A/n: This fic is a milestone for a few reasons. A) it has a plot. I know, I know, how very unlike me… but it DOES have a plot, and one that doesn't revolve completely around romance either. B) it will be dark. As I hate torture and all things painful/unpleasant, I have not even attempted to write anything that falls short of fluffy before. This is not fluff. So there. C) it features Hermione as the main character. Previously, I've avoided Hermione like the plague. But I've been converted to the ranks of Hermione-worshippers. Yay!
So yeah.

Before I begin, I must warn you, there will be slash. If this offends you, please leave. In a perfect world, I would not have to warn you at all, but this world is far from perfect, so yeah…

It should become fairly evident within this introduction who the main paring is. I personally think they belong together, so do me a favor and don't criticize the pairing, ok?

Any constructive feedback is welcome, and you can even flame me if you want, but please try to be intelligent in your flaming… it makes it so much more fun when the criticism has a shred of validity.

Oh, and if any of you can think of a good name for this fic, please let me know!

Ta!

-N

Untitled Introduction

~*Someone's crying, who though could it be?

Someone in this house who no one seemed to see

Someone no one seemed to hear, except for me

I heard someone crying, maybe it was me…*~

He could feel sadness.

It had been a while since Remus had been exposed to the emotions of that particular person, and yet he knew there could be no mistake as to what she was feeling right now. It was a sadness beyond thought, beyond logic. For once in her life, Hermione Granger was completely senseless with grief.

Ever since Remus had been bitten as a teenager, he'd been able to sense other people's emotions. Or rather, he smelled them. It was an odd way to sense how someone else was feeling, by his or her smell, but Remus had, over time, become used to it. He became quite adept at recognizing which scents indicated which emotions. Also, he knew that every person had their own distinctive smell, and right now, Hermione's scent, mixed with that of undeniable grief, flooded his sensitive nostrils.

Remus quickened his pace, soon reaching the door of the familiar cabin. Set against a backdrop of forest and surrounded by beautiful gardens, the cabin had a warm, well-loved feel to it even from the outside. Remus knew that inside, the atmosphere was just as pleasant. In fact, even more so. This was one of the happiest homes on earth. This was the home of Harry Potter and Ron Weasley.

Former Home, Remus thought, feeling in himself the same grief that he'd sensed in Hermione only moments before. He opened the door and stepped inside.

It was nothing like he'd imagined. He'd thought that there would be a bit of a mess, or boxes, maybe. But not this. This was surreal. Harry and Ron's home was completely empty. Every last piece of furniture, every trinket, every picture and decoration, gone. Remus felt a lump rising in his throat. This was horrible.

Hermione's scent was getting stronger, but there was no sign of the bushy-haired young woman anywhere. "Hermione?" Remus called out, his voice echoing eerily in the empty house. "I know you're here…"

"Upstairs…" Came the faint reply, and Remus released his breath (which he'd previously been unaware he'd been holding). He started up the stairs.

He found Hermione in one of the bedrooms, sitting in a corner by the window. The fading sunlight was caught in the mass of brown fuzz that was her hair, and her head was bowed towards her knees. Remus' eyes traced the delicate line of her profile-- the slightly upturned nose, the tight, somber lips, the short slope of her chin—before advancing towards her.

"I didn't know you'd be here," He said gently. Her knew what she was feeling, even though she was doing a perfect job of concealing it. Even without the help of his lycanthropy, he knew exactly how she felt. He felt it too.

"Can you believe it?" Her voice was so familiar and yet so foreign that for a moment Remus felt disoriented. "I couldn't. I had to come see for myself." She turned to face him, her brown eyes saying so much in just a look. "I mean, how could they be gone? I thought maybe, if I saw that this place was how it's supposed to be, it would mean that maybe they were still here, that I could see them again." She looked around the empty room. "But I guess I was wrong… They really ARE gone. They're not coming back."

"Where did everything go? I mean… how did this happen?" Remus was at a loss. Two people can be wiped off the face of the earth in just a moment, but for all of their worldly goods to disappear overnight… that was wholly unbelievable.

"The movers came and cleaned it out. The Property's already been sold. Not even a week on the market."

Remus' eyes widened slightly. A week? Had it really been a week since Harry and Ron had been killed? Remus didn't remember the time passing, but he trusted Hermione to know what was going on… she always did. It was then that Remus looked over at her and noticed what she was wearing. An oversized sweater that he'd seen Harry wear a thousand times or more. On Harry, it had been slightly baggy. On Hermione, it was enormous. It came to the middle of her thighs, hiding her shorts. Bare legs, covered in goose bumps, stuck out from underneath the sweatshirt. Remus pulled at the sleeve and Hermione sighed heavily.

"I found it in one of the closets… Someone must have forgotten it… it was his favorite…" And then Hermione did something Remus had never seen her do before. She cried. Oh, he was sure she's done her share of crying, but he'd never seen it. Hermione was usually very composed when in the company of those whom she deemed intelligent or worthy of her respect. Remus knew he had done something or other to gain himself a place in these ranks, and although he hadn't the slightest clue what it might be, he quite liked the idea that he, Remus Lupin, had gained the respect and admiration of someone who he respected and admired. Regardless of age, Hermione was a formidable entity, a force of nature not quite of this world. Her intelligence was super-human, her magic powerful, and Remus knew her heart was every bit as fiery as her wit. Never once since her graduation from Hogwarts had Remus seen Hermione lose her cool. So it was all the more shocking to see her like this. But it was only fitting… her best friends HAD died. Remus couldn't help but feel a little callus for not doing the same.

"I should have saved them," Hermione whispered tearfully. "Remus, I could have done something more to help them… I could have tried, anyway! It seems impossible that, with all the skills and all the intelligence I've been given, there was nothing I could have done to stop this from happening."

Remus knew the feeling. He had also had these thoughts when it had happened. "Hermione, there really wasn't anything you could have done. They were gone for almost a month before we found the bodies… and you tried harder than anyone to get to them."

"They were alive for that month, Remus. They were alive and probably suffering horribly. You saw the bodies." Remus' head was filled with the horrible images of Harry and Ron's broken, bloody corpses. They were barely recognizable. It was a wonder they'd been identified at all. And yet everyone had known exactly who they were. The bodies had not, in fact, really been FOUND at all. Rather, they were given back.

It had been Severus who'd found them first. Not wanting to seem as though he'd gone soft, the Dark Lord had dropped their broken bodies onto the front steps of the school. Severus had been on his way to the Forbidden Forest to collect some rare potions ingredients when he'd practically stepped on the bodies. Remus knew that, like himself, Hermione had been trying her absolute hardest to find them and bring them home, and when the bodies were found, she must have just shut down completely. Remus didn't really know how she'd reacted, as he hadn't seen her since, but if now was any indication, then it was probably something he didn't want to see.

"I just hope they were together when they… when it happened. It would have eased the pain a little. They loved each other so much…" and she was crying again. Well, in a manner of speaking. Large, round tears were sliding down her pale cheeks. Remus instinctively reached over and brushed one away. Hermione reached up and caught his hand in hers.

"The only friends I've ever had are gone," She whispered. "You're the closest thing I have to a friend now. Promise me you won't leave me too."

"I'm not going anywhere," Remus pledged, pressing his lips to her hand. Hermione shivered slightly.

"Can I stay with you tonight?" Her eyes pleaded with him. She looked so lost. Remus felt his heart contract. This was not the Hermione he knew. "I don't want to be alone." She seemed so young right now, like this. He forgot sometimes just how young she actually was.

"Of course you can." He wrapped his arms around her, rubbing her back in big circles. "I'd rather not be alone myself."