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Triple Choc and Strawberry.

The next few weeks passed without incident in Potter Manor and Peter was around Potter Manor quite often as was Remus, the four playing Quidditch on the pitch behind the maze, swimming in the lakes on the grounds or just being complete idiots. Subsequently Hermione spent a lot of time with Mrs. Potter in the gardens, planting new flowers and splashing around in one of the many fountains on the Potter estate when the weather got too warm which was also quite often. According to the Daily Prophet, England was currently going through the hottest Summer they'd ever experienced on record which had gone back hundreds of years and it was absolutely incredible. Hermione often found herself in thin mini dresses or her modest (as said by Mrs. Potter) red halter one-piece swimsuit with a skirt over the top that was ready to discard as soon as she found a fountain deep enough to relax in. While the weather was absolutely atrocious outside the Manor inside was always cool and Hermione enjoyed heading in after a long day tanning in the sun.

Hermione and Mrs. Potter had grown quite close over the ensuing weeks and though she had felt rather guilty, Hermione enjoyed spending time with the older woman the most. She had never known Mrs. Potter in her previous life or so Hermione called it, so everything was new to a certain extent. She wouldn't know what grief had done to Mrs. Potter like it had done to Sirius and Remus and she wouldn't know what a life of cowardly acts and sheer bastardry from Peter would do either. So yes, Hermione spent a lot of her time getting to know Harry's grandmother and grew quite fond of her in the process. It had been a while since she had felt safe anywhere but she had certainly felt safe in Potter Manor. The Potter family were all so welcoming...it was nice to know that Harry's imaginings of the Potters were true and accurate.

"So, was it James who asked you for the lilies in the water fountains?" Hermione asked one Thursday at the start of August as she toyed with the dark pink petals of a recently bloomed water lily in one of the Manor's larger fountains. The brunette tilted her head to look at Mrs. Potter who sat on the edge of the stone surface as she spoke, smiling fondly.

"Oh no, the ponds had water lilies long before James met Miss Evans. Lilies have always been my favourite flower you see, and they became James' as well. It's a lovely irony, wouldn't you say?" The old woman smiled as if lost in a memory when she spoke next. "James always used to assist me in the gardens; before he wanted to be an Auror like Charlus once was James wanted to be a Herbologist."

Hermione's eyes widened in surprise and a smile tugged at her lips at the image of a tiny James helping his mother plant some tulips in the tulip garden. "Seriously?"

Mrs. Potter laughed. "Oh yes, though this remain a secret between us, of course. I don't think anybody but myself, Charlus and now you ever knew of James' old pipe dreams." Mrs. Potter's smile turned sad. "It's a shame, really. James had such talent. ...But with this war on the horizon..."

Hermione's happy smile slid from her face as well at the mention of the war and she removed her hands from the pond. Adjusting her t-shirt that had slipped down her shoulder, Hermione adopted a serious expression. "It's not going to be easy, Mrs. Potter, but I'll try my best to do what I can to help take Voldemort out and prevent the prophecy from ever happening. I'd rather die than see Harry go without parents again."

"Hermione..."

"No, Mrs. Potter. Harry's life is worth a lot more than mine. I died for Harry once and I'll do it again if necessary. He was my brother in everything but blood, the only family I had left. I made my parents forget me and my other relatives all thought I moved to Australia with them. They never knew I was a witch and so they never knew what was going on in my life. Harry and Ron," Hermione breathed the latter's name, "were all I had left. They were who I lived for. And to die for them...I see no greater use for my life. If I sacrificed myself here and now so that they could live and have the futures we could only dream of...I would do it in a heartbeat and it would be a life well spent. They were my world, Mrs. Potter. And for James, who looks so like Harry...I'll take the curse for him, too. Anything for Harry and Harry's happiness." Hermione was startled when she saw the tears stream down Mrs. Potter's cheeks. "Mrs. Potter..?"

"Oh Hermione," Mrs. Potter cried earnestly, "I don't want you to die, too. You've had such a hard life, you deserve only happiness... Stupid Gryffindor courage," The old woman sniffled, rubbing at her shining, yet still radiant face. "If it were up to me I'd lock you all away in Potter Manor forever to keep you safe. But I know there are some things you just can't shy your children from."

Hermione smiled sadly. "I agree with you there, Mrs. Potter."

"Know this though, Hermione." Mrs. Potter suddenly stated seriously, her expression hard. "If Tom Riddle ever manages to break the wards and raid Potter Manor make certain my boys get out of here alive. I don't care about what happens to me. I've lived my life. I've got a beautiful home and a wonderful family; I have everything I've ever wanted. If I were to die today I would die happy. And if I had to die to make sure you lot got out of here alright...I'd do it. Let me go."

"Mrs. Potter..."

"Do it, Hermione." Mrs. Potter's grey eyes were fierce. "Forget your Gryffindor pride for once, take my sons and run."




The next day when the post arrived Hermione's eyes lit up when she saw five owls holding five familiar envelopes. A large smile spread across her face and beaming at an equally ecstatic Remus, Hermione accepted her Hogwarts letter from the owl with barely concealed delight. Hermione's wide grin soon slipped however when she read the name the letter had addressed her with in emerald green ink. ...Wait, what?

Miss Hermione Potter

The Dining Room

Potter Manor

Somewhere in the British Isles

Miss Hermione Potter?

Upon pulling out the first letter, Hermione was unsurprised to find that this letter was not from Professor McGonagall but from Albus Dumbledore himself. Hermione instantly recognised the loopy script written in royal purple ink from the several missives she'd received from Dumbledore over the years. Though as the years went on and Voldemort grew more in strength, every time she received a letter a chill would run down her spine. A letter from Dumbledore from any time post 1995 were never good omens.

Dear Miss Granger,

As promised, also attached to this line is your Hogwarts letter. Lord Charlus, Lady Dorea and myself have been discussing your future Hogwarts plans and for your own and for the sake of your future family have decided henceforth that you will be known as Miss Hermione Potter for the duration of your Hogwarts stay. Lord Charlus and Lady Dorea upon discovering you over the holidays have taken you under their wing and adopted you in as many words after your parents were killed in a tragic accident. Through a little persuasion on my and Lord Charlus' part the Ministry has similar details regarding your history and to wizarding Europe you are also a Potter. As I'm sure you know your original family name must remain secret--we cannot risk your original name being discovered for fear of retribution.

On a lighter note, I hope you have thus far enjoyed your holiday Hermione. I am looking forward to seeing you Sorted on September the 1st.

So until then,

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

P.S - I do believe that by the time you arrive at Hogwarts I will certainly enjoy some ice mice. Do with that what you will.

Looking up at Mr. and Mrs. Potter both of whom were sipping tea, Hermione swallowed the lump the size of a fizzing whizzbee in her throat. "You would do that for me?" She breathed, instantly attracting the attention of the elderly couple, both of whom smiled.

"Of course, Hermione dear. It's not as if you aren't an honorary Potter anyway--now it's just on paper." Mrs. Potter winked and Hermione couldn't help the tears that rolled down her cheeks. She scrubbed furiously at them while ignoring the looks of bewilderment the Marauders were giving her; James in particular looked rather uncomfortable.

"You okay, Hermione? Don't cry, now." He said awkwardly, wrapping an arm gingerly around Hermione's shoulder and patting her back gently, before gaping when she suddenly snuggled into the younger boy's chest, snaking both her arms around his waist. "H-Hermione?"

'Looks like James is just as awkward with girls as you are, Harry.'

Sniffing slightly and laughing in delight, Hermione peered up at the blushing boy, flashing him a wide grin. "James Potter, that Lily Evans is a fool if she doesn't fall in love with you."

Grinning widely at Hermione's completely honest statement (he could see it in her eyes), James hugged her back tighter, breathing a whispered: "Thank you."

"Awww, group hug!" Sirius shouted and jumped onto James from his spot beside him, all three erupting into laughter when the chair toppled to the floor. Sirius was thankfully on the bottom while Hermione was pillowed safely on James' chest.

James beamed up at Hermione from his spot on the floor, wheezing slightly, his glasses dangling crookedly halfway off his nose. "Guess I just saved your life, Miss Granger."

Hermione laughed, adjusting James' glasses to sit properly on his nose. "Actually, I'm Miss Potter now. But yes, gallant knight, it appears you did."

"Potter?" James and a wincing Sirius asked from underneath the two and it was Mr. Potter who answered the two curious boys on the floor and the other two who had remained in their seats.

"As you all know, Hermione lost her direct family to a Death Eater raid not too long ago." Hermione burrowed her face into James chest to avoid looking at anybody during this "truth session", and James really was as comfortable as Harry had been... The Marauders knew already not to bring up Hermione's past at all; Mrs. Potter having told them that Hermione herself would tell them when she was ready to do so. Hermione had never been so grateful. "Now as you and James saw, Sirius, Hermione should've died from the injuries inflicted on her person that day. However, considering she's now with us...well it's fairly obvious that she instead lived. Now, if the Death Eaters knew Hermione had survived they would be likely to go after her at Hogwarts...as most people don't survive a Death Eater interrogation. So from now on Hermione will be known as Hermione Potter, your recently adopted sister, James."

James stared at Hermione for a moment. "So. Siblings, eh?"

Hermione smiled tearfully. "If you don't mind having a mudblood for a sister, then yeah."

James' face (as did the faces of everybody at the table) contorted at the word mudblood, his eyes flashing. "I don't give a flying fuck what you are, but don't you dare call yourself such a horrible word ever again!"

Mr. and Mrs. Potter didn't reprimand their son for the language but Hermione was still shocked at the vehemence in James' tone. It reminded her very much of a certain outburst that Ron Weasley had made in her second year a long time ago. James' expression was as ferocious as her ginger haired friend's had been.

"James!"

"No, don't you chide me for my language Hermione when you said something just as bad! How dare you belittle yourself like that!" James snarled, his face red. "Blood doesn't matter! Magic is magic, inherited or not!"

"James is right." Sirius' voice was hard and Hermione turned her gaze down to him, frowning. Sirius spoke as passionately as his best friend. "Being a pureblood doesn't mean you're a better witch or wizard, or that you deserve more rights than any other person. Everybody is bloody equal!"

"Look at Lily Evans," Remus spoke next, "she's a muggleborn and one of the top students of our year! And if you're a muggleborn too then Hermione, it only goes to show even more that blood doesn't matter."

"You guys may say that but that's not how the rest of the world sees it." Hermione stated quietly and James clenched his teeth.

"Well the rest of the world doesn't matter. They're all tossers, anyway. Don't know what they're talking about. If anything, you should be praised more for your magic as it came to you alone and not because of who your family is." James grumbled darkly before suddenly smiling, his next words breaking the heavy tension in the room. "You know, I've always wanted a little sister to pull the overprotective brother card on."

"Don't you already do that for Peter, James?" inquired Remus lightly, laughing loudly at Peter's protests.

"Hey!"

James laughed airily. "Too true! But I think having a real sister to pull the 'touch my sister you bleeding sod and I'll break your legs' bid will work so much better with a sister who is actually pretty with boobs."

"Hey!" shouted Peter, before he realised what he'd said and blushed. "...Oh. Dammit!"

Despite the darkness of James a few moments ago, Hermione couldn't help but laugh at Peter's statement. "I don't see you needing to do that, James." She slid off the taller boy, holding out a hand to help him to his feet. She then turned to Sirius and did the same, laughing again when Sirius bent and kissed her hand in thanks.

"Thank you, my lady. That fat arse of a brother of yours was slowly but surely suffocating me."

"OI!"

"Just so you know," Sirius then breathed into her ear as they both took their seats again, "nobody in Potter Manor will appreciate hearing you talk in tones like that again. You're family--blood means nothing."

Breakfast carried on warmly after that and Dorea announced that the next day they would go and buy all the items on their Hogwarts lists and that Remus and Peter were both welcome to join them. Hermione turned to Remus at that point with pleading eyes. The two had bonded over their mutual love of learning and reading, much to the amusement of James and the annoyance of Sirius. It turned out as well that Remus' family was French, something that Hermione hadn't known of the Remus she once knew. She one day had walked in on Sirius and Remus both discussing a plot to prank James in French and the girl couldn't help but be surprised.

"Vous parlez tout les deux français?" Hermione asked in surprise from the doorway to Sirius' bedroom, before switching back to English, her voice stern. "And what's this about James' boxers and some Bulbadox powder?"

Sirus and Remus both turned to Hermione from their spots on Sirius' floor with wide eyes. "Tu parles français?" The two asked in unison, staring at Hermione, equally surprised at seeing the timetraveller standing there with a heavy-looking book tucked under her arm.

"Oui, j'ai passé du temps en France quand j'étais plus jeune et j'ai appris assez pour me faire comprendre. Et vous deux?" Hermione replied in French, playing along as she walked into the room and settled herself onto the chair closest to Remus, placing her Transfiguration book beside her.

"Bien, je suis un Black, donc c'est donné que je puisse parler français. Et latin. Et italien. Et grec... Bien sur." Sirius' expression soured. "Always pure, after all." Hermione frowned momentarily at Sirius' dark expression and noting that Hermione had seen Sirius' distress, he seemed to brighten up again suddenly. "Pour ce qui est de Remus, bien, il est français." He then added lazily, batting a hand while grinning at Hermione in amusement.

"Tu es français Remus?" Hermione asked in surprise. "But your accent?"

Remus suddenly looked uncomfortable. "Well, I spend more time in England than I do in France, so..."

Hermione smiled sadly, knowing without having to ask the reason why Remus attended Hogwarts when he lived so far away. 

Bastards.

"Oh, well that's true! That makes sense."

"Coming with us, Remus?" She asked cheerfully, smiling.

"Sorry Hermione but I wont be able to make it tomorrow. I actually have to head home early today--Mère says I'm not home enough, given when I'm not in school I'm usually here at Potter Manor and a few relatives are popping over before I go back to Hogwarts..." Looking at Remus, she realised then what the day was.

Hatred at herself and Remus' situation bubbled within her; how could she forget it was the full moon that night?

Remus had been looking rather peaky lately...how the heck did she forget such an important thing?

"O-oh, okay." Hermione managed a weak smile. "I hope you have a good time, then. My family reunions were always entertaining." Hermione's eyes shone with the memory despite her onslaught of heartache for her dear friend. "My Dad had two younger brothers, you see, so whenever we got together for the Granger family reunions they would get absolutely plastered and start singing these God awful limericks they'd make up on the spot in these horribly off-key voices. They seemed to forget that my cousins and I were there as they tended to get pretty raunchy sometimes." Hermione laughed aloud and tears sparkled in her eyes. "No, not pretty raunchy," She then added with a giggle and flushed cheeks as she remembered a tale about a young lady from Leith, "extremely raunchy. I was surprised my Grandmother never decked them for it!"

Remus merely smiled in response. "Unfortunately my family gatherings aren't quite as exciting as yours, but I can only hope for some alcohol."

 




 

"Okay, boys, an icecream and then back to the Leaky?" Hermione glanced from Sirius to James the next day as they walked toward Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour to pick up something to eat, Mr. and Mrs. Potter having gone into Muggle London for a light afternoon tea about an hour before after having bought the items on James, Sirius and Hermione's lists. 

Mr. and Mrs. Potter had asked the trio to meet them at the Leaky Cauldron at 3:30 and it was currently 3:15. Hermione, after being stuck inside Quality Quidditch Supplies for the past thirty-five minutes had ended up begging the two Quidditch fanatics (James in Quidditch-mode made Ron appear like an amateur) for some sort of reprieve and knowing that Florean Fortescue's shop would be open had asked for icecream. The boys, deciding they were in fact hungry agreed and Hermione had finally escaped the shop, much to her relief.

"Actually, could we also stop in at Fwilfitt and Tatting's for a bit to say hello to a friend of ours, see if she's working before we go and find my parents as well? You don't mind that do you, Hermione?" James suggested, looping his arm through Hermione's. 

"Ohh...are you talking about a Dorcas Meadowes? Is she your friend, James? Sirius?" Hermione asked with a smile cheerfully, her smile widening when James looked at her in surprise.

"You know Cas?"

Hermione nodded. "Yeah, I met her in Twilfitt and Tatting's when your mother made me buy some wizarding clothes. Dorcas and your Mum kept me in there for hours. It was awful."

Sirius laughed. "Wow, a girl who doesn't like shopping?" He asked the world at large. "You're certainly a unique one, Hermione."

"I do try--"

Hermione was cut off with a sudden shout of "Evans!" coming from James.

His expression had lit up like he was ten years old and it was Christmas and suddenly grabbing Hermione's hand, who then grabbed Sirius', the trio practically apparated with the speed that James had them running to a redheaded girl and her friend who wore her hair in a bob. Both girls stopped at the sound of James' voice and the readheaded girl's pretty smile twisted when she realised who had called her. "Evans!" James greeted again as he stood a few metres apart from her before he noticed the blonde witch with Lily. "And Alice, too! How have your hols been?"

Hermione stared at the two young women in front of her and her heart clenched painfully in her chest.

Harry's eyes stared out at her from a pretty face that was framed with brilliantly red hair, while she saw Neville Longbottom in the other girl. Hermione knew she would likely see these two eventually, but it was still a lot for her to deal with. It had taken her a long time to adapt to James and Sirius and there were still many times when she slipped. Her hand suddenly found Sirius' and squeezed it tightly, peering up at the dark haired boy who glanced down at her in question. Thinking up something to disguise her fear quickly, Hermione smiled. "Looks like he's in a world of his own again, eh?" She whispered into Sirius' ear when he lowered his head to speak to her and Sirius couldn't withhold the snicker. Grinning at Sirius once more she turned back to James who was trying to chat up Lily without any real success.

"So who's this tart with you then?" The redhead suddenly snarked at James causing Hermione's jaw to drop in surprise. "One of Black's little floozies?"

"Excuse me?" Hermione asked angrily, wrenching her arms from the both startled-looking boys and approaching Lily, hands on her hips. "You think I'm a tart?" She demanded, inwardly smirking when Harry's, no, Lily's eyes widened at Hermione's confrontational tone.

"No," Alice suddenly interrupted, grabbing Lily's arm. "No she doesn't."

Hermione huffed. "Oh, but I think she did."

"Hermione--" James suddenly moaned, looking rather distressed, "No need to hex Evans here, we can't have the Ministry pick you up. Mum and Dad'll kill me."

"Even if she deserves it." Sirius suddenly snarled, glaring at Lily who looked even more surprised at Sirius' hostility.

Sirius, while known for his pranking and easy-goingness toward women was never as openly aggressive toward them as he was to Lily at that moment and James, picking up on this blatant animosity from his best friend frowned and spoke to him in a warning tone. "Sirius."

"What?" Sirius snapped, "She's calling your sister a slut, Prongs! Unlike you I won't stand back and let her do that!"

"Sister!?" Lily gaped in surprise, "Potter has a sister?"

"Hermione? Is that you?" A familiar sugary voice asked in surprise and a pretty in pink Dorcas Meadowes breezed by her friends and beamed cheerfully at an annoyed looking Hermione, grabbing both of Hermione's hands in her own. "Oh, you look fabulous, honey! What'd I tell you, you have great legs for hotpants!" 

Hermione blushed when Sirius wolf-whistled in agreement, leering at Hermione's toned legs created from a recent life on the run and ignoring James' scowl. "True that, Cas! Did you help pick this stuff out?"

"Sirius!" Dorcas greeted cheerily, pulling the handsome youth into a hug. "And James as well! Aww, it's so good to see you two!"

"You know her, Cas?" Lily asked, pointing at Hermione who huffed in response. Sirius frowned and James suddenly frowned too.

"Hermione? Sure, we met a few weeks ago. She was shopping with James' Mum. You got your Hogwarts letter, I hope?" Dorcas turned to Hermione again, smiling.

"Yeah, I did! Fingers crossed for Gryffindor, right?" Hermione laughed.

"There's no better house! ...Even though Slytherins can be quite sexy."

"Oi!" shouted Sirius and James, pouting.

Dorcas smiled, patting both boys on the cheek. "Awww boys, I'm not denying you two aren't spunky."

"Hermione? Alice? I'm not gonna ask you Evans because you'll just be nasty." Sirius suddenly asked, "Are we sexy?" 

Hermione smiled. "Of course you're sexy, Sirius love. Like a wet kitten."

"OI!"

James laughed with Hermione and Dorcas, while Alice smiled and Lily looked a little put out.

Alice then stepped forward, smiling at Hermione. "Alice Pupp," She greeted, holding out a hand. "Gryffindor sixth year."

Hermione took Alice's hand and smiled. "Hermione Potter. Sixth year...some house, though James and Kitten here reckon I'm a Gryffindor too." Hermione snickered at Sirius' embarrassed whine.

"You're transferring to Hogwarts?" Alice asked in surprise. "I've never heard of that happening before..?"

Hermione looked a little uncomfortable. "...Well, I'm there on some extenuating circumstances. I went to a smaller magic school here in England...but my parents passed away recently. My parents were family friends with the Potters...and when they died...yeah. Uncle Charlus and Aunty Dorea adopted me into the Potter family to take care of me." Hermione trailed off sadly, genuinely upset about her parents despite the lie. "So yes. I live with James, Uncle Charlus, Aunty Dorea and Sirius at Potter Manor now. And because James attends Hogwarts..."

"You'll attend Hogwarts too." Alice finished, her expression embarrassed and melancholy at Hermione's jerky nod. "O-oh, I'm sorry for your loss, Hermione."

Hermione smiled sadly at Alice while gripping James' hand like a lifeline, the taller boy gripping Hermione's hand just as tightly back. "Thank you."

Lily Evans, suddenly cowed, spoke next. "I'm sorry too. That was rather rude of me to say those things about you. I-I just jumped to conclusions and I apologise for that. Forgive me?"

Hermione noted that despite Lily's obvious sincerity, the pretty girl's gaze lingered a little too long on Hermione and James' gripped appendages. 'Even though James and I are 'siblings' and nothing would ever eventuate from this someone still looks a little jealous. This is interesting, though. Didn't Lily only start showing interest in James in the Marauders' seventh year?'

"It's okay, Lily. I understand." You're just as hot-tempered as a Weasley. Maybe it's the red hair? I know quite well how to deal with your kind. Hermione smiled at Lily's started expression when she noted Hermione used her name. "James and Remus both speak highly of you." Lay on the guilt. Hot and thick.

Lily looked even more ashamed of herself. "Remus?"

"Yeah, I've met all the 'Marauders' as they call themselves, of course. When aren't they at the Manor anyway?" Hermione winked playfully at the two boys who grinned in response.

"Potter Manor, the home away from Hogwarts~" Sirius trilled happily, grinning at James. 

James, still looking somewhat upset nodded. 

"Hey girls, where's Marlene?" Sirius suddenly asked, looking around for a missing member of the girls' group.

"Actually, we're on our way to meet her right now at the Leaky Cauldron. You lot are welcome to join us, if you want. Marlene was talking about you guys just last week when I saw her last," Alice finished cheerfully nodding at the two boys.

"Oh, really?" Sirius replied with a coy smile. "Marlene has missed us, eh? James, Hermione, do you think the Potters will let us stay a while to say hello to Marlene?" Sirius asked the two.

Hermione, glancing at James who looked devastated at the idea of parting from Lily so soon sighed. "Uhm, I don't think we can, Sirius. Uncle, Aunty and I have that meeting with Professor Dumbledore this afternoon, remember?"

Frowning, Sirius looked rather dejected. "Oh yeah. Well...maybe next time, then?"

"Wait though, guys." Hermione suddenly added, looking pensive. "We might be able to catch your friend briefly while we wait for Uncle and Aunty if we get our icecreams quick. They wanted us to meet them at the Leaky Cauldron too, right? So if we hurry we might catch her?"

James and Sirius both grinned, looking at each other. "You're right, Hermione!"

"As usual," coughed Sirius, still smiling.

"Okay." James stated. "So say I go get our icecreams like right now--" 

"Triple chocolate for me, Prongs. Same for you, Hermione?" Hermione nodded at Sirius' easy question.

"And after that we rush to the Leaky Cauldron, greet Marlene, and wait for my parents to show up."

"Sounds good." Hermione replied with a smile. "Oh, you girls don't mind waiting a few for James, do you? Its just that this icecream is our lunch,"

Alice and Dorcas both shook their heads easily while Lily frowned a little. "No, we don't mind, but hopefully Marlene shares the sentiment?"

James laughed. "Okay, that means I run, then!"

The bespectacled boy suddenly shot down the street in the direction of Florean's, leaving Hermione and Sirius with the three girls.

Sirius sighed pleasantly, and Hermione quirked an eyebrow. "What is it, Sirius?"

The Black grinned wolfishly in response. "Well Hermione my dear, I'm feeling like you do when Remus, Pete, James and I are all with you in the same room."

"Oh what, brain-dead?"

"Oi!"

Hermione and the other girls all laughed at this, Lily in particular was smiling widely.

"Nicely done, Hermione." Lily laughed, "It's not often that anybody but a Marauder bests a Marauder, right Black?"

Sirius smiled easily at Lily and nodded. "It's not an easy task. So what have you girls been up to over the hols?" He then asked cheerily, changing the topic.

"Well, I've mostly been working at Twilfitt and Tatting's, learning the ropes and all that. And when I haven't been working I've mostly been with the family and occasionally the girls." Dorcas replied happily, before turning to Lily.

"Well I've been babysitting on and off for a muggle couple in my street; Two little monster twins that think hiding from me is fun and that throwing food in my hair is something hilarious." The muggleborn's expression was sour and she tugged at her fiery tresses. "If people think I look like Christmas normally, you should see me with strained peas in my hair."

"And I've been down in Wales visiting Frank and his family mostly...his mother Augusta?" Alice staged-whispered, grinning. "An absolute bint!"

All three girls snickered while Hermione and Sirius both smiled, having both met the rather...robust woman at one stage or another.

"Well, Hermione and I both arrived at Potter Manor at the end of July," Sirius started breezily, though Hermione could see the sudden hard edge to his eyes, "so, we've been hanging out at the Manor mostly, playing Quidditch, pulling pranks, the usual."

"While I've been with Aunty mostly, I'm not too good with a broom."

"A discredit to your kind, you are." Sirius replied with a snicker, before wincing when Hermione slapped him on the arm. "OI!"

"Shut up, you know you deserve it." Hermione replied, "Be glad I didn't send my birds after you again."

Sirius shuddered. "Yeah, anything but those birds."

Lily looked curious. "Birds?"

Sirius blushed. "You don't need to know about that," He laughed easily, flicking Hermione on the nose when she snorted.

"So we're just keeping this between us, then?" Hermione replied with a wry grin, winking at Sirius' amused expression.

It was then that James arrived with six icecreams dangling precariously in his arms, three triple chocolates for Hermione, himself and Sirius, and what appeared to be three strawberry ones for the girls. At the girls' surprised expressions, James grinned easily. "Well I thought it'd be pretty rude if I bought ones for just us three without getting you girls anything. I hope you lot don't mind strawberry...?"

Hermione nudged Sirius at this, noticing Lily smiling slightly. Sirius grinned in response, before accepting the icecream James handed him.

"For you, my lady." The dark haired youth proclaimed dramatically, bending on his knee to hand Hermione his icecream.

Laughing, Hermione accepted the cone with a gracious nod.

Seeing Sirius so lively and so very young still startled her often. Sure, while Hermione had known Sirius when he was in his thirties, it felt at times as if Sirius were an old man. He was still very handsome despite his stint in Azkaban, but the light that Hermione saw in his eyes so very often in this era she'd never really seen before. This Sirius looked at her and everybody around her like the older Sirius would look at Remus and Harry--with complete and utter warmth. Sirius had had a soft spot for Hermione, that she knew. He'd told her as such. During the Christmas that Hermione had spent at Grimmauld Place, one night when Sirius and Hermione had found each other in the kitchen alone, over hot chocolate Sirius had thanked her properly for her assistance in helping him escape the dementor's kiss that night in 1994 and for loving and supporting Harry like she had done for the past few years. As much as he liked Ron, Sirius had told Hermione that he found her, Hermione, to be Harry's true best friend and he could tell that Harry had thought her family. So therefore to Sirius, Hermione like Harry was family too. It was one of the most emotional moments of her life and even thinking back on it now still brought tears to her eyes. Hermione had loved Sirius very much too. 

This younger Sirius however still had his moments as well, where despair seemed to hit him suddenly and he closed himself off from the world. It was these moments when James seemed to burst into action, demanding that he and Sirius should go out for a fly, or plan a prank against Peter when he was due to arrive at the Manor next or to just do something stupid for the Hell of it. Hermione could see why Sirius would eventually come to miss James every day from her old time, he was truly the best friend a person could ask for. Seeing James work with Sirius reminded Hermione of herself when she had to comfort Harry in his darkest moments and grief would hit her again. Though nobody knew, Hermione cried herself to sleep most nights, holding Harry's wand to her chest like a lifeline as she tried remembering how many freckles Ron Weasley once had on his nose.

Hermione's smile widened when she watched Lily accept the cone from James' trembling fingers, thanking him gruffly. No matter how harsh Lily's tone may have been James appeared elated that Lily had even acknowledged him at all, his smile simply euphoric.

"Let's make our way over then?" Sirius said after a great lick of his icecream and the rest of the group nodded, weaving their way through the heavy crowd as they made their way to the Leaky Cauldron.

 




Well, looks like Marlene likes to be different, Hermione couldn't help but muse when the girls all rushed a curly haired blond girl dressed in torn jeans, black combat boots and a startlingly orange plaid t-shirt with a denim vest over it at the Leaky Cauldron despite the sweltering weather. The only decidedly feminine thing about Marlene were the red ruby studs in her ears...come to think of it, Hermione glanced at the other girls as well, they all wore ruby studded earrings. Odd. Maybe it was a friendship thing?

Hermione couldn't see the Potters yet so James and Sirius definitely had their few minutes to chat.

"Where the bloody hell have you lot been?" The girl demanded and Hermione was surprised to note a thick Scottish accent.

"Well Potter shouted us icecream so how could we refuse?" Lily replied with a smile after letting her friend go.

"Potter, did you say?" The blond replied, suddenly smiling. 

"Hey, Marls~" James greeted from beside Hermione and Sirius with a wide grin.

"Potter! Black!" The girl shouted in apparent delight, "How have you lot been? And who's that beside you, Black?"

Hermione smiled in greeting. "Hermione Potter. I'm James'...sister of sorts. Adopted sister, if you want to be technical."

The girl stared a moment, before glancing up at James. "You've got a sister now?" James grinned and nodded. "Well, nice to meet you, Potter Two, I'm Marlene McKinnon, but call me Marls." Marlene held out a hand for Hermione to take and Hermione grinned.

"If I call you Marls, you'll call me Hermione?" The brunette asked cheerfully, shaking the other girl's hand.

"Sure, why not?" Marlene grinned, before glancing at the boys. Her cheeks suddenly turned pink. "Oi, boys, where's Remus? Pettigrew too?" 

"Remus is at a family reunion," Hermione replied quickly, smiling easily. Actually, he's probably recovering from his transformation into a monster last night, but he's with his family regardless. "He was over home a few days ago, but he's been pretty well, right guys?" Sirius and James both nodded. "And Peter is somewhere with his mother today and couldn't come in with us."

"James, Hermione, Sirius love?" An elderly voice called from the front door of the Leaky Cauldron, and turning, Hermione saw Mrs. Potter standing there with a raised arm. Mr. Potter was chatting to a much younger, but still toothless Tom the Barkeep.

"Hey Mum/Mrs. P./Aunty!" All three called answered in response and Mrs. Potter walked toward the group.

"Oh, I'm glad we don't have to wait too long to find you lot." Mrs. Potter continued cheerfully, grinning. "Apparently Albus is ready to meet with us shortly, Hermione darling--I didn't realise so much of the day has passed already! But oh! Hello, Dorcas, Marlene and Alice, dears. It's wonderful seeing you three again! You're all well I hope?" Mrs. Potter smiled at the girls' nods before she glanced at an awkward Lily Evans. "And I don't believe you and I have met. My name is Dorea Potter, James and Sirius' mother, and Hermione's guardian."

Hermione glanced at Sirius upon hearing Mrs. Potter speak and gripped his arm when she saw the various emotions swimming across his face. Though this Sirius had yet to tell Hermione about his awful family, only an idiot wouldn't realise that the relationship between Sirius and his family was estranged. Since Hermione had met Sirius in 1976 he hadn't mentioned his family once. So Hermione knew without having Sirius say anything that he was completely overwhelmed and touched by Mrs. Potter's almost careless words. Sirius and Hermione locked gazes then and though they knew that while they were not technically part of the Potters' family, they were as good as.

"I'm Lily Evans," The suddenly bashful redhead greeted with a shy smile. "Nice to meet you, Mrs. Potter."

Mrs. Potter smiled in response. "And the same to you as well, Lily dear. James and Remus both speak quite well of you--one of the smartest in your year, no?"

Lily brushed as red as the roots of her hair. "Oh, I'm not that bright, Mrs. Potter."

"She's just being modest, Mum," James interjected with a wide grin, glancing at Lily. "She's absolutely brilliant."

Lily blushed again and Mr. Potter made his way over to the group. "Well loves, and James," the old man snickered at James and Sirius' embarrassed expressions, "We ready to head off?"

James and Sirius nodded. "Sure are."

"It was nice seeing you all again," Sirius started.

"And we'll all see you in September." finished James.

"It was nice to meet you all as well," Hermione added with a wide smile and the girls all smiled and nodded in response.

Hermione gripped Mrs. Potter's arm, while James and Sirius did the same to Mr. Potter. All five disappeared with a quiet Pop!.

 




For those who were curious about what the French in this chapter, the following sentences are the translations in order of the French in the chapter. :)

(1) = You both speak French?

(2) = You speak French?

(3) = Yes, I spent some time in France when I was younger and learnt enough to get me by. How about you two?

(4) = Well, I'm a Black, so it's a given that I speak French. And Latin. And Italian. And Greek. ...Of course.

(5) = As for Remus, well, he's French.

(6) = You're French, Remus?

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