Author’s Note: This might be the longest author’s note ever. First, I want to thank everyone who stuck with me through the extended hiatus. I know that where I left off was horrible. The honest response to ‘where are you?’ and ‘why haven’t you updated?’ is just that I had lost the inspiration I needed to finish this story. Mostly because I anticipate most of you hating me when the next few chapters come out. =P Hopefully, though, you’ll still like me enough to want to finish reading the story - because I’m finally back in NCtN mode! Oh yes, we have a lot to get through, don’t we?
I want to THANK everyone who left reviews. I know I haven’t responded - and I am so sorry - but I do read and appreciate every single one.
I thought, first, it might be helpful if I gave you a sort of briefing on where we are at this point. I mean, it’s been a year! (Three years since Complicated first started, omg!) So, key things to remember:
*In CH, Hermione made the choice to go back to her ‘first life’ after she saw what would happen if she chose to stay with Sirius.
*In Remembrance, we progressively learn that James, Sirius and Snape all traveled back to Hermione’s ‘first life’ for different reasons; Sirius to convince Hermione to come back, James to keep an eye on Sirius, and Snape to stop them both. At the same time that James was gone, Lily and Remus explored their feelings for one another. Hermione searched for comfort with Harry, who was actually James; She also tried to say goodbye to Sirius, after discovering that he was her professor. Long story short: Hermione decided to go back with James and Sirius after a heartfelt talk with Harry and Ron (the real ones =P).
*In NCtN, both Hermione and Lily were pregnant, but neither know who the father of their babies are; Lily’s child could be either James’ or Remus’, Hermione’s children could be either James’ or Sirius’. Hermione’s second born was rushed off in Mungo’s for further treatment after complications.
And, here we go!!
At one year old, Harry was a curious child. He had twice broken into his mummy’s potion cabinet by climbing onto the counter. One of those times was nearly fatal. If Sirius hadn’t caught him only milliseconds after he drank the vial of golden potion and taken him quickly to Mungo’s, he would have been addled for years to come. Hermione scolded Harry, but laughed as he clung to the new broom his daddy bought him for being such a good boy with the healers. Hermione never brewed Felix Felicis again.
Harry was keen, as well. He could often be found hiding behind the sofa with his mummy’s wand, poking the family cat. James’ laughter at the bald spot on the cat’s head would cause Harry to prod the cat harder. When the furball caught on fire, Sirius had to explain to Hermione why the cat had passed away. Hermione, again, scolded her son. They never brought home anymore animals from the menagerie.
It was no surprise to anyone, then, that Harry had managed to take the limelight away from his much more shy and quiet sister. Violet had been an easy baby from the time that they brought her home from Mungo’s. She kept to herself and mostly tried to snuggle with her mummy while she was doing research for the Order of the Phoenix. While Hermione found her comfort compromised with her daughter curled up beside her on the sofa, she was always much more protective over her than with Harry.
The eve of the twins’ first birthday was quiet chaos. Sirius was out late with the Order, helping James, Remus and Peter finalize plans for the Fidelus Charm that Dumbledore was imposing on certain households of Order members. Lily brought Ruby over to let the children play while the girls trudged through dozens of books to help find any information that they could about Horcuxes. Both were annoyed at the boys’ adamant demands that they stay out of action and instead made their intelligence useful to the Order. Both also silently agreed that it would best for the children.
“We’ve been through half a million books,” Lily whined as she slammed a thick, leather volume closed. “This is useless.”
Hermione pushed a bunch of hair from her eyes and readjusted her ponytail. “I don’t understand. Dumbledore should already know what we’re up against. Harry always made it seem like he just… knew.”
“Could you stop referencing your son,” Lily said, frowning, “It’s confusing sometimes.”
“Sorry,” Hermione answered in a sigh. Adjusting was still difficult, even after all the time that had passed. “All I’m saying is that it seems pointless because it is pointless. It’s almost like they all know it, too.”
Lily nodded her agreement and let her eyes wander to the kids, sleeping snuggled next to each other. She smiled warmly at them before turning her gaze back to Hermione. “Can you believe that they all turn one tomorrow? It’s gone by so fast and things are getting scarier.”
Yes, Hermione knew exactly what she meant. Already, three of the Order had been killed and many Muggles had suffered the same fate. While the Order had made much progress on apprehending Death Eaters, they were also three Horcruxes down. And none had been destroyed yet. She remembered that the Dark Lord would be defeated, but she hadn’t considered the effort that would be needed. And she hadn’t counted herself out of the hunt and destroy missions. It did feel useless, but in a different way from Lily.
“The Fidelus will make it safer, Lily,” Hermione comforted her friend with an easy smile. “The kids will be alright. So will we.” Though, she wasn’t sure. “Besides, we have to make it through tomorrow, still!”
This seemed to pull Lily from her anxiety and Hermione mentally patted herself on the back. Her friend perked up instantly. “What time will you bring Harry and Violet to the house? I think we’ll be starting to decorate around midday.”
“We’ll come help, then. Sirius won’t mind.” Hermione pushed herself away from the table and stood up, making her way to the sleeping children. “Would it help you if we kept Ruby tonight for you? I know you haven’t had much ‘alone’ time since the Order started to demand more time.”
Lily’s smile was brilliant and Hermione couldn’t help but return it with her own knowing smirk. She knew all too well the pressures that the war had put on her family. “Honestly, since James won’t be around tonight, it would be perfect. He won’t miss any time at all.”
“Alright,” Hermione picked Harry up from the floor, trying her best not to disturb the two girls. “I’ll transfigure the dresser for the night. Want to give me a hand?”
Lily only answered in action, standing up from the table and took Harry from Hermione. Hermione reached down, picked up Ruby and followed Lily into the baby room. It was a petite room, but snugly fit two cribs and a dresser - soon to be three cribs. Hermione laid Ruby down in Violet’s crib and turned to transfigure the dresser.
“You know, Hermione, I’m not sure how you handle yourself so well with all of this.” Lily’s voice was soft, but Hermione noted that it might not have been because of the sleeping toddlers in the room. This was a taboo subject. “It’s all so strange, isn’t it? Everything that happened and everything.”
Hermione gave a stiff nod toward the new crib and spun around. “It’s nothing that I would have predicted, Lily. But we have to deal with it, don’t we? Now, let me get Violet into her new crib and I’ll see you out.”
As clipped as her tone was, she noticed that Lily didn’t take offense; she understood the difficulty of the situation and the subject matter. “Thanks again, Hermione.”
After all of the kids were in their cribs and the doors were shut, Hermione walked with Lily to the floo and hugged her. “Don’t mention it. You and Remus just have a good night, yeah?”
Lily blushed, a smile gracing her lips. “Yeah. Tell James and Sirius hello from me, please?”
Hermione nodded and offered Lily the powder.
Hours later, Hermione was nestled under her thick duvet, light snoring emitting from her throat. Her dreams were fierce, reminiscent of the fight with Voldemort in her past life. She knew that the war was coming to an end, as soon as the Horcuxes were destroyed, the army would be stationed to take down the Dark Lord. Any day now, it would be over.
But, it didn’t stop her nightmares. She was running and aiming curses behind her, but Voldemort appeared in front of her. Voldemort’s wand swished through the air and Hermione felt as if she were falling into an abyss.
She shot up from under her covers, panting. Sirius’s hand was on her shoulder the next second, his dark eyes scanning her face for answers. Her breath still hitched, she closed her eyes to try and gain control. He reached around her shoulders and silently pulled her against his body as he lay down on the bed. Curling up next to him, she opened her eyes again and wrapped her arm around his torso.
“Alright?” He asked her, his voice just as soothing as the steady breathing sounds of his chest.
Hermione nodded into his skin and began drawing comforting circles on his bare flesh. “I can’t make that dream stop. It’s like he has a personal vendetta against me.” Her voice was shaky and uncertain.
“We’re almost done, you know. It’s almost over,” he tried to console her with a positive note. “Albus and Gideon destroyed all but one.”
Hermione’s head shot up and she stared into Sirius’s eyes. “All but one?” she mouthed, not able to get the words out.
He nodded his affirmation, a small smirk curving through his five o’clock shadow. “All but one.”
“B-but,” she spluttered, blinking stupidly. “How is that possible? We only had two out of the five and none of them… you had Lily and I researching how-.”
His deep chuckled vibrated her hand. “Come on, love, you’re smarter than that,” he said simply, reaching a hand out to her cheek. “We couldn’t have you girls distracting us with your vulnerability.”
Hermione growled and smacked her hand against his stomach. “That’s completely unacceptable, Sirius Black! How could you keep us out of it like that?”
He shrugged and let his hand drop. “Was easy.”
In a fit, Hermione shot up from the bed and glared down at her lover, temperature boiling. “You’re barking if you thought this was okay!”
Sirius sat up, and Hermione could have sworn she saw his chest twitch with held in laughter. “I was keeping my girls safe,” he said smoothly. “You can’t deny me that.”
“You should have given us a choice or at least-” her chest was rising and falling as rapidly as the argument was spewing from her mouth. Sirius crawled across the bed and sat in just his briefs in front of her. She wasn’t deterred. “Told us that all the time we were spending pouring through those books was pointless!”
His hands were on her pajama clad hips as he stared up at her, his rogue hair falling just short of his shoulders. “Do you want to understand, Hermione? Do you want me to make you understand why we made the decision? It wasn’t just me, love, it was all of us.”
She narrowed her eyes at him, not giving him an answer. And, he sighed, his fingers digging slightly into her hips.
“When Harry and Violet were born,” he started in a strained voice while pulling Hermione down to straddle his lap. He held the weight of her easily and wrapped his arms around her slender waist. “And I had to… well, when I had to give my blood for Vi - you know how relieved I was, you remember?”
Hermione nodded minutely; she didn’t like where this conversation was going. Not at all.
“We found out about Harry that day.” Sirius closed his eyes and Hermione raised a hand up to his face, cupping his cheek. He didn’t continue until after he had drawn a long, steady breath. “I don’t blame you, I never did. You know that - he is like my own.”
She nodded dumbly again, hating this conversation. It killed her to see Sirius in so much pain over the paternity of the twins.
“After I left,” he seemed to choke on his words and Hermione stroked her finger across his cheekbone. “After, well, you know James came for me, you know the story. He came and he told me that you had fallen apart. He said that you were considering leaving again.
“I couldn’t let that happen. I felt like I lost Harry, and then I was going to lose you and if you left to go back to your time, well… I would have lost Violet, too.” His eyes opened and the sincerity that glistened from them caused Hermione to frown. “I still told James that I wasn’t coming back. I actually punched him - a few times.”
Hermione gasped. “You didn’t!”
“He put on a glamour. He thought he deserved it. He was right, love.” Sirius’s smirk made a brief appearance and Hermione’s palm itched as his stubble rubbed against it. “But then he told me, well, gods be damned, Hermione, I’m, well, I don’t know how to… promise me that you won’t hit me, too?”
Her eyebrow raised. He had been keeping something from her? Since when? Nodding her promise, she mentally crossed her fingers.
“My brother, Regulus.” Hermione’s eyes widened only briefly and Sirius lowered his head and spoke to their connected bodies. “James and Regulus. Oh, well, fuck it, okay, the whole truth, right. James, Regulus and Severus-” he picked his head back up and winced at the reddening face of his girlfriend. “You promised,” he reminded her with a glint of humor in his voice.
She didn’t speak.
He ran his hands up and down her spine, and Hermione relaxed only minutely. “They cornered James before the babies were born. They said that they had information.”
“But-” her voice was forceful and angry.
“Because, it’s not what we thought,” he answered her softly, trying to keep her pacified. “Regulus has actually-”
“The locket, I know,” Hermione hissed, cutting him off.
“Right,” his voice grew impatient. “Severus said that they would trade certain things for amnesty after the entire thing was over.”
“Amnesty,” she snorted, still upset. “For killing how many people?”
“Dozens,” he said seriously. “But, James agreed to speak on their behalf.”
Hermione didn’t believe it. “He hates them.”
She wasn’t impressed by his dark, humorless laughter. “But the information they had was about you,” he told her, pausing the motions of his hands. “Voldemort wants you. And Harry.”
For the third time that night, Hermione gasped. “B-but that’s, what could he… he’s not still worried over… surely things have changed?”
Sirius shook his head. “This has all been orchestrated, Hermione. Down to your choice to come back to me two years ago.”
“You can’t possibly know that! They’re lying! Can’t you see-”
“Severus fed you the potion to make you sleep with James,” Sirius bit out callously, effectively snapping Hermione’s mouth shut. “The night that I walked in on you, do you remember? He didn’t know that you were already pregnant; they didn’t know that you had already slept with us both.”
“Bollocks!” Hermione shouted, now trying to break free from Sirius’s firm grip. He wasn’t relenting. “They’ve fed you bull-”
Sirius’s shaggy hair tousled as he shook his head. “Believe me, Hermione. They’ve taken the Veritaserum with Dumbledore present.”
“It can be fooled.” Her voice was small.
“But Dumbledore cannot,” he said certainly. “You’ll have to believe me. I’m not spending all night trying to convince you.”
Hermione bit her lip and nodded. She didn’t want to believe it, but she could feel the irritation radiating from Sirius. “Okay. For the sake of hearing the story, I’ll believe you.”
“Good girl.” He leaned forward and kissed her jaw. When he pulled away, his eyes were still closed and a ghost of a smile played on his lips. “Dumbledore thinks that Voldemort is going to try and stop a prophecy-”
“I know.” She paled, but she knew what Voldemort wanted Harry for. James’s son. Her son.
Sirius inclined his head. “I wasn’t aware that you knew about the prophecy.”
“Born to those who thrice defied him,” Hermione recited, feeling nauseous.
Sirius confirmed. “You and James.”
Hermione sniffed. “But why does he want me?”
If possible, his grip around her waist got stronger, more protective. “Snape needed to give certain bits of information in order to gain them from Voldemort.”
“What information could he have possibly given about me?” She was truly at a loss, furrowing her brows.
“He knows that you helped defeat him,” Sirius answered her lowly. “He wants to make sure, well…”
The words hung between them. She didn’t need to hear what he neglected to say; she had experienced the pain that the dark wizard liked to inflict. He wanted her dead. Or, incapacitated, at least. She gulped.
“Oi,” he caught her attention along with loosening his grasp of her body, and brought his finger up to her face. “You have nothing to worry about, my love,” he promised her. “I swear to you, nothing will happen to you or the kids, I promise.”
She wanted to believe him. Desperately wanted to believe him. But, images she saw in the past had shown her otherwise. Instead of fighting his word, she nodded and faked her belief in him.
“You should sleep better knowing that this is almost over,” he continued, his positive mood causing Hermione to feel worse. “After tomorrow, things will be done.”
Her lips moved against his finger. “Tomorrow?”
Sirius smiled and shifted his Hermione‘s weight on his legs. “Albus found old Slughorn hiding in a Muggle village and is bringing him out to brew a potion that he’ll need to destroy the horcrux.”
“Potions can’t-” Hermione started, launching into book mode.
“It’s for Albus,” he elaborated, the smile still on his face. “They’re doing it tomorrow and then we’re going to assemble to get rid of that bastard.”
“But tomorrow is-”
“Don’t think I’ve forgotten about Harry and Violet,” he said. “And Ruby is staying over, too?”
“I wanted to give Lily some time with Remus, since James… Where is James?” Hermione glanced around, expecting him to be sitting in a corner or something. “Where is he staying tonight?”
“On our sofa,” Sirius said simply, pulling Hermione closer against him. “I didn’t think you’d mind, since he’s between houses at the moment and it lets him see Harry more.”
“When did this get so complicated,” Hermione asked, more to herself than to Sirius.
“About three years ago,” he chuckled as he scooted backward on the bed and let himself fall back. “But the worst of it will be over soon. We’ll be okay.”
Hermione leaned down, her chest pressing against his, her eyes never leaving him. “Promise?” She knew he couldn’t, but he would anyway.
“Mmhmm,” he affirmed, lifting his head up to allow his lips access to her collarbone.
It had been months since they had made love. Hermione thought, perhaps, that it was the weight of the actions taking place tomorrow, that made Sirius want to be with her so badly that night. Every contact with her skin was calculated, memorizing. As she undressed above him, her eyes never left his.
She started slow, tantalizing. Her body moved over him, savoring the feel of their connection. Desperate and unbidden, she lost herself in him. His hands were back to her hips, holding tight, guiding her pace. Every sound that she made seemed to spur him on, his movements beneath her became jagged and uncontrolled.
And as she quietly moaned out his name at her climax, her eyes were focused on him and his on her. It was several minutes before they moved, still basking in the feel of one another. But, when they finally climbed to the head of the bed and fell asleep in each other’s arms, neither of them said another word.
Hermione’s nightmare never came while she fell into slumber next to Sirius. But, it would come the following night and life would never be the same.
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