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Chapter 38 : Echoes of Fate
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Chapter Thirty- Eight: Echoes of Fate
Hermione grimaced as her eyes met Sirius’ through the doorway. Somehow, she had forgotten he rarely slept…of course he would already be in the kitchen. His eyes met hers only briefly though, then returned to the newspaper lying open across the table.
She moved slowly, her hand jumping from table to chairs to counters as nonchalantly as possible as she made her path to the sink. Sirius was too observant for his own good, though, and she could feel his eyes following her precarious balancing act. She tried to fill the glass but it slipped out of her hand, bouncing into the kitchen sink. The noise caused her head to pound and she teetered near falling before Sirius’ strong arm wrapped around her waist and pushed her into the nearest chair.
“Sit down before you fall,” he ordered then handed her a glass of water. He sank down opposite her, taking the newspaper in his hands without looking her way. “Another hang over from a drunken encounter with the husband to be?”
“Go to hell, Sirius.”
“Been there, thanks,” he replied easily. “Not feeling well this morning?”
“I feel fine. Just a tad too much activity for me last night,” she retorted icily. “Draco is a very accomplished lover, you know. Unlike you, he tends to listen to what I want instead of just doing whatever he pleases.”
Sirius’ eyes narrowed and he dropped the paper onto the table. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Then what would possibly give you the indication that I give a shit about your bedroom escapades with Draco?”
Hermione’s anger flared, his calm demeanor infuriating her even more. Even if she had planned on telling him about the baby right now she was too livid to think straight. How could he be so calm when everything had suddenly gone so wrong? “Thought you might enjoy knowing at least someone in the house was getting lucky.”
“You consider bedding Draco lucky? More like a nightmare come to life.” He pushed away from the table, unable to sit still any longer. If she wanted to be angry and throw things in his face, fine. But he refused to sit around and listen to tales of her and Draco when it had taken all of his patience not to strangle them both as they slept. Knowing they were together a few doors down the hall, knowing Draco’s arms holding the curves he himself had memorized ages ago filled him with a jealous rage.
The only thing that had curbed his fury was knowing that the two weren’t having sex. He knew her too well—knew her moves after sex, her scent, her attitude, her insatiable hunger that sent her immediately to the kitchen for food—he hated to admit that he had been watching for those things— but he had and there was not a single telltale sign that she had ever moved to a more intimate relationship with Draco since the night she asked about his scars. He knew they were merely sharing a room and nothing more and that she was trying to twist it to her own advantage just to hurt him made his blood boil. Yes, he had purposefully driven them together and knew intimacy would eventually follow. It’s what he wanted, wasn’t it? Draco to stop being an ass and learn to really listen to Hermione so he could make her happy?
His stomach turned and his face flushed angrily. No, it was what he needed not necessarily what he wanted. He cursed himself for his mixed emotions…he needed her with Draco, he wanted her for himself.
That she had now been with Draco caused his blood to boil. He wanted to both run and fight at the same time.
“Where are you going?”
“Away from you,” he spat. “Fall and crack your head open on the stone floor, for all I care. Maybe you’ll be lucky and your precious Draco will actually show up to catch you this time.”
Hermione winced. She hadn’t meant it to go like this. She didn’t want him to hate her. Why couldn’t she ever seem to remember how easy it was to hurt Sirius? Everything bounced off Draco but Sirius was different-- every tiny word she muttered, every sideways glance she gave-- they all pierced through him as if she’d broken his heart. It was the child in him that never grew up, the one that always sought acceptance and feared rejection.
“I’m marrying him, Sirius,” she whispered, causing him to turn. Although his face was stony, revealing no emotions, she could see the twitch in the muscles on his arms and the tightened grip of his fists.
“And you expect me to make a scene? My dear, you should know me a sight better than that.”
She nodded and let the glass slip to the table. “I wanted you to hear it from me. You deserve that.”
“I deserve nothing,” he mumbled, straightening himself to meet her gaze. “But I appreciate the courtesy.”
Hermione could feel her tears falling again but, unlike usual, Sirius made no attempt to come to her aid. “Sirius, please-"
“I wish you the best, Hermione,” he offered quietly, his voice cracking with emotion he was trying to hide. “Tell me you believe me.”
“I do,” she whispered, “I do believe you, Sirius.”
She moved to stand beside him, knowing her tears were weakening him with every step she took. She had no idea what she wanted or what she expected from him but it wasn’t this. She reached her hand to his chest but he caught it in mid-air, keeping her inches away from him.
“You know my soul better than anyone, Hermione,” he said quietly, his voice strong, his emotions now back under control. “Stop being so damn self-centered for a second and think. You need no words to understand what you’ve done to me. I can make it no simpler than that.”
“I’m sorry,” she sobbed, “I didn’t mean for this to happen. I swear, Sirius, please—"
“Don’t be sorry,” he kissed her forehead gently, pulling her into a brief embrace before pushing her away. He held her an arms length away, his eyes boring into hers. “He’s had enough hurt in his life, Hermione. Love him with everything you’ve got or don’t love him at all, understand?”
She nodded through her tears but didn’t reply and he shook her slightly, his eyes imploring as he held her gaze.
His words quiet, his tone near pleading, he softly ordered, “Love him like you love me.”
Sirius knocked heavily on the wooden door, keeping his fist against the weathered gray wood for balance. It opened a few moments later, causing him to stumble forward. He tried to straighten himself but failed miserably. “’lo, my little werewolf buddy.”
“Have you been drinking?” Remus asked, his eyebrows raised in amusement.
“Drunk, I believe. Belligerent even. Can’t say I’ve been this smashed since graduation, to tell the truth,” Sirius grinned widely as he nodded. “Thus, my need to be safely locked away from any impressionable children for fear of what might slip out of my mouth.”
“Leave it to you to use big words even when you’re drunk,” Tonks interrupted, peering over Remus’ shoulder.
“Can I come in or what?”
“We really don’t have the room, Sirius. Why don’t we go somewhere—"
“You have a couch, don’t you?” he asked, pushing slightly inward so that Remus was forced to catch him before he fell.
Tonks took hold of Sirius’ arm and led him to the thread bare couch, where he dropped with a heavy thud. “Geez, Remus, you act like I don’t know you’re poor. You’re poor, I’m filthy rich. Bloody lot of good the difference has done for either of us. I love you no matter what.”
Remus dropped into a chair opposite him, a grin lighting his face. “You are drunk.”
“Juliette showed up in my room and I didn’t think it wise for me to be in her presence at the moment.”
“Where are Hermione and Draco?” Tonks stopped, glancing worriedly from one to the other.
“Together,” Sirius waved absently into the air, “somewhere. Who knows where.”
“You left Juliette alone?” Tonks was already readying herself to leave but Sirius’ bellowing laugh made her pause.
“I’m drunk not absent minded. Of course, I didn’t leave her alone. Fleur is watching her. She brought over all the Weasley brats to keep Juliette company.”
Remus eyed him worriedly. Drunk or not, it wasn’t like Sirius to be so cutting in his remarks about anyone. Only when something had thrown him back into the mindset of being a Black would he ever utter such a thing.
“What’s happened, Sirius?”
“She’s impossible. The damned woman is impossible.” He shook his head more than was necessary. “She tells me she’s going out with Draco for the evening and wants me to watch Juliette. Aside from being relegated to the status of a babysitter, I merely asked her to take a wand. A wand!”
He was up and pacing the floor, causing Tonks to drop to the couch to get out of his way. “What person would go out with a Malfoy or a Black for that matter without having the sense enough to carry a wand?”
“She refused, I take it?”
“She went through the roof and started screaming at me. The girl has completely lost all sense of reason.”
“Or she loves him,” Tonks interjected.
Sirius’ eyes narrowed and a bottle of whiskey immediately popped into his hand. He continued to glare at Tonks over the bottle as he took a long swig.
“Okay, then,” Tonks offered a tiny wink to Remus. “Perhaps coffee? Or tea?”
Remus nodded, withholding the smile Tonks had inspired in him. It was wrong, after all, to be so amused at Sirius’ emotional turmoil.
“Sit down, Sirius.”
Although he hesitated, Sirius obeyed. “If you say ‘good dog’ I’m going to have to kick your ass.”
“Did you come here to fight or talk or whine like a pansy?”
The normal rise it would have caused didn’t happen and Remus sank back into his chair. He watched Sirius silently for a moment, letting his mind play through everything he’d been through with his friend. He knew that Sirius had come to him for help – to pick up pieces – but, unfortunately, Remus wasn’t quite sure what needed to be said. Unlike in years past, Sirius had been very private about his relationship with Hermione and that alone made things enormously different.
“She’ll break you heart, Sirius,” he said quietly, “if she hasn’t already.”
“Don’t compare her to everyone else,” he growled quietly.
“I’m not. I know you, I know how easy it is for someone to love you and I know how impossible it is for you to love them back.”
“Stop being so damn analytical about everything, will you? I didn’t come here for asinine theoretical bullshit, I came here to drink myself senseless without murdering anyone. I thought you’d be ecstatic that I had the forethought to think ahead.”
‘Or would you prefer the Ministry to call you out to send me to Azkaban again? Put me away, would you?”
“Drunken fool,” Remus returned, shaking his head. “It’s all ‘poor me’ isn’t it, Sirius?”
“Enough!” Tonks’ voice broke over their squabbling. “Juliette is here.”
“What?” they turned to her in unison, their tempers dropping instantly.
“Floo powder and don’t you dare ask me how she knows how to work it because I haven’t a clue. Probably some of those damned adventurous genes she inherited.” Tonks nodded to the doorway behind her. ‘She’s in the kitchen but she won’t tell me what’s wrong.”
Remus hurried to the kitchen, Sirius following at a much slower, almost disinterested pace. He knew it was about Hermione…what else would have brought Juliette out at 3 in the morning? Juliette or no, Sirius had no desire to help Hermione out of whatever idiotic scene she’d gotten herself stuck in this time.
“Juliette, what are you doing here so late?” Remus touched her shoulder gently but she brushed past him and into Sirius’ arms.
“Sirius, its Dobby. Mum and Draco are in trouble.” She buried her face into his cloak and Sirius grabbed a chair to keep from falling over.
“Lovely,” he grimaced and let Remus help him into the chair.
“What’s happened?” Remus’ tense voice had frightened her, though, and she crawled into Sirius’ lap.
Sirius shook his head at Remus, wondering exactly when his friend had become so Ministry-like. He let his hand stroke Juliette’s head as she peered at him expectantly.
“Tell us, darling, what’s the little house elf to say this time?”
“It’s Draco’s daddy. The bad one.”
“Does he have another?” Sirius raised an eyebrow that caused Juliette to giggle.
“I thought not. So, what’s the bad daddy up to this go around?”
Juliette glanced around the room as if looking for any potential traitors in their midst. Sirius squeezed her waist gently, offering her his measure of support.
“He’s going to hurt them. Both of them. Fleur was calling Bill for help but I knew I had to find you and Uncle Remus.”
“Wait,” Sirius’ voice was stern. “Fleur doesn’t know you are here?”
Sensing she had done something wrong, Juliette pulled away slightly. “Um…’
“We’ll contact her.” Tonks offered her hand to Juliette, tugging her off Sirius’ lap. “Come, Juliette, before Sirius’ swats your behind for not checking with Fleur first.”
“Sirius, you’ll save her, right?” she asked over her shoulder as Tonks pulled her into the other room.
“I’ll do something to her,” Sirius assured her with a curt nod. He turned his gaze to Remus whose eyes had darkened perceivably. “What?”
“Aside from your inappropriate comments that you should only be glad she didn’t catch?” he asked hotly. “Where are they?”
“How would I know where they’ve gone off to for some lover’s tryst?”
“Sirius, you’ve studied every move Draco has made since he came to Harry. You’ve read everything you could get your hands on since coming back. You’ve had me steal documents meant for no one else’s eyes from the Ministry just so you could learn absolutely every single thing about the boy! You know where to find them,” he shook him slightly. “Stop pitying yourself long enough to think clearly, would you?”
Sirius broke away from Remus, his eyes narrowing. “Of course, I know where they are, you prat.”
Remus recoiled, his voice dropping to an incredulous whisper. “Are you telling me you have so little left in you that you would send her into the hands of Lucius Malfoy?”
“I’m telling you, it’s time Draco did some of the saving in this little fairytale.”
Sirius turned away, attempting to hide the pain that was coursing through him. Of course, he didn’t want anything to happen to Hermione. Or Draco, either for that matter. Well, at least not by Lucius. But, in what twisted world did he have to be the hero of the woman he’d just given up? No, not just given up…walked away from. Forcibly threw her out of his arms, his life, his bed, and was still trying desperately to get her out of his mind. The bitter irony of it all made him ill.
“Sirius, my friend,” Remus’ voice was soft beside him, his strong hands gripping tightly to his shoulders. His body, so much smaller than Sirius’ own, seemed to break the tiny wall that Hermione had somehow built between them. His tone was pleading, his voice near breaking at the foolish path Sirius was trying to take. “Please, Sirius, don’t make the same mistake twice.”
Sirius dropped his head. Was it possible he could make the same mistake twice? To leave a woman he cared so deeply about without safety and protection? To lead her into the hands of someone so vile that she had no chance to survive? Had he not learned anything?
His shoulders drooped with Remus’ touch. He felt utterly defeated and resigned that his fate must have been cast in some long ago century before he was even born. “I hate her,” he whispered, so softly even with Remus’ close proximity it was difficult to hear.
“No,” he returned. “But it would make this so much easier if you did.”
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