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Chapter 1 : Prologue
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She shouldn’t be here. She shouldn’t be here either.
Hermione stared, looking down shellshocked at the boy. The room was dark, the remnants of actions too horrid for Hermione to understand were cast around her. A man, a woman, and the oncoming horrors that had begun from this night.
It was difficult to understand what had happened. What is happening, she chastised. Then almost laughed insanely at the ridiculousness of such a detail. In this current situation, her focus on priorities were terrifically skewed.
The boy took a gasp of air and let out another lungful wail. Dully, Hermione was aware that the boy – she refused to comprehend who he truly is – was crying for his mother. Little fists reaching through wooden bars, trying to grasp at the shirt’s material as if a particular tug might awake her.
But he was too far away, and Hermione didn’t understand. Couldn't understand. This wasn't how her evening was supposed to be. She was supposed to be happy, laughing, at home. Not terrified and here. Not alone.
For God's sake, this morning, Hermione Granger had gotten up to work. This morning, Hermione Granger had kissed her fiancé goodbye, bag slung over shoulder heading towards the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. This morning, Hermione Granger had been smiling, happily counting down the minutes until tonight’s dinner!
How, between then and now, had everything changed?
The high-pitched squealing intensified from the child, cutting her out of her stupor. Snapping aware, she rushed over to the crib, lifting him up in her arms and held the boy to her chest. Turning the boy’s face away from his mother’s corpse on the ground, Hermione looked down at the corpse for the first time aware.
Her eyes wide open, but not yet covered by a grey film. A dull thought wondered how long between her death and Hermione’s arrival had elapsed.
The boy hiccuped out a sob.
“It’ll be okay,” she whispered, clutching him close. Her hand rested on the back of his head, awkwardly jiggling the child on her hip as if he was just tired and not somehow consciously aware that everything was lost.
Hermione could feel the chubby hand reaching out for his mother, could feel him squirming even as she kissed the top of his dark hair and held him close.
A muffled sound was heard on the stairs, as an unmistakable voice casting a wand lit shadow on the hallway wall. Hermione flinched, gasping but too late as a figure stepped forward.
If there had been any doubt where she was now, it faded when Hermione came face-to-face with Sirius Black.
“Who are you?” he hissed in warning, pointing his wand in her direction. She hushed the sobbing child, blinking awkwardly as her own tears threatened to spill.
‘This was wrong!’ she wanted to scream, ‘You shouldn’t- I shouldn’t be here!’
But the terror soothed into a menacing ball, held firm in her chest when she met his eyes. “No one,” she told him, shaking her head firmly. “You don’t know me.” Yet. But the word remained unuttered.
“Give me the boy!"
“No,” she told him, clutching Harry closer.
“Give him to me!”
Hermione’s head shook dangerously as she stepped away. “You can’t. You won’t. You’ll give him to Hagrid!”
“What?” The wand lowered momentarily before he straightened his arm again. “Whoever the bloody hell you are, give my godson to me before I hex you into oblivion.”
Hermione should. She knew she should. Harry reached desperately for his godfather but she held him back. She was bloody mental to resist, but red hair flashed before her eyes, a voice telling her to run and she was reminded of how similar the parallels suddenly were.
Standing here, holding her best friend in her arms, looking at long-lost ghosts, she was incapable of allowing what needs to happen, to happen.
“Don’t go after Peter,” she whispered.
“What?” this time, the man rebuked, spluttering, his body shuddering in a twist of rage and bewilderment.
“Don’t go after Peter. Please, Sirius. He...you...” she trailed off swallowing as she remembered. Maybe she was here for him. Maybe she could change that one thing and allow Harry that gift of time with Sirius. Maybe that will be enough.
“Who are you- how do you- how…!”
Sparks appeared at the end of the wand, crackling around Sirius Black. She knew enough about the man to know that he was about to do something irrational and stupid. Clutching Harry closer, she took a step back. “I’m Hermione Granger,” she told him, her brain rushed, words spilling before she could block them, “I was on the run from...from escaped Death Eaters w-when something happened. I don’t...I shouldn’t...I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be here.”
Harry began crying again, twisting in her grasp and Hermione vaguely hushed him, staring numbly again at the surreal reality refusing to tilt back.
Sirius’ wand didn’t lower. He held it firm, pointing it at Hermione’s throat. “Why are you here?” he asked her, asking the question between clenched teeth.
Hermione blinked. She kept blinking as if it would wake her up. But she didn’t. She remembered the panic, the running, the falling then screaming until it all stopped suddenly in cold water. She didn’t even know the bastards who’d chased her. But they had been Death Eaters, old ones, no-names on a list of ‘Wanted’ long forgotten. But Death Eaters nonetheless.
She opened her mouth to reply and failed. Speechless only to be interrupted by a loud crack.
There was nothing but a stunned pause before a loud wail broke the air outside, signalling the arrival of Hagrid. Hermione rushed forward before Sirius could move, clutching his arm with her own hand, as another held Harry to her shoulder. “Apparate us.”
“What?” Like her, she could see Sirius struggling to understand this reality.
“Apparate us! I’ll explain everything.”
“What the bleeding hell is going-?”
“Who’s there?” Bellowed from downstairs.
“He’ll give him to Petunia. Harry will grow up unloved, you’ll be in jail!”
“Give him to- Lily’s sister? What do you m-”
“Please!” she begged. “I’ll explain it, I’ll explain everything! Sirius please.” The oncoming boots hit the front steps, opening the ajar front door wider. A muffled, heavy cry could be heard downstairs as James was found, glasses skewed, eyes staring up in panic towards the top stairs. “Please,” she asked softly. “For Harry’s sake, please.”
Boots climbed the stairs, moving towards them before- crack, they left.
A/N: the absolutely lovely chapter image was crafted by Eponine on tda.
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