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A week had gone by and Hermione still had not spoken with James. She kept holding out to see if his sulky behavior would finally calm down, but sadly it had not. It seemed the only person he was not moody with was Lily. James barely looked at Hermione, hardly spoke to Sirius and was short with both Peter and Lupin. Hermione knew there had to be more to this than just she and Sirius withholding information from him. Even though she could tell that he was trying not to show it, it was clear Sirius was becoming hurt by James' attitude. 

"Just talk to him, Sirius. Find out what is really bothering him," Hermione said to him in the library Friday evening.

Sirius slammed his book shut, much to the dismay of Madam Pince, and pulled at his hair with both hands. “No. I'm not walking on eggshells around him any longer. He needs to take the wand out of his ass and calm the hell down with all of us. Yeah, what you told everyone was quite intense, but you don't see everyone else carrying on like a four year old," he said angrily.

"I know. But you have to understand. I told him that within the next three years he's going to marry Lily, have a son with her and then possibly be murdered. I mean, I'm quite sure that he won't be murdered now that I'm here and we're more prepared, but it still has to be quite a bit to take in," Hermione said earnestly. 

Sirius snorted impatiently. "Love. You do realize you told me that I would be blamed for having a hand in their murders. Then I would rot in Azkaban for twelve years only to escape and be murdered myself two years later, don't you?" he snapped. 

Hermione did remember that. She also remembered that he had not taken it very well either.   

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do remember. I also remember you snapping at me later that evening as well. And,” she snapped, “I remember the first person to actually stick up for me being Peter!"

Knowing that using Peter was a low blow, she was ready for the reaction that little stunt would get out of Sirius. His eyes narrowed and the light in them went out as they instantly grew cold. He leaned in towards her, using a deathly chilling voice as he spat, "Of course. Your hero, Peter, was there to save the day once more. Why don't you just get on with splitting up with me and having a go with him?" 

"Don't be ridiculous, Sirius! You really need to get over whatever issues you have with my friendship with him. If you're alright with me being friends with Remus and James, you should be ok with me and Peter as well. You know there is nothing romantic between us. How many times do I have to tell you that?" she yelled. 

That did it. Madam Pince, having had enough, marched over and, none to gently, tossed them out of the library. "That's it! Out! The pair of you! All of this racket- in the library of all things places! Have you no respect?" she shrieked.

She waved her wand and sent their belongings flying out into the hall before she grabbed each of them by the collar and marched them towards the door. 

"Crazy old bat!" Sirius yelled as she shoved them out into the corridor. 

"Detention, Black!" Madam Pince shrieked.  

"Fuck it all," he growled quietly.  

Hermione huffed and rolled her eyes at her boyfriend while she tugged his arm to lead him away before he got himself in more trouble. As they both bent down to gather their belongings, Hermione realized that she might have been quite unfair during their argument. 

"Sirius, honey. Look, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have thrown Peter in your face the way that I did. It was unnecessary and I'm truly sorry. I know you stood up for me as well that evening," she said rather sheepishly.

He looked her over for a moment before sighing slightly, "It's alright, love. I know you two are just friends and I shouldn't have become angry. I just get a little jealous at the connection the pair of you have. Sometimes I feel like you have a stronger bond with him than me. I know it's silly," he added quickly to stop her from interjecting, "but it's just how I feel." 

Hermione's eyes completely softened as she placed her hand on his cheek. "Sirius Black. Do not ever doubt the bond I have with you. Yes, Peter and I are close, but you are my soulmate in every conceivable way. There is no bond stronger than that. Come on, let's go pay a visit to my room in the Room of Requirement. It's been ages since I've had time alone with you in there. Then afterwards, maybe we can talk to James? How does that sound?"

Sirius looked like Christmas had come early and nearly carried her to the seventh floor. They entered the room and collapsed on Hermione’s bed, losing themselves in one another for quite some time. 

*** 
"Wow. Well done, love," Hermione said, smiling while laying next to Sirius on her bed.

Sirius turned on his side and propped his head upon his hand. A heart-breaking, mischievous smile spreading across his lips.  

"We can have another go if you'd like," he told her with a wink.

Hermione honestly gave it a little bit of thought, We can, I suppose... No, no. We mustn't. We really need to fix things with James. As tempting as his offer may sound.   She let out a dramatic sigh."As much as I would love to, Sirius. We have more important issues at the moment. Like James?" she said. 

He huffed, clearly annoyed. "Right," he muttered the single word bitterly.

Giggling, she gave him a kiss on the tip of his nose and jumped out of bed to gather her clothing. As they were dressing, Sirius brought up something that entirely caught Hermione off-guard. Especially with all that had been going on recently. 

"So... Valentine's Day is tomorrow," he began.

Oh bugger! That is tomorrow! I haven't bought him anything. She thought to herself, beginning to panic. "Oh. So it is," she answered, hoping her tone sounded nonchalant. 

He smiled sadly at her. "You've forgotten, haven't you?" Hermione hesitated for a moment then nodded, causing him to let out one of his bark-like laughs. "Isn't that supposed to be my job, as the boyfriend? I am the one who is supposed to forget holidays and birthdays and the like. Your job, as the girlfriend, is to remind me of all these things and become annoyed at my forgetfulness. You're so backwards sometimes, Hermione Granger. I supposed that is part of your undeniable charm."

Hermione, who was blushing furiously, pushed him lightly and muttered, "Oh, shut up," playfully. 

"It's alright, love. I already have your gift. Since it’s obvious you don't have mine, you can just buy me something at Hogsmeade tomorrow," he said with a wink.

"You're unbelievable, Sirius Black," she said sarcastically.

"But you love me!" he said back.

"Er... I guess," she joked with him, this time surprising him with a wink of her own.

He pretended to look considerably hurt, and clutched at his chest. "Ouch, love. Alright, let's go find that bespectacled wanker and find out what his problem is." His tone was far too cheery and she rolled her eyes as the two of them left the room.

They did not have to look too far for James. As soon as they opened the door to leave, James was standing there. He held the map in one hand and invisibility cloak in the other. 

"Hey... I, er- I was looking for you two. You weren't on the map, so I figured you must be in here. Bad time?" he asked, taking in their disheveled appearances. Hermione's hair was a mess, bushier than ever. Sirius, whose hair was also quite a mess, had managed to button his shirt incorrectly.

Mortified, Hermione self consciously raked her fingers through her hair - unsuccessfully trying to tame it - while Sirius looked down, a cocky smirk on his face, as he tried to re-button his shirt.

"No! Not at all. We were actually just coming to find you as well. Why don't we go back in here and talk," Hermione suggested.

They all walked back into Hermione's bedroom Hermione realized that during all her visits here, she had never ventured out of her bedroom and she suddenly wondered if her downstairs would exist in here too. Reminding herself that it was silly to just wonder, she thought to herself, I need my downstairs, and opened the door that led to her hallway, revealing the familiar sight. Smiling to herself, she brought Sirius and James downstairs, through her living room  - whereupon Sirius ran over to her fireplace and picked up a baby picture of Hermione. "Look how cute you were!" He exclaimed happily earning a mumbled, "Focus, Sirius!" -  and into her kitchen. She had them sit at the square, wooden, kitchen table as she walked across the white linoleum floor to the black gas stove and put on some water for tea. She gathered some tea cups from the oak cabinets and sat back down at the table with the boys. As soon as the water was finished boiling, she poured some into their cups and they all made their tea accordingly. She looked up at James and decided to speak first.

"So, what's going on James?" she asked.

Slowly, he took a sip of his tea, put the cup back on its saucer and took in a deep breath. He looked extremely uncomfortable. It was odd seeing him look so much like a stranger while sitting with two of the people he was closest to in the world. He opened his mouth, "I – I- er..." but stopped, running his hand through his hair.

"Just spit it out, James," Sirius said rudely.

"Sirius! Stop it," Hermione snapped.

James looked like he had been slapped from Sirius's tone with him and Sirius looked like a child who had just been scolded by his mother from Hermione yelling at him. She looked at James with a kind smile and said softly, "Go on, James. What did you want to talk to us about?"

He looked right at Hermione and finally spoke, "I'm... I'm sorry! I've been a world class prat and I'm sorry. I know what you've done and, I'm sure, keeping it from us has been extremely hard and I behaved like a child. I - I just didn't know what to think! Or how to handle all of this. I mean, I know I love Lily. I know I want to marry her. But being told, 'Listen, you're definitely going to marry this girl and you're going to have a child with her and oh yeah, you're going to die', I mean... Who can deal with that?"

"Oh James... I'm sor-"  Hermione tried.

"No. Please don't say 'sorry', Hermione. You have no reason to be sorry. It's not like you caused any of it. Hell, you're here to stop it! You obviously care about all of us enough to risk your life and everything you know to prevent me, my future- future wife, as well as my best mate from being murdered. I know I was pissed off because you kept it from us, but I honestly get why you had to. And Sirius, mate," he said as he shifted his attention to Sirius. "I'm sorry to you as well. I shouldn't have treated you that way either. Peter was right, obviously there are going to be things between you and Hermione that are strictly between the pair of you. I had no right to blow up at you, over it. I - I just needed some time to take everything in. I'm really, truly, very sorry. Can you both forgive me?" he pleaded. “Please?” he added desperately.

"James. Of course we'll forgi-"

"I don't know, Hermione," Sirius said coldly, his eyes narrowed. "Who's to say he won't act this way again. You know, when he can't handle something."  Sirius said in a mocking tone.

"Sirius,” she began firmly,  “Be reasonable. He's like your brother," she hissed.

James sat completely still, eyes wide with shock. "Padfoot...?" he asked quietly.

"Don't 'Padfoot' me, James! You were not the only one who received a shock recently. Imagine how I felt for a moment!" He slammed his hand down on the table, causing Hermione and James to jump at the noise.

Sirius stood up and began to pace and James continued to stare, his mouth open in astonishment.  "Imagine finding out the love of your life is not even from this time?" Sirius shouted. "Imagine finding out Lily would have to leave you for twenty years, only to reappear back in your life as a teenager while you've grown into an adult!" Hermione's flinch was unnoticed as Sirius continued to yell at James. "Imagine how badly you'd want to tell me all about it, but know that you can't! Imagine if Lily told you that the future she came from, you sat rotting away in Azkaban Prison for twelve years because you were framed for having a hand in mine and Hermione's deaths!  Imagine finding all of this out and the one person you wanted to talk to about it treated you like dragon dung on the bottom of his boot!" Sirius yelled before he sat down, panting from rage.

Hermione felt like she had been stabbed in the heart. She didn't know it bothered him so much that she would still be the age she was now while he would be well into adulthood. They had talked about this. She thought he had come to terms with it. It was taking an awful lot of strength to keep the tears that were threatening to spill over at bay. James was beginning to look angry.

"Look, Sirius. I don't know what else to say. I know I behaved poorly and I'm trying to apologize for it. And I have imagined how you must be feeling. Why else do you think I was so angry with Hermione to begin with? Do you really think that I want to watch you hurt for the next twenty years until she comes back into your life again? Do you think I enjoy seeing someone who is like a brother to me in pain? I was being selfish, and I know that. That is why I've come to find you both and apologize. I don't want anything to come between us. Any of us. We have a fight ahead of us, mate. You know that's true. And right now, more than ever, we need to all stick together. Now, I've said that I'm sorry and that I was wrong and I will not being saying it again. People make mistakes, it happens. We can't all be as perfect as you, I guess," James spat.

Sirius and James both sat fuming. The looks they were giving the other were truly frightening. Hermione was worried they might start dueling right there. She sat looking  back and forth between the boys, scared to take her eyes of either one. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of staring the other down, Sirius's shoulders relaxed and his eyes softened slightly.

"You're right, Prongs. I'm sorry, too. Let's just forget about it. Water under the bridge and all that. Right?" he said extending his hand.

"Right," James said taking Sirius's hand and shaking it.

The three of them all stood up and the boys walked to each other and embraced like brothers. Hermione stood and watched, her eyes tearing up. She was unbelievably happy everything was seemed back to normal again. Well, as normal as life could be for Hermione.

***
"Honestly, Lily. It got scary for a moment. I really thought they were going to whip their wands out and fight right in the middle of my—er— kitchen?" she told Lily later that evening in their dorm.

"Jeez. Well, I'm glad they didn't. And I'm glad everything seems to be alright again. I'm sorry James was acting like such a tosser. I kept trying to talk some sense into him, but you know how it is to convince either of them of anything," Lily said, smiling.

"Trust me. I know," Hermione said with a laugh.

Hermione and Lily were laying on their stomachs in Hermione's bed talking. The two girls hadn’t really spent much time alone recently. Not at all since the night Hermione told them all who she really was.

"Hermione? I... Well. I was- was…um. I was just wondering...?" she trailed off.

"What is it Lily? Anything you want to know, at this point, I can tell you," Hermione said.

Lily bit her lip and turned slightly red. She was clearly having a hard time asking what she wanted to know. "Well. I know it's silly, because he'll probably be a little different, but could you tell me about Harry? What was he like? Who were his friends? Was he more like me or like James?" Lily asked in a rush.

Hermione perked up, immediately having an idea. The day she was asked by Dumbledore to travel to the past, she brought with her some belongings from her room. There was a box of books, pictures, and letters under her bed.

"Harry will be wonderful, Lily. Yes, he looks just like James, but after becoming friends with you all, I've realized he is very much like you in personality. He has some tendencies of James's, with rule breaking and Quidditch and all, but he was just as kind and sweet as you are. With a little bit of a temper," she told Lily with a soft laugh. She thought about all the times and reasons Harry had ended up in detention. Sometimes bringing herself, Ron, or the pair of them along with him.

"Would you like to see him, Lily?" she asked.

Lily's eyes teared up at the prospect of the son she would, hopefully, one day come to know. She nodded her head indicating she would love nothing more than to see her future son. Hermione took out her wand and said, "Accio pictures!" a moment later, a dozen photos flew into her hand. On top, there was a picture of herself, Harry, Ron and Hagrid all smiling and waving from outside of Hagrid's hut their first year.

"Merlin. I've forgotten how tiny we all were," she said with a sad smile.

Lily picked up a picture from Christmas at the Burrow their sixth year. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred and George were all laughing and bumping into each other. All wearing hand-knitted sweaters from Mrs. Weasley. Lily's eyes were sparkling with tears as she smiled at the picture.

"So he spent his holidays with the Weasley family then?" she asked in a thick voice. Hermione nodded. "Did he live with them, Hermione?"

Hermione sighed. She really did not want to tell her how horrible Petunia and Vernon were to her only son, but she did promise Lily she would tell her anything.

"No," Hermione said, unable to keep the venom out of her voice.

"Who took care of him?" Lily wondered.

"Well... Your sister and her husband. That Muggle you love so much," Hermione spat sarcastically.

Lily looked at Hermione and the expression on Hermione's face must have resonated with Lily.  "They weren't kind to him, were they?" Lily asked hollowly, though by her tone Hermione knew it wasn’t a question.

Hermione shook her head sadly. "No. They were not.," she said simply. "He grew up believing you and James died in a car crash. He did not know of magic, witches, wizards, Hogwarts or any of it until his eleventh birthday. Hagrid actually had to hunt him down to tell him who and what he was. Life got better… well, sort of for Harry after that. He was only forced to live with your sister briefly during the summer and then would spend the remainder of the holiday with the Weasley's. Molly treated him as a son, Lily, she really did. She loved him as if he were one of her own. He did not lack love in his life after finding out his true identity. Obviously it was not the same has having his real mother's love, but it was a mother's love all the same," she told a now crying Lily.

"He won't go through that this time, Hermione. Mark my words, he will not. I will make sure Petunia doesn't even know his name, let alone have him. He'll have a mother this time. I'm going to make damn sure of that! I also want to make sure Molly Weasley will still have him in her life as well. If it's true, and she cared for my son like you said, I want her in his life. I will do everything I can to stay alive for my son this time around. And I'm going to make sure he becomes friends with that Weasley boy and you as well," she ended with a smile.

Hermione smiled back at Lily, "Then you better let a full grown Mountain Troll loose in the school my first year. If it wasn't for that, I don't think we would have ever become friends. They thought I was too much of an obnoxious know-it-all, which I was. They definitely calmed me down a little bit," she laughed. 

Hermione and Lily spent some more time looking through her photos while Hermione felt homesick for the first time in a very long time. Lily watched as Hermione cried softly and silently.

"You really love them, don't you?" Lily asked.

Hermione nodded, "They're like my brothers, Lily. My parents couldn't have any more children after me. So becoming close with Harry and Ron, and by extension, the rest of the Weasleys; it was like having the large family I never had but always wanted."

Lily gave Hermione a hug and the girls put the pictures back in their place for now. It had become rather late and they needed to be up early for their trip to Hogsmeade in the morning. Crawling in her bed, Lily turned out the lights.

"Goodnight, 'Mione. And don't worry about not having a large family. I'll make sure you have the same experience once you get back to your time. We'll all still be there for you. We'll be your family. Love you, sweetie," she told her.

Hermione smiled in the dark. "Thank you. Nothing scares me more than thinking I will lose you all when I return to my present. Love you too, Lils. Night."

She rolled onto her stomach and fell asleep more quickly than she had in what felt like months. After making up with James and knowing that, Lily at least, would definitely be there for her in the future, she felt calmer than she has in a while.

*** 
"Hermione, love. Time to wake up. It's already nine and we have to meet the boys in one hour," Lily said, while gently shaking Hermione’s shoulder.

Hermione groaned and pulled the covers up over her face. "No," she groaned.

Lily laughed. "Come on, 'Mione. If we don't get up, you know they'll be bellowing up the stairs at any moment."

She thought about their wake up call from last October and how she didn't want to be woken up that way again. Reluctantly, she sat up and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes.

"That a girl. You wake up a little. I'm going to have a shower," Lily told her as she collected her things and headed off to their bathroom.

Hermione sat there for a while and found herself thinking of Harry and Ron. She wondered if, when she returned, they would still be there for her. Everything would be different once she  got back. Will we still be friends? Will I still be considered a little, snotty, nerdy, bookworm who is incapable of making friends? Hopefully Lily and James will ensure their son becomes friends with that bushy-haired little Muggle-Born in his year, she thought.

After a while, Lily came out of the bathroom, dressed and ready for the day and Hermione took her turn getting ready. It was still rather chilly outside, so Hermione dressed carefully in a thick blue jumper, jeans and brown boots. At five minutes of ten the girls walked down to the common room. The boys were all sitting in their normal seats and greeted the girls as they walked over to join them.

"Happy Valentine's Day, love," Sirius said, handing her a small box wrapped in red paper and tied with a pink bow. He had a huge smile on his face.

She gave him a light kiss. "Thank you, Sirius. I'm so sorry I forgot. I'll make sure I get you something extra special today."

He waved his hand dismissively. "Open your gift. Don't worry about me."

Hermione tore open the wrapping paper which revealed a small, square, velvet jewelry box. Her heart was pounding. This was a ring shaped box. She looked up at him, panic in her eyes. "Sirius..."

"Just open it, Hermione," he said, clearly both irritated and amused.

When she opened the box there was a silver ring with a thin band that had a teardrop shaped, bright blue stone resting in the center. A sapphire, which was her birthstone. It was truly beautiful and just happened to match her jumper perfectly.

"It's gorgeous," she whispered. A huge smile broke out on her face and she wrapped her arms around his neck. "Thank you, Sirius! It's absolutely stunning! I love you!"

"Stunning ring for a stunning young woman. I love you too, Hermione." He grinned back at her.

They broke apart and Lily turned to show Hermione the necklace James had given her. It had a thin gold chain with a small, square garnet stone hanging from it. Sirius and James had obviously collaborated on their gifts., for they had both given their girlfriends jewelry containing their birthstones. After the girls compared their gifts, Peter and Lupin pushed their way forward.

"We got you girls each something, too!" Peter said excitedly, grinning from ear to ear.

"Aw, Guys. You didn't have to do that. I don't have anything for you two, either," Hermione said sadly.

"Seriously, boys. You really shouldn't have," Lily said, shaking her head.

"Oh both of you, shut it. Take your gifts and don't feel like you have to get us anything," Lupin told them, smiling.

Peter handed Hermione and Lily each a small black box. They opened them together and each pulled out an identical item. They had given both girls charm bracelets. The charms were a Wolf, Rat, Dog and Stag. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. There were also rings for both of the girls; Each ring was silver with a tiny otter and doe that would wrap around their fingers- the noses of the animals almost touching, with only a little gap in the center of the rings that also allowed for adjusting the size.

"Wow... It's - It's... Wow," Hermione said, unable to articulate beyond that.

"Oh, Peter... Remus." said Lily breathlessly.

Smiling at the girls, Lupin replied, "It's just to remind you both that we'll always be together. No matter what happens. We'll always have each other."

"Thank you. Both of you. Thank you so much," Hermione said and hugged each boy in turn.

While Lily thanked and hugged both boys, Hermione slipped her ring from Sirius followed by her ring from the two boys on her ring finger and then fastened her bracelet. She had never, and knew she would never again, receive gifts that meant more to her than what she received from the boys today.

After the sentimentality of the moment disappeared, the group agreed on heading down to the Great Hall for some breakfast before beginning their long, cold walk to Hogsmeade. While they were sitting at the Gryffindor table, Hermione noticed Snape, Crouch, Avery, Mulciber, Wilkes and Rosier were glaring towards their group and whispering to one another. That can't be good, she thought.  As she was looking, Snape noticed her and they locked eyes for quite some time. As she was staring him down, he smirked.. It was not a friendly expression, and it was clear his face was saying, "Watch yourselves." She was not going to let him intimidate her though. She raised her eyebrows at him, smirking back and clearly expressing, "Bring it." Determined not to be the first to break eye contact, she kept her eyes locked on his. Finally, it seemedSnape became uncomfortable and looked away. She couldn't explain in it, but she felt a small victory in that move.

Breakfast ended and she and her friends began their walk to Hogsmeade. The walk was utterly miserable- it was dark and cloudy with a whipping wind and a mist that was just short of raining that left them all bitterly cold. There wasn't much conversation between any of them as they all half ran to Hogsmeade so they could get out of the dreadful weather. As soon as they arrived to the village, they took refuge in The Three Broomsticks for some butterbeers to warm themselves up. While they were sitting there Sirius turned to look at Hermione.

"So, you're going for my gift after this, correct?" he asked with a smile.

Hermione looked at him incredulously, "Isn't my love enough?" She gave him a playful shove.

He shoved her back, "It's always enough. But I do really like presents," he said with a big, cheesy grin. 

"Fine. Fine. You go play with Remus and I'll take Peter to get you a gift. Alright?" she said, pretending to be irritated.

When the group finished with their butterbeers, James and Lily went off on their own, Sirius and Lupin headed to Zonko's while Hermione and Peter went to Spintwitches. Sirius's broomstick has been becoming rather manky lately and she thought, since she was given quite a bit of gold for her trip to the past, that she would buy him a new one.

"A broomstick? You're actually buying him a broom? Wow, 'Mione. If he doesn't ask you to marry him after this, he never will," Peter joked.

Hermione laughed. "Pete, I think we're a bit young for that. Plus there are certain complications that would prevent that whole getting married thing at the moment."

"Yeah, I guess in your case you're right," he said.

"Come on. I know nothing about this broom nonsense. Help me find something good, will you?" she asked him.

They walked around for a while, checking out some Nimbuses, Cleansweeps, Comets, and Shooting Stars. Then a shiny black and silver broom caught her eye. Even though she knew nothing about brooms, she could tell this was a good one. She lingered at the broom and was touching the sleek, smooth handle.

"Ah, the Silver Arrow. One of the best racing brooms on the market. You've got a good eye, young lady," said the shop keeper.

She was a small, beautiful, middle-aged woman who had long blonde hair and wide, kind brown eyes.

"This is a good one then, Mrs...?" Hermione asked the woman.

"Please, call me Astraya, dear. Everyone else does. And yes, this is a good one," she said kindly.

Hermione looked at Peter and shrugged. Peter's eyes went wide with longing as he looked at the Silver Arrow. It was clear he would give his right arm to own that broom. Seeing Peter's reaction, it made Hermione's mind up for her.

"Alright. I'll take it!" Hermione said brightly.

"Wonderful!" Astraya said, beaming at Hermione.

Hermione went to the register while the woman wrapped Sirius's broom. She happily paid for the broom and thanked the woman for her help as they left the store to find the rest of their friends. As they were walking between two of the buildings, they found their way blocked by a group of boys. It was Snape and the rest of the future Death Eaters that had been staring at them this morning at breakfast. Hermione threw her arm out to stop Peter, who had not noticed the boys yet. She reached into her robes and kept her hand on her wand. She had a feeling she may need it.

"Let's just turn around, Hermione. They haven't noticed us yet. There are too many of them to try and take on our own," Peter said wisely.

There was no denying that it was a good idea, so she turned slowly to try and find a different route to her friends. Unfortunately, they did not remain unnoticed.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't the lovely Miss Winters and her blood traitor pal, Peter," said Crouch with a wicked grin.

She was still utterly creeped out by him after what happened on New Year's Eve. She glanced over and noticed that both of Peter's hands were empty and she whispered quickly, "Your wand!"

"Look, we are not looking for trouble. We're just trying to meet up with our friends. I don't want to have to hurt any of you," Hermione said, sounding far more sure of herself than she actually was at the moment.

She knew she would be able to hold her own for a while, but Peter was right- there were too many of them.

"Big words coming from the girl who spent two weeks in the Hospital Wing after our last encounter," Snape sneered. The rest of his group snickered.

It was clear the leaders of this little pack were Snape and Crouch.

"Get out of it, Snape. You do not want to have a go with me again. You know you always come off worse," she spat.

She was becoming more worried with each passing moment. They were not exactly in an heavily-populated area of the village. They were, more or less, in an alley and very much alone. Snape bared his teeth and pointed his wand at Hermione.

"You're going to be sorry, Winters," he growled. He pointed his wand straight at her and yelled, "Stupify!" as a jet of red light came towards her. Luckily for her, she was too quick for him. She dropped the broom, raised her wand and blocked the spell before he could stun her. 

"ENOUGH, Snivellus!" she shrieked.

"DON'T call me Snivellus!" he shouted back, pointing his wand at her again. "Petrificus Totalus!" he yelled this time as Peter blocked the spell from hitting Hermione.

Seeing Peter with his wand raised, it seemed the other boys took it as an invitation to begin dueling as well. Hermione and Peter looked like they were dancing as they blocked spell after spell from the onslaught being shot at them from every direction. It took everything they both had to remain standing and continue blocking each unfriendly spell. They did not realize that their fight was causing quite a bit of noise, which attracted Sirius, Lupin, James and Lily. Their friends had come running and immediately joined the fight. Hermione actually smiled as her friends joined them. Now they were evenly matched and she knew her friends were a shade more powerful than the boys they were fighting. Sirius and Hermione were dueling next to one another, their opponents being Crouch and Rosier. Lily and James were dueling Avery and Wilkes, while Peter and Lupin fought Snape and Mulciber. Their wands were slashing, they were sweating, and jets of light and spells were flying everywhere.

"Stupify!" Sirius yelled as Rosier fell to the ground with a sickening thud.

"Nice, love!" Hermione yelled as she slashed her wand yelling, "Anakatus!" and then Crouch began to walk into a wall repeatedly, looking dazed and confused.

At that moment, she turned and watched as James bounded Avery with ropes, Lily froze Wilkes and Lupin sent a stinging jinx at Mulciber.

She then heard Snape yell, "Sectumsempra!" and Peter fell to the ground. His chest bleeding profusely while Hermione stood rooted to the spot. Cold horror and dread was spreading throughout her body. She looked at Snape and, for a fleeting second, thought she saw something like shock and remorse flash across his face. Quickly, it returned to a cold and uncaring glare.

"NO!" she screamed and shot every hex she could think of at Snape.

Snape fell to the ground, unconscious, and she ran over to Peter.

"No, no, no... Peter. No! Please, please be ok. Peter, say something, please!" she begged.

Peter was turning very pale, he was losing a lot of blood.

"DO SOMETHING! GET HELP!" she screamed at her friends who, for a moment seemed paralyzed, then ran for help. Sirius stayed behind, his hand on Hermione's shoulder while he stared at his friend in disbelief. "Peter, look at me. You're going to be fine, alright? Lily and the boys went for help. You're going to be alright. Just keep your eyes open, ok? You have to keep your eyes open!" she pleaded with him.

Peter looked up at her and smiled sadly.  "Ok, 'Mione," he said feebly.

His eyes were drooping. It was clear he was fighting very hard to keep them open. Hermione felt like the world had just come crashing down around her. Her heart felt absent from her body as she watched her best friend bleeding out in front of her. She wasn't a master at healing spells, but she knew the basics. Holding her wand over his chest, she began speaking incantations to slow the bleeding. Hopefully it would be enough until help arrived.

 

A/N - A HUGE thank you to my beta, Mischief_managed18 for all of your help!! <3

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