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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! :)

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