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Chapter 6 : Remus' Request
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Chapter Six: Moving On
“I have no right to ask it, Hermione…”
“You have the right to ask anything, Remus,” she cut him off. “If it weren’t for you-"
Remus raised a hand to keep her from continuing. “The Ministry has made Draco an offer. It’s for a temporary position in Bulgaria just for a few weeks. He’d be back by Christmas.”
Hermione nodded. She had known when Remus pulled her aside that whatever he wanted to discuss was serious. Sirius had been back just three days and everyone’s life had turned upside down. Remus wouldn’t go near him…wouldn’t stay in the same room alone with him. Tonks was acting as if her best friend was back for a visit and Draco couldn’t seem to leave Grimmauld for more than an hour at a time. Draco’s presence was wearing on Sirius who, Hermione knew, was trying his best to be cordial for her benefit. Draco’s constant being, though, prevented any of them from discussing the things they so dearly needed to work through. She hadn’t even had time to talk to Sirius privately about how Draco had changed. She sighed. “You want me to convince him to take it.”
“I know it’s unfair, well, with you and he—" Remus dropped his voice. “I just want this to be easier for Sirius. And Draco is making…”
“Things difficult on all of us, I know,” Hermione sighed. “He doesn’t mean to. He just knows a different Sirius than we do. He’s so worried about Juliette he can’t think straight sometimes.”
“I think if Sirius just has time to adjust he can handle dealing with Draco,” he offered. “Sirius is just set in his ways.”
“So are you,” she returned softly, not meeting his gaze. “You don’t have to say it. I know you don’t approve.”
“Well, I’ve never known you to care too much about approval, Hermione.” Remus touched her hand softly. “Sirius is better at forgiveness than I am, though. He’s forgiven me for far worse things than Draco’s ever done.”
She nodded, glancing away from him. His hand tightened in hers, though, and she dropped her eyes.
“What is it, Hermione?”
“It’s just…” Hermione tried to find the words she was looking for. “He’s been through so much and has had such a difficult time. I’ve been through nothing like what he has and yet he is able to keep this air about him…this belief that people are still good and the world is a place filled with possibilities.”
Remus leaned away from her, his eyes narrowing. “You’ve been through your share of pain, Hermione,” he murmured. “Everyone deals with it in different ways.”
“Don’t lecture me.”
“Don’t be difficult then,” he returned. “I’m not stupid, I know you are talking about Sirius and not Draco no matter how you disguise it.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“You can’t seek answers from Sirius, Hermione. Even he will tell you that,” he said softly. “You have to find them yourself.”
Hermione choked. “I can’t, Remus. I don’t even know where to start.”
“Making her cry again, are you?” Sirius’ voice made the two jump apart. “You do have a way with the ladies, Remus, have I ever told you that?”
Sirius sank onto the couch beside Hermione, slipping his arm around her shoulders. “Juliette is fast asleep minus one of Remus’ horrible bedtime stories about princes,” he sent an amused gaze his direction. “Dragons are much more to her liking anyway.”
“I’ll just go say goodnight and then be on my way,” Remus nodded. “Hermione-"
“I’ll take care of it, Remus, I promise. Give Tonks my best.” Hermione nodded, avoiding Sirius’ gaze. They watched Remus go and she could feel Sirius shift beside her. “Is something wrong?”
“Just wondering how long it will be before people stop whispering about me behind closed doors,” he shrugged. “Although I suppose I should be used to that by now.”
“Remus is still avoiding you?” she asked sympathetically.
“Like the plague,” he nodded but cut off any further conversation about it. “What about you? Are you better tonight?”
“I don’t know what you mean.” Hermione could feel his eyes on her but she couldn’t fathom what he was talking about. Had he heard their conversation?
“I heard you last night, Hermione,” he said softly. “You were having nightmares that seemed endless.”
Hermione blanched. It was true…she’d been having nightmares for years but had managed to keep them hidden from everyone. It was one of the reasons she refused to let Draco stay through the night with her…she didn’t want to have to explain them to him. “I-I don’t know what you mean.”
Sirius neither laughed nor smiled just sat patiently, his voice coaxing. “Do you have them often?”
“Too often,” she whispered grudgingly. “They never seem to go away.”
“Then I suppose talking about them would just make them that more worse,” he replied and squeezed her shoulder. “You should get to bed. I believe we promised Juliette a day of Christmas decorating tomorrow and with your refusal to use a wand it might be a very very long day.”
Hermione breathed a sigh of relief. She should’ve known better than to think Sirius would push her into anything. He had so many secrets of his own that he would be the last person to attempt to drag something out of her. She shuffled slightly in his arms, the weight of his muscles digging into her shoulders. It reminded her a bit of Harry…he had always been so much more muscular than Ron that she felt like a doll when he held her close. Her own thoughts made her stomach turn.
“Hermione, are you all right?” Sirius shook her slightly as if he somehow knew she had gone to another place. His eyes were filled with concern, their pale color shaded to a much darker gray.
“I’ll be fine,” she whispered. “I’m glad you’re here, Sirius, do you know that?”
He nodded distractedly, his mind still on whatever had suddenly made her so uncomfortable. It could only be Harry…he had to be reminding her of Harry somehow. He cursed himself for being so careless. “Have a good night, Hermione.”
Long after Hermione had gone to bed, Sirius sat alone in the darkness, sipping the firewhiskey Remus had left on the table. He didn’t know how to get through to Remus…he supposed he would just have to beat some common sense into him. The thought made him smile. And, as for Draco, he’d prefer him to just disappear all together. He was just pondering ways at how to make that happen when he realized how late it had gotten. Slipping up the stairs, he paused at Hermione’s door. He could hear nothing, though, so he stepped inside and shut the door behind him. He circled her bed, her fitful dreams causing her to toss and turn. He waited quietly, hoping she would say something, anything, to give him some idea as to what might be disturbing her so much that it filtered into her dreams. If bothered him to think his presence might have brought the dreams on and he reminded himself to ask Draco or Remus about it in the morning.
He could hear her suck in a breath and her body go rigid. He dropped to sit beside her, letting his hand slide through her long hair. “Go back to sleep, it’s only me.”
“Sirius?” she asked groggily, the fear in her eyes slowly washing away and her breathing returning to normal.
He kissed her lightly on the forehead then moved to sit in the chair opposite her. He could feel her eyes watching him closely, as if she was memorizing each step he took. He sank down and propped his feet up, lighting a cigarette as he watched her try and rearrange herself in bed. Something told him she knew he could come…she had chosen to dress in flannel pajamas rather than her normal silk slip. That she was able to predict him made him uneasy and comfortable at the same time.
“Are you drunk?”
“Go back to sleep,” he growled at her without meaning to.
“You have them too, don’t you?” she asked quietly. “Nightmares of the past?”
“Of course I do. We all do.”
“Do they ever get better?” she asked quietly, refusing to look at him as if he might be able to see her through the darkness.
“No.” He stood up and moved to her side. “I could lie to you if you want but it seems you get enough babysitting around here.”
Hermione nodded, reaching out to take his hand and pull him to sit beside her. “Can I ask you something, Sirius?” She could feel him waiting expectantly but he didn’t respond. “When James and Lily died, it took a part of you with them, didn’t it? How did you ever get that back?”
“I didn’t,” he answered smoothly, willing his voice to remain steady when she so obviously needed help. “I moved on. There’s a difference. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them and what I caused.”
“Caused?” Hermione sat up. “Sirius-"
Even under the cover of darkness, she could see the tears he was fighting off. It was more emotion than she had ever seen in anyone other than Harry and the connection made her immediately melt. Remus had often described Sirius as a little boy that never grew up and, for the first time, Hermione could sense the weak, childlike view with which Sirius saw himself. She knew with anyone else, anything else, he was the stable, tender man Harry had looked up to. But, James and Lily were apparently something else entirely. She reached up to stroke his face, the slight stubble causing a gentle raking sound to echo in the darkness. He took her hand in his, though, his momentary bout of memories seemingly over.
“Get some sleep, Hermione,” he repeated, his throat constricting as if he’d swallowed cotton.
“You won’t leave?”
As if in answer, Sirius leaned back against the headboard, pulling her to lie on his chest. He rubbed her hair slowly as if to put her to sleep and she felt his lips touch the top of her head gingerly as she began to drift off. Whether she was making him feel better or he was comforting her, she couldn’t tell.
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