Chapter 1 : Betrayal
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it's only a cover-up for the fact you don't have control over your own life
Echoes of Fate
Chapter 1: Betrayal
Candles dimmed by hours of use flickered noiselessly against the gray stoned walls of the manor, casting memory filled shadows across the room. Strings of pearls intermingled with a mound of cream colored lace at his feet called to the few coherent thoughts left in his brain after the two bottles of celebratory scotch he’d had earlier in the evening. A dizzying mix of peppermint and whiskey touched the edges of his throat and he stifled the cough rising from deep within his lungs. Raking a shaky hand through his twisted matte of sweat soaked black hair; he closed his eyes to block out the reality of his day.
Things weren’t supposed to have happened like this. He shouldn’t have been laughing and smiling and twirling around the dance floor as if happiness had finally found its way into his life. He certainly couldn’t fathom what had prompted him to kiss her when he was ordered to. He’d been kissing her for nearly a year in secret and, suddenly, as if a veil of approval had been lifted on his wicked ways, he was being ordered to kiss her in front of a garden full of people he only half knew. He knew them ten years ago, of course. But today they were strangers – echoes of a past he was doing his damnedest to forget he ever lived.
He struggled from underneath the tangled mess of sheets that were wrapped around his legs, clinging to the end table in hopes of keeping himself from crashing into the stone floor. That would be the reality of his day…knocking himself unconscious, his blood spilling across the cold, barren floor just because he was too damn ignorant to keep his drinking in check. He grimaced then straightened with more determination. Passing out was one thing – being found passed out was entirely another.
His bare feet slid awkwardly on the rose petals some idiot party goer had decided would be a good idea. Now, really, did anyone think he was the romantic type? A good bottle of rum and an Egyptian cotton down comforter were the extent of his needs for a good time. And he was even willing to compromise on the goose down.
He dropped into the nearest chair, his fingers clasping tightly around the crystal pitcher as he tried to pour himself a glass of water. The liquid sloshed unevenly at the edges as he poured, threatening to drench his lap. Droplets splattered down his legs, causing a shiver to run through him and a realization to dawn through the fog of leftover alcohol. He’d forgotten to get dressed. Not that it mattered. It was his house and his room, after all. But hadn’t someone somewhere taught him a few more manners than that? He pushed the glass to the table and yanked on a pair of pants before toppling back into the now water slick leather chair. Could his day get any worse?
He let the water cool the burn in his throat as he puzzled over what had awoken him. But he didn’t really have to think about it. He knew what kept him awake at night. For all the changes this crazy world offered, his nightmares would forever be the one remaining constant.
Her eyes- the color of a forgotten lake in the depths of Scotland that he’d only managed to see once in his life. Her hair- the color of a reddening sun just as it set and before darkness took hold. She was the one he’d left. Deserted. And now he had betrayed her.
It was no more than a whisper but the voice caused him to wince in pain. How could he possibly be dreaming about Lily now? Not a dream exactly - more a nightmare relived, but still...it was his wedding night. He was married for chrissakes. Him. Sirius Black. Married.
He dropped his head into his hands, willing his emotions under control.
But she was too smart for him…knew him too well. She knew what haunted his dreams and caused him to falter with fear and anger and self-loathing. She knew his moods before daylight when the world was a place where his regrets could bring him to his knees. He hadn’t planned for it to happen today. It was one of the reasons he’d drank so much…so that the dreams wouldn’t come and spoil this night for them. But the soft touch with which she pulled him back to bed told him she bore him no resentment.
Of anyone, she was the one who would understand.
He slipped back under the covers, and for the moment, it was merely enough to hold her, cradling her head in the hollow beneath his chin. His hands moved over her skin and he pressed the center of her body into his. He stroked his way up her back, caressing her spine like the string of pearls at their feet until his fingers found the tender top of her neck. He took her face between his hands and drew her to him for a lingering kiss before pulling her to rest on his chest. No one had ever fit him like she did. Her curves melted into his, her tiny frame fitting neatly into his arms as if they were meant to be nowhere else. And now, she was his, his past be damned.
“What are you smiling at?” Hermione lifted her head slightly, her eyes narrowing in amusement at the stupid grin plastered on his face.
“I was just thinking how I will never have to work hard to get lucky again.”
“Wanting to fight?”
“Perhaps,” he answered with mock seriousness. “It’s been almost ten hours, you know.”
“Lovely, still time to get an annulment, then,” she chuckled but let her lips trail against the warm flesh on his neck to reassure him that she had no doubts.
His face was still flushed from whatever nightmare he’d been having…his tossing had awoken her hours ago but she’d known better than to try and force anything out of him. She had no doubt it was about James and Lily – he rarely had dreams about anything else. They had changed in the last few days, though, she knew that. The darkened grey of his eyes told him the dreams were no longer melancholy but much more sinister and heart-breaking than his previous ones.
From the shelter of his arms, she traced every plane and angle of his handsome face, wishing there was some way to ease the pain coursing through him. Her familiar touches caused his face to brighten although she could almost see the forced happiness he was displaying just for her.
She couldn’t remember a time when he had seemed unattractive to her. Back in her Hogwarts days, he drove her insane with his bouts of reckless behaviour and the quintessential bad advice she always felt he was giving Harry. But she never thought of him as unattractive. Frankly, she hadn’t given him much thought at all. Had she ever gotten past his rough exterior back then she might have even had a crush on him but, thankfully, she’d been too arrogant herself and, if truth be told, she believed him not nearly good enough for her. Funny how, decades later, she was beginning to believe that she wasn’t nearly good enough for him.
The Black family was, she guessed, the closest thing to royalty that the wizarding world knew. They had the lineage, the pureblood air, the aristocratic personality and physical traits that distinguished them from all others. Had it not been for Lucius being on the run from the Ministry, the Malfoys would probably risen to regal status themselves but, as it was, the Blacks had once again taken center stage amongst wizards. It had become almost impossible for anyone living at Grimmauld to go into the city without being plagued with questions and entreaties for Sirius to come over for dinner at so-and-so’s house. Although he was always polite and spoke with the uptmost grace, Sirius always declined.
When he did take risks, Hermione could almost see his brain working – his risks were always calculated ones…ones where he knew the odds were in his favor or would quickly turn that way with an intelligent move. What she’d seen as recklessness as a child she could now recognize as confidence and self-assurance. Where she, Harry and Ron had discussed, evaluated and analyzed how their moves should proceed, Sirius trusted in his own intuition and abilities with far more certainty than anyone she’d ever encountered save Voldemort.
The comparison sent an odd twitch of discontent through her and she snuggled tighter into his embrace. The effect of his touch was only temporary, though, and for the first time since he’d come back from the veil, Hermione experienced a cold, distant murmur of fear at being in the clutches of Sirius Black.