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Sirius's breath caught in his throat as he waited to hear Hermione's response. It was one of those moments that he wished he could see again, if only for a second to see the look on her face, even though she'd told him to ask her. 


Hermione, sensing his thoughts, took his hand and helped his fingers trace the upward curve of her mouth, then brought them to her cheeks where a few tears leaked uncontrollably. Then she placed his hand over her breast, where he could feel the wild beating of her heart. "Sirius Black, I would love to marry you," she said simply. She squeaked in surprise when Sirius stood up and enveloped her in his arms. They both just held each other, both of them trying to savor the moment. 


When Sirius finally stepped back a bit he kissed her sweetly on the lips and then asked, "So when and how do you want to get married? Do you want to plan a big wedding, or run off with me right now? I know a man at the Ministry who, for the right money, will perform spur-of-the-moment hand-fastings...." 


"I want to get married tonight. Just the two of us. No reporters. No objections. I just want to marry you!" Hermione replied, smiling even more when Sirius moved quickly to the fireplace, just carefully enough, with hands outstretched, to make sure he didn't run into anything. 


"Then give me a few moments to make some calls through the Floo, and then…we can get married!" he said, excitement punctuating every word. Hermione's own excitement started to build as Sirius confirmed plans to meet with the Ministry officiator in two hours and with Madam Malkin in twenty minutes. Being an old friend of the Marauders, Lily in particular, that lady agreed to keep the fact that she was opening her store in the middle of the night so they could buy hand-fasting robes "hush-hush". So without any further thought, both Hermione and Sirius left the old manor to get married in secret. 


~{}~ 


We regret to inform those who are faithful readers of her column that Rita Skeeter is no longer employed by the Daily Prophet. Below is a letter explaining this decision that has been forced on us.
I, Mrs. Mary Fareweather, head of the Ministry's Press Relations department, am writing to inform the public that Miss Skeeter was terminated from her post at the Prophet early this morning. It has come to the attention of my office that previously withheld allegations have been proved true, and therefore Miss Skeeter was arrested and questioned, with the use of Veritaserum, late last evening. Due to the pending trial, no further details about her charges will be released at this time. As for the future, the only thing that is not in doubt is her future as a reporter. She is henceforth banned—permanently—from working with any publication within Britain. Any publication that prints any of Miss Skeeter's work will face criminal charges. To all those people who have been harmed by Miss Skeeter's work, we apologize. It has been a painstaking process to bring this woman's bitter diatribes to an end. A special word of thanks goes out to those who helped us stop this woman's quill from blemishing the happiness of so many.
 

Sincerely, Mary Fareweather - Ministry Press Relations 


~{}~



Madam Malkin couldn't help but beam at the happy couple as she whizzed through their robe fittings, promising she would make sure they left her shop on time. Sirius looked extremely handsome in his silky black and smoke-blue robes; Hermione looked even better. She refused to let Sirius come near her, so Madam Malkin set up a partition that repelled Sirius if he tried to walk around it to "feel" what Hermione was wearing, something he tried a few times only to land on his butt and receive a scolding for nearly ripping his new robes. 


Hermione's robes were a mixture of creamy white and a shimmering ivory silk. She couldn't help but twirl a bit for the floating camera that Madam Malkin had insisted they use once they were dressed, assuring them they would regret not having such photos to show their family and friends since they were eloping. Sirius agreed readily, though he frowned briefly when Madam Malkin insisted on posing them so Sirius couldn't take advantage of his close proximity to Hermione. 


"Besides," Madam Malkin said, "it wouldn't be proper for you to…to grope her before you're officially married!" Hermione blushed as she quickly followed Madam Malkin's instructions on how to stand and face the camera. After ten minutes of posing every which-way they were told, Sirius insisted they needed to leave so as not to miss their appointment with the Ministry official. Hermione grabbed his hand and pulled him out the back door into the alley, where Sirius Apparated them both to the Ministry of Magic. 


~{}~


Louis Draggner, who was one of the oldest marital officiators at the Ministry of Magic, met Hermione and Sirius immediately upon their arrival in the Atrium. He was also one of the few who could be bribed to perform private ceremonies in the middle of the night. 


"Well, present the payment for me services and we can get on with this business. I'm getting too old to be up so late," he said rather grouchily, holding out his hand for the money. Hermione made a mental note to bottle this memory, not only for its significance but also for the fact that the man hadn't even bothered to dress up—unless you counted fluffy slippers and a worn-looking puke-green dress robe over faded pajamas. 


Sirius and Hermione held hands as they waited for the officiator to count the large bag of Galleons. Finally satisfied, he put the bag into his pocket and faced them both. "Okay, then. Do you want me to do this the long and proper way, or do you want to make it right quick-like?" Mr. Draggner asked, his voice bored yet impatient. 


Sirius squeezed Hermione's hand and replied, "Right quick-like works for us." 


Hermione smiled as best she could, resisting the urge to laugh at the man who was about to marry them. "Yes, quick is just fine, Mr. Draggner. Thank you for agreeing to do this at such short notice—" 


"Yes, yes, you're welcome, missy. Now, let's begin," Mr. Draggner said, interrupting her. Sirius grinned and Hermione giggled as the officiator instructed them to stand facing each other. Next he grabbed Sirius's left hand and placed Hermione's right on top of it, then Sirius's right hand, and finally Hermione's left hand. He placed the tip of his wand on top of their hands, and Hermione gasped as she felt the magic flow over them until their hands were completely covered in a misty, bright-blue light. "Now repeat after me, please. Do you, Hermione Granger, accept this wizard as your husband for life, until death parts you?" 


Hermione fought the urge to cry as she said, "Yes. I, Hermione Granger, take this wizard as my husband for life, until death parts us." She smiled through the tears building in her eyes, as the misty blue light flashed brightly for a moment, sealing her promise. 


"Do you, Sirius Black, accept this witch as your wife for life, until death parts you?" Mr. Draggner said, unable to keep the bored impatience out of his voice. 


Sirius's lip trembled with his own emotions as he replied, "Yes. I, Sirius Black, take this witch as my wife, until death parts us." 


Mr. Draggner held tightly to his wand as it flashed again, the power of the sealing briefly making it hard to hold. When the flash faded the misty blue light around their hands pulsed, different colors flashing briefly as the hand-fasting bonded them to each other. With a final bright white flash, the light faded. 


"It is my pleasure to pronounce you husband and wife. May the light that binds you never fade. You may kiss your witch," Mr. Draggner said. With no further ado he pocketed his wand and left them there facing each other, not daring to breathe lest the moment end. 


When they heard one of the Floos whoosh upon Mr. Draggner's exit, Sirius pulled Hermione towards him. With his hands resting smoothly against her cheeks, he kissed her slowly. Their lips tingled with love as they sealed their bond. Not even Hermione noticed the wind that swept around them, just like during their first kiss. When they finally pulled away from each other, gasping for breath, Sirius gathered her close and Apparated them both back to the old manor. 


~{}~


Molly was dusting the ash from her robes when Remus walked into the kitchen and halted in his steps. "Wha—this is a surprise. What brings you to Grimmauld this morning?" he asked cautiously. He had just been replying to owls, arranging the intervention for the following weekend. 


"I've come by to speak with Hermione. Is she here?" Molly asked, looking behind Remus but not moving to search the house like she wanted to. 


"No, I'm sorry, she's not home. Actually she isn't expected back until this weekend. I guess it's good you came by, though. I was just about to owl you. Harry and Ron are planning on coming home for the weekend and they wanted me to gather everyone together for a dinner. I'm guessing they're missing the lot of us," Remus replied with the most convincing smile he could conjure. 


"If Hermione isn't home, where is she?" Molly asked, not at all fooled by Remus's failed attempt to change the subject. 


"That's not for me to tell you, Molly. She's away for the week to get some fresh air. After the news articles she decided she wanted to go somewhere else while things…settled down. But like I said, she'll be home for the dinner I'm arranging. Can you and Arthur make it? Fred already owled that he and George will be there. Even Charlie, Kingsley, Poppy, and Minerva accepted." 


"Remus, where is Sirius?" Molly asked, her voice sounding colder than he had ever heard it. 


Remus looked her in the eye, his face a bit stony, and replied stiffly, "It's none of your business where he is either, Molly." 


Molly glared and him for a moment before turning swiftly away, then threw some Floo powder into the fireplace and left. Remus walked forward and sank into a chair, wishing that the intervention had already happened. 


~{}~


Molly didn't even bother to brush the ash from her robes as she emerged from yet another fireplace. Two hours had passed since she'd left Grimmauld, but she hadn't had any luck finding Hermione and Sirius. She knew that the best places to check were the Order's safe houses. As she entered the kitchen at the Manor House that she knew to be near the southern coast, she halted as she noticed how clean it was compared to everywhere else she had checked. 


Hearing footsteps from the next room, she hurried over to the walk-in pantry and slipped inside. She closed the door as quietly as possible and cast a silent revealing spell that allowed her to see who was in the house. She frowned as she watched Sirius walk into the kitchen with a laughing Hermione right behind him. 


"Sirius, there's no way they'd let us keep this place. What if some kind of emergency came up and they needed the Manor for a safe house again?" 


"Hermione, if another war started and they needed to use it as a safe house, it would still be a perfect safe house. There are ten bedrooms on the second floor and unless you're planning on having ten kids, we'll have plenty of rooms. If we only have five kids we can put bunk beds in the other rooms—" 


"Ten kids! You've got to be joking. I'm a woman, not a baby machine, you know! Two maybe, three at the most. That's my limit!" Hermione said, smacking Sirius lightly on the arm. She went to the fridge and started to pull out ingredients for supper. 


"Oh, come on, Hermione, surely you want more than three kids! Think of all the schoolbooks you'd get to buy." 


"Ha ha, very funny," she replied, smirking as she peeked at the chicken baking in the oven and proceeded to put some veggies on to steam. "Sirius, can you get me the potatoes from the pantry?" she asked him, her back to the pantry as she waved her wand lazily over the veggies, stirring them around to make sure they were being cooked all the way through. 


Molly gasped as she watched him feel his way towards the door. She was just crouching down in the opposite corner when he entered and reached for the potatoes that he knew were on the left side. Molly didn't dare take a breath as Sirius picked up the bag of potatoes and carefully shut the door. He laid them out on the counter, where he knew Hermione had placed a cutting board. 


Molly's sigh of relief was interrupted by Hermione saying, "So about our conversation this morning…when do you think we should tell everyone we got married? I know we need to wait until after the dinner party, but how long afterwards? I wouldn't want anyone to be upset that we failed to tell them sooner." 


"Hermione, you don't need to worry about what they think. Besides, I happen to think most everyone will be happy for us. If it makes them feel better, they're more than welcome to throw us a big party and give us a bunch of wedding presents." Sirius smiled when he heard her giggle. 


As Hermione put the veggies in the serving dishes she retorted, "Speaking of gifts and things, when are we going to get our rings? I don't want anything really big, and nothing yellow-gold." 


"How about we stop off in Muggle London before dinner on Saturday and find the perfect rings?" Sirius suggested. He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, nuzzling her neck. 


"Sounds like a date," she said, smiling as she pulled away from him and went to look in the cabinet. "Sirius, there isn't any wine. Would you be okay getting the chicken out of the oven while I Apparate to town and buy some for dinner? My baked chicken always tastes better with a nice red." 


"Sure. You said yourself that I've mastered my placement charm. Just tap my wand for me where you want it placed," he replied, holding his wand out to her. She tapped his wand onto the thick wooden potholder and handed it back. 


"Okay, I should be back in ten to fifteen minutes, and the chicken will be done in five," Hermione said. She pecked a quick kiss on his cheek and exited out the French doors that led to a large back porch. Sirius whistled to himself as he felt his way around the kitchen, getting silverware and dishes ready for the table. While he was absorbed in his task, Molly crept out of the pantry and slipped out the same doors that Hermione had moments before. 


~{}~ 


Hermione looked around after she Apparated into the alley next to the general store. Satisfied that no one had seen her, she left the alley and entered the store to buy the perfect wine for her husband. She smiled when she found what she was looking for. Humming happily, she joined the small line and waited her turn. 


~{}~


Molly had visited the Manor before, so she knew there was only one store Hermione could have gone to. She peered into the shop and spotted Hermione paying for a bottle of wine. Knowing she would only be in there for a moment, Molly hurried back into the alley and hid herself around the back corner, wand in hand. When Hermione walked into the alley and looked around to make sure she was alone, Molly raised her wand and yelled Obliviate!" 


A/N: Whew… finally an update for all of you! Sorry it was a bit shorter than usual…but the important thing is that it's an update! Sorry to leave you on such a cliffhanger…but not really lol. *Hugs* Please read and review!!!

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