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the present by timeturner
Chapter 40 : The Worthless Black
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 32

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the present
Chapter Forty: The Worthless Black

Sirius stumbled, Hermione falling out of his embrace and into the outstretched arms of Remus and Tonks. Remus sent him a quizzical look…he hadn‘t apparated to the wrong location since he was 17. “Sorry,” he mumbled, “didn’t account for the armchair.”

He straightened himself, accepting Remus’ hand as he helped pull him off the floor. He watched as Tonks directed Hermione into the chair they’d tripped over, Hermione’s body still trembling, her face still drained of all color. He glanced away, unable to mask the hurt he was feeling.

She was with him. He shouldn’t have been surprised but to find them there like that…her bra hanging from the lamp; her panties lying discarded on the pillow; him in nothing but boxer shorts; the smell of rotting food, vomit and dried blood hanging heavy in the air; Draco standing paces away from her while she cried hysterically…Sirius couldn’t withhold the visible shudder that befell him.

“Sirius?” Remus asked quietly, moving to stand behind him, his arm resting gently in the center of his back. Sirius raised his eyes then quickly lowered them again, unable to get any control over his grief.

How could she have done this? After everything he’d offered her, after every tiny bit of his soul he’d let her chip away until there was nothing left for him to hide? The moments in twilight when she taught him to forgive himself for the past, when he came to realize she wasn’t like everyone else, times when he almost believed love was possible for someone as hapless as him. He couldn’t believe she would be like everyone else, he hadn’t wanted to believe it even when Remus had warned him. Why couldn’t he ever learn?

“Don’t say I told you so,” he begged quietly. “Just please don’t do it.”

Remus shook his head, his voice cracking in desperate whisper. “I’m so sorry, Sirius. That this happened, that you--”

“Please,” Sirius broke him off, afraid if Remus went any further he might collapse. Taking a deep breath, he turned slowly, his eyes automatically locking with Hermione’s who was watching him with a mixture of fear and gratitude.

He strode toward her, Tonks shuffling out of his way in haste. He sank down to face her, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket and attempting to wipe away the soot smeared across her cheeks. “Are you all right?”

“I don’t deserve you,” she managed, her tears beginning to fall over again.

Sirius couldn’t quell the murderous rage welling within him. He wanted to kill Draco, wanted him dead more than he’d ever wanted anything else in his entire life. Not since Harry had prevented him from killing Peter all those years ago had he been so prepared to take the life of another. But then he had looked into Hermione’s eyes and everything came flooding back…Juliette, that damn locket, all of it. Had she been unable to return his gaze, had she not had the strength or courage to put her arms around him in front of Draco he had no doubt he would’ve killed him. He could still feel the warmth radiated from the vein bulging nervously in Draco’s neck. It would have taken just a twitch, the tiniest move, and Draco would have been out of their lives forever.

That he still had such a murderous, deadly side of him told him the truth – he would never amount to anything more than a worthless Black.

“No,” he kissed her forehead tenderly, holding her head against his lips to hide his face from her view. “You deserve so much better.”

“Stop it,” she pushed him away fiercely, causing him to stumble backwards. “Just stop! You, of all people, I expect the truth from you!”

“Tonks,” Remus’ voice cut through her tirade with a low whisper, “see to Juliette, take her home.”

Tonks hurried out with a quick squeeze to his arm. Remus moved to help Sirius up, leading him to drop into a chair opposite her. “Hermione-”

“Stop! Both of you stop. Your damn chivalry and precious Marauder ethics that make everyone feel so inadequate.” Although her tears were still falling there was no weakness in her voice. “I didn’t intend to sleep with him…do you think I walked in there expected to find myself waking up naked in his bed? Don‘t you think the last person I wanted to rescue me was him,” she pointed to Sirius, “the only other man alive who’s possibly done me enough times to even know what I like?”

Remus blushed fiercely and glanced to Sirius but neither spoke. They seemed transfixed, both unable to think of anything that might ease whatever she was feeling. She was on her feet now, advancing on both of them as if they were one. As if there was any mistaking her intent, a fierce wind circled around them as she launched an object from the table toward them. They ducked simultaneously, the object crashing uselessly into the wall. Remus looked to Sirius for some direction but Sirius merely smiled.

“The fury of a woman scorned,” he commented and ducked as another charm missed him by inches. “Damn good thing she’s out of practice.”

“Scorned my ass!” she seethed. “If it wasn’t for you or Draco I wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with!”

Remus gave a brief chuckle but a dark, worried look had settled over Sirius. He tried to step toward her but she backed away. Oblivious to Remus’ presence, he gripped her arms tightly to hold her in place. His eyes dark, his voice sharp and filled with concern, he shook her slightly. “What do you mean ‘or’?”

It was a tiny word, he knew, but it stood out to him as if she had said nothing else. She hadn’t mispoke, he could see the look of fear and detestation in her brown eyes. She wanted him to worry, wanted him to have to come to her…wanting, with every fibre of her being, for him to demand truth so that she could no longer shy away.

She struggled away from him, backing into the wall and trying desperately to regain her composure. Her voice was a low hiss when she finally spoke. “I’m pregnant, you fool.”

Remus started but Sirius nodded as if her announcement was of no particular surprise. He slid his hands into his pockets, watching her expectantly for some further explanation.

“You have nothing to say? No words of wisdom or condescending remarks?” she asked hotly, her fear of telling anyone now replaced with sheer anger at herself for getting in this situation in the first place. “No righteous indignations?”

“What, exactly, would you like me to say?” he asked seriously, ignoring the uncomfortable shift Remus was making beside him. It wasn‘t as if Remus hadn‘t figured out long ago the two were having sex…he‘d just been too gentlemanly to probe about it. Her vindictive comments tonight had sealed any doubts Remus could possibly have had as to how far the two of them had ventured in their activities and Sirius was too worried about her to be concerned with placating Remus‘ more sensitive nature.

“Do you want me to say that I’m surprised? Because I’m not. It’s not as if we’ve been exceedingly careful and considering the stout remnants of liquor that you reek of after each of your encounters with Draco I don’t assume the two of you gave much thought to it either.”

“You arrogant--”

Remus stepped between them. “Perhaps we should have a seat, a drink even?”

“Perhaps,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm, “you should stop trying to protect dear Sirius. Tell me,” she turned to Sirius, “is this what you did to Lily? Swept her off her feet and into your bed?”

Remus advanced on her before she had the chance to take a breath. His hands were on her arms shaking her angrily. She tried to break free but he was too strong. “You’ve no idea what your saying, Hermione!”

“Voldemort’s equal,” she continued, struggling against Remus’ tight hold, “heir of Gryffindor, is any of it true? Or was Harry merely the result of one of Sirius Black’s desperate attempts to have--”

“How dare you,” Remus hissed. “How dare you insinuate that Sirius would ever betray James! He's done nothing but protect you! Comforted you!"

Sirius was between them in an instant, breaking apart their wrestling bodies with a well placed calming hand on each of them. As if his presence had stirred common sense back into them both, they took steps away from one another their ragged breathing filling the room.

Hermione dropped to the couch in defeat, her head falling into her hands. Remus was pacing the floor, his anger casting a series of spells across the room making objects shatter where they stood. Sirius waited for him to settle then turned a pained almost desperate look Hermione’s direction.

“I would’ve loved Harry if he were mine or James,” Sirius told her quietly, his voice steady and even. “But there’s no mistaking his parentage.”

Remus turned, opening his mouth to speak but Sirius raised his hand for silence.

“Juliette could be Ron’s or Draco’s or Remus’ for all I care,” he continued, “I would love her just the same.” He dropped his voice, his hurt and anguish displayed for all to hear. “As I will your future child. That you would believe anything different just shows exactly how little you know of me after all.”

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