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Chapter 42 : The Mission
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Chapter Forty-Two: The Mission
Hermione rolled over in the darkness, unsure of exactly what time it was. It had been one of the longest nights she could ever remember but dawn still seemed hours away. The evenness of the bed told her Sirius was no longer beside her but she could still smell the scent of his cologne somewhere nearby. She rubbed her eyes, her vision blurry from all the tears she’d cried in the past twenty four hours. She sat still a moment, her eyes trying to focus on the intricately carved posts of the bed. She’d forgotten for a moment that they were in neither her nor Sirius’ room but some far removed corner of Grimmauld that Juliette had had to lead her to. She stretched, a low moan escaping her with the pain and soreness she felt in every part of her body. Her hand went instinctively to her stomach, her previous feeling of fear now replaced with a desire to protect her newly growing child at all costs. For all the terror and heart break of the day before, she knew it was for the best. Sirius knew the truth; Draco would soon know it and she could move on with her life and whatever that happened to entail. She glanced across the room as her eyes adjusted and she could barely make out Sirius’ form in the darkness. He was standing near the table she had found him at last night, his back to her and fully clothed. She shifted slightly, readying herself to slide out of the bed and cross to him but as if she had suddenly been cast immobile, an invisible hand held her in place. She glanced to Sirius who, although he had not turned to face her, had his hand lifted her direction to hold her in place.
“Stay where you are, Hermione,” he ordered softly, “Remus is here.”
He let his hand drop so that she could move again and Hermione pulled the covers tighter around her naked form. She struggled to see and now could barely make out the outline of another person sitting at the table.
“My apologies,” Remus murmured and she could hear the distraction in his voice.
Conjuring herself a robe, she pulled it on and moved toward the men. An odd-shaped, yellow tinged map lay flat on the table between them; half empty coffee cups letting her know they had been at this awhile. A stack a papers with the Ministry seal, ones she vaguely recalled seeing Sirius with before Christmas, threatened to tumble off the edge of the table. She pushed them further onto the table and glanced from one to the other. “What’s going on?”
“You should get some sleep,” Remus smiled faintly. “I can get you some tea, if you like-"
“I would like,” she returned steadily, “to know what’s going on here.”
Sirius’ slipped his hand around her waist, pulling her to stand with him. He kissed her tenderly and then gave a soft chuckle that caused her annoyance to evaporate. “You’ll have to forgive him, Hermione, his chivalry tells him to protect women at all costs. I, on the other hand, fear your wrath more than I fear this mission.”
“Mission?” she pulled away from him slightly.
“Sirius-" Remus admonished.
Sirius squeezed her hand and sent a steady gaze to Remus. “I’m done keeping secrets, Remus.”
Remus gave a tired, almost resigned nod. Waving his hand over the table lamp, it sprang to life, causing Hermione to blink against the brightness. “We’re going after Lucius.”
“What?” Her fingers tightened on Sirius’ cloak. Not now, she wanted to scream. Not after everything they’d gone through. She lowered her eyes, unwilling to let them see her fear. Sirius knew she was frightened, she could tell by the secure embrace with which he held her but she was determined to not let Remus see it as well. Sirius’ hand stroked her back comfortingly as he spoke.
“He’s been spotted and we don’t have much time before he disappears again. We have surprise on our side if we act quickly. He’ll be in Azkaban by dawn.”
She looked from one to the other. They were telling her what was happening. They were including her in their plans but neither seemed to want her opinion. Their minds were obviously made up and telling her about it was merely a courtesy. A vague understanding that they were doing this for her—to protect Draco for her—caused her stomach to tie in knots. She chanced a glance at Sirius who was watching her intently but gave no sign of the reaction he expected from her.
As usual, he was going to let her act however she chose. But, for once, she was determined not to disappoint him. She kept her voice as steady as possible. “Just the two of you? That’s rather risky, don’t you think? Lucius undoubtedly has supporters – "
“Bill, Charlie, Hagrid, Viktor and Oliver are all downstairs waiting on us,” Remus answered.
“And the Ministry?” before she had the words out, she could see Remus shift uncomfortably in his chair. “Ah,” she nodded, “this is not Ministry sanctioned, then?”
“Catches on quick, doesn’t she?” Sirius chuckled. He nuzzled her neck, his voice more solemn. “We need something from you as well, Hermione.”
She bristled uneasily. Surely, neither would ask her to go into a battle again…her thoughts began to tumble but Sirius’ voice beside her kept her from drifting to far away.
“Will you make certain Draco remains here?” he asked then nodded at her questioning glance. “Yes, he’s here. He returned to Grimmauld about an hour ago.”
“Surely you can think of something other than sex to keep him occupied, can’t you?” Sirius asked, moving away from her as he pulled on a well-worn scarf and tightened it around his neck.
Her eyes narrowed but Sirius merely chuckled. “You foul, dirty rotten-"
“Sirius has grown a bit possessive of you, it seems,” Remus interrupted lightly. “It might not be in Draco’s best interests to be found in your bed. In fact, I dare say, his life may balance in your hands.”
Hermione folded her arms against her chest but couldn’t manage to be angry. How the two of them managed to insult her and yet make her feel like she belonged was beyond her. “If Lily had to deal with the two of you and your nonsense, it’s no wonder she ran off with James.”
Sirius and Remus laughed simultaneously, both sending her winning smiles that made her warm all over.
“And, indeed,” Remus said through his laughter, “she does catch on quick.”
“I’ll give you a few minutes,” he nodded to Hermione, his soft touch on her shoulder an apology. “Sirius, we have to-”
“I’ll be down momentarily,” he assured him. “Just get them all ready to go.”
Sirius rubbed Hermione’s arms as if she were cold, his eyes watching her closely. She’d been so strong in front of Remus that he half expected her to fall apart. Either that or knock him senseless.
“You have to tell Draco, Hermione.”
“I know,” she nodded. She kissed him softly, her voice warm on is stubbled cheek. “I won’t leave you in this position, no matter what. You believe me, don’t you?”
“Sirius?” she backed away as she handed him his wand. She held tight to it a moment before releasing it so that it could tuck it into his cloak. “I’ll never forgive you if you don’t come back.”
He sent her a cocky lopsided grin that made her smile. “Afraid a Malfoy will get the better of me?”
“No, afraid you’ll do something stupid like fall into a veil for ten years again.”
“Yeah,” he laughed heartily, loving that her sense of humor had finally found its way back home. “That would suck, wouldn’t it?”
“You’ll be careful then?”
He kissed her deeply, his eyes meeting hers with his promise. “I’ll see you soon.”
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