Chapter 5 : Chapter 4: Do You Want Me Dead Or Alive To Live A Lie
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(You know I gotta leave I can't stay,)
Or alive to live a lie?
(You know I gotta go I can't stay...)
-Hurricane, 30 Seconds to Mars
Chapter 4: Do You Want Me Dead Or Alive To Live A Lie?
Mid-September 1993- The Island
After being lost at sea and stranded on an island for nearly three and a half months, it was unsurprising to find that Hermione's 14th birthday past without much remark or even knowledge as the days had begun to merge together. It was only after the fact that she noticed the date had past, when she got ahold of a newspaper from one of the soldier's Halt had shot. He had begun taking her with him when he went to scout the movements of the soldiers around the compound and killing any of the smaller patrols that dare to wandered too far into the forest. Hermione had yet to take part in any of the killings, but she did help Halt relieve the bodies of any useful items they might have been carrying.
It was while searching through one soldier's pockets that she found the newspaper. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't written in English and when she questioned Halt about it, he said it was Russian. She ended up stowing the paper away for later. Hermione didn't know any Russian, but figured it was something to occupy her mind with if nothing else. She found out later that evening that Halt could, in fact, read and speak some Russian. After some persistent prodding and pestering for two hours straight, she finally managed to convince him to read some of it to her. It was while he was reading about the unusual hot spell central Russia was going through, that Hermione found out it had been printed a week after her birthday, which wasn't much to go by but at least she had an idea now of how much time had passed since she had been stranded.
After that, she began collecting any papers she could find on the soldiers, whether they were newspapers, letters or personal little notes. If it had writing of any kind, the witch began gathering them like a brooding dragon with its treasure horde. With Halt's reluctant help, Hermione slowly began to learn how to read Russian. It wasn't the London Library, but at least she had something to put her mind to work while she was lying in her nest of raggedy blankets by the fire at night. Reading through the papers usually after she had made a few attempts at wandless magic, still getting no results.
A few weeks later, while scouting around for food with Halt, he had disappeared into the brush to go look for some form of meat. She was perched in a tree picking a roundish fruit that looked an awful lot like a pear. Hermione had been straddling a large branch as she picked, a half full bag sitting in front of her, when she heard the patrol approaching. Everything in her told her to duck down quickly before they saw her, but Halt had drilled the finer points of stealth into her before he would allow her to accompany him. The witch shifted slowly drawing her legs up until she was laying along the branch, the bag boxed in between her arms. Halt had taught her that quick jerky movements were a sure way to attract notice, but slow controlled ones could be passed off as a flickering shadow.
The patrol of seven passed by right under her tree. Hermione held her breath as she waited for them to leave, when the worst thing imaginable happened, one of the fruits rolled free of the bag and off the branch. She tried to make a grab for it but it was already gone, she could only wait and watch in pure terror as the fruit fell toward the passing patrol. Something seemed to uncurl inside her and lash out at her panicked call.
The pear froze.
The patrol passed by and out of sight, oblivious to the witch in the tree or the levitating fruit hanging ten feet off the ground. With an audible sigh, Hermione relaxed against the branch as she heard the fruit hit the ground with a thunk, the moment she released the spell.
That incident had taught her what her carelessness could lead too and had helped her in learning to progress in her wandless magic training. It took nearly another month but once she had figured out how to access her magic without a wand and channel it for spells, she made quick work of the first year curriculum and moved on through her second year work.
After getting used to watching her work spells on a regular basis, Halt became intrigued by her spellwork and what she could do with it. He would come up with all sorts of different uses for those she could do and became rather fond of her water proof flames. He had taken to gathering any glass bottles and jars he could scavenge so that she could put the water resistant flames in them, so he could chuck them into patrols and even a few of their jeeps near the compound just to watch the chaos they caused.
June 1993-Home Base, Hook Norton
June passed by quickly. When she wasn't Apparating to Australia to check on the Granger family, Hermione was working on boosting the wards on her house and the store room in the basement. Periodically, she would send letters to Ron to keep up the charade that she was currently on vacation in France. Receiving letters from him as well since he and the whole Weasley family were currently on vacation in Egypt; he had even sent her a news clipping of their family in front of the pyramids. Harry, on the other hand, she had heard little to nothing from, which was not all that surprising, given his relatives. She had heard from Ron that he might have made things harder on Harry when he had called the Boy-Who-Lived on the telephone and preceded to scream into his Uncle Vernon's ear. After that, it did not seem like a good idea to try to contact him by phone again or by owl given the muggles medieval view on magic. A week after she had received Ron's letter from Egypt, she got an unlikely visitor in the form of a familiar snowy owl perched on her study window sill.
"Hedwig, what are you doing here?" she asked, spotting the owl as she walked into her study. Setting her tea down on her desk as she passed, she walked over to the owl, cautiously reaching her hand out. There was a good chance that, while the owl might have known where she lived, she might not recognize her as Hermione. As she stroked a hand down the white feathers, the owl turned and nipped at her affectionately. "So you do recognize me. What brings you here? You're not delivering anything." Hedwig nipped at her sleeve before extending her leg expectantly.
"Oh, yes, it's Harry's birthday, isn't it? Clever girl," she praised the owl, moving to her desk and opening a drawer to pull out a wrapped parcel she had picked up in Diagon Alley for just this occasion, before quickly writing out a letter. Sealing the letter, Hermione took it and the package to Hedwig and tied it on her leg before giving her an owl treat from the bowl she kept for the owl that brought her morning paper. Gulping down the treat, the snowy owl hooted before she flew off back toward the Dursley residence.
Turning back to her desk she sat down with a cup of tea looking over her Hogwarts classes and supply list. She had been exchanging letters with the Deputy Headmistress to change her class list, namely dropping Divination. Her younger self had jumped at the chance to sign up for every class possible, but she had more important things to deal with this year. Electing to drop the class that would be of no use to her; Divination was simply a waste of time and an easy 'O' for those not born with the seers' gift and even then they really had no control over when and what they saw. She had thought about dropping Muggle Studies as well but then she would lose access to the item that she wanted. She was sure to keep classes that contradicted each other enough to warrant her asking the Deputy Headmistress for permission to get a Timeturner, even if she only kept it for the year it would prove invaluable and if she could keep it longer than that would be even better.
Unsealing her most recent letter from McGonagall she was glad to see that her Head of House had granted her permission to receive a Timeturner for the use of attending classes that had overlapping times. She would be able to pick it up before her first classes started on the 2nd of September.
July came with an uproar in the Wizarding community as it became known that Sirius Black had escaped Azkaban and was currently at large. Hermione stared at the Daily Prophet and the deranged looking black-haired man on the front and began to wonder if Black would be in any state of mind to help her when she found him. After twelve years under the influence of the Dementors, he was at the very least half mad.
Folding the paper, she tossed it on her desk before heading down to the basement. The time had finally come where she could begin trying to get in contact with Black. She had an idea where he might go first-so it looked like she would be staking out number four, Privet Drive for the unforeseeable future. Dressing in a pair of tan cargo pants, hiking boots and a black tank top, she strapped on the wand holster that had recently been bought to her forearm. On her belt was a sheath, containing a broad blade that had a smooth edge on one side and a serrated edge on the other and a perfectly weighted hilt so that it could be used as a throwing knife if needed. A second folded knife was pocketed before she left the house.
She didn't expect any trouble, but pure habit had her not leaving her house without at least one knife on hand. Heading back upstairs, she pulled on a hooded sweatshirt, pulled her hair into a loose pony tail, and threw the hood of her sweater up. It was late in the afternoon now and would not look out of place as the evenings had been chilly. Grabbing the glass ball that kept the Ministry from detecting those still being traced and put it in her pocket. If Hermione needed to use any magic, she didn't want Harry getting blamed like the incident with Dobby the House Elf.
Walking out the back of her house, out of sight of her neighbors, she Apparated to Little Whinging, Surrey. Walking the neighborhood in no set route, passing Privet Drive at irregular intervals. If she simply walked the block, it was more likely that people would notice her hanging about and get suspicious. Over the next three days she Apparated over to Privet Drive at different times and spend a few hours there before heading home and coming back a few hours later. Sometimes during the mornings, she was in sunglasses, a T-shirt and jogging pants; her hair glamoured a strawberry blond and her arms glamoured to look unblemished. In the evening when it was cooler, she put on her hooded sweater and cargo pants.
Every once in a while she would catch sight of the Dursley's entertaining a woman that looked like a female version of Harry's Uncle with a rather mean looking dog. Harry had never mentioned the Dursley's having a dog, so she guessed it was the woman's. Hermione had been jogging by one morning when she caught sight of the dog viciously snapping at Harry as he was taking the garbage to the curb. While Harry was busy with his back to the street putting the trash in the bin, she couldn't resist casting a nonverbal Stinging Hex at the dog striking it right in the rump and causing it to yelp as it turned on her. The dog growled and charged, just as the large set woman and Harry's Uncle came out. Hermione made a show of shouting in alarm all the while spouting several obscene Russian remarks directed toward Harry's relations. She dodged to the side out of the dog's path as Harry's Uncle rushed forward to grab it. The beast did not take being restrained well and did not hesitate to sink it's claws into his arm trying to chase after the one who had saw fit to strike him while enjoying his favorite toy.
"You keep that bloody beast on a leash or so help me I'm calling the Police," she shrieked switching back to English loud enough for all the neighbors to hear. Hermione then having said her piece turned and continued to jog off before they could get a word in. She didn't miss Harry crouched behind the trash bin, snickering while the woman and his Uncle were shouting in the yard at Hermione's display, slurring remarks about foreigners, all the while the dog continued to make a scene as it was still trying to get away from Mr Dursley, looking for all to see like it was truly rabid.
She didn't use her jogging disguise again the next day but seeing as the weather was rather cool she stuck to the hoodie and cargo pants. It was late in the afternoon while she was strolling along a street over from number four that she saw the most unusual sight: the dog-woman blown up like a balloon, floating away from Privet Drive.
"Oh, dear, that cannot be good," she remarked, breaking into a run toward Harry's house and arrived just in time to see Harry storming out of his house, school trunk in tow. She tailed him for a while before he came to sit on the curb across from a playground, looking miserable. She stayed hidden behind a large hedge wall, mixed feelings roiling inside her as she finally got a good look at her first friend in nearly five years. He was shorter than she remembered, most likely because she was in fact far taller than when they had last been in the same place.
Harry let out a sigh, scuffing a too large sneaker against the asphalt as he sat huddled in on himself under one of the few working street lights on the deserted road a few blocks from his relation's house. In that lighting, she could see how thin he was, his clothes already obviously too large, so much so, they practically hung off his short frame. His skin was sun darkened, much like her own, showing that he spent a lot of hours out in the summer sun. Harry had never talked much about his life before coming to Hogwarts or how his summers were. Even together, she and Ron had hardly ever heard anything from the Boy-Who-Lived over the summer.
After hearing the account of the Weasley's break-out the summer before second year, it didn't take long for Hermione to piece together that her friend was being mistreated at home. Even as a twelve year old, she could piece together the signs in Harry's reluctance to speak of his summers or why he never went home for the holidays. Seeing him now, she was sure of it without a doubt. Harry could not continue to live in that house. At the very least, his physical health was being affected by the treatment he received living there; what psychological damage had been done she could not say with any accuracy.
She wanted to go to him, to tell him he did not need to return to that house. There was plenty of room in her house and he would be safe there, but she stayed where she was. There was no way she could take him, not if she wanted to keep her secrets from slipping out. It would not be so bad if Harry knew, given he had time to take it all in but Dumbledore would surely start prying into her life and she could not take that risk.
So she waited in the shadows, standing guard and watching to see what he would do next. Across the street, something moved. Harry had seen it too, because he stood and drew his wand as a large black dog stepped out from behind a slide, causing Harry to gasp and fall back, hands flailing, as he fell only to summon the Knight Bus in the process. Hermione waited till the bus left with Harry before moving across the street. The dog was gone but could not have gone far.
She was unworried about Harry; he had mentioned when boarding that he wanted to go to the Leaky Cauldron and was more than likely going to get a room there. He would be safe there for at least a few hours. She needed to take care of Sirius first before he got too far. He was to key to many things she had planned for the coming year.
"Padfoot," she called out stepping onto the playground in a voice one would use when looking for a lost pet. "Come here, boy." There was no response but she could feel eyes on her so she moved to sit on one of the swings and waited.
"You're looking for Wormtail, aren't you, boy, that sneaky little rat. So am I, but you'll not find him here. Why don't you come home and we can look for him together," she said, hoping the Marauder would get the hint and come out willingly. She really didn't want to resort to violence as it would be a poor start to their relationship.
Silence followed before there was a shuffling sound as a large dog came out of a nearby bush. He was unhealthily thin and his shaggy fur was filthy and matted. Not moving, she let him approach her on his own. He sat down a few feet away and stared at her with a look of curiosity and suspicion.
"I don't work for the Ministry, if that is what you're thinking. I'm a friend of Harry's and I just want to see him safe, but as long as Wormtail is around, he won't be. You want Wormtail? I can get him for you. In exchange, I'll need information on him and anything you know about the war with Voldemort. Does that sound like a fair deal?" The dog sat there for a time before making a grumbling sound and nodding its head. "Good, then I hope you will have no problem if I Apparate us to my home." The dog barked in response, standing up and wagging his tail slowly in answer. Hermione nodded and stood, placing her hand on his head she Disapparated.
Arriving at her house, Hermione opened the back door to let the dog in before following.
"You'll be safe here, I've got about every ward I could think of on this place short of putting it under the Fidelius Charm. All I ask is that if you must leave, that you go as a dog. This is not a jail, but I suggest you keep your comings and goings to a minimum. You're a wanted criminal in the eyes of almost everyone," she said tugging her hood down and releasing her curls from their tie.
"Who are you? How do you know about my Animagus form?" Black rasped out, voice unused to speaking apart from screaming in his sleep, not an uncommon sound through the halls of the Wizarding prison. "Peter, you know about him, where he is?"
"For now, you can call me Emma," Hermione offered, walking cautiously through an open doorway on the left into the kitchen and flipping on the lights as she went. There was no telling how stable the man was, and she did not want to risk startling him as he scanned the small entry hall leading from her back door to her living room. "I know a lot of things about a lot of things. Most of which, I can not tell you about yet."
Black tensed but followed her into the kitchen, peering blinkingly around like Aurors would pop out of the cupboards at any moment.
"I know you did not kill those Muggles and that Peter Pettigrew faked his death before framing you. I know he betrayed the Potter's and I know more things he'll do if given the chance."
This brought Black's gaze sharply back on her from checking the room for an ambush. "I will be willing to share much of what I know with you, give you sanctuary here until his capture, and aid you in your quest for Peter. All I ask in return is that you swear an Unbreakable Vow of secrecy about any information I share with you and provide any information that you would be willing to give on the war with Voldemort. The things I know could prove deadly to a lot of people, including yourself and your godson. I can't risk it getting out, since I have those I have to protect as well."
Sirius Black looked her over for a long minute and beneath all the scruffy hair and grime, his blue-grey eyes were clear and focused. Hermione was comforted in that fact. He did not seem as deranged as the papers would leave one to believe. "Fair enough," Sirius said finally deciding to trust the curly haired stranger, at least for a bit. He wasn't going to agree to something as binding as an Unbreakable Vow without putting some serious thought into it and especially not to some random stranger that picked him up off the street.
"So what now?" He asked finally looking around till his eyes lingered on the fridge with a hopeful expression, looking more like a begging stray than his Animagus form.
"I don't know about you but I could use some dinner," she offered taking the hint. "Go get cleaned up, while I make us something to eat. Take a left then up the stairs on the left, its on the landing." Gesturing to a second door leading out of the kitchen to the right of the one they had entered, leading to the rest of the house.
Sirius nodded and exited the room. Hermione watched him go before turning to the sink and began filling a pan with water, leaving it to boil on the stove top. Exiting the same door, she headed to the stairs passing the landing from which running water could already be heard behind the door and continued up the stairs to the second floor. There was only two doors up here and she entered the right one having picked it for her own, they were the same size but she preferred the one with a window that looked out over the back yard rather than the front.
The room was bare, save a haphazardly made bed she had given up making seeing as she tended to tear off the blankets on the odd night her dreams took a darker turn. Beside the bed, was a side table and reading lamp, which was the only other furniture in the room apart from the small chest of drawers shoved in the open closet.
She shoved the barely filled drawers closed with her foot so a cardboard box could be reached from the top shelf. The box was dropped unceremoniously on top of the chest and opened. Pulling out a few picture frames that had been placed on top, she set these on her school trunk that was also taken from her family during the move. The rest of the box was a collection of her father's old clothes. Hermione selected a shirt and pair of trousers that looked like they might fit Black. There were two more sets which made up most of the contents of the box as well as a belt, a pair of shoes and an old leather jacket she recalled an uncle leaving at her house one Christmas and never coming back for.
It wasn't much but she could make a run to Diagon Alley if the store next door didn't have what they needed. It would be best if Sirius kept to Muggle clothing, seeing as the Ministry wouldn't immediately expect to see a pureblood wizard, even a disowned one, dressed like a proper Muggle--not the attempt most of the Wizarding World made that caused them to stick out as much as they would if they were wearing robes.
Tucking the shirt and trousers under one arm, she picked up the box and entered the room across the hall. This room was even more barren, only housing a bed frame with bare mattress and a closet holding one of her nearly empty expanded trunks. Digging around in the trunk, she found a set of fresh bed linens and a pillow transfigured from one of her mother's doilies. Exiting the room with the box on the trunk lid, Hermione left the linens on the bed for Sirius to deal with. She could transfigure all the components for a bed but was not well-versed in such spells as to make up a bed with magic and as for the Muggle way, she didn't even bother making her own bed most days and wasn't about to make his; she wasn't playing at being a maid.
Knocking on the bathroom door as she paused to inform the occupant of the clothes left outside, she headed back down stairs with a mental note that the convict's current rags were getting an Incendio first chance she got. Back in the kitchen, she added a few broth cubes to the water along with some barley and a few herbs. After twelve years of poor food and even worse living conditions, Sirius would have to watch what he ate for a while or he would run the risk of making himself even sicker. Once the simple soup was finish the pot was levitated on the table with a simple warming charm to keep it fresh.
Heading out of the kitchen, passing the stairs to the next doorway on the left, she entered her improvised infirmary. Mostly, it held a bed and rather than having a closet, one wall was lined with white cabinets sporting glass doors so that items could be found easily in a rush. The cabinets were filled with a number of medical items, both Muggle and magical. Digging around in one of the upper cabinets, Hermione found a box marked 'Dog Care' in rather spidery handwriting she recognized from scathing remarks on her potion essays.
She would have liked to thank the Potions Master for putting this together before she had left as there had been little time or spare resources for her to attempt any refresher course on potion making at the time. She could tell he had not liked the idea of making anything that might prove beneficial for Black, despite the fact that he had supplied her with all the needed potions to help a recovering prisoner of Azkaban. She doubted that he would appreciate it if she were to walk up to the Snape of this current time and thank him for stocking her with potions to get someone he obviously detested back into good health. He probably would have an aneurysm after giving her a decade worth of detention.
Taking the box back to the kitchen, she was just putting it in one of the cabinets when Sirius walked in looking much better now that he had cleaned up. He was still sporting a scruffy beard but his black hair was rid of tangles so that it hung loose well past his shoulders and skin nearly scrubbed red. She was happy to see that her father's clothes fit him well; they were about the same height, but the clothes hung off Sirius loosely, showing just how thin he was and leaving the blaring black tattoos marking him as an occupant of Azkaban visible where the shirt did not cover.
"Dinner is ready," she went about setting out bowls, spoons and cups along with bread and butter on the small table. "It isn't much but you'll need to start small and simple or you'll make yourself sick. Trust me, it doesn't end well," she grimaced at the memory. Halt had not warned her of that before offering her food for the first time, she scarfed it down without a second thought only for her body to reject it almost immediately, vomiting all over the floor before she could even make it through half her portion and leaving her feeling even more famished and weak. "This is for you, it's a nutrient potion. It will help you get back on your feet faster." Sirius took the offered bottle as he sat down at the small table, looking at it curiously.
"Why are you doing all of this?" he asked, staring at the curly haired woman across from him. She had already helped herself to the soup and was eating neatly but with one arm resting loosely; almost protectively around the bowl while eating with the other, like someone might take her food before she was done.
"That is best left for after dinner." She said not looking up from her food, as she helped herself to the bread. "Drink that before you eat." She added with an emphasizing point of her spoon. "And I still need your Vow." Sirius swallowed down the potion and set upon his own food with less grace than his host had. They were quiet for a few minutes absorbed in their meal before Sirius broke the silence with an act of rebellion. He had been locked up for twelve years suffering in his worst memories and when he managed to crawl out of said memories, it was to find he had no control over anything that happened around him. He wasn't about to step blindly into another situation where he was trapped in with no say on what he could and could not do.
"What if I refuse to make a Vow, what then?" Black barked out bitterly, "Will you toss me out for the Aurors or lock me up?"
"Neither," Hermione said pausing in her eating and putting her full attention on the man. "If you truly wish to not take the Vow, then I will tell you the bare minimum and I would still ask of you to tell me what you can about the war with Voldemort. You may continue staying here if that is what you wish but there are some ground rules though." She said earning a quizzical look from the Dog, "Of course as I said, don't go out unless it's in your dog form, at least until we get you some sort of disguise. Don't go all crazy-homicidal-escaped-prisoner on me and try to kill me in my sleep." She said sternly before giving him a small teasing smile. "Apart from that, there will be no barking from 10pm to 4am and you better be house broke. I got enough metaphorical crap to deal with I'm not dealing with yours as well." Sirius could not contain the small chuckle that escaped him nor did he want to, it had been so long since anything had happened that made him want to smile.
She continued going back to her meal after letting him have his moment, "Regardless of your help, I am going after Wormtail, if you would like the chance to clear your name then I suggest you work with me, because you won't get far without help. I guarantee you'll be dead within a year."
The rest of the meal continued in contemplative silence. Sirius had just mopped up the last of the soup out of the pot with the last piece of bread when the Witch stood. With a wave of her hand, the dishes went about removing themselves to the sink, where they began to wash themselves.
"You don't need to decide now, but I would ask that you not take too long, Peter will return to the country by the end of the month and we need to have a plan ready by then."
She said, walking to the kitchen doorway, "There is a spare bedroom upstairs on the left with some of my father's old clothes. You're welcome to both."
She left him there in the kitchen, heading down the hall and to the only door on the right. Seating herself behind the desk in her study, she picked up the last book she had been reading. Pen and notebook out for jotting down quick notes as she immersed herself in yet another book recovered from Dumbledore's office. She had taken them all when she and Snape had broken into the school-her to gather what she could from Dumbledore's office and him to salvage any potion and ingredients from his lab. It had been a hope that the headmaster might have left some clue or hint in his memories and books to point them in the right direction but so far she had found nothing prominent to go on.
It wasn't till the next morning after a peaceful night sleep, that he decided what he was going to do. When Sirius woke, he found a breakfast of eggs and fruit along with another potion already waiting for him at the table. After eating his fill, he began to look for his host. Heading back upstairs, he checked the room across from his. The door was slightly ajar and the bed empty, as the owner had gone and linens kicked on the floor to one side.
Taking the opportunity to snoop, Sirius poked around the room finding little of interest. There was little to personalize the room save a few picture frames stacked on a Hogwarts trunk. The photos were still, Muggle obviously, depicting a family of three at different settings. One at a beach, another a park, and a third a what must have been some kind of sporting event but the Wizard had no idea what. All of them depicted a man or a woman with a curly haired child who could only be a much younger Emma. In the park scene, she appeared to be two or so with arms wrapped around a large stuffed toy seated in her father's lap. The second she was older, maybe seven or eight. She and her mother had apparently buried her sleeping father in sand and where making silly faces at the camera. The last one looked as if she was ten or so; face painted the same color as the jersey she was wearing, her father sporting the same look while the pair seemed to be caught mid cheer at something out of view. Her mother was to one side looking at them both amused and exasperated.
Setting the pictures back on the trunk after an attempt to open it led to him finding it spell shut. It did however offer up and interesting bit of information in the form of a name plate on the trunk declaring it was the property of one 'H. J. Granger'.
Leaving the room, Sirius looked around the ground floor and found a room that looked prepped for someone intending to come in at some point severely injured. He left the infirmary room and checked another door and found it locked. There was an attempt at a wand-less Unlocking Charm but Sirius had admitted defeat after the third try; he simply was not skilled enough in magic without his wand.
There was also another staircase heading lower next to the one leading upstairs. He decided to check out the rest of the ground floor first before heading lower. Heading back toward the kitchen, Sirius found another short entry hall across from the kitchen that led to the front door and another door on the right leading to the living room he had glimpsed the night before. He could now see it was divided up into two sections- a dining room area that was made up by a single large wood table, pushed to one side out of the way near the doorway leading toward the backdoor and a boarded up fireplace across from it. On the other side was the actual living room area- a comfortable couch pushed against a wall under windows that looked out into the front yard. A coffee table sat in front of the couch, a single plush armchair to one side.
Finding nothing else of interest, Sirius backtracked to the stairway heading down and found himself in a hallway with two doors on the left and one on the right. The first door on the left turned out to be a small, well stocked but unused potions lab. The next door, found him gripping his hand as the wards shocked him the moment he got close to the handle. He left the door, curiosity peaked but not wanting to incur further injury.
Heading for the door on the right, he found himself in a spacious room. Next to the door was a counter with a sink and a small cabinet underneath, that looked to have a cooling charm on it as the glass front was fogged over. Next to that was a wall rack full of towels. Along the far wall was a multitude of targets set up and a hanging sand bag. In one corner was a pile of a few practice dummies that looked fairly new. Along the opposite wall hanging in brackets mounted on the wall, was an arsenal of Muggle weapons-most of which was made up of knives in different sizes. Further down the wall, set apart from the rest, was a massive unstrung long bow. Below that was a smaller unstrung bow that was curled in on itself in the shape of a C.
Movement caught Sirius's attention and there he saw her at one end of the room. Dressed in loose black pants and a tank top, her hair tied out of the way but still, curls managed to get loose and stick to her sweaty forehead. She was moving through some form of exercises, though to him it looked more like a slow dance. She moved gracefully, her body flowing from one move to the next. Her bare feet made no noise as they shifted position on the floor. He stood there transfixed for a few minutes watching her lean frame bend and stretch in an almost provocative manner, like some exotic dancer. Only then did he notice them-overlaying almost all of the visible portions of sun darkened skin was the pale visage of scars.
"Can I help you with something?" The voice of Emma sounded, causing Sirius to jump slightly and focus on her face, as she gave him a look that said she knew just how long he had been there gawking and was annoyed by the disruption.
"I-ah," The Dog started before silently cursing himself at his lack of coherent words. Clearing his throat he tried again, "I came to tell you that I agree to make the Unbreakable Vow," still watching her move but this time with more caution now that he was aware she knew he was there.
"Okay, we can do it as soon as I'm done here." she said turning her full focus back on her routine.
"Okay," he choked out as her top slid up some, showing off her scarred and toned belly as she moved into more difficult forms requiring a great deal of flexibility. Sirius could not help but wonder if she really could bend that way or if she was using some magic to help, his thoughts cut off sharply as something struck him right between the eyes.
"Son of a-" he yelled clutching at the bridge of his nose, eyes watering as Emma summoned the tennis ball back to her hand and tossed it in the bin it had come from.
"My face!" Sirius wailed in astonishment.
"Uh-huh," Emma agreed going to cool off her face in the sink.
"You hit me!" He accused.
"Yep," she agreed grabbing a towel to dry of and drape over her shoulders.
"You hit me in the face!" He snapped, lowering his hands gingerly, a red mark growing where the ball had struck.
"You were beginning to drool. It was getting more gross than flattering at this point." she said scathingly grabbing a water bottle out of the cool cabinet before exiting the room. "Come on, let's get this over with." Sirius scowled but followed all the same.
Heading back upstairs, the pair entered her study, Sirius taking the opportunity to look around while she dropped the towel on the desktop and pulled her wand out of a drawer. Facing Sirius she extended a hand and the pair gripped forearms, the Vow was made and sealed with magic before they sat down. Hermione behind her desk and Sirius opposite in a chair she had conjured just for him.
She told him her story- of who she was, that she had been ship wrecked at thirteen and did not make it back till she was seventeen. The explanation was short and lacking much, Sirius could tell there was a lot there that went unsaid but would not pry yet. Then came the hard part as she told him of the future that had been her reality; Voldemort's second rise to power, the Death Eater raids, the fall of Hogwarts and the sentient building's final rebellion. The school getting overrun by Acromantulas before it sealed itself for good.
"There were so many deaths, very few of the Order were left alive by the time I got there. I fought in a few skirmishes but it was a losing fight, as there were too few left to stand for the light and with our leader and Harry dead, there was nothing to hold it together. So I came up with a plan to change everything with the help of Professor Snape-" Sirius's barking, unbelieving laughter interrupted her.
"Snivellus," Sirius scoffed. He was having a hard time believing a great deal of what he was being told but she had to really be bullshitting him now. "You're saying Snivellus helped you? A Muggleborn fight back at Voldemort. The bastard is a Death Eater, for Merlin's sake!"
"He may have been at one time but he has been on the side of light for far longer than he was with the Dark Lord. He's far better at his job than you give him credit for. He was spying for the Order even back in the first war and even when he could have abandoned our side when it was obvious there was no winning for us. He still did what he could to warn us of raids." She lectured with a modicum of patience.
Sirius scoffed at the young woman, "Once a Death Eater, always a Death Eater."
"I would not be so quick to sneer, Black." Hermione snapped her voice dropping dangerously low. "After all it was Snape, who pointed out that your death was a point that needed changing. It is thanks to him that I am even here to offer you any aid at all. Show some respect for those who died for me to have this opportunity." Sirius paled slightly at the response. He opened his mouth to make another remark, but thought better.
Seeing he wasn't going to provide any more character assessments, she got back to her tale. "Now where was I? Oh, yes, so with the help of Professor Snape, I was able to break into the Ministry and steal a Time-Turner. Combining that with the Veil kept in the Department of Mysteries, I was able to come back in time to hopefully stop it all from happening again." There was a long silence as Sirius took in all the information she had laid out for him.
"So what do we need to do first?"
"I've already taken care of my younger self, she is safe and out of harm's way. As far as what you can help with: first off don't get killed by Dementors." Sirius shuddered at the thought.
"I think I can do that."
Hermione nodded before continuing, "Second, I need you to tell me everything you can about Peter and what happened in the First War. There was only a handful of the original Order left alive by the time I arrived, so my knowledge is limited."
"I don't know how much help I'll be, but I will do what I can, for Harry and for Remus. If what you say is true, then the lives of my best friend and godson are on the line," Sirius said, a small spark of his old fire igniting in his eye.
"Well then, welcome on board, Mr. Black." Hermione said with a pleased smile.
Next Chapter 5: What If I Just Try Not To Remember-Hermione's darkest memory of the Island, Older Hermione introduces Black to the Muggle version of Diagon Alley and finally meets Harry for the first time in five years
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