Chapter 2 : 1. The Unmanned Lighthouse
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The Unmanned Lighthouse
The air whisked around them, a storm brewing in the night. Over the thunder, wind and crashing waves, she could hear Sirius Black demanding his godson.
“No!” Hermione shouted over her shoulder, lifting one arm as a barricade against the strong winds. They were on a cliff. A few metres back from the edge, but close enough Hermione clutched baby Harry closer. Before her was a tall, red and white lighthouse. But even at the late hour, it’s light didn’t glimmer onto the furious sea.
“Gi...od…n...e.” The sound was droned out by the wild winds and growing thunder. Rain hadn’t begun to fall yet but it was only a matter of time.
Clutching the screaming baby tighter, Hermione walked through the harsh winds, feeling her hair whip around her face. Behind her, Sirius cried out some absurd threat involving hippogriffs or griffins or maybe it was hippos. She could barely hear.
He rushed forward, blocking her path with his wand at her heart, but Hermione glared and viciously pointed to where they needed to be. Inside.
Looking at the momentary safe haven, he lowered the wand. Hermione noted that despite the action, his arm remained rigid and his face hardened. But they could barely hear over the wind and soon the impending sky would open up and gush down the held rain.
If Harry got sick then all was lost.
Turning away, he let her take point and lead a path blocking the wind. Hermione walked on, clutching Harry protectively to her shoulder, knowing there was a wand pointed dangerously at her back.
Inside, Sirius stepped in front of her again, his wand returning to her heart. “Give me my godson.”
“Of course I am. He’s my godson. I am his rightful guardian now…” a flicker shook his anger and Hermione wondered if he felt as surreal in the situation, as she did. “Give him to me.”
Hermione stared at him, her jaw clenched as she fought to give in to his demand. “Not until you put the wand away.”
“Why would I do that?”
“You’re not getting Harry until the wand is gone.”
“So you can trick me?” he spat. “For all I know you’re some Death Eater, waiting to steal Harry and have him killed by Voldemort.”
“Voldemort is dead!” Hermione shouted. Taking a breath, she pressed against her emotions. They were both agitated and needed to calm down. “Please, Sirius. Put the wand away.”
“Why should I?”
Hermione bit back a comment. Holding the squirming baby still. “I can’t let you apparate once you have him. You’ll leave, and if anyone captures you or-” she paused, her face struck as she realised what she’d done. “Bloody hell,” she whispered. A hand clasped over her mouth as she squeezed her eyes shut.
She’d sounded like Ron. For just a moment, she’d heard his voice through her own. It wasn’t the first time she’d cursed like him, but the moments were rare and usually not spoken out loud.
Damn. Her throat swelled painfully as she thought of her fiancé. How he’d probably laugh and make some joke about being a bad influence if he was here now.
In front of her, Sirius was looking at her worriedly, confused at the abrupt outburst. Turning around quickly before looking back to Hermione, he noted there was nothing behind him that explained the swears or strange behaviour.
“Who are you?” he asked, repeating the ongoing question as if it could snap her out of the daze and sum up everything he wanted to know.
But Hermione didn’t hear him.
“I changed history,” she panicked. Her hands ran through the thick tendrils, clutching at her hair. Breathing rapidly, her eyes searched around as if looking for a tear in space and time. “I stole Harry. I stole you. Oh no, no no no!” She crouched down, holding Harry close as she tried to breathe, “I’ve made a mess of everything.”
“You kidnapped Harry, you mean. And myself. From Hagrid no less.” The girl was verging on hysterical. Lowering his wand carefully, in case it was a trick, he tried to catch her eyes. “Are you all right?”
“All right?” she yelled. “Am I all right? I did something so stupid, so idiotic-”
“This will have inconceivable consequences!”
“Perhaps you should hand over Harry, then.”
“Am I all right?” she huffed, glaring. Sirius rose up onto his feet again, watching her do the same. Apparently anger made her more focused and less hysterical. “What do you think, Black?”
His head snapping at the rage lacing her tongue, Sirius narrowed his eyes, looking to her arm. He’d seen enough in the hurried movements to hope there wasn’t any death mark, that the anger was just her hysterics twisted, but staring at it now, he needed to be certain. “Show me your arm.”
“My- what? I think not!”
“Show me!” he roared. Hermione flinched but shook her head, her eyes welling up with tears as she protectively held the arm to her body. “Let me look at it and see it,” he said lowly, making sure she was aware of how dangerous he was about to come. If she was some Death Eater holding his godson, then there was no mercy in him for her.
“I’m not a Death Eater, I was chased. They…” she took a breath, her face masking in eerie calmness as she blinked back unshed tears back. “I’m not a Death Eater,” she repeated firmly.
“Then show me your arm.”
Hermione’s chin quivered as she stared at Sirius. He needed to see proof, logically she knew that, but her stomach twisted ashamed at what was scarred down on her arm. Darting her eyes away, she shakily unwrapped her arm from Harry. Sirius snatched it roughly, shoving the the three-quarter sleeves up the arm’s length.
Hiccuping a gasp, Hermione forced herself to focus on Harry and not the hand on her arm, only cousin to the one that marked her.
She felt his fingers shake before he looked up at her. Glancing to him, she could see something flash over his eyes before she ripped the arm away and wrapped it back around Harry, hiding the mudblood scar. She didn’t need his pity. She’d had enough of that.
“Good enough?” she asked.
Sirius didn’t nod, but his wand lowered.
“Explain,” he said. His voice ached and Hermione breathed out, remembering that he too, was dealing with loss. Unlike her however, there was no hope of their return.
“I don’t know how much I should say.”
Sirius growled, “all of it.”
“You don’t understand,” she deflected.
“I bloody well do understand!”
“Hardly! You think you understand, but you don’t know the half of it. Who knows what will happen if I told you everything.”
Between his teeth, Sirius hissed out a breath. “I’ll tell you what I know. I know you broke into Lily and James’ house, I know you were there sometime before or after they were murdered and I know you’re holding their son as if he’s the key to your survival.” On cue, Harry cried, his head twisting to see Sirius. Hermione’s eyes panicked as she looked down at him.
“We should be quiet.”
“You should tell me what you know!”
Hermione glared before letting out a sigh. Nodding, she pulled Harry from her chest and wrapped him in one arm, using her other to hold out flatly in front of Sirius.
“Are you mental? I’m not bloody giving out my wand to some fucking unknown witch!”
“Then put it down, away, I don’t care!” Harry’s cries grew louder. Worried, Sirius threw his godson a look before his shoulders sagged. Placing the wand down on the lighthouse stairs, he stepped in front of it protectively. Only then did Hermione hand Harry over.
Immediately the boy’s cries hushed, his chubby arms wrapping around Sirius’ neck as he nestled safely on his shoulder. Hermione cast her eyes away from the sight, struck with how wrong everything was.
“Explain,” Sirius said again, softer but no less firm. “Everything.”
Gathering herself, Hermione quickly thought of what to tell him. “Pettigrew betrayed you,” she whispered. “Voldemort came and killed James Potter. He tried to kill Harry, but Lily sacrificed herself, protecting Harry from the curse. He…” she swallowed, unable to look away from the point on the wall she was staring at. “He died trying to kill him, but it deflected from Lily, killing both himself and her. It’s not for good.”
Hermione shook her head, sadly watching the sparked hope become desolate in Sirius’ eyes. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “But Voldemort will come back. It will be a while, too long. People won’t believe he’s returned until it’s too late, but he will come back.”
“Why were you there, for Him?”
Hermione shook her head, making a move to touch Harry only for Sirius to step backwards.
Dropping her hands, she slowly wrapped them around herself and looked to where Sirius’ wand sat on the stairs. “Don’t get any ideas.”
Hermione laughed bitterly. “If only you knew how pointless that would be.”
His gaze flicked to the scarred arm. Subconsciously she pulled it close, tugging on her sleeve. “What do you mean it’s pointless?” he asked her.
Shutting her eyes she shook her head. “Nothing,” she sighed. “It’s...nothing.” looking away from both the wand and Sirius, she moved her eyes to a fixed point on the the Lighthouse’s door. The door was white inside, flaking from age. She could see cracks where the golden wood behind could be glimpsed. Flicking to beside the door, Hermione could see a large, dusty spiderweb.
She could see a spider on it, no bigger than half the size of her nail. The lighthouse must have been abandoned or automatic, she surmised. Either way, with all the grime, it didn’t look like people had been here any time soon.
“You didn’t answer my question,” Sirius stated.
Hermione nodded. She knew. “Which question?”
“All of them.”
“No, I mean-” she sighed, folding her arms and holding her stare towards the flimsy web. A few dead spiders hung from it weakly. “What was the question you had?”
“Why were you at Lily and James’ house?”
“Right,” she mumbled. “That is a loaded question.” Standing awkwardly, she rubbed her temples. All she wanted to do was curl up in bed and forget this awful night. She wanted Ron’s arms around her as he snored hopelessly, she wanted to look over at her beside and see a photo of him, Harry and herself laughing at a snowball fight. God, she even wanted to be sitting at home, with a cup of tea as she planned her wedding idly.
“Earth to… whatsyournam. Hermy...whatever.”
“Hermione,” she said automatically, before snapping into reality. “Sorry, what did you say?”
Sirius face twisted agitated, and Hermione tensed, ready to fight back just as viciously if he tried to criticise her. But the anger melted from his face and all that was left was Sirius Black looking at her just as tiredly. “I don’t trust you,” he admitted. “How can I trust you not to kill me?”
“You can’t,” she replied. “I don’t know how to make you trust me, Sirius. I don’t know even know if I can trust you to not run off.” She looked at Harry, thumb in his mouth, his fingers curled around the collar of Sirius’ shirt.
“You keep talking to me as if you know me.”
“I do.” She grimaced, “I did. You were just as incorrigible then.”
“That’s a big word for someone who doesn’t know the me now.”
Hermione’s lips twisted. “I don’t think you’ll be so different. Happier maybe. I don’t know.”
“Why would I be happier now?”
Hermione blanched, realising what she implied. “It’s difficult.”
“Something happened to me.”
Hermione’s eyes fell away. Nodding to the wand, she allowed him to pick it up before she began walking up the stairs. “Voldemort’s gone. Peter Pettigrew is gone. All that matters is Harry.”
“I can get the slimy bastard, get this over-”
“No!” she shouted, looking down at him from the fourth stair up. Sirius didn’t flinch, but he glared, confused at her words. Hermione softened her pose. “I did something bad, I shouldn’t have been there, I shouldn’t have come. But when I saw the date-” she paused, feeling the persnickety side of her correct, “-heard the date...I thought that maybe if I…maybe.” It’d been stupid. Shaking her head, she turned away, climbing the stairs again. “If you go after Peter, he will frame you for his own ‘murder’,” she spat the last word bitterly.
“Peter would never…”
“He would. And he’d take muggles with him so you appear insane.”
He paused for a moment, thinking over what she said before a shadow past over his eyes. “Azkaban,” he muttered. Hermione continued forward, not replying as she head Sirius began following behind.
“You’re really not of this time, are you?” he asked.
Sighing, she looked over her shoulder briefly, “No.”
“How far forward?”
“What did you do?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well...why did you do it?”
“I don’t know!” she bursted out hotly. “At first I thought I could…” her throat swelled, but she swallowed it back. “But it was too late when I arrived. They were already-” Gone. Sirius avoided her eyes, his jaw clenching tightly. “Then I thought that time would just heal its self, that I had no effect on the damn thing, but you had to arrive with your bloody motorcycle, climbing those damn stairs and I panicked!”
“‘I had to arrive’. If you came from the bloody future, then you already knew I would arrive.”
“Not that fast! I thought I had time, time to…” she threw her hands into the air, abruptly stopping on the stairs as she bent over, heaving in a breath to stop from crying or screaming or whatever that sharp, burning sensation was that grew and grew in her lungs, up throat and down her chest.
She hurt dammit.
Awkwardly, Sirius stood behind her, adjusting Harry on his hip. He had no idea who she was, but he was starting to doubt her involvement with Death Eaters. Perhaps her convenient story about running really was true. Still, his eyes narrowed suspiciously. He wouldn’t put it past Voldemort to hire someone this good of an actor to trick him.
“I don’t know what I expected,” she whispered. Standing up straight again, she quietly brushed a hand over her cheeks, tidying herself before resuming the long climb up the spiral staircase.
There was nothing but heavy footsteps and the wind howling outside. Even Harry nestled his head against Sirius and kept silent. When the quiet become intolerable, Sirius spoke up: “Why did you make me apparate?”
“Magic doesn’t work here for me. Not well,” Hermione said. Her voice was hoarse, sore from everything. “I don’t know-” she stopped, laughing bitterly at the absurdly repeated sentence. The know-it-all bookworm, Golden Granger, didn’t know. Sighing at the end, she slowly forced herself to rise up the last of the stairs. “The move in time might have done something. Magic’s always changing or maybe magic’s entwined with time, or maybe I’m in a parallel world and magic just simply is different. I can research it later, all I know is that I can’t do anything.”
“Or maybe you’re dead,” Sirius said.
“Or maybe.” She nodded. The calmness over her face noted that she’d pondered that thought before. “I had to get a taxi to Godric Hollow. A taxi.” She shook her head. “At some point, someone’s going to see the money and think it’s a forgery. Not that they could trace it back to me but having something like that in this time is dangerous enough. Hopefully it will get destroyed by the cabbie driver before anyone looks to closely. Last thing I need is the Ministry...”
She paused, wondering if the Ministry even could magically trace it back to her. If they did, would it go back to two-year-old toddler Hermione, who was chewing on books before she learnt to read them, or would it trace back to her.
At the top of the lighthouse, Hermione looked out the window, over the cliff and to see the angry storm across the ocean. Walking over the ajar window, she shut it tight, frowning at the landscape before her. “Does Remus know of this place?” she asked him.
“How should I know?”
Hermione gave him a look and he swore it was one of McGonagall’s stares. “Yes,” he admitted. “Well, maybe. I told him about it once but he’s never been here.”
“We’ll have to leave then.”
“Is clever. He’ll work it out.”
“He’ll also think that you’re guilty,” she replied flatly. “Think Sirius, no one knew that Peter was the Secret Keeper but you four. Not even Dumbledore knew.”
“I’m different. It doesn’t count.” She didn’t deter her eyes from the ocean, finding some comfort in it’s rage. “How long will it take Remus to search for you here?”
“If he even remembers,” Sirius said bitterly. “But maybe we could-”
“You thought he was the spy, remember? Remus is observant, he would have picked up on your nervous energy if he couldn’t already smell it. Now with Peter, he’ll come to conclusion that you were betraying her. Without Pettigrew, any proof you didn’t do it is hopeless.”
“Difficult,” he muttered gruffly, “Not hopeless.”
Hermione smiled briefly. Welcoming the optimism against her cold realism. “You know,” she smiled, “Peter’s probably waiting for you to find him, so he can…” Hermione let out a ragged breath. “This is so messed up.”
“You’re telling me.”
“Yeah.” She frowned, looking down at her hand where her engagement ring sat. She’d forgotten that it sat there. She was used to it just being there like it was another part of her body. She’d had it for a year now. A small, modest engagement ring. Ron had still been an auror at the time he’d bout it, but he went on and on about how when he earned more, he’d buy her another ring, something worthy of her finger.
He said it almost as if this ring wasn’t good enough, but Hermione preferred the simplicity. She liked that the small cut diamond didn’t catch on her clothes. She liked how it sparkled but didn’t draw attention. She liked that it reminded her of herself.
Smiling, she recalled being proposed to. Remembered Ron’s mumbled question and how his ears were bright red through all of dinner.
She’d expected the proposal, yes. They’d picked out the ring earlier, discussed getting married a while before then, but he’d made the courtesy to still ask, just like in a muggle movie. It’d been sweet. Even if Hermione was sure most of that had been Ginny’s doing.
Thinking on the proposal, Hermione figured that her own time stream and memories were not entwined with the now future. Otherwise she would have new memories, or cease to exist, or something that pointed to this not being the same; like suddenly remembering that Sirius disappeared before reappearing with Harry, or that he was caught somewhere else, or that there’d be a third person at Godric Hollow that night.
But it didn’t.
Hermione was aware that time wasn’t linear, but she’d always assumed it was like a single ball of string. All tied up and round and round, over the top, and underneath. Now she wondered if it was more like a tree, with branches of different time streams splitting from the bough.
Beside her, Sirius conjured a chair, sitting down in it before conjuring another for Hermione. “Sit,” he told her. “No one will look here for a while.”
“You should set up wards.”
“Magic here would stand out like a sore thumb. The less magic we use, the easier we’ll be able to hide.”
Hermione nodded, she knew that. Hell, she’d lived in that way of thought for a year. Ron and Harry never left the paranoid mentality; becoming Aurors and using their observation skills for the better. They were only young, a year out of training, but they were far more talented than some veteran aurors.
It took a moment to realise that Sirius was probably similar in the situation. Except he was in the war, not looking out at the world as a veteran. Hermione frowned, looking at him play with baby Harry on his lap. Sirius never got to become a veteran, none of the Marauders really did.
After a stretch of pause, he broke the silence, “Time travel is hard magic. Near impossible.”
Hermione’s lips curved in something of a smile. “I’ve had experiences with time turners,” she told him. “The exposure to that magic made me more susceptible to time. Or observant to it. It’s difficult to explain.”
“So,” she agreed.
“I still don’t trust you.”
“I trust you,” she replied, almost laughing at his bluntness. She was unsurprised at his statement. “I don’t trust you not to run off, but I trust you.”
“I take it you knew me in the future.”
“Briefly,” she nodded. “For a time. I knew Remus as well.”
“How far in the future?”
“Too far,” she whispered. Blinking, she smiled at him. “It’s good to see you. Before Azkaban.”
“Should you be telling me this?”
“Probably not,” she admitted, “but you already worked it out. Didn’t you?”
“It wasn’t difficult.”
“Yeah, well, after everything, I think this is the least of of my issues. For all I know, doing this will make sure you spend less time in Azkaban.”
“Well with luck being as it is, perhaps you’ll never need to know me post-Azkaban. I’ll be a free man,” he grinned at her, and for the first time that night, Hermione returned it truly. The smile didn’t last long as rain began to pelt against the window. A loud crack of thunder roared close above and shook the foundries, frightening Harry until he began to cry.
Hermione didn’t blame him. She wanted to cry too.
Quickly, Sirius tried hushing him, cooing softly and making some joke about how thunder was Gryffindor pride. When that didn’t work, he pulled out a set of keys for him to play with, jiggling them in front of the green eyes. Harry reached out with both hands, clapping over the set of keys. His chubby, little fingers wrapped around the rings and mimicked the up and down motion Sirius had made. When the keys began jingling, he squealed out a laughter, bouncing them harder and nearly hitting Sirius in the face.
“Easier there, tiger,” he settled the hands, placing his own over the set of keys. When Harry looked up at him, pouting, Sirius growled. “That didn’t work with Lily, or Prongs, and it’s not going to work with-”
Harry’s eyes began to well up, his body hiccuping, prepared to wail out again. Sirius sighed, dropping his hands away from Harry’s.
“Bloody manipulator. Got his eyes from Lily, and he’s already got Prong’s pout. Evil,” he muttered, side-eyeing the baby as he avoided getting slapped by the set of keys. “He’ll trick people into doing anything he says.” Hermione giggled, the sound causing Sirius’ head to snap up before a slow grin spread over his lips. “He does, doesn’t he?”
“Only a little bit,” she smiled. “People listen to him, but that doesn’t mean they always do what he says.”
“Tell me about him.”
Hermione’s happiness fell away as she remembered the sight of him, glaring as he rose from the table. “Another time, maybe,” she replied. “Or you could just wait and see him grow up.”
“Nah, never had too much patience. Used to sneak into James’ drawer and see what he got me for Christmas. I kept doing it until he booby trapped the bloody thing. I ended up with clown make-up in fifth year.”
Hermione smiled. “What did you do?”
“Pranked him back. The make-up didn’t go away until lunch. I wore it proudly I’ll have you know. Minnie even cracked a smile when I tried to juggle in class.” He frowned, remembering the moment as he added, “Before I lost five points for disrupting the lesson.”
Harry squealed happily, bouncing up and down on the knee he was sitting on. However, Hermione watched as Harry threw the keys onto the ground. When Sirius bent over to pick them up, Harry then attempted to stand up, clutching at his godfather’s shirt as he did. One hand balanced on Sirius’ shoulder as the other clutched awkwardly around the collar of the shirt, effectively pulling it down.
Sirius held the toddler steady however, smiling down at him. “What do you want?” he asked softly, smiling at him. “Bubbles?” With a tap of his wand, bubbles projected out, flowing into the air before pop. Harry clapped, amused as he pointed at the bubbles, he turned to Sirius and went on a tangent about something in baby-babble.
Sirius nodded attentively at him as if he could understand what was being said. However, Hermione caught his eye and saw him smirking amused to her. The sight made her ache.
That would have been Harry and Ginny’s son’s in her own time. James Sirius Potter, they had the name worked out for ages now. Ginny was waiting for a temporary replacement before she even thought on her first child. Ron too, wanted children. He wanted a whole brood, even if Hermione was adamant in only have two.
She wanted to sit in a more secure position before she took time off for maternity leave.
“Sirius,” Hermione whispered.
She swallowed, watching him hand the keys back to Harry. Standing on the leg, held steady by his godfather, Harry jiggled the keys happily between two fists. His brow furrowed with concentration as he shook harder for the sound, spluttering some nonsense or another.
“Sirius, we should take him back.”
“Not bloody likely.”
“You can’t raise him,” she defended. “You’ll be on the run until this mess is solved. Harry can’t grow up like that.”
“Are you going to solve this mess?”
Hermione blinked, her mouth parting to reply before shutting again. Was she going to solve this? Her forehead creased as she stared at Harry, watching him play happily. What was she going to do here? She needed a plan. She needed…
Ron… Harry and Ginny. Between the four of them, they would have come up with some idea.
A thunder cracked near above, startling Hermione.
She remembered a door cracking open. Red flashed in front of Hermione’s eyes as she had clutched Ginny’s arm. Ron had shoved the both of them away, standing in front of the dining room doorway, his wand raised ready as the first sounds of attack hit Harry. “Run,” he told them. “We’ll hold them off. Just go, get help.”
There hadn’t been enough time.
But here, now, she had all the time. It couldn’t be by chance that she had been thrust into the world at this time, on this night. In some subconscious level, she must have known what needed to be done to save them all.
“Hmm,” she hummed, before seeing Sirius staring at her expectantly. “We need safety,” she told him. “Somewhere where they won’t find us.”
“Out of the country works.”
Hermione shook her head. They didn’t have the money or the means. Already, by now, Gringott’s would have a close guard, preventing Sirius from entering. But, she realised, Goblins didn’t interfere in the affairs of wizards. They could send an owl, requesting money, and…
And what? Leave the country as Sirius suggested?
They might need to be here for something. No, a plan was needed before that. A sanctuary first, somewhere to hide, look after Harry. They’ll need supplies, a crib, clothes, hot water. Sirius’ picture will be over the news in the wizarding world soon, the muggle world soon after if Pettigrew had his way.
Hermione’s brow pinched in thought; somewhere near muggles would be easier to hide in, somewhere remote, especially somewhere where she could go to the shops, buy supplies. An abandoned house would work nicely. With a few spells and charms they could fix it up enough to be liveable.
“We’ll go to London tomorrow,” she said.
Sirius’ brows rose high. “That’s...bold.”
“They won’t be looking for a couple with a baby. They’ll be looking for a single man with a baby. If you and Harry go in disguise, we can get what we need from Gringotts, convert it to muggle-”
Sirius’ eyebrows furrowed the more she spoke, until the word Gringotts had been spoken. “Do you have an account you can access as Gringotts? Without a key, unless you keep it on you?” his eyes trailed over the dark slacks she wore, to the muggle jacket. He doubted she was the kind to carry something so valuable on her person.
When his eyes rose her flushed cheeks, he knew she wasn’t. “You’re not bloody using my money!”
Hermione flinched, tucking her arms against herself again. “You’re right.” She nodded, “it wasn’t right to assume that. I’m sorry. It’s just...an idea,” she finished softly.
“Better be,” he grumbled before hissing in pain as Harry’s jingling keys slashed him across the face. Frowning, he looked at the small boy. “What?” he asked.
Harry’s hand paused, Lily’s gaze looking up at him thoughtfully. Shivering, Sirius lowered the hand and adjusted Harry to sit on his lap again. “Right,” he murmured. “Money. You’re right. We’ll need it. You can pay me back later.”
Hermione bristled but didn’t say anything at the comment. He didn’t have to be so rude about it. “We’ll need some spell books.” She told him. “We’ll get some cheap train to the middle of nowhere and work out a place there.”
“Sure,” Sirius murmured.
Quiet seeped over them, only interrupted by brief flashes of lightning followed shortly by roaring thunder. Harry, too, quietened down, nestling against Sirius until he ended up curled asleep in his arms.
“You couldn’t do it again, could you?” Sirius asked, as the the rain gave up. “Go back in time a few more hours?”
Hermione didn’t look up at him. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I don’t even know how I did it the first time.”
“Could you...explain it?”
She shook her head. “No. Not right now.”
“Sirius,” she said softly. “Not right now. It’s late and we’re both tired.”
He nodded and sat back in the chair, looking out at the night sky. He would have conjured sleeping bags, but neither of them would have slept. A cradle or crib was a bit beyond his expertise, but a blanket wasn’t. It took a few tries, but he got it eventually, laying it over him and Harry, before reaching out to hand one to Hermione.
She took it, vaguely aware of what it was as she settled it over her folded legs. “Your motorcycle would be taken by now, wouldn’t it?” she thought out loud.
“How good are you at spells? I mean, if we dye you and Harry’s hair blonde, change the eye colour. Maybe use some spell to blow up your face.”
Hermione looked over at him sharply. “You have to look different. Enough that people won’t glance twice at you. We should also douse you in perfume or something. If Remus is out there looking for you, no charms will hide your scent.”
“You know about Remus?” he asked, surprised.
Hermione shot him a vague glance. “Yeah. It’s a long story.”
Sirius looked at her wearily. “Is he-”
“Prejudice is just as strong in the future,” she interrupted. “But there’s a potion, wolfsbane, that makes him safer on a full moon.”
Sirius nodded, frowning to himself. “Does Remus ever find out the truth?”
“Yes,” she smiled. “He will here too, Sirius. We’ll find Peter and bring him to justice. I mean, we don’t even know if he’s dead. So far, all you can be charged with accomplice to murder and kidnapping a minor.”
“If he’s with the Order, all we’ll need is veritaserum.”
Hermione shook her head, dismissing it. “It’s not that simple. The moment he realises you’re not going to get caught, he’s going to go into hiding. It’ll be difficult to stage his death without witnesses, but I wouldn’t put it past Death Eaters to tarnish your reputation.”
“He…” Sirius trailed off, blinking at Hermione. “He would do that?” He frowned, running a hand through his hair. “Of course he would, staging his own murder is a step down from betraying Lily and James.”
“I think that was always his plan, no matter what happened.” She frowned, fiddling with the blanket’s corner. “It’s not your fault, you know. He wanted power. He wanted to be more than he was. The Dark Lord corrupted him.”
Sirius glared. “It was my idea.”
“If it had been someone else, it would have worked. You couldn’t know that he was the spy,” she told him. But Sirius blinked and adverted his eyes towards the window. “When the Order finds him ‘dead’, they’ll assume you did it.”
“Lucius or someone will help stage the murder,” she frowned. “They might actually kill him. Or try to. I don’t know, this is all wrong. I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, well, if the alternative was definitely me going to Azkaban, I’ll take the uncertain.”
“I won’t let you go to Azkaban,” Hermione told him. “No good came from that. Maybe…” she didn’t finish the sentence, afraid of being told she was wrong.
Sirius kept quiet, mulling over the night’s events. Lily and James were gone. Lily and James were gone. He was never going to see them again. It didn’t seem right. It seemed impossible. He’d only been there yesterday, laughing and smiling as Lily swatted the back of his head. “Not in front of Harry!”
“We’ll see what the Daily Prophet says tomorrow,” she whispered. “Maybe we can work out a plan from that.”
“I could leave, you know,” he told her as she sat backwards, curled up in the chair. “I could take Harry and disappear.”
“Leave you here. In the wrong time to deal with it yourself.”
“You could,” she agreed.
“You don’t seem afraid of that happening.”
“I am though,” she looked at him, her eyes glimmering in the little light held within the unmanned lighthouse. “Will you, though? Will you leave with Harry, or leave him here before you go chasing after a rat that could be anywhere between Godric Hollow and Wales?”
Sirius frowned at her, aching for Lily’s scolding stare and James’ shared look. He was alone. Peter had betrayed them. Remus thought him the betrayer. The blasted girl was right, this was a mess.
“No,” he replied. “But I want to.”
“I know. But all that matters is Harry now. If you leave him, he’ll go to his Aunt and Uncle. He’ll be raised in a household that mentally abuses him, being beaten by other kids at school. He hated it there so much Sirius. He grew up great, but there are time when he says things, little comments that come out like it doesn’t mean anything, and it breaks my heart.”
“You’re from quite far in the future aren’t you?”
“Seems absurd, doesn’t it? Coming from the future,” she breathed out, shutting her eyes. “In the muggle world, it’s the stuff of science fiction.”
“Yeah, well, you’re a witch. Get used to it.”
Hermione chuckled bitterly. “I’m trying.”
He nodded, looking down at Harry’s sleeping form. “I’m Lily or James,” he said. “I can’t-”
“You love him,” Hermione dismissed. “I know that. No one else is better suited for the job.”
“Yeah, well. I don’t agree with that.”
“You’re an idiot then.”
He looked up to glare at her, but Hermione eyes were shut, a small, knowing smile on her lips. Damn.
A/N: the absolutely stunning chapter image was made by Eponine on tDA
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