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Chapter 35 : Chance for Goodbye
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Chapter Thirty-Five: Chance for Goodbye
“Mum?” Juliette shook harder. She had never seen her mother this hard to wake up. She stared at her quizzically before the realization dawned on her. Her mother was under a spell. She crossed her fingers, closed her eyes and then, with a deep breath, touched the tip of her wand to Hermione’s head.
Hermione’s eyes opened immediately and she turned a sleepy eye toward her daughter. “Juliette?”
“I swear, mum, I wasn’t doing magic. Well, I was but you wouldn’t wake up and--”
Hermione frowned…she hadn’t been unable to wake up in years. Yes, it had been a heck of a long night but still, when her daughter called she always jerked wide awake. Her eyes narrowed. Surely Sirius hadn’t put a spell on her? She glanced around the room as she struggled to sit up. Had last night even happened?
A tin of pumpkin pasties scattered across the bedroom floor was her answer.
“Honey, have you eaten? Where’s Sirius?”
Juliette crawled under the covers to sit next to Hermione. “He and Remus are still sleeping.”
“I guess he came in the middle of the night,” Juliette shrugged then giggled. “I think they’ve been drinking.”
Of course, Hermione thought. Was there ever a time Remus didn’t appear to ease Sirius’ tortured soul? She bit her lip. Yes, there was once. Once, but only once, Sirius had run to her.
“Mum, are you okay?”
Hermione wiped the struggling look off her face and smiled. “Of course. Would you like to eat breakfast in bed with me today?”
“Really? I could go get toast and eggs and--”
“Actually,” Hermione touched Juliette to keep her from moving. “How about this?”
Taking Juliette’s wand, she touched the bed and two breakfast trays appeared. Juice, eggs and slightly burned toast. Hermione frowned at the toast but the giggling of happiness Juliette was trying to withhold made her melt.
“Guess I’m a bit out of practice.”
“It’s okay, Mum,” Juliette waved her hand over the toast. “See? I can remind you of everything you need to know.”
“Yes, darling, I suppose you can.”
They were quiet as they ate, Hermione watching closely as Juliette seemed to take everything in stride. She could already see so much of Sirius in her. Her easy going manner, her automatic acceptance of everyone and everything—she knew no one but Sirius that could have instilled those traits in her. Even if Sirius did leave them, she knew he had already left his legacy behind.
“Is Sirius why you decided to do magic again?”
Hermione hesitated. “Sort of, why?”
“Well,” she dropped her eyes and Hermione tickled her to get her attention. “I guess I just thought he’d be happy ‘cause he’s wanted you better for so long.”
“You know how some memories are sad ones?”
“Sure,” she mumbled through a mouthful of crumbly toast.
“I think that perhaps Sirius is remembering things that make him sad right now.”
“Like you were.”
Caught off guard by Juliette’s perception, she nodded slowly. “Yes, I guess I have been sad for awhile.”
“If he fixed you then you can fix him, right?”
Juliette’s trusting smile made Hermione’s heart break and she pulled her into a tight hug. “Oh, honey, I wish I knew how.”
“Remus,” Hermione whispered, touching his leg gently. “I’ve brought coffee.”
He struggled to sitting, running a hand through his disheveled hair. He offered her a tiny nod of thanks as he took the cup from her.
Whatever they had been through while she slept had taken its toll on both of them. They both looked like hell. Remus’ face was haggard, tinged to near gray and even from across the room, she could see the knots in Sirius’ hair where he must have been running his fingers through it to alleviate stress the night before. She turned her attention back to Remus who was tipping his cup precariously toward his lips.
“Are you all right?” she asked softly, sinking down beside him.
He glanced to Sirius who was still stretched out on the opposite couch sound asleep. “I’ve endured worse.” Slightly embarrassed, Remus nodded and bent his head to sip the bitter coffee, his hair falling forward over his face and covering the slight flush on his cheeks.
His robes were carelessly fastened, and Hermione thought he could glimpse Muggle clothing underneath. Hermione’s eyes darted to Sirius.
“And him?” She tried to keep her voice steady but Remus wasn’t falling for it.
“Hermione, for years, you have been like family to me.”
He wasn’t looking at her. He was staring into his cup, his eyes transfixed. His voice was a monotone that caused her heart to stop. “Remus, please.”
“I know you haven’t meant for any of this to happen. I know you are just as much a victim or circumstance as he is...” Despite his appearance, Remus expression was oddly evasive. Not what she was accustomed to in their years of muddled friendship.
He hated her. He blamed it all on her, she could feel it. It didn’t matter what he knew and what he was just guessing at—Remus sensed she had somehow wronged Sirius. And if Sirius’ memories had taught her anything, it was that no one deserved forgiveness for doing wrong to a Marauder. Her voice cracked as she spoke. “But?”
“But,” he just shook his head, and kept his eyes focused on his cup. After a moment, he turned the cup in his hands and took a long sip of it before continuing. “He is my brother and I will never forgive you if--”
“Don’t,” Sirius’ groggy voice cut into their whispering. Although a haze was still obvious by his slow movements, his eyes were blazing. “Don’t put more on her shoulders than that which she deserves. My mistakes are my own.”
Hermione watched the silent conversation between them wishing that just once, she could understand how they managed to say so much with so little.
Remus inhaled deeply, a slight frown on his face as he studied Hermione. He wanted to say something else to stress his point, but all that came out was “I’m going to check on Juliette.” His voice was vacant as brought the cup to his lips and downed it one go. He set it back on the table and, without a glance to either of them, disappeared.
Hermione chanced a look at Sirius and, for the first time, felt as if she had been transported back a dozen years. She felt childish and as if Professor McGonagall would appear at any moment to remind her she was still just a kid and adults would handle the big problems. She shifted uncomfortably on the sofa, her heart dropping to her toes as if she’d just lost 100 rubies for the Hogwarts house cup competition. She had been so happy this morning—doing magic, playing with Juliette. And the night before, no matter how heartwrenching—to lie in Sirius’ arm and know, truly know, that he expected nothing other than her to be her. Feeling, just for a moment, the brief chance at freedom that a life with Sirius could possibly offer. And now she was trying her damnedest to keep the tears from falling…this wasn’t her life to have and she knew it.
“I think,” Sirius murmured without sitting up, “that perhaps Remus and I had a bit too much to drink last night. Please accept my apology for both of us.”
Months ago, his formality would have caught her off-guard. She would’ve felt like he was angry or reprimanding her like a child. But now she knew better- he had never considered her a child. His formality was his defenses going up...an automatic slip back into his upbringing when he could find no solutions.
“He loves you, I think,” she offered quietly, still not looking his way.
“Yes, I suppose he does.”
He was unmoving except for the slight turn of his eyes her direction. His eyes were on her, concerned, and she couldn’t help but feel guilty for it.
“He’s afraid you’ll get hurt.”
“You should go back to bed, Hermione. You had one hell of a night.”
He didn’t want to deal with her right now, she could tell from the way he was trying to dismiss her. It wasn’t that he didn’t care or was angry – he just needed time to collect himself. But she was so damn tired of him being calm and collected and in control of every situation that ever arisen.
“And you didn’t?” she countered softly.
He nodded, his head dropping back against the couch, his eyes slowly closing to break their gaze. His hand slipped through his tangled hair as he tried to will the leftover alcohol from his foggy brain. He knew she needed him right now but he couldn’t seem to garner the strength to want to be there for her. Wasn’t this what he always did? Run when everything just got to be too fucking hard?
He glanced her way, the forming tears catching him off guard. How the hell was he supposed to walk away if she started crying? And even before she had the words out, he knew what she was going to ask. And he hated her for it.
“Damn you, Hermione.”
She moved across to him, her tiny fisted hands barely grazing his chest. Her tears dropped onto his shirt, her eyes barely able to focus through her sudden emotions. Her voice was a whisper, “am I a mistake?”
This is what he did…telling people what would hurt them most to drive them further away. But it never seemed to work with her. If he lied, she always saw right through him and forgave him for it. And no matter how brutal the answer, if he told her the truth it only seemed to draw her closer.
He didn’t want to have this conversation. He didn’t want to be telling her goodbye even if Remus had given him the perfect opportunity to. He didn’t want to think that this might be the last time he’d hold her as his own. But a small voice in the back of his mind was quietly nagging at him…she wasn’t his. She never had been.
“Yes,” he murmured finally, watching her tears come in torrents. His hand reached to touch the strands of hair that had fallen loose around her face. He moved them away gently and tilted her face to his. “But I still wouldn’t change a thing.”
Hermione nodded, crawling to curl up on his chest the way she’d seen Juliette do so many times. She dropped her head into his chest, letting her tears fall freely. His arms wrapped tightly around her, his willingness to still hold her making her sob even harder.
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