius was truly frightened of her for a moment. He could tell she was more than serious about killing him.


"Yeah, he is a git. But you need to pull it together. As far as everyone is concerned, you don't know who he is. Remember?" he reminded her.

Thinking it over for a moment, he was right. She had to get herself in check.


"You're right. I'm sorry... I'll - I'll keep it together," she told him, taking a deep breath.
 
It was at that moment she noticed Barty Crouch Jr. looking at her with evident interest in his eyes. She shuddered slightly and went to seek out Dorea and Charlus with the rest of the group. As they reached the Potters, Dorea began to take Hermione and Lily around as if they were show ponies. She introduced them to members of the Weasley, Prewett, Bones, Fawcett, Longbottom, Fudge, Edgecombe and a few other families first. After which they were introduced to the Minister of Magic, who thought Hermione and Lily were just wonderful and charming girls.

 

Hermione found herself very much liking this Minister, herself. Finally, they were taken to meet the Crouch and Malfoy families. Abraxas Malfoy had the same pointed chin, blonde hair, and air of importance that his son and his grandson would have. Then there was his wife, who looked strikingly similar to Narcissa somehow- the same platinum blond hair and the look on her face as if she had something terrible smelling under her nose. Lucius stood next to him, the spitting image of Draco, it was truly uncanny how similar the two looked. Pretty much disregarding the fact that Lily existed, Lucius held his hand out for Hermione to shake. It took all of her self control to stop trembling with hate and return his hand shake.

"Miss Winters. A pleasure," he said in a silky voice as he took her hand and brought it up to his lips.
 
Hermione was convulsively swallowing, trying not to vomit from the disgust she was feeling at him kissing her hand.

"Pleasure," she replied shortly.

Lucius was there with Narcissa Black at his side, who extended her hand for Hermione to shake as well.
 
"Dear me. It does seem our dear cousin found himself quite the charming young woman. Are you pureblood my dear?" she asked her with a sneer.


Dorea looked outraged at the question. She did not buy into the pureblood mania which so many of her kind did.
 


"My lovely Narcissa. I do not believe that is neither here nor there. She is a witch, more importantly an incredible human being, which is all that matters. As is my darling Lily Evans, who herself, is a remarkably charming and lovely young woman. Not to mention, one hell of a witch," she added with a wink to Lily.

Hermione and Lily both beamed and turned bright red.
 


"No, Dorea, it's ok. I'm a half-blood, actually. My mother was a witch and my father was a Muggle," Hermione told them, to keep up with her fabricated life here.

The Malfoys and Narcissa considered her briefly while Lucius said, "Could be worse, I suppose," while shooting an ugly look towards Lily.
 
Lily looked as if she were ready to whip her wand out and hex him right then and there. Hermione gently placed her hand on Lily's arm,


"Well, it was an absolute delight meeting you all. Sadly, we must go and find our dates," Hermione told them as she gently pulled Lily with her.
 

Dorea gave them an apologetic smile and remained to have a few words with the Malfoys. They walked away to find the boys and Lily looked positively maddened.

"What an arrogant son of a bitch! 'Could be worse, I suppose'. Where the hell does he get off?! He's lucky I didn't turn him into a slug right there!" she snapped.
 
Of course a few of the families were not very warm towards Lily, but none of them had gone quite as far as Lucius just had.


"I'm sorry Lily. I know, it's completely nonsense. Just forget about it for now. Who the hell is he anyway? Right?" she said, trying to comfort her friend.

"No. You're right. Screw him and that snooty looking Narcissa. I can't believe they are the type of people Sirius is related to!" she was nearly screaming at this point.

Having not noticed the boys walking up behind them, they both jumped as Sirius spoke, "Trust me Lily, I wish I wasn't," he said sadly.

Lily's face fell. She felt horrible that he had just heard her say that in the heat of the moment.


"Oh, Sirius. I'm so sorry. I didn't mean anything by it, it's just that Malfoy was so rude. I honestly thought after he left Hogwarts I wouldn't have had to see him again," Lily said sadly.

Sirius ran his hand through his hair and told Lily that it was fine, that he understood.

Soon the meeting with Malfoy was forgotten and the group took to drinking and dancing together. While on the dance floor, Hermione noticed Snape and his mother standing off to the side, talking to the Malfoys and Barty Crouch Jr. She did not even realize that greasy git was here until now. It was making her slightly uncomfortable that Lucius, Snape and Crouch kept looking over at their group. She couldn't tell for sure, but it seemed as if they were looking at both her and Peter alternatively. It seemed that Peter noticed as well because he kept looking at the three young men and back to Hermione with an anxious expression. Hermione tried to give him an approximation of a reassuring smile, but she was beginning to have an awfully bad feeling.

The rest of the evening Hermione and Peter both tried to act as if nothing was wrong. The group danced, mingled and drank merrily. Finally, it was nearing midnight and Hermione and Sirius took a seat well away from the rest of the guests to catch their breaths and be able to be, somewhat, alone for when it turned midnight.

"Is everything alright, love? You seemed awfully keyed up tonight," Sirius asked her.

"I'm fine. It's nothing, really," she tried to convince him.

Sirius, by now, has become an expert at reading Hermione's face. He was not buying it.


"Hermione come on. Something is obviously bothering you. You can tell me anything. That's why I'm here," he said sweetly.

She thought about it for a moment and decided to tell him some of the truth.


"It's Malfoy, Crouch and Snape. They've been staring at me strangely all evening. It's kind of freaking me out, to be honest," she told him.

Hermione wished that she hadn't told him because Sirius suddenly looked as if he were about to get up for a moment and kill them. He absolutely detested Snape and Malfoy. Crouch he really didn't know much about, but he had noticed the way he had been looking at his girlfriend all evening as well.

"Would you like me to jinx their eyes out of their heads? That way they could never look at you, or anything else, ever again?" he asked in a steady voice.

"No! Of course not! I'm most likely just overreacting, honey. Really. Don't worry about it," she told him quickly.


"Fine. But if you change your mind..."

"You'll be the first to know", she finished for him.

As she sat with Sirius's arm around her shoulders she looked around and noticed that Peter was not anywhere in sight. Not only could she not find Peter, she didn't see Snape, Malfoy or Crouch anymore either.

Shit! I have to find Peter!, she thought to herself.


"Sirius. I have to use the ladies room quickly. I'll be back before midnight, ok?" she said and hopped out of her seat heading for the door leading out of the ballroom.

Sirius started after her, worried. He knew something was clearly wrong. It was definitely more than her just needing a restroom break. Quickly and quietly he followed her, Hermione completely unaware.

When she opened the door she heard voices down the hallway next to the stairs.


"Seems as if you're truly enjoying yourself with that filthy Mudblood, Blood-Traitors and that Half-Breed, Pettigrew. Perhaps you don't want to choose the right side? Perhaps you want to be a disgusting Blood-Traitor like Potter and Black, who you hero worship?" Lucius was saying and she could tell from his tone that he was sneering.

Suddenly, she heard the sound of someone being punched, Peter’s whimper, followed by laughter from the other boys. Hermione's blood was boiling. She was going to put an end to this. Now. She pulled her wand and began to walk down the hall.

"That is enough," she said. Her voice saturated with power and authority.

At first, the three young men looked scared, stunned and then amused. Peter, with his nose bleeding, looked absolutely terrified.

"Hermione, no!" Peter yelled.

Hermione acted as if she hadn’t even heard him.

"You leave him alone. Leave him alone and we'll all walk away and enjoy the rest of our evening. No one any the wiser. Got it?" she told them, glaring between the three of them.

Malfoy, Snape and Crouch looked her over for a moment and then suddenly started laughing.

"What are you going to do if we don't, Winters? There's three of us and only one of you," Snape sneered.

"Yes, Miss Winters. I do not think you are quite aware of who you are dealing with. Why don't you put that wand away and maybe we can talk about you joining our little movement as well," Lucius said to her.

"Over my dead body, Malfoy," she said.

Crouch started walking towards her and Hermione held her wand threateningly, pointing it directly at his face.

"Take one step closer and I'll blast your nose right off of your face, Crouch," she threatened.

"Aww. Come on sweetheart. Don't be like that. What do you say? Why don't you ditch that loser, Black, and I'll show you what a real man can do?" he crooned.

He then pushed one of the loose hairs from her face and behind her ear. Then, without warning, Crouch quickly took a hold of Hermione's wrists, pushed her against the wall and forced her arms over her head. He leaned in as if meaning to kiss her while the hairs on the back of her neck stood up and goosepimples erupted all up her arms. She had truly never been so creeped out and disgusted in her entire life. Suddenly, they all heard footsteps coming quickly towards them.

"Get the hell away from my girlfriend!" Sirius yelled and he cocked his arm back and punched Crouch right in the face.

Hermione stood in complete shock, momentarily distracted.

"Expelliarmus!" Snape cried out while Hermione's wand went flying from her hand.

Peter reacted, more quickly than anyone would image, as he pulled his wand on Snape yelling, "Stupefy!" and Snape fell to the ground with a thud.

Sirius was now wrestling Crouch to the ground they continued fighting him like Muggles, Sirius now punching every inch of Crouch that he could reach. Peter picked up Hermione's wand and threw it back to her. As soon as the wand was in her hand, she noticed Malfoy about to curse her.

"Cruc-" he began.

"Langlock!" she quickly yelled, it was the first spell to come into her mind.

Malfoy sputtered and tried to speak but could not due to his tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth. Peter ran over to help Sirius with Crouch, completely enraged by the way he had approached Hermione moments before.

 

 

 

While Hermione was distracted watching Sirius, Peter and Crouch fight on the floor, Lucius made an intricate circular patter with his wand; a golden swirl came from its tip and wrapped itself around Hermione before she could raise a shield charm to protect herself. The last thing she remembered was Peter's anguished shriek of, "Hermione! No!" and Sirius yelling, "Hermione! HERMIONE! I'll KILL you Lucius!"

 

 

 

At that moment, all light and sound faded out. Hermione fell to the ground and knew no more.

 

 

 

 

 

**

 

 

 

A/N - Mischief_managed18, I absolutely adore you for doing this for me! Thank you so, so much for editing!! : )


Chapter 16: Awakening
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It was all just a terrible dream. None of that happened at all, has it? I'm definitely in bed and way, way too stiff. Hmm... I'm alone? Where did Lily or Sirius go?  Wow, Holy Merlin am I sore! I wonder how long I've slept? I better get up so I can eat and get ready for the party.



Hermione began to stir in her bed stretching out her arms and legs. She has truly never felt this stiff and sore after waking in the morning, ever. Moaning slightly, she opened her eyes and fell into a state of panic.

How the hell did I end up in the Hospital Wing?! Maybe I'm still dreaming. Yes, that's it. I must still be dreaming, she thought wildly. She closed her eyes, hoping maybe she’d awake from this dream inside a dream state. No wonder I felt stiff.

"Hermione? Sweetheart? MADAM POMFREY! QUICK!! SHE'S UP AND FREAKING OUT!" Sirius bellowed.

Freaking out? What the hell is he talking about? she thought to herself. She was lying still in her bed. Wasn't she?

Hermione heard loud choking noises and it seemed as if the room was vibrating. What she did not realize was that she was crying, moaning, and rocking back and forth quite uncontrollably in the bed. She had been out for quite some time due to Malfoy's curse and was currently in hysterics.

 

Madam Pomfrey rushed right over, carrying a vial of some liquid she poured into a glass of pumpkin juice. As Sirius helped her hold Hermione down, she forced it down Hermione's throat. Hermione suddenly felt everything calm down, the room was no longer shaking and it became considerably more quiet.

Was that noise... me?? What in Merlin's name is going on? She had still not spoken a word out loud.


"Miss Winters, you're perfectly safe. Everything is fine, dear. Please try to relax," Madam Pomfrey said to her in a soothing voice.

Perfectly safe? Safe from what exactly? she thought.

"Hermione, love. Listen to me. You've - You've been out for quite some time. That curse Malfoy used on you, the Obnubilo* curse, is used to place the victim in a year-long coma. Luckily, he was not able to speak the incantation out loud, so the effects were greatly diminished. But- You've been out for two weeks now. We had you in St. Mungo's for a few days, but Dumbledore insisted on you being brought to the school, to Madam Pomfrey. Dor and Charlus want us to send them an owl as soon as you come around, honey. They're worried sick about you," Sirius explained to her.

Hermione was flabbergasted. The last thing she remembered was Sirius and Peter yelling something and now here she was at Hogwarts. She had completely lost two weeks of her life. For a fleeting moment she worried about nothing besides all of the homework she had missed until Peter crossed her mind.

"Peter...?" she whispered feebly.

"He's fine, love. More than fine actually. He's quite proud of himself- after what Malfoy did to you, Peter broke his nose and stunned him. He asked me to get him as soon as you wake, but I don't want to leave you yet," he said looking quite impressed with Peter.

Wow. Peter did that? For me? she thought, absolutely stunned.

"Malfoy, Snape, and Crouch?" she asked sounding incredibly weak.

The look on Sirius's face was truly frightening at the mention of their names. Now that she got a good look at him, his face looked as if he has not slept in days, which he most likely had not.

"As soon as you hit the floor Peter and I ran to try and help you. Crouch got up and grabbed a hold of Malfoy and Snape and he disapparated with them. He knew that they would be in a world of trouble, so he got them all out of there before anyone could see what they had done. Unfortunately, with our track record against dear old Snape and the three of them gone, everyone just assumed it was a little duel that you, unfortunately, got in the middle of. Abraxas convinced everyone it must have been a harmless accident which was, more than likely, provoked by me and Peter," he finished angrily.

Hermione sat there livid. Of course the Malfoys would be able to worm their way out of it, she thought.


"What happened then, Sirius?" she asked.

"Well, of course, the party ended. Dor and Charlus had Lily send a letter to Dumbledore immediately and we rushed you to St. Mungo's. You were on the Fourth Floor for three days, not showing any sign of getting better, when Dumbledore arrived and insisted, well demanded is more like it, that you be returned to Hogwarts at once. He looked truly terrifying and no one dared question him. You arrived here late on the third of January and have been unconscious ever since. Occasionally you would mumble... things," he said to her.

Even through her state of shock she began to feel worried and self conscious about what she might have said.

"What things, Sirius?" she asked uncomfortably.

He avoided her eyes and began to twist his fingers, trying to avoid answering her.


"Sirius?" she pushed.

Taking a deep breath he figured he may as well answer her, not wanting to upset her in her frail state.

"Well... You said my name a few times, which was nice. I heard you mention Lily some, as well as the others. You mentioned Harry and Ron, almost as often as you mentioned me. Then-Then…Well a few times you would repeat 'Horcurxes. Need Horcruxes'. That's some pretty dark stuff, Hermione. What are you playing at?" he asked her, looking concerned.

Oh Mother of Merlin! Why, out of everything, was that the thing to come out of my mouth? The less he knows about that, the better! she thought in a panic.

"Hermione..." he pressed on.

She remained silent for a few more seconds, trying to determine how much she should tell him. One thing was for certain, she did not want him to think that she wanted to make those horrible things for herself, so she had to tell him at least a little bit of the truth.

 

On the other hand, she didn't want him to know too much- just in case Voldemort ever found about her and Dumbledore hunting the Horcruxes this time around. It was common knowledge that Sirius and Hermione were in love and she didn't want there to be a risk of him taking Sirius as a hostage or as a source of information.

 

"Sirius, would you believe me if I told you I cannot discuss this with you. It's for your safety, I swear. I am not currently planning on making any of them for myself, nor has the thought even crossed my mind… ever. There is an entirely different reason they have been on my mind," she said, her eyes blazing with sincerity.

Sirius was a lot of things: foolish, reckless and hot-headed, but he was not a dumb man. From what Hermione just said to him and him knowing her reason for being in the past, he knew it must have something to do with Voldemort. He also knew that if that were the case, he would not press her on this issue.

"Ok, Hermione. I believe you and we will not speak anymore of it," he answered simply.


Hermione sighed in relief, hardly able to believe he had let it go that easily. Knowing him, he must have put the pieces together but it was only an assumption at this point. Though it wasn’t necessarily good, it was much better than it being a hard fact in his head.

"Thank you, love," she said.


Sirius stood up at the side of her bed and leaned down to give Hermione a very soft, sweet kiss on the lips. Never could he remember a more heart wrenching, stressful and unbearable time as the past two weeks had been for him. At first, he truly believed that he may have lost her forever and that was something he could not handle. One thing he had realized was that no matter how long she may eventually be gone from him, he would never let her go.

The two of them spent around a half hour alone before Sirius went to gather Peter, Lily, James and Remus. The group had been a mental and physical mess these last two weeks as they worried about their friend. Dumbledore had granted them all special permission to be let out of their common room to see her, regardless of the late hour as it was nearing two in the morning. All at once, they all came busting in the room, the first to reach her bed was Peter.

"Hermione! Oh thank Merlin you're alright! You were so foolish to take them on like that. I would have been fine, Hermione! They corner me all the time. Yes, they may hit me and threaten me, but I always walk away alright. You didn't have to do that, you could have been killed!" he said all in a rush.

 

He noticed the confused look on Hermione's face, remembering that she wasn't aware that he had told his friends everything. "Oh, yeah. I told the guys about those slimy tossers trying to recruit me. It will be a cold day in hell for them to ever get near me again," he added with a smile.

Peter then walked over and gave her a huge hug while Hermione sat with silent tears streaming down her face. She had finally accomplished at least one of the goals she’d set out to accomplish in this time. Peter was truly and unconditionally on their side.

"Peter, thank you. I heard what you did to Malfoy and I will be forever grateful. I love you, Wormy," she said, her voice thick with emotion.

"I love you too, 'Mione. And, please, don't thank me. You've saved me far more than have I saved you. I can never repay you for what you have done for me," he whispered to her so that no one else could hear.

At this point Lily all but threw Peter out of the way and jumped on top of Hermione, strangling her with a bear hug.

"Never, ever, ever, ever do anything like that to me again, Hermione Winters!" she scolded her. Lily's eyes full of tears as well.

"Sorry, mum..." Hermione said sarcastically.

Lily stood up and shot her a look that could kill.


"Not funny. I was a physical wreck! Why didn't you come get us to help you? What if you were killed?" she continued, her hands now on her hips.

James rolled his eyes and came to stand next to Lily. He put his arm around her shoulders and said, "Lils, calm down honey. She's ok now and that's all that matters. Wait until she's up and walking around again before you go all mum mode on her," he said with a smile at his girlfriend. "Glad to see you awake love, you gave us all quite a scare," James said to Hermione before bending down and giving her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Lupin was pale with worry and looked as if he wanted nothing more than to yell at her, as Lily just had, and hug her at the same time. He walked in front of James and Lily to stand next to her bed.


"I have to agree with Lily, but I won't yell at you now. I'll save that for when you're one hundred percent," Lupin said with a wink. "I'm just so happy he wasn't able to speak and it only lasted this long. I don't know what we would have done if anything worse happened to you. I love you, 'Mione. It's so incredible to see you with your eyes open," said Lupin as he bent down to kiss her forehead and give her a hug.

Everyone then let Sirius take his place sitting on the edge of Hermione's bed while he held her hand. Hermione was completely overwhelmed by the love and concern the Marauders and Lily showed for her and she began to cry. Sirius pulled her into his arms and rubbed soothing circles on her back.

"Shh, shh. It's ok love. You're fine. Everything is fine. Nothing or no one will ever hurt you again. I will make damn sure of that," he told her.

Hermione continued to cry and thank everyone for being there for her. Eventually, Lily, Peter, James, and Lupin all went back to the common room to get some sleep. Sirius was given permission by Dumbledore to remain in the Hospital Wing with Hermione until she was cleared to leave.

During the next three days, Sirius only left Hermione's side to shower or get them food. He did not attend his classes either, so their homework was brought up by either Lily or Lupin and they would all work on it together. Finally, on the morning of Saturday the eighteenth, Hermione was cleared to leave. Peter had come up to the Hospital Wing to accompany Hermione and Sirius down to the Great Hall for breakfast. As they were turning a corner Hermione found herself running right into Snape.


"Watch it, Snivellus!" Sirius barked, whipping his wand out in a flash.

Snape's wand was out just as fast as was Peter's. Sirius and Peter both stood with their wand pointed right at Snape's face as he turned to look at Hermione.

"Well, well. Did you enjoy your little... nap, Winters? It's a pity Lucius didn't make you sleep longer,” he sneered.  “A lot longer," Snape added with a snicker.
 
Sirius and Peter were each about to hex him when Hermione spoke up. "Stop it! Right now, stop it!" she shrieked.
 
 "But Hermione!?"  Sirius yelled, looking outraged.


"After what they did?" Peter yelled.
 

"Look. We're in school. You can't go just blasting one another away, you'll be expelled! Put your wands away and leave this greasy git to be on his way. I'm sure he needs to be slithering off somewhere", she said cooly.

 

Snape looked at her with rage filled eyes. For a split second his wand hand twitched as if he were about to jinx her, but Hermione caught the slight movement.

"I wouldn't, Snivellus. You know I could take you alone and there are three of us here right now. Put that wand away and leave," she said, once again with nothing but pure bone-chilling power.

Considering his surroundings and Hermione's words to him, Snape slowly put his wand back in his pocket with a glower towards Sirius and Peter.
 
"Watch yourself, Winters. Your little body guards will not always be around to protect you," he spat at her.
 

"You know full well that I am capable of taking you on my own, if you remember our little incident?" she spat back.



Giving a contemptuous glare at each of them, Snape turned on his heel and flapped away.
 

"Slimy son of a bitch. Who the hell does he think he is threatening you? I'll kill him. Mark my words, I'll kill that bastard!" Sirius said, shaking from head to toe.

"Don't worry about him, Hermione. We won't let them do anything to you ever again," Peter said quite impressively.
 

"Thank you, boys. It is no matter, trust me. I've out dueled him once before, and I can do it again," she told him, forgetting they did not know about that day in front of the Room of Requirement.

Oops!, she thought. Her face turned bright red and she began to stroll merrily down the corridor. "Coming?" she called back cheerfully.



Sirius was looking positively angry.
 

"What do you mean? When?" he snapped.



Hermione sighed and told them about the day he had confronted her. She left out the Room of Requirement and what she was doing, making it sound as if she were just walking back from Dumbledore's office at the time. Sirius was, of course, livid she did not tell him at the time and Peter was impressed by her quick wandwork and bravery.


 

Hermione and the boys arrived in the Great Hall to find the rest of the group beaming wildly at her while the rest of the school was eying her curiously. She glanced up and saw Dumbledore give her a small wink and a smile. In no time at all, she found herself falling back into the routine of just hanging out with her friends and trying to act like a normal student while ignoring the many whispered rumors flying rapidly across the hall.



The rest of the weekend seemed to fly by and before she knew it she was back in her classes. January then quickly faded away and a blustery February had arrived.


Over the last few weeks Hermione and Peter had become about as close as she and Harry had been in her time. There was an obvious bond and connection there that everyone had noticed, including Sirius. One evening in particular, Hermione and Peter were playing a game of exploding snap in the Gryffindor common room and were laughing wildly with one another. Sirius sat brooding while watching them and was beginning to become quite jealous, although deep down he knew he had no reason to be. After their game had finished Hermione thanked Peter for the game and left to take her place next to Sirius on the couch in front of the fire.
 

"Care for a walk?" he asked her
 
 "Sure, love," she answered.

 

They let the others know they would be gone for a bit, put on their cloaks and left through the portrait hole. While walking in an uncomfortable silence for a little, Hermione began wondering what was bothering him.

 

After a few painful minutes, Sirius finally spoke up, "Is there something going on between you and Peter?" he asked bluntly.



Hermione could not help herself, the idea was completely absurd and she began to laugh.
 

"It's not funny, Hermione. The two of you are together constantly nowadays. Is there something going on there that I should know about?" he asked again.
 

There was a sharp pain as she bit down on her tongue to keep from laughing, though she found herself somewhat flattered that he was jealous. Of course he was being silly, but there was something kind of endearing about it.

"Of course not, Sirius. Don't be ridiculous! I love Peter, yes, but like a brother. There are no romantic feelings there at all. For either of us. I love you, you silly jealous man," she said, ending with a poke to the tip of his nose.
 

Sirius knew she was right. He was just being silly because he knew he did not have much time with her here and seeing her spend any of their limited time with another man made him slightly crazy.



"I am being stupid, aren't I?", he asked her.


Hermione smiled kindly at him and said, "Kind of..."

 

Suddenly, he wrapped his arms around her, picked her up, and kissed her passionately. He set her down and looked at her, his eyes blazing.
 

"I love you, Hermione. I love you now and I'll love you forever. There will never be anyone else for me. Understand, never," he told her.


Hermione so badly wanted to believe him, but how could he be so sure? As much as she wanted to completely get her hopes up, she refused to let herself do so. Her only response was,"I love you as well, Sirius." She leaned up to kiss him gently on the lips but he met her halfway, his lips crashing down on hers.

"What do you say we go back up to my dormitory for a while?", he said with a breathtakingly sexy smile.


Understanding his need for her, Hermione had to admit she felt the same way. They had not had a moment to be intimate with one another since they have arrived back to Hogwarts. She knew, however, that the dorms may not be the ideal place, when an idea struck her.

"Actually, Sirius... I know of a much better place. Come on", she said while taking his hand and pulling him with her.



 A few moments later they were standing in front of the tapestry of Barnabus the Barmy forever attempting to teach trolls the ballet. She walked back and forth in front of the wall three times while thinking, I need my bedroom from home, I need my bedroom from home, I need my bedroom from home. Sirius stood watching her as if she lost her mind until a grand door appeared out of the wall.
 

"Whoa! What is this place? And how do we not know about it?" he asked stunned.

Hermione smiled sweetly and said, "This is the Room of Requirement or The Come and Go Room. It appears to fit the seekers needs. All you have to do is walk in front of the wall three times while concentrating on what you need. Like right now, the room will be my bedroom from home, in my time," she told an impressed and awed Sirius.

"W-o-w Hermione. Well done," he stretched out wow into three syllables.
 
Taking his hand she pulled him into the door after making sure no one was around. As they entered Hermione was, again, blown away by the magic of this room. It was uncanny! Her bed was against the wall straight ahead with its purple sheets and blankets. There were even windows behind her bed which looked as if they were showing her front yard and the street in front of her house at night time. The chest of drawers was to the right of her and her dresser and mirror were to the left. There was a closet in the back left corner of the room, which Hermione was surprised to see when she opened it, was filled with clothes from her time.  The walls were a light power blue and her carpet was cream colored. Even the pictures of Harry, Ron, Ginny, Neville and Luna were all on her bedside table. Sirius, she noticed, walked right over and picked up a picture of Harry, Ron and Hermione.
 

"Well, that's most definitely a Weasley. No doubt about that. And, is that... That's - That's... Harry?" he asked.


 
Hermione smiled and nodded, her eyes filling with tears. Seeing their faces, even in a picture, made her realize just how much she missed her best friends at home.
 

"My word, Hermione. He - He looks just like James! Except his eyes. Merlin, they're an exact copy of Lily's!" he said, completely overwhelmed.
 
"Yep. That's what everyone had always told him... Even you. And now meeting James and Lily I can see what everyone had always gone on about," she said, watching his face intently.
 

"And this red-headed girl must be another Weasley? Blimey. The Weasleys haven't had a girl in ages. And this boy here, the round faced one? Is he related to the Longbottoms by any chance? He looks just like a girl who used to go here, Alice. She just married Frank Longbottom this past summer," he continued on.

"Yeah, he is. That's their son," she said. Not wanting to get into details of Neville or his poor parents. Hopefully that will change as well, she thought.

 Sirius just could not put the picture with Harry down. He could not believe that anyone's son could look so much like them. It was unbelievable. His original plans for being brought here were soon forgotten and he decided on rather questioning Hermione on her life. He wanted to know everything that had happened at Hogwarts in her time and what his future godson and the rest of her friends were like.

 

Hermione talked for over an hour. She told him everything, leaving out the details of him being in Azkaban and their hunt for Horcurxes. She told him about her friendship with Hagrid and how badly she misses having that in this time, about the many idiosyncrasies of Luna Lovegood, which Sirius got a few laughs out of, about Viktor Krum, which Sirius scowled through, how awful Snape had been to them while he taught here, how and why they found this room during her fifth year and just everything she could think of.

 

One thing Sirius could not deny was that the woman he loved had led quite the exciting life. He was finding himself slightly jealous, having believed that he and his best friends had had the craziest adventures. They were nothing compared to what she had been through. They both realized it was nearing eleven at night and hurried back to their common room so they would not be caught out of bed after hours and land themselves in detention. Luckily, they made their way back undetected and were giving the password, Cupid, to a very irritated Fat Lady. Once inside they gave one another a kiss goodnight and began to walk up the stairs to their dormitories. Before they parted ways Sirius stopped her for a moment.
 

"You are the most amazing woman I have ever know, Hermione Granger. I want to thank you for sharing your home, sort of, and all of your stories with me. I am so glad that I, now, completely and totally know the real you. You're incredible, you are," he told her sweetly.

 

Hermione gave him a huge hug and said, "I'm so relieved that I am able to have you know the real me. You have no idea how comforting it is to have at least one person here who I can truly be myself with. It just helps me keep a firm grasp on who I was. I love you, Sirius. Thank you for loving me and keeping me despite of who I am."
Looking down at her he shook his head.



 

"No. Not despite of who you are. I love you because of who you are, Hermione," he told her.

 

They shared one last kiss goodnight and parted ways for the evening. After she had changed, brushed her teeth and washed up for bed she noticed and envelope and a hand written note, from Lily, laying on her bed.
 



Hermione,


I'm sorry, I was exhausted and just couldn't wait up any longer. Dumbledore asked me to give you this letter.

I don't know what it was about, but by the way he looked, I think it is important.

Hope your walk with Sirius was nice.

Love you, 'Mione!
 Lily


Hermione's heart was pounding ferociously in her chest. She had a feeling she knew exactly what this letter would say. Opening it with shaking hands, she read the words Dumbledore had written on the parchment.


Dear Miss Granger,

I am happy to say that I have, with much difficulty and success, managed to rid the world of all but one of those terrible objects.

If you are still agreeable, I am afraid the time has come to seek out the final one.

Please send your answer by return owl and meet me in my office Saturday next by 7pm.

Yours Sincerely,
Albus Dumbledore

P.S. - Sugar Quills are lovely this time of year.




Her hands were shaking and sweating, her body felt cold and her face felt very warm. She did not realize it would be this soon and was silently breaking down. Obviously she knew she had to do this, there was no other way, and she had known this for months. But now that the time has arrived, she was panicking. How did Harry do all of this all the time? How did he not go mental? she wondered. As quickly and quietly as she could, despite her shaking hands, she retrieved a piece of parchment and a quill and scribbled her answer to Dumbledore.
 

Dear Professor,



I am absolutely still willing to accompany you on this journey.
I shall see you promptly at 7pm Saturday evening.
Until then.

Yours Most Sincerely,


  Hermione Granger

After folding up the parchment, she placed it in an envelope which she addressed to Dumbledore. Silently, she grabbed her cloak and prepared to send the letter. After a moment, she thought it may not be the best idea to wander out into the grounds as it was now after midnight.

After deciding it would be best to wait for morning, she took her cloak off and climbed into bed. She thought longingly of Madam Pomfrey's calming draught, wishing that she had a vial as she drifted off into sleep with images of an unknown cavern and underground lake filled with inferi swimming in her head. It would be an awfully long night.



--------------------------------

A/N - First off I want to say, wow, thank you!! I appreciate all of the reviews I have received more than I could possibly say! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Everything is about to become a little more intense and have quite a bit more action. Again, thank you to everyone who has stuck with the story this far. I hope you all continue to enjoy it and I can't wait to hear more feedback from you. I love you all! <3

 



 

**Also a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE thank you, once again, to Mischief_managed18 for reading over and editing!! You're amazing! :D**

*Obnubilo - Latin for "render unconscious".





xoxo U.C.


Chapter 17: The Final Horcrux: Hermione's Worst Memory
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The days leading up to Hermione’s journey with Dumbledore seemed to go by in a haze. Sirius was constantly keeping his eye on Hermione, clearly worried about her- she was barely speaking, hardly eating, exceptionally jumpy and constantly distracted. Every time he asked her if something was wrong she would always reply the same way, "Nothing, love. Everything is perfect," and give him a small kiss. Even though she was quiet in her words, she was absolutely screaming on the inside.
The morning she sent her reply to Dumbledore, her mind was racing and it hadn’t seemed to stop since. Ok. Four more days. You have four days to prepare. You'll be with Dumbledore. Everything will be fine.



The following day she began to worry a little more. Three days. I'm going with in him three days. How did this arrive so quickly?



Without warning, there were only two days left. Holy crud! I only have two more days? What if something goes wrong? Why did I insist on doing this?


As if by magic, there was a mere day left. What do I tell Sirius? He's going to want to know where I'll be gone... What if I don't come back?


Then it was the evening before. Tomorrow. You're doing this tomorrow. How in the hell am I going to do this? What if that potion kills me? What if Voldemort has different protection around the locket now that I'm not aware of? What if I'm taking myself and Dumbledore to our deaths? Then what? No. No, Granger. Stop this now. Not only are you the brightest witch of your age, you will be with the greatest Wizard of the age. You can do this. You must do this. For everyone's sake. You’ve got to get yourself together.


Hermione spent the entire morning and afternoon the day of her journey in the Room of Requirement with Sirius- the room still an exact replica of her bedroom. In case anything did happen to her, she wanted to spend every one of her possible last moments with the love of her life. They spent the entire day making love and simply holding one another. When it was nearing six-thirty Hermione turned to Sirius.

"I really must get dressed and be off, love. I'm supposed to meet Dumbledore by seven," she said, her hands trembling.
 


Sirius, noticing the color draining from her face finally decided to ask what exactly this meeting with Dumbledore was about.

"What are you meeting him about, Hermione? You're shaking and completely pale. You're not - You're not leaving me yet, are you?" he asked in a panic. It was clear that he’d begun to think that was reason she had spent the whole day with him, here, alone and making love like they never have before. Certainly she would give him some advanced warning before she left him?

Hermione's eyes widened. It had not even crossed her mind that he would begin to think that was the reason for her behavior today and the last few days. In hindsight, she now understood how he may have come to that conclusion.

"No! Certainly not, Sirius. I'm still going to be here for a while. Plus, when it is time for me to leave, you will be informed beforehand. I could never just up and leave without telling you first. Dumbledore and I just have some... things we need to discuss. Things I cannot discuss with anyone else yet. But I promise, I'm not leaving you yet and I will be back," she promised him, and herself in a way, that she would return to him this evening. No matter what.

"Are you leaving the castle with him?” he asked, noticing that she had told him she would be back.

Hermione stood up, gathered her clothing and began to get dressed without saying anything. She didn't want to lie to him, but she didn't want him to worry either. After taking a deep breath, she turned around and told him the truth.

"Yes, Sirius. We are leaving the castle. Don't ask me why, I cannot tell you. But I will be with Dumbledore and I'll be fine. Please, please don't get yourself worked up tonight. I don't want the others noticing you worrying and begin to think something is wrong. I will be perfectly safe and you need to pretend everything is fine. Please," she begged him.

Knowing full well he was still going to worry for her, she had to try to get him to play it cool for the evening. It would not do well for the others to become suspicious of the reasons for her absence this evening. He opened and closed his mouth a few times as if he was going to argue, but eventually he hung his head in defeat.

"Ok. I'll take it easy tonight. You're right. If you're with Dumbledore then you'll be completely safe," Sirius said, trying to convince himself.

"Everything will be fine, love. Come on, get dressed and walk me to his office," she replied, sounding significantly more sure of herself than she felt.

After they were dressed and Hermione gathered her traveling cloak they walked hand in hand to Dumbledore's office. Hermione remained exceptionally quiet the entire way, fearing that if she opened her mouth, she might vomit. The last time she had felt this nervous and scared was the day she was sent back in time.


When they reached the statue of the Gargoyle, Sirius lifted his hand to Hermione's face; gently, he stroked it from her cheekbone down to her jaw, with the back of his hand. Impulsively, he grabbed two fist fulls of her hair and brought her face to his and kissed her as if he would never see her again. Breathless and nearly panting, he pulled away and looked deep into her eyes.

"I love you Hermione. Please come home safely to me. Whatever you're doing, please be safe. I don't know what I would do if anything..." he trailed off, shaking his head.

Somehow keeping her nerve, Hermione looked right back into his eyes and held his face between her hands.

"Sirius, I love you more than anything and I swear I will return to you safely. Please try to act normally this evening. Like I've said, I will be fine," she told him.

He took her in his arms and kissed her once more before letting her go.


"I'll wait for you in the common room, ok?" he told her.

"You don't have to do that Sirius. I don't know when I will be back. Just try to get some sleep and I will see you in the morning," Hermione said, giving him a small smile.

Though Sirius had no intention of sleeping or going up to his dormitory this evening, he decided to humor her and tell her that he would.

"Sure. Ok. Right. Absolutely. I will see you in the morning then," he lied.

Hermione rolled her eyes, knowing that he would be sitting up in the common room for her when she returned.

"I really must go, Sirius. I love you," she told him once more.

"Please take care of yourself. If anything happens to you then I will have lost my heart and I cannot live without that," he said, his eyes blazing.

Sirius still was not sure what Hermione was doing this evening, but from her demeanor over the past week, he knew it must be something dangerous. His heart was pounding wildly wondering if, and when, she would return to him. Trying to keep it together, he kissed her on the cheek and turned to leave his reason for existing.

Hermione gave the password, ‘Sugar Quills’, to the Gargoyle and watched the stairs rise as she walked onto them and rose up to Dumbledore's office. Three steps to his door, a deep breath and a knock. She heard the familiar voice call out to her and her heart nearly leapt out of her throat.

"Come in, Miss Granger," Dumbledore said.

Alright, Granger. Let's do this, she thought. As she walked through his office to take a seat in the chair in front of his desk, she noticed a few bent, blackened and burnt looking objects on his desk. A Diary, which looked as if it were bleeding ink, a cracked and Tiara, a mangled Golden Cup, and a broken and burnt Ring were all laying on Dumbledore's desk. Dumbledore caught Hermione looking at the destroyed Horcruxes in front of them both.

"Miss Granger, I must thank you my dear. It seems you know more about me than I was aware of," he told her.


"Sir?" Hermione asked, confused.

He smiled kindly at her, his eyes twinkling.


"The ring, dear sweet girl. The ring. I did not realize you were aware of The Deathly Hallows, or the temptation I may feel when finally obtaining the Resurrection Stone. If it were not for your warning, I'm afraid I would have been exceptionally foolish when I found it," he told her with genuine gratitude.

"Sir, in my time, you were ill for a very long time because of that ring. We were not sure how much time you may have had left and we cannot afford to lose you. You are far too important to the Wizarding community, to my friends and... myself," she told him.

Dumbledore looked down as a tear glistened on his cheek. For a moment he seemed unable to speak. After a few moments, he finally regained his composure.

"Thank you, Miss Granger. That means a great deal to me," he told her.

The two of them stood in silence for a brief moment while Dumbledore collected his thoughts. He then looked at her over the top of his half-moon spectacles and repeated the words he’d spoken to her the morning of her departure from the year 1998.


"Miss Granger, I will ask you only once more. Are you sure you want to go through with this?"


Again, Hermione took a deep breath to steady herself, stood up straight and looked him directly in the eyes, "Yes sir. I can do this," she said, giving the same answer she would in the future


"Well then, Miss Granger. Let us be off into the night and embrace the unknown of our adventure," he told her merrily.



"Yes sir," she answered, giving him a weak smile. 


"But first, to avoid awkward questions, I will place a Disillusionment Charm on you. I will lift the charm the moment we arrive at our destination," said Dumbledore as he lightly tapped his wand on the crown of Hermione's head.




She felt the warmness of the spell spreading from her head, down her body and finally reaching her feet as she watched her body blend into the scenery around her. Leaving the office, Hermione and Dumbledore walked through the castle, out onto the grounds and down to Hogsmeade.



Despite his immense power, not even Dumbledore was able to Apparate within Hogwarts, so they would need to leave the school grounds to do so. Hermione did not say anything the entire walk down because she honestly did not really know what to talk about with her Headmaster and she was becoming more terrified by the moment. They finally arrived in Hogsmeade and walked down a small alley way beside the Hogshead where they would be unseen and able to leave. Taking Dumbledore's hand, Hermione turned on the spot and with a faint pop they were gone.

Arriving on the same rock in the middle of the sea that Harry had described to her a year before she left the future, she knew they had reached their destination. The wind was whipping wildly, the waves were crashing at an alarming rate and the air was truly icy. She did not fancy the idea of swimming to the antechamber of the cavern.


"See that crack in the cliff, sir. That's where we need to be. We'll have to swim," she told him.
 


"Of course, Miss Granger. Here, allow me to lift the charm I had placed on you," he said while tapping her head again with his wand.

Coldness slowly crept up from her feet to the top of her head and she was able to see her body once more. 

"Thank you sir. Shall we?" she asked, her voice trembling slightly. 

Dumbledore nodded and dove into the water followed closely by Hermione. The water was mind numbingly freezing. It was unbearable, almost beyond the point of comprehension. The whole swim made it feel as if hundreds of knives were stabbing all throughout her body and that the air was freezing her lungs, she pushed herself to swim all the way to the shore. After helping Hermione out of the water, Dumbledore placed a warming charm on her and then himself. As soon as the warmth reached her body it was like a breath of fresh air and she could finally think clearly once more.

"Th-thank you, s-s-sir," she said, still shivering.


He smiled kindly at her and waved his hand as to say it was nothing. Then they began to walk towards the wall which would become the entrance to the underground lake.



"Sir, we must give payment to enter. The payment the entrance requires is intended to weaken us before we even enter. Blood," she told him. 



Dumbledore looked disgusted and disappointed.




"I would have expected more from Tom Riddle. This crude act he requires to enter is far beneath him," he said sadly. 



At that moment Hermione pulled a small knife from her robes and quickly slashed a small gash on the meatiest part of her hand. She grimaced slightly and pressed her hand to the wall.




"Miss Granger! You should have allowed me," Dumbledore said, shocked.


 


"No sir. It is imperative that you remain complete and in your right state of mind. Please, sir. Promise me that you will trust me the entire time we are here and do not try to stop me from anything that must be done," she said, unmistakable power in her voice once again.

Considering her words for a moment Dumbledore reluctantly agreed. It went against his very nature completely to allow a student of his to be put into any danger whatsoever while he was in their presence.

"Thank you sir. Let us continue on then," she said. 


They walked into the opening of the cliff and into a dark spacious area. It was so dark that Hermione couldn’t even see her hand as she put it up in front of her face. Lighting their wands, they could see the water near their feet and the strange green glow coming from across the way. The smell was slightly revolting as it reminded her of a damp, musky, dirty basement. Under that smell there was the slight odor of something sour; something slightly like a dead, decaying animal. She could hear water dripping and what sounded like a fish flopping out of the water. Rocks were hanging from the ceiling like icicles and coming up from the ground like spikes. She realized Harry had not done it justice; it was far creepier than he had described.



Hermione beckoned Dumbledore forward, all the while being very careful not to even stick a toe in the water to the right of them.

"Do not touch the water, sir. There are inferi resting in there that will pull us under the moment the water is touched," she told him. 

Almost as in response to her words a light splashing sound was heard from far across the water and Hermione shuddered softly.


Dumbledore nodded and they continued on a bit further.



"Sir, there is a boat in the water that needs to be raised to reach the Horcrux. Do you see that green glow in the middle of the lake? That is where it lies," she said. 


"Yes Miss Granger. Let us find the boat, shall well then?" he asked quietly. 



Dumbledore lifted both of his hands in the air as if he were reaching for something. He did this for a few moments while Hermione watched on, more than awed by the raw power this man possessed. A few moments later, she heard Dumbledore give a quiet, "Ah ha" and he squeezed his non wand hand. At that moment a chain came out of the water and into Dumbledore's hand.


"Miss Granger, if you would assist me please?" he asked. 


Walking over, she grabbed onto the chain with Dumbledore as they pulled and watched the small boat rise from below the water and make its way to the shore.

"After you, my dear," he said just as happily as if they were enjoying a nice meal together. 


She climbed into the boat, Dumbledore after her and it began to sail on its own towards the green light. After an uncomfortable few moments, the boat bumped into the shore of an extremely tiny island, which was about the size of Dumbledore's office. He helped her out of the boat, carefully avoiding the water and they walked towards the stone basin.



"What is all this?" Dumbledore asked, looking at the liquid which filled the basin. 


"It must be drunk, sir. And I am going to be the one to drink it," she told him with determination.



"Miss Granger-" Dumbledore began. 


"Sir. I'm sorry. You gave your word that you would trust me. Please, sir. Trust me. I will drink this potion. I have a rough idea of what it will do to me, from what Harry has told me during my time. You must force me to drink every last drop, sir. Even if I beg you to stop, or even to kill me, you must keep me drinking," she said with a strong steady voice.




Never would she know how she was able to sound so confident and strong, for inside she was more terrified than she had ever been. She conjured a goblet and walked to the basin filling it with the potion.


"Remember sir, no matter what, you have to keep me drinking," she said before raising the goblet to her lips. 


Taking the first drink wasn't horrible, her insides burned uncomfortably, but not horribly. She plunged the goblet in and took another drink. This time the burning became a little more intense, almost unbearable, but not quite. After filling the goblet for a third time, her surroundings disappeared. She was no longer in the cavern, but in the Hospital Wing at Hogwarts.


 



***

There was a horrible pain in her abdomen and across her chest, Ron in the bed next to her, still unconscious. Light was streaming through the windows, it was morning. She had been out since she was hit by that curse in the Department of Mysteries the evening before. The doors opened and Ginny walked in, her eyes red from exhaustion and tears.


"What's happened, Ginny?” Hermione asked, fear filling her entire body. For the look on Ginny's face had told her someone had been lost, one of theirs.

Ginny did not say anything at first; she walked over and took a seat next to Hermione, a tear escaping her eye.

"Hermione. He's... We - We've lost Sirius. Bellatrix... She - she killed him. He's dead," she finally managed to say.

***



Dumbledore was truly frightened for the girl who was writhing and screaming on the ground. The only words coming from her mouth were "Dead. He's dead."  But, as per her demand and as much as he hated himself for it, he continued to force the potion into her mouth.

***

The pain that had overcome Hermione this particular moment was not the same pain she had felt upon originally hearing this news. It was a new pain- agony, despair, horror, loss. It was the pain of losing a lover. She could feel her heart, not breaking, but disappearing all together.



Dead, no. He can't be dead. No! It had all felt so real, as if it were really happening all over again. But this time much, much worse. She could even still, very much, feel the pain from the curse burning and running rapidly all throughout her body. Screaming out her denial and rage, she felt as if she wanted nothing more than to join him in death.

***



All of a sudden the Hospital Wing disappeared and she was, once again, in the dark cavern looking at a scared and concerned Dumbledore. Her mouth was dry, bone dry. She was weak and her throat and stomach were on fire. She had absolutely no idea what all had just happened or why was she in so much pain. The fire she felt within her began to spread from her stomach and throughout the rest of her body. Nothing mattered at the moment and all she wanted was to die. The pain was just too much to handle and the only thing that could stop it would be death. Please just let me die. Let this all end, she pleaded in her head.



"Miss Granger?" Dumbledore said, his voice shaking slightly. "Miss, Granger. Everything is alright. You are with me and there is nothing here to harm you. I have the locket. You have done beautifully" Hermione remained unresponsive. "Miss Granger? Please, are you able to speak?" he asked, highly concerned.


Water. She absolutely needed water. It would be the only thing that could put out the fire that was raging all over and inside her body. 



Hermione began stirring slightly, "Water. Please. Sir... Water," she hoarsely whispered.



"Of course. But first, we need to leave. I am afraid the creatures which rest beneath the water will awaken if we do not promptly make our departure. Do you think you can make it until we arrive back to Hogwarts?" Dumbledore said.
 
 Groaning feebly in response, Hermione nodded her head.





With the strength of a much younger man, Dumbledore bent down and scooped Hermione up into his arms. He carried her to the boat and gently placed her in it before climbing in himself. The fire inside Hermione was reaching alarming proportions and if she did not get water soon, she would surely die. There was no way anyone could survive this amount of pain. It was mind-numbingly horrible and the only thing she could continue to think of was how she wanted to die. With her mind so focused on the pain, she did not even notice Dumbledore carrying her out of the cavern, apparating back to the gates outside of Hogwarts, placing a Disillusionment Charm on them both and bringing her into his office. 


 


He quickly summoned a stretcher with Hermione still in his arms and laid her down on it before he removed the charm from them both. Nearly running, he went to his cabinet and pulled a vile of Pepper Up Potion and filled a glass full of water. He pulled Hermione up and supported her head like a newborn baby as he helped her drink the water; after getting her to drink a few swallows, he gave her some of the potion. The fire slowly began to fade from her body and she became more aware of her surroundings.

"Sir. More water, please?" she asked hoarsely. The fire was still not completely extinguished and she was thirstier than she ever had been. 


"Certainly, dear girl," he told her while helping her drink another cup.



Time began to pass though Hermione couldn’t tell at what rate. After minutes, or hours, or possibly days, Hermione finally began to feel like herself again. 


"Did we get it, sir?" she asked him. 




Dumbledore took the locket out from his cloak and held it for Hermione to see, his eyes triumphant.


"Yes, Miss Granger. I must applaud you for the outstanding courage you have just displayed. I must admit, I have never seen a witch your age, possibly even older, equal to you. Well done, dear," he told her proudly.

Smiling back at her Headmaster, her absolute role model, she thanked him, "Thank you sir. That certainly was not easy, but it had to be done. It is for the good of us all that had to be done," she said firmly.

Even though it had been one of the most horrific experiences of her life, she would do it again one hundred times over if it meant bringing about the destruction of Voldemort a little earlier than in her lifetime. Now that they had the Horcrux, she began to wonder how they were to destroy it. She knew you needed to speak Parseltongue to be able to open it.

"Sir. I don't know how we're going to destroy this one. It needs to be opened in order to destroy it and to open it you need to speak Parseltongue," she said, worrying. 



Dumbledore smiled kindly at her.




"My dear Miss Granger, I am very fortunate to have been gifted with the brain I possess and have learned many languages over time. Parseltongue happens to be one I have a crude knowledge of. Which was very helpful to me after I forced the Diary to reveal the whereabouts of the Chamber of Secrets and how to get into it," he watched the shock register on Hermione's face as he opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a Basilisk fang. "Yes. I went into the grounds, retrieved a rooster and brought it with me into the Chamber. The Basilisk is no more," he said, to Hermione's absolute astonishment.

"Wow... That is - That is amazing! Well done, sir!" she exclaimed. 



Dumbledore smiled and placed the locket on his desk. 




"Now. Let us say we get rid of the last one, shall we, Miss Granger?" he asked while arming himself and Hermione each with a fang. 


Hermione nodded, terrified. She was not expecting to be there when he destroyed it and was not sure what may happen. She knew that in her time the locket mentally tortured Ron and had him almost kill Harry.
 


"Y-yes sir" she said. 


With a Basilisk fang in each of their hands, Dumbledore made the odd hissing noises, which she knew to be Parseltongue. Before they knew it, the locket flew opened, Dumbledore was knocked to the ground and a very young, handsome face, Tom Riddle's, appeared out of the locket.


"Miss Granger", Horcrux Voldemort crooned. "Did you think I would not know? Or I would not find out? Lord Voldemort knows, Miss Granger. He always knows." 




Just then Sirius, Lily, Peter, Lupin and James looked as if they had all Apparated directly in front of her. Her friends were laughing, joking, and looking happy and full of life when, out of nowhere, they all fell to the ground with blood leaking from their mouths. They were dead.



"Nooooo!!!”  Hermione yelled as she fell to her knees.



"You will never accomplish what you were sent here to do. Look carefully, this will soon be you, your friends' and your lover's fate. You and all who you love will perish. I will find you, Miss Granger. And soon"




"Like hell you will, you son of a bitch!" Hermione yelled while running full speed at the locket, the fang high above her head. Reaching the locket, she plunged the fang right through his red eye. The piece of Voldemort's soul screamed out in anguish as the images of Sirius and her friends disappeared. A few moments later, the room was quiet, the locket twitched, and the last Horcrux was no more.

Enraged, frightened and exhausted, Hermione fell to the ground shaking; she began to sob. He knows. I don't know how he's found out. But he knows. What the hell am I going to do? she thought desperately. She felt Dumbledore put a comforting arm around her shoulders.

"You need not worry, my dear. We will end this, end him, before he gets the chance to harm you. Or anyone you love," he said kindly. 


"But what if we don't? What if he finds us and kills us? Then everything I have accomplished here, this far, would be for nothing. Sirius, Peter, Lily, James, Remus... They have no idea what may be coming for them. And the boys are so careless. What if they're caught while they're out sneaking around? I know you know they do, sir. You know everything that happens in the castle. What if they're caught while they're out being reckless?" she said desperately.



He stared down at the young woman who showed more compassion and worry for her friends' safety than he’d ever witnessed and knew it was time for her friends to know the truth. They must be given warning of what may be in store for them.

"Then, Miss Granger. I believe now is the time to tell them. You must tell them everything. I believe your friends and Sirius have proven they are loyal and trustworthy. You must share with them who you are and your reason for being here. They love you, they will understand," he told her gently.



Hermione was terrified. Remembering Sirius's reaction to her being from the future, she did not know if she could handle the reactions of the rest of them all at once.
 



"Go and gather Sirius and the rest. Bring them to my office. We shall tell them together," he told her. It was not a request.


"Now?" she asked, terrified. 



"Yes. I do not think this can wait until morning. Please, if you would go and collect your friends. I shall wait," he said, clearly dismissing her.

"Yes sir,” she said with a quick nod.


Hermione left his office and began her walk to Gryffindor tower, not quite sure how to do this. The only thing she wanted right now was to sleep, for she was exhausted. She arrived at the portrait of the Fat Lady, gave the password and climbed through the hole. Sirius, of course, was up waiting for her.



"Holy shit, Hermione! What happened to you?" he yelled, his eyes full of anger. 


Hermione was still very pale, clammy and shaking.
 


"I'll explain soon Sirius. Go wake James, Peter and Remus and I'll wake Lily. Dumbledore wants us all in his office. It's time I tell you all everything."


 


***


 

 

 

A/N- Hey everyone. First off I want to say thank you!! Thank you to everyone who is reading or reviewing or favoriting or all of the above!  I want to say a special thank you to ilovehpfanfiction and GeekTilTheEnd. Thank you both for reviewing almost every chapter of this story since the beginning! It means so so much! <3 Thank you again, everyone, who has been enjoying the ride this far. I promise I'll be updating again soon, so keep your eyes peeled!  Love you all, U.C. xoxo

 

 

 

*Thank you Mischief_managed18 so, so much for reading over, editing and reviewing all of these chapters for me! You're truly wonderful!


Chapter 18: The Truth and The Order
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Hermione stood next to Dumbledore, facing her friends while her heart was pounding so loudly, she could almost hear it. Each of them, aside from Sirius, had a very curious expression on their face. They were still in their pajamas and all sat there wondering what Dumbledore could want them for this early in the morning- or late at night, depending on how you wanted to look at it- as it was nearly 1 A.M. Not knowing where to even begin, Hermione threw a panicked look at Dumbledore who smiled kindly down at her.


 

Dumbledore then cleared his throat and began to speak, “I’m sure you are all wondering why I have summoned you to my office, especially with the lateness of the hour. Everything your classmate and I need to speak to you about is of the upmost importance and strictly confidential. The information Miss Granger and I are about to divulge to you must not be spoken of or shared with anyone, or I fear that the consequences may be dire. Do you all understand?” Dumbledore asked seriously.


 

Lily, James, Peter, Lupin, and Sirius all looked around at one another before looking at Hermione and then to Dumbledore. They all nodded in agreement, despite still looking confused.


 

“Yes sir,” they all said in unison.


 

Hermione could not bring herself to look at any of them and stood shuffling her feet and fiddling with her fingers. She was still feeling the soreness from the potion she’d had to drink- which seemed like ages ago, despite it being mere hours before- and the nervousness wasn’t helping. Knowing that she had to gather the little bit of strength she had left in her currently, she took a deep breath and opened her mouth to speak. Before she could get a word out though, Dumbledore put his hand up to stop her.


 

“Before Hermione begins, I must say one more thing,” he said and Hermione nodded, glad for an extra moment to breathe.


 

“Thank you,” he said before he turned to look at the rest of the students sitting before him. “I would like you to know that everything your friend is about to tell you, I have known since her arrival at Hogwarts. Everything she is about to say to you is true. I trust her and believe in everything she has told me and shown me. I would like you all to do the same. She is your friend,” he turned and looked at Sirius, “and the woman you love. She had reasons for keeping this from all of you as long as she did. I myself had advised her not to share this information before now. If you are to become angry with anyone afterwards, please be angry with me.”


 

The rest of the group was clearly becoming rather nervous about what it could possibly be that Hermione looked so terrified and reluctant to share; and how bad it was for Dumbledore to be vouching so intensely for her.


 

“Okay, Sir. We’ll hear you out,” James said and everyone else nodded in agreement once again.


 

Hermione noticed that Sirius had been keeping his head down the majority of the time they’d been there. She figured he was feeling guilty for knowing most of what she was about to tell everyone. She looked at Sirius and he glanced up to meet her eyes for a brief moment, nodding slightly. Her heart was pounding, her hands were sweating, her mouth was dry and her stomach was doing flips. She was desperately wracking her brain for the right words to say.


 

Finally, she cleared her throat and began, “Alright. So… this- this is going to be difficult. I don’t really know where to begin,” she said.


 

“Usually the beginning is a good place to start, Hermione,” Lupin said, smiling kindly at her.


 

Hermione gave a short, nervous laugh. “Right, that’s the thing, Remus. Even figuring out where the beginning is in this particular story is difficult.”


 

“Hermione, honey,” Lily said, “we all love you. Whatever it is you have to tell us, it can’t be that bad. We’ll all still love you, you know that right?”


 

Hermione looked right into the green, almond-shaped eyes of her best friend and smiled sadly.


 

“I hope so, Lily. I love you all as well. I- I just,” she took a deep breath. “I just hope you can all forgive me for keeping this from you. Honestly, I had no other choice,” she said, tearing up.


 

“You’re part of this family. And part of being a family is knowing how to forgive, it will be alright, ‘Mione. Just tell us what’s going on,” Peter told her, giving her a warm smile.


 

She gave peter a watery smile. She was hoping beyond hope they would all stick by that after she was finished. After wiping a few tears from her face, she took another deep breath to calm herself. Without being able to help it, she looked at Sirius once more for some reassurance. He gave her a sad smile and nodded once again.


 

“Ok, first I have to ask you all not to interrupt once I begin. I will answer whatever questions you will most certainly have after I’m finished. It will be far easier for me to get through everything if I can just say it all at once. Alright?” she asked everyone.


 

“I must say I agree with Hermione,” Dumbledore said, speaking for the first time in minutes. “It would save a great deal of time if you all let her speak her piece before any questions are asked,” he said sternly.


 

Everyone agreed they would remain quiet until Hermione was finished. She thanked them all and then began to finally tell them all the truth.


 

“Well, here it goes. I’ll start off with my name, it’s Hermione Granger, not Winters,” everyone’s eyes widened slightly at this information, but true to their words they did not speak. “I am a Muggle-Born witch and my parents are not dead. They’re actually alive and hopefully well, but they don’t know they have a daughter. Months ago I began a long, dangerous mission with two of my best friends. To protect my parents, I wiped their memories and gave them new identities. They believe their life’s ambition is to move to Australia and they have no idea they have a child,” her voice hitched at the end while talking aloud about her parents.


 

“Mission? But you’re at Hogwarts, aren’t you? What kind of-” James began.


 

“Dumbledore head his hand up to stop James from speaking. “Mr. Potter, you gave your word that you would not interrupt Miss Granger. One more outburst and you will be asked to leave. Do you understand?” he asked rather frighteningly.


 

James, looking rather sheepish, said, “Sorry, Sir. I won’t speak again until she’s finished. Sorry, Hermione- g-go on.”


 

“That’s alright, James. I understand this is going to be a lot to take in. I promise everything will be explained to you,” she said softly. James nodded and mumbled another apology.


 

Hermione looked back at the floor, unable to look any of them in the eyes as she told her story. She took a deep breath and continued, “So, like I’ve said, my name is Hermione Granger. I am eighteen years old and was born on the 19th of September, 1979,” she said quietly.


 

Everyone aside from Sirius gasped in shock. They still managed to not say anything, clearly all fearing that Dumbledore would through them out of the office.


 

“I began my first year here at Hogwarts in 1991. During that year I became very close with two young wizards. Ronald Weasley and- and Harry Potter,” she said, looking right at Lily and James, who shared a fearful look.


 

“I- I’ve never told anyone-” Lily whispered quietly, clasping her hand over her mouth as she realized she’d interrupted.


 

Dumbledore opened his mouth as if he were going to start scolding Lily like he had James, but Hermione held her hand up to stop him. “It’s okay, professor,” she said to Dumbledore and then looked back to Lily. “You never told anyone what, Lily?”


 

“That- that I’ve always had ‘Harry’ picked out as a name if I were to have a son. So does that mean- does it mean that James and I- I mean, we…” she trailed off, looking shocked and slightly ill.


 

Hermione smiled kindly at Lily before gently answering her question, “Yes, Lily. Harry was your son as well as James’. And one of the best friends I’ve ever had, up until I met all of you, that is.”


 

Lily and James looked as if they had both been hit with a freezing charm, neither of them had moved and only sat there, staring straight ahead in shock.


 

“He looks so much like you, James. Aside from his eyes- Lily, he has the exact same eyes as you. Everyone always tells him so. But please, you need to let me continue. I promise I will cover everything,” Hermione said, looking around at everyone. “See, this all begins with James and Lily. The two of you married shortly after you left Hogwarts and had Harry in July of 1980. Sadly, this does not have a happy ending, which is why I’m standing before you today.”


 

Hermione then began to explain to everyone about Voldemort, the prophecy, and how they were betrayed. She changed the details slightly to make Peter look as if he had involuntarily given the whereabouts of the Potters. She did not want everyone to turn on Peter now that he was truly on their side. Then she moved on to Sirius being framed and locked in Azkaban for twelve years, his escape, the Tri-Wizard Tournament, Voldemort’s return to power- omitting Peter and making it seem as if another servant helped him rise to full power once more- and finally Sirius’ death. Before she knew it, it was time for her to tell about Voldemort’s Horcruxes and her hunt for them with Harry and Ron.


 

“Now I am about to tell you about the reasons behind me having wiped my parents’ memories and leaving with Harry and Ron. Everything I am about to tell you cannot leave this room. More so than anything else I have said so far,” she stressed.


 

Although her friends were in quite a state of shock, it was clear they believed in and trusted Hermione. They knew that with Dumbledore backing her she must be telling them the truth, no matter how far-fetched and unbelievable it all seemed. They all sat quietly for a moment before one by one they began to speak.


 

“Nothing you say will leave this room, Hermione. You have my word,” Lupin said with a small smile.


 

“Agreed, you have my word as well,” James said.


 

“You know how I feel, Hermione. You’re my world. I would die before I would do anything to jeopardize your safety,” Sirius told her, looking at her directly for the first time in several minutes.


 

“I would never betray you in any way, ‘Mione. You’re like a sister to me. You can count on me,” said Lily.


 

Hermione looked at Peter, trying to read his face. His word was the most important for her to have at the moment. She knew he had betrayed everyone once and although she was almost certain it would not happen this time around, she still needed to hear him give his promise. His face did not show any sign of betrayal, which did make her feel hopeful.


 

Peter looked Hermione right in the eyes and said in a strong voice, “Hermione, you’re like a sister to me. After everything you have done for me, I would never do anything that would put you in harm’s way. You have my word unconditionally,” he told her.


 

Hermione was positively beside herself with shock and joy that after everything she had hidden from her friends, they were all still adamant about sticking by her side. She quickly regained her composure and began to tell them about the Horcruxes which, this time around, were no more.


 

“Thank you all. The fact that you all still trust and believe in me means more to me than I could ever tell you,” she said quietly. “Now, first I have to ask you, do you all know what a Horcrux is?”


 

Lily and Lupin’s eyes widened, Peter and James looked confused and Sirius looked relieved at the fact that she was finally going to explain the reason she had been mumbling “Horcruxes” while she’d been unconscious in the Hospital Wing all those weeks ago.


 

“No,” James and Peter said simultaneously.


 

“Lily, Remus, and Sirius- for everyone to understand, I must explain what they are, so I’m sorry to make you sit through the explanation while you already know the information I’m about to tell you,” she said and then looked to James and Peter when she spoke this time.


 

“A Horcrux consists of some of the darkest,  most disgusting and dreadful magic in our world. They are objects in which someone conceals a part of their soul. It is essentially a way that a person can ensure that if anything were to happen to their body, they will not die. The only way to achieve this, this horrid thing that so grievously goes against nature, is to commit murder. When a person murders another human being, it splits their soul. When that piece of soul is split from the rest, they cast a spell, which is apparently unimaginably grotesque, and they can put that piece into an object for safe keeping.”


 

She paused for a moment and all eyes were on her. After awkwardly clearing her throat, she continued, “The only way to destroy such an object is to damage it beyond magical repair, which is no simple task. Most things in our world can be repaired magically, which brings me to the past sixteen months of my life. Ten of those months were my journey with Ron and Harry and the other six that I’ve spent here with all of you.”


 

“Those months, I was hunting the Horcruxes with Harry and Ron. Voldemort had succeeded in making seven, one of which was entirely unintentional. When he was merely sixteen years old he came across the word Horcrux and started some research. It intrigued him immensely and he tried to charm Professor Slughorn- who was his favorite teacher and who absolutely doted on young Riddle- into telling him what would happen if he were to make seven,” she paused for a second and now everyone’s eyes were wide. The thought of one Horcrux was gruesome enough, but seven was a different story entirely.


 

“By the time he’d gone to Slughorn, he had already made his first. He had gone off and found then killed his father and grandparent’s to make it. Voldemort’s father was a handsome Muggle and his mother was a witch who had either used a spell or slipped Tom Riddle Sr. a love potion and they were married soon after. After Voldemort’s mother became pregnant with him, his father left her and their unborn child; some suspect this was because she’d stopped slipping him the potion, believing he was truly in love with her at this point. She died at an orphanage after giving birth to her son, leaving young Voldemort to grow up there. Then, during his time at Hogwarts he opened the Chamber of Secrets and the monster, a Basilisk, killed a girl- you might know her as Moaning Myrtle- and Volemort made his second Horcrux. During his rise to power he managed to create three more Horcruxes and the night he set out to kill Harry, he intended to make one more.”


 

They all looked absolutely horrified and terrified at the prospect of what was coming next. She took another calming breath and continued, “James,” she began, looking him in the eyes, “you tried to hold him off on his own. You insisted Lily take Harry and run and you faced him without even having your wand. Voldemort killed you and set off to kill Harry. Lily,” she said, and turned to look at Lily, “he offered to spare you. He told you that it wasn’t necessary for you to die if you only stepped out of the way. Of course you did not. You pleaded with him to spare Harry because he was merely a baby, and you attempted to shield him from Voldemort. That moment was what changed everything.”


 

She saw that Lily’s eyes were full of tears and she kept frantically wiping them away. Hermione gave her a sad smile and then kept telling the story, “Your sacrificing yourself for your son cast a protection spell on him that Voldemort could not alter or change in any way. It was an old magic, one that Voldemort was foolish enough to overlook. When he went to kill Harry the spell rebounded and it hit Voldemort instead. Your protection enabled Harry to be the only known person to survive the Killing curse,” she paused once more and saw Lily and James look at one another, silent tears running down both of their faces now. “When that happened, and with Voldemort’s soul being so unstable at that point, a part of his soul latched onto harry. That night, Harry became the seventh, and unintentional Horcrux. Voldemort was now severely damaged. He was not human, but not quite ghost either, and at that point he fled to begin an extended period of hiding. During that time, most people believed he had been defeated.”


 

Hermione spoke for thirty more minutes. She explained how the Chamber of Secrets had been opened again using the diary in her second year. She told them about Harry killing the Basilisk with the Sword of Gryffindor and the significance of that act. After that, she went on to tell them how Voldemort had taken over the Ministry, how her and Ron and Harry had dropped out of school their final year and their Horcrux hunt. After that, she told them all about the Battle of Hogwarts, including everyone who had died in their effort, Harry walking to what he believed was his death, and Voldemort fleeing after the snake had been killed.


 

She told them about the day Dumbledore called her into his office a week after the battle and his request for her to travel back to the year 1977 to make sure James and Lily didn’t meet the same fate and that by extension that would be saving Sirius, Peter, and Lupin. Hermione explained how she had informed the Dumbledore in this time period about the Horcruxes and their locations. Then she told them about how she had retrieved the first one from The Room of Requirement and brought it to Dumbledore. Finally, she told them all of what she and Dumbledore had accomplished earlier that evening, why she’d been gone, and what had happened as they destroyed the final Horcrux.


 

Sirius, she noticed, had gone completely pale upon hearing the danger she’d put herself in only hours before. Everyone else looked at Hermione as if they had never seen her properly before that moment. They were all wearing expressions of absolute awe, gratitude, and respect. It was as if all of them were realizing that the young woman before them was far braver than any of them had ever imagined. One by one though, it seemed to dawn on them that Voldemort may be coming for not only Hermione, but them as well. Sirius and James looked defiant, Lily looked utterly determined, Lupin troubled, and Peter ill.


 

“D-do you think he- do you think he really knows?” Peter asked.


 

“Seemed that way, Peter. But really, who’s to say, I’m not absolutely positive. Regardless we should absolutely not let our guards down,” Hermione answered.


 

Peter nodded and looked down at the ground, shaking slightly. Sirius looked at Hermione, his eyes ablaze.


 

“Nothing is going to happen to you, Hermione. Do you understand me? Nothing. We will all stand behind you, no matter what. With you here we’re way more prepared than when it happened the first time. We can take him down,” Sirius said rather heatedly.


 

When Dumbledore spoke, everyone jumped slightly. They had clearly almost forgotten he was there. “Now, Mr. Black. You do not want to act recklessly. I am afraid that is precisely what caused you to be killed in Hermione’s time,” he said and Sirius winced. “I do agree that with Hermione here we are far more informed and well- prepared, more so than I ever dreamed we would be. I have been working underground for quite some time gathering a following of my own- an anti-Voldemort movement if you will. I have named it The Order of the Phoenix and up until now I have only been accepting witches and wizards who are of age and no longer in school. But, due to the unusual circumstances surrounding all of you, I may need to make an exception.”


 

They all looked back and forth at each other, Hermione, and Dumbledore, looking nervous. “Now, if you are all committed to standing behind not just Hermione but myself as well, and fighting Voldemort, his Death Eaters, and everything they stand for, I would be willing to welcome you all into our ranks,” Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling.


 

Sirius, James, Lily, Lupin, and Peter all but jumped up from their seats, nodding their heads vigorously and shouting, “Yes, Sir!” Dumbledore chuckled quietly, admiring the bravery of his students. Hermione shook her head, worrying as to whether or not she was leading them into the same fates they’d encountered before.


 

“Delightful!” Dumbledore exclaimed. “But I really must impress upon you all the seriousness and the danger of what I am asking of you. The Witches and Wizards who call themselves ‘Death Eaters’ are not to be taken lightly. They duel to kill. By joining The Order, you are doing so at your own risk. Do you all understand?” he asked.


 

Sirius and James answered, “Yes, Sir!” a little too quickly for Hermione’s comfort.


 

Lily sat there for a few moments, clearly considering the options. She answered solemnly, “I understand, Sir. I want to do whatever I can.”


 

Lupin stood up and said, “You know what I am, Sir. Maybe I can use my- umm- abilities if you will to our advantage. I would be honored to join.”


 

Peter looked to be somewhat sad. Hermione couldn’t quite put her finger on the emotion that crossed his face, but sad was her closest guess. He looked at Hermione for a moment and then directly into Dumbledore’s piercing blue eyes.


 

“I understand the danger and difficulty of what may be ahead. I am willing to take the risk and do whatever I can to bring Voldemort and his followers down,” Peter said with more strength in his voice than Hermione had ever heard from him.


 

Hermione was clearly not the only one who noticed Peter’s tone. They all looked over at Peter as if it were the first time they’d ever heard him speak. They were all somewhat alarmed but very proud of Peter’s willingness as well as his eagerness and determination to rise up to the challenge.


 

Dumbledore clapped his hands together in delight and smiled broadly, “Excellent! Now, if you would all please stand very still. I will now properly induct you into The Order.”


 

Hermione and the rest of the group looked nervously around at each other, all clearly anxious. Dumbledore raised his wand and waved it six times. Each time he waved it, a glowing Phoenix appeared in front of each of them. Simultaneously, the phoenixes rose and passed through each of their chests. Hermione gasped in shock as hers hit. She felt her body heat up from her toes to the top of her head and her hair blew out around her face as if it were being moved by a warm breeze. At that moment, she felt calm, powerful, excited, and then comforted. As she looked around, she noticed the looks of shock, followed by comfort appear on each of her friends’ faces.


 

“Blimey! What the bloody hell was that?!” Sirius yelled before adding a quick, “Sir?” afterwards.


 

Dumbledore looked more amused at Sirius’ outburst than he did angry and answered, “That, my foul-mouthed friend, was a Recognition Charm.”


 

It was clear that none of them knew what that was. Considering the fact that Hermione, Lupin, and Lily all had no idea what it was, it must have been some extremely advanced magic.


 

“A what, Sir?” Hermione asked, her brow furrowing in confusion.


 

“The Recognition Charm will allow you to know the other members of The Order without them revealing themselves verbally to you. When you come across another member for the first time, your body will warm up as it just did, and you will feel an overwhelming sense of security and recognition. The same will happen to the other member when they see you. It is a way of us knowing who we are able to trust in such troubling times as these,” he explained with a smile.


 

The entire group looked positively stunned before Lily spoke, “Wow, Sir! That’s incredibly impressive,” she said in total awe.


 

Dumbledore smiled kindly, “Thank you, Miss Evans.” He glanced at the clock before adding, “Now I am afraid I must send you all back to your common room. I shall not deny you the change to bombard Hermione with the questions I know you are dying to ask. The ones you would rather not have an old man like me present for,” he said with a wink before turning back to face his desk.


 

Everyone laughed a little uncomfortably before saying their good-nights to Dumbledore.


 

He turned to face them all once more, “I am sure I will have you all in my office again soon to discuss what must be done in regards to Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. In the mean time, I suggest you all stick close to one another and study as much defensive magic as possible. If need be, I will sign any request for books in The Restricted Section that you may need and allow you access to use any classroom to practice. And please, remember to be careful who you speak around I am afraid not every student in this school will prove themselves to be an ally once they leave these castle walls,” Dumbledore finished sadly. “For now, I wish you all goodnight.”


 

One by one they all thanked their Headmaster and proceeded to file out of his office. Once down the spiral staircase, Sirius took Hermione in his arms and squeezed her so tightly it was almost painful.


 

“I cannot believe what you did tonight! Thank Merlin you are alright. I- I don’t know what I would have done if something happened to you, Hermione. I love you so much,” he said before he picked her up and kissed her roughly.


 

After he set her back down, she swayed slightly and was rather red in the face, clearly blushing.

 

 

 

“I love you too, Sirius. I told you that I would be fine and that I would come home to you,” she told him.


 

Sirius gave a nervous laugh, took her hand in his, and continued to walk towards their common room with everyone else. After only a few steps, Peter tapped Hermione on the shoulder.


 

“Hermione? Would it be alright if I spoke with you?” he asked, glancing at Sirius before looking at Hermione. “Alone for a moment?” he added quickly.


 

The couple looked at one another for a moment, both a little surprised. Sirius nodded, “Sure, Wormtail. Don’t keep her from me for too long.”


 

“I don’t mind, Wormy. Let’s go in here,” she said, indicating a classroom they were standing near. “We’ll be up shortly, love,” she told Sirius, giving him a quick kiss.


 

Sirius ran to catch up with Lily, Lupin, and James while Hermione and Peter headed into an empty classroom. Hermione waved her wand and lit the lanterns around the room with one fluid motion before she walked over to sit on one of the desks. Peter followed behind and sat on the desk next to her, looking quite uncomfortable.


 

“What’s the matter, Peter?” she asked him quietly.


 

Peter looked as if he were trying to find the proper words to say. It was obvious that something was bothering him immensely. He looked up at Hermione, opened his mouth to speak, closed it and began to chew on his lip. Hermione didn’t have the slightest clue what was bothering him and opened her mouth to ask him once more when he opened his mouth to speak, “Hermione- I- you lied back there, didn’t you? I mean, when- when you said James and Lily’s whereabouts were tortured out of me,” he said in a jumbled rush of words.


 

She didn’t know what to say. Evidently, Peter must have been closer to turning on his friends all those weeks ago than she had thought. She knew that lying would not be in her best interest so she decided on telling him the truth.


 

“I think you already know the answer to that, Peter,” she said quietly.


 

Peter didn’t say anything, he only nodded. Realizing what that meant for him to hear, she quickly began to reassure him that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, she knew it was different this time.


 

“But Peter, listen. It’s not going to be like that now, ok? It’s not the same. The past- or future- that I knew was different. I’m not defending what was done, but I think I get hwy it happened in the past. That was why I tried so hard to show you how much you are loved by your friends and by me. The first time, James and Sirius continued to treat you in such a way that I can only imagine made you feel like an outsider. I wasn’t here to knock sense into them and show them that wasn’t the proper way to treat someone you care about. And they do care about you, Peter. I know that you know that now.”


 

He stared at the ground, very clearly upset so she continued. “It’s different this time. You’re different this time. Tell me right now, honestly. Can you possibly imagine ever in the future going against them. Betraying them? Or me or Lily? Or even Dumbledore?” she asked passionately.


 

Without even hesitating, he looked up and shook his head, “No, Never!”

 

 

 

Hermione jumped off the desk and began to pace. “See? See, Peter! It’s not the same! Everything I knew to pass will not come to be when I go back. Please don’t dwell on this. As far as you are concerned it did not and will not ever happen. It’s not an issue at this point. You’re more than aware that you considered turning, but the difference this time is that you didn’t. Don’t you understand?” Hermione nearly yelled.


 

Peter looked positively alarmed. At first Hermione believed it was because she was shouting at him until he said, “Wait. Y- you’re going back? You’re not staying with us?”


 

Hermione’s face fell. She didn’t realize any of them would have been expecting her to stay. Smiling sadly at him she answered, “Peter. I- I can’t stay. If I do, I will simply disappear. If I stay even one moment past the time I was, or rather, will be, born then the person I am right now will cease to exist. I will be born and grow up an entirely different person with a completely different set of memories. I will never have known the friendships I’ve developed with all of you. All I will know about you guys is that you’re Harry Potter’s parents, his godfather, his parents’ closest friends. And that’s assuming I even become friends with him again in that timeline.” Her breath hitched as she added, “You will all remember me and our friendships. Sirius will remember the love we once shared. But- But I won’t know any of it. To me, it will be as if it never happened. Don’t you see why I have to go back?” she asked desperately.


 

Peter looked extremely sad and it caused Hermione’s heart to ache. She walked over and put a comforting hand on his shoulder.


 

“I- I don’t understand, Hermione,” Peter whispered.


 

Hermione sighed deeply, “Nor do I much to be honest, Peter. Dumbledore tried to explain it. He told me that if I am to remain here, in the past at the moment I’m born… it’ll create a paradox. The me who I am now, will be erased from existence. The me who is born will remain. I-she will grow up never knowing of any Wizarding War, the deaths of my friends, any of the crazy adventures during my time at Hogwarts or having met you all while you were young. I will be a completely different person. As long as I do go back to the future beforehand, I will remain myself. Therefore, I will be able to see you all again and rekindle our friendships. And, if he is willing, my relationship with Sirius,” she explained sadly.


 

Peter looked as if he were about to cry or be sick, possibly both. “Oh, Hermione,” his voice was barely a whisper. “I’ll miss you so much.”


 

“Wormy, don’t be sad, please! I won’t be gone forever. You’ll see me again, you know,” she said softly.


 

He looked at her with a sad smile and put his hand on top of hers. “But it will be such a long time, ‘Mione. No one has ever treated me so kindly before. I don’t know how I will get along without you. You- you’re my best friend,” he said, his voice thick.


 

Hermione felt a tear fall from her eye. She knew this was only the first of three more conversations she would have like this and it nearly broke her heart.

 

 

 

“I know, Peter. It does seem like such a long time from now, but maybe it won’t seem as if it was really that long once I’m back with all of you. But don’t worry about that now. I’ll still be around for a while longer. Let’s save the goodbyes for when I’m actually leaving, ok? For now, we’ll just enjoy the time I have here with all of you. You know, the times when we’re not trying to save the Wizarding World,” she said with a weak laugh.

 

 

 

Peter smiled at her, “You’re right, Hermione. I’ll save that mushy stuff for when you’re actually leaving us.” He stood up and gave Hermione a hug. “Let’s get back to the rest of the group before Sirius murders me.”


 

Hermione laughed and agreed. Together they made their way back through the castle to the Gryffindor tower as Hermione mentally prepared herself to be kept awake by her friends for at least a few more hours.


 

***


 

When Hermione and Peter entered the common room, as she had expected, the rest of the group was waiting up for them. It looked like none of them would be sleeping that night, not after what happened.


 

“Alright, you two?” James asked when Hermione and Peter took seats near the fire with everyone else.


 

“We’re alright, James. Peter and I were just discussing me having to go back to my own time. Might as well get that out of the way with everyone now,” she said sadly.


 

Lily, James, and Remus looked stunned. They all looked at Hermione and then over to Sirius, whose head was hanging down, clearly avoiding their looks of pity and sadness.


 

“Going back?” Lily started, looking horrified. “But you can’t go back, Hermione! Sirius. You- you and Sirius. You can’t just leave him here. And you can’t leave me! You’re like my sister, what am I supposed to do without you?” she screeched, nearly in hysterics.


 

"Please, ‘Mione, there has to be some way that you can stay with us. Surely you don’t have to go back. It wouldn’t be the same if you left us,” Lupin said.


 

“How could you do this to Sirius, Hermione?” James demanded, looking livid. “Don’t you love him? He’s never been this way with anyone before! You’ll break his heart, how can you be so selfish?”


 

Sirius stood up, ran his hand through his hair and sighed. “Easy, Prongs. It’s ok. I know she can’t stay here. I’ve known since Christmas and I’ve had some time to ease into the idea,” he said, much to everyone’s surprise.  


 

Peter glared at Sirius, “You knew? You knew and you never told us?” he exclaimed loudly.


 

Sirius fixed an angry gaze on Peter, “Of course I didn’t tell any of you, you prat!” he spat.


 

“Sirius!” Hermione yelled, standing up.


 

He turned around quickly, glaring at Hermione before he yelled at her, “No, love. I’m not going to just sit here and let anyone get pissed at me because of your secret. You begged me not to tell them and they’re going to sit here and demand that you stay and tell you how much they love you but allow them to yell at me? I don’t think so,” he said, breathing heavily.


 

Lily looked as if she had been slapped in the face as she realized Sirius had known and yet Hermione apparently didn’t feel as if she could confide in her as well.


 

“You told Sirius?” Lily began in a voice hardly above a whisper. “Why didn’t you feel like you couldn’t tell me as well? I thought we were close, Hermione. Don’t you trust me? You have to know I wouldn’t have spoken a word to anyone. I thought you knew me better than that,” she said, her eyes full of tears.

 

 

 

“Lily, no. It- it wasn’t like that! I-” Hermione began but Lupin cut her off.


 

“Hermione, what made you feel like you couldn’t tell us before now? After what I shared with you all on the train ride home for Christmas? You do know that Dumbledore forbade me from telling anyone of my condition as well, don’t you? That didn’t stop me from telling you, Hermione. Do you know why? Because I trust you and I think- or thought- very highly of you,” Lupin said coldly.


 

Hermione felt very small as she took in Lupin’s words. She began to feel like the room was closing in around her. It was becoming more and more difficult to breathe.


 

“All of you, please. You have to understand,” she tried but James cut her off.


 

“Understand?” he said sharply with quick, cold laugh. “Understand what? That you claim to love us like family and trust us more than anyone yet you kept something like this from us? That you made my best mate lie to me for months? How could you possibly think we would understand? If you didn’t tell any of us until tonight, that would be another thing. But to-”


 

“Stop it!” Sirius and Peter both yelled.


 

Everyone looked at the pair of them in complete and utter shock, all of them obviously still angry.


 

Peter began speaking immediately, “Stop ganging up on her, now! Moony,” he said, turning to look at Lupin. “It’s not like you really went out of your way to tell us of your condition. If you remember correctly, we all figured it out on our own.”


 

“Well yes, but-” Lupin sputtered.


 

“But nothing. And Lily, Sirius is her boyfriend. He is the man that she loves and of course she’s going to share things with him that she may never share with other people, not even you. Do you honestly tell Hermione everything that you share with James? Or he shares with you?” he continued, rather heated.


 

“Well-” Lily began rather sheepishly.


 

“No. You don’t. And James, the same goes for you and Sirius. He didn’t lie to you. He just didn’t share intimate details of Hermione’s life with you. Just as you certainly don’t do with Lily’s life,” Peter ranted on.


 

“That’s different-” James yelled.


 

“No, it’s not! Do you guys honestly not think that Hermione has been feeling horrible about keeping something like this from us? We have known her long enough to know that something like this would have been eating away at her the whole time she’s been here. Of course she would need at least one person she could confide in. Who else would that be other than Sirius? You’re all acting like complete children about this. Apologize to her. Now!” he finished, screaming by the end.


 

Everyone, including Hermione was looking at Peter as if he were an entirely different person. This was the first time any of them could remember Peter standing up to them over anything. The gratitude that was flowing through Hermione at Peter’s words was nearly overwhelming. She could not believe that Peter, out of everyone, would be the voice of reason- the one to come to her aid.


 

Sirius glared at his friends and spoke up as well, “Wormtail is right. And before you all continue to scream at my girlfriend, you should all know that she didn’t tell me. I found out by accident. The first night we were home for the holidays, when Dor and Hermione went for a walk, I heard them talking. Dor, I’m not quite sure how, figured it out and I heard Hermione begging her not to say anything because she wanted to tell me when she was ready.”


 

They all looked at him, contemplating his words for a moment before he continued. “They realized I was there and Dor told me to hear Hermione out and at that point she had no point but to tell me,” he finished.

 

 

 

Lily and Lupin suddenly looked very ashamed of themselves, but James still looked angry. Hermione couldn’t look at James while he continued to shoot daggers at her. She realized it was probably going to take some time for him to forgive her and she would give him that time.


 

“I really am sorry. I- I just didn’t know how to tell any of you. Trust me, I wanted to, I just didn’t think you would believe me. I figured you would all think I was mental or something. I swear I was going to tell you all eventually, I mean there was no way I was just going to up and disappear on you all one day with no goodbyes or explanations. I care about all of you too much. Please, can you forgive me?” Hermione pleaded with them.


 

Lily, Lupin, and James all looked at one another. Lily and Lupin sighed and each broke out with a small smile. James looked less angry, but only slightly.


 

“Ok, Hermione. I forgive you. But if you ever lie to me about something like this again, that’s it. Ok?” Lily said to her, her smile widening.


 

“Same goes for me, Hermione. I will, of course, forgive you. But no more lies, alright?” Lupin said.


 

James looked at her for a moment and then to Sirius before he shrugged. “Yeah, sure. I guess,” he said rather unconvincingly.


 

Hermione decided she would take what she could get and thanked them all. The sky was beginning to turn that grayish predawn color and she was losing the battle of keeping her eyes open. She told everyone she desperately needed sleep, kissed Sirius goodnight, hugged everyone else and made her way up to her room. She immediately fell face down on the bed and shortly fell asleep, still in her day clothes. This had been one of the longest and hardest days of her life, but she knew it wouldn’t be the last one like this.





A/N - Thank you Mischief_managed18 for being the best editor ever! I <3 you! I, again, want to thank everyone for reading, reviewing and favoriting! I am more blown away by the response I have received from this story this far. You all are amazing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Hope you enjoyed the chapter and reviews are always welcomed! ;) 

Love you all!
xoxo Meg. <3


Chapter 19: The Room Of Requirement
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Hermione woke up the next morning, feeling quite sore and, still, incredibly thirsty. She stretched the stiffness out of her limbs, sat up, slid off the bed, and gathered her belongings so she could go have a shower. After she dressed simply in a black cardigan, white tank top, blue jeans and her nude-colored ballet flats, she tiptoed back into the dorm. Lily, despite it being nearly noon, was still fast asleep. Trying her best to not make much noise, she made her way down to the common room to see if any of the boys were awake in the hopes of having someone to head down to the Great Hall with for breakfast. When she reached the bottom of the stairs she saw that Peter was sitting in one of the armchairs by the fire. She walked over and took a seat in the chair opposite him.


 


“Good morning, Wormy! You’re up earlier than I expected any of you to be,” she said brightly. Though after looking at Peter, she noticed that he was still wearing the clothes from the night before and his eyes were bloodshot.


 


He looked at her and gave her an unconvincing smile. “Couldn’t sleep,” he mumbled with a shrug.


 


Hermione imagined that he was still wallowing in self-pity over the little discovery he’d made in Dumbledore’s office mere hours ago. Although she had tried her best to make him realize that it was different this time, it seemed that he was still pretty upset about it.


 


“Peter Pettigrew,” she began sternly, “you are not still beating yourself up over everything, are you? You do remember what I said to you, correct? You have no reason to let this bother you. Please, stop stressing out over this. It’s not going to happen this time around. I know that and you know that.”


 


He looked at her for a few seconds and then stood up rather quickly, looking upset. “Imagine how you would feel, Hermione! How would you feel if you found out there was even a possibility, or that in a different timeline or whatever, that you were the reason two of your best friends died. Had been murdered no less. Imagine finding out that you were the cause of unbelievable amounts of pain in the lives of people you care about more than anyone. Regardless of whether or not it will happen this time. Imagine finding out that you had the capability of being so spineless and cold. I am damn sure it won’t happen again but the fact of the matter is, in your reality, it did.  I caused you pain. I caused them pain. I’m disgusted with myself, ‘Mione! I thought I was alright after speaking with you last night, but after staying up and thinking about it, I’m not. I’m sick over this whole thing,” he said angrily.


 


After she listened to Peter explain it that way, Hermione kind of understood how he must be feeling. She also knew that he mustn’t dwell on it though. She was afraid it could send him into a spiral that may cause him to make the same mistakes. A self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.


 


“Okay, listen. I understand how you must be feeling, I do. But, you must realize that even though that was my reality, it isn’t reality now. Everything will be different this time. I will be the only person alive who remembers that reality. It honestly will not matter by the time I return. The Marauders will remain intact and I’m sure you will all end up sixty-year-old men who sneak out during the full moon and run around with a werewolf, still using Levicorpus on one another and pulling pranks on unsuspecting people. Nothing will change except that you’ll all get older. I don’t know how I can make you stop dwelling on this. Time I suppose will be the only thing to make you see. For now, please don’t let this eat you up, Pete. It’s not worth it. You are an amazingly brave, kind, and loyal friend. I love you dearly and nothing will ever change that,” she told him.


 


Deep down Peter knew that she was right but it still made him hate himself a bit. He did only find all of this out less than twenty-four hours ago, maybe she was right and it would just take a little bit of time. Peter reluctantly smiled at Hermione. “You’re right, ‘Mione. You’re always right,” he chuckled. 


 


Hermione smiled back and said, “I know. The sooner everyone else realizes it, the better off we will be.”


 


Peter and Hermione both laughed, knowing it was a joke, or at least a half-joke. They both agreed to go to the Great Hall to get breakfast and as they were walking down, Peter started asking her questions about preparing for the war with Voldemort and the Death Eaters.


 


“So, when do you want to start looking up some advance defensive magic, Hermione?” he asked, his voice eager. “I mean now that the whole war thing is sort of inevitable.” 


 


She was hoping to start working on the research sooner rather than later and was glad that she wasn’t the only one taking initiative.


 


“Well, how about tonight? I know a place we can go to and I could teach you guys a few things I know before we start researching at the library. Do you think the rest of the group would be up for it?” she asked.


 


“I know I would! I’m sure everyone else would be happy to as well. What are you going to teach us?” Peter asked excitedly.


 


Hermione thought for a moment. She knew that she didn’t need to cover basic stunning and disarming, as she had seen everyone perform those spells extremely well. She had promised Lily over the Christmas holidays that she would teach her how to cast a Patronus Charm. With everything that had happened between Christmas and now, she hadn’t exactly had the opportunity to do so. Might as well teach everyone else how to cast it as well.


 


“Do you know how to cast a Patronus?” she asked him.


 


Peter’s eyes widened eagerly. “No. Do- do you?” he asked, sounding impressed.


 


“I do. It really isn’t quite as difficult as you would imagine, Pete. I know you will all do wonderfully with it. We could start there and then see where the night takes us.” Hermione said with a smile.


 


“Sounds good to me, ‘Mione!” he exclaimed enthusiastically.


 


The two of them entered The Hall and made their way to the Gryffindor table. The Hall was nearly empty- it was nearly half-past noon and most of the students had already eaten either breakfast, lunch, or both. Hermione and Peter helped themselves to some food and ate alone. The rest of the group still had not come down from the tower and it wasn’t until they were on their way back up to the common room that they ran into the rest of their friends.


 


“There you are!” Sirius said, sounding quite irritated.


 


“Here I am, sleepyhead,” Hermione replied, smiling with amusement.


 


“Why didn’t you wake me up?” he demanded.


 


Hermione huffed and rolled her eyes. “Don’t get your wand all in a knot, sweetheart. If you remember, everyone had a rather long night. I thought you would like a bit of a lie in,” she replied, getting slightly irritated herself.


 


Sirius looked between her and Peter, a scowl on his face. She was becoming slightly annoyed with the jealousy Sirius had a tendency to show towards her friendship with Peter. He should know better than to think she would ever do something to hurt him that way. Hermione stood with her arms crossed and gave him a look that immediately made him go cold.


 


 Sighing in defeat, he mumbled, “Thank you.” She raised her eyebrows and he continued, “You’re right, I probably would have hexed you if you had tried to wake me before noon anyhow.” His face now held a familiar smirk.


 


Hermione reluctantly smiled back. “As if I would have let you hex me, love,” she replied playfully.


 


After rolling her eyes at her boyfriend, she turned and said her good morning to everyone else. Lupin and Lily greeted her warmly, acting as if nothing had happened last night. James on the other hand barely grunted a hello. Hermione was slightly taken aback at the cold reception from James. She had believed that after he’d slept he would have forgiven her for everything. Lily, noticing how James had treated Hermione threw him a look and gave Hermione an apologetic smile.


 


Hermione then, rather nervously, began to ask the group about the idea she and Peter had come up with. “So what would you guys say if we began to learn and practice some defensive spells this evening?”


 


Sirius, Lily, Lupin, and even James to an extent, looked excited at the prospect.


 


“Sounds excellent, Hermione! Are you going to ask Dumbledore which classroom we can use?” Lupin asked, a spark of excitement in his eyes.


 


Hermione smiled at Lupin, “Actually, there will be no need for that. I know the perfect place we can use! What do you all think, six o’clock tonight?” she asked the whole group.


 


They all nodded in agreement and everyone aside from Peter and Hermione started talking about food and they hurried off to the Great Hall to get something to eat while Hermione and Peter headed back to the common room.


 


Once they arrived, Hermione started to tutor Peter and help him with some unfinished homework. After a while, Peter got quiet before he finally spoke up. “Hermione?”


 


“Hmm?” she answered, somewhat distracted by the book she was reading.


 


“I was just- well… I was wondering, actually. When do you think you will, you know… leave us? Are you going to stay until right before your birthday next year or do you think it’ll be before that?” he asked.


 


Hermione put the book down and looked at Peter briefly before she turned her attention to the floor. She hadn’t really given much thought as to when she would go back. She just knew that she would have to go back. Hermione had no idea how to answer him. On one hand, it would be smarter to try and bring Voldemort down as soon as possible and return to her time before she aged too much. And on the other, she wanted to spend as much time here in the past with Sirius and her friends as possible. Again, she found herself wishing she could find some sort of loophole so that she could remain here with her love and newfound friends. The longer she remained in the past, the less she wanted to return to her own time. There has to be some way I can stay here with them all! She thought desperately to herself. She sighed and looked back to Peter.


 


“I haven’t really thought about that to be honest. I don’t know how to answer you properly. I would like to stay as long as possible but I am truly unsure of all the details at the moment. Let me really think about it and I will let you know when I’ve made up my mind, ok?” she said to him truthfully.


 


Peter, looking somewhat disappointed gave her a sad smile. “Sure, ‘Mione. I was just curious.” He said, his tone full of sadness.


 


Hermione smiled and placed her hand on top of his. “Let’s not think about that now, alright? We have more important things to get taken care of first,” she said seriously.


 


“Yeah, I suppose you’re right,” he replied, nodding.


 


After a while the rest of their friends returned to the common room and they all lounged around while waiting to be brought to the mysterious place Hermione was to take them later. James remained rather cold with Hermione throughout the afternoon and would only peak to her if she spoke to him first, mostly replying with one word answers. She knew she would have to get him on his own and talk to him about what was really bothering him. James was someone she absolutely adored and it bothered her horribly that he was acting so distant with her.


 


At a quarter to six, Hermione stood up and asked the group if they were ready to go. They all nodded and stood up, packing up their things and returning a few moments later, looking excited and anxious. They made their way out of the portrait hole, down the stairs, and walked to the seventh floor left corridor as Hermione led them. They stopped across from the hopeless attempts of Barnabus the Barm still, and forever more, trying to teach the Trolls ballet. Hermione pictured the room she and the rest of Dumbledore’s Army had used to learn from Harry her fifth year. She paced back and forth in front of the wall three times, her brow furrowed in concentration. The familiar door appeared out of nowhere and everyone but Sirius and Hermione gasped in surprise.


 


“Blimey! What? How- What is this?” Lupin asked, clearly flabbergasted.


 


“This,” Sirius said with a smirk, “is the Room of Requirement. It becomes whatever the seeker needs at the time.”


 


James, once again, looked very angry. “And you never thought of telling me about this either before this moment?” he snapped.


 


Sirius looked shocked at James’ attitude towards him. “Watch it, Prongs. I only just found out about it recently. Trust me, this was definitely something I was planning on sharing with you. It’s just that things have become a little crazy lately and it kind of slipped my mind. So watch your tone with me, got it?” he snapped back.


 


James continued to look at Sirius like he was planning on sending a curse at him right there but regained his composure as Lily put her hand on his shoulder.


 

“James-” she began and he cut her off.


 


“Sorry, Padfoot.” James said, not sounding very sorry at all.


 


“No worries. Now, why don’t we all get inside before someone sees us, alright?” Sirius said, rather wisely.


 


Everyone else removed the looks of shock and concern from their faces as they entered the room.


 


As usual, the magic of the room was truly unbelievable. There were blue-green cushions on the stone floor for them to sit on or to use to fall on while dueling, there was foe-glass, sneak-a-scopes, a trunk that was rattling- Hermione suspected a Boggart- in the corner, a bookshelf filled with books, a cauldron surrounded by potion ingredients on a table in the back, and a dummy hanging from the high cathedral ceilings that looked to be modeled after a dementor. The lighting in the room cast a grayish-blue tint over everything, making it slightly creepy which definitely caused everyone’s adrenaline to start pumping. It was all truly incredible and exactly what they needed.


 


“Merlin’s Beard, Hermione! Well done!” Peter exclaimed.


 


“Yeah, Hermione,” Lily said with a wide smile. “This is truly spectacular!”


 


Lupin ran, just as Hermione had in the future, over to the books and plopped down on a pillow with a book in her hand, already flipping the pages.


 


“This is amazing, ‘Mione!” Lupin said as he sat down.


 


Even James was unable to remain sulky as he took in his surroundings. “Blimey. Nice one, Hermione,” he said, sounding displeased with Hermione but impressed all the same.


 


Sirius walked over, put his arm around her shoulders and gave her a light kiss on the cheek. “You’ve truly outdone yourself, love. This is mind-blowing,” he said, love and pride radiating from every inch of his body.”


 


Hermione stood, beaming at how happy and impressed her boyfriend and friends were with the room. She was thrilled that the room was able to become this for her, again, but in the past. It made her head hurt a little as she continued to think about it so instead she began to explain the room.


 


“Thank you, everyone for your kind words! My friends and I actually used this- or will use- this room, or… maybe not this time around. Anyways. Between the years 1995 and 1996, we used this room to rebel against a Ministry employee who had been stationed here to ‘teach’ us Defense Against the Dark Arts,” Hermione began, placing air-quotes with her fingers around the word teach. “You see, Cornelius Fudge became Minister of Magic and was very attached to the position. When Voldemort regained  a physical form, Harry was the sole witness. I told you all about that when I explained the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Well, Fudge didn’t believe Harry and, by extension, Dumbledore. He thought Dumbledore was after his job, though we all know that he was never after it and never would be even remotely interested in becoming Minister. Fudge sent Dolores Umbridge,” nearly hissing as she said her name, “to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. The thing was, she wasn’t really teaching us. She wouldn’t let us use any magic. We only read from a Ministry-approved textbook about the theory behind defensive spells. It was all rubbish.”


 


“But why send Umbridge?” Lily asked, looking concerned.


 


“It was all meant to be hush-hush, I suppose. A way to infiltrate Hogwarts without it having to be Fudge himself doing it.” Hermione said. “And it was awful. So that was when I decided we needed a proper teacher.  We needed someone who had experience with fighting Dark Magic. Unfortunately with us being at school, we could hardly ask you, Remus. Or for that matter, you, Sirius. So we took matters into our own hands. Harry had already fought and escaped Voldemort three times at that point. So I organized a group of students interested in learning from Harry and he was the best teacher we could hope for at that time. Remus, you’d taught Harry to conjure a Patronus Charm when he was thirteen. At that age he fought off a hundred Dementors on his own to save him and Sirius. He was also able to conjure a corporeal Patornus at that age. Would you like to know what it was, James?” she asked, looking him in the eye. He shifted and she continued on, “It was a stag. You have no idea how much it meant to him that he conjured a Patronus that was your Animagus form.”


 


James looked stunned, proud, and sad all at once. “My-my son. He was able to do that? At that age?” he asked, very impressed.


 


Hermione smiled kindly and nodded. “Harry was extremely powerful. More than he cared to admit. He was also very humble, something I’m assuming he inherited from Lily,” she joked.


 


Reluctantly, James broke into a smile, as did Lily.


 


“Anyhow,” Hermione continued on once again, “now I’m going to teach you all everything he taught us. I was thinking, since we all know how to stun and disarm, that we would start with the Patronus Charm. I promised Lily during the holidays that I would teach her but after everything that happened recently, I never had the chance. Do you all think that would be a good idea?” she asked, looking at the rest of them.


 


Upon seeing and hearing that everyone was clearly in agreement, and quite excited about the prospect, Hermione began. She had them all stand in a circle with about ten feet between each of them while she stood in the center.


 


“Alright, so what you need to do first is think of a happy memory. Not just happy, but powerful. Think of the moment in your life where you felt the most joy, peace, love and overall pure happiness you’ve ever felt. Once you have that memory, let the feeling of it flow through your whole body. You need to feel as if you’re experiencing that moment all over again, right now, and all the emotions that came with it. When you have that, you will use the incantation ‘Expecto Patronum’. Here, let me show you first and then I will watch you all try,” she said.


 


Hermione closed her eyes and thought of the first time she’d brought Sirius to her “bedroom” here in the Room of Requirement. She thought of the feeling she had when she was able to share with him stories from her life. How light and amazing she’d felt when she was able to let him see the real Hermione. How wonderful it felt to know that, even after all that, he told her he loved her because of everything she is and everything she’d been through. As she thought about it, she felt the love and serenity of that moment flow through her like an electric shock and she raised her wand and yelled, “Expecto Patronum!”


 


The entire group watched with admiration as the silver otter burst from the tip of her wand and began to weave in and out of them all. Seeing the looks on her friends’ faces brought even more joy and happiness to Hermione and the otter shone brighter and began doing flips around them. Lily giggled while Lupin’s mouth hung open in awe. Peter looked incredibly impressed, James was smiling slightly, and Sirius watched her with wonder.


 


“Amazing,” Sirius whispered.


 


Hermione smiled at everyone and as she lowered her wand, the otter disappeared.


 


“See, you guys can totally do this!” she said brightly. “Now, I would like all of you to try.”
 


 

She watched as everyone closed their eyes, all thinking of a memory that would be powerful enough. After a minute or two, she heard “Expecto Patronum” coming from each of them, all their voices overlapping. At first, as she’d expected, nothing happened and everyone was looking disappointed.


 


“Don’t worry, guys. I don’t think anyone gets it on their first try. I didn’t and I know Harry didn’t either. This is some extremely powerful and advanced magic. Don’t be discouraged, you’ll all get it,” she encouraged them with a smile.


 


For another half an hour or so, nothing really happened. Lily was the first one to have some silvery mist appear from her wand, Lupin following close behind, and not long after Sirius, Peter, and finally James. Around eight or so, something finally happened.


 


“Expecto Patronum!” Lily exclaimed and then gasped in shock as a silver doe appeared from her wand. “A doe! The- the charm you got me for Christmas. That’s why you picked it,” she whispered.


 


Hermione smiled at Lily, “Well done, Lily! Yes, that’s why I chose the otter and the doe. I knew they would be our Patronuses. I knew that eventually you would understand the significance behind the charms.”


 


Lily became distracted and the doe disappeared, her eyes filled with tears and she hugged Hermione. “Thank you so much, ‘Mione. I loved it before, but it means so, so much more now. I will truly cherish it as long as I live,” she said.


 


Everyone then congratulated Lily on being the first one to conjure a Patronus and then it became somewhat of a competition amongst the boys as they attempted to be the next to do so. After another fifteen minutes or so, the second member of their group achieved this goal. A silver dog burst from the tip of Sirius’ wand, a bullmastiff- which Hermione knew were known for their physical strength, courageousness, and extreme family loyalty.


 


“’Mione! Love, look! I did it!” Sirius exclaimed, his eyes shining with glee.


 


Hermione’s eyes shone with pride. She was so incredibly happy to see them doing so well already. “Well done, sweetheart!” she said, bouncing over to kiss him on the cheek.


 


Sirius was distracted as she kissed him and the dog disappeared. His face fell into a comical pout at which Hermione couldn’t help but laugh.


 


“It’s alright, love. Now that you’ve done it, you will have no problem conjuring up another one,” she said happily.


 


He pulled her in for a tight hug and whispered in her ear, “Do you want to know what my memory was? It was the day outside of Zonko’s. The day you finally said ‘yes’ to me. I can’t even begin to describe how happy I was in that moment. I knew I loved you at that point. Did I ever tell you that? I knew it for around three weeks beforehand. So hearing you tell me you would be with me… I can’t even explain the feeling I had. It was better than anything I had ever known and anything I’ve experienced since.”


 


Hermione was stunned to hear he was already in love with her at that point, for she had no idea. She knew she didn’t realize she loved him until their first kiss that day, but if she really thought about it, deep down she knew she had been in love with him by that point as well. Pulling out of their embrace, she gave him a quick kiss and said, “I love you so much, Sirius Black. Now and forever.”


 


He looked deep into her eyes and answered, “And I love you. You’re my everything. Forever.”


 


“Hermione, look! I did it!” She heard Peter shouting, pulling her out of her moment with Sirius.  


 


She turned and saw Peter watching, not a rat as she’d expected, but a bottle-nosed dolphin, an animal she knew was known for its intelligence, friendly nature, playfulness, evasive techniques and, an animal known for putting forth every possible effort to save a member of their group who was harmed in any way. Hermione was proud, and honestly surprised, that Peter was the next person to have done it.


 


“Amazing, Peter! I’m so proud of you,” she said happily.


 


Peter beamed while watching his dolphin swim through the air around all of his friends. As it was nearing nine o’clock, it was time to go back to the common room so they were not caught out of bounds at night. Lupin and James still hadn’t managed to achieve any more than the silvery mist and Hermione tried to encourage them.


 


“Don’t worry, guys. I’m sure you’ll get it soon enough. Trust me, I know that you will be able to because I know what they’ll be,” she said, smiling at them.


 


They both grunted, clearly disappointed. Hermione stuck her head out of the door to make sure no one was around and when the coast was clear, she waved her friends forward and they all quickly filed out of the Room of Requirement and made their way back to Gryffindor Tower. They arrived at the Fat Lady within a few minutes and Hermione gave the password, “Cupid’s Arrow” before they climbed into the common room. As soon as some of the younger students sitting in their usual armchairs and couch by the fire saw them, they jumped up to let the older students take their seats. Hermione smiled sadly at a small, slight, brown-haired third year. “You didn’t have to move. We could have sat somewhere else, you know.”


 


The young girl looked absolutely terrified at being addressed by Hermione and squeaked, “No. It’s alright! We were headed to bed anyhow. Goodnight!” she scampered off and ran up the stairs after her friends.


 


Hermione laughed as Sirius watched the girl run off. “Were we that small when we were third years? Blimey!” he said with a laugh.


 


For the next couple hours, everyone sat in their respective spots while reading, talking, or just sitting while lost in their own thoughts. James in particular was very quiet that evening. It seemed as if something was truly bothering him, beyond just Hermione and the secrets she’d kept from them. Lily stood up, the first to dismiss herself with a yawn and made her way over to James to give him a kiss before heading up to their dorm. Everyone followed her lead and Hermione went through her nighttime routine before crashing into bed. Despite being exhausted, she had trouble falling asleep. There was something clearly going on with James that needed to be addressed before it became too out of hand.


 

 


 

**


 

A/N - Thank you again to Mischief_managed18 for your editing and encouragement regarding this story. I truly appreciate everything! <3


Chapter 20: Please, Please be alright...
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A week had gone by and Hermione still had not spoken with James. She kept holding out to see if his sulky behavior would finally calm down, but sadly it had not. It seemed the only person he was not moody with was Lily. James barely looked at Hermione, hardly spoke to Sirius and was short with both Peter and Lupin. Hermione knew there had to be more to this than just she and Sirius withholding information from him. Even though she could tell that he was trying not to show it, it was clear Sirius was becoming hurt by James' attitude. 

"Just talk to him, Sirius. Find out what is really bothering him," Hermione said to him in the library Friday evening.

Sirius slammed his book shut, much to the dismay of Madam Pince, and pulled at his hair with both hands. “No. I'm not walking on eggshells around him any longer. He needs to take the wand out of his ass and calm the hell down with all of us. Yeah, what you told everyone was quite intense, but you don't see everyone else carrying on like a four year old," he said angrily.

"I know. But you have to understand. I told him that within the next three years he's going to marry Lily, have a son with her and then possibly be murdered. I mean, I'm quite sure that he won't be murdered now that I'm here and we're more prepared, but it still has to be quite a bit to take in," Hermione said earnestly. 

Sirius snorted impatiently. "Love. You do realize you told me that I would be blamed for having a hand in their murders. Then I would rot in Azkaban for twelve years only to escape and be murdered myself two years later, don't you?" he snapped. 

Hermione did remember that. She also remembered that he had not taken it very well either.   

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do remember. I also remember you snapping at me later that evening as well. And,” she snapped, “I remember the first person to actually stick up for me being Peter!"

Knowing that using Peter was a low blow, she was ready for the reaction that little stunt would get out of Sirius. His eyes narrowed and the light in them went out as they instantly grew cold. He leaned in towards her, using a deathly chilling voice as he spat, "Of course. Your hero, Peter, was there to save the day once more. Why don't you just get on with splitting up with me and having a go with him?" 

"Don't be ridiculous, Sirius! You really need to get over whatever issues you have with my friendship with him. If you're alright with me being friends with Remus and James, you should be ok with me and Peter as well. You know there is nothing romantic between us. How many times do I have to tell you that?" she yelled. 

That did it. Madam Pince, having had enough, marched over and, none to gently, tossed them out of the library. "That's it! Out! The pair of you! All of this racket- in the library of all things places! Have you no respect?" she shrieked.

She waved her wand and sent their belongings flying out into the hall before she grabbed each of them by the collar and marched them towards the door. 

"Crazy old bat!" Sirius yelled as she shoved them out into the corridor. 

"Detention, Black!" Madam Pince shrieked.  

"Fuck it all," he growled quietly.  

Hermione huffed and rolled her eyes at her boyfriend while she tugged his arm to lead him away before he got himself in more trouble. As they both bent down to gather their belongings, Hermione realized that she might have been quite unfair during their argument. 

"Sirius, honey. Look, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have thrown Peter in your face the way that I did. It was unnecessary and I'm truly sorry. I know you stood up for me as well that evening," she said rather sheepishly.

He looked her over for a moment before sighing slightly, "It's alright, love. I know you two are just friends and I shouldn't have become angry. I just get a little jealous at the connection the pair of you have. Sometimes I feel like you have a stronger bond with him than me. I know it's silly," he added quickly to stop her from interjecting, "but it's just how I feel." 

Hermione's eyes completely softened as she placed her hand on his cheek. "Sirius Black. Do not ever doubt the bond I have with you. Yes, Peter and I are close, but you are my soulmate in every conceivable way. There is no bond stronger than that. Come on, let's go pay a visit to my room in the Room of Requirement. It's been ages since I've had time alone with you in there. Then afterwards, maybe we can talk to James? How does that sound?"

Sirius looked like Christmas had come early and nearly carried her to the seventh floor. They entered the room and collapsed on Hermione’s bed, losing themselves in one another for quite some time. 

*** 
"Wow. Well done, love," Hermione said, smiling while laying next to Sirius on her bed.

Sirius turned on his side and propped his head upon his hand. A heart-breaking, mischievous smile spreading across his lips.  

"We can have another go if you'd like," he told her with a wink.

Hermione honestly gave it a little bit of thought, We can, I suppose... No, no. We mustn't. We really need to fix things with James. As tempting as his offer may sound.   She let out a dramatic sigh."As much as I would love to, Sirius. We have more important issues at the moment. Like James?" she said. 

He huffed, clearly annoyed. "Right," he muttered the single word bitterly.

Giggling, she gave him a kiss on the tip of his nose and jumped out of bed to gather her clothing. As they were dressing, Sirius brought up something that entirely caught Hermione off-guard. Especially with all that had been going on recently. 

"So... Valentine's Day is tomorrow," he began.

Oh bugger! That is tomorrow! I haven't bought him anything. She thought to herself, beginning to panic. "Oh. So it is," she answered, hoping her tone sounded nonchalant. 

He smiled sadly at her. "You've forgotten, haven't you?" Hermione hesitated for a moment then nodded, causing him to let out one of his bark-like laughs. "Isn't that supposed to be my job, as the boyfriend? I am the one who is supposed to forget holidays and birthdays and the like. Your job, as the girlfriend, is to remind me of all these things and become annoyed at my forgetfulness. You're so backwards sometimes, Hermione Granger. I supposed that is part of your undeniable charm."

Hermione, who was blushing furiously, pushed him lightly and muttered, "Oh, shut up," playfully. 

"It's alright, love. I already have your gift. Since it’s obvious you don't have mine, you can just buy me something at Hogsmeade tomorrow," he said with a wink.

"You're unbelievable, Sirius Black," she said sarcastically.

"But you love me!" he said back.

"Er... I guess," she joked with him, this time surprising him with a wink of her own.

He pretended to look considerably hurt, and clutched at his chest. "Ouch, love. Alright, let's go find that bespectacled wanker and find out what his problem is." His tone was far too cheery and she rolled her eyes as the two of them left the room.

They did not have to look too far for James. As soon as they opened the door to leave, James was standing there. He held the map in one hand and invisibility cloak in the other. 

"Hey... I, er- I was looking for you two. You weren't on the map, so I figured you must be in here. Bad time?" he asked, taking in their disheveled appearances. Hermione's hair was a mess, bushier than ever. Sirius, whose hair was also quite a mess, had managed to button his shirt incorrectly.

Mortified, Hermione self consciously raked her fingers through her hair - unsuccessfully trying to tame it - while Sirius looked down, a cocky smirk on his face, as he tried to re-button his shirt.

"No! Not at all. We were actually just coming to find you as well. Why don't we go back in here and talk," Hermione suggested.

They all walked back into Hermione's bedroom Hermione realized that during all her visits here, she had never ventured out of her bedroom and she suddenly wondered if her downstairs would exist in here too. Reminding herself that it was silly to just wonder, she thought to herself, I need my downstairs, and opened the door that led to her hallway, revealing the familiar sight. Smiling to herself, she brought Sirius and James downstairs, through her living room  - whereupon Sirius ran over to her fireplace and picked up a baby picture of Hermione. "Look how cute you were!" He exclaimed happily earning a mumbled, "Focus, Sirius!" -  and into her kitchen. She had them sit at the square, wooden, kitchen table as she walked across the white linoleum floor to the black gas stove and put on some water for tea. She gathered some tea cups from the oak cabinets and sat back down at the table with the boys. As soon as the water was finished boiling, she poured some into their cups and they all made their tea accordingly. She looked up at James and decided to speak first.

"So, what's going on James?" she asked.

Slowly, he took a sip of his tea, put the cup back on its saucer and took in a deep breath. He looked extremely uncomfortable. It was odd seeing him look so much like a stranger while sitting with two of the people he was closest to in the world. He opened his mouth, "I – I- er..." but stopped, running his hand through his hair.

"Just spit it out, James," Sirius said rudely.

"Sirius! Stop it," Hermione snapped.

James looked like he had been slapped from Sirius's tone with him and Sirius looked like a child who had just been scolded by his mother from Hermione yelling at him. She looked at James with a kind smile and said softly, "Go on, James. What did you want to talk to us about?"

He looked right at Hermione and finally spoke, "I'm... I'm sorry! I've been a world class prat and I'm sorry. I know what you've done and, I'm sure, keeping it from us has been extremely hard and I behaved like a child. I - I just didn't know what to think! Or how to handle all of this. I mean, I know I love Lily. I know I want to marry her. But being told, 'Listen, you're definitely going to marry this girl and you're going to have a child with her and oh yeah, you're going to die', I mean... Who can deal with that?"

"Oh James... I'm sor-"  Hermione tried.

"No. Please don't say 'sorry', Hermione. You have no reason to be sorry. It's not like you caused any of it. Hell, you're here to stop it! You obviously care about all of us enough to risk your life and everything you know to prevent me, my future- future wife, as well as my best mate from being murdered. I know I was pissed off because you kept it from us, but I honestly get why you had to. And Sirius, mate," he said as he shifted his attention to Sirius. "I'm sorry to you as well. I shouldn't have treated you that way either. Peter was right, obviously there are going to be things between you and Hermione that are strictly between the pair of you. I had no right to blow up at you, over it. I - I just needed some time to take everything in. I'm really, truly, very sorry. Can you both forgive me?" he pleaded. “Please?” he added desperately.

"James. Of course we'll forgi-"

"I don't know, Hermione," Sirius said coldly, his eyes narrowed. "Who's to say he won't act this way again. You know, when he can't handle something."  Sirius said in a mocking tone.

"Sirius,” she began firmly,  “Be reasonable. He's like your brother," she hissed.

James sat completely still, eyes wide with shock. "Padfoot...?" he asked quietly.

"Don't 'Padfoot' me, James! You were not the only one who received a shock recently. Imagine how I felt for a moment!" He slammed his hand down on the table, causing Hermione and James to jump at the noise.

Sirius stood up and began to pace and James continued to stare, his mouth open in astonishment.  "Imagine finding out the love of your life is not even from this time?" Sirius shouted. "Imagine finding out Lily would have to leave you for twenty years, only to reappear back in your life as a teenager while you've grown into an adult!" Hermione's flinch was unnoticed as Sirius continued to yell at James. "Imagine how badly you'd want to tell me all about it, but know that you can't! Imagine if Lily told you that the future she came from, you sat rotting away in Azkaban Prison for twelve years because you were framed for having a hand in mine and Hermione's deaths!  Imagine finding all of this out and the one person you wanted to talk to about it treated you like dragon dung on the bottom of his boot!" Sirius yelled before he sat down, panting from rage.

Hermione felt like she had been stabbed in the heart. She didn't know it bothered him so much that she would still be the age she was now while he would be well into adulthood. They had talked about this. She thought he had come to terms with it. It was taking an awful lot of strength to keep the tears that were threatening to spill over at bay. James was beginning to look angry.

"Look, Sirius. I don't know what else to say. I know I behaved poorly and I'm trying to apologize for it. And I have imagined how you must be feeling. Why else do you think I was so angry with Hermione to begin with? Do you really think that I want to watch you hurt for the next twenty years until she comes back into your life again? Do you think I enjoy seeing someone who is like a brother to me in pain? I was being selfish, and I know that. That is why I've come to find you both and apologize. I don't want anything to come between us. Any of us. We have a fight ahead of us, mate. You know that's true. And right now, more than ever, we need to all stick together. Now, I've said that I'm sorry and that I was wrong and I will not being saying it again. People make mistakes, it happens. We can't all be as perfect as you, I guess," James spat.

Sirius and James both sat fuming. The looks they were giving the other were truly frightening. Hermione was worried they might start dueling right there. She sat looking  back and forth between the boys, scared to take her eyes of either one. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of staring the other down, Sirius's shoulders relaxed and his eyes softened slightly.

"You're right, Prongs. I'm sorry, too. Let's just forget about it. Water under the bridge and all that. Right?" he said extending his hand.

"Right," James said taking Sirius's hand and shaking it.

The three of them all stood up and the boys walked to each other and embraced like brothers. Hermione stood and watched, her eyes tearing up. She was unbelievably happy everything was seemed back to normal again. Well, as normal as life could be for Hermione.

***
"Honestly, Lily. It got scary for a moment. I really thought they were going to whip their wands out and fight right in the middle of my—er— kitchen?" she told Lily later that evening in their dorm.

"Jeez. Well, I'm glad they didn't. And I'm glad everything seems to be alright again. I'm sorry James was acting like such a tosser. I kept trying to talk some sense into him, but you know how it is to convince either of them of anything," Lily said, smiling.

"Trust me. I know," Hermione said with a laugh.

Hermione and Lily were laying on their stomachs in Hermione's bed talking. The two girls hadn’t really spent much time alone recently. Not at all since the night Hermione told them all who she really was.

"Hermione? I... Well. I was- was…um. I was just wondering...?" she trailed off.

"What is it Lily? Anything you want to know, at this point, I can tell you," Hermione said.

Lily bit her lip and turned slightly red. She was clearly having a hard time asking what she wanted to know. "Well. I know it's silly, because he'll probably be a little different, but could you tell me about Harry? What was he like? Who were his friends? Was he more like me or like James?" Lily asked in a rush.

Hermione perked up, immediately having an idea. The day she was asked by Dumbledore to travel to the past, she brought with her some belongings from her room. There was a box of books, pictures, and letters under her bed.

"Harry will be wonderful, Lily. Yes, he looks just like James, but after becoming friends with you all, I've realized he is very much like you in personality. He has some tendencies of James's, with rule breaking and Quidditch and all, but he was just as kind and sweet as you are. With a little bit of a temper," she told Lily with a soft laugh. She thought about all the times and reasons Harry had ended up in detention. Sometimes bringing herself, Ron, or the pair of them along with him.

"Would you like to see him, Lily?" she asked.

Lily's eyes teared up at the prospect of the son she would, hopefully, one day come to know. She nodded her head indicating she would love nothing more than to see her future son. Hermione took out her wand and said, "Accio pictures!" a moment later, a dozen photos flew into her hand. On top, there was a picture of herself, Harry, Ron and Hagrid all smiling and waving from outside of Hagrid's hut their first year.

"Merlin. I've forgotten how tiny we all were," she said with a sad smile.

Lily picked up a picture from Christmas at the Burrow their sixth year. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred and George were all laughing and bumping into each other. All wearing hand-knitted sweaters from Mrs. Weasley. Lily's eyes were sparkling with tears as she smiled at the picture.

"So he spent his holidays with the Weasley family then?" she asked in a thick voice. Hermione nodded. "Did he live with them, Hermione?"

Hermione sighed. She really did not want to tell her how horrible Petunia and Vernon were to her only son, but she did promise Lily she would tell her anything.

"No," Hermione said, unable to keep the venom out of her voice.

"Who took care of him?" Lily wondered.

"Well... Your sister and her husband. That Muggle you love so much," Hermione spat sarcastically.

Lily looked at Hermione and the expression on Hermione's face must have resonated with Lily.  "They weren't kind to him, were they?" Lily asked hollowly, though by her tone Hermione knew it wasn’t a question.

Hermione shook her head sadly. "No. They were not.," she said simply. "He grew up believing you and James died in a car crash. He did not know of magic, witches, wizards, Hogwarts or any of it until his eleventh birthday. Hagrid actually had to hunt him down to tell him who and what he was. Life got better… well, sort of for Harry after that. He was only forced to live with your sister briefly during the summer and then would spend the remainder of the holiday with the Weasley's. Molly treated him as a son, Lily, she really did. She loved him as if he were one of her own. He did not lack love in his life after finding out his true identity. Obviously it was not the same has having his real mother's love, but it was a mother's love all the same," she told a now crying Lily.

"He won't go through that this time, Hermione. Mark my words, he will not. I will make sure Petunia doesn't even know his name, let alone have him. He'll have a mother this time. I'm going to make damn sure of that! I also want to make sure Molly Weasley will still have him in her life as well. If it's true, and she cared for my son like you said, I want her in his life. I will do everything I can to stay alive for my son this time around. And I'm going to make sure he becomes friends with that Weasley boy and you as well," she ended with a smile.

Hermione smiled back at Lily, "Then you better let a full grown Mountain Troll loose in the school my first year. If it wasn't for that, I don't think we would have ever become friends. They thought I was too much of an obnoxious know-it-all, which I was. They definitely calmed me down a little bit," she laughed. 

Hermione and Lily spent some more time looking through her photos while Hermione felt homesick for the first time in a very long time. Lily watched as Hermione cried softly and silently.

"You really love them, don't you?" Lily asked.

Hermione nodded, "They're like my brothers, Lily. My parents couldn't have any more children after me. So becoming close with Harry and Ron, and by extension, the rest of the Weasleys; it was like having the large family I never had but always wanted."

Lily gave Hermione a hug and the girls put the pictures back in their place for now. It had become rather late and they needed to be up early for their trip to Hogsmeade in the morning. Crawling in her bed, Lily turned out the lights.

"Goodnight, 'Mione. And don't worry about not having a large family. I'll make sure you have the same experience once you get back to your time. We'll all still be there for you. We'll be your family. Love you, sweetie," she told her.

Hermione smiled in the dark. "Thank you. Nothing scares me more than thinking I will lose you all when I return to my present. Love you too, Lils. Night."

She rolled onto her stomach and fell asleep more quickly than she had in what felt like months. After making up with James and knowing that, Lily at least, would definitely be there for her in the future, she felt calmer than she has in a while.

*** 
"Hermione, love. Time to wake up. It's already nine and we have to meet the boys in one hour," Lily said, while gently shaking Hermione’s shoulder.

Hermione groaned and pulled the covers up over her face. "No," she groaned.

Lily laughed. "Come on, 'Mione. If we don't get up, you know they'll be bellowing up the stairs at any moment."

She thought about their wake up call from last October and how she didn't want to be woken up that way again. Reluctantly, she sat up and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes.

"That a girl. You wake up a little. I'm going to have a shower," Lily told her as she collected her things and headed off to their bathroom.

Hermione sat there for a while and found herself thinking of Harry and Ron. She wondered if, when she returned, they would still be there for her. Everything would be different once she  got back. Will we still be friends? Will I still be considered a little, snotty, nerdy, bookworm who is incapable of making friends? Hopefully Lily and James will ensure their son becomes friends with that bushy-haired little Muggle-Born in his year, she thought.

After a while, Lily came out of the bathroom, dressed and ready for the day and Hermione took her turn getting ready. It was still rather chilly outside, so Hermione dressed carefully in a thick blue jumper, jeans and brown boots. At five minutes of ten the girls walked down to the common room. The boys were all sitting in their normal seats and greeted the girls as they walked over to join them.

"Happy Valentine's Day, love," Sirius said, handing her a small box wrapped in red paper and tied with a pink bow. He had a huge smile on his face.

She gave him a light kiss. "Thank you, Sirius. I'm so sorry I forgot. I'll make sure I get you something extra special today."

He waved his hand dismissively. "Open your gift. Don't worry about me."

Hermione tore open the wrapping paper which revealed a small, square, velvet jewelry box. Her heart was pounding. This was a ring shaped box. She looked up at him, panic in her eyes. "Sirius..."

"Just open it, Hermione," he said, clearly both irritated and amused.

When she opened the box there was a silver ring with a thin band that had a teardrop shaped, bright blue stone resting in the center. A sapphire, which was her birthstone. It was truly beautiful and just happened to match her jumper perfectly.

"It's gorgeous," she whispered. A huge smile broke out on her face and she wrapped her arms around his neck. "Thank you, Sirius! It's absolutely stunning! I love you!"

"Stunning ring for a stunning young woman. I love you too, Hermione." He grinned back at her.

They broke apart and Lily turned to show Hermione the necklace James had given her. It had a thin gold chain with a small, square garnet stone hanging from it. Sirius and James had obviously collaborated on their gifts., for they had both given their girlfriends jewelry containing their birthstones. After the girls compared their gifts, Peter and Lupin pushed their way forward.

"We got you girls each something, too!" Peter said excitedly, grinning from ear to ear.

"Aw, Guys. You didn't have to do that. I don't have anything for you two, either," Hermione said sadly.

"Seriously, boys. You really shouldn't have," Lily said, shaking her head.

"Oh both of you, shut it. Take your gifts and don't feel like you have to get us anything," Lupin told them, smiling.

Peter handed Hermione and Lily each a small black box. They opened them together and each pulled out an identical item. They had given both girls charm bracelets. The charms were a Wolf, Rat, Dog and Stag. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. There were also rings for both of the girls; Each ring was silver with a tiny otter and doe that would wrap around their fingers- the noses of the animals almost touching, with only a little gap in the center of the rings that also allowed for adjusting the size.

"Wow... It's - It's... Wow," Hermione said, unable to articulate beyond that.

"Oh, Peter... Remus." said Lily breathlessly.

Smiling at the girls, Lupin replied, "It's just to remind you both that we'll always be together. No matter what happens. We'll always have each other."

"Thank you. Both of you. Thank you so much," Hermione said and hugged each boy in turn.

While Lily thanked and hugged both boys, Hermione slipped her ring from Sirius followed by her ring from the two boys on her ring finger and then fastened her bracelet. She had never, and knew she would never again, receive gifts that meant more to her than what she received from the boys today.

After the sentimentality of the moment disappeared, the group agreed on heading down to the Great Hall for some breakfast before beginning their long, cold walk to Hogsmeade. While they were sitting at the Gryffindor table, Hermione noticed Snape, Crouch, Avery, Mulciber, Wilkes and Rosier were glaring towards their group and whispering to one another. That can't be good, she thought.  As she was looking, Snape noticed her and they locked eyes for quite some time. As she was staring him down, he smirked.. It was not a friendly expression, and it was clear his face was saying, "Watch yourselves." She was not going to let him intimidate her though. She raised her eyebrows at him, smirking back and clearly expressing, "Bring it." Determined not to be the first to break eye contact, she kept her eyes locked on his. Finally, it seemedSnape became uncomfortable and looked away. She couldn't explain in it, but she felt a small victory in that move.

Breakfast ended and she and her friends began their walk to Hogsmeade. The walk was utterly miserable- it was dark and cloudy with a whipping wind and a mist that was just short of raining that left them all bitterly cold. There wasn't much conversation between any of them as they all half ran to Hogsmeade so they could get out of the dreadful weather. As soon as they arrived to the village, they took refuge in The Three Broomsticks for some butterbeers to warm themselves up. While they were sitting there Sirius turned to look at Hermione.

"So, you're going for my gift after this, correct?" he asked with a smile.

Hermione looked at him incredulously, "Isn't my love enough?" She gave him a playful shove.

He shoved her back, "It's always enough. But I do really like presents," he said with a big, cheesy grin. 

"Fine. Fine. You go play with Remus and I'll take Peter to get you a gift. Alright?" she said, pretending to be irritated.

When the group finished with their butterbeers, James and Lily went off on their own, Sirius and Lupin headed to Zonko's while Hermione and Peter went to Spintwitches. Sirius's broomstick has been becoming rather manky lately and she thought, since she was given quite a bit of gold for her trip to the past, that she would buy him a new one.

"A broomstick? You're actually buying him a broom? Wow, 'Mione. If he doesn't ask you to marry him after this, he never will," Peter joked.

Hermione laughed. "Pete, I think we're a bit young for that. Plus there are certain complications that would prevent that whole getting married thing at the moment."

"Yeah, I guess in your case you're right," he said.

"Come on. I know nothing about this broom nonsense. Help me find something good, will you?" she asked him.

They walked around for a while, checking out some Nimbuses, Cleansweeps, Comets, and Shooting Stars. Then a shiny black and silver broom caught her eye. Even though she knew nothing about brooms, she could tell this was a good one. She lingered at the broom and was touching the sleek, smooth handle.

"Ah, the Silver Arrow. One of the best racing brooms on the market. You've got a good eye, young lady," said the shop keeper.

She was a small, beautiful, middle-aged woman who had long blonde hair and wide, kind brown eyes.

"This is a good one then, Mrs...?" Hermione asked the woman.

"Please, call me Astraya, dear. Everyone else does. And yes, this is a good one," she said kindly.

Hermione looked at Peter and shrugged. Peter's eyes went wide with longing as he looked at the Silver Arrow. It was clear he would give his right arm to own that broom. Seeing Peter's reaction, it made Hermione's mind up for her.

"Alright. I'll take it!" Hermione said brightly.

"Wonderful!" Astraya said, beaming at Hermione.

Hermione went to the register while the woman wrapped Sirius's broom. She happily paid for the broom and thanked the woman for her help as they left the store to find the rest of their friends. As they were walking between two of the buildings, they found their way blocked by a group of boys. It was Snape and the rest of the future Death Eaters that had been staring at them this morning at breakfast. Hermione threw her arm out to stop Peter, who had not noticed the boys yet. She reached into her robes and kept her hand on her wand. She had a feeling she may need it.

"Let's just turn around, Hermione. They haven't noticed us yet. There are too many of them to try and take on our own," Peter said wisely.

There was no denying that it was a good idea, so she turned slowly to try and find a different route to her friends. Unfortunately, they did not remain unnoticed.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't the lovely Miss Winters and her blood traitor pal, Peter," said Crouch with a wicked grin.

She was still utterly creeped out by him after what happened on New Year's Eve. She glanced over and noticed that both of Peter's hands were empty and she whispered quickly, "Your wand!"

"Look, we are not looking for trouble. We're just trying to meet up with our friends. I don't want to have to hurt any of you," Hermione said, sounding far more sure of herself than she actually was at the moment.

She knew she would be able to hold her own for a while, but Peter was right- there were too many of them.

"Big words coming from the girl who spent two weeks in the Hospital Wing after our last encounter," Snape sneered. The rest of his group snickered.

It was clear the leaders of this little pack were Snape and Crouch.

"Get out of it, Snape. You do not want to have a go with me again. You know you always come off worse," she spat.

She was becoming more worried with each passing moment. They were not exactly in an heavily-populated area of the village. They were, more or less, in an alley and very much alone. Snape bared his teeth and pointed his wand at Hermione.

"You're going to be sorry, Winters," he growled. He pointed his wand straight at her and yelled, "Stupify!" as a jet of red light came towards her. Luckily for her, she was too quick for him. She dropped the broom, raised her wand and blocked the spell before he could stun her. 

"ENOUGH, Snivellus!" she shrieked.

"DON'T call me Snivellus!" he shouted back, pointing his wand at her again. "Petrificus Totalus!" he yelled this time as Peter blocked the spell from hitting Hermione.

Seeing Peter with his wand raised, it seemed the other boys took it as an invitation to begin dueling as well. Hermione and Peter looked like they were dancing as they blocked spell after spell from the onslaught being shot at them from every direction. It took everything they both had to remain standing and continue blocking each unfriendly spell. They did not realize that their fight was causing quite a bit of noise, which attracted Sirius, Lupin, James and Lily. Their friends had come running and immediately joined the fight. Hermione actually smiled as her friends joined them. Now they were evenly matched and she knew her friends were a shade more powerful than the boys they were fighting. Sirius and Hermione were dueling next to one another, their opponents being Crouch and Rosier. Lily and James were dueling Avery and Wilkes, while Peter and Lupin fought Snape and Mulciber. Their wands were slashing, they were sweating, and jets of light and spells were flying everywhere.

"Stupify!" Sirius yelled as Rosier fell to the ground with a sickening thud.

"Nice, love!" Hermione yelled as she slashed her wand yelling, "Anakatus!" and then Crouch began to walk into a wall repeatedly, looking dazed and confused.

At that moment, she turned and watched as James bounded Avery with ropes, Lily froze Wilkes and Lupin sent a stinging jinx at Mulciber.

She then heard Snape yell, "Sectumsempra!" and Peter fell to the ground. His chest bleeding profusely while Hermione stood rooted to the spot. Cold horror and dread was spreading throughout her body. She looked at Snape and, for a fleeting second, thought she saw something like shock and remorse flash across his face. Quickly, it returned to a cold and uncaring glare.

"NO!" she screamed and shot every hex she could think of at Snape.

Snape fell to the ground, unconscious, and she ran over to Peter.

"No, no, no... Peter. No! Please, please be ok. Peter, say something, please!" she begged.

Peter was turning very pale, he was losing a lot of blood.

"DO SOMETHING! GET HELP!" she screamed at her friends who, for a moment seemed paralyzed, then ran for help. Sirius stayed behind, his hand on Hermione's shoulder while he stared at his friend in disbelief. "Peter, look at me. You're going to be fine, alright? Lily and the boys went for help. You're going to be alright. Just keep your eyes open, ok? You have to keep your eyes open!" she pleaded with him.

Peter looked up at her and smiled sadly.  "Ok, 'Mione," he said feebly.

His eyes were drooping. It was clear he was fighting very hard to keep them open. Hermione felt like the world had just come crashing down around her. Her heart felt absent from her body as she watched her best friend bleeding out in front of her. She wasn't a master at healing spells, but she knew the basics. Holding her wand over his chest, she began speaking incantations to slow the bleeding. Hopefully it would be enough until help arrived.

 

A/N - A HUGE thank you to my beta, Mischief_managed18 for all of your help!! <3


Chapter 21: Her Burden To Carry
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Hermione has hardly eaten or slept for two days. She has only left the chair next to Peter's bed in the Hospital Wing once, per Dumbledore's request. The day Peter was attacked and after he was brought to Madam Pomfrey for healing potions and blood replenishing tonics, Dumbledore requested Hermione, Sirius, Lily, James and Lupin would join him in his office. He wanted to hear their version of what happened in the Hogsmeade before questioning the Slytherin boys who caused this. Hermione, again, was running that day's events over in her head.

 
** 
 
"DO SOMETHING!! GET HELP!!" she screamed at her friends. Watching Peter turn as white as a ghost was frightening her horribly. Although, she must remain calm, for Peter's sake. She felt Sirius's hand on her shoulder, attempting to comfort her, but there would be no comfort until she knew Peter was alright.  
 
"Peter, look at me. You're going to be fine, alright? Lily and the boys went for help. You're going to be alright. Just keep your eyes open, ok? You have to keep your eyes open!" she pleaded with him. Her heart broke while watching Peter attempt to smile. Attempting to reassure her that everything would be fine.  
 
"Ok 'Mione," he croaked out. Watching as his eyes fluttered in a vain attempt to keep them open, she began to staunch the bleeding the best she could.   
 
"Hermione, love. They're coming. Dumbledore and Flitwick are with them. Peter will be alright," Sirius choked out in a thick voice.   
 
Turning around, she saw a look of fury on Dumbledore's face which truly frightened the young witch, for she has never seen him look that way before. "Out of the way!" Dumbledore yelled as he approached his bleeding student. He took out his wand and began speaking incantations Hermione has never heard. Slowly, it seemed, Peter's blood was making it's way from the ground and back into his body.   
 
"He'll need to see Poppy immediately, Albus," Flitwick suggested.  
 
"I will tend to Mr. Pettigrew and his friends, Fillius. You round up our young Slytherins and bring them to the Hospital Wing as well," Dumbledore then shifted his attention on Hermione, Sirius and their friends. "Come," Dumbledore commanded. 
 
She watched as Dumbledore conjured a stretcher for Peter and they all began their silent walk back to Hogwarts.   
 
**   
"Peter... I will get them back for this. I swear, if it's the last thing I ever do..." Hermione whispered while holding Peter's hand. Madam Pomfrey had told them all Peter suffered quite a bit of blood loss, plus some severe internal damage. He has only been awake twice, briefly, to take his potions. Otherwise, he has slept the better part of two days. They were told that Peter may need to remain in there for several days until he is ready to attend classes again. Hermione sighed and gave Peter's hand a light squeeze. She sat back on her chair, put her head back, closed her eyes and gently massaged her temples trying to stifle her splitting headache. Again the scene in Dumbledore's office came to the forefront of her mind. 
 
** 
 
"Well? What happened, Miss Granger?" Dumbledore asked while sitting at his desk. Hermione was still covered in Peter's blood, cold and shaking. Lupin was sitting to the right of her, Lily to her left. Sirius was standing behind her with both hands on her shoulders as James stood behind Lily in a similar fashion. Before answering, she took a good look at Dumbledore. It surprised her to see he was looking quite a bit older than he had the night of her arrival to the year 1977. He was beginning to more closely resemble the man she knew from her time, rather than a slightly younger version of himself. In that moment she couldn't help but wonder if she - and the drama she brought with her - were the cause of his quickly paced aging. Dumbledore's clear blue eyes were piercing through her, expectant. She needed to answer. 
 
"Sir, Peter and I had just left Spintwitches. I bought Sirius a broom for Valentine's day," she felt Sirius's hands tighten on her shoulders as she said this, but he remained silent. "We were walking back towards The Three Brooksticks, figuring we would catch up with everyone else, when our way was blocked by Snape, Crouch and their gang. Peter said we should turn back, I agreed, and then they stopped us." Hermione took a deep breath, swallowed and continued. "Snape tried to attack me first, I blocked the spell, he tried again and Peter blocked it. When the rest of the boys saw Peter raise his wand, I guess, they figured we wanted to fight. We blocked and dodged their spells for a little while, and then everyone else must have seen or heard us and came to help. We had, pretty much, just stopped all of them." She felt her throat tighten as she struggled to get the next words out of her mouth. "That was when I heard Snape yell that curse and Peter fell to the ground, bleeding. I swear, Sir," she added in a strong and confident voice, "Snape looked sorry for a brief moment. I saw the shock on his face. I don't know if he realized what that spell would have done."   
 
Dumbledore, again, was giving her the impression that he was x-raying her over the top of his glasses. She looked right back at him, maintaining eye contact. Quickly, the events of this afternoon passed in front of her eyes again as if she were reliving them a second time. Certainly Dumbledore was reading her thoughts, checking to see if she was lying. Then he broke eye contact with her, relaxed his position slightly and asked the rest of them, "What Miss Granger said is the truth?"  
 
Of course, Sirius was the first one to speak up, "Yes, Sir. Everything she said. Except..." 
 
"Except what, Mr. Black?" Dumbledore pressed.  
 
Hermione looked up at Sirius, his jaw was set and his eyes were steely. "Only except... I don't know about Sniv- Snape looking sorry about what he's done," Sirius said with contempt in his voice.  
 
"Slimy git," James muttered quietly.  
 
Dumbledore and Lupin sighed.
 
"That is enough. I will question the other boys as soon as Madam Pomfrey clears them from their stay with her. Off you go," Dumbledore dismissed them abruptly.   
 
** 
 
Even sitting here two days later, she could not explain to herself - or any of her friends for that matter - why she vouched for Snape. She knew that he looked - if even for a short amount of time - sorry for what he did to Peter. Knowing how in her future Snape truly did turn to their side, she couldn't help but wonder if that would happen this time. She knew that it was only Voldemort's hunt of Lily and her son that brought Snape to side of good. If she stops that from happening, which she fully intends on doing, would he turn towards Light this time? 
 
Thinking of how easy and carefree her first few months in the past were, she could not believe how quickly everything had turned back to a life she was accustomed to. A life of fear, fighting, plotting and determination. No longer was she just Hermione Winters - a "transfer" -  who happened to be Sirius Black's girlfriend and best friend of Lily and the Marauders. Now, again in the past, she was Hermione Granger - to a select few people - and member of The Order of the Phoenix, beginning her fight of Darkness and evil.  
 
While she was sitting, lost in her thoughts, she felt someone sit down in the chair next to her. Naturally, at first, she assumed it would be Sirius. 
 
"Still sleeping?" Lupin asked softly. 
 
Jumping at the sound of the unexpected voice, she answered, "Oh! Yes. He hasn't been awake, for what seems like, ages now." 
 
Lupin gave Hermione a forced smile, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. Hopefully he will wake soon." 
 
Hermione nodded while she and Lupin sat in a comfortable silence together. That was one of the main things she liked about Lupin. He never felt the need to fill the silence with mindless chatter. The pair of them could spend hours together studying, doing homework or reading, without speaking and still have a nice time. After a quarter of an hour of just watching Peter, Lupin spoke. 
 
"Hermione? I wanted to talk to you about something," he asked her. 
 
"Sure, Remus. Anything, you know that."
 
As she watched Lupin's face, she noticed there were quite a bit more scratches and scars than when she first saw him on the platform September first. His eyes, which were filled with so much more light and happiness that day, had begun to look old and sad. He, just like Dumbledore, was starting to more closely resemble the man she knew from the future. It made her heart sick. 
 
"You said I was your teacher? That was how we met?" he inquired. 
 
"You were. Dumbledore asked you to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts my third year. Honestly, I have never had a better teacher," she smiled as she watched Lupin's face redden just the tiniest amount. "You were phenomenal, brilliant, just... just amazing. It was a shame you were only there one year. But, then again, every Defense teacher was only there one year. For one reason or another."
 
Lupin's cocked an eyebrown, clearly confused by that statement, so Hermione elaborated for him. 
 
"Voldemort asked Dumbledore for that job. I'm sure you have noticed, even now, that a DADA professor does not stay for longer than one year." 
 
Lupin's brow furrowed, as it seemed he was just now noticing the pattern. "Now that you mention it, yes. For the last few years, we have had a different professor every year. I haven't given much thought to it, to be honest," he admitted. 
 
"He cursed the position. When Dumbledore refused him, he made it so that no person will have the job longer than one year. You, unfortunately, fell victim to that curse as well. Not as badly as some of the other professors we had. One actually died. But, as Voldemort was possessing him and sticking out of the back of his head, I wasn't too fussed," she said cooly.  Lupin's eyes widened in shock at that information.

Hermione looked back at Peter, hoping to see him awake, or any change in his condition. Sadly, there wasn't any. As she brought her attention back to Lupin, she noticed he was chewing his bottom lip, looking as if he were deep in thought.

"What happened to me, Hermione?" he asked suddenly.
 
Hesitating for a moment, As if my friends need another reason to hate Snape. As if Remus needs another reason to hate himself, she thought. She told him the truth, remembering that she did promise never to lie to any of them again. 
 
"Someone... Well, Snape actually, as he was a professor here also. Potions. He - He let the whole school know about your furry little problem," she tried to say quickly, hoping to soften to blow. Her heart broke upon seeing the horrified look on Lupin's face. "You see the night Sirius found us, after escaping Azkaban, Snape found him and planned to turn him over to the Minister and the Dementors. You were with us as well, and sadly, you forgot to take your potion. The Wolfsbane potion, which you will find out all about any time now, I'm sure," she added as an afterthought. Now was not the time to get into that. "It was a full moon that night and... and... well you transformed," she mumbled. Lupin's breath hitched as his mouth fell open, forming a perfect O. "Very, very close to myself, Harry and Ron. Sirius transformed into Padfoot to protect us and you two fought. Horribly."
 
Lupin put his head down and pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. He was, she could tell, disgusted with himself. 
 
"Remus, please. Stop. You didn't hurt any of us. The reason Snape told the school was because of Sirius, really. He was thrilled that he caught the crazed escaped convict, Sirius Black. Harry and I - with Dumbledore's help and using a time-turner - went back in time three hours and helped Sirius escape. When Snape saw he was gone, he was furious. Him telling the whole school about your condition was his way to get back you both, I believe. Quite childish if you ask me. But, with you being you, you were embarrassed and resigned. Trust me, my friends and I were devastated. We all loved you," she said passionately.  
 
Lupin looked up sadly at her. "Was I really that good of a teacher, Hermione?" 
 
She smiled while telling him, "Yes, Remus. You basically taught me everything I know. You were amazing when it came to defensive magic. Although, the only thing I had trouble with was a Boggart," she giggled, while remembering the look on Lupin and Harry's faces after she emerged from  that portion of her exam. "I'm relatively positive you had quite a laugh at my attempt with one. I know you tried to stifle it in front of me, but I'm pretty sure you laughed later." 
 
"Why, what happened?" he asked her, amused. 
 
"Well, you made our final exam an obstacle course of sorts. When it came time for the Boggart, we all hopped in a trunk to face it. Mine - Mine was Professor McGonagall. She told me I failed everything," Hermione said while laughing herself. What she wouldn't give to go back to the days of that being her biggest fear. 
 
Lupin let out a loud laugh, "That is brilliant, Hermione! Knowing you, that would be your biggest fear." 
 
"Oh, shut it," she retorted playfully. Then the smile faded from her face as her attention was brought back to Peter, lying in the hospital bed. "Well, not so much anymore," she whispered.
 
Looking from Peter and back to Hermione Lupin tried to console her, "He'll be alright, you know. Madam Pomfrey is the best there is. She will have him up and around again in no time. Honestly, Hermione. You attended Hogwarts, you should know that." He smiled kindly, thought it didn't quite reach his eyes.
 
Hermione nodded while her eyes remained on Peter. Lupin took a deep breath and placed his hand over her's. 
 
"Hermione, you can't stay here the whole time he's healing. You need to eat and get some sleep in a bed for a change. Peter isn't the only one we're all worried about, love," he told her.  
 
She knew Lupin was right, but there was no way she was going to leave Peter's side until he was awake. Shaking her head softly, she said quietly, "I can't, Remus. I'm staying with him." 
 
Letting out a small huff of impatience with his stubborn, bushy-haired friend, he decided not to push her. "Of course you are, sweetheart. I'm going to head out. I expect Sirius will be up with some food shortly."   
 
Placing her hand on top of his, she nodded.  "Thank you, Remus. I appreciate you not trying to force the issue. Although, I know you want to horribly," she smiled. 
 
He shook his head while chuckling softly, "I know better, Hermione. You're a stubborn as your boyfriend. The pair of you were made for each other." 
 
"Shut up, Moony," she answered jokingly.  
 
Lupin laughed again as he stood up, kissed the crown of Hemione's head and left the Hospital Wing. 
 
While Hermione sat there alone with Peter again, she was hoping to speak with Dumbledore about hiring Lupin as the Defense Against The Dark Arts professor after all of this was over. Knowing what a brilliant teacher he was, and how much he loved it, Lupin deserved the opportunity.  
 
Picking her head back up, she noticed Peter was sitting up, awake and staring at her with an annoyed expression on his face.  
 
"Peter! Oh, Peter! You're awake! How are you feeling?" she exclaimed. 
 
Peter rolled his eyes at her.  "Just ducky, Hermione. Don't tell me you've been in here the entire time." He sounded torn between amusement and exasperation.  
 
"She has," Sirius answered for her, while coming through the door with food for each of them.  
 
Hermione turned her head around at the sound of Sirius's voice, her face turning red with embarrassment.  
 
"The both of you, be quiet. I was worried sick, Peter! Of course I stayed in here with you," she snapped. 
 
Peter exhaled loudly and chuckled while Sirius shook his head, looking annoyed with his girlfriend.  
 
"Well I'm awake now, so you don't have to hover over me any longer, alright?" Peter told Hermione, who sat with her arms crossed and wore a defiant expression on her face. "Geez, 'Mione, you're worse than my mother, you are," Peter grumbled.  
 
Hermione, once again, told him to stifle while Sirius passed out the food he brought up for the three of them. He has been bringing food for Peter as well, just on the off chance that he may be awake. While they ate they filled Peter in on their meeting with Dumbledore and what happened to Snape and his friends.  
 
"Detention? A month's detention? That's all he got?! And the rest of them only received a week's worth? You have to be joking!" Peter exclaimed.  
 
"Well the other boys didn't use anything dangerous. That we were able to prove, anyhow. And Snape... Well, he claimed he didn't know exactly what that spell would do," Hermione explained while shifting uncomfortably in her chair.  
 
She knew Sirius was waiting for her to tell Peter she mentioned the same thing to Dumbledore, but she did not. He looked at her, eyebrow raised while she gently shook her head. Peter had only just woke, she was not going to get into the whole Snape-eventually-may-turn-good story. Knowing he was angry with her, she watched Sirius snort and lean back on his chair.  
 
"What's up, Padfoot?" Peter asked.  
 
Glancing nonchalantly at Hermione he answered, "Nothing. Full. That's all."  
 
Peter cocked an eyebrow at his friends. It was clear from his expression that he knew Sirius was lying. If he truly did, Peter did not voice his suspicions. The three of them sat quietly for a bit until Peter decided he needed some more sleep.  
 
"Listen you two." Hermione could tell, from the tone of his voice, Peter was about to attempt kicking her out. She opened her mouth to argue, but Peter cut her off before she had the chance. "Yes, you too, Hermione. I need to get some more sleep. Really, you can go," Hermione, once more, tried  to protest. "Both of you can leave. I'm fine. Fit as a fiddle. I'll be out of here in no time," he said sternly.  
 
"But, Peter," Hermione started.  
 
Peter held up his hand to stop her. "No. But nothing, 'Mione. No offense, but you look terrible. You really ought to get out of here. Go get some proper rest, please. I'll really be alright. Ok?" he told her.  
 
"Peter's right, love. You really don't look well at all. It's obvious you could use a good night's sleep," Sirius added.  
 
Hermione looked at each of them as if they were committing mutiny. She would never admit it, but she knew they were both right. As exhausted and in need of her bed as she was, she was still going to put up a fight to remain with Peter one more evening.  
 
"Hermoine, really. I can see in your face that you want to argue, but save it." Peter was beginning to sound angry with Hermione at this point. He looked over to Sirius, who was watching Hermione with a bemused expression. "Sirius, mate?" Peter said.  
 
"Yeah?" he answered.  
 
"Drag her out of her if you must. She looks dead on her feet," Peter told him seriously. 
 
Sirius smiled mischievously while looking towards a wide eyed Hermione. "My pleasure, Wormtail."  
 
Hermione drew her wand while backing away slowly from Sirius, who was stalking towards her.  
 
"I'll hex you, Sirius. I swear on Merlin's wand I will," she threatened.  
 
"Hermione..." Peter reasoned. 
 
Hermione was absolutely ready to fight her own boyfriend in order to get her way. Sirius, as well, had his wand out. Ready to use it if necessary.  
 
"Come on, love. Don't make me do this the hard way," he teased.  
 
Shaking her head and keeping her wand on Sirius, stubborn determination was etched on Hermione's face. What she didn't notice was that Peter discretely reached for his wand. Pointing it at Hermione he cried out, "Expelliarmus" , and Hermione's wand flew out of her hand and into Peter's.  
 
"Thanks!" Sirius exclaimed while pointing his wand at Hermione and saying, "Wingardium Leviosa," and she was floating in the air.  
 
To say she was mad would be an understatement. There were words coming out of her mouth that Peter and Sirius were quite sure she has never uttered before in her life. They were not even aware that she knew such vulgarity. Needless to say, they thought it was hilarious. The two boys roared with laughter as Hermione called them everything under the sun.  
 
"Sorry, sweetheart. But you're coming back to the common room whether you want to or not," Sirius smirked.  
 
"Goodnight, Hermione!" Peter yelled cheerfully.  
 
Finally silent, but fuming with heaving breaths of anger, Hermione glared at the pair of them so frighteningly it caused the boys to laugh even harder. Hermione was seeing red. 
 
"You just wait. The both of you. I'll get you both back for this," she threatened.  
 
Sirius rolled his eyes and began to levitate her towards the door. Peter just said, "Sure you will, dear," while throwing her wand to Sirius and saying goodnight to them both.  
 
When they were far enough away from the Hospital Wing, Sirius began to feel badly.  
 
"If I let you down, do you promise to come back to the common room with me?" he asked her.  
 
Knowing that she was wandless and he would most likely just levitate her again she said, "Yes. I promise," reluctantly.  
 
"Alright. But you're not getting your wand back until we get in there," he smiled.  
 
"Fine!" she snapped. 
 
Gently he let her down and Hermione began to stomp away quickly towards Gryffindor tower. Sirius tried to stifle his laughter as he called after her.  
 
"Oh come on, Hermione. Don't be sore. You know as well as I do that you need to get some real rest," he yelled.  
 
Hermione showed no sign of slowing down. She feared if he were to come near her, she may just punch him in the mouth, so continued to march her way up the stairs. Sirius ran to her and grabbed her softly at the elbow, turning her to face him.  
 
"Please, Hermione. Look at me," he requested. She met his eye line while giving him an icy glare. "Love, I know that you feel it's your job to take care of and save us all, but you need people to look after you as well. You're only human, 'Mione. You can't play the part of superhero and mother to us all of the time. Peter will be alright, thanks to you. Now stop beating yourself up over it and let us take care of you this evening," he reasoned.  
 
Groaning and rolling her eyes, Hermione turned her head away from Sirius. Take care of me? How does he not get that the whole reason I am even here is to make sure nothing happens to any of them? I'm not here to worry about myself. I'm here to save them, she thought. Grabbing her chin with is thumb and forefinger, Sirius turned her head back to face him.  
 
"Listen. It's not going to help anyone if you don't look after yourself as well. Now that you've told us all of what may, or may not come... We know. We know what we're up against and now all of us can make sure it doesn't happen this time. You no longer need to carry the burden on your shoulders alone. We're all in this together now." He ran his hand through his hair and bore his eyes into hers with a burning intensity, which caused her cheeks to flush. "What ever is going to come at us will come at us, and we'll fight it together. Please, let us all look after you just as you're looking after all of us. We all love you, Hermione. We want you to be as safe and healthy as you want us to be," he told her.  
 
Sirius then bent down and place a light kiss on each of her cheeks. "Don't be mad at me and Peter for wanting to see you healthy. Let us just go back to the common room and take it easy for tonight. Please? For me?" he pleaded.
 
Hermione remained silent, but nodded. She knew he still didn't understand that this was her burden. She was the one who was chosen to go back in time. She was the one who was supposed to prevent an unfortunate series of events from happening. How as this not her burden? Yes, her new found friends and boyfriend were aware of their possible future. Yes, now that they were aware they were more prepared to change it. But, it was Hermione's duty to make sure that it changes. The rest of them can only hope it changes. 


Slowly and silently Hermione and Sirius walked hand in hand back to their common room. As soon as they stepped through the portrait hole James, Lily and Lupin were sitting around the fire smiling widely.


"What's going on guys?" Hermione asked while taking in their extra pleased expressions.  She did not understand what they could be looking so happy about, especially with their best friend recovering from a brutal attack in the Hospital Wing. 


James was holding his invisibility cloak and smiling ear to ear.


"What the hell is wrong with you, Prongs?" Sirius snapped.


Lily pulled a long thing package out from behind her back while Hermione's eyes widened in shock. It was the broom she bought Sirius the other day in Hogsmeade.


"How..?" Hermione wondered out loud.


"Well dear, sweet, innocent Hermione," James began smugly. "When I heard you bought our lovely Padfoot a broom for Valentine's day, but sadly dropped it, I couldn't let that stand." He looked at Lily, who was beaming and looking quite proud of herself. "Earlier this evening Lily and I used the cloak and took the One-Eyed-Witch passage way down to the village. Lucky for us, the broom was still there! I was sure while we were walking down that someone must have knicked it by now, but we got there and low and behold... There it was!" James exclaimed while Lily flashed a brilliant smile at Hermione and Sirius. "Sirius, darling. Here's your broom," James said while holding the broom across both hands and bowing his head as if he were presenting a knight with a sword.


Sirius and Hermione stood with their mouths lolling open. Neither of them could believe James retrieved it for Sirius.


"Wow, mate. Well done! Thank you!" Sirius looked incredibly impressed and more than happy.

Hermione was stunned. She was absolutely positive that the broom would have been lost forever. There was no way she could ever repay James and Lily for what they have done. "Really, James; Lily. Thank you! I was heartbroken over losing that on him," Hermione added.


James waived his hand as to say it was nothing while Sirius began tearing the paper from his new broom. While laying his eyes on the shiny black handle, silver foot rests and neatly trimmed bristles of the broom, Sirius was speechless. Hermione began to feel uncomfortable, thinking he didn't like it.


"Th - The lady in the shop said it was a good one. If you don't like it, I can take it back. I'm sorry. I - I don't know much about brooms. I thought it was pretty, so I figured it must be a decent broom. Don't pretend to like it just to spare my fee-" she rushed out, until Sirius put his hand on her mouth to stop her.


"Stop. Just stop, Hermione," Sirius began. "You got me a Silver Arrow? That's... That's the best there is. Of course I love it! Are you mental?" he laughed a carefree laugh which made her heart sing.


"So... So it isn't rubbish then?" she still sounded unsure.


"You're ridiculous sometimes. Do you know that? Come here!" he told her while pulling Hermione to him.

He gave her a huge hug while picking her right off the ground and thanking her over and over.

For the rest of the night the boys passed the broom between them all admiring it. Hermione and Lily sat at a table pouring over defensive magic books for a few hours. At midnight everyone agreed it was time for bed, as they were all attending their classes the following morning. Hermione was absolutely exhausted and fell asleep the moment her head hit the pillow.

***

Peter was out of the Hospital Wing and deemed completely healthy by that Thursday. The group was finally back together, returning to classes regularly and all continued to practice in the Room of Requirement twice a week. James and Sirius helped everyone with Transfiguration, as that was their best subject. Hermione and Lupin were in charge of Defense Against the Dark Arts. Peter showed a lot of promise in Herbology, so he taught everyone about different plants which could be useful. Lily, who was a Potions master, would take over when they practiced potions. With Peter working with different plants and Lily working with Potions, they would often work together. As the weeks went on, Hermione, Sirius, Peter, Lily, James and Lupin had become the top of their class in every subject. They all spend hours in the library, almost every evening, pouring over books in the restricted section compiling more information and ideas to practice during their sessions in the Room of Requirement. Never before have all of them been so prepared and knowledgeable in every branch of magic. 
 
February eventually slipped away and they worked their way through a windy March. Before they knew it, April had arrived along with longer days and slightly warmer weather. The Easter Holiday would be arriving soon and Hermione and her friends all agreed that would be a good time for some more practicing and planning for the war that was bound to come. Saturday night before Easter, Lily and Hermione were, yet again, in the library when a second year boy came over to them both. 
 
"Excuse me? Hermione Winters?" he asked sounding a little intimated.  
 
"Yes, that's me," she answered kindly.  
 
The short, chubby, sandy haired boy pulled a note out from his robes. He handed it to her with his hand shaking slightly.  
 
"Professor Dumbledore asked me to deliver this to you," he told her.  
 
Hermione shared a quick look with Lily then took the note from the boy with a smile.  
 
"Thank you...?" she trailed.  
 
"Austin," he answered.  
 
"Austin. Thank you," she beamed.  
 
The little boy, Austin, said, "You're welcome," before basically running away from the two seventh year girls.  
 
Hermione looked at Lily once more and began to open the letter.  
 
"What does it say?" Lily asked her.  
 
Hermione read the letter which stated: 
 
Dear Miss Granger,  
 
I believe it is time that I become more involved in your, and  
your friends', defensive training. Please, if you would all be  
agreeable, arrange to meet in my office next Saturday evening
 
by 7pm. If you would please respond promptly.  
 
Hoping all is well,
Albus Dumbledore


P.S. Cockroach Clusters are underrated, in my opinion.


After finishing the letter, she looked back at Lily. "He wants us, all of us, to come to his office next Saturday. He says he wants to become 'more involved' in our defensive training."


Lily's eyes widened. "Really?" she whispered.


"Guess so," Hermione replied with an unexplainable sinking feeling in her stomach.


"Wow. Dumbledore, himself, is going to teach us? ...Amazing," Lily said stunned. 

Hermione nodded in false agreement while re-reading the letter.


"Well, I suppose we should go tell the boys," Hermione said.


"Yeah, let's go let them know. They're going to be so excited. I know I am, honestly," Lily told her.


"Yeah, excited. I am too, Lils," Hermione lied. 

Hermione couldn't explain it, but she did not feel too happy about having a private lesson with Dumbledore. She felt that if the boys learned from Dumbledore, they would become over confident. If they became over confident, they may become careless. If they become careless, they could possibly end up getting themselves killed. She knew Dumbledore was only trying to help, but maybe this was something they had to all learn on their own. There was just a feeling in her gut that was telling her this was going to end up backfiring. And so far, her gut feelings have proven to be right. She definitely felt uneasy while watching the boys' eyes light up while she and Lily were telling them about Dumbledore's letter. The comment Peter made, "With Dumbledore teaching us, we'll be invincible!" kind of proved her point to herself. She would need to get it through their heads that, even if they do learn magic from Dumbledore, they must not become complacent. They must still remain on their guards and not become too cocky. She needs to explain that, during a time of war, that even one moment of hesitation, one moment of gloating, one moment they're not paying attention; it could end up being the last moment of their lives.


Chapter 22: Reading the Signs
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Reading the Daily Prophet every morning, Hermione was noticing a dark theme in the articles. There were unexpected disappearances, people dying, some Muggles being found murdered and other things that were uncomfortably familiar to her. It was starting. She was sure of it. Because of this, Hermione was having a hard time concentrating in her classes the following week. Something, she was sure, had never happened before. In Transfiguration, Professor McGonagall had to repeat her question three times Thursday morning before Sirius whispered the answer to her. When the bell rang at the end of class, Professor McGonagall asked Hermione to wait behind.

 


"Miss Winters? A word please?" she asked.

 


Hermione felt her heart drop as looked at Sirius, who had a concerned expression on his face. Neither of them had ever heard Hermione be asked to remain after class before.

 


"I'll catch up with you in a minute," she mumbled to Sirius. "Certainly Professor," she answered McGonagall.

Sirius said squeezed her arm for reassurance, heaved his bag over his shoulder and walked out of the classroom with the rest of their friends. Hermione, shaking slightly - she was amazed that, with everything else on her mind, being scolded by a teacher would still make her this nervous - walked up to McGonagall's desk. Surprisingly, when she reached the desk, McGonagall did not have the stern, thin lipped look she was expecting. Her eyes were soft and full of concern.

"Miss Winters. Is everything alright? I do not believe I can recall a time where I had to repeat myself to you. Let alone have Mr. Black whisper the answer to my unheard question in your ear."

Hermione looked into the eyes of her favorite professor, wishing she could tell her the truth. But, as Dumbledore had suggested, she should keep the details of her life from anyone who was not already in the know.

"Yes, Professor. Everything is fine. I suppose it's just N.E.W.T.s coming up and leaving school that has me distracted. I'm terribly sorry about that today. It won't happen again," she lied smoothly.

 


Hermione was beginning to become slightly uneasy with how effortlessly she was able to lie these days. Professor McGonagall looked her over for a moment, her brow furrowed, and then slowly smiled at her brightest student.

"I understand, Miss Winters. I too remember how frightening it was to be faced with leaving school and entering adulthood. It is a bit overwhelming for everyone. But I must ask that you put a little more effort into paying attention in my class from here on out," she stated while slipping back into her usual stern tone.

Blushing slightly, Hermione nodded. "Yes, Professor. I will. Again, I'm horribly sorry," she apologized softly.

McGonagall looked her over, once more, which made Hermione shift uncomfortably, from one foot to the other. "Very well. Off you go then. I do not want to make you late for your next class," McGonagall dismissed her.

"Thank you, Professor." Hermione all but ran back to her desk to grab her school bag out out the door.

As she knew he would be, Sirius was waiting outside of the door for her. 


 

"What's going on with you, Hermione? I've never seen you like that in class before," he asked her.

"Nothing, really. Just... Just a little distracted, I guess. I'll pull it together," she tried to placate him.

Sirius raised an eyebrow at Hermione, clearly not being able to understand what was causing her to fall apart this week. They have been practicing non-stop. Even Peter was up to their level at this point. With how well everyone has been doing lately, and the fact that they were starting private lessons with Dumbledore, everything should be perfect, but with the events unfolding - outside of the castle - she was anything but calm. Hermione began to walk on ahead of Sirius, trying to get herself together.

"Hey!" he called out while running up to stop her. "What do you say we skive off History of Magic? We'll go take a walk in the grounds, just you and me," he suggested. "That way we can talk and you can really let me know what is bothering you. You can't keep everything bottled up, Hermione. You'll go mental."

Thinking about it for a moment, she didn't know if it would be a good idea to skip out on her next class. Especially after being held behind in Transfiguration. Well... It is only History of Magic. I suppose if there was a class to skive off, it would be that one, she rationalized.

"Alright. Let's do it," she, surprisingly, agreed.

Sirius' eyes widened for a moment, obviously shocked by her response. "That's my girl," he smiled.

The two of them ended up sitting under her favorite tree near the Black Lake. It wasn't a horrible day out side. Overcast and not too chilly; sweater weather. She sat staring out over the lake, thinking of what the grounds looked like during her time, during the Battle at Hogwarts. Images of the castle on fire, the Quidditch pitch burnt to the ground and Hagrid's hut destroyed made their way into her mind. Eyes unfocused, she couldn't help but to think of giants causing massive destruction, people screaming in pain, bodies falling and the unbearable fear that you'll be the next body to drop. Shuddering slightly at the thought, Sirius wrapped an arm around her.

"Please, Hermione. Tell me what you're thinking. I'm going mad over here," he begged.

Bringing herself back into the present, she snuggled herself closer into him. She truly never felt safer, or more at home, than she did in Sirius' arms. "Just about the last few weeks before I left my time and came here. The war and the pain that followed." She took a deep breath and lifted her head to look directly at him. "It's beginning again, Sirius. Have you been reading the Prophet? All of the signs are there. It won't be long now," she answered honestly.

"What signs?" he asked.

"The disappearances, the deaths, the people suddenly acting strangely - who must be under the Imperius Curse, I'm sure of it. It's - It's exactly how you told us it began during the first war, and it's how it began during the war I've come from." Her voice began to shake as she continued. "Voldemort is building up an army, or already has," she explained.

"How bad will it be, Hermione?" he wondered, his face set and determined. That was another one of those things that truly had her admire Sirius. Even though he must be somewhat frightened - even though he would never admit it or show it - he was always ready to take on whatever challenges lay in front of him. He was one of the bravest people she had ever known.

She didn't answer immediately. Sitting and thinking of the deaths, the pain, the fear and the determination to win; her shoulders rose and fell with a heaving breath. "Imagine a darker time than you could possibly ever fathom. You don't know who to trust. Either because they may be on his side willingly, or because they're cursed. Muggle-Borns being rounded up, tortured and killed. Muggles killed for sport. Friends dying or permanently damaged. Families broken apart. Everything you know of and the life you've become accustomed to living, ceasing to exist. A perpetual dark cloud hovering over everyone daily. It's horrible, Sirius. Absolutely horrible", she described.

They sat in silence for some time while Sirius mulled over her words.

"We have to stop it. We can't let it happen this time," she whispered, more to herself than to him.

Squeezing her a little tighter, he answered, "We will, love. We will."

**
Later that evening all of them were in The Room of Requirement for more training. Hermione wanted to show them what war time was really like. Not knowing how else to do that, she found herself wishing they had a Pensieve in the room. No sooner did she think it, she noticed one appear right next to the bookshelf in the back of the room.

"What is that, Hermione?" Lily asked, noticing the stone basin which seemed to arrive from thin air.

"That? That is a Pensieve. Which is perfect, because I want to show you all what we may end up facing."

Hermione led them all towards the Pensieve while taking her place next to it, facing the group. Not exactly relishing in the thought of reliving this, as she chose one of the worst memories of the war she had, she raised her wand to her temple and thought of the Battle that terrible night. Giving her memory a clear beginning and a clear end of what she wanted them to see, she pulled the wand away from her head while a wispy string a sliver was attached to the tip.

"Wow, 'Mione! I didn't know you knew how to do that," Peter exclaimed.

"There's not much she can't do," Lupin smiled in adoration.

Hermione blushed slightly while waiving off their praise. "Thank you, boys," she smiled. Her grin did not last long, her face was now serious, while she faced the five of them, and began to explain what they would all be doing. "Now, what I am about to show you is most definitely not for the faint of heart. This is my memory of the awful battle that happened here, at Hogwarts, a week before I first met you all. What you are about to see is war first hand. I'm warning you now, this is not going to be easy to watch."

The group all exchanged looks with one another. It was clear they were slightly uneasy about seeing this, but determined all the same.

"We understand, Hermione. We can handle it," James answered for everyone, while they nodded in agreement.

"Alright, guys. Ready?" she asked. Am I ready?

"Ready," they all replied.

Hermione took her wand and placed the sliver string, which was her memory, into the Pensieve. It swirled as a scene of chaos and fighting began to form in the basin. Hermione squared her shoulders, took a deep breath and tried to calm herself before diving in. One by one, they put their faces in and fell down into The Battle at Hogwarts.

"Oh my!" Lily shrieked.

Hermione's heart sank and her palms began to sweat as she took in the scene around her, which seemed as if it was happening all over, once more. Hogwarts was on fire. Giants were crashing their way through the people on the ground. Abnormally large spiders weaving through the crowds of people, good and bad alike. Death Eaters were everywhere. The smell of smoke and blood and the sound of anguished screams were hovering all around. There were people running, wands slashing, jets of red and green light flying, people falling to the ground and moving no more. Even though they all knew they could not be harmed, fear was the primary emotion in them all.

To her right Hermione saw herself, Ron and Harry running through the crowds of people firing off spells at Death Eaters. Blood was trickling from the younger Hermione's mouth and forehead. The three of them were covered in dirt, grime and blood. They saw Lupin and Tonks dueling two masked Death Eaters; Molly Weasley taking two on her own; Minerva McGonagall facing Bellatrix; Hagrid picking a man up and throwing him through a wall; Colin Creevey being struck down by Yaxley. It was complete pandemonium.

"Come on," Hermoine yelled, while taking Sirius' hand and beginning to run.

The group followed the younger Hermione, Harry and Ron through the castle.  While they were running through the fighters inside, Hermione immediately regretted her decision to relive this. Again she watched a wall explode while sending Harry, Ron, Hermione, Percy and Fred flying through the air. Slowly everyone began to emerge from the wreckage. Everyone except one of them. "No! Fred! No!" Percy Weasley was screaming. Hermione almost couldn't bring herself to look. She remembered, all to clearly, what she would see. Fred Weasley was dead. Again she heard Percy making noises no human should ever make while hanging onto Fred's body. Hermione felt as if she were punched in the stomach seeing that once more.

"Merlin..." Sirius exhaled, while watching the carnage.

James put his hand on Hermione's shoulder and gripped tightly. "Hermione. I'm - I'm so sorry you had to go through all of this," James choked out.

Hermione's eyes filled with tears and she felt as if she could vomit. She couldn't take anymore. Living though this once was enough. She could not bear another moment. They needed to go back.

"We need to leave." She would quickly losing composure.

They all pulled themselves out and were once more standing in The Room of Requirement. The moment they arrived, Hermione's legs became weak, her heart felt like it was about to beat out of her chest and she began to hyperventilate. Suddenly, she found herself kneeling on the floor; sobs rocking her body.

Sirius knelt down besides her and took Hermione in his arms. Lily and James stood with their arms around each other, amazed and horrified at seeing their future son in battle. Lupin stared at nothing in particular, thinking of his older self and the beautiful young woman he was dueling with. Peter... Peter was ashamed of himself. He was, obviously, not there, but was also thinking that maybe he was. That maybe he was one of the masked men they were fighting. There would be no way he would ask that now. He would pull Hermione aside later. After she had pulled herself together. 


 

"S-See? Th-That's why I have us training s-so m-m-much," Hermione cried. "Now... Now you know what - what I went th-through. W-what we will g-g-go through."

Sirius kissed the top of her head and began speaking with his face buried into her hair. "Shhh. Shhh. It's ok, love. We'll all be fine. It won't be that bad this time. It can't be," he tried to sooth her. Sirius held her while rubbing her back in a circular motion, trying to calm her down.

"You can't know that, Sirius. Do you think poor Fred, the boy who was crush by the wall, do you think he knew that was going to happen? I'm sure he thought he'd be fine too," she said softly into his shoulder.

"It'll be different this time, Hermione. I can feel it," he replied.

**
Later that night, Hermione could not sleep. She tossed and turned with images of her memories running rapidly through her mind. At four in the morning she had given up on sleep, climbed out of bed, put on a robe, grabbed a book and headed down the stairs to the common room. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she jumped in surprise. Peter was sitting on the couch with a book in his lap. Hearing someone coming down the stairs, he turned around.

"Hey," Peter greeted her.

"Hey," she reasponded as she took a seat in one of the armchairs next to Peter.

"Couldn't sleep either?" he asked.

She shook her head with a sad smile on her face.

"What's keeping you up, Wormy?" she wondered.

Peter closed the book and looked into the fire.

"That memory of yours, honestly. Not seeing my older self, like Lupin, fighting along side you and your friends. Not knowing if I was one of the masked Death Eaters, or if I was already dead. Just knowing that I was on the wrong side. It really bothers me, Hermione," he admitted. "Do - Do you know where I was during that battle you showed us?"

Avoiding Peter's eyes, Hermione answered. "You weren't there. You were... you were dead, Pete. I'm sorry," she told him quietly. "Apparently, you showed Harry a split second of mercy. It - It cost you your life."

He nodded and the hint of a smile touched his face.

"I didn't die fighting you all? I died showing Harry mercy? That... That actually makes me feel a little better. Just to know, even if it won't happen like that this time, that there was some good in me. It makes a great deal of difference. So maybe I really wasn't all that bad," he was saying to himself at this point. He looked up at her. "Thank you for telling me that, Hermione."

"You're welcome," she whispered, feeling stunned he reacted that way.

**

Saturday evening had arrived and the group found themselves standing in front of the stone gargoyle which would lead the way to Dumbledore's office.

"Cockroach Clusters," Hermione said as the stairs began to form and rise.

They all rode the stairs up and walked to their Headmaster's door. Hermione knocked and heard multiple voices inside.

"Come in," Dumbledore called out.

When they opened the door they saw it was crowded with people. People she recognized from meeting in her past - the future - and others she recognized only through photographs. Alastor Moody was there, both eyes still natural and completely his own, nose intact and, as far as it looked, both legs being his. Alice and Frank Longbottom she recognized from seeing the photo of the original Order of the Phoenix. Elphias Doge, Marlene McKinnon, Hagrid, Gideon and Fabian Prewett were all there as well. Hermione and her friends felt very warm at the sight of them. The warmth spread throughout their bodies as did the sense of knowing these people for a lifetime and a certain feeling of tranquility. The Recognition Charm at work.

The Prewett boys looked so much like Fred and George it almost took Hermione's breath away. They were a little taller and leaner, but the features in their faces, the mischievous glint in their brown eyes, and their flaming red hair were so much alike, the young men standing in front of her looked as if they could be twins themselves. Marlene McKinnon was beautiful. She had long dark blonde hair, bright blue eyes, a tall athletic build and the a very unfriendly look on her face as she took in Hermione and Sirius holding hands.

"Marlene and Sirius had a... thing a few years back. She was two years ahead of us and it doesn't look like she has ever really gotten over him," Lily whispered in Hermione's ear.

"Lovely," Hermione whispered back sarcastically, feeling a slight twinge of jealousy.

Elphias Doge looked very much the same. He had a bit more auburn hair on his head and his face was less wrinkled, but the kind eyes and smile were exactly the same. Hagrid never changed. He will always be humungous, kind and far scarier looking than his gentle nature truly is. Moody was actually rather handsome - bright blue eyes, dirty blond hair, straight nose, square jaw and broad shoulders -  before his features were so severely disfigured in the years to come. Still, he looked suspiciously at the students who had just entered the room.

 

 

 

Looking at Frank and Alice, it broke her heart. They had the widest, most welcoming smiles on their young faces. Neville truly was the spitting image of his mother. The only feature he had inherited from his father was his nose. Frank was tall, thin, dark brown eyes, thin lips, which were curled up in a smile and shaggy blond hair. Alice had the same round face as her son would come to have, short brown hair, wide hazel eyes, full pink lips which were also smiling happily.

"Now I am sure my older friends here are wondering why on earth I have invited students into our meeting this evening. As I am sure my young students are wondering who everyone gathered here may be. Some of you, I am sure, know one other, as you were in school together not so long ago," Dumbledore began.

"I was just about to ask ya, Albus. What are a bunch of teenagers doing here; involved in all this?" Moody questioned.

Dumbledore sighed quietly at the outspoken and always suspicious, Alastor Moody.

"These young adults, Alastor, will be joining us in our fight against Voldemort the moment they leave school. I am sure you have noticed when they entered the room the effects of the Recognition Charm," he explained calmly. Moody's eyes widened in understanding. "Yes, my friend. I have already inducted them into our ranks. They are the newest, and youngest, members of The Order of the Phoenix," Dumbledore finished.

Marlene McKinnon, while still glaring at Hermione, said "But why them, Dumbledore? They're still in school for Merlin's sake."

Fabian and Gideon nodded in approval of her words while Dumbledore smiled at the older members of The Order.

"My dear friends. The students who are in front of you are not merely your average children," he turned and gestured at Lily first. "This young woman here is Lily Evans". Lily turned a deep shade of scarlet at being singled out first. "She is an uncommonly kind young woman, with an aptitude in Potions to rival Horace himself. Dear Lily is one of the top students in her year and one of the more accelerated students who has ever graced these castle walls," he described proudly.

"Thank you, Sir," Lily mumbled awkwardly.

Dumbledore nodded his head in acknowledgement and continued on. "Next we have Remus Lupin," he said as it was now Lupin's turn to look uncomfortable and embarrassed. "Young Mr. Lupin is one of the most talented and brilliant young minds I have ever had the privilege of knowing. His comprehension and skills involved in Defensive magic almost put mine to shame."

"Wow, Sir. That is incredibly inaccurate, but thank you all the same," Lupin said with watery eyes.

 


Dumbledore gave Lupin a kind smile and a shake of his head, then went on with his introductions. "Peter Pettigrew," he motioned towards Peter who jumped slightly at the sound of his name. "Mr. Pettigrew is a loyal, kind and dedicated young man. Also, like his friends here, one of the top students in his year and has a brilliant mind when it comes to Herbology. I dare you to find a better friend than our young Peter here," Dumbledore stated.

 


"Thank you so much, Sir," Peter beamed.

"Now I move on to our resident mischief makers: James Potter and Sirius Black," Dumbledore continued on with a chuckle.

 


Fabian and Gideon's eyebrows shot up as if accepting a challenge in who could cause more trouble.

"Mr. Potter and Mr. Black, since day one, have shown they are two of our more gifted students. Always they have been at the top in Transfiguration - even without doing the homework most of the time I may add. And even though they seem to spend more time in detention than out, they have always been and will always be two of my very favorite students. But I never said that, gentlemen" he added with a wink. "These young men are truly brilliant and will be an asset to our ranks," Dumbledore said with his eyes beaming with pride.

"Aw shucks, Professor. You're making us blush," Sirius joked.

"Yeah, Sir. You shouldn't say such lovely things about us. It may end up going to our heads," James added.

 


A few people laughed at the boys' joke, everyone else smiled politely. Except Moody.

"Finally we arrive at Hermione Winters," Dumbledore said.

Hermione was slightly surprised he was still using her alias. She assumed that, with the members of The Order, they would be let in on her secret. Looking at Sirius, he shrugged, clearly he assumed the same thing.

"Hermione is a transfer student, one which we were very fortunate to receive, even though it stemmed from very unfortunate circumstances, from The Salem Witch Institute. She had come to us this past September after her parents had been killed in a car crash. Her only living relative - a Great Aunt - still resides in England, which meant Hermione would finish her magical education with us here at Hogwarts," he explained to everyone who were, now, curiously looking at the young witch, who no one - except Hagrid at this point - seemed to recognize.

 

 

 

"Having Miss Winters here with us has been an honor and a privilege. Never before, in my many years of teaching, have I encountered a more gifted student. She is the top student of her year, and by extension, the school. This young woman has talent and a brilliance to rival my own. We are truly lucky to have her," he stopped for a moment with his eyes piercing into Hermione's.

Hermione felt her throat tighten up at Dumbledore's words. She could not believe he had just compared her to himself, and couldn't help but think he was completely wrong in his assessment. "Wow... Sir. Th-thank you. That is truly incredibly too kind. Even in my wildest dreams I could never hope to become as brilliant as you," Hermione said softly.

Dumbledore waived her compliment away with a shake of his hand when Moody spoke.

"Alright, alright. Enough with the love fest Albus. So they're young and talented. We get it. But still, why them? Why children who are not out of school, and may not even be of age yet?" he growled.

Hermione felt Sirius tense up beside her and knew this would not be good. "Why not us?" Sirius demanded.

"Yeah, we have just as much of a right and duty to fight as any of you. No matter what our age is," James argued.

 


Moody looked furious. "Listen, laddie. I will not-"

"Enough!" Dumbledore thundered, which caused everyone to jump. "Alastor, that is enough. They are here because I have decided they should be."

Moody seemed to look slightly ashamed at being scolded by Dumbledore.

"Mr. Potter; Mr. Black. You do not need to justify your presence here. I will handle that". Dumbledore then looked around at everyone in his office. "We cannot afford to mistrust and fight amongst ourselves. All of us here are here for one reason: To make sure that life as we know it does not cease to exist. We are all aware of Voldemort and his future plans for the Wizarding world. All of us, all of us are here to stop him before the horror he envisions becomes our reality. Now more than ever, those of us who are committed to preserving peace in our world, need to stick together. It does not matter the age of the person willing to fight. The only thing that matters is the conviction in their hearts. Now I will hear no more bickering and no more questioning my motives behind inviting our young witches and wizards here to join us in our fight. If they are willing, I say we give them the chance. They are more than aware of the dangers which may lay ahead of them."

 


Everyone remained quiet while they looked around at one another.

"Sorry, Albus. I will say no more about it," Moody reluctantly apologized, still glaring towards James and Sirius.

"Thank you, Alastor," Dumbledore said while inclining his head. "Now, the reason I have you all here this evening is because my students need training. They have been practicing on their own, and have become extremely more advanced than their classmates, but need proper training. I would like for them to learn from Aurors themselves. Aurors and skilled members of The Order. All of you here are the best our world can offer and it is all of you I ask of taking on this task."

 


The Order members looked to one another, as if waiting for someone to speak up and offer their help and guidance. Hermione noticed Frank and Alice share a look between them while they each nodded and smiled.

"We'd be honored and delighted to teach them, Albus," Alice said.

"I agree with my wife. I would love nothing more than to help these students to prepare for what is out there," Frank beamed.

 


Hermione knew, immediately, that she would very much like Alice and Frank Longbottom.

 


Moody grunted, what sounded like a yes. Hagrid nodded enthusiastically. Elphias agreed. Marlene shurgged and said, "Sure". Gideon and Fabian had very Fred and George-ish smiles break out on their faces while saying in unison, "This will be excellent". They had their sights set on James and Sirius. It was looking like a - hopefully - friendly rivalry will be developing there.

The look and intent did not go unnoticed to Sirius and James. "Pssh. We can take them, Prongs," Sirius said out of the side of his mouth to James.

"Blindfolded, mate," James agreed.

 


The Prewetts smiled and said, "Bring it, boys."

 


"Alright. Exellent!" Dumbledore said loudly, trying to stop the oncoming duel, as Sirius and James began to take a step forward; hands reaching into their pockets. "We shall begin our training at a later date, sadly. Tonight I wanted to merely gather you all here and explain what I had planned for us all," he then spoke directly to Hermione and her friends. "If you would all return to your common room. I shall send word by owl of when our next meeting will be. Thank you for meeting with us this evening and have a pleasant night," he dismissed Hermione and her friends.

 


"Thank you, Sir," they all said. Everyone said rather awkward goodbye to one another and the group made their way out of the office and down the stairs.

 


"Gits," James grumbled.

 


"Prats," Sirius spat.

 


Hermione rolled her eyes while hissing, "Boys..." under her breath.

 


Lily's eyes narrowed. "No don't you two begin fighting with those Prewett boys. We're all on the same side, you know," she snapped.

 


James put his arm around Lily and kissed her on the cheek. "I know, love. We just need to show them who they're dealing with. And then we'll back off. Promise," he said happily and Lily pretended to wipe James' kiss off of her face.

 


"Standing there all cocky. Looking at us like we're mere children. We can take them with our wand arm tied behind our backs. Right, Prongs," Sirius went on.

 


"You know it!" James punched Sirius' arm lightly.

 


Hermione looked at Lupin for help.

 


"Don't even bother trying to reason with them when they get like this, Hermione. You know that," Lupin laughed.

 


As they continued down the hall, they heard footsteps coming behind them.

 


"Sirius?" a woman's voice called out. "A word please?"

 


It was Marlene McKinnon. Hermione's entire body went cold. Marlene was stunning and if she wanted Sirius back, Hermione was afraid she wouldn't stand a chance.

 


Lily and Hermione shared a look while Sirius looked from Marlene back to Hermione.

 


"What do you want, McKinnon?" he asked, sounding bored.

 


Marlene's expression went from embarrassed to defensive.

 


"I just want to speak with you for a moment!" she yelled.

 


He looked back at Hermione, as if waiting for her permission.

 


"It's ok, love. I'll wait for you in the common room," Hermione told him. Even though she felt it was a very bad idea to let him go, she did anyhow. What in Merlin's name am I thinking?!

 


Sirius gave Hermione a kiss and then turned back towards Marlene.

 


"Fine. Quickly," he agreed.

 


Hermione and her friends continued their walk back towards Gryffindor tower as Sirius left with his ex. Hermione felt sick.

 


"I can't believe you let him go with her," Lily said.

 


"Oh relax, Lils. You know Sirius is crazy about Hermione. Plus, Marlene was mental. He won't do anything stupid," James assured them both.

 


Hermione put her hands in the pockets of her robes and realized she dropped her wand.

 


"Oh for the love of... I dropped my wand," she snarled.

 


"Do you want us to help you look?" Lupin asked.

 


It has been a long day for all of them. Hermione could see the exhaustion on her friends' faces.

 


"No. It's alright, you go on. I'll go back and look," she said.

 


As Hermione began to walk away from everyone, she felt a hand pull on her arm. "I'm coming with you. I don't like the idea of you wandering around alone at night wandless. Even within the school," Peter stated firmly.

 


Hermione and Peter began to backtrack after bidding a goodnight to their friends. Up ahead, Hermione saw something laying on the ground at the end of a corridor.

 


"I think I see it, Pete," she pointed ahead.

 


They walked up to the stick on the ground, which turned out to be Hermione's wand. She bent down to pick it up, and as she looked up and down the hall, her whole world felt as if it were crashing down around her. The walls of the hallway felt like they were closing in and a strangled sob escaped her. Hermione saw Marlene grab Sirius's face and begin to kiss him. For a moment, he did not stop her.

 


"Oi! Sirius! What the bloody hell do you think you're doing!?" Peter yelled, his wand pointed directly at Sirius. Hermione was convinced Peter was going to blast him.

 


She felt extremely cold and could honestly not process the scene in front of her. Sirius's lips on another, Marlene's smug look at being caught by Hermione, Peter about to hex the pair of them and Sirius pushing Marlene away with his hand outstretched towards Hermione.

 


"Hermione! No! It - It honestly wasn't what you're thinking. The bloody lunatic threw herself at me!" he pleaded.

 


She didn't know what to do. Tears were filling her eyes. Without even thinking of what she was doing, she turned her wand at Marlene she shrieked, "STUPIFY!" turned on her heel and ran back towards the common room; crying the entire time. Arriving at the portrait, she shouted the password, ran through the common room, shouted, "He was actually snogging her!" at the stunned faces of Lily, James and Lupin, and did not stop until she arrived at her bed. Hermione would not be speaking to anyone this evening. Instead she sealed her curtains shut, and for the first time in months, wished that she never came back to 1977.

**

 


A/N: Fred's death scene is from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Chapter 31: The Battle of Hogwarts. Pages 636 and 637.  






Hello everyone! Thank you all so, so very much for reading!! I appreciate the extremely kind reviews you all have given me so this far in the story more than I could tell you. They truly keep me motivated to continue writing and trying to write the best I possibly can. Thank you to all of you who have favorited, reviewed and/or read. The fact that this story has over 10,600 reads at this point, completely blows my mind. Please feel free to leave a review and let me know what you thought of the chapter, or the story as a whole. We're getting close to the end now. Thank you, thank you, thank you all so much for sticking with me up until this point, and hopefully until the end.  





 





xoxo - Meg <3



Chapter 23: Securing a Spy
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


Hermione sobbed for hours and just as she finally cried herself to sleep, she was woken up by the sound of screaming coming from downstairs.


"Hermione! Please come down here and talk to me! You bloody well know I can't go up there! If you don't come down... I'm going to... I'm going to keep screaming until the whole house is awake!" Sirius was bellowing. It was two in the morning.


Lily sat up in bed. "Hermione," she began groggily. "Just go down and speak with him. You know he won't stop until you go down there."


Stubborn as always, Hermione answered, "No. Let him shout himself hoarse. I don't care who he wakes up."


Huffing impatiently, Lily pleaded, "Please? You know I love you both, but I could really use a good night's sleep. If not for him, for me, will you please go down there?"


Hermione remained silent, determined to not even look at Sirius tonight.

"Hermione. Pretty please?" Lily continued to beg. "He really didn't mean for it to happen. We heard about it all night. Honestly, he's sorry."

"SORRY!?" Hermione shrieked. "He's sorry?" she hissed. "He's sorry that the first girl he's alone with since we've been together, he ends up snogging? You're damn right, he's sorry! A sorry excuse of a man!" she yelled.

"Hermione, listen. It's not like-"

"A SORRY EXCUSE OF A MAN?! THAT'S WHAT YOU THINK OF ME!?" Sirius thundered. Apparently he heard Hermione shouting.

"Oh in the name of Merlin's balls. Hermione! Go speak with him!" yelled Lily, finally losing her temper.

She couldn't help it, Hermione broke out laughing. "Merlin's balls? Wow, Lils. You really must be angry. Fine, fine. I'll go speak with the wanker."

"Thank you." Lily rolled back on her side trying to fall back to sleep.

She swung her legs over the side of her bed, grabbed her house coat, stood up and put in on.

"HERMIONE! PLEASE COME DOWN HERE! WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS!!" he roared.


"If I don't murder him tonight, I swear I never will," she mumbled to herself.

"If you don't get down there in two seconds and stop him from screaming, I'm going to murder you both," came quietly from Lily's bed.


Hermione rolled her eyes while chucking softly at Lily. "I'm going, I'm going. Don't get your knickers in a twist."

She crossed the room and made her way to the door with her heart thumping madly. Of course she was angry, but she was also humiliated. He had made Hermione feel the same as dozens of girls before her. Everyone had told her that she was different, that he was different with her, but tonight she wasn't so sure. She began to wonder, if he did this while she was out of his sight for seconds, what would he do when she is gone for years?


Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and began to walk down the stairs.

"HERMIO -" Sirius started to scream again. He caught sight of her walking down the stairs and said, "Oh... Hi," awkwardly while running his hand through his hair. 

Hermione stared at him in disbelief. "Hi?" she snapped. "After what you've done to me tonight and you say hi?"

Sirius opened his mouth, but no sound came out. She walked right past him, over to the couch near the fire and sat down crossing her arms and legs so tightly, it would be a miracle if she didn't stick that way.

"Please, love. Hear me out," he began as he walked over and sat next to her on the couch. He put his hand on her knee; Hermione flinched and stood up quickly.

"Don't touch me!" she spat as she moved away and sat on one of the armchairs.

Sirius' expression was heartbreaking. He looked like he had been slapped. Hermione had to remind herself not to falter, to keep her nerve. He did not speak, only continued to stare at her with his eyes beginning to water. Nonchalantly he rubbed both of his hands from his cheeks, up over his eyes and through his hair trying to wipe the tears that were beginning to form. Hermione was losing patience rapidly.

"Well?" she pressed while tapping her foot on the ground.

"I'm so sor-" he tried.

Hermione shook her head violently while she felt all of her hurt, rage, and betrayal she felt from Sirius' actions finally explode out of her. "DON'T tell me you're sorry, Sirius! The last thing I want to hear from you right now is how sorry you are. What I want to know is why? Why did you not stop her? I saw you. I SAW you! You didn't try to stop her. Not until Peter yelled and you saw me. What would have happened if we weren't there?" 

She promised herself she wouldn't not cry, but traitorous tears began to fall. Always she would curse her tear ducts for being directly connected with her anger. Still, she would try to keep her composure as best as she could. If her tears wanted to fall silently, she would let them, but she would not break down. She was not giving him the satisfaction. Hermione watched Sirius put his head down while he stared at his trainers. She began to count in her head. It wasn't until she reached ninety-eight did he finally speak.

"I don't know what you want me to say," he began quietly. "I mean. I don't know what happened, Hermione. One moment she was standing there telling me how breaking it off was a mistake and how she never stopped having feelings for me. The next moment, she glanced over my shoulder, grabbed my face and attacked me. I - I was just completely taken off guard, Hermione. It wasn't that I was snogging her back, it was -"

Hermione exhaled loudly. "Certainly looked like you were from where I was standing," she said crossly.

He continued on as if she did not interrupt him. "just that I was caught by surprise. You have to believe me, love!"

Honestly, deep down, she did believe him. The rational part of her brain knew he was telling her the truth. The emotional part of her was not buying it. Stubbornly she sat in silence, not even looking in his direction, but keeping her eyes on the flames in the fireplace.

"Hermione, please. I love you! I would never do anything to fuck up what we have! After everything that we've been through, after everything that I know, after all that has happened, how could you think I would ever do something like that to you on purpose? You have to know that I didn't do anything wrong here! It's not like I went off with her planning on that happening. I just thought I would give the psycho a chance to speak with me. We didn't exactly end on good terms, so I thought I would just give her the opportunity to speak her piece," he said passionately.

Still she did not make a sound or even glance in his direction. Tears were still quietly streaming down her face while her watery eyes were reflecting in the firelight.

"Love, please. Please look at me or say something. Anything. Please!" he begged.  

Slowly Hermione stood up, still not looking at Sirius. Keeping her back to him, she spoke in a whisper.

"I'm going to bed, Sirius. Please do not try to stop me and please do not shout up the stairs again."

"But, Hermione!"

"No. No Sirius. I just need to get away from you right now. Goodnight," she said and walked quickly away and up the stairs.

As she reached her door, she heard Sirius yell, "Fucking hell!"  while immediately after, hearing the loud thud of his fist coming into contact with a wall.

For a moment she thought about going back down to him, but changed her mind right after. She needed to sleep. Sleep and try to forget what she saw earlier this evening.

 


**
Hermione woke the following morning with a pounding headache. The now added stress of Marlene McKinnon was almost pushing her to the breaking point. She honestly did not know how much more she could handle. Looking out of her window, she noticed that it was still very early. The sky had that grey, pre dawn look to it, fog rolling softly over the grounds and the sound of birds chirping their morning songs. Now that she was awake, she knew she would never fall back to sleep with the racket the birds were making. With a stretch and a yawn, she threw her covers off, swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood up. She grabbed her basket of toiletries and headed into the bathroom for a shower to start her day.

While she stood in the shower, letting the hot water run on her face, she allowed herself to break down. So many scenes were flashing before her eyes while she cried uncontrollably. Sirius lip-locked with Marlene. Peter laying bleeding in Hogsmeade. Fred dead on the ground. Herself, Ron and Harry in battle. The look on James' and Lily's faces while watching their future son fight his way through Death Eaters and monsters alike. Bellatrix pinning her down while carving Mudblood into her arm. The feeling of fire spreading throughout her body after Dumbledore force fed her that potion. Snape cornering her outside of the Room of Requirement. Lucius pointing his wand on her before everything went dark. Dumbledore's rapidly paced aging. Sirius snogging Marlene again... Over and over everything replayed in her mind like some sort of perverse slide show. She had been through so much in such a short period of time. It was a wonder she was not completely mental. She knew she would be an integral part of the first war, this time around, and did not know if she had it in her. How much more am I supposed to take before I completely shatter? she thought desperately.

By the time she showered and dressed, the sun was out and shining, for once. It was only six-thirty in the morning on a Sunday, obviously she would be the only person awake. She thought she would take a walk around the castle; possibly out around the grounds to try and clear her head. Maybe she would go visit with Hagrid. Now that they would be working together soon, possibly she should try to get to know him during this time period. Honestly she slightly did regret not doing that sooner. Putting her cloak on, she made her way quietly down the stairs. As she walked down she was holding her breath, hoping no one was down there. She reached the bottom step, craned her head around and saw that she was completely and entirely alone. Finally, a bit of luck.

The castle always seemed so much larger when the halls were empty of students and staff. Nearly-Headless Nick floated past her, while tipping his head as if it were a hat and saying a polite, "Good morning" to her. Other than that, she had run into no one. Without meaning to, as if on autopilot, Hermione ended up at the entrance of the Great Hall. She stood there for a moment, dawdling, and decided she was not quite hungry yet. Turning right around, she made her way to the entrance hall and out the door into the grounds. It was one of those rare beautiful days. The sun was shining, only a few white fluffy clouds in the sky, not much wind and not too cold.  Her feet began to carry her towards Hagrid's hut and as she approached, she noticed there was no smoke emitting from his chimney and the windows were without light. He must be having a bit of a lie in this morning. Oh well... Another time, I suppose, she thought. Looking into The Forbidden Forest, she realized she had not been in there at all since she had come back in time. Cautiously, she peered over her shoulder, checking to see if anyone were around. Determining that the coast was clear, she marched right into the trees of the forest.

Walking in, it was exactly as she had remembered it. Nothing much had changed between now and the time she will arrive at Hogwarts for the first time. The ground was still completely covered with dried leaves and twigs, the trees completely blocked the sky and sun which chose to shine brightly today, sounds of scurrying animals were all around her and the feel of magic within the forest gave her goose-pimples on her arms. Looking behind her, she could still see Hagrid's hut. Hermione needed to escape the confines of the castle completely today, and walked further in still. She came to a clearing in the trees. The same clearing they had studied Unicorns with Professor Grubbly-Plank their fourth year. Looking around, she noticed she was not alone.

 

She jumped in alarm as she saw the back of a black cloak, crouched down on the ground while feeding a beautiful golden Unicorn foul. The quick, startled intake of her breath caused the cloaked stranger to turn around. It was Snape... drawing her wand to defend herself if need be, she watched Snape sigh, shake his head and turn back to the Unicorn. Almost as if Hermione was not there.

"Easy, Winters," he said with his back still turned. "I do not wish to fight. I merely sought time away from the castle."


Obviously she did not trust him, but she did slightly lower her wand while still keeping a firm grasp on it. Although, if he did want to fight her, he wouldn't have turned his back to her; leaving himself completely defenseless against her at the moment.

"Why are you here? Surely Black cannot survive without you in his sights at all times," he asked sarcastically.

Hermione felt a light jolt in her stomach hearing Sirius' name.

"I, myself, felt the need to stray from the castle this morning," she answered.

Snape nodded while a quiet, "Hmm" came from him.

She was honestly quite amazed that he was here, alone, early in the morning and feeding a young Unicorn. Surely there must be some good in him, even now, if the foal was allowing him near it. True, the babies were more trusting than the adults, but still... They had a way of staying away from danger. From evil. Maybe Snape was never evil. Maybe he was just a lost and lonely boy, desperate to fit in. Regardless. What he had done to Peter was inexcusable. Evil? No. Trouble? Yes.

"Why did you do it?" Snape asked her suddenly.

For the life of her, she could not figure out what he was speaking of.

"Do what?" she inquired.

"Dumbledore. You... After what I did to Pettigrew. You told Dumbledore that you were not sure I knew what that spell may have done. Which is true, of course. I knew it would hurt him. I wanted to hurt him; to hurt all of you filthy Gryffindors. But not kill. And... I could have killed him," he explained.

Hermione looked at him. It was there again, that look of remorse. By all rights, she should blast him with every jinx and hex she could think of right now. Now that they were alone with no one here to stop her. She knew that's what she could do, but not what she should do. Would it be possible to gain Severus Snape as their spy again? Even without the looming threat over his beloved Lily Evans? Maybe there was one more task that she should accomplish before taking on Voldemort with her friends. While she was thinking all of this, Snape was looking at her, waiting for an answer to his question.

"I don't know, Snape. I saw your face after you had done it. You tried very hard not to show it, but it was there. Shock at what you have done, and regret for doing it. It was gone as quickly as it had appeared, but I saw it. It was there," she answered honestly.

"I didn't need your help," he spat at her.

"I wasn't trying to help you. I was telling the truth. Dumbledore asked me what had happened, and I told him. Simple as that. Do you really think I wanted to stick up for you after what you had just done to one of my closest friends," she hissed.

Snape's face had returned to the sneering, contemptuous, uncaring mask which she had known so well.

"Dumbledore would have taken my word for it, regardless. The old fool. Always so willing to see the good in everyone. Always so trusting," he snapped.

"But maybe, deep down, there is good to see," she suggested.

His eyes widened while he shook his head. "You know nothing of what I am, Winters," he told her.

"I might know more than you think," she whispered.

Suddenly his eyes were piercing into hers. Visions of war, time-turners, an older Snape teaching Potions, Hogwarts in the future, Lupin and Sirius as men and she and Harry staring at the destroyed cottage in Godric's Hollow flashed before her eyes. Hermione, knowing what was happening yelled, "No!" while shutting her mind. Snape's eyes glistened in understanding.

"You! You're from the future!" he marveled.

Panicking, she wasn't sure, at all, of what to do. "Severus, please! You mustn't tell anyone!" she begged.


He laughed at her, "And why would I do that?" he spat.

Hermione thought desperately. What could she possibly tell him that would make him keep quiet. Then, she knew. The one thing that would make him care above all others.

"Because Lily will die!" she blurted out.

That sentence wiped the triumphant look right of off Snape's pale face.

"What?" he choked out.

"Lily. She will die. That is part of the reason I am here, Snape. I am here to save Lily's life. If you tell anyone of what you have seen, or what you know, and anything happens to me... She will die, I assure you," she explained.

"Why should I believe that? And what makes you think I care either way if Lily Evans lives or dies?" he sneered.

Hermione shook her head slowly.  "You know that you would care. You care more about her than anything or anyone in your entire life. I know that you do. Still don't believe me? Look into my mind again. I will show you I speak the truth."

Snape looked suspiciously at her while she stood there, looking him directly in the eye. He was a good enough Legilimens at this point in his life, that he would be able to tell if she were lying with her thoughts. Boring his eyes into hers once more, he began to see her thoughts

Hermione and Lily were laying on their stomachs in their dorm. Lily was asking questions of the unborn son she will never come to know while Hermione showed her pictures of Harry. The scene changed. Snape sounding like a wounded animal while he and Dumbledore were discussing Lily's death. The scene changed again. Harry and Hermione were standing in front of a grave in Godric's Hollow. The inscription on the tombstone read:

The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed Is Death


         Lily Potter                             James Potter

Born 30 January 1960        Born 27 March 1960
Died 31 October 1981       Died 31 October 1981
 


Hermione was brought out of her memories and back into the forest by Snape roaring, "ENOUGH!" as he fell to his knees. 

"See?" Hermione said, exceptionally glad Harry had shown Ron, and her, Snape's memories. Satisfied that she was able to show him how much he truly suffered upon hearing the news of Lily's death.

Snape was panting and tears were threatening to brim over. He sat down on the ground while staring at a tree in front of him, not quite seeing it.

"If word gets out of who I am, or why I am here and I am prevented from accomplishing what I was sent here to do... That will happen again. She will die. And you will too, Snape. Violently, I might add. I'm just... I'm here to make the future a brighter place for us all. Please... I know you don't owe me anything. But - But for Lily. For her? Please, Severus. Keep my secret," she begged.

Snape looked at the girl who was begging him to remain silent and honestly could not help admiring her bravery. Thinking that was obviously what had gotten her into Gryffindor. He also couldn't help but admire her cunning. It was enough to earn her a place in Slytherin as well. And, if he were being completely honest with himself, the girl was brilliant. More intelligent than most of the Ravenclaws he knows. A small smirk appeared on his face as he caught himself thinking he did not envy the Sorting Hat while trying to sort this girl. He was torn. Torn between telling his Master valuable information that could help him become unstoppable, but also between losing Lily. Even if Lily would end up marrying Potter, he would still rather her be alive to do so. To live and enjoy her life.

Hermione was looking at Snape. He looked like a young man who was having a severe inner struggle. She cocked her head to the side, curious at the smirk that appeared out of nowhere; wondering what that had been all about. She watched him shake his head, grab fist fulls of hair, mutter silently to himself and pull apart dead leaves on the ground. Her gut was telling her to remain silent while he worked this out, so she did.

Finally he turned his head back up and looked at her. "Fine," he said quietly. "I will keep your secret. I give you my word that I will not tell a soul for as long as I am alive. If it helps keep her - Lily - alive... I will not utter a syllable of your true identity." he told her while placing his face in the palms of his hands.

She was still not sure if she trusted him or not. There was only one way to be entirely certain. To be absolutely sure he would not go back on his word.

"I'm still not sure if your word is enough, Snape," she admitted.

His head snapped back up at her, his eyes cold.

"What else do you want from me, Winters?" he demanded.

"I need you to make an Unbreakable Vow," she said simply.

"What?!" he yelled.


"It's either that, or I wipe your memory clear right now," she replied.

Honestly she could have done that from the beginning, but there was another one of her gut feelings that was telling her it was better this way.

Snape did not answer her immediately. He thought it over for quite some time. But his will for Lily to live seemed to strongly outweighed his own will to live.

"Alright," he answered roughly "I'll do it."

Hermione and Snape grasped hands while Hermione took out her wand. As she spoke misty, glistening, silver strings wrapped their way up and around both of their arms

"Severus Snape. Do you give your word that you will never breathe a word of my true identity?"

 

"I do"


"And do you swear that, even under torture, you will never reveal who I truly am, or where I have come from?"

"I do"

"Also, do you promise that you will never convey the information in any way? Be it through thought, writing, magic or speech?"

"I do"

"And do you swear you will do everything, to the best of your power, to keep myself, Lily Evans and my friends from harm by your Death Eater friends and Voldemort"

He flinched slightly while hearing Voldemort's name, thought for moment and finally answered.

"I do"

The strings of sliver tightened at his last words. They became tighter and tighter until they were digging into their very skin. The silver disappeared into each of their arms and the feeling of your arm falling asleep remained for a few moments afterwards. Without intending it on happening, Hermione had just secured Snape as their spy once more.

"Thank you," she said sincerely.

"I did not do this for you. I have only done this for Lily," he told her.

"I know," she replied gently. "But thank you all the same." As she truned to leave, she looked back over her shoulder with a smirk. "And the name is Granger, by the way."

**

Hermione was on her way back up to her common room. She had left Snape in the forest, it was clear he needed some time alone. It was later in the morning now and most of the students were sleepily making their way to the Great Hall for breakfast. When she reached the Portrait, it swung open. She was standing face to face with Sirius who had a letter in his hand and tears in his eyes. Immediately, as if forgetting everything that had happened the night before, he took her in his arms.

"What happened, Sirius?" she asked, shocked.

"I received a letter this morning. My... My Uncle Alphard died," he told her in a thick voice.

Her heart broke for him, he was so upset. Not being able to stay mad at him, she squeezed him tightly. "Oh love. I'm so terribly sorry."

Hugging her back, he said in her ear, "I am too. I'm really going to miss him. He was one of the only members of my family who wasn't terrible. He wasn't obsessed with being a Pureblood like the rest of them. And he's left me everything. All of his gold, his flat in London... Everything."

"Merlin..." she whispered.

He pushed back from her, while keeping his hands firmly on her shoulders. Looking her in the eyes with a mad passion he blurted out, "Live with me! After we leave school this summer, come live with me."

She was truly stunned. Honestly she did not know what she was going to do, or where she was going to go, after they had left school. It was something she did not give any thought to yet, and just now realized how foolish that had been.

"Wh-what?" she stuttered.

"Live with me," he said simply.

She didn't answer. She just looked at him like he was insane.

"Listen, Hermione. Please don't still be mad at me. I truly did not wish for that to happen. You know I didn't. I love you and only you! Please, after we leave school, come live with me?" he begged.

Slowly, Hermione smiled at him.

"You complete idiot. Fine. I forgive you. And yes, I will come live with you when we get out of here," she told him happily.

"Brilliant!" he exclaimed while picking her up and kissing her roughly.

"I love you," he said when he put her down.

"And for some reason, unbeknownst to me, I love you too. You prat," she teased.

"Har har, Hermione."

"Did you eat yet?" she asked him.

He shook his head and told her, "No."

Together they walked down to the Great Hall to have breakfast with their friends. At some point, she must pull Lily aside and tell her of what just happened in the Forbidden Forest this morning. She did not feel comfortable discussing it with any of the boys. Except, perhaps, Lupin. If there was one boy, out of her friends, who could remain calm in a situation, it would be Remus Lupin.

**
After breakfast the group were lounging about outside, enjoying the sun which was still shining. A rare treat. Lupin was reading a book, Lily and Hermione were discussing different spells they wanted to practice, James and Sirius were plotting pranks to pull on the Prewett brothers and Peter was doodling idly on some parchment. Hermione was only half participating in her conversation with Lily. She wasn't offering much, just agreeing with whatever Lily was saying.

"Hermione? Is something the matter today? You seem awfully... distracted. You and Sirius did work everything out, right?" Lily asked her.


Debating on whether she should just lie and say everything was fine or not, Hermione decided on telling Lily the truth. Well, as much of the truth as she could tell her in present company.


"Actually, I am a little distracted. It's nothing to do with Sirius. It's something entirely different. Something I need to speak with you about. But not now. Later, alright? And I have to discuss this with Remus, at some point, as well," she told her.

Lily cocked an eyebrow at her. Obviously she was wondering what Hermione needed to discuss with only herself and Lupin. What she possibly wanted to keep from James, Sirius and Peter.

"Alright, Hermione. Later we'll talk," Lily responded.


Hermione sat back on her elbows while stretching her legs out in front of her. She was staring out at the lake, again, thinking of her encounter with Snape this morning. Eventually she would have to tell the other three, but for now, she felt it would be best to only let Lily and Lupin in on her newest secret. As she was watching the Giant Squid pop his head up out of the water, she heard Sirius with a mischievous tone in his voice, which never was a good sign.

"Oi, Prongs. Look over there. It's greasy little Snivelly and he's all alone," he said while watching Snape take a seat next to the lake while beginning to work on some homework.

"He looks awfully lonely, Padfoot. Maybe we should go keep him company," James answered.

Hermione was not going to have it. She was not going to risk Sirius and James making Snape angry enough to spitefully blurt out what he knows and die from it.


"No!" she said firmly.

The two boys whipped their heads around and looked at Hermione as if she were losing it.

"What?" Sirius asked her.

"Yeah, what's up with you, 'Mione? It's only Snape. Do you not remember what he did to our dear friend Peter here?" James reminded her.

Lupin looked up from his book while Lily was shooting a very ugly look at her boyfriend.


"Of course I remember, you prats. But attacking him, unprovoked, is not doing anyone any good. He's not hurting anyone over there. Just leave him be," Hermione demanded.

"But-" Sirius began, but was silenced by one look from Hermione.


"Hermione!" James whined.

Lupin softly closed his book and gave Hermione an approving smile which Hermione returned.

"Give it a rest you two. Hermione's right. He's not bothering anyone. Don't go starting trouble just for something to do," Lupin scolded.


James and Sirius looked at Peter.

"Wormtail, mate, help us out here. Obviously you're on our side, right?" James pleaded.

Peter shook his head. "No. Actually, I'm not. They're right. We need to stop this juvenile attacking of Slytherins - yes even Snape - only because we're bored. It's not solving anything. We have more important things we need to be focusing on at the moment."


James huffed angrily.

"Lils?" he pleaded


Lily just shook her head and said, "No," shortly. 

"Looks like we're outnumbered, mate," Sirius conceded.


"Take all the fun out of life, they do," James mumbled.

**

Before dinner, Lily and Hermione were up in their dorm doing a bit of homework.

"Alright. So Lily... I want to discuss this with you first. Before we tell Remus," Hermione said out of nowhere.


"So are you about to tell me what has you all out of sorts?" Lily asked.

Hermione nodded. "Listen to me. Seriously, I cannot have you mention anything to James. Not yet. I'm not even telling Sirius. They'll positively flip."

Lily sat up straighter while a wildly curious gleam began to shine in her eyes. "Wow, 'Mione. This sounds like it'll be extremely juicy.


Chuckling, Hermione told her, "You have no idea."


Just for an extra precaution, Hermione stood up, walked over to the door and said, "Muffilato." She then walked over to the window and cast the same charm. When she sat down on the bed, Lily was looking at her with wide eyes.

"What was that?" she cried out


"Oh, that?" Hermione replied airily, with a smug smile. "It's a charm that causes anyone who tries to listen not to be able to hear us. Their ears will go fuzzy. Can't be too careful," Hermione explained.


"Brilliant," Lily laughed.

"Right then, so. I... I know that you used to be close with Snape," she began by telling her.


Lily turned a little red and cast her eyes to the ground.

"I was," she admitted.

"I know, Lils. I also know why you no longer speak, so we don't need to get into that mess again," she said kindly.  

"Thank you," Lily responded softly.

Hermione took her hand and placed it on top of Lily's.

"I just want you to know, before I get into what happened today, that Snape dedicated his life - after you passed away - to making sure Harry remained safe. Not for Harry's benefit, Merlin no, but for yours," she explained.


Lily looked stunned. "Why?" she inquired.

"Because he loves you, Lily," Hermione revealed.

Hermione remained quite silent, figuring Lily would need a moment to take that in. Lily shook her head, opened her mouth to speak, closed it and looked out the window.  A look of utter confusion and shock covered her face.


"He.. He loves me? But - After... What he called me? And you're telling me he loves me?"


"Yes. He does. And, sadly, he always will," Hermione simply stated.


Hermione noticed a single tear fall from Lily's eye. "I always assumed. I just - I never knew," Lily admitted quietly.

Hermione gave Lily a sympathetic smile an continued on.

"I ran into him this morning. In the Forbidden Forest. I just needed to take a walk to clear my head and found myself in the Forest. While I made my way into a clearing, which is usually inhabited with Unicorns, he was there. He was crouched down feeding a tiny foal when he saw me."


Hermione explained the conversation between them, Snape using Legilimency against her, how he had turned spy before she was born and during her time, then finally... The Unbreakable Vow.

"He what?!" Lily exclaimed.

"Yes. He did, Lily. He made The Unbreakable Vow. He will truly, and honestly, never speak a word. That, and he will also do all he could to make sure we all remain safe. I think - I think I gained him as a spy for us. Again," she told her.


"You're right, Hermione. We need to tell Remus. And only Remus... for now," said Lily.

At that moment, a tawny owl was tapping at the window.

"Who could possibly be sending an owl now?" Lily wondered.


Hermione got up and walked to the window, opened it and took the letter from the owl's beak. The owl hooted softly, nibbled Hermione's finger and then flew away.

"It's Dumbledore's handwriting," Hermione said while looking at the envelope.


"What's it say?" Lily pressed.

Opening the letter, Hermione read it aloud.

Miss Granger,

 

I believe there are some topics which need to
be discussed, immediately. If you would please report to my 
office tomorrow after dinner. 

Yours Most Sincerely,

Albus Dumbledore


Hermione's heart began beating furiously as she started at the words on the parchment. She could only think of one reason Dumbledore would be sending her an Owl. "He must know about Snape. Merlin knows how, but he does. I'm sure of it," Hermione whispered nervously. 


** 

A/N - The grave in Godric's Hollow is from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Page 328 - Chapter 16: Godric's Hollow


Chapter 24: Sometimes Rules Are Meant To Be Broken
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Potions class the following day was highly distracting. First, Hermione had her meeting with Dumbledore on her mind. Secondly, Snape kept staring at her the entire class. Thirdly, Lily kept turning around and looking at Hermione whenever she noticed Snape looking their way. She did not even realize that class was coming to a close, and Professor Slughorn was making his rounds, checking the students' work for the day.

"Miss Winters,” Slughorn began, stunned. Hermione's potion was nowhere near her usual standard. "Having a little trouble today, are we?” he asked.
 
Embarrassed, Hermione answered him, "I'm sorry, sir. I know this is not up to par with my normal work. I just have a lot on my mind at the moment. I promise next class I will concentrate and try harder.”
Professor Slughorn gave her a kind smile. He could never remain angry with one of his golden four.
 
"Quite understandable, my dear. End of the year. N.E.W.T.'s. Leaving school. Entering the real world. I know it can be all very alarming. Not to worry, Miss Winters, not to worry. I am quite sure that you will perform admirably during our next lesson. Can't be one hundred percent all of the time, right?” he rambled.
"Thank you, sir, for being so understanding,” she responded.
 
Slughorn continued to examine the rest of her classmates' potions while Hermione cleaned up in a daze. All day she had mostly been going through the motions, not really there mentally. She was beginning to worry that she truly was losing it.
"Earth to Hermione. Hello. Anyone there,” Sirius was saying while snapping his fingers in front of her face.
 
"Oh. I'm sorry. What?” she answered airily.
 
Sirius let on an impatient breath.
 
"I said, are we going to practice this evening? We haven't been up to the Room of Requirement in a few days,” he asked, irritated.
 
Depending on how long she was with Dumbledore, she supposed it wouldn't be a horrible idea. There was a thought she had been entertaining for quite some time now which she wanted to try with them. It was extremely dangerous and highly illegal, but it was something they all needed to experience.

"Yes, I think we should. I have to meet with Dumbledore immediately after dinner. But as soon as I'm finished, I think that would be a wonderful idea,” she told him.

The bell rang and it was time for the Gryffindors to head off to Herbology. As she was walking towards the door with her bag over her shoulder, it came apart and her belongings scattered across the floor.

"What the hell else is going to happen?” she muttered angrily to herself.

"I'll help you, love,” Sirius said while bending down to help pick up her things.

Knowing that if Sirius is late again, Professor Sprout was sure to put him in detention, Hermione shook her head.

"No, you get to class. We can't afford you earning yourself another detention. Just tell Professor Sprout what happened and I'll be along shortly,” she said.

"Are you sure?” Sirius asked.

"Positive. Get to class,” she insisted.

She gave Sirius a quick peck on the lips as he stood up and began walking towards the grounds to Herbology. While she was on the ground gathering her things and attempting to mend her bag, she heard a voice behind her.

"I did not think Black would leave you alone,” Snape said.

Hermione jumped at the sound of his voice, while a few of the things she had in her hand fell to the floor once more.

"You did this?” she hissed.

She looked up at Snape who was smirking down at her.

"I had to get you on your own somehow, Granger,” he teased.

Hermione's eyes widened as she looked around to make sure they were, indeed, alone.

"Shh! Are you mad? You could die,” she snapped.

Snape disregarded her comment and bent down next to her.

"Let me assist you, please. This is, after all, my fault,” he said, to her surprise, kindly.

"Thank you, Snape,” she replied.

The two of them gathered her books, quills, parchment, ink and other belongings off the ground. In one fluid motion, Snape repaired her bag and Hermione sent her things back into it.

"Good as new,” Snape said.

"Now are you going to tell me the reason behind all of this?” Hermione asked.

"Yes. This,” he told her while handing her a rolled up piece of parchment. "I received it last night.”

She unrolled it and read the words on the paper.

Mr. Snape,

I believe there are some things that you and Miss Granger would
wish to discuss with me. If you would be so kind, please report
to my office tomorrow evening, immediately after dinner.

Sincerely,

Albus Dumbledore

"Did you tell him?” Snape inquired.

Hermione still had her eyes on the letter. Still in shock that Dumbledore did, indeed, know what happened yesterday in the forest.

"No,” she stated simply.

"Hmm. I wonder how he has found out?” Snape mused aloud.

"I'm not sure, but last evening I received a similar letter. One requesting my presence in his office after dinner as well,” she told him.

Hermione and Snape stood there for a few seconds when he asked, "Have you mentioned it to anyone?”

She nodded and answered quietly, "Just Lily.”

Snape's eyes widened a fraction.

"Oh. And... And what did she have to say,” he asked, trying to sound disinterested.

Hermione, trying to stifle a giggle at his reaction, answered, "Well. She was a little surprised. I mean, it's not everyday people run around making Unbreakable Vows with others.”

"Indeed,” he replied shortly. "Well, Granger-"

"Hermione. Please"

"Well, Hermione. I rather must be going. It would not do well to have anyone find us looking so comfortable with one another. After all, we do despise one another,” he said with a little smirk.

Hermione let out a short laugh, "I suppose you are right, Severus. I guess I'll meet you at the entrance to Dumbledore's office? Let’s say, at six o'clock?"

"Until then. Have a pleasant rest of your day, Hermione,” he said as he turned quickly and walked away.

I can see how Lily was so close with him for as long as she was. He really isn't that horrible. Actually, he could be rather charming when he chooses to be., she thought while watching him walk away.

***
 
Later while Hermione was in the common room, studying before dinner, a soft voice whispered in her ear.
 
"We need to speak. Privately,” Lupin said.
 
Closing the book on her lap, she replied, "Yes. Alright then" and stood up to follow him out of the portrait hole and down the stairs into the hallway.

"What's going on, Remus?” she asked.
 
She noticed that Lupin looked angry with her. It took her off guard.
 
"I saw you earlier, Hermione. With him. With Snape,” he revealed.

"Oh. Yes. That. Well the thing is Remus-” she tried to explain.
 
"How? How could you be so... so... friendly with him? After everything that he has done? Explain yourself,” Lupin demanded.

Hermione was shocked at Lupin's tone. Normally he is very even tempered. She had meant to discuss this with Lupin, but have not had the opportunity to do so yet. So, she began to explain everything that had happened the previous day. Also, she explained to Lupin how Snape had been on their side in the time she came from.

"You see, Remus. We need him. He will be able to provide us with valuable information like no one else can. You don't have to like him, but you do have to respect what he is planning on doing for us. Even if it is solely for Lily's benefit,” she said.







Lupin ran his hand through his hair and let out a frustrated breath. "So he really did make an Unbreakable Vow? He truly will be on our side?” he asked.
 
"Yes, Remus. If he goes back on his word, he will die. I'm sure that is not something he wishes to happen,” she responded.

"And when do you plan on telling the others?” he inquired.
 
"After I speak with Dumbledore. This evening while we are in The Room of Requirement,” she promised.
 
"Does anyone else know?” Lupin wondered.

"Only Lily. We were planning on telling you together. Before we told the others. You and Lily are the most... reasonable of our group. I figured I would break the ice with you both to first,” she admitted.
 
"Sirius and James are not going to like this,” Lupin said.
 
"No. I suppose they're not. But, if it turns out to be good enough for Dumbledore, then it should be good enough for everyone else,” she stated.
"I hope you're right, Hermione"
 
"Me too"

**
 
Hermione arrived at the bust of the stone gargoyle precisely at six that evening. Waiting for her, fidgeting with the cuff of his sleeve, was Snape.
"Severus,” she greeted him.

"Hermione,” he answered while bowing his head slightly.

"Shall we then?” she asked while gesturing towards the gargoyle.

Hermione gave the password and watched, once again, as the stairs appeared from the floor. The unlikely pair then stepped on the stairs and rose up to the doors leading into Dumbledore's office. Hermione gave two soft knocks and heard Dumbledore call out to them.

"Come in,” he said.

As she and Snape entered the office, she noticed Dumbledore looking furious. Honestly, it terrified her to see him looking so angry.

"G-Good evening, Sir,” she stammered.

"Sit. Both of you,” Dumbledore said sharply.

Hermione spared a quick glance at Snape, who she noticed, was looking a little frightened himself. The two of them made their way over to the chairs in front of Dumbledore's desk and each took a seat. Dumbledore sat at his desk, placed his hands together and took a deep breath.

"Let me get straight to it, then. Why? The two of you must know that making an Unbreakable Vow is strictly forbidden within the school. Miss Granger, I thought you had more sense. If you were a student under normal circumstances, I would have you expelled immediately. Surely you must realize the seriousness of which you have done?” he said sternly. 

Hermione felt her face heat up in embarrassment from being scolded by Professor Dumbledore. Yes, she knew that making an Unbreakable Vow was grounds for expulsion,  but she never dreamed it would apply to her while she was in the past. She had been living under the, apparently incorrect, assumption that the rules could be bent for her while she was here.

"I'm sorry, sir,” Hermione mumbled.

"I do not wish to hear an apology, Miss Granger. What I wish to hear is an explanation,” Dumbledore demanded.

Hermione then, while keeping her eyes firmly focused on the ground, explained to Dumbledore everything that had happened in the Forbidden Forest the morning before. Snape remained silent the entire time she spoke.

"You see, sir. I felt it was the only option I had,” she finished.

Dumbledore's expression changed from being angry, to briefly triumphant and finally sad.

"Very well, Miss Granger. I shall not expel you today. But keep in mind, even though you are a guest in this school and this time period, the rules are not beneath you. You will continue to follow the rules of this school just as you would in your own time. Do you understand?” Dumbledore said.

"Yes, sir. Again, I'm terribly sorry,” she answered.

"Now, if you would please, Miss Granger. I am afraid I need to speak with our young Severus here on my own. If you would kindly excuse us,” Dumbledore said, dismissing her.

Hermione was rather take aback by her abrupt dismissal, but agreed quietly. She looked at Snape, who clearly had no idea what was in store for him, and made her way out of the office. She turned at the doorway and wished them both a goodnight and closed the door behind her. She felt horrible. The last thing she ever wanted to do while she was here was disappoint a man who she looked up to and respected so much. Still she had no idea how he had even found out about what happened. Obviously, he must have been near when they made the Vow. It was the only way he could have known. 

When she arrived at the bottom of the staircase, she looked up and found herself face to face with a very pretty blonde young woman. Marlene McKinnon. Hermione's insides boiled as she watched a cocky smile appear across Marlene's face. It was taking all the strength she could muster, not to punch her right in the mouth.

"Winters,” Marlene said.

"McKinnon,” Hermione replied.

"I was just on my way to speak with Dumbledore. Is he in his office?” Marlene asked her.

"Yes,” Hermione said shortly.

She then stepped around Marlene and began to walk away from her when Marlene called out.

"Tell Sirius I said hello,” she said smugly.

That did it. Hermione turned around, took three steps back towards Marlene, whipped her wand out and stuck it right in her face.

"Listen here, McKinnon. You leave Sirius alone. He wants nothing to do with you. He's with me now. I'm sorry things didn't work out between the two of you, but you have to move on. If I ever catch you pulling that shit with him again, you'll be sorry you were ever born. Do I make myself clear?” Hermione snarled.

Marlene laughed right in Hermione's face.

"Is that a threat, Winters?” she asked.

"No. It's a promise,” Hermione answered.

The two girls stood, wands drawn, for a few moments until Marlene lowered hers.

"Do you think I'm actually frightened of you?” Marlene taunted.

"You should be,” Hermione responded.

Hermione then heard footsteps coming from behind her.

"What's going on here?” Sirius called out.

"Oi! Looks like we're going to witness a cat fight,” James said excitedly.

"James, honestly,” Lily snapped.

Sirius, Lily and James made their way to Hermione. Sirius put his arm around Hermione's shoulders while giving Marlene a cold look.

"Haven't you caused enough trouble?” Sirius asked her.

"I was just looking for Dumbledore when I ran into your lovely girlfriend. We were just having the most wonderful little chat. Weren't we, dear?” Marlene said sarcastically.

Hermione huffed, annoyed.

"Bugger off, McKinnon,” Sirius said while pulling Hermione away.

** 

Hermione was standing in front of the rest of her friends in The Room of Requirement. She was beginning to feel a little nervous about what she was preparing to suggest.
 

"Now what we are about to do is highly illegal. I'm sure if Dumbledore knew what I was about to have you all experience, he would have me packing my trunk this evening. But, if we are to be facing dark and dangerous witches and wizards, you all need to know what this feels like. That, and how to fight it off,” Hermione began.
 

"What are you planning on doing, Hermione?” Lily asked in a small voice.
 

Taking a deep breath, Hermione said, "Well... I'm going to place the Imperius curse on you, and you're going to attempt to fight it off.”
 

Lily's mouth fell open with an audible "pop.” Sirius exclaimed, "What?!.” James shook his head while quietly saying, "She's mental.” Lupin said, "Hermione...,” in warning. Peter's eyes looked like they were going to bug out of his head.

"But- But Hermione. The Ministry... They'll - They'll know what you've done! You'll be arrested!,” Peter yelled at her.

"No. They won't, Peter,” Hermione said simply.
 
"Yes they will! Those spells are tracked! How else do you think they enforce the law?!,” he continued yelling.

Sirius placed his hand on Peter's shoulder to calm him while looking at Hermione.
 
"Easy, Wormtail,” he said to Peter then spoke to Hermione, "Peter's right. I mean, I have no problem with learning how to fight it, but if it risks you being locked up in Azkaban... no. Absolutely not.”
 
Hermione was being to become rather irritated with her friends and boyfriend.
 
"Do you all understand where are? We're in The Room of Requirement! It adapts to fit the seekers needs. And right now, I need this room to be protected from any trace. The magic that room this contains is the strongest I've ever experienced. There is no way that I will be caught. Trust me.,” she told them all.
 
"Are - Are you sure, Hermione? I mean... it's pretty risky,” Lupin asked.

The others nodded in agreement while Hermione huffed angrily.
 
"Yes! I'm positive,” she snapped.
 
"Hey. No need to get your wand all in a twist. We're just worried about you,” James said.
 
"Yeah, honey. We understand that we might be up against some pretty nasty stuff, but that's not a reason to put yourself at risk unnecessarily,” Lily tried to reason.
 
Hermione pulled her wand out and pointed it at her friends.
 
"Listen to me. We're going to do this one way or another. Regardless of what you say, I'm still doing this. I. Will. Be. Fine,” she snarled. 
 
Everyone stared at her in disbelief and were all honestly a little frightened. Hermione had a wild look in her eyes which none of them have ever seen in her before. It was clear, she meant business.
 
"Alright. Put your wand down, Hermione. We'll do it. Ok?" Sirius said calmly. "If you say this room will conceal what you are about to attempt on us, then I trust you,” he added.
 
The rest of her friends still looked extremely uneasy, but agreed with Sirius. Reluctantly.
 
"Thank you,” said Hermione. "Now. Who wants to go first?" she asked.
 
No one spoke. Each of them were waiting for someone to volunteer.
 
"Well?" Hermione pressed.
 
"Fine,” said Sirius. "I will.”
 
"Brilliant! Thank you, sweetheart,” Hermione said smiling.
 
Sirius mumbled a "You're welcome" as he and Hermione walked into the center of the room. Lily, James, Peter and Lupin formed a semi circle around them as Hermione and Sirius stood a few feet apart facing the other.
 
"So. I'm going to place the curse on you and you, while attempting to block your mind, will fight me off. You've got a pretty thick head, so this should be simple for you,” she joked.
 
Sirius, who was in no mood for joking, gave her a sarcastic smile while her friends snickered.
 
"Ready?" she asked.
 
"Just do it,” Sirius responded.

Hermione raised her wand and pointed it at Sirius. "Imperio,” she said.
 
Everyone watched as Sirius had a very dreamy look come over his face. He stood smiling, quite like a fool, while Hermione began to give her mental instructions to him.
 
"Do a cartwheel for everyone, love."

"A cartwheel? Ok."

Sirius began to tumble about the room while everyone, except Hermione, roared with laughter.
 
"Ok. Stop.”

Sirius stopped in mid tumble and fell on his head, which caused everyone to laugh harder. Hermione just shook her head.

"Now. Curtsey for James.”

 

Sirius walked over in front of James and sank into a dainty curtsey which caused James to double over, clutching his stomach.

"You're the prettiest princess of them all, Padfoot," he told Sirius.

"Thank him.”

"Thank you, James!" Sirius responded with a wide smile.

Hermione was beyond irritated. Sirius was not even trying. Annoyed, she took the curse off of him. Sirius looked around, confused at what had just happened. Everyone was still laughing. Again, except Hermione.

"Whoa. That was bizarre,” Sirius said faintly.

Hermione was standing with her arms crossed. She was not pleased.

"You didn't even attempt to block me!,” she hissed.

 

Sirius looked surprised and then angry with her reaction.

"Well I'm sorry, love. It's not like I go about all day having curses thrown at me. I'm sure you wouldn't have been able to fight it off the first time either!" he snapped back.

The argument brewing between Sirius and Hermione was enough to silence the rest of their friends’ residual laughter.  They all stood, also in shock, at the way Hermione was behaving.

"Hermione. Seriously. Take it easy on him. It's not like he knew what to expect,” Lupin said.

Biting back her retort to Lupin, she looked at the faces of her friends, the angry and hurt look on Sirius's face, and begun feeling sorry.

"You're right. You're right... I'm sorry. It's just - just that if that were to happen to you, any of you, out in the real world... Well. You wouldn't know what to expect then either, would you? I just want us all to be safe. I want us all to survive,” she said passionately.

Hearing Hermione say that really put everything back in perspective for everyone. For the most part, James, Lily and Sirius tried not to think of the fact that they were not alive in the time Hermione came from. It was too painful to think of. But seeing the intensity in her eyes and taking into account the seriousness of what curse she was training them to resist, brought that fact to the forefront of their minds.

"No, we're sorry, Hermione. We really should be taking this more seriously. I'll try harder. We'll all try the best that we could,” Sirius told her.

"And that's all that I can ask of you,” she answered.

After that, Hermione took each of them in turn, casting the Imperius Curse on them all. They all did try as hard as they could to fight it. But she was still able to make Peter sing a show tune at the top of his voice; Lupin run sprints back and forth across the room; James do the ballet; Lily box an imaginary opponent. At times they would freeze up, fall over or crash into something while attempting to fight off the curse. It wasn't until she was working with Lily once more did she see some major improvement.

"Lily. Start doing jumping jacks.”

"Jumping Jacks? Now that seems rather silly, doesn't it?"

Lily didn't move, but looked strained.

"I said, start doing jumping jacks, Lily. Now.”

"No... No. I honestly think I'm alright just standing here, thank you.”

Still she wasn't moving and becoming very red. The boys had looks of utter shock on their faces.

"Lily! Start jumping!"

"No, Hermione. Really. I'm fine with what I'm doing. But thank you, again, for asking."

Hermione lifted the curse. Lily was sweating and panting.

"Well done, Lily! Now I see where Harry got it from! He was the only person, during our fourth year, who was able to resist it!" she exclaimed.

Lily was beaming at the praise from Hermione and was rather proud of herself. And her unborn son.

"Well done Lily!" "Great job!" "That was brilliant, love!" "I'm so proud of you, Lils!,” the boys were all shouting at once.

"Thank you, boys!,” Lily said.

"Alright. I think we can call it a night. We'll try again in a few more days. Let's go back to the common room,” Hermione told them all.

Everyone agreed that was enough for tonight and began to make their way to Gryffindor Tower. They were all more exhausted than they have been in a very long time.

Once they reached the common room, she had forgotten there was one more thing she needed to discuss with everyone this evening. Snape. Luckily, they all returned so late, the common room was empty.

"Ok. Right. So... There is something that I need to discuss with you before we all head off to bed,” she began.

"What's up, 'Mione?” Peter asked.


"You're not going to like this. At all actually. But.. Before I begin, I want to give you all a little back story. The better to understand why I did what I did,” Hermione began.

"Uh oh. This never leads to anything good,” James said.

"Right you are, Prongs,” Sirius added. "Alright, love. Let's have it.”

Hermione then launched into her story. She began by telling them of Snape turning spy for The Order during her time. Omitting Snape being in love with Lily, she made it sound he did it out of respect for their childhood friendship. Hermione admitted that Snape cared for Lily, but never mentioned love. Lily looked grateful for the omission. There were not as many angry outbursts from James and Sirius and she expected, but still, there were some. She had to beg them on three different occasions to please be quiet and let her continue. Finally she arrived at what had happened in the Forbidden Forrest and the Unbreakable Vow. She finished by telling them of her meeting with Dumbledore and he asking to speak with Snape privately after she was scolded. Sirius, James and Peter were stunned into silence. After a few moments, Sirius spoke.

"He.. He.. He what?"

"You heard me correctly, Sirius. He made an Unbreakable Vow. Then spoke with Dumbledore privately. He truly is our spy. Snape will not, cannot, betray me. If he does... well. He will die. You know that,” Hermione answered.

 

"Blimey...,” James said.

"You said it, James. Blimey indeed,” Peter added.

Sirius looked furious.
 
"I don't like it,” he snapped.


Hermione gave a short laugh.


"I knew you wouldn't. But what's done is done. And we need him, Sirius. As much as you do not want to hear it. It's true. So please, for the sake of us all. Lay off of him. I'm not saying become his best friend, but you need to just lay off. Ok?” she ordered.

He did not answer, but continued to look broodingly at the floor.

"Sirius...?” she pressed.

"Fine!,” he yelled. "But if he does anything to hurt or betray you-"

 

"He'll be dead before you'd be able to kill him, love,” Hermione reminded him.

 

After the shock of what Hermione had just revealed wore off, everyone went up to their dormitories for some sleep. It had been an extremely long night.
 

**  


More quickly than any of them realized, Spring was slipping away and June was rapidly approaching. They have not yet had any training with the members of The Order, but had all continued their regular meetings in The Room of Requirement. They were all now exceptionally advanced in non verbal spells, mostly every major and moderate curse and counter curse. A few nights after Lily was able to fight off the Imperius Curse, James was able to do the same. Soon after, Sirius, then Lupin and finally Peter had all achieved fighting it off as well. Hermione was more than pleased with how well her friends and boyfriend have all been doing. She was becoming very confident in their chances of survival when they, eventually, would all be faced with Voldemort and the Death Eaters.

 

With N.E.W.T.'s coming up, all of their additional training and studying, Hermione felt as if her head was never as full as it currently was. She was actually relieved that the final Quidditch Match of the year was coming this Saturday. It would give her a chance to let loose and just have fun while watching James and Sirius fight for the Cup and play the final match they would ever play. Truthfully, they were each brilliant players, but she knew they would not be going on to any professional leagues after school was finished.
 

The end of this school year was bitter sweet for Hermione. She was happy that she had been given the opportunity to actually attend and complete her seventh year, but it reminded her of how little time she has left in the past. It would not be long now, and she would have to say goodbye to her friends... and Sirius. Assuming they all survive for her to say goodbye.




**
A/N: Hi everyone! I, again, just wanted to thank you all. I can't even begin to describe how thankful I am. :) Thank you all so, so much for reading, reviewing (I absolutely adore your reviews. They are so incredibly kind and truly keep me motivated to carry on writing), and favoriting my story. I hope that you all enjoyed this chapter. School is coming to a close and soon the group will find themselves facing new challenges out in the "real world".

xoxo Meg


Chapter 25: The Calm Before The Storm
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


A/N - Hiya everyone! I just want to apologize for such a long wait between chapters. :( Unfortunately, I was suffering from Writer's Block, horribly. That and some real life awfulness got in the way and stolen my muse. But, thankfully, it's back! This chapter is kind of a filler chapter and I'm sorry for that. But it is necessary to progress the story to where it needs to be. Hopefully you all enjoy it! It's a little more lighthearted than some of the previous chapters. As the name of the chapter suggests, it is The Calm Before The Storm.

 

 

I would like to thank everyone so, so, so much for your support of this story! I honestly cannot thank you all enough for reading, favoriting and your amazingly awesome reviews! All of you are absolutely wonderful and I love you all!! Again, I'm so sorry for the delay!

 

xoxo - Meg

**


Saturday morning Hermione woke, her heart beat quickly and butterflies formed in her stomach, while she thought of the day ahead of her. Not only was it the last Quidditch match of the season - she was really hoping Gryffindor won, Sirius would be unbearable if they lost - but it was also Sirius' birthday. For the last two weeks, she had been secretly planning - with James, Lily, Lupin and Peter's help - a surprise party. She knew this would be the last birthday, for many years, Sirius would spend with her and she hoped to make it special.  The boys were in charge of sneaking down to the kitchens, and into Hogsmeade, for food and drinks. Lily and Hermione would be focusing on decorations and presents. After dinner, the six of them - under the pretense of practicing more defensive magic - would lead Sirius to The Room of Requirement, where their small get together would be held. Hermione got herself out of bed and crossed the room to wake Lily. It was nine in the morning and they would need to begin getting ready if they had any hopes of making it to the game on time.


The girls each showered, dressed and joined Sirius and James in The Great Hall. Most of the school had dressed, in red and gold or green and silver, to show their support for the Quidditch House Cup. Hermione noticed it was not much different than in her own time. Of course, all of the Gryffindors and Slytherins were wearing their own colors. Almost all of the Hufflepuffs, it seemed, were in red and gold and there were a handful of Ravenclaws donning red and gold, as well. She also heard, with a grin and a shake of her head, the typical taunts and jabs being made towards the opposing teams and their supporters. As the girls sat down with the boys, they noticed James was tense and a slight shade of green; a barely touched plate of food in front of him. Sirius, on the other hand, was completely relaxed while stuffing his face with everything in sight.

 

"Good morning, love!" Sirius exclaimed as Hermione sat down next to him. He threw his arm around her shoulders and planted a sloppy kiss on her cheek.

Wiping her face with an indulgent smile, she wished him a good morning. "Happy Birthday!" Hermione exclaimed then gave him a soft kiss. "All ready for the big game?" she asked both Sirius and James.


"Thank you!" Sirius beamed. "And, It's in the bag, darling," he answered smugly. James merely grunted as his shoulders jerked, in what she was assuming, was supposed to be a shrug.
 

Lily wrapped her arms around James and squeezed tightly. "Buck up, James. I'm sure you'll be brilliant today."


James attempted to smile back, but it ended up looking like a painful grimace. "Yeah. Brilliant," he muttered.
 

"You really should eat something. It's not good to fly on an empty stomach," Lily scolded while glancing towards James' full plate.

Hermione couldn't help but smile while watching James. At this moment, he reminded her of Ron so much, it almost brought a tear to her eye. While Sirius, who was annoyed and amused with James, reminded her of Harry before Ron's first match. The match in which she thought - much to her dismay - that Harry slipped Felix Felicis into Ron's drink. Without meaning to, she let a small giggle escaped her.

 

"What’s funny?" Sirius asked quietly into her ear.
 

"Oh nothing, really. Just a little deja vu, I guess," she answered with a smile.

 

Sirius cocked an eyebrow at her and Hermione shook her head. "Sometimes you and James are a lot like Harry and Ron. It's just kind of funny," she explained with a shrug.

 

"Oh, really?" he asked.


Hermione, with another laugh, answered, "Yes. Before Ron's first Quidditch match, he looked and acted eerily similar to how James is behaving at the moment. And the expression on your face is very much like the one Harry wore that day. Just promise me you won't slip any illegal substances into James' drink," she finished with a smirk.

 

Sirius was about to respond, but became distracted as Peter and Lupin arrived and sat down across from their friends. Lupin took a look at James, who was looking like he could vomit at any second, then turned his attention to Sirius.
 

"James going to be alright?" Lupin asked, his voice shaking with suppressed laughter. 
 

Sirius snorted, rolled up a napkin and threw it at James. "Oi! Potter! Snap out of it, mate."


When the napkin hit James in the face, he swatted at the air, a few seconds late, while staring off into space. It was very rare for James to be this out of sorts. James looked over at Sirius, his eyes out of focus and mumbled, "Fine... I'm - I'm fine." Hermione raised her eyebrows at Lily in amusement, while Lily tried to mask her giggle with a cough.
 

Sirius huffed in annoyance. Slapping his hand on the table, he stood up, walked over to James and pulled him out of his seat. "Come on, James. Let's head down to the pitch. Maybe some fresh air will clear your head. We can't afford our captain going to pieces on us today," he grumbled.


James nodded and mechanically kissed Lily as she wished him good luck. Sirius ran his hand through his hair in frustration as he turned and faced Hermione. She stood up on her tippy toes to give him a kiss. "Good luck, love. We'll be down shortly," she told him.
 

"Don't take too long," he snapped, his brow furrowed.
 

Her eyes widened for a brief moment. Hermione tried to keep her temper in check - she reminded herself that it was his birthday - and took a deep breath. "Do you really think I would miss your last match, and on your birthday of all days?" Hermione asked, exasperated.


"You better not," Sirius threatened. 

Hermione laughed and shook her head. "I'm not afraid of you love," she said sweetly.
 

Sirius leaned down and whispered in her ear, "We'll see about that later."


"Yes, yes. Because you are so utterly terrifying," Hermione said dryly and rolled her eyes. "Get going before you're late!" she scolded with a playful kick to his backside.
 

"Ouch! I'm going! I'm going!" Sirius yelled, rubbing his behind. He turned to James, who was standing still as a statue, wearing a blank look on his face. "Ugh... Come on!" Sirius growled, taking James by the arm and towing him out of the Great Hall. Hermione watched them leave and laughed quietly to herself. She sat back down, grabbed a piece of toast and began to eat her breakfast with the rest of her friends.


Hermione noticed Peter as he watched Sirius and James leave the Great Hall. The moment they were no longer in sight, Peter turned his attention towards Hermione. "So do you think he has any idea?" Peter asked excitedly.
 

Hermione smiled mischievously, quite proud that they were able to keep the surprise party secret. "None at all," she answered smugly.
 

Lily clapped her hands together."Oh! I can't wait for tonight! It's going to be so much fun!" she exclaimed.

Hermione smiled and nodded enthusiastically, as she did not wish to speak with a mouth full of food. With everything that has been going on lately and how little fun they have been having, a party was definitely welcomed. It had been so long since everyone had a night to relax and act their age. They have been practicing and studying non-stop, for what felt like, forever. She couldn't wait to just let her hair down for the evening. She was lost in thought, thinking of the party this evening and her gift for Sirius - hoping that he'll like it - when Lupin spoke and brought her attention back into the conversation.


"I cannot believe we only have three weeks left here," Lupin said sadly, looking around the hall.
 

Hermione gasped and began to choke. Three weeks? Merlin's Beard! I feel as if I've only just arrived here! She thought wildly. In a panic, Lily hit Hermione on the back, trying to dislodge the piece of bacon Hermione nearly inhaled.


"Hermione! Are you alright?" Lily cried out, her eyes wide.
 

"Yes," Hermione gasped, tears coming from her eyes. "Yes, I'm fine. It just took me off guard... Three weeks. Wow. It's - it's just all gone by so quickly," she explained.

 

Peter leaned across the table and looked around, making sure no one would be able to hear. "Don't worry, 'Mione. You still have loads of time left with us until you have to go back," he whispered with a smile that was not quite reaching his eyes. Peter and Hermione were close enough, at this point, that he would have been able to correctly guess the reason for her choking upon hearing what little time they have left in school.

"Peter's right, Hermione. Try not to think about it too much," Lily added, forcing a smile. Lupin, also with a horrible attempt at a smile, nodded in agreement.
 

Jeez. The way they're all looking at me, and speaking to me, you would swear I was terminally ill. She thought while rolling her eyes. "Alright, alright. I'll try not to think of it." Hermione wiped her mouth and stood up. "Let's head down to the pitch before we miss the match."


***
 

The weather was dreadful; pouring rain, windy and unseasonably chilly for June. That still didn't stop the entire school, and all of the staff, from coming down to watch the final Quidditch match of the year. Hermione and her friends all placed charms upon themselves so they would not be soaked from the rain, but that did not protect them from the biting wind. It was difficult to see what was going on with the match, but according to the commentary, Gryffindor was currently in the lead by 20 points.

"Potter takes the Quaffle from Perkins!" They watched as James wrestled the Quaffle from the burly brunette Chaser, from Slytherin. James turned his broom with superb skill and began to fly towards the Slytherin goal post. A huge, hairy, sandy haired boy - roughly the size of a fully grown gorilla - who was a Beater for Slytherin, was chasing James down. Sirius, who noticed the brute on James' tail, whipped his broom around and began his pursuit of the Slytherin beater. As a Bludger was making it's way towards Sirius, he swung the Beater's bat - his Christmas gift from Hermione - through the air. "Wow! Nice one Black! Sirius Black knocks Wilkes right off his broom, giving Potter a clear path!"

James turned around and gave Sirius a thumbs up which Sirius returned, keeping right on James' tail. "The only thing in Potter's way is Slytherin's Keeper, Clearwater." James was quickly approaching Slytherin's goal post. "Potter heads the to right, fakes to the left, back to the right! Clearwater hesitates!" The split second of hesitation was all James seemed to need. He threw the Quaffle directly through the right goal post. "GRYFFINDOR SCORES! 150 to 120 -  Gryffindor!" shouts Charles Johnson from the commentator's stand, over the thunderous screams and applause from the students.

 

Lupin, while jumping up and down, yelled, "If Bell catches the Snitch now, we'll win the cup!"
 

"And it looks like Black - oops! - Regulus Black may have seen the Snitch!" Johnson yelled. A collective groan could be heard from all of the Gryffindor supporters.


"SHIT!" Sirius bellowed.

"LANGUAGE, BLACK!" McGonagall yelled. Almost all of the students - and a few professors - in the stands laughed.
 

Regulus and Samuel Bell were neck and neck, the Snitch just out of Regulus' reach, when Lily grabbed Hermione's arm. "Look!" she screeched.


"Oh!" Hermione gasped.

Sirius, Beater's Bat high in the air, was racing towards his estranged brother. Regulus' hand was outstretched, just about to grasp the Golden Snitch. Sirius swung the bat with all of his might and a resounding CRACK! filled the air. Sirius hit a perfectly aimed Bludger right at Regulus' back. While Regulus fell from his broom, Bell sped up and his fingers closed around the Snitch. The crowd went silent for a moment, then a deafening roar erupted from the Gryffindors and their supporters.


"GRYFFINDOR WINS! 300 to 120, GRYFFINDOR WINS THE HOUSE CUP!!"
 

Even through the rain and crowds of people, Sirius' wide smile was clearly visible to Hermione, as she rushed the field with the rest of her friends.


***
 

"But Hermione!" Sirius whined, once they were all back in the Common Room. "Do we have to practice tonight? I don't want to leave the party," he begged while pouting.
 

Hermione couldn't help herself and giggled. She rarely saw Sirius pout, and honestly found it rather charming. With much difficulty, she forced the smile off her lips. Squaring her shoulders, she placed her hands on her hips, and gave him the most stern glare she could manage. "Yes Sirius. We must. I'm more than positive the party will be going strong well into the night."


Noticing the anxious looks she was receiving from James and Lily, she began to tug on Sirius' arm. "Fine! We'll go," Sirius conceded with a rather pathetically sad look in his eyes and dragged his feet towards the portrait hole. She vaguely heard him mumble something that sounded like, "Lucky I love her," and "Can't even attend a bloody party on my own birthday." While she trailed behind Sirius, Hermione turned around, a wide smile on her face, and saw James give her a thumbs up and a wink.

 

Sirius remained in a bad temper the entire walk to The Room of Requirement. He looked around and grumbled, "Where are Remus and Peter? How did they get out of this?"

Hermione tried her hardest not to laugh at his tone and expression, and answered sweetly, "They'll be along shortly, love." Her eyes wide and innocent. Sirius muttered bitterly and quietly again, while she heard James and Lily snigger behind them.

 

When they all reached the wall which would become the entrance they needed, Hermione walked by three times. Once again, the familiar door appeared in the wall, for them to enter. Hermione, James and Lily all rushed through, while Sirius lagged behind, still sulking. Peter and Lupin were already in the room standing near a table, which was lined with presents for Sirius. Hermione, James and Lily all turned around to face Sirius, beaming smiles on all of their faces.

 

"Surprise!" they all yelled at once.
 

 

Sirius' head jerked up; his eyes wide. Slowly, as he took in his surrounds, a smile formed across his lips. He shook his head while he walked towards Hermione.

 

"You did this?" he asked, opening his arms, gesturing at the room around him.

The room was smaller than it normally was, when they practiced their Defensive Magic. It was slightly larger than the Gryffindor Common Room. In the back of the room was a large stone fireplace; blue and green flames crackling away. Three large, plush, golden couches surrounded the fire; a small table in the middle. Immediately to their right, was a table with presents. To the left was a table full of food. Sweets, cakes, a large Birthday Cake and all sorts of junk food lined the table, along with many bottles of Butterbeer. Red and gold streamers lined the ceiling. A large, sparkling banner, which read: Happy 18th Birthday, Sirius! was hanging over the refreshment table.

"I may have,” Hermione responded with a coy smile. “With some help, of course" she added, jerking her head towards the rest of their group.


Sirius looked at Hermione; love shining from his eyes. "I don't deserve you." He brought his lips down onto hers, picked her up and spun her around.

As Sirius set Hermione down, she swayed a little, and a light blush crept up her face. "Don't be ridiculous," she whispered, out of breath.


James cleared his throat, rather loudly, and yelled, "Alright, alright! Let's get this party started!" James aimed his wand at the radio in the room and 1970's rock - both Muggle and Wizard - boomed as the group danced wildly.


They jumped around - although, they all believed it to be dancing -  played air guitar, air drums and bumped into one another. It was the first time in months that everyone had let loose and tried to forget the seriousness of everything going on outside the castle. Everyone laughed loudly, told jokes, and recounted stories from their first few years at Hogwarts. Hermione couldn't remember the last time her sides hurt so badly from laughing so much. Eventually they all worked up quite an appetite and gathered around the refreshment table for food and drinks. They sat in the couches around the magnificent fire place and ate with vigor. After they were finished eating, Hermione rose, went back to the food table, lit the candles on the cake - using the little blue flames she was so skilled at conjuring - and levitated it over to Sirius. The cake was in the shape of a motorcycle - Hermione was aware of Sirius' longing for one. Sirius smiled widely as everyone sang - rather poorly - Happy Birthday at the top of their lungs.


"Make a wish," Hermione whispered and winked at Sirius.
 

Sirius' expression changed from ecstatic to forlorn at the statement. Hermione raised an eyebrow in question and Sirius shook his head, closed his eyes, then blew out the candles. James, Lily, Peter and Remus - oblivious to the little exchange that briefly transpired between Sirius and Hermione - clapped and whooped loudly once the candles were out.


"Presents!" James yelled. He nearly knocked Hermione to the ground in his attempt to reach Sirius and drag him to the table holding the Birthday gifts.
 

"Oi, Prongs! Careful! I rather enjoy having two working arms," Sirius shouted as he jerked his arm out of James' tight grip.
 

It was one of those rare occasions where James Potter looked a bit sheepish. "Sorry, mate," James mumbled while reaching up and ruffling his hair.


On the table were two average sized boxes, a large box and an envelope. Hermione picked up one of the two average sized boxes and handed it to Sirius first.
 

"This is from Peter," she stated. Peter smiled and squeaked, "I hope you like it!"


Sirius tore the red and white paper from the box, opened it and pulled out a shiny black motorcycle helmet. He looked from Hermione, to Peter and back to Hermione; his eyebrow arched.
 

"A helmet?" he asked, confused.

Everyone laughed while Hermione answered, "Yep!" brightly.

"Er... Thanks, Peter."

"Anytime, Sirius!" Peter responded happily.

Sirius scratched his head, confused, and took the next box from Hermione. This time, it was the large box. "Remus," was all Hermione said.

"Happy Birthday, mate!" Lupin called out.

Sirius unwrapped the box from Lupin and pulled out a brand new, black, leather biker's jacket. Sirius still looked like he was missing something, but pleased all the same.

"Nice one, Moony!"

"Cheers!" Lupin said.

Hermione handed Sirius the final box. "And this one is from Lily."

"If you don't like it, let me know," Lily said uncertainly.

"I'm sure whatever it is, it will be lovely, Lily. Thank you," Sirius reassured her. He tore the wrapping paper from the final box and pulled out a pair of black biker boots. Sirius smiled and said, "I think I'm sensing a theme here, you lot. You do all realize that, as much as I want one, I don't have a bike. Right?"

Hermione handed Sirius the envelope and said, "Just open this, love. It's from me and James."

Sirius looked at Hermione and James with wide eyes. "If you mean to tell me that you've got a motorcycle in that bloody envelope-" he was cut off by James.

"Open it, Padfoot," James said, exasperated.

"Alright, alright."

Sirius opened the envelope and pulled out a bunch of pieces of paper with numbers in the corners. Sirius flipped through the papers - there were quite a lot of them - and gave a panicked look at Hermione. "What in the hell..?" he trailed off.

James and Peter looked at the papers curiously; Lily, Remus and Hermione laughed.

"Hermione...?" James began, tense.

Regaining her composure, Hermione answered. "Relax James," she turned to Sirius. "It's Muggle money, Sirius," she explained.

Hermione heard James go, "Oooh," while he slapped himself in the forehead. Sirius, meanwhile, was completely dumbstruck.

"I had a little help from Dumbledore," Hermione shrugged. "I gave him money from me and James, and he took it to exchange for Muggle money." Sirius cocked his head to the side and still looked like he did not understand. "Isn't it obvious?" she teased.

Hermione watched as Sirius looked at the gifts from Peter, Lily and Lupin. It was almost as if she could hear the click in his head as he put it together.

Sirius' eyes widened in understanding as he said softly to himself, "No... They couldn't have." He then looked Hermione right in the eyes, "You mean... You - You two are buying me a bike?" he asked faintly.

James chuckled. "Well technically you're the one buying it, mate. Hermione and I just provided the funds."

Sirius was quiet for a moment more and then smiled so widely, he looked like an excited child. It made Hermione's heart melt. "Holy shit! You're buying me a bike!" Sirius yelled. "Come here!" Sirius pulled in - a surprised - James for a hug. "Thank you, Prongs!"

James patted Sirius on the back and pushed him off quickly. "You're - You're welcome," he said gruffly while pushing his fallen glasses back up the bridge of his nose. James then pushed Hermione at Sirius. "Here, hug this one," he said awkwardly.

As Sirius took Hermione in his arms, she whispered into his ear. "Good birthday, then?" She felt his cheek lift up in a smile as he whispered back. "The best, love."

**

As Hermione expected, the celebratory party was still going on when they all arrived back in the Common Room.

Lily groaned. "McGonagall will kill me," she said quietly to Hermione.

Hermione had to agree, Lily was right. She remembered her third year clearly, McGonagall showing up in her nightdress, telling everyone to knock it off and go to bed. As it was nearing midnight, she assumed it would not be long before she witnessed that once more in her lifetime.

"Alright you lot!" Lily yelled. All of the students froze, the music went dead and a bottle was heard dropping on the ground. "That's enough. Trust me, I'm happy we won as well, but it's midnight. Time for everyone to go to bed!"

Their fellow Gryffindors groaned and, one by one, began to file up the stairs and to their dormitories.

Sirius looked at Lily like she had just committed murder. "Ahh come on, Lily. We didn't even get a chance to enjoy the party!" he complained.

Lily whipped her head around, hands on her hips and shot daggers at him.

"I wouldn't, Sirius," Lupin warned, his lips twitching, fighting a smile.

"Listen, Black,” Lily waved her finger in Sirius' face. “As it is after midnight, it is no longer your birthday. Do not tempt me. I will put you in detention if you start this party up again," she threatened.

Sirius placed his hand over his heart. "You wouldn't," he gasped.

Lily's eyes narrowed as she opened her mouth to speak again.

"Alright!” Hermione interjected quickly. “Why don't we all get some sleep, yeah? It's been a long day." Lily and Sirius each took a step back from one another, which relived Hermione. They had all had such a wonderful evening, she did not want to see it spoiled over Sirius' hot head.

Peter yawned loudly. "Yeah, Hermione's right. We should all just head to bed. I know I'm beat," he said, giving a sideways glance towards Hermione, which made her assume he was also trying to diffuse the tension.

At that moment, they all heard a light tapping coming from the window near the stairs. Hermione looked over and noticed an owl, which was carrying a letter.

"Who in the name of Merlin would be sending a letter now?" James asked.

Lupin shrugged. "No idea. Better find out, don't you think?" Lupin opened the window and took the letter from the owl. "Hermione. It's addressed to you," he called over.

Oh bloody hell. What now? She wondered. Hermione took the letter out and glanced down at the name. "It's from Moody," she said in shock.

"What's it say?" Lily asked.

Hermione read the letter out loud.

Winters,

You're probably wondering why I would be sending an owl at this
time of night. Dumbledore has asked me to begin training you, and all
of your little friends, the week after next. After your finals are finished.


 

Be in the Forbidden Forest at 5:30 in the evening that Monday.
I'm sure we'll all have a wonderful time together.


 

Alastor Moody

 

Not taking her eyes off the letter, she heard Sirius beside her. "Well that was cheerful," he said with a snort.

Back to reality, I guess...
Hermione thought miserably.

 

"Merlin! Another one!" Peter yelled as another owl tapped at the window.
 

Hermione's head whipped around, and sure as anything, there sat another owl on the windowsill. This time Hermione opened the window and took the letter. Again, it was addressed to her. She opened it quickly and began to read.

 

Hermione,

If you would, could you please meet me near that wall
I see you sneaking around so often? The one on the seventh floor?
I'm afraid it cannot wait. As much as you may be tempted,
or he may demand, please do come alone.
I assure you, you do not need Black's protection.


Sincerely,
Severus


Hermione did not notice Sirius reading over her shoulder. "NO WAY!" he screamed.

 

"Sirius, hush!" Hermione snapped, her hands shaking slightly.
 

The rest of their friends were looking on quizzically, their eyes and mouths gaped open, as they craned their necks, trying to catch a glimpse of the letter.

 

"What's going on, 'Mione?" Peter asked, concerned.
 

"Well-" she began.

Sirius began pacing, huffing in anger. "No way! No FUCKING way, Hermione!" Sirius ripped the letter from her hands. "SIRIUS!" she shrieked as he shoved the letter at James. James was frozen. He seemed utterly bemused by Sirius' outburst.

 

"Read it!" Sirius hissed.
 

Lily, Peter and Lupin crowded around James and read the letter together. Lupin was the first one to finish, and his eyes met with Hermione's. Hermione didn't like the sympathetic look in his eyes, she could tell he agreed with Sirius.

 

Oh come on! She thought. "Really, Remus?" she groaned.
 

"Well," Lupin shrugged, while fidgeting with the cuff of his sleeve. "I - I can understand why Sirius may be a little... apprehensive," he said gently, avoiding her eyes.

 

Hermione groaned and crossed her arms tightly. Don't they understand? I've made an Unbreakable Vow with him! He can't hurt me, or he will die! She thought in anger. "I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself, thank you," she snapped.

 

Sirius rounded on Hermione, his eyes beyond reason. "YEAH?" he bellowed.
 

Anger and adrenaline coursing through her body, her eyes narrowed. "YES!" she shouted back.

 

"What about New Year's, Hermione? Were you perfectly capable of handling yourself then?" he growled.
 

Hermione flinched and took a step back. That was an extremely low blow which made her livid.

 

"Uh oh." James said quietly to Lily as Lily stared in blatant disbelief.
 

"Guys..." Lupin attempted.
 

Sirius barked at his friends, "Stay out of this! Got it?"

 

Lily, James, Peter and Lupin looked stunned and hurt. "Come on," James said while shaking his head. The four of them all retreated up the stairs and left Hermione and Sirius glaring at one another.

 

"Well?" Sirius demanded, his face now red. "You don't honestly think I'm going to let you go on your own, do you?"
 

Hermione took a step closer to Sirius. "Let me?" she hissed dangerously. Hermione brought herself up to full height. "You listen to me, and listen well, Sirius Black. There has never been a time, under any circumstances, have I ever had a man let me do anything," she said in a quiet voice, which sounded more threatening than any of the shouting she had done.

Sirius recoiled, took a step back and ran his hand through his hair. "Hermione. It- It's just - I - you... I couldn't bear if something were to happen to you again!" he blurted out.
 

Just by a fraction, Hermione's eyes softened. "I know," she said softly. Not liking at all what she was about to do, for she hated lying to Sirius, Hermione took a deep breath. "I'll... I'll go to bed, alright?" she lied. She had no intention of going to sleep, yet she knew he would never let her go on her own. For Snape to be sending an owl to her, at this time of night, she knew it must be important. There was no way she couldn't go.

 

Sirius' eyes were filled with surprise. She knew that he would have never expected her to concede so quickly.  "You will?" he asked, shocked.
 

"Yes," she exhaled with a - hopefully - convincing smile.

 

Hermione closed the gap between them, and pulled Sirius into a tight embrace as he leaned his head to kiss her passionately. "Good. Thank you, my love," he told her after they kissed.
 

With her face buried into his chest, "You're welcome," she said quietly.
 

Sirius squeezed her a little tighter; she felt him shaking. "I don't trust the bastard, Hermione. No matter what's he done, I still don't trust him," Sirius said while stroking Hermione's hair.

She looked up into Sirius' grey eyes with a tight smile. "I know, love."
 

After one last kiss, Hermione made her way up the stairs and into her room. She closed the door and jumped upon hearing Lily's voice.

 

"Hermione, here!” Lily whispered while shoving something into her hands. “James told me to give this to you. I agree with you. As much as I am not his biggest fan, I don't think Severus will hurt you," Lily said in a rush.

 

Hermione looked down at the object in her hands. It was James’ invisibility cloak. She couldn't help but laugh. "How did you manage this?" she asked, running her fingers along the sheer, smooth fabric in her hands.
 

Lily shrugged and giggled. "I possibly, may have threatened to… er… withhold something from him..."

 

Knowing exactly what Lily was speaking of, Hermione fell into a fit of laughter. "Nice work, Lily," she managed to get out between giggles.
 

After the girls calmed down, Lily started pushing Hermione towards the door. "Alright, you better get going. He sent that letter nearly half an hour ago," Lily urged.

 

Hermione shook her head in mock disappointment. "Who would have thought? Lily Evans, Head Girl, aiding and abetting a student sneaking out of bed, after hours," Hermione joked.
 

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go on!" Lily hissed as she all but threw Hermione out.
 

Hermione threw the cloak over her head, opened the door and quietly tip-toed down the stairs; holding her breath the entire way. Upon reaching the Common Room, she sighed a breath of relief, seeing it was empty. Stealthily she climbed through the portrait hole, down the stairs and through the empty castle halls; her heart pounding the entire way. What if Sirius was right? What if this is a trap? She began to worry. No, I'm being silly. I'm am absolutely certain Snape would not wish to end his life, by leading me into some sort of trap. I will be perfectly fine. She reassured herself. Finally she arrived to her destination, where she saw Severus Snape pacing. He was, as she suspected, completely alone. Her shoulders relaxed, knowing she was right. See? Hermione thought to herself. There was no reason for Sirius to become so worked up.


Chapter 26: It's His Mark
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]


As Hermione took a few steps closer towards Snape, she noticed he was not looking very well. He was paler than normal and his face was shimmering with sweat. Oh boy. I’m sure this cannot be good, she worried, as her footsteps echoed through the halls. The sound caught Snape’s attention, his head snapped up, he looked around and pulled out his wand; a frantic look in his eyes.

“Hello? Who’s there?” he whispered sharply, squinting into the darkness.

Deciding now was as good of a time as any, Hermione removed James’ cloak, revealing herself. Hermione’s sudden appearance, presumably from thin air, took Snape by surprise. He jumped back with one hand gripping his chest, the other pointing a wand directly at Hermione’s face. “Bloody hell!” Snape cried. His brow furrowed as he finally realized who was standing before him. “You’ve nearly given me a heart attack,” he snarled while lowering his wand.

Hermione smiled ruefully. “I’m sorry, Snape. It was not my intention to frighten you,” she said cautiously as Snape lowered his wand and stuffed it back into his robes.

Still scowling at her, Snape grumbled, “You’re lucky I didn’t curse you!”

“No, Snape. You’re lucky you didn’t curse me,” Hermione said earnestly, a shudder running through her while thinking of what could have happened, due to her carelessness. Not smart Granger. I should have announced myself, or something. I could have inadvertently killed him. Hermione scolded herself.

Snape tugged at his collar uncomfortably. “Yes – Well… Crisis averted then.”

Hermione watched as Snape shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He wiped his hand across his brown, winced in pain and then rubbed the inside of his left forearm. From the way his face had just twisted... It looks like he had hurt his arm. Badly. Oh no! She had just put it together.

“Severus…?” she began gently, her eyes firmly fixed on his arm. “When – when d-did it happen?” she stammered.

Snape’s head turned quickly to the left and the right, looking to see if they were alone.

“Not here!” he hissed. “Is there anywhere more… private, in which we could discuss this?”

Hermione nodded and held up her index finger, as to indicate “One moment.” She paced before the wall they were standing in front of three times. Once again this evening, she watched the door to The Room of Requirement form before her. Seeing Snape’s eyes widening in astonishment, she explained what this room was.

“Amazing,” he marveled quietly. “And to think, I thought I knew of all the secrets this castle had to offer,” he said more to himself.

“Don’t be silly, Snape. Not even Dumbledore is aware of all this castle has to offer. I don’t think anyone truly does, honestly,” she said harshly. Hermione took a quick glance around and proceeded to enter through the doorway. Looking back, she saw Snape was still standing, not making an attempt to follow her. “Well come on then!” she snapped.

Snape eyed her cruelly while following her through the door. They walked into – once more for Hermione - an exact replica of her parents’ kitchen. As Snape looked around, hard as he may try, he could not stop the look of pure admiration, which was etched upon his face.

“And where, pray tell, is this supposed to be?” he asked condescendingly.

“This,” Hermione began to explain, not quite able to control the venom leaking from her voice, “would be a copy of my true home. My home from 1998, that is.”

“Hmm,” was all Snape replied.

Hermione rolled her eyes and gestured for Snape to sit down at the kitchen table. “Tea?” she asked, unable to remain impolite. Something about the room turning into her kitchen made her feel like a hostess, and she had been brought up to be nothing but courteous to guests in her home.  Regardless of how rude they may be.

“Please,” Snape answered while sitting down.

Hermione waved her wand as she sat across from Snape, and began to make the tea. They sat in an awkward silence while the water was boiling, avoiding each other’s eyes. Once the tea was poured and made to their liking, Hermione intended to continue their conversation from the hallway. She cleared he throat and asked the same question.

“So? Are you going to tell me? When did that,” she stressed while pointing at his left arm, “happen? And where, for that matter?” If Hermione was right in her assumption, she could not understand where Snape could have received it.

Snape took a sip of his tea, cocking an eyebrow at her. He set down the cup and lifted his left sleeve. Although she was prepared for it, the sight on the Dark Mark, after all of these months, took the breath from her. That mark signified the very reason for her being in the position she was in currently. It represented what she had lost, and now, how much she still has left to lose. No, she wouldn’t trade Sirius, or the rest of her friends for that matter, for anything in the world. But to be forced into this situation, form these relationships, and to know that when she returns, they are still not one hundred percent guaranteed to be there... That she, still, may possibly lose them all. It’s all because of that mark and everything that it stands for. She wanted to vomit. She wanted to claw that mark right off of his arm and watch him bleed. She wanted to punch and kick every inch of Snape she possibly could. She wanted to cry. She wanted to scream until her lungs burst. She didn’t know what she wanted to do…

Hermione turned her head and fixed her eyes on the linoleum floor. “Judging by your reaction, I am right to assume you realized the significance of this – for lack of a better word – tattoo?” Snape asked impassively.  

Nodding feebly, she answered in a whisper, “Yes. I know what that means.” Her eyes were still firmly focused on the ground.

She observed, in her peripheral vision, Snape pulling his sleeve back down while looking right at her. “Then you should also realize the advantage this gives us,” he said, his voice softened significantly.

He’s right… It does. Now, with Snape on our side and marked, we will know Voldemort’s every move. It still doesn’t mean that I like it. I thought I would change him becoming a Death Eater, too, she thought despondently.  “It does,” Hermione reluctantly agreed as she raised her head and locked her eyes in his.

As Hermione looked into Snape’s black eyes, she noticed they were burning with intense determination, yet also, a faint flicker of fear. She realized he knew the danger he was in. Now more than before. If Snape were to slip up in the slightest, he would be dead. For sure. Hermione was starting to regret her decision; making the Unbreakable Vow with Snape. As much as she may not care for him, she didn’t like having this sort of power over someone’s life.

“I’m sorry, Severus,” she whispered sadly.

Snape’s eyes widened. “For what?” he asked, unmistakably confused.

Hermione took a deep breath while covering her face with her hands. “For everything! Everything you’ve been through, and now, what you’ll have to go through.” If Snape were to believably remain in Voldemort’s inner circle, she was sure he would have to perform some unthinkable acts, sometime in the near future. The thought nauseated her.  She gave a short, cold laugh. “As much as I don’t particularly like you, you don’t deserve this. Having your life balancing on a precipice because of me,” she rushed out. 

Uncovering her face, she watched Snape as he snorted. “You still think I’m doing this for you?” he questioned, not unkindly. A genuine smile formed across his lips.

“I know, I know. You’re doing it for Lily, but –“

He raised his hand, cutting her off. “Not entirely for Lily,” his brow furrowed. “I’ve been a bit introspective as of late.” Snape looked down; looking as if he were carefully choosing his next words. “Maybe it’s time I’ve done the right thing,” he admitted vehemently, more to himself than Hermione.

Hermione was taken aback. She was under the impression that Snape was doing this for completely selfish reasons – his love for Lily. Never did she expect that he would have begun to see, that just maybe, the path he was originally on, was wrong.

With her eyes wide and mouth gaped open in utter astonishment, she pulled herself together, and asked the question which was bothering her immensely. “But I still don’t understand,” she confessed. “How? How did you manage to become branded with it?” her eyes were burning with curiosity.

Snape blinked a few times, almost as if he were just remembering Hermione was there, and cleared his throat. “I received a letter from Lucius, early in the morning,” he began to admit. Taking a deep breath, he continued. “He stated that,” he gulped. “The Dark Lord would be requiring my presence, along with a few others -” Snape went to continue speaking, but ended up choking on his words. A painful expression appeared on his face.

Oh my! What’s happening to him? she panicked. Hermione leaned forward. “Severus?” she asked in alarm. “Severus, are you alright?”

Breathing heavily, Snape nodded. “Yes,” he gasped. “I apologize for that. I – I am not able to speak the names of those who have been marked with me. It seems I am magically bound to more than one person.” He smiled bitterly.

Hermione bowed her head in acknowledgement. “I understand. Please don’t do anything to cause yourself harm,” she told him. “Although, I’m sure I have a pretty good idea of who the other boys, who were marked with you, were.”

Snape chuckled, “I’m sure you do.”

“Could you tell me where this happened, you think?” she wondered.

After thinking for a moment, Snape said, “I could try.” He looked around, appearing as if he were worried they might be overheard. “We were told to meet in Hogsmeade. After dinner, we snuck out of the castle. After meeting a few… members, we were Apparated to the basement of Borgin and Burkes. That is where it happened.” He stopped for a moment. After it seemed that nothing would happen to him for disclosing this information, he continued. “It did not take long, about an hour or so,” he shuddered softly, a distant look in his eyes, possibly recalling what being marked by Lord Voldemort entailed. Snape seemed as if he did not wish to share, and Hermione did not want to ask.

“After we were finished, we were brought back to the village and snuck back into the castle. When everyone had gone to bed, that was when I wrote to you. If we are to work together, and you are to trust me, I wanted to inform you. Immediately,” Snape told her, his eyes ablaze with sincerity.

Hermione was astounded. Snape, it seemed, was truly taking this whole situation – working with her, Dumbledore, and by extension, The Order – seriously. It took a lot of bravery for him to put himself in that situation this evening and for him to include Hermione in on this secret. She would never admit it, not to him, or to anyone, but she found herself admiring his courage.

“Wow. I – I don’t know what to say,” she stammered, truly in awe.

Snape grinned while cocking an eyebrow. “Well. You could start with, ‘Severus Snape, you are the most incredibly courageous person I have ever known,’” he, surprisingly, joked with her.

With the stress of everything going on in her world, and the intensity of this conversation; her nerves got her. Hermione began to laugh hysterically while Snape joined in. They’re laughter seemed to ease the tension marginally. Something had changed between Hermione and Snape that evening. They would never, ever be friends, by any means. But, it seemed, they were allies.  Sometimes, a mutual respect, and the ability to tolerate one another, could change everything.

***

The entire walk back to Gryffindor tower, Hermione was trying to make sense of tonight. Snape was – technically – a Death Eater. She honestly did not hate Snape, as she once had. Another thing bothering her immensely was, she lied to Sirius. Especially after she had promised to never lie to him again. If Sirius found out where she went this evening, he would be roaring with anger. Lily helped and encouraged her to meet with Snape. James, without a doubt, must have figured out why Lily was adamant on taking his cloak. Would he share his suspicious with Sirius? Her mind was reeling while her feet – seemingly of their own accord – carried her through the castle, into the portrait hole, across the empty common room and into her dormitory.

Hermione closed the door softly, lest she wake Lily, when a soft “Psst!” caused her to jump violently.

“Holy shit, Lily!” Hermione yelled, her heart beating a mile a minute.

“Sorry,” Lily whispered apologetically. “I couldn’t sleep. I’ve been dying to know what that was all about,” she admitted in a rush.

Hermione sighed. “Let me restart my heart first, alright?” she asked with an edge to her voice.

Taking James’ cloak off, she threw it over to Lily, walked to her bed and fell down on her stomach. She was truly exhausted.

“Well?” Lily pressed.

Rolling her eyes, Hermione wondered if she should tell Lily what Snape had disclosed to her. She knew she could trust Lily wouldn’t say a word, but could she betray Snape’s confidence in that way? Well, she did get me the cloak to help me sneak out. It would be completely unfair for me not to confide in Lily. Hermione made up her mind.

“Lily, I know I don’t have to tell you, but you cannot repeat a word of this,” Hermione began.

Lily sat straight up in her bed. Hermione had her full attention. “You know me better than that, ‘Mione. But, if it makes you feel better, I won’t say a word to anyone,” Lily promised.

Hermione and Lily discussed Snape becoming branded with the Dark Mark for nearly an hour. Lily looked horrified, revolted and – if Hermione read Lily’s face accurately – a little sad. Even though Lily and Snape’s friendship was damaged beyond repair, Hermione suspected that Lily would always care – in her own way – for her old childhood friend.

“I still can’t believe it,” Lily whispered.

Smiling sadly, Hermione told her, “But he truly does want to do the right thing, Lily. And, unfortunately, this is the best way for him to do so.” Hermione reiterated.

Lily was quiet for a moment; Hermione heard a soft sniffle. “I guess you’re right, Hermione,” she reluctantly agreed. “I – I need to get some sleep,” Lily said, her voice beginning to shake.

“Alright,” Hermione said kindly. Hearing Lily sniffle once more, Hermione asked, “Lily. Are you – are you alright?”

Lily coughed, and said quietly, “I’m fine. Goodnight, Hermione”

“Goodnight, Lily.”

Turning off the light, Hermione laid down and rolled onto her side. She heard a quiet sob come from Lily and debated on going over to comfort. Since it seemed that Lily may not wish for her to know how much this truly bothered her, Hermione remained in bed. With her mind spinning from everything – and with Lily crying for quite some time – it took a while before Hermione finally fell into a restless sleep.

***

 

Hermione and Sirius were traveling through a dense forest with purpose. In almost complete darkness, the only light had come from the tip of their wands, with only a few feet in front of them visible. All the while knew she had to find something, but was not quite sure what she was searching for. They walked on for what felt like hours, until stepping through the trees into in a clearing. She stood for a moment, letting her eyes adjust to the moonlight. A perfect circle of grass and wildflowers surrounded them; a small pond laid ahead nearly 10 meters away. If it wasn’t for that fact that she was so terrified, she would have found the place rather beautiful.

It was much colder here. She shivered softly as she watched her breath fog in front of her. Suddenly, something caught her eye. There was a bright green light up ahead, hovering over the pond, which seemed to be drawing Hermione in. She slowly moved forward – arm outstretched – as if hypnotized. “This is it! This is what I have been searching for,” she realized.

Abruptly, she was drawn out of her trance by the sound of a branch cracking on the ground behind her. She turned around quickly, making sure Sirius was still behind her.

“Sirius…?” she asked tentatively, seeing that his appearance had begun to change.

The sight in front of her caused her heart to sink and her body go cold; her blood curdling scream filled the air. Sirius’ hair seemed to recede into his skull, his face slowly turned bone white, while his eyes went from wide, grey and playful, to flaming red slits. His lips turned up into a bitter smile. “Miss Granger. At last we meet,” Voldemort purred.

Hermione sat straight up in bed, covered in sweat; her heart pounding. It took her a moment to realize where she was - in bed, safely in her dormitory at Hogwarts. Seeing that the sun had only just risen, and not feeling very well rested, Hermione knew she must not have slept for very long. Telling herself it was just a dream, and hoping for a few more hours, she tried falling back to sleep, but to no avail. The nightmare, which jolted her awake, had left her too anxious. With a groan, she sat up slowly and reached for her robe. As she looked across the room, she noticed Lily’s bed was empty. Looks as if I’m not the only one having trouble sleeping, she thought.

Assuming Lily was most likely down in the Common Room, Hermione made her way downstairs. Upon entering, Hermione saw – a fully dressed – Lily, sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace. As she approached, she saw Lily’s eyes were red and puffy, either from lack of sleep, or from crying – she suspected both.

“Hey, Lil,” Hermione greeted Lily with a yawn, as she plopped down on the couch next to her.

Lily continued staring straight ahead. “Hi, ‘Mione. Did I wake you?” she asked, her voice expressionless.

“No, not at all,” she reassured Lily. “Nightmare,” Hermione clarified with a shrug.

Still nothing taking her eyes from the fire, Lily nodded. “Sorry.”

Hermione began to worry about her friend. She had never seen Lily look so dejected before.  “Do you want to talk about it?” Hermione asked softly.

Lily shook her head. “I’m alright. Honestly,” Lily tried to convince Hermione.

“Ok,” Hermione said, although she knew Lily was anything but. Hermione waited a few moments, hoping Lily would admit that she was taking this business with Snape harder that she was letting on, but no such confession came. Hermione sighed quietly and placed a comforting hand on Lily’s shoulder. “But if you do need to talk about it at all, you know I’m here,” Hermione tried to console her.

Finally looking at Hermione, Lily gave a forced smile. “I know you are, Hermione. Thank you. But really, I’m fine.”

Not wanting to push Lily, Hermione left and found a book to occupy some time. After picking the first book her fingers touched - not bothering to see what she had chosen - she sat and began to read, near Lily, in one of the armchairs. The girls sat in silence for nearly two hours before some of the Gryffindors began to wake and arrive downstairs. Lupin was the first of their friends to make his way down from the dormitory.

Lupin sat down in the chair across from Hermione, stretched and yawned loudly. “Good morning, girls,” he greeted with a warm smile. As Hermione smiled back, and Lily looked over to him, Lupin’s face fell. “Lily?” he asked in surprise. “What’s the matter?” His eyes were filled with nothing but concern.

Lily shrugged while shaking her head. “Nothing,” she lied.

Lupin eyed her suspiciously and glanced towards Hermione, who shook her head subtly, indicating, “Not now.” He nodded, his brow furrowed, and sat back in his chair, joining in their uncomfortable silence.

As Hermione sat, idly flipping through the pages of her book, not concentrating on what she was reading, she having an intense internal debate. She was not quite sure if she should admit to Sirius what she had done the previous evening. Obviously he would be beyond furious with her, but that would pale in comparison to how he would react if he were to find out on his own. She knew keeping this a secret would be tantamount to a lie in his eyes. That’s when Hermione knew that she would tell him, just not today. She had enough to worry about, especially with N.E.W.T.s beginning tomorrow. What’s done is done, she couldn’t change it. Today would be strictly devoted to studying, not fighting with Sirius.

***

Later that afternoon, Hermione found herself knocking on Dumbledore’s door. Although she had not scheduled a meeting with him, there was something she needed to know which could not wait. While she was studying for exams, she wondered, would her N.E.W.T.s count? How, even though on paper, it would be twenty years since she had sat them, it would be merely months for Hermione. No different than if she had taken them during her own time. Deep down she knew it was silly - worrying about grades - but if she were to return to a brighter future than the one she had left, she would obviously need her N.E.W.T.s for any suitable career.

Hermione knocked softly on Dumbledore’s door, hoping he was in his office, and was pleasantly surprised when Dumbledore called out, “Come in.”

As she hesitantly stepped through the doorway, she saw Dumbledore sitting at his desk, a book he must have been reading laid open in front of him. His face filled with surprise as he saw Hermione slowly walking into the room. “I’m sorry to come calling unannounced, sir. I was just wondering if I may speak with you briefly?” she asked, her face red.

Dumbledore smiled kindly at her and closed the book on his desk. “But of course, Miss Granger. Please, have a seat,” he said while gesturing towards the chair in front of his desk.

She exhaled in relief, he did not seem angry with her for barging in on him. “Thank you, sir,” she mumbled while sitting down in front of him.

Brining the tips of his fingers together, Dumbledore fixed Hermione with a piercing stare. “How may I help you, Miss Granger?” he with polite interest.

Hermione began to feel rather foolish for what she was about to ask. What with everything that was going on, and all of the planning Dumbledore must have been doing with The Order, she knew he had more important issues on his mind. But, she did know that Dumbledore valued education very highly, so she told herself that her reason for being there was valid.

“Miss Granger? Is everything alright?” Dumbledore inquired, now looking concerned.

Sitting up a little straighter in her chair, Hermione cleared her throat. “Oh yes, Professor. Everything is fine – well... as fine as it can be,” she said with a shaky laugh. “It’s just – well I – er…” she tried awkwardly.

“Miss Granger, please feel free to speak with me, regarding any issue, which may be causing you distress,” he urged her. “That is why I am here.”

Hermione smiled at Dumbledore, “Thank you, sir.” Just spit it out, Granger, she told herself. “Well, Professor. I had a question, unrelated to Voldemort, or any of the reasons I’m here – in the past,” stopping for a moment, she watched as Dumbledore, once again, made her feel as if he were x-raying her over the top of his glasses. Sometimes that could be very intimidating. “I was wondering about my N.E.W.T.s?” she blurted out. “If, when I return to the future, if the exams I take here – if they would, you know – count?” she finished in a small voice.

Dumbledore surprised Hermione, he laughed. “Is that all, Miss Granger? You are worried about your grades?” he asked, amused.

Now, wishing she would melt into the chair beneath her, she responded. “Well… yes.” Her face felt like it was on fire.

“My dear girl, you will have nothing to worry about! Once you have aced all of your exams – which we both know you will,” he added with a wink. “You have my word. They will, as you asked, ‘count’ once you return home,” he promised.

Relief flooded through Hermione. She had spent so many hours studying and now she knew it had not been a waste. Her N.E.W.T.s here would matter and she would not have to sit through them twice. The tension left her shoulders, and a breath she did not even realize she was holding in, escaped her lips as she beamed at Dumbledore.

“Oh that is wonderful news! Thank you, Professor Dumbledore!” she exclaimed.

Chuckling softly, Dumbledore answered, “You are most welcome, Miss Granger.” He shook his head softly and mused, “Even with heady burden, which had been thrust upon your shoulders, you are still concerned for your education. You are truly a young woman after my own heart.” Hermione could see the pride shining from Dumbledore’s eyes, which caused Hermione’s heart to swell.

Hermione smiled widely, “I couldn’t think of anyone else who I would rather emulate, sir.”

Dumbledore waived off her compliment. “Oh now, Miss Granger. You are causing an old man to blush,” he teased.

Through her giggles, Hermione said, “That was all I wished to know, Professor.” Containing herself, she added, “I, again, am sorry for coming without notifying you beforehand,” sincerely.

“Miss Granger, you may call upon me whenever you may need. Never be afraid to come to me regarding anything which may be plaguing your mind,” he reassured her.

“Thank you, sir”, she responded humbly.

“Now,” Dumbledore’s tone turned serious. “since I have you here, there is something I would wish to speak with you about,” he said, surprising her once more.

What on Earth could he wish to speak with me about? Oh my… Snape, perhaps? “Sir?” she asked cautiously.

“With the school year coming to an end, I sense your time with us may be limited. Therefore, I would wish for you to hand your Time-Turner over, for the time being,” Dumbledore said with slight sadness to his eyes. “I trust you have it with you?”

Hermione’s eyes widened while she nodded. The one thing she had been trying the hardest to block from her mind, was the fact that she did not have much time left here with her friends, and more importantly, with Sirius. The corners of her eyes began to prick, while she held back tears, thinking of leaving them all. Taking a deep breath, she reached up to her neck, and pulled out the collar from her shirt. She had been wearing the Time-Turner around her neck – stuffed beneath her robes – every day since she had arrived in the past, not wanting to risk anything happening to it. Slowly she grasped the thin golden chain and lifted the necklace from around her neck. Looking at it sadly, with a trembling hand, she passed it over to Professor Dumbledore.

“Thank you Miss Granger,” he said as she dropped it into his hand.

She felt her throat tighten up and could not bring herself to speak; she nodded once more.

“I am sure you wish to know the reasoning behind me collecting this from you,” Dumbledore asked softly.

“Y-Yes, sir,” she choked out.

“I believe I have discovered exactly how to set the Time-Turner to ensure that, when you do return, it is to the proper moment. I have – my future self, that is – provided the exact date and time of which you originally departed and would need to begin preparing it for you,” he informed her.

Hermione felt a tear escape from her eye. Now that Dumbledore had taken her Time-Turner, and they had begun seriously discussing her returning home, leaving felt more real to her – in that moment – than it had the entire time she had been here.

“Miss Granger, please, do not cry,” Dumbledore tried to console her. “You will see them all again.”

Will I? We can’t be sure of that. Nothing is guaranteed. There is a possibility - especially if we are to take part in this war - that one of us, any of us, may end up being killed. “We can’t be sure,” she whispered dejectedly.

Dumbledore smiled sadly at Hermione. “No. We cannot,” he agreed.  A burning intensity, unlike Hermione has ever seen in them, formed in Dumbledore’s eyes. “But what we can do, is make sure we do everything in our power to end all of this now. Before Lord Voldemort has the opportunity to cause the destruction and despair you had come to know in your lifetime,” he said forcefully.

Hermione cringed slightly from the burning look Dumbledore was now wearing. It was moments like these that reminded Hermione just how terrifying Dumbledore really could be when the moment calls for it. “You’re right, sir,” she said softly.

***

Walking back to the Library, Hermione was deep in thought. Everything was happening so quickly and left her feeling quite disoriented. Exams began tomorrow, and in one week’s time, her magical education would be over. After leaving school, she did not know what to expect. She would be moving in with Sirius and thrown into a world which would be completely alien to her. Since she had been safely tucked away at Hogwarts, most of the time, it did not feel as if she were 20 years in the past. The school was just so familiar, and really hadn’t changed at all between now, and the time she had originally attended. Of course, being the girlfriend of a young Sirius Black and best friends with Lily, James, Lupin and Peter should be reminder enough, but it wasn’t. She truly felt as if she belonged with them. Leaving the school had left her feeling as if she were being sent into the past all over again. Her stomach was in knots.

Not quite paying attention to her surroundings, she was abruptly taken out of her thoughts by crashing into someone who was rushing down the hall. Without realizing what hit her, Hermione found herself on her backside.

“I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you there!” she apologized, not seeing who she bumped into, as the person’s robes had found their way over their head.

Pushing the hair out of her face and standing up, Hermione helped the person get to their feet. “Can’t you pay attention to where you’re going, you –“ Crouch stopped speaking immediately upon seeing who was standing before him. His lips curled up into a grotesque smile.

“Well, well. Look at my luck,” he sneered while running the back of his hand down her face.

Feeling as if a bucket of ice water had been thrown over her, Hermione stepped back quickly, drawing her wand. “Get out of here, Crouch,” she warned, aiming right at his face.

“Aww sweetheart, don’t you know? I’ve been dying for a moment alone with you,” he crooned while taking a step towards her.

Not today, asshole! She thought. Not giving him time to react, Hermione shouted “STUPIFY!” while she watched as Crouch’s eyes widened in shock before the spell hit him, then fell to the ground with a thud.

She looked around frantically, making sure no one else had witnessed what had just happened. Seeing that they were indeed alone, Hermione turned on her heel and ran away, leaving Crouch behind.

When she was half-way to the Library, she saw James and Sirius, who saw her sprinting. Shock and worry were very much present in their eyes. Hermione kept running until she reached them. She was sweaty, out of breath and clutching at a horrible stitch in her side.

“Hermione! What – Where – What the hell happened?!” Sirius demanded, as he took her by the shoulders and held her at an arm’s length.

Hermione shook her head and lifted her hand, silently asking for one more moment. James and Sirius exchanged a concerned look with one another and looked back towards Hermione.

“Did someone hurt you?” James asked, alarmed.

“N-No,” she huffed, now bent over; her hands placed on her knees.

“Come on, Hermione. Let’s help you back to the Common Room. We can talk there,” Sirius said while placing his arm around her waist, supporting her weight.

“Thank – Thank you, love,” she said.

James and Sirius continued to glance at her while they were walking and it was beginning to make Hermione a little uncomfortable. Once again this year, she had found herself mentally and physically exhausted. After her sneaking out to meet Snape last evening, seeing the Dark Mark again, waking abruptly because of that awful nightmare, Dumbledore taking the Time-Turner from her, thinking of her future and her run-in with Crouch – which incidentally, was the straw that broke the camel’s back; she felt like she could scream. She needed to sit and have a moment to collect her thoughts.

“Sirius?” she asked while tugging at his robes. “Please. May I rest briefly? Over there?” she asked, pointing out a stone bench against the wall in the hallway.

“Sure, love,” he responded. Slowly, the three of them walked to the bench and took a seat.

As she sat there, she had an overwhelming urge to cry. Between the months and months she was on the run with Harry and Ron, the Battle at Hogwarts, being sent back to the past, and then everything that had transpired since she arrived; she was starting to lose it. I know I’m strong, but bloody hell! I’m only human. I just need a break! Please, Merlin! I beg you, please just ease up a little! She silently pleaded. And before she knew it, the sobs began.

Sirius and James, who were still not altogether comfortable with a female crying, looked at one another in utter surprise. Seeing this just made Hermione cry harder. I can’t! I can’t do this any longer! I don’t want to do this! Why? Why did Dumbledore choose me?

Wrapping his arms around her and pulling Hermione in tightly, Sirius whispered in her ear. “Shhh… Shhh… What happened, Hermione? You’re honestly scaring me a little.”

She felt James’ hand on her shoulder. “Hermione. Talk to us. What’s going on?” James asked, his voice full of concern.

Feeling like her heart was shattering, she shook her head into Sirius’s shoulder and continued crying. “I can’t – I don’t want – I just can’t do this!” she hiccupped. “Why? Why has this all been dealt to me? ME? I’m – I’m just a kid for Merlin’s sake!” she yelled. At that point, rage, sadness, anxiety and hopelessness washed over her. She found herself unable to speak.

Sirius rocked her back and forth, while stroking the back of her hair. Through her choking sobs, she heard James whisper. “What is going on with these girls today? First Lily is a bleeding mess; won’t tell me what’s wrong. Now Hermione?”

“I don’t know, mate,” Sirius, who sounded truly baffled, answered.

***

Hermione cried for nearly an hour before Sirius and James convinced her to come back to the Common Room. They suggested maybe speaking with Lily, since something was so obviously off with her today, as well. Unsurprisingly, Lily was not in the Common Room when the three of them arrived. Peter and Lupin, who were sitting in their usual spot, near the fire, took one look at Hermione, and immediately, both jumped up.

“What’s the matter?” Peter demanded.

“Is she alright?” Lupin asked, anxiously.

Hermione gave the boys a watery smile. “I’ll be alright, thank you. Is Lily upstairs?” She needed Lily. Sure, the boys were trying to help her, but right now, she needed a female friend. Someone who she could just cry with. Someone who would understand, sometimes you just need a good cry. Peter nodded then Hermione said goodnight to each of them, and made her way up to her dormitory.

Opening the door, she saw it was completely dark, save for one candle, on Lily’s night table. Lily didn’t look up when Hermione entered. She was sitting on the edge of her bed, holding a picture in her hand. Without hesitating, Hermione walked over and took a seat next to Lily.

“Hi, ‘Mione,” Lily sniffled, still looking down at the picture.

Hermione, with her throat still tight from crying, choked out, “Hey Lils.”

Knowing that her voice sounded off, Hermione assumed that was what caused Lily’s head to whip up and look Hermione over.

“Hermione? What happened?” she asked sharply.

Smiling the first genuine smile she had given, since she was in Dumbledore’s office, hours before, Hermione shrugged. “Nothing really. You know. Just having one of those days.”

Returning Hermione’s smile, Lily answered, “Yeah. I know exactly what you mean.” She gently placed the picture she was holding, face down, on her bed.

Hermione jerked her chin towards the photo. “What was that, Lily?”

She watched as Lily turned a light shade of red and tears began to form in her eyes once more. “Please don’t tell James,” Lily begged, while handing Hemrione the picture.

It was a Muggle photo, she knew as soon as she looked at it, since the occupants were stationary. Their eyes glazed over and smiles forever plastered upon their young faces. If Hermione had to guess, Lily must have been around ten years old in the picture. The black-haired, black-eyed, awkwardly dressed young man with her, she would also venture to guess, was the same age. Snape stood with his hand around Lily’s shoulders, a look of triumph was just noticeable in his eyes. Lily smiled happily, as if she did not have a care in the world. Just the faint hint of insecurity could be seen in her eyes.

Hermione looked up from the photo and placed her arm around Lily’s shoulders. “Oh Lily…”

Taking the picture back, Lily shook her head as a tear fell from her eye, landing right between the younger Lily and Snape of her photo. “He was my best friend, Hermione,” she whispered. “I – I just… I don’t know. I don’t know what happened? How did we stray so far apart?” she asked, not sounding as if she required an answer. Or even really speaking to Hermione, for that matter.

“I don’t know how to answer that, Lily. Sometimes, people just change. Not always for the better. But I can tell you this; he is trying to choose the right path, now.” Hermione told Lily in a strong, confident voice.

“But Hermione,” Lily began, looking Hermione right in the eyes. “After what he c-called me… I don’t know if I could ever forgive him,” she admitted.

“Lily. I’m not, by any means, going to defend what he called you. The only thing I can say is, I know that to be the greatest regret of his life. Maybe – I’m not saying right this second. Maybe not even five years from now – but maybe, one day, you’ll finally be able to forgive him?” Hermione advised.

Shaking her head, Lily whispered, “I don’t think I could.”

“You never know, Lily.”

After wiping the corners of her eyes with her sleeve, Lily looked at Hermione; her face filled with compassion. “What happened to you, Hermione? I haven’t seen you this way in a very long time.”

Sighing, Hermione began to tell Lily of her meeting with Dumbledore. She told Lily how Dumbledore had taken the Time-Turner from her, and how that brought about all of these emotions she’s been trying to hold down for quite some time now. When she told her about running into Crouch, Lily’s eyes narrowed.

“That sleezeball! You should have turned him into a worm, Hermione,” Lily growled.

Laughing, Hermione answered, “That may just be grounds for expulsion… or arrest? Either way, I’d rather not take my chances.”

“I suppose your right,” Lily reluctantly agreed.

For the next few hours, the girls did not say much more. They cried, sat in silence and cried some more. When Hermione and Lily finally went to bed, she honestly felt quite a bit better, and hoped Lily did as well. Hermione had not had a total breakdown – of this magnitude – since her third day here. So much had been building, she was bound to explode at some point. She was extremely grateful, that at least this time, she was able to confide in Lily as to what was truly bothering her.

Rolling on her side and pulling the covers up to her neck, she drifted off slowly. Right in that last conscious moment, before falling asleep, that was when she realized; tonight was exactly what she needed. Sometimes, the only thing you need, is someone to cry with.

***

A/N - Hey everyone! So I really tried to get this next chapter updated as quickly as I could for you all! I hope you like it. It's honestly one of my favorites that I have written so far! And, as always, THANK YOU so, so, so much for all of your support! I can't even begin to describe how blown away I am by all the love I have received with this story. You are all incredible and I appreciate all of the reviews, favs, reads and everything! 

Don't forget, feed that little review box down there! It looks miiiiiighty hungry. ;)


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