The summer had begun in a macabre and sullen fashion. All those who had been involved in the terrible occurrence at the Ministry of Magic, were - to say the least - somewhat dazed and still reeling from the events. Hermione and Ron had spent little more than a week at the Burrow when they were informed that they would be spending the rest of the summer at Grimmauld Place. They were excited and apprehensive at the same time. Although it would be exciting to see the rest of the Order again, they were anxious about seeing Harry after all that had happened. Ron had warmed to Sirius just as much as Hermione had, and it was heart-rending to have lost him. At least they knew they both had their parents to turn to, but not Harry. Not Harry, who had lost so much last year. They didn’t know how he was going to be, but they were going to be there for him, as always, no matter what.
They quickly wrote letters of encouragement to Harry about meeting up at Grimmauld Place. Neither of them could see Harry turning such an offer down...but they were worried nonetheless. They sent their messages by Owl, knowing Harry would have them relatively quickly. Of course, they never mentioned where or when, just in case the owls were intercepted.
When they went to pick up Harry, there was an air of excitement in the Weasley family. Of course, every now and then Molly would say Harry’s name and go glassy eyed, mumbling “that poor, poor boy.” She hadn’t always seen eye to eye with Sirius really, but she never wanted anything to happen to the brash young man. He may have been impatient and eager to go, but Molly couldn’t help but to look at her own sons, even Percy, and think of what may happen to them. At that, she would leave the group and compose herself until ready to converse again, which usually took about five minutes.
They had managed to get some Muggle transportation via the Ministry this year. They had been much more accepting of things to do with Harry than they had last year. It was a squeeze but they all managed to fit in, and dropping by Privet Drive had been relatively easy. More than it should have been, considering there were at least two members of the Order per car. Everybody had wanted in on Tonks’ car and was less than eager to get in the car with Mad-Eye Moody. He was wearing that strange bowler hat that made him bizarrely respectable and outcast at the same time.
They found Harry at the end of Privet Drive. His aunt and uncle did not want to draw attention to the fact that Harry was leaving or who may be picking him up. Everyone was relieved to see him, of course, and Molly could not control the hugs she gave Harry when she first saw him. Harry went pink with the attention but didn’t withdraw from it; as much as he disliked being coddled, he loved it at the same time. Harry looked from car to car hoping to see Professor Lupin, but he wasn’t there, so he got into the nearest car.
The next surprise was that they took a Portkey from the cars to Grimmauld Place. Hermione started to ask what was happening, but was shushed by Arthur Weasley who explained with a knowing smile, that their luggage would be coming after them. They all Portkeyed into Grimmauld Place and found themselves in the basement. It had never been nice down there but it had been cleaned and thoroughly disinfected, much to everyone’s approval.
Hermione had noticed immediately that Harry had put on his brave face. She wanted to reach over and give him a small touch or reassurance but she was frightened that it would be too much for him. She followed as they all piled into the kitchen, where Molly stood for a moment, looking at Harry before breaking from her reverie and putting the kettle on the stove. It was uncomfortable for a few moments because no one looked at Harry, but wanted to all the same.
It was not lost on Harry who commented quietly, “I think Sirius would have liked the colour in here.”
Tonks beamed with pride at this point and informed Harry, “Yeah, me and Remus did in here, and Molly did most of the rest of the house.”
Molly glowed red and said, “Yes, well I had help too, mostly from Remus and Alastor.” She seemed pleased though, to be acknowledged for all her hard work. Harry smiled at her and she momentarily couldn’t speak; when she found her voice she said, “Tea, anyone?” Everyone nodded.
Hermione couldn’t help noticing that there were a few people missing from the house. She knew that they were most likely on Order business, but she still couldn’t account for some of the disappearances, for instance, where was Kreacher? She was a tiny bit worried about what had happened to him, although she knew that he had been the ultimate traitor. In addition, there had been two Order meetings in the last three days and yet there had been no Dumbledore, no Snape, no Lupin, and no McGonagall either. Hermione, being a smart witch, could see that at least two of these people were crucial to the meetings.
The next morning Hermione took it upon herself to ask Tonks, who was dozing over a cup of coffee, where everyone was, including Kreacher. “Tonks, would you mind if I asked you something; I have been wondering what happened to Kreacher? “ Tonks winced at the mention of Kreacher and looked as though she were about to speak when a dark figure loomed over them both. Snape stood above them holding his own tea; Hermione couldn’t help thinking a giant vampire bat had landed.
Snape sneered and looked down at them, “I would have thought it was obvious what had happened to that loathsome creature, Miss Granger. He will not be revealing the secrets of the Order anymore.” Hermione looked shocked, but a tiny part of her brain had already accepted that this might be the case. A larger part of her brain was horrified too, because that made someone a murderer.
Snape saw the dawning understanding in her eyes and felt a small amount of pity for her, but that was quickly washed aside with anger. “That foul little beast led to the direct death of one of the Order. Its imminent demise was the best it could have hoped for. I, for one, am glad it is no longer roaming these halls; its betrayal was the worst kind. Though I am sure Sirius would have understood what betrayal is all about.”
Hermione’s eyes widened at what Professor Snape had just said, and apparently so did Tonks, because he stopped sneering and stalked out of the kitchen. How could he talk about Sirius like that? Hermione shook her head; it was too hard to imagine Snape caring for anyone, but she thought at least he could be civil about Sirius now he was dead; apparently not. Tonks seemed to feel the same, as she was shaking her head in disbelief at him.
Hermione temporarily forgot that she had wanted to ask about Dumbledore and the others. Snape had thrown her a little and she hadn’t wasted any time in telling Harry what he said. Harry took it quite well, with a small shrug of his shoulders, as though it were no great surprise that Snape had badmouthed Sirius. Hermione was glad that Harry had taken it well, though there seemed to be a small amount of worry around his eyes for a little while.
It was some days later that Hermione noticed that Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Lupin still hadn’t been to Headquarters. It seemed especially strange as the others, like Tonks, kept hinting that they would be through the door any time soon. This didn’t keep Hermione from worrying about them. Even without the others saying anything, she knew from the quiet whispers and the stopped conversations whenever she, Harry or Ron were in the room, that something was amiss. She just hoped that it wasn’t anything serious.
Hermione had noted that Snape had been hanging around a lot more than he normally would have. He spent his time between the kitchen and the living room skulking and sneering at all those who entered. It bothered her, Ron and Harry so much that they were nearly always in the room that he wasn’t in. Snape seemed to be grateful of this fact and mostly left them alone. It didn’t stop them wondering what on earth Snape was doing there.
It wasn’t until they had been there for ten days that they heard Dumbledore and McGonagall in the middle of the night. They had, of course, been chatting into the night and had subsequently heard them downstairs. Hermione had opened her bedroom door and she and Ginny were listening to the row downstairs, Professor McGonagall seemed to be hysterical and was shouting loudly.
Hermione could not resist knowing what was going on and left her bedroom, ignoring Ginny’s low warning, “Don’t be stupid, Hermione, you're going to get caught.” Ginny remained where she was, although she kept hissing cautionary things at Hermione’s retreating back every now and then, clearly concerned for her friend.
Hermione made her way down the stairs and at some point became aware that she was still wearing her pyjamas; she felt underdressed and vulnerable, but she still was too curious to turn back. She realised as she crept down the stairs that she hadn't even thought to bring her wand; now she really did feel vulnerable. She reached the bottom of the stairs and made her way to the kitchen where most of the fuss seemed to be coming from; she opened the door and nearly screamed. There was a horrific scene before her, on the table was Professor Lupin, bleeding heavily from wounds on his chest. Around him were Professors McGonagall, Dumbledore, Snape, and Mr. Weasley, who were trying to help him. Lupin was pale beyond white and his eyes had rolled back into his head.
A/N: Another revision (12/09/05), Thank you too beta's hells456 & o0o_MoonyGirl_o0o for helping me go through it.