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Hermione woke up the next morning, feeling quite sore and, still, incredibly thirsty. She stretched the stiffness out of her limbs, sat up, slid off the bed, and gathered her belongings so she could go have a shower. After she dressed simply in a black cardigan, white tank top, blue jeans and her nude-colored ballet flats, she tiptoed back into the dorm. Lily, despite it being nearly noon, was still fast asleep. Trying her best to not make much noise, she made her way down to the common room to see if any of the boys were awake in the hopes of having someone to head down to the Great Hall with for breakfast. When she reached the bottom of the stairs she saw that Peter was sitting in one of the armchairs by the fire. She walked over and took a seat in the chair opposite him.


 


“Good morning, Wormy! You’re up earlier than I expected any of you to be,” she said brightly. Though after looking at Peter, she noticed that he was still wearing the clothes from the night before and his eyes were bloodshot.


 


He looked at her and gave her an unconvincing smile. “Couldn’t sleep,” he mumbled with a shrug.


 


Hermione imagined that he was still wallowing in self-pity over the little discovery he’d made in Dumbledore’s office mere hours ago. Although she had tried her best to make him realize that it was different this time, it seemed that he was still pretty upset about it.


 


“Peter Pettigrew,” she began sternly, “you are not still beating yourself up over everything, are you? You do remember what I said to you, correct? You have no reason to let this bother you. Please, stop stressing out over this. It’s not going to happen this time around. I know that and you know that.”


 


He looked at her for a few seconds and then stood up rather quickly, looking upset. “Imagine how you would feel, Hermione! How would you feel if you found out there was even a possibility, or that in a different timeline or whatever, that you were the reason two of your best friends died. Had been murdered no less. Imagine finding out that you were the cause of unbelievable amounts of pain in the lives of people you care about more than anyone. Regardless of whether or not it will happen this time. Imagine finding out that you had the capability of being so spineless and cold. I am damn sure it won’t happen again but the fact of the matter is, in your reality, it did.  I caused you pain. I caused them pain. I’m disgusted with myself, ‘Mione! I thought I was alright after speaking with you last night, but after staying up and thinking about it, I’m not. I’m sick over this whole thing,” he said angrily.


 


After she listened to Peter explain it that way, Hermione kind of understood how he must be feeling. She also knew that he mustn’t dwell on it though. She was afraid it could send him into a spiral that may cause him to make the same mistakes. A self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.


 


“Okay, listen. I understand how you must be feeling, I do. But, you must realize that even though that was my reality, it isn’t reality now. Everything will be different this time. I will be the only person alive who remembers that reality. It honestly will not matter by the time I return. The Marauders will remain intact and I’m sure you will all end up sixty-year-old men who sneak out during the full moon and run around with a werewolf, still using Levicorpus on one another and pulling pranks on unsuspecting people. Nothing will change except that you’ll all get older. I don’t know how I can make you stop dwelling on this. Time I suppose will be the only thing to make you see. For now, please don’t let this eat you up, Pete. It’s not worth it. You are an amazingly brave, kind, and loyal friend. I love you dearly and nothing will ever change that,” she told him.


 


Deep down Peter knew that she was right but it still made him hate himself a bit. He did only find all of this out less than twenty-four hours ago, maybe she was right and it would just take a little bit of time. Peter reluctantly smiled at Hermione. “You’re right, ‘Mione. You’re always right,” he chuckled. 


 


Hermione smiled back and said, “I know. The sooner everyone else realizes it, the better off we will be.”


 


Peter and Hermione both laughed, knowing it was a joke, or at least a half-joke. They both agreed to go to the Great Hall to get breakfast and as they were walking down, Peter started asking her questions about preparing for the war with Voldemort and the Death Eaters.


 


“So, when do you want to start looking up some advance defensive magic, Hermione?” he asked, his voice eager. “I mean now that the whole war thing is sort of inevitable.” 


 


She was hoping to start working on the research sooner rather than later and was glad that she wasn’t the only one taking initiative.


 


“Well, how about tonight? I know a place we can go to and I could teach you guys a few things I know before we start researching at the library. Do you think the rest of the group would be up for it?” she asked.


 


“I know I would! I’m sure everyone else would be happy to as well. What are you going to teach us?” Peter asked excitedly.


 


Hermione thought for a moment. She knew that she didn’t need to cover basic stunning and disarming, as she had seen everyone perform those spells extremely well. She had promised Lily over the Christmas holidays that she would teach her how to cast a Patronus Charm. With everything that had happened between Christmas and now, she hadn’t exactly had the opportunity to do so. Might as well teach everyone else how to cast it as well.


 


“Do you know how to cast a Patronus?” she asked him.


 


Peter’s eyes widened eagerly. “No. Do- do you?” he asked, sounding impressed.


 


“I do. It really isn’t quite as difficult as you would imagine, Pete. I know you will all do wonderfully with it. We could start there and then see where the night takes us.” Hermione said with a smile.


 


“Sounds good to me, ‘Mione!” he exclaimed enthusiastically.


 


The two of them entered The Hall and made their way to the Gryffindor table. The Hall was nearly empty- it was nearly half-past noon and most of the students had already eaten either breakfast, lunch, or both. Hermione and Peter helped themselves to some food and ate alone. The rest of the group still had not come down from the tower and it wasn’t until they were on their way back up to the common room that they ran into the rest of their friends.


 


“There you are!” Sirius said, sounding quite irritated.


 


“Here I am, sleepyhead,” Hermione replied, smiling with amusement.


 


“Why didn’t you wake me up?” he demanded.


 


Hermione huffed and rolled her eyes. “Don’t get your wand all in a knot, sweetheart. If you remember, everyone had a rather long night. I thought you would like a bit of a lie in,” she replied, getting slightly irritated herself.


 


Sirius looked between her and Peter, a scowl on his face. She was becoming slightly annoyed with the jealousy Sirius had a tendency to show towards her friendship with Peter. He should know better than to think she would ever do something to hurt him that way. Hermione stood with her arms crossed and gave him a look that immediately made him go cold.


 


 Sighing in defeat, he mumbled, “Thank you.” She raised her eyebrows and he continued, “You’re right, I probably would have hexed you if you had tried to wake me before noon anyhow.” His face now held a familiar smirk.


 


Hermione reluctantly smiled back. “As if I would have let you hex me, love,” she replied playfully.


 


After rolling her eyes at her boyfriend, she turned and said her good morning to everyone else. Lupin and Lily greeted her warmly, acting as if nothing had happened last night. James on the other hand barely grunted a hello. Hermione was slightly taken aback at the cold reception from James. She had believed that after he’d slept he would have forgiven her for everything. Lily, noticing how James had treated Hermione threw him a look and gave Hermione an apologetic smile.


 


Hermione then, rather nervously, began to ask the group about the idea she and Peter had come up with. “So what would you guys say if we began to learn and practice some defensive spells this evening?”


 


Sirius, Lily, Lupin, and even James to an extent, looked excited at the prospect.


 


“Sounds excellent, Hermione! Are you going to ask Dumbledore which classroom we can use?” Lupin asked, a spark of excitement in his eyes.


 


Hermione smiled at Lupin, “Actually, there will be no need for that. I know the perfect place we can use! What do you all think, six o’clock tonight?” she asked the whole group.


 


They all nodded in agreement and everyone aside from Peter and Hermione started talking about food and they hurried off to the Great Hall to get something to eat while Hermione and Peter headed back to the common room.


 


Once they arrived, Hermione started to tutor Peter and help him with some unfinished homework. After a while, Peter got quiet before he finally spoke up. “Hermione?”


 


“Hmm?” she answered, somewhat distracted by the book she was reading.


 


“I was just- well… I was wondering, actually. When do you think you will, you know… leave us? Are you going to stay until right before your birthday next year or do you think it’ll be before that?” he asked.


 


Hermione put the book down and looked at Peter briefly before she turned her attention to the floor. She hadn’t really given much thought as to when she would go back. She just knew that she would have to go back. Hermione had no idea how to answer him. On one hand, it would be smarter to try and bring Voldemort down as soon as possible and return to her time before she aged too much. And on the other, she wanted to spend as much time here in the past with Sirius and her friends as possible. Again, she found herself wishing she could find some sort of loophole so that she could remain here with her love and newfound friends. The longer she remained in the past, the less she wanted to return to her own time. There has to be some way I can stay here with them all! She thought desperately to herself. She sighed and looked back to Peter.


 


“I haven’t really thought about that to be honest. I don’t know how to answer you properly. I would like to stay as long as possible but I am truly unsure of all the details at the moment. Let me really think about it and I will let you know when I’ve made up my mind, ok?” she said to him truthfully.


 


Peter, looking somewhat disappointed gave her a sad smile. “Sure, ‘Mione. I was just curious.” He said, his tone full of sadness.


 


Hermione smiled and placed her hand on top of his. “Let’s not think about that now, alright? We have more important things to get taken care of first,” she said seriously.


 


“Yeah, I suppose you’re right,” he replied, nodding.


 


After a while the rest of their friends returned to the common room and they all lounged around while waiting to be brought to the mysterious place Hermione was to take them later. James remained rather cold with Hermione throughout the afternoon and would only peak to her if she spoke to him first, mostly replying with one word answers. She knew she would have to get him on his own and talk to him about what was really bothering him. James was someone she absolutely adored and it bothered her horribly that he was acting so distant with her.


 


At a quarter to six, Hermione stood up and asked the group if they were ready to go. They all nodded and stood up, packing up their things and returning a few moments later, looking excited and anxious. They made their way out of the portrait hole, down the stairs, and walked to the seventh floor left corridor as Hermione led them. They stopped across from the hopeless attempts of Barnabus the Barm still, and forever more, trying to teach the Trolls ballet. Hermione pictured the room she and the rest of Dumbledore’s Army had used to learn from Harry her fifth year. She paced back and forth in front of the wall three times, her brow furrowed in concentration. The familiar door appeared out of nowhere and everyone but Sirius and Hermione gasped in surprise.


 


“Blimey! What? How- What is this?” Lupin asked, clearly flabbergasted.


 


“This,” Sirius said with a smirk, “is the Room of Requirement. It becomes whatever the seeker needs at the time.”


 


James, once again, looked very angry. “And you never thought of telling me about this either before this moment?” he snapped.


 


Sirius looked shocked at James’ attitude towards him. “Watch it, Prongs. I only just found out about it recently. Trust me, this was definitely something I was planning on sharing with you. It’s just that things have become a little crazy lately and it kind of slipped my mind. So watch your tone with me, got it?” he snapped back.


 


James continued to look at Sirius like he was planning on sending a curse at him right there but regained his composure as Lily put her hand on his shoulder.


 

“James-” she began and he cut her off.


 


“Sorry, Padfoot.” James said, not sounding very sorry at all.


 


“No worries. Now, why don’t we all get inside before someone sees us, alright?” Sirius said, rather wisely.


 


Everyone else removed the looks of shock and concern from their faces as they entered the room.


 


As usual, the magic of the room was truly unbelievable. There were blue-green cushions on the stone floor for them to sit on or to use to fall on while dueling, there was foe-glass, sneak-a-scopes, a trunk that was rattling- Hermione suspected a Boggart- in the corner, a bookshelf filled with books, a cauldron surrounded by potion ingredients on a table in the back, and a dummy hanging from the high cathedral ceilings that looked to be modeled after a dementor. The lighting in the room cast a grayish-blue tint over everything, making it slightly creepy which definitely caused everyone’s adrenaline to start pumping. It was all truly incredible and exactly what they needed.


 


“Merlin’s Beard, Hermione! Well done!” Peter exclaimed.


 


“Yeah, Hermione,” Lily said with a wide smile. “This is truly spectacular!”


 


Lupin ran, just as Hermione had in the future, over to the books and plopped down on a pillow with a book in her hand, already flipping the pages.


 


“This is amazing, ‘Mione!” Lupin said as he sat down.


 


Even James was unable to remain sulky as he took in his surroundings. “Blimey. Nice one, Hermione,” he said, sounding displeased with Hermione but impressed all the same.


 


Sirius walked over, put his arm around her shoulders and gave her a light kiss on the cheek. “You’ve truly outdone yourself, love. This is mind-blowing,” he said, love and pride radiating from every inch of his body.”


 


Hermione stood, beaming at how happy and impressed her boyfriend and friends were with the room. She was thrilled that the room was able to become this for her, again, but in the past. It made her head hurt a little as she continued to think about it so instead she began to explain the room.


 


“Thank you, everyone for your kind words! My friends and I actually used this- or will use- this room, or… maybe not this time around. Anyways. Between the years 1995 and 1996, we used this room to rebel against a Ministry employee who had been stationed here to ‘teach’ us Defense Against the Dark Arts,” Hermione began, placing air-quotes with her fingers around the word teach. “You see, Cornelius Fudge became Minister of Magic and was very attached to the position. When Voldemort regained  a physical form, Harry was the sole witness. I told you all about that when I explained the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Well, Fudge didn’t believe Harry and, by extension, Dumbledore. He thought Dumbledore was after his job, though we all know that he was never after it and never would be even remotely interested in becoming Minister. Fudge sent Dolores Umbridge,” nearly hissing as she said her name, “to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts. The thing was, she wasn’t really teaching us. She wouldn’t let us use any magic. We only read from a Ministry-approved textbook about the theory behind defensive spells. It was all rubbish.”


 


“But why send Umbridge?” Lily asked, looking concerned.


 


“It was all meant to be hush-hush, I suppose. A way to infiltrate Hogwarts without it having to be Fudge himself doing it.” Hermione said. “And it was awful. So that was when I decided we needed a proper teacher.  We needed someone who had experience with fighting Dark Magic. Unfortunately with us being at school, we could hardly ask you, Remus. Or for that matter, you, Sirius. So we took matters into our own hands. Harry had already fought and escaped Voldemort three times at that point. So I organized a group of students interested in learning from Harry and he was the best teacher we could hope for at that time. Remus, you’d taught Harry to conjure a Patronus Charm when he was thirteen. At that age he fought off a hundred Dementors on his own to save him and Sirius. He was also able to conjure a corporeal Patornus at that age. Would you like to know what it was, James?” she asked, looking him in the eye. He shifted and she continued on, “It was a stag. You have no idea how much it meant to him that he conjured a Patronus that was your Animagus form.”


 


James looked stunned, proud, and sad all at once. “My-my son. He was able to do that? At that age?” he asked, very impressed.


 


Hermione smiled kindly and nodded. “Harry was extremely powerful. More than he cared to admit. He was also very humble, something I’m assuming he inherited from Lily,” she joked.


 


Reluctantly, James broke into a smile, as did Lily.


 


“Anyhow,” Hermione continued on once again, “now I’m going to teach you all everything he taught us. I was thinking, since we all know how to stun and disarm, that we would start with the Patronus Charm. I promised Lily during the holidays that I would teach her but after everything that happened recently, I never had the chance. Do you all think that would be a good idea?” she asked, looking at the rest of them.


 


Upon seeing and hearing that everyone was clearly in agreement, and quite excited about the prospect, Hermione began. She had them all stand in a circle with about ten feet between each of them while she stood in the center.


 


“Alright, so what you need to do first is think of a happy memory. Not just happy, but powerful. Think of the moment in your life where you felt the most joy, peace, love and overall pure happiness you’ve ever felt. Once you have that memory, let the feeling of it flow through your whole body. You need to feel as if you’re experiencing that moment all over again, right now, and all the emotions that came with it. When you have that, you will use the incantation ‘Expecto Patronum’. Here, let me show you first and then I will watch you all try,” she said.


 


Hermione closed her eyes and thought of the first time she’d brought Sirius to her “bedroom” here in the Room of Requirement. She thought of the feeling she had when she was able to share with him stories from her life. How light and amazing she’d felt when she was able to let him see the real Hermione. How wonderful it felt to know that, even after all that, he told her he loved her because of everything she is and everything she’d been through. As she thought about it, she felt the love and serenity of that moment flow through her like an electric shock and she raised her wand and yelled, “Expecto Patronum!”


 


The entire group watched with admiration as the silver otter burst from the tip of her wand and began to weave in and out of them all. Seeing the looks on her friends’ faces brought even more joy and happiness to Hermione and the otter shone brighter and began doing flips around them. Lily giggled while Lupin’s mouth hung open in awe. Peter looked incredibly impressed, James was smiling slightly, and Sirius watched her with wonder.


 


“Amazing,” Sirius whispered.


 


Hermione smiled at everyone and as she lowered her wand, the otter disappeared.


 


“See, you guys can totally do this!” she said brightly. “Now, I would like all of you to try.”
 


 

She watched as everyone closed their eyes, all thinking of a memory that would be powerful enough. After a minute or two, she heard “Expecto Patronum” coming from each of them, all their voices overlapping. At first, as she’d expected, nothing happened and everyone was looking disappointed.


 


“Don’t worry, guys. I don’t think anyone gets it on their first try. I didn’t and I know Harry didn’t either. This is some extremely powerful and advanced magic. Don’t be discouraged, you’ll all get it,” she encouraged them with a smile.


 


For another half an hour or so, nothing really happened. Lily was the first one to have some silvery mist appear from her wand, Lupin following close behind, and not long after Sirius, Peter, and finally James. Around eight or so, something finally happened.


 


“Expecto Patronum!” Lily exclaimed and then gasped in shock as a silver doe appeared from her wand. “A doe! The- the charm you got me for Christmas. That’s why you picked it,” she whispered.


 


Hermione smiled at Lily, “Well done, Lily! Yes, that’s why I chose the otter and the doe. I knew they would be our Patronuses. I knew that eventually you would understand the significance behind the charms.”


 


Lily became distracted and the doe disappeared, her eyes filled with tears and she hugged Hermione. “Thank you so much, ‘Mione. I loved it before, but it means so, so much more now. I will truly cherish it as long as I live,” she said.


 


Everyone then congratulated Lily on being the first one to conjure a Patronus and then it became somewhat of a competition amongst the boys as they attempted to be the next to do so. After another fifteen minutes or so, the second member of their group achieved this goal. A silver dog burst from the tip of Sirius’ wand, a bullmastiff- which Hermione knew were known for their physical strength, courageousness, and extreme family loyalty.


 


“’Mione! Love, look! I did it!” Sirius exclaimed, his eyes shining with glee.


 


Hermione’s eyes shone with pride. She was so incredibly happy to see them doing so well already. “Well done, sweetheart!” she said, bouncing over to kiss him on the cheek.


 


Sirius was distracted as she kissed him and the dog disappeared. His face fell into a comical pout at which Hermione couldn’t help but laugh.


 


“It’s alright, love. Now that you’ve done it, you will have no problem conjuring up another one,” she said happily.


 


He pulled her in for a tight hug and whispered in her ear, “Do you want to know what my memory was? It was the day outside of Zonko’s. The day you finally said ‘yes’ to me. I can’t even begin to describe how happy I was in that moment. I knew I loved you at that point. Did I ever tell you that? I knew it for around three weeks beforehand. So hearing you tell me you would be with me… I can’t even explain the feeling I had. It was better than anything I had ever known and anything I’ve experienced since.”


 


Hermione was stunned to hear he was already in love with her at that point, for she had no idea. She knew she didn’t realize she loved him until their first kiss that day, but if she really thought about it, deep down she knew she had been in love with him by that point as well. Pulling out of their embrace, she gave him a quick kiss and said, “I love you so much, Sirius Black. Now and forever.”


 


He looked deep into her eyes and answered, “And I love you. You’re my everything. Forever.”


 


“Hermione, look! I did it!” She heard Peter shouting, pulling her out of her moment with Sirius.  


 


She turned and saw Peter watching, not a rat as she’d expected, but a bottle-nosed dolphin, an animal she knew was known for its intelligence, friendly nature, playfulness, evasive techniques and, an animal known for putting forth every possible effort to save a member of their group who was harmed in any way. Hermione was proud, and honestly surprised, that Peter was the next person to have done it.


 


“Amazing, Peter! I’m so proud of you,” she said happily.


 


Peter beamed while watching his dolphin swim through the air around all of his friends. As it was nearing nine o’clock, it was time to go back to the common room so they were not caught out of bounds at night. Lupin and James still hadn’t managed to achieve any more than the silvery mist and Hermione tried to encourage them.


 


“Don’t worry, guys. I’m sure you’ll get it soon enough. Trust me, I know that you will be able to because I know what they’ll be,” she said, smiling at them.


 


They both grunted, clearly disappointed. Hermione stuck her head out of the door to make sure no one was around and when the coast was clear, she waved her friends forward and they all quickly filed out of the Room of Requirement and made their way back to Gryffindor Tower. They arrived at the Fat Lady within a few minutes and Hermione gave the password, “Cupid’s Arrow” before they climbed into the common room. As soon as some of the younger students sitting in their usual armchairs and couch by the fire saw them, they jumped up to let the older students take their seats. Hermione smiled sadly at a small, slight, brown-haired third year. “You didn’t have to move. We could have sat somewhere else, you know.”


 


The young girl looked absolutely terrified at being addressed by Hermione and squeaked, “No. It’s alright! We were headed to bed anyhow. Goodnight!” she scampered off and ran up the stairs after her friends.


 


Hermione laughed as Sirius watched the girl run off. “Were we that small when we were third years? Blimey!” he said with a laugh.


 


For the next couple hours, everyone sat in their respective spots while reading, talking, or just sitting while lost in their own thoughts. James in particular was very quiet that evening. It seemed as if something was truly bothering him, beyond just Hermione and the secrets she’d kept from them. Lily stood up, the first to dismiss herself with a yawn and made her way over to James to give him a kiss before heading up to their dorm. Everyone followed her lead and Hermione went through her nighttime routine before crashing into bed. Despite being exhausted, she had trouble falling asleep. There was something clearly going on with James that needed to be addressed before it became too out of hand.


 

 


 

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A/N - Thank you again to Mischief_managed18 for your editing and encouragement regarding this story. I truly appreciate everything! <3

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