Chapter 4 : A Close Shave
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“I’m here, did you need something?” she asked him kindly, not looking up from the list of supplies she was making.
“Well, yes, I need your help if you’re willing. I can’t shave. Do you think you could help me?” he asked quietly.
“Of course.” Hermione set down her quill and got up off her chair, but stopped dead in her tracks when she finally looked at him. He was bare-footed, wearing his jeans, and nothing else. The steam from the shower made his skin glisten with moisture. Merlin, was the only thought her mind could come up with. Shaking herself, she started forward again and reached for his hand to steer him back into the master bathroom. She tried to ignore the fire that swept through her as he clasped her hand in return. She led him over to the bathroom counter and had him sit on the stool that was there. “How, um, do you shave? Do you use wizard razors or your wand?” she asked him, trying to hide the waver in her voice.
“I use a wizard razor. I keep it and the shaving potion in that box on the counter, the black rectangular one,” he replied. Hermione was thanking Merlin that he used a wizard razor. Spelling your skin shaved with a wand was tricky, and she didn’t even want to think about Muggle razors that weren’t spelled to prevent nicks. She was shaken out of her reverie when he spoke again. “Can you please grab the trimming scissors? But only if you see any hairs in my mustache or goatee that need trimming.” At that comment, she leaned forward to inspect his face for wild mustache and goatee hairs. She was taking this so seriously (out of a need to help him in any way possible) that she didn’t notice his lack of breathing when he sensed her so close to him.
“There are a few. Just hold still,” she said as she gripped his chin with her left hand and started to trim his goatee.
Sirius froze when he felt her lean toward him, and his breathing hitched to a stop when she held his face still with her hand as she worked on him. He felt like he was being electrocuted, but it was in no way painful. He gasped in air as quietly as possible when she let go of his face, saying she was done with that part.
“Okay, how much shaving potion do you like to use?” she asked him as she uncorked the bottle.
“Just enough to cover my face,” he replied.
Five minutes later she exclaimed, “Well, that’s the best I can do. Feel for yourself. I hope I did an okay job of it.”
He lifted his hand and felt his face, shocked that for some reason it seemed smoother than when he shaved it himself. “It’s great, Hermione, thank you,” he answered with a small smile on his face as he got up off the stool. “I’m almost done in here, then. Let me get my shirt and shoes and then you can have dibs on the bathroom,” he said as he felt for his shirt and shoes. He walked slowly out of the bathroom, careful not to run into anything, holding his free arm out in front of him to feel for walls and such. “Oh, what did you have planned for today? I was planning to walk all through the house; I need to start remembering how many steps it takes to get to everywhere, and really get a feel for the layout so you won’t be stuck with me forever,” he said cautiously as he sat on the bed and started to tie his shoes, with only a little bit of difficulty.
“Of course I’ll help you. But Sirius, don’t rush yourself. I’m not in any way held back. I want to help you.” When he thanked her, she went on. “I’ll need to leave for a trip to Diagon Alley this afternoon. Remus will be home from work at the Ministry then, so you’ll have someone with you. There are some…supplies I need to pick up. I can also get anything you might need as well. I shouldn’t be too long getting ready. MiMi brought breakfast to the coffee table while you were in the shower. She set it right in the middle of the table. Do you need help getting over there?” she asked, trying not to sound pushy or “babysitter”-like.
“I remember the general direction. I’ll be fine. No hurry getting ready; eating without seeing will take some time to get used to as well,” he said as he reached out in front of him, walking slowly in the direction of the small couch and coffee table that were situated in front of the fireplace.
“Oh! I forgot about the Feelers spell. Let me get my wand. The Healer gave me a spell that will give you instant knowledge of all things Braille. MiMi put note cards at the bottom right of everything as instructed, so that you know which food is which without having to stick your finger in it.”
Sirius was actually relieved to hear this as he sat down on the couch. He had feared he would make a mess of himself trying to eat his food. He sensed her presence as she walked up to him.
“Okay, here goes,” she said as she positioned her wand. She waved it in the pattern that was shown on the paper and said, “Apparere-Datum!” Hermione watched as a dull light engulfed Sirus’s head before fading. “Okay, let me see your hand,” she said as she reached for his offered right hand. She guided his hand to the card that was at the bottom right of the dish in front of him. He gasped as his fingers touched the card. Not only could he see the words of each of the different foods on the plate, he saw a vision, almost like a picture of where each of item was located. He reached out for a slice of bacon, a smile on his face as he grabbed it just right. The spell had also charmed him, so that when he touched or “read” the card, his body would automatically go for what he wanted to reach, without letting him stick his fingers in anything.
“Wow, this is amazing—it’s almost like normal. Thank you, Hermione!” he exclaimed as he started eating his breakfast.
She chuckled and smiled at the rare happiness that such a helpful spell gave him. “You’re welcome, but I didn’t invent that spell or anything. I was just following the Healer’s orders,” she said as she silently thanked Merlin that he couldn’t see her blush at his praise.
She slipped back into the master bathroom to start getting ready for the day.
Hermione walked and guided Sirius around the Grimmauld Place all day, both of them trying their best to contain any frustrations they had as they worked together. Sirius tripped half a dozen times, cussing like a sailor and getting lectured about his word usage each time. It was one of those times that Remus walked into the billiard room when he arrived home.
“Hermione, just shut it, okay? This is frustrating enough without you yapping about a few words that slip out when I accidentally run into something.”
“Well at least do me the courtesy of trying to use less offensive words. Cussing about it won’t help. you know!” she replied testily, though there was a marked bit of compassion as she finished speaking.
Remus cleared his throat as he saw Sirius open his mouth to retort. “Well, it seems you two are getting along just fine. And here I was worried that Padfoot would give you a few problems,” he said with an obvious chuckle in his voice.
“Remus, I’m glad you’re here. We needed a break anyway. Can you stay here with him while I go to Diagon Alley? I can pick up anything you might need as well. I already have Sirius’s list of…Firewhiskey,” she finished with a glare toward Sirius for the last word.
“Of course, Hermione, take your time. I don’t need a thing,” Remus replied kindly.
“Why are you saying it like that? What’s wrong with Firewhisky?” Sirius asked, perturbed that she had an attitude about it.
“Never mind. I’ll be back in a few hours,” she said as she headed for the door. Turning back to the room she said, “Sorry for snapping at you, by the way. I promise to have more patience from now on.” Sirius sighed at her obviously contrite tone.
When the door closed, Remus turned towards Sirius. “So, Padfoot....”
Hermione was distracted as she went from shop to shop, purchasing the materials she would need to pull off this big surprise in time for Sirius’s birthday that was two weeks from now. The biggest problem was finding the special Pensieve she would need. Finally she found one inside of a new shop called Freidrick’s Enchanted Wares. She found the perfect Pensieve for him and purchased it right away, despite the fact that it cost a little over five hundred Galleons. She would have to figure out a way to get it into the house without him finding out about it before his party, but she knew she had plenty of time to figure that out. Now, with one last stop at the apothecary to gather the special ingredients for the potion she needed to make, she shook her head so that she could concentrate long enough to gather decent stock.
Hermione shrank the box containing the many ingredients she would need for this difficult potion. She consulted her list one last time to make sure she had everything. Four bottles of Firewhiskey, potion ingredients, Pensieve, 100 empty phials, ‘Varius Pensieve’ by Yolanda Peterson—yes, that’s everything, she said to herself as she headed for the Leaky Cauldron to Floo home.
“So, Padfoot. I know the tension I just witnessed between you two was more than your frustration over the ‘adjusting’ that you need to accomplish. Spill it…” Remus said as he sat down.
“I wanted to speak to you about this anyway, but please keep an open mind. I’ve had enough lecturing today, even as well-intentioned as it all was.” Sirius took a breath as he felt for a chair and sat down across from where he had last heard Remus’s voice. “Well, it started the day before the ambush. I was in the library fooling around with this witch named Beth when Hermione came in and started yelling at me about how horrible I was. Harry seems to think she freaked out because she has feelings for me, and to tell you the truth, I’ve been thinking about it, and I’m feeling…something…for her.
“Now before you fly off the handle, I know it’s wrong. Believe, me I know this. I’m too old for her and now I’m blind, and she doesn’t deserve a life of caring for an old blind man. It’s just that even though I’m now blind, on top of the age difference, I keep noticing things when she’s near me—something in her tone of voice that makes me believe she really does like me, even now. Maybe she even loves me. What am I to do, Moony? Even if this was all mutual, I know it has to stop. How do I turn her away without hurting her?” he finished with a mixture of pleading, confusion, and hurt in his voice, wishing he was younger and whole again.
Remus sat stunned for a moment as he let Sirius’s words soak in, compassion for his best friend overwhelming him. “Sirius, first off I won’t even mention the blind part, because if a person really loves you, that doesn’t matter. Secondly, yours and Hermione’s difference in age is not so great if you guys have a shot at something real, something lasting. If you two have a shot at falling in love, I say go for it. After everything we’ve all been through, especially you, none of us should let little things like age or blindness stand in the way of real happiness. Besides, you and Hermione would be perfect for each other—you both would compliment each other. So as your friend, I say go for it. You have my full support. Just take a chance.”
Now it was Sirius’s turn to be stunned. He had expected Remus to be upset at the mere idea, or even disgusted. “Thank you for your support, but Remus, not everyone will feel like you do. I can just hear what Molly would say, much less the rest of them.”
“Well, why should you let what other people may think get in the way of possible happiness? Hermione is a grown witch, you’re a grown wizard. Their opinions are irrelevant, really. Even if Molly and Arthur are her legal guardians, they can’t stop you two if you decide to pursue this. Just don’t worry about any of that. Right now you need to figure this out emotionally.” He took a breath before continuing. “And when you realise you’re madly in love with her, you need to tell her.”
Sirius would have been staring at him stupidly if he could see, but instead he rose form his chair, saying, “You’re getting way ahead of yourself there, Moony, old man. Now come on, I want to make a few more rounds before dinner.” With that they both walked the layout of the house, both of them wondering how things between Sirius and Hermione would play out now that Sirius was a little encouraged to see if there was a chance between them.
A/N:WELL, THERE IS CHAPTER FOUR, PEOPLE. I KNOW THIS CHAPTER MAY HAVE BEEN A BIT SLOW, BUT IT WAS NECESSARY TO THE PLOT. *hugs*
PLEASE READ AND REVIEW! ;) (Edited 11-5-08)
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