“Hermione,” Remus' voice was quiet, afraid of waking Juliette. “Can we-” he motionned with his head toward the door and she nodded, moving away from her daughter's beside and into the hall.
“Is she all right?” he asked as they traveled down the hallway and into the kitchen.
“She thinks Sirius is going to leave. She's terrified of it actually,” she said sinking down into the nearest chair.
“As are you.”
“Yes,” she nodded not meeting his eyes, “as am I.”
Although he could have conjured it quickly, he put a teakettle on the stove just to give his hands something to do. Taking two cups out of the cupboard, he sat them on the table and then returned to wait by the stove, keeping his gaze away from Hermione. “He won't.”
“He feels so guilty, Remus. He's blaming this all on himself when it turns out she learned it from one of Bill's kids. They were just talking as kids do, of course, and she remembered it. She had no idea...”
He turned to face her. “Of course she didn't.”
“Why must he put everything on his own shoulders?”
“That's who he is.” Remus sighed as the kettle began to whirl and clicked off the stove. He took his time in pouring the cups, holding his own in his hand as he tried to get his own muddled thoughts together. Tonks was a wreck, Juliette a basket case, Hermione scared to death and Sirius had disappeared off to who knew where. Sighing, he dropped into a chair opposite her. “I should have listened to you earlier. I apologize for that. You were right. He's not himself. I know it's none of my business, Hermione-”
“Where Sirius is concerned, I've come to understand everything is your business, Remus. Whether I like having my bedroom escapades talked about or not I know you two keep no secrets.” She could feel Remus blush next to her. “I only meant-”
“I know,” he nodded, “but for the record, we don't discuss that.”
She chuckled miserably. “Good to know.”
He let out an uneasy cough to change the subject. “Have there been any visitors to Grimmauld? Anyone out of the ordinary I mean? Does he disappear at odd times? Go anywhere in secret?”
“Remus we were married just days ago. Either you or I has been with him every hour of the day.”
“The dreams then,” he mumbled. “I would never ask you to share private-”
Hermione waved him off. “I'd tell every one of his damn secrets if I thought it would help, Remus, but it won't. The dreams never change, you know that. James, Lily, Harry, Draco. Never anything else.”
“And Lucius,” he added thoughtfully. “But that's not your problem or his.”
“You know he's going to fight you on that.”
Remus nodded. “He wouldn't be Sirius if he didn't.”
“I saw him with Tonks earlier. Is everything all right?”
“I'm not sure anything will be right again,” he murmured. “But, he did manage to break through that shell she's kept around herself since the wedding. I owe him more than you can imagine for that-”
“Wait, the wedding? What happened at the wedding?”
Remus hesitated, surprised that Sirius hadn't already told her when he'd informed her they were moving in. “Lucius took her from the wedding.”
“Lucius was here?” she choked. “Why don't I know about this? He was here, at Grimmauld?”
“You and Sirius kept this from me?” she accused, her temper raising.
“No, no,” Remus shook his head. “I kept it from Sirius. Don't blame him. We thought he had enough on his plate. He only learned about it today.”
“That was the urgency about having you two move in,” she guessed. “And he took Tonks? As in kidnapped her?” Hermione dropped her head in her hands. “God, when did I become the trophy wife here? Why has no one told me any of this?”
“Hermione, please,” Remus tried to soothe her. “I've just got her to bed with a heavy dose of some not so legal substances. I don't think I can handle going another round with a female tonight.”
She nodded, straightening to try and get her thoughts together. “Is Tonks okay?”
“Better now,” he conceded. “Sirius turned her into a blubbering mess but she's opened up and starting talking about what she went through.”
“If we could only get him to do the same...” Hermione sighed.
“Hermione,” Remus locked his gaze with her. “How did he know what Juliette was going to do?”
“He heard her, like the rest of us.”
“No. He had his hand raised and prevented it before any of us knew what was happening,” he corrected. “Did he--”
“Did he what?” Hermione raised her eyes in confusion.
“Never mind, I have no right to ask.”
It took Hermione several minutes to pull together the confused tangle of Remus' conversation. When she did, she was glad Sirius wasn't around to hear it. It would only hurt him more to know that Remus was questioning him. “You want to know if he used the killing curse. You think he remembered something from his own childhood and that's how he knew.”
“No,” he choked but then dropped his eyes away from her. “Yes,” he whispered. “I love him, don't get me wrong. But, his life was so different and he keeps it so private...” he turned a pained look her way. “Sometimes, he just keeps things so concealed it makes it impossible for me to help him. Makes it impossible for me to understand what he's going through or to understand what he needs.”
Hermione nodded. Hadn't that been just what she and Sirius were talking about? Memories and secrets that Sirius kept hidden from Remus and how desperately he needed to stop? She moved to place her hand on Remus' shoulder, hating the broken look she saw in him but knowing she wasn't the one who could fix it.
“He didn't use it. Not as a child.” She tugged him up. “Come, I'll check on Tonks and you can check on Sirius. We're probably both better off if we divide and conquer at this point.”
“I have to talk to Juliette.”
“I'm sure she'd love that but, Remus, the only person that can fix her right now is Sirius. And I doubt he's in any condition to do so.”
Remus nodded, allowing her to loop her arm into his as he began walking her to his room. The dark of Grimmauld closed in on him and he wondered if she knew how thankful he was for her presence. Where Sirius was concerned, he'd felt alone in his battles since James' death. Only now, with her here, did he seem to have a fighting chance.
“Remus, do you remember when Slughorn was teaching at Hogwarts?” she asked quietly. “When I was a student I mean.”
He eyed her quizzically, confused by her seemingly random question. “Yes, of course.”
“Dumbledore was trying to get a memory from him but he had tampered with it. It was there but Harry said it was foggy, confused...a memory but one so cloudy it didn't make any sense to those who viewed it.”
“Yes, Harry talked to me about that.”
“Do you think...” she hesitated as they reached his bedroom doorway, unsure of how to phrase her question. It was going to sound almost as bad as Remus' questioning of Sirius using a killing curse as a mere child. “I mean, is it possible...”
Remus tightened his grip on her arm as understanding washed over him. “You are wondering if Sirius tampered with the memories in the Black family memory collector.”
“No,” she answered quickly but then his patient smile won her over. “Yes. I mean, is it possible?”
“Anything in magic is possible, Hermione, you know that. But Sirius would have had no opportunity to tamper with it. It was collected at his death, remember?”
“But after his return-”
“He was too terrified to touch it. He didn't even want to be in the same room with it. I assure you, Sirius, at least, didn't tamper with the memories it held. Now, why do you ask?”
She exhaled, not realizing she'd been holding her breath as she waited for his answer. “There are some that are just as confused. Unclear, I mean. Not exactly a jumbled mess but ones that seem so bewildering.”
He chuckled gently. “Have you ever considered that maybe it was Sirius himself who was confused?”
“Actually, no,” she shook her head.
“Sirius did a lot of lying to himself when he was younger, Hermione. To protect others, to protect himself...I'm sure that makes a lot of his memories seem rather mixed up. For a long time, he lived two separate lives, that had to have some effect on him.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, stretching up to kiss him on the cheek. “Juliette said he's in the west wing.”
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