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Chapter 9 : Paving the Road to Happiness
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Friday afternoon had crept up on Hermione and as she lounged in the common room with the Marauders she realised something terrible. Tomorrow was the day of the next Hogsmede trip and she hadn’t been asked by a single person in all of Hogwarts to go as their date. In her old life, that wasn’t unusual. It was expected that she and Ginny and Harry and Ron went together and other than Victor Krum she’d never been on a date in her life, at least not while at Hogwarts. But here she was the exotic new transfer from Beauxbatons, and utterly dateless.
Perhaps people believed that she was dating one of the Marauders or something.
Hermione sighed and glanced around at her friends. She had somehow conned the four boys into doing the homework they’d been given for the weekend this evening because tomorrow was a Hogsmede day and James and Sirius had Quidditch practice all day Sunday.
The group of boys were sprawled around the common room. Sirius was lying on his stomach along the couch Hermione sat on, his face by her thigh as he read from a text book on the floor. James had his parchment on his lap as he scrawled lazily in his armchair. Remus was bent over his paper at one of the desks in the common room underneath the window and Peter was sitting on the floor by the fire with his legs crossed as he scanned a book. Hermione herself sat with her parchment on her lap and her text book propped against the arms of the couch as she read and scrawled out information simultaneously.
“Something wrong ‘Mione?” Sirius murmured to her without looking up.
Hermione glanced at him. She was shocked that he had managed to heal so quickly this week. His body was still covered in angry red scars, but he was no longer in danger of tearing his skin back open. And Remus still felt awful. He’d almost cried when he’d seen Sirius’s body and again when he’d hugged Hermione to apologise for trying to attack her.
It truly astounded her how close the Marauders were though, Sirius hadn’t batted an eye at the fact that Remus had almost killed him. Instead he’d slapped his friend on the back and suggested they all sneak down to the kitchens for food, even though he had only been out of bed for an hour. Days later he was practically healed, and not once had he lost his charm or wicked sense of humour. Remus still felt awful, Hermione knew, but Sirius’s upbeat and forgiving attitude went a long way to easing his guilt.
“I’m ok” Hermione said mildly “You excited for your date tomorrow James?”
Sirius snorted next to her as James groaned at the reminder of his date with Jenny Flaversham tomorrow. The past two weeks since he had asked her to be his date for Hogsmede had been a nightmare for James. There was plenty of speculation about the fact that James Potter had asked out a girl who wasn’t Lily Evans for the first time in history, and little Jenny Flaversham had been parading around like a peacock, puffed up with pride and her own self-importance because she was the girl who had supposedly stolen James’s affections. Hermione had seen her bragging to her friends about her date with James, and heard many other girls within Hogwarts envying Jenny because James was handsome and popular and rich and played Quidditch and because the Marauders exuded that bad boy image that so many girls fell for.
“It’s been a bloody nightmare listening to how everyone speculates about this” James groaned, scrubbing his hand over his face. Hermione chuckled at him. He looked just like Harry had in fourth year when the whole school was convinced he had entered the Triwizard tournament on purpose.
“I swear, if this plan doesn’t work and Evans doesn’t change her mind then I’m getting down on my knees and begging her until she agrees to go out with me” James said miserably.
“Don’t worry Prongs, tomorrow you get to tell Flaversham over those little couple’s table in Madame Puddifoot’s that she’s awful and egotistical and that her very existence offends you because she is so shallow and vicious and a complete heinous bitch” Sirius told James. He sounded particularly pleased about it and
Hermione glanced at him with raised eyebrows.
Sirius caught her look and flashed her that wicked, heart-breaking smirk of his.
“So when we picked Flaversham as the target, it wasn’t just a random choosing. Obviously we had to pick someone awful, otherwise it makes James a complete tosspot, but Flaversham has actually spread rumours about us. At one stage last year she told the school she had seen James and me holding hands and spread it around that we fancied each other. And earlier this year she spread around the school that Remus was in love with Tracey Montague, and she’s… portly…. To put it delicately. Basically she looks like she would eat Remus for breakfast and then search for a proper meal rather than just a snack.”
“Sirius Black I did not just hear you judging girl for carrying a little bit of weight, and calling another one shallow in the process” Hermione admonished him mockingly, her eyes twinkling as Sirius realised the irony of his words.
“Ok, so I’m a little bit thick, but honestly ‘Mione, I’ll point Montague out to you tomorrow, and you will understand our disgust and horror that such a lie would be spread about our dear, hairy friend.” Sirius said. Hermione rolled her eyes.
“You know James, you could always cancel on her, although that sort of defeats the purpose of the last two weeks I suppose. But if you really don’t want to do it, then you could chicken out. But I know for a fact that the whole situation is driving a certain red head bonkers” Hermione said.
James glanced over at Hermione and raise his eyebrows when he realised she was serious.
“Did she say something to you?” James perked up excitedly; ruffling his hair “Is she madly in love with me? Do you think if I ask her, she’d marry me over the summer?”
Hermione glanced around the group at the other Marauders. Each of them smiled happily, and when Hermione’s eyes met Sirius’s, he rolled his at their hopelessly smitten friend.
“Doubtful. But I think that if you keep this up, it might actually work. You guys should have seen her last weekend after the match. I was talking to her at one stage and I think that if she had glared any harder at the trashy little third years that kept flirting with you lot, they might have actually caught on fire. She was totally fuming, called them tarts and glared a whole lot, so I dropped a few hints that your ego could only handle so many rejections, so maybe that was why you had supposedly moved on. She looked really unhappy about it, but I’ve seen the way she glances at you in class. It’s totally working, the way you’ve been trying to ignore her as much as possible” Hermione smiled happily.
James looked ecstatic at the news and Hermione grinned when his eyes glazed over, no doubt he was picturing himself and Lily Evans being madly in love with each other.
“I heard some gossip today” Peter piped up suddenly, Hermione glanced at him
“There are rumours flying about you Sirius.”
“What are they saying about me now mate?” Sirius asked, perking up now that they were discussing something he considered exciting-Himself.
“There’s a lot of speculation about you not having a date for tomorrow” Peter said
“There were theories about you not having a date because of Hermione.”
“What?” Hermione yelped, blushing when all four boys glanced at her mildly for gasping. Hermione avoided eye contact with Sirius, knowing that if she looked at him she’d just turn beet red and probably even stutter pathetically.
This week had been a nightmare for her. Especially after Sirius had spent all of Sunday night in her bedroom suite and her bed, healing. Her crush on him had definitely stepped up a notch.
“Yeah, I heard some of the fifth year Ravenclaw girls saying that Sirius must have it bad for the French transfer student, because it’s the first time since third year that Sirius hasn’t had a date to a Hogsmede trip” Peter interrupted Hermione’s thoughts.
Sirius continued to lounge languidly next to Hermione on the couch and Hermione found herself glancing at him to see first if the information was true that this was the first time he didn’t have a date, and second, to see what sort of expression he wore at having people speculate that he must have a thing for her.
Sirius looked amused by the information and his eyes twinkled wickedly when he glanced at Hermione again.
“Did they say anything else?” He asked Peter.
Peter nodded “They said some nasty things about Hermione. Said that she was a snobby French tart and went on about how it was unfair that she got to transfer from Beauxbatons and join our group so easily. And then they speculated some more that Sirius must really fancy her to forgo a date. They also called you Man-Whore, Sirius.” Peter said.
Hermione began to laugh. Grinning like a fool, she threw her head back and laughed.
She might be twenty years in the past, but it seemed she would never escape the stigmas that stemmed from having mainly boys as her friends. There was something in that moment as she laughed about having people spreading rumours about her and popular boys that Hermione couldn’t help but laugh out loud, even as she felt like she wanted to cry from missing Harry and Ron so much.
“Is she ok?” Remus asked softly as Hermione continued to laugh hysterically. Tears of laughter rolled down Hermione’s face as she looked around at the four boys she had befriended, wishing Harry could have known them as she had come to. Gasping for breath even as she tried to control her laughter Hermione managed to choke out a question to them.
“You know how people always tell you that time will change everything?” she managed as she continued to chortle.
The Marauders all nodded their heads.
“Well it’s a complete lie” Hermione gasped out before her book fell off her lap and landed with a thud on the floor as she broke down into hysterical laughter once more.
While Hermione laughed, James Potter consulted his watch.
“Speaking of time….Bloody Hell! It’s after midnight. I’m going to bed” He claimed, even as he began to yawn.
“Yeah, got to get some beauty sleep for your big fake date tomorrow” Sirius quipped, a chuckle in his voice.
Hermione reigned in her mirth as the Marauders got to their feet. Gathering up her own things, Hermione wished each of them goodnight as they headed for the boy’s stairs.
“Hermione?” Hermione glanced up, dropping her quill when she realised that she wasn’t actually alone.
The common room was deserted but for Sirius Black and Hermione Peverell.
He stood close to her. As he always did, invading her personal space in a way that only Sirius seemed able to without upsetting Hermione.
Memories of the previous week flooded Hermione’s mind as she stared into those twinkling eyes.
When Hermione had returned from her lunch with Dumbledore, Sirius had been awake in her room, reading one of the books on the small book shelf. He was still in her bed, but he must have levitated the book over to himself.
He’d looked awful as he sat there, pale and drawn from the blood loss and the pain of his injuries. He’d smiled when he saw her though. And even looking as pained as he had, he’d still managed to give her that wicked, heart-breaker smile that stole her breath and launched her stomach into an impressive display of acrobatics. It hadn’t helped that his shoulder length black hair was mussed from sleeping and somehow made him look even sexier.
He wore that same smile now as he looked down at her, making her realise again that he was taller than her.
“You’re blushing ‘Mione” Sirius murmured as he smiled down at her.
Hermione felt her face warm as she blushed harder.
“Merlin you’re beautiful when you blush like that” Sirius whispered staring at her as his hand came up to brush her cheek very gently.
“Did you need something Sirius?” Hermione asked, kicking herself for the huskiness she heard in her voice.
“You are an enigma Hermione Peverell” Sirius told her “Did it bother you? What Pete told us, about what people are saying around the school?”
Hermione raised her eyebrows.
“It’s not the first time I’ve been accused of stealing the affection of boys who are far too popular with the female gender of humanity Sirius.”
Sirius quirked an eyebrow at her “That’s not really what I meant” he murmured “You yelped like a puppy with a sore paw when Pete told us they were speculating about you and me.”
Hermione felt herself blush even more.
“Oh… Um… Did I?”
Sirius just stared down at Hermione, so close to her that Hermione could count the freckles on his nose.
“Why would people be thinking that you don’t have a date tomorrow because of me?” Hermione asked softly, surprising herself with her daring. It wasn’t like her to be so forward like this about this kind of thing. Normally she would just leave things to work out on their own and let people think whatever they liked. But there was something about Sirius Black that left her feeling tingly and weak in the knees.
He had this intensity to him that stole her breath. He stood there, practically nose to nose with her, so close that only an inch separated their bodies from being pressed flush against each other. His long black hair hung in silky waves around his face and his blue eyes sparkled in the firelight from the hearth. And as he answered her, Hermione found herself staring at his lips.
“Because I always have a date for Hogsmede. But not this time.”
“So why didn’t you ask anyone to be your date then?”
“I did ask someone.”
“Oh… did she say no?” Hermione asked softly, frowning and wondering who he might have asked that would actually turn him down.
For a long time Sirius stared down at her, and Hermione raised her eyebrows at the intensity of his stare as he did so without replying to her question.
“ ‘Mione, I asked you last week.” Sirius murmured softly when it became clear that Hermione was still waiting for him to speak.
“No you didn’t” Hermione said, stepping back in shock.
Surely she would have remembered if Sirius had asked her to be his date to Hogsmede. Because every time she got close to the guy, her nose filled with the scent of diesel and timber and freshly cut grass and leather. Because every time Sirius Black grinned at her she felt her stomach launch into the most erratic gymnastics routine in the world. Because he constantly invaded her personal space in a way that she had only ever tolerated from him. Because whether she was entirely ok with it or not, Hermione felt certain that she liked him just a little bit more than a school-girl crush.
“Yes I did. When we had Potions and had to brew Amortentia, and I told you that you smelled like the things I could smell coming off the potion and then I asked you if you had a date for the Hogsmede Weekend.”
Hermione took another step back and crossed her arms over her chest.
“First of all, asking whether I had a date and whether I would be your date are two very different things. And secondly, what does Amortentia have to do with this odd conversation?”
Sirius stared at Hermione drolly.
“An enigma; I swear” Sirius muttered, dropping into an armchair and scratching his head. “Amortentia has nothing to do with anything. And I wouldn’t have asked you if you had a date unless I meant that I was asking you to be my date.”
Hermione snorted at his logic.
“Says who? Remus and Peter and James also all asked me if I had a date for tomorrow. Does that mean they were all asking me to be their dates too?”
Before Hermione could blink Sirius shot off the couch and had circled behind her, this time with his hand resting gently on her right hip and so close to her that his chest brushed against her back. His long hair tickled her neck as Sirius stuck his nose against the skin on the left side of her neck.
Hermione squeaked as she heard and felt Sirius inhale the scent of her skin.
“You see ‘Mione, you smell like wildflowers and apple pie and rosewater and lilacs.” Sirius murmured softly and Hermione felt goose pimples rise up all over her body at the huskiness of his voice. Slowly his hand crept across her hip to rest with his palm flat against her stomach, gently pulling Hermione back against Sirius.
Hermione quivered and bit her bottom lip on a gasp when she felt Sirius press a hot kiss to her neck.
“ ‘Mione, I lied to my friends for you when you asked me to tell them that the only reason you knew about all of us being Animagi and Remus being a werewolf was because I had explained it to you when you patched me up” Sirius whispered “Until then, I’d never told a lie to James.”
Hermione’s whole body felt like it was on fire from Sirius’s touch. Gooseflesh raced across her skin, and she could hear her heart beat pounding in her ears. When Sirius pressed another scorching kiss against her throat, higher this time, Hermione heard herself gasp.
She’d never felt like this before.
Sirius pressed another kiss even higher up on Hermione’s throat and Hermione heard the soft moan that escaped her lips moments before Sirius’s hot breath and warm lips brushed against the sensitive shell of her ear
“Will you be my date to Hogsmede tomorrow ‘Mione?” Sirius asked her softly.
Heat flushed across Hermione’s whole body at his actions and his words and Hermione felt herself turn to face him, with every intention of kissing him as a way of answering. She’d never wanted to kiss anyone as much as she wanted to kiss Sirius Black at that moment.
Her eyes quickly scanning his face Hermione saw that Sirius gazed down at her, his eyelids lowered slightly with lust as he stared hungrily at her lips. Hermione rose up on her toes with the intention of kissing Sirius.
“Everything ok, Padfoot?” James Potter’s voice asked from the boy’s stairs.
Hermione jumped in shock at hearing his voice and grinned a little when she saw Sirius jump too. Hermione stepped back from Sirius as she turned towards James, the spell of the moment broken, even as her lips tingled and throbbed with the need to be pressed against Sirius’s lips.
“Sirius was worried I might be upset about what people are saying about me.” Hermione told James brightly, lying smoothly to cover the fact that she had almost kissed Sirius Black. Her heart was thumping so loud against her ribcage that she had no idea how both boys couldn’t hear it.
Because she had almost kissed Sirius. Again. And once again Jams Potter had interrupted. Hermione wasn’t sure whether to thank him or hex him. Because it would be incredibly foolish of her to admit to Sirius in any way that she fancied him as more than just a friend.
In the same way that she had kept her feelings for Ron from him, Hermione felt she ought to keep her feelings about Sirius from all of the Marauders. Because from what she had learned of Sirius these past two weeks, and what she knew of him from her old time, Hermione knew that Sirius Black was the type of boy who would ‘love’ her until she gave him what he wanted and then he would become bored and move on to his next conquest. And Hermione would not be just another one of his conquests.
Her peers could whisper about her all they liked, they could say the worst things about her if they must because she could take comfort from knowing it wasn’t true. But there was no way Hermione was going to risk her friendship with James and Remus and with Sirius, just because she had foolishly fallen wand over cauldron in love with Sirius Black.
Sure, Remus knew that she had smelled scents of Sirius on the love potion, but he hadn’t breathed a word about it to anyone. Mostly because he felt guilty about kissing her and then chasing her in werewolf form.
“Are you ok? Don’t worry about what they say Hermione. You’re running with us now, they were bound to viciously lie about you. They’re all jealous because they aren’t anywhere near awesome enough to even be considered as becoming part of our little group” James smiled at Hermione kindly. He sounded ridiculously cocky but
Hermione couldn’t help the small giggle that escaped her at his acceptance.
There was no way she could start anything with Sirius. It would cost her too much when things fell apart.
“I’m peachy James. Just Peachy. It takes a little more than petty fifth year girls describing their jealousy to upset me” Hermione reassured him with a happy smile.
James grinned and winked at her before he turned away and ascended the stairs once more. Behind her she could hear Sirius grinding his teeth, as he had been since the moment James’s voice had interrupted them.
Slowly Hermione turned back towards him, blushing slightly because she had almost kissed the handsomest boy she’d ever met. Sirius looked mad. His arms were crossed over his chest and he leaned against the arm of the couch, with one ankle curled over in front of the other. He didn’t say anything, just lifted one eyebrow at Hermione.
Hermione mimicked the action, crossing her own arms.
“Quite the forked tongue you have Peverell.”
“Only when I have need of it” Hermione countered, less than pleased at being called a liar.
“Oh, and what reason could you possibly have for lying to James?”
“I didn’t lie to him Sirius. You asked me a few minutes ago if what people are saying bothered me.”
“We’d moved on from that topic and you know it” Sirius began to tap his foot in irritation as he watched her with hooded lids.
“Did you really want James to know you had just asked me to be your date for tomorrow?” Hermione asked mildly.
“Why wouldn’t I? He’ll see us tomorrow anyway, and I’ll probably tell him tonight.”
Hermione raised her eyebrows.
“Sirius, I’m not going to be your date tomorrow” Hermione told him softly.
Sirius froze at her words and Hermione wondered if she had already done damage to their friendship by turning him down. But it was either do a little bit of damage now, or deal with a whole lot more damage later on when he went and broke her heart.
Besides, Hermione reasoned to herself, if she was going to achieve her goals here of destroying the threat of Voldemort , the worst thing she could do would be to drag Sirius into danger by having people know she was in love with him.
Hermione started as those words floated through her mind.
Because she was in love with him. Like a fool she had let her emotions run away with her just like they had for Ron. Hermione snorted as an image of Ron wrapped around Lavender floated behind her eyes.
“Sure looked like you had a different answer a few minutes ago” Sirius’s low voice interrupted her musings.
“A few minutes ago I let you cloud my judgement.”
“And if James hadn’t interrupted we’d be tonsil deep” Sirius growled “You embarrassed by me Peverell?”
Hermione sighed, realising she had hurt his feelings.
“No Sirius. I’m not embarrassed by you at all. But I am aware for the fact that you lot are the only friends I have, and seeing as I’m stuck here permanently it seems awfully foolish of me to risk losing the only friends I have now doesn’t it?”
“Meaning what?” Sirius said sharply.
“Sirius Black you know as well as I do that you are a complete dog when it comes to women. You chase them until you get them and then you drop them like a forgotten toy as you chase your next conquest” Hermione snapped “And I won’t lose my friendships with James and Remus, and with you, just because you’re thinking with the wrong head. I’ve spent far too long loathing one of my best friends because he went and broke my heart by running off with some little hussy. I’m not doing it again.”
Gathering up her belongings Hermione turned away from Sirius, and headed for the staircase to her suite.
“Hermione?” Sirius said softly. Hermione tried to ignore him, but Sirius caught her arm “Don’t go to bed mad” He whispered.
Hermione felt her eyebrows rise as she glanced over her shoulder at him. Sirius wore a tender expression and he tugged on her arm until Hermione turned back around to face him. Hermione stared up at him, daring him with her eyes to say something sweet that might convince her to possibly agree to be his date, anything that might confirm to her that he would love her and leave her like he had done to so many girls within Hogwarts.
“You know” Sirius began thoughtfully as he looked down at her with those beautiful grey eyes “I don’t know where you came from or how you landed here with us, but there’s something about you Hermione Peverell, something mysterious. I don’t think you are who you say you are” Sirius whispered to her.
“What do you mean Sirius? You do know. I came here from Beauxbatons in France after a charm kicked into effect upon the death of all my living relatives.”
“Funny, for a French girl you’ve got a British accent” Sirius murmured, his eyes scanning her face for some clue that she wasn’t telling the truth. “And while you might have denied it or pretended to forget, I know you knew me and James when you burst into being on the Quidditch pitch.”
Hermione’s mind raced as she scrambled for lies to keep Sirius from ever finding out the truth. Because it would be impossible to explain to him that she had been blasted back twenty years in time until before she was born, after knowing him in her own time, after knowing all the things she knew of the Marauders and their fates. Sure she was tampering with fate by being here and she would keep tampering, but Sirius could never know that unless she changed the present, the future would lead to the death of his best friend at the hand of another of his best friends. He could never know that Peter could betray James if it came to it. He could never know that he would leave his godson to the mercy of a cruel aunt and uncle because he was wrongly accused of mass murder and locked in Azkaban prison for twelve years, only to escape and have the largest ever man hunt wizard-kind had ever known.
“You burst into existence and when you opened those pretty brown eyes I saw recognition in them. You called James by another name, and looked devastated when we didn’t know that name. And when you asked to be taken to Dumbledore you called me Sirius. Before I’d introduced myself, you knew me. And not just through rumour or social standing as one of the oldest Pureblood families either, when you looked into my face you really knew me. And you knew in less than a week than Remus was a werewolf and the rest of us had become Animagi to help him cope. I showed up at your door drowning in my own blood and three quarters dead in dog form and you knew instantly that it was me. You barely batted an eye when I transformed on you floor.”
Sirius still had hold of Hermione’s arm and the warmth of his hand through her clothing was very distracting even as he broke down the lies she had constructed.
“I lied to the boys for you because you looked terrified when I asked you about how you knew so much, but I know you’re lying to me. You’re lying to all of us. I know you’re not Hermione Peverell, recently orphaned French girl. I don’t know what it is that you have to fight so hard to keep from us ‘Mione, but I will find out” Sirius vowed his eyes held her gaze as he spoke, and Hermione knew he meant every word. That he would dig and he would delve until he knew every skerrick of truth about her.
Hermione felt chilled at the thought, but that didn’t stop the words that tumbled out of her mouth on her next breath.
“Sirius Black, the truth about me would rock the very foundations of your whole world.”
Rising up on her toes, Hermione pressed a soft kiss to Sirius’s cheek before pulling away from him and ascending the stairs before he could stop her again.
Hermione sipped her butterbeer slowly, enjoying the taste as it warmed her from the inside. The snow was a heavy blanket over the castle and the small village of Hogsmede. Hermione wore the thick coat Dumbledore had given her. Along with all the gifts he had given her last weekend, he has also pressed a red velvet pouch full of money into her hands and insisted that it was his job to provide for her as a parent would and since she had no parents, she would take the allowance of money he gave and do so with no other protests than ‘thank you very much’.
Hermione had been less than pleased about it, but she had no other way of getting money so she had accepted it gracefully. Remus, Peter and Sirius all lounged around the pub table with her, each of them sipping their own butterbeer. Remus was eyeing a pretty Hufflepuff girl a few tables over with strawberry blonde curls. Peter fidgeted and twitched as he glanced everywhere around the pub, his eyes stopping to linger often on the many attractive girls within the pub. And Sirius watched Hermione.
All morning, since she’d met the boys in the common room before breakfast, Sirius had been watching her. Hermione had become very self conscious about her appearance beneath his gaze and surreptitiously compared her clothing to the girls around her. Knowing it would be wet and slushy on the walk in the snow, Hermione had opted for black flared pants, which she had paired with a pretty mauve sweater she had spotted in a catalogue in the Daily Prophet and purchased. She’d also found a pretty, cherry red barrette to keep her head warm in the snow. She wore the black suede coat Dumbledore had given her too.
She looked just like a girl from the seventies, which she had been careful about this morning, opting for cotton flares rather than her warmer and preferred denim jeans in order to keep Sirius from gaining even the smallest hint that she wasn’t just a recently orphaned French girl.
“Moony, why don’t you go and talk to her. If you keep staring like that without going over she’s going to think you’re bonkers” Sirius said to his friend as Remus kept staring at the strawberry blonde.
“I need to do my Christmas shopping.” Hermione announced suddenly, realising that Sirius was trying to get her alone again. “Is there anything in particular that you lot would like?” Hermione asked, glancing around at the boys.
They were supposed to be waiting for James to get back from his fake date with Jenny Flaversham, but Hermione really did need to do her Christmas shopping and it would be easier to do without the boys tagging along behind her.
“Surprise me” Remus said, smiling at Hermione as he got to his feet and strode toward the curly haired girl he’d been admiring.
“Um… I don’t really know” Peter squeaked. He looked slightly startled that Hermione wanted to buy him a present, but the past two weeks Hermione had been doing her best not to judge him for sins he hadn’t yet committed and it had occurred to her that if she tried to befriend him, she would have a better chance of keeping him out of Voldemort’s clutches.
“I’ll think of something” Hermione said, smiling warmly at the chubby blonde boy.
Getting to her feet, Hermione glanced at Sirius, wondering what she might get him. He was still watching her, and he was smirking wickedly clearly realising that she was trying to avoid him for a little while.
“You know, I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping either….” Sirius mused. “Say Wormtail, you wait here for James, so he’ll know we haven’t deserted him, and I’ll show Hermione around properly. Don’t want her getting lost, now do we?”
Peter looked unhappy at Sirius’s words, clearly realising that he would be left by himself if Hermione and Sirius left now that Remus was flirting with the blonde.
“Sirius Black you cannot do that to your friend. You can’t leave Peter here by himself. I’ll be just fine to find my way around. And besides. If you’re with me how will I get your present?” Hermione reasoned with the sneaky, charming black haired boy who was threatening to be her undoing.
“What if you get lost ‘Mione?” Sirius asked her innocently, his eyes twinkling with mischief.
“As if I could get lost in Hogsmede” Hermione replied, rolling her eye at the very idea. “But unless you’re offering me some sort of map, then I’m going alone.” Hermione said, her own eyes teasing him with the secrets she held and she saw Sirius grin knowingly, clearly wondering if Hermione knew about the Marauders Map.
Realising he’d been beaten for now Sirius slumped back in his chair and took a swig of his butterbeer.
“I’ll see you all later” Hermione promised the boys as she began to weave her way out of the pub. Pulling her hat into place on her head Hermione stepped out into the cold snow, gasping at the vicious wind that snatched at her clothes.
Hurrying from the cold Hermione rushed to Zonko’s joke shop and searched around until she had presents for Peter and James. She found a book for Remus that she hoped he would love, but she was drawing a blank as what to buy Sirius. Wandering along, Hermione stopped into the little clothing store in Hogsmede and searched the shelves for things for herself.
Scanning the racks slowly, Hermione uncovered some interesting shirts, with wizarding bands on them and bought two different ones. At the end of a row of dresses Hermione came upon a basket filled with socks. She almost dismissed them, but then she remembered Harry telling her about a conversation he had had with Dumbledore once about never having enough socks. Searching through the basket Hermione found a pair of knee high, plum purple socks with golden snitches stitched all over them. She also found a particularly thick, soft woollen pair in bottle green and a pair of black ones with red Dragons on them that had a charm on them to ensure toasty warm feet as soon as one pulled them on.
Searching some more, Hermione came across a beautiful blue silk halter dress that puffed out with tulle from the waist to the hem. The dipping cleavage line was modest, and crusted with sparkly beading.
“That one’s on special dear” The little white haired shop keeper told her “It’s such a beautiful dress, but for some reason I’ve had the hardest time selling it. Perhaps it’s a little too ‘new’ or something. I ordered it on a whim from one of the latest muggle fashion magazines, but because it puffs out like that, rather than being slim fitting like girls are used to, I’ve had a terrible time trying to sell it. It’s been hanging here for months.” The little old lady wrung her hands together, clearly worried that she’d never sell it.
“How much is it?” Hermione asked her softly.
“Well, I had been trying to get thirty-eight Galleons for it originally, but you can have it for eleven.”
“Really?” Hermione said, smiling. “I’d love to buy it.”
The woman beamed at her and rushed forward to take the dress down from the rack and setting about boxing it up. Hermione kept browsing and uncovered several pairs of high waisted pants, which she also needed.
She was just heading to the counter to pay for all of her items when she spotted it.
Hanging modestly among the men’s clothing was a heavy looking leather jacket. It was black with a zip up the front and deep pockets. The thick black leather was slightly worn, as though it had been pre-owned, but Hermione felt herself being drawn towards it. There was something familiar about it. Juggling her items to free up one of her hands, Hermione lifted the hanger and held the jacket out in front of her.
As she stared Hermione was overwhelmed with a sense of Déjà vu. There on the front of the jacket was a very small cotton patch. It was black too, and it was shaped like a paw print. Looking at the jacket from a distance more than a meter and the paw print became invisible, but close up it was noticeable but not attention seeking. Yet that little patch set into motion a memory.
Hermione remembered the day she had first arrived at number Twelve Grimauld Place. A much older version of Sirius Black had greeted her from the kitchen, hugging her. Then she had noticed in passing the paw print stitched to the heavy leather motorbike jacket Sirius had worn, at the time dismissing it as just something he had done himself because of his animagus form.
But now it drew her eyes.
Perhaps he had wandered into this little shop one day in his school life and come across the jacket and bought it. Perhaps it had been a gift from someone who knew him enough to know his love of motorcycles. But Hermione knew that this time around, it would be a gift from a girl who had apparently fallen in love with him.
In her old life Hermione had often wondered if Sirius had ever loved someone. From what she knew of him, he’d been single when he was accused of betraying James and then murdering so many people before going to Azkaban. Remus had avoided love because of his condition, and obviously James had Lily, but as far as she knew, Sirius had spent his life alone. He’d had women of course, but it seemed he’d never had the type of girlfriend he’d fallen in love with.
For just a moment, standing there staring at the leather jacket, Hermione allowed herself to daydream about what it would be like if she and Sirius were to become something more than friends. In her mind she saw them together, holding hands as they strolled down a busy London street.
“Someone special that you might like to buy that for dear?” the little shop keeper asked her softly.
Hermione smiled softly “You could say that. But I know he’ll love it.”
Burdened with bags from her various shopping sprees Hermione exited the cute little clothing shop, braving the snow once more. She was still day dreaming as she made her way back through the streets towards the Three Broomsticks. Idly Hermione noticed a girl crying against the side of a building, and she stopped for a moment to offer comfort to the girl before realising it was Jenny Flaversham. Biting her lip, Hermione kept walking, rounding the corner into a little alley that was a shortcut to the pub.
“Well well” a voice hissed at her from the shadows of an overhanging roof “What do we have here? Seems the Marauderette slipped the leash of her captors and ventured into the big bad world all alone.”
Hermione’s eyes scanned the darkness even as she drew her wand, instincts from years of threats bubbling out to keep herself safe.
Severus Snape lurked in the shadows, leaning against a building as he sneered at her.
“Seems an awful risk to take Severus, for such a pretty little thing to wander alone through our darkness without her protectors” Another voice sneered from the other side of the alley.
Swivelling towards the voice Hermione’s eyes fell on a familiar looking pointed face and chin length platinum blonde hair. With a start Hermione realised this was the teenage version of Lucius Malfoy. She knew he was older than she and the Marauders and even Snape, that he had most certainly finished Hogwarts by the time Snape was in his sixth year and she realised that he must be friends with Snape, having agreed to meet up with him here while Snape could escape the eyes of the teacher. Hermione narrowed her eyes at him.
“Seems an awful miscalculation that you feel I need protectors, Malfoy.” Hermione snapped, keeping one eye on Snape even as she glared at the familiar sneer on the face of a Malfoy. Both men looked surprised by the fact that Hermione clearly knew who he was without having ever met him, but they quickly dismissed it as his famous family being prominent.
“Rudeness isn’t tolerated at Hogwarts Peverell” Snape hissed from behind her “And you were disgustingly rude to me last week” Hermione fought not to shudder at the awful voice.
“Turn-about is fair play Snape; it was you who pushed me first” Hermione stated. Her wand practically vibrated with warmth in her gloved hand.
“Well now, little girl, you should have known your place and moved aside for your betters” Malfoy sneered.
Hermione could feel her blood beginning to boil. Her own time had instilled in her a deep hatred for both of the men before her, and she felt a loathing for their ideals and their belief that they were kings while she was lower than pond scum.
“Why then did you not step aside if that’s how you feel Snape?” Hermione asked archly, rolling her wand in her grip. “After all, who is a Snape when compared to one of the Peverell line” Hermione opted for the trump card right from the off since Peverell had once been a prominent pureblood family.
“You dare to imply that you are better than him, girl?” Malfoy sneered, shocked at her words. “To carry that name today you are nothing but a daughter of whore’s or a liar.”
“I did far more than imply it Malfoy, I stated it blatantly. I am better than Snape, just as I am better than you. Because unlike you, I possess the type of morals and decency that the two of you lack. I possess the ability to discern what is truly important. You on the other hand, must resort to terrorising people better than yourself in order to stroke your pathetically damaged ego, all because Daddy doesn’t love you” Hermione snarled at the two of them.
She could feel their outrage at her words, but Hermione felt a sick sense of satisfaction at challenging the two men who had been so cruel to her in her old life all because they felt her muggle parents somehow made her inferior.
“Bitch!” Snape snarled
“Substandard French Slut!” Malfoy cursed.
Hermione rolled her eyes “The only Substandard here is you Malfoy. You with you pathetic ideals and unoriginality. Always doing what Daddy tells you to. Have you ever had an original thought? You know, like have you ever actually questioned that maybe your parents are both scum and that your affiliation with the dark side is just their pathetic attempt to have others view them as important and as people to be feared? I don’t suppose you have, after all, that silver spoon is lodged so far down your throat that when you orally pleasure Snape here, he gets a kick from the feel of warm metal around his privates.”
Hermione began to giggle as both boys turned red with fury and began hurling curses and Hexes at her.
Her wand in her hand leapt to action, performing each spell she asked of it with such precision and power that all she really needed to do was stand there creating shield charms to ward off their pathetic curses.
“Oi! What’s going on here?” Hermione didn’t look toward the familiar voice of Sirius Black coming from the entry to the alley. Instead she began shooting out hexes of her own, catching Snape with a Bat-Bogey Hex. Malfoy was a little quicker and Hermione knew that he had delved deep into the dark arts.
“Crucio!” Hermione saw red as that curse fell from Malfoy’s lips.
Moving so fast that she felt like she was a blur Hermione immobilised everyone in the alley. Originally she had intended to only hit Malfoy and Snape, but when she glanced around she saw that Sirius and James were also frozen, both with mouths open and wands held in fighting stances.
Still her blood boiled that Malfoy would dare to try and Crucio her here. Binds shot from the end of her wand as Hermione shook with rage. How dare they attack her!
The bindings from her wand came out as steel cables, rather than vines or ropes because she was so angry. With slow precision Hermione flicked her wrist, wrapping the binds around Snape and Malfoy, even as that magic coiled, she levitated her attackers together, and bound them head to toe with each other. The cables kept winding around and around them until their bodies were no longer visible, but for their faces. Slowly Hermione levitated them until both of them could see her cold eyes.
Rage still flowed through Hermione, heating her in a way that even Fire Whiskey couldn’t have.
“If I ever” Hermione said, her voice cold and angry “Hear you use an Unforgivable curse again, I swear you will know what it is like to be the one on the receiving end of the ones you utter” Hermione threatened sinisterly.
“So tell me Malfoy” Hermione murmured as his face revolved around so she could see him “Which one of us really needs protectors?”
With a flick of her wand Hermione hit them both with Gagging spells that would wear off after an hour or so. The metals cables binding the two would keep them from catching their death in the wet snow and Hermione dropped her levitation charms, enjoying the sound of both idiots groaning from the impact.
With a flick of her hair Hermione spun on her heels towards her wide eyed friends, releasing them from the immobilisation charm as she wandered past them back towards the main path.
“Hermione!” Sirius called as he and James ran to catch up with her. “What the bloody hell was that?” he demanded, tugging Hermione back into the alley. Sighing Hermione turned towards them.
Both Sirius and James stood with their arms folded, towering over her.
“What was what?” Hermione asked nonchalantly.
“Last week you banned us from attacking Snivellus and now we find you in an alley with Snape and Malfoy, in the middle of a bloody duel” Sirius growled. His eyes blazed angrily at her and Hermione felt herself smirk a little when she realised he was so angry because she was duelling with two boys who were known to dangerous. He’d been worried about her.
“What are you doing duelling them Hermione?” James demanded.
“You may recall that I said it was ok to duel if they started it” Hermione drawled at them.
“Did they start it?” Sirius asked her sternly, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring down at her.
“Sirius Black you get off your high horse right now. I was taking a short cut back to the pub and they started in on me, they were lurking in the shadows of the buildings and they went on about how it was foolish of me to wander about without my protectors, meaning you lot. And then they started in on how I was supposedly rude to Snape the other day in Potions and that I should have practically kissed the ground as my superiors walked by, because it’s apparently my fault that he ran into me.” Hermione seethed “So I got a little bit irked by that, because one of the things I simply will not tolerate is scum pretending they’re better than me just because they come from some supposedly prestigious pure-blooded family!” Hermione spat, getting mad all over again.
“Whoa, there Hermione, you’re insulting my dear Mother with those words.” Sirius said, grinning even in spite of the bitterness lacing his voice.
“Anyway I told them that if the superior person was supposed to have right of way then Snape should’ve been getting out of my path and things escalated from there. I may have told them that I was better than both of them because I had the ability to think outside of the stupidity they base their lives on, and told them they both had Daddy issues, and that neither of them had ever had a single original thought and then I told Malfoy he was choking on his silver spoon, but it was ok because Snape liked the feel of the metal on his privates when Malfoy pleasured him.”
“Bloody Hell Hermione!” James exclaimed, looking simultaneously shocked and impressed. “I knew you’d fit in with us” James said proudly, slinging an arm over Hermione’s shoulders and beginning to walk again.
“We really going to leave them there?” James asked, glancing over his shoulder at the muffled screams emitting from the writhing bundle of cables they’d left in the snow in the alley.
“They’d have done worse to me” Hermione shrugged “I only did that as punishment for the fact that Malfoy tried to Crucio me.”
“HE WHAT?” James and Sirius roared.
“Relax boys; does it look as though he succeeded?” Hermione said “Notice how it is him writhing on the ground instead of me?” Hermione giggled at her own wicked irony and twirled her wand happily.
Yes it was nasty of her and part of her mind was nagging her that such treatment was unwarranted and unfair and beneath her and that she ought to at least report it to someone, so that they didn’t die of Hypothermia. But another part of her mind was arguing back that she had vowed to alter the future she had known, that if need be she would be cruel and unkind to those who deserved it and those who would do worse things to her if given the chance. That same part argued that she needed to toughen up and stop following the rules so closely.
“You know Padfoot, I think we might have found ourselves a feisty one” James said amusedly.
Hermione snorted at the two of them.
“How did your date go anyway James?” Hermione asked, changing the subject in the hopes of distracting Sirius, since he looked ready to commit murder because Malfoy had tried to use an unforgivable on Hermione.
“It was so ridiculous” James said, chuckling “I swear she bathed in perfume. Smelt like an entire perfume shop had thrown up on her. It was overpowering and a little nauseating. But we went to Puddifoot’s where there were a bunch of other couples. She kept trying to hold my hand on the table and stuff. The fourth time I pulled away from her she got snippy. I stayed amicable until she lost it when she asked me to kiss her. Then I told her that she smelled awful and that from what I’d learned of her personality over the last two weeks she was obviously shallow and immature and that she just all around didn’t measure up. Then she called me a tosser and ran out crying.”
“I saw her crying before I went into the alley” Hermione said as they made their way back towards the castle.
When they reached the Entrance Hall James wandered towards the Great Hall, since it was still early enough that they could grab a late lunch. Hermione and Sirius followed suit and they all wandered in together and sat down next to Remus and Peter who were already there waiting for them.
Once Hermione had a nice big bowlful of Pumpkin soup in front of her she felt better about having left Snape and Malfoy tied up in the snow. She had just slurped in her first spoonful when Sirius leaned over and whispered in her ear.
“So what did you buy me for Christmas ‘Mione?”
“Because I’m totally going to tell you now. You’re just going to have to wait until Christmas morning Sirius. Wish I could see your face when you open your presents though.” Hermione said softly.
“You will see” Sirius said, sounding just a little bit confused by her words.
“No I won’t. You’re all going home for Christmas…. And I … well I don’t have a home to go to anymore...” Hermione murmured.
For just a moment all four boys looked stricken as they stared at Hermione.
“But you’re coming to Christmas with us” James said matter-of-factly “You’ll spend Christmas and New Year with us at my parents place, won’t you?”
Hermione raised her eyebrows “Well is this your way of asking if I want to, or have you just decided I’m coming along?” she asked, amused.
“Both” James winked at her, but before he could speak again something over Hermione’s shoulder caught his attention. A something that had his hand jumping to ruffle his messy black hair.
“Heard about your break-up Potter” A snarky voice said Hermione glanced over her shoulder to see Lily Evans standing behind Sirius. She wore thick woollen leggings with boots and a red woollen skirt. And a long black cloak
“And you’ve come to mend my broken heart by revealing your undying love for me?” James said hopefully, his hand ruffling his hair again.
Hermione saw shock register on each Sirius, Remus and Peter’s faces when Lily Evans began to giggle.
“Not exactly. I came to talk to Hermione actually” Lily said.
“Now Evans, Snivellus deserved what Hermione did to him” James reasoned.
“What? Potter would you stop trying to distract me? What I have to talk to Hermione about is actually important” Lily said, rubbing her hand against her forehead as though even speaking to James tested her patience and gave her a headache.
Hermione on the other hand, was noticing the way that James swelled like a puffed up toad with happiness that Lily clearly considered Snivellus unimportant.
“I can wait until you’ve finished your soup, don’t rush it’s not drastically important.” Lily assured Hermione when Hermione glanced at her full bowl of soup. Slowly, looking unsure of herself, Lily lowered herself down onto the bench on the other side of Sirius.
“Did you go to Hogsmede today Lily?” Hermione asked her when it became apparent that all four Marauders had gone into shock.
“Oh I went over this morning, did the last of my Christmas shopping, but it was so awful and cold outside that I came back early.” Lily said mildly “I see you got a lot of shopping done?”
Hermione smiled “Yes, since transferring here I’ve had to work on replenishing my belongings.”
“Couldn’t you just have them sent over?” Lily asked, puzzled.
“Erm… Not really, I had a few things, which I had at my old school, but everything else was lost in the fire…” Hermione lied smoothly.
She was really beginning to hate all the lies she had to tell her friends because she’d been launched back in time. They earned her so much pity that she felt bad since none of it was true.
“Oh gosh, I’m so sorry. I just love sticking my foot in my mouth, don’t I?” Lily said, horrified that she might have offended Hermione.
“What did you want to talk to me about anyways?” Hermione asked innocently, knowing that Lily probably wanted to talk about James, especially since the date he’d been on today had ended so publicly.
“Erm… I was wondering if you had plans for the Christmas break…. I thought maybe you might be staying here. My sister is spending it with her awful fiancé and my parents have decided to go on a holiday to Italy. I thought it might be nice for us to get to know each other better if we’re both going to be here” Lily said, blushing slightly at having to ask for a friend to spend Christmas with.
Hermione smiled “Oh we were just discussing Christmas actually, James asked me to stay with him at his parents place. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you came along too, if you’d like to?”
Hermione and Lily both glanced at James to make sure he didn’t object “Of course you’re welcome Evans, you can’t stay here by yourself” James said, covertly winking at Hermione for the suggestion
“Are you sure your parents won’t mind?” Lily hedged.
“They always have all of us there over the Christmas break anyway, and they have a big New Year’s Ball every year. You’ll be more than welcome, mum is always saying ‘the more, the merrier’” James assured the love of his life.
“And I’ll be there, so you won’t have to face this lot of toe-rags for the whole time by yourself” Hermione added when Lily still looked uncertain. Taking a deep breath Lily smiled hesitantly
“Well if it’s really ok with everyone, then I’d like to. Beats staying here alone.”
Under the table, Hermione felt a foot nudge hers and she glanced around quickly to see who the culprit was. Sirius caught her eye and winked at her, still wearing that heart-breaker smile of his. She could see that he was dying to get her alone so he could try to weasel the truth out of her, especially after the incident with Snape and Malfoy. But he was also pleased that she had done something so clever and helpful for James by inviting Lily to spend Christmas with the Potters.
“Well, look who it is!” James murmured as he begun to laugh, nodding towards the doors of the Great Hall.
Hurrying in, shivering and shaking from the cold, with blue lips were Severus Snape and Lucius Malfoy, glaring their hatred at Hermione.
Hermione threw her head back and laughed.
A/N: Hey cherubs. Thanks for all the love and reviews. Things are about to step up a notch with Sirius and Hermione so I hope you're ready for it. Much Love, please review.
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