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Hermione arrived home and breathed a sigh of relief when she found the sitting room empty. She heard the obvious sounds of dinner being laid out in the dining room, and rushed upstairs to her old room to hide all of her purchases, except for the Firewhiskey of course. She put the case of Firewhiskey on Sirius’s bed, and waved her wand so that it was its normal size. Slipping out of her travelling cloak she headed back downstairs to see Remus and Sirius just making it slowly into the dining room ahead of her.

“Hermione, is that you?” Sirius asked, hearing footsteps coming from behind him.

“Yes, how did you know?” Hermione asked as she followed him into the room, taking a seat next to him.

“Your footsteps are softer then Remus’s,” he replied matter-of-factly, not aware of Remus’s shared smile with Hermione.

Just then Harry swept through the door and gave them each a hug before sitting down and heaping food onto his plate, Ron right behind him. “Well, it looks like the two of us are moving out,” Harry said cautiously between bites.

“What do you mean,” Sirius asked, “moving out? I thought you both agreed to stay here while you were attending the academy,” he finished, a tinge of sadness in his voice.

Ron answered them all. “Well, we did agree when we were told there weren’t any more dorm rooms left. But a few guys were kicked out on their arses on their first day! Mine and Harry’s names were next on the list, so they told us we could move in immediately.”

Harry, concerned about Sirius’s reaction, suggested, “If you want us to stay, we will, Sirius. I’d rather be around to help you when I’m home anyway. We don’t have to leave.”

With an effort, Sirius summoned a smile and said lightly, “No, Harry, if a dorm room is available, take their offer. It will be easier for you to concentrate on school if you’re there, and not forever having to go back and forth. Besides, it’s probably a good idea to be close to your peers while in training. They’ll relax around you if you’re there—makes it easier for you to complete your training if you’re able to bond with them. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. Remus and Hermione are with me and have already helped me start adjusting.”

Harry started to smile at his godfather but instead had to choke back the urge to cry when he realised that Sirius wouldn’t see the smile. “All right, but we’ll come to visit on breaks. Promise you’ll owl me if you need me, okay?”

Sirius waved dismissively. “Pfft, of course I will! Now let’s finish eating before Ron there eats it all!” he said with a chuckle, having heard noises of plate refills throughout this exchange. Everyone else chuckled with Sirius, even Ron, though it was a bit more restrained.


When they had finished dinner Ron offered to walk Sirius to his room while Hermione led Harry to the library to make sure he got the books they would need with them at school. Remus excused himself, saying goodnight to them all, and Sirius was left alone with Ron. He slowly got up and start to feel his way out of the room. Ron followed him quietly, pointing out obstacles along the way, gathering his thoughts before confronting Sirius once they made it to the master bedroom.

Ron looked over at the second bed—Hermione’s bed. He was uncomfortable with the thought of her being alone with Sirius, but he knew he couldn’t help that. Gathering his Gryffindor courage—and still it was little enough—he blurted, “I’m in love with Hermione.” Sirius, sitting on the little couch in front of his fireplace, looked shocked, uncertain of how to respond.

“Ron, why are you telling me this?” he asked quietly, nudging down the jealous feelings that came out of nowhere.

Ron moved to sit down at the furthest possible point away from Sirius before replying. “I’m telling you because I want you to know where I’m coming from.” He hesitated and then continued. “Look, I know what I feel for Hermione is one-sided. For a long time I fought my own feelings, and then when I decided I wanted to do something about it, it was too late. I never knew it was you until the other day—that she was in love with you.”

He got quiet for a moment, then took a deep breath. “The point is, even if I can’t have her, it doesn’t mean I don’t want her to be happy. For some reason that’s completely beyond me, she loves you, Sirius. I’m not going to be around since I’m going off to school, and frankly I’m afraid you’re going to hurt her again. I just want you to know that if you hurt her, you’ll regret the day you were born, blind or not!” He took another shaky breath before demanding, “I want you to promise me right now that you’ll do everything in your power to protect her. As a friend, please promise me.”

Sirius was stunned by this bold speech from Ron. “I don’t know what will happen between me and Hermione. You’re the third person to say she cares for me. I can say that I care for her as well, though I’m not sure of the depth of my feelings yet. It’s going to take some time to work that part out, I’m guessing. But Ron, I promise, no matter what happens, I’ll do everything in my power to protect her, whether just as a friend or as anything more that may happen. I promise, on my lifeblood and my honour as a wizard, that I will protect her and respect her no matter what,” he said, holding out his hand to complete the oath.

Ron grimaced as he accepted the oath; both of them shivered as light encased their hands, bonding Sirius to his promise. They sat there for a moment after letting go of their handshake, uncertain of what to say. Suddenly Sirius felt movement as Ron got up off the couch. “I’ll see you then. I have some packing to do. Harry and I are getting up early to bring our things with us and settle into the room before our first class. Um, night,” he said awkwardly as he left the room. Sirius got off the couch and made his way slowly over to his bed, contemplating everything that had happened today. Mainly, he thought about Hermione.

He was pulled from his thoughts as he heard his door open and footsteps enter the room. Hermione. He cleared his throat as he opened the case of Firewhiskey that she had picked up for him earlier that day. “Thank you for getting these for me. Just so you know, this will last me a long time—I’m not planning to drown my sorrows or anything,” he said with a small smile.

She chuckled at his comment. “I didn’t think you were, not really. I’m just not a big drinker,” she said, her mind thinking of the night she’d got sloshed when he had kissed her. She took off her shoes after sitting down on the edge of her bed, watching him. He laid a hand on the box in front of him while pulling his wand, obviously making sure that he aimed it right before letting go and saying “Coussin!”, cushioning the case so that it wouldn’t scratch any furniture as he moved it. With a swish and flick he then said, “Wingardeum Leviosa.”

He held his wand steady. “Hermione, I didn’t miss, did I?” he asked, hoping he’d aimed right.

“No, Sirius, you aimed perfectly,” she replied, happy and a bit proud to see that he was so determined to still do some of these things for himself, that he even swallowed a bit of pride to make sure he was doing it okay rather then causing a catastrophe. He reached out in front of him with his free hand, and held his fingers to the case as he slowly walked towards the cabinet where he would keep the bottles. He heard the muffled thunk as the cushioned case came into contact with the cabinet, and then slowly lowered his wand until he heard it hit the floor. Hermione smiled as she watched him open the cabinet and feel for the spot where he had neatly stored the four bottles. A blush came over her face as she noticed the muscles in his shoulders and back flex as he moved, his shirt clinging just enough to show her the motions.

Quickly she dropped her eyes and got up, heading for her dresser to gather her pajamas so she could change for bed. She tossed the pajama set onto her bed as she struggled to close the overflowing dresser. She was so busy trying to push the drawer back in that she didn’t hear Sirius approach, and started when she felt his hands brush her shoulders as he came up behind her. He had heard her struggling with something and came to investigate and see if he could help. “What’s the problem? Anything I can help you with?” he asked kindly, standing an arm’s length away, but still with his hand on her shoulder.

“N-nothing serious. The dresser is a little packed—I was just trying to close the drawer. I did it this morning, I’ll get it shut in a moment,” she replied as she turned back to the drawer to do just that.

“Hermione, why don’t you put your things in the master closet? You’ve seen it, there’s more than enough room. I wouldn’t want you to have to suffer with wrinkled clothing, you know. That wouldn’t be gentlemanly of me,” he replied with a chuckle. “Seriously, though, move your things into the closet,” he said as he squeezed her shoulder and turned to go grab his own nightclothes.

“Thank you, Sirius. I’ll move my stuff in the morning. Do you mind if I have first dibs on the bathroom to change?” she asked hesitantly.

He turned back toward her voice, “Of course. Ladies first, Mademoiselle,” he said, executing a bow, causing her to blush as she noticed a gleam in his unseeing eyes. She chuckled at his antics as she tried to understand the fluttering in her stomach that his tone of voice and gleaming eyes caused. They both got ready for bed that night, but neither of them fell asleep right away, both of them thinking of the person in the other bed.



PLEASE READ AND REVIEW! *HUGS* ;P (Edited 11-5-08)

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