Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for another person’s genius. It’s unethical.
And I’d get sued.
Author’s Note: I know people do this all the time,
but I really do have to thank my beta-reader, Chary, for being extremely kind,
patient and helpful. Thank you, thank you, thank you… To everyone else, don’t
be too harsh on me. It’s my first fic… but be honest J
snowflake gently landed on the window latch and froze, becoming a tiny statue
teetering on the edge. As the light flurries swayed in the air, Hermione
watched the ground slowly, quietly, become covered in white.
roofs resembled gingerbread houses topped with powdered sugar, and never before
had she thought of the neighborhood surrounding Grimmauld Place as a peaceful
one. The night was soft, and though her mind was troubled, she found something
reminiscent of peace as the window slowly frosted over.
Ron’s snoring penetrated through the walls of her room and brought her back to
reality with a screeching halt. Within her rose a spurt of anger: how could he
sleep so easily while their other best friend was in so much pain? She knew
instinctively that Harry was still awake. After what had happened, how could he
be expected to sleep? The idea alone made her sigh.
was worry that kept her awake tonight. Not just worry for Harry, but for
everyone and everything that surrounded her.
stop. That’s enough of that. No use worrying yourself about things you can’t
pushed her thoughts aside repeatedly, but in vain. There was no escape.
so it was that she descended the stairs to the kitchen in hopes of a warm cup
of tea. Her mother would do that, at times like these. Before everything was
complicated and her worries consisted only of her marks at school, when
innocence had never been threatened and magic was just a far away dream…
kitchen was dark and imposing, and not at all the welcoming atmosphere she was
seeking. But it would have to do. At least she was certain not to be bothered
by anyone. Other than Kreacher, perhaps, but otherwise, the house was entirely
took one step –
gave a strangled cry as her wand soared from her hand. Her heart threatened to
leap out of her chest, she opened her mouth wide, prepared to scream –
strangled cry escaped from her throat before her eyes adjusted to the light now
shining in front of her. The glow from the sudden brightness illuminated the
face before her –
face looked worn and tired, etched in worry. “Hermione, forgive me, I didn’t
broke off suddenly, obviously embarrassed at his rash reaction. As she
struggled to breathe correctly again, she realized that Sirius must have been
sitting in the kitchen, alone, in the gloom.
The thought caused a wave of pity to sweep over her, and her eyes
softened slightly at the look on his face.
sorry,” he stated lamely.
– it’s all right.”
really, I should’ve thought before –”
it’s fine, really. Just… be careful,” she answered placidly.
tone quieted him, but an awkward silence fell upon them. Hermione shuffled a
bit, wondering what to do next.
–” he began in an apparent effort to break the silence, “I was just making some
lovely, I came down to get just that.”
cups, coming up, then,” he answered in a falsely cheery tone.
walked over to the stool by the counter and sat on it, drawing her nightdress
and robe tightly around her. Truth be told, it was awkward being alone with
Sirius; during the summer, he’d been in the master room most of the time,
feeding Buckbeak and thinking of Harry, while she had been helping out with the
chores or ridding herself of her homework. As odd as it was, they had never
truly talked by themselves, even though they had been locked in the same house
together for over a month.
sound of clinking cups gently pulled her from her thoughts. Sirius was pulling
his wand back now, ready to heat the fire –
paused abruptly in his movements, looking alarmed. “What is it?” he asked in a
she said, flushing slightly, “it’s just that – well – have you ever had it the
Muggle way? It’s quite similar to the wizard way, I suppose, only you heat the
water with a kettle, and you sift the leaves, but you’d have to wait before
drinking, of course, because it really is quite hot, although I suppose it’s
equally hot the wizarding way –” She paused in her ramblings, realizing she had
strayed far from her original path. “Anyway, it was just a suggestion,” she
finished timidly and took a profound interest in staring at her hands.
always felt rather foolish in front of him. Perhaps because she had a rather
sheltered life compared to the horrors he must have gone through, and,
therefore, she felt she could never really be seen as an equal, regardless of
a funny noise caught her attention, and she realized he was chuckling quite
Indignantly, she raised her chin and stated, “It really isn’t that amusing.”
paused, red in the face, and shook his head. “Hermione, I wasn’t laughing at you
per se, rather at all the fuss Muggles go through to make a cup of tea.”
have you know it’s really quite delicious.”
really quite a bother?”
doesn’t hurt to have patience, you know.”
was a piercing silence in which Hermione clapped her hand over her mouth. Idiot,
she told herself. He was in a prison cell for over a decade, of course he
has some degree of patience.
was never one for awkward silences, and he shifted uncomfortably on his feet.
stutters began abruptly. “Oh, I’m so sorry, I –”
fine,” he replied flatly, not quite able to meet her eye.
forget it,” he said more harshly than he meant to. Then, “Really, enough
apologies tonight,” he added lightly, trying again to make amends.
another deep silence in which both tended to their own thoughts.
he stirred the tea slowly, his mind wandered back to sleepless nights and
restless days in a cell on a wayward shore. When gazing out the window of his
cell at night, jagged rocks lined the coast, taunting him silently, and even
now, in his nightmares, he could recall the silhouette of those perilous
boulders, as well as the cold creeping upon him, chilling his bones, as a
telltale shadow drifted along the shoreline…
know, the night of the Shrieking Shack,” Hermione said suddenly, pulling him
from his thoughts, “when – Pettigrew – was trying to convince us he was
innocent… I didn’t mean to take his side and convict you or anything.”
gave a wan smile. “You had every right to doubt me. Being an ex-convict isn’t
something people tend to smile upon,” he said dryly.
no, I suppose not, but I just thought you should know that I never had a… true
stopped stirring the tea and looked up, chewing his lip thoughtfully. “You called me Mr. Black.”
the Shack. You addressed me as Mr. Black. That was the first time in thirteen
years I had been called that, not to mention without an accusatory tone. I
didn’t think you had a grudge,” he said with a small smile, which she returned.
know, the Muggle way really is worth learning.”
smirked. “I know the Muggle way.”
I took Muggle Studies.”
didn’t your parents –”
was the point,” he said wryly.
did not speak and he forced himself to say something.
parents are Muggles?” he asked.
they’re ok with you being here?”
she began quietly, “it’s safer for everyone. With V-Voldemort back, and Malfoy
at his side, it could be dangerous for me… for them, really.”
saw her troubled face. “Is that why you came down here for tea?” he asked
patiently, observing her quietly.
nodded silently, sighed and looked up. “And Harry,” she stated simply.
nodded in understanding. She took a breath and accepted the tea he handed her.
“He’s just so withdrawn and quiet and he never talks to us about anything. It’s
so hard to tell what going on with him. I wish he’d just trust us.”
considered her words. Harry had been plaguing his mind for the past week as
well. When his godson had first confronted him about his problem, Sirius had
been at a loss for words. He simply hadn’t been sure of what to do or say, or
for that matter, what he was allowed to say. So much for being a
caring guardian, he thought angrily to himself.
he said quietly, “Harry is dealing with a lot of new nightmares, and he already
has enough to deal with. The quiet is what he needs,” he said, trying to
pursed her lips, and, for a minute, she reminded him too much of Molly. “I
completely disagree. He needs his friends, his family,” she paused. “You.”
looked down at his cup, agitated and irritated.
just being honest,” she said simply. “He looks up to you.”
word tore at his heart. He hated Grimmauld Place, hated not being able to be
the godfather he was supposed to be. Didn’t she know that? Didn’t everyone know
that? What did they think, that he enjoyed not being able to do
should go to bed,” he told her, and watched as she looked away, the expression
on her face hovering somewhere between hurt and angry. “It’s late.”
she said resignedly and shuffled away, her bushy hair pointing in all
directions. He felt guilty all of a sudden –
turned around and looked at him in an annoyed manner, clearly angry with his
is lucky to have friends who care about him, like you and Ron.”
smiled slightly. “Harry has friends, Sirius. It’s family that he needs.” She
sighed. “Thank you for the tea.”
he responded with a meaningful gaze, yet feeling too confused to elaborate.
with that, she gave another small smile, waved goodnight and climbed the stairs
words drifted in his head as he sat at the kitchen table. Family. His
was a joke, but at least he’d been given a choice. Harry was a victim of
circumstance, and had never had a family.
pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and looked Sirius straight in the
say blood is thicker than water, Padfoot. But that’s a load of rubbish, if you
ask me. You, Moony, Peter and I… we’re brothers, mate. That’s the magic. We’re
rested his head in his hands.
could give Harry a family. And if he wasn’t already, then he would die trying.
the magic. We’re family, Harry; we’re family.