A/N: This is, of necessity, an extreme AU because sneaky NeonDomino gave me Hermione/Regulus as a prompt. Therefore please be warned that this isn't exactly canon what with Regulus Black traipsing about alive and everything. I can only imagine that if Regulus had (somehow?) survived the Inferi he might have gone to his brother for help. (He would have been in terrible danger among the Death Eaters.) I can only further imagine that if Sirius had his brother with him, supporting him, there might have been a lot of things that happened differently.

Also… I've always loved the idea of a Beauxbatons!Hermione. I've tossed her in here just for fun. :D

In JKR's books people are always swearing by Merlin, but those people are all British, and Merlin is a legendary British wizard. This Hermione, who was raised in France and went to Beauxbatons swears by Melusine who is a legendary French sorceress/mermaid-serpent-thing. If you look her up on Wikipedia there are several Medieval legends about her—one involving two rings, which is where Hermione's favourite phrase 'the rings of Melusine' comes from.

And last, but definitely not least, if you are a lurking Arx fan I *am* already working on the next chapter. Consider this an exercise for me in the relationship dynamics for Regulus and Hermione. :D


"I don't know, dear," Beatrix Granger fretted. "I don't like the idea of you all alone in a place like London."

Hermione stopped packing to stare at her mother. "But having my own flat here in Paris was just fine," she pointed out.

"Well, yes," Beatrix admitted, "but you shared with those girls from your school."

"Oh, mum," Hermione laughed. "London can't be worse than Paris. Most big cities are the same."

Beatrix Granger frowned and started folding clothes, helping her daughter to pack. "I suppose. It's just… there were strange goings-on just after you were born. A couple of run-ins with a nasty gang were the main impetus behind our move here to Paris. It just seemed… safer."

Hermione was already nodding. "I know all that, Mum. You've explained it before. Madam Encausse thinks that it might have been Death Eaters. She thinks you and Dad were smart to move."

Beatrix clutched a pair of jeans to her chest. "But… what about these Death Eaters? Are they still there? You're not at risk are you?"

"I doubt it, Mum. Chloé Dufresne said that Gabi Delacour said that her sister Fleur said that all of that's over," Hermione explained. She waved a hand in the air. "I'm going to be working at the London Office for the Int'l Confederation of Wizards as an attaché for the French representative. I'll be safe as houses."

"What was wrong with working here in Paris?" Beatrix tried one last time.

Hermione sighed. "If I want to work for the French Ministry of Magic I have to develop an impressive résumé. Working abroad with the ICW will help me develop contacts. Mum, we've talked about this."

"I know, I know." Beatrix bit her lip and watched her daughter continue packing. "And make sure that you send me Owls at least once a week and let me know that you're all right."

While Beatrix and William Granger hadn't been thrilled to learn that their daughter was a witch; they hadn't been surprised either. Books didn't generally float from the top bookshelf down to 5 year old children. Beauxbatons Academy of Magic had a host family program to help what the French called Sang Perdu, or Witches and Wizards born to non-magical parents, and Hermione liked to think that the program had helped ease her parents into the idea that their daughter had magic. Richilde and Clovis Bienbon, their son Luc and their daughter Evangeline had welcomed the Granger family with open arms. The Grangers had slowly come to grips with the idea that their daughter could do amazing things that they had been taught to believe just weren't possible.

"Of course I will," Hermione assured her mother. "Tante Richilde has already made me promise to write to her as well."

"I just wish that you were rooming with Evangeline or Chloé," Beatrix sighed.

Hermione smiled and hugged her mother. "I know, Mum."


Living with Sirius was enough to drive anyone stark raving mad. Honestly, Regulus wasn't certain how Remus put up with it. He had fled Grimmauld Place and leased his own flat for the sake of his sanity. He still considered Grimmauld Place home, and he still went to any and all family affairs to which his elder brother invited him, but he was always grateful when he returned to the quiet calm of his own place.

"Kreacher?" Regulus called.

"Master Regulus is calling Kreacher?" The wizened House Elf hurried into Regulus' study.

Regulus looked up from his paperwork. "Yes. I just wanted to remind you that I shan't be home until late. It's Harry's birthday party this evening."

Kreacher nodded. "Kreacher has wrapped Master Regulus' present for young Master Harry and put it on the table by the door."

Regulus grinned at his House Elf. "I had forgotten about that. Thank you, Kreacher."

Hours later, after a successful celebration of Harry Potter's twenty-fifth birthday with friends and family, Regulus staggered home. Sirius had made some sort of mysterious 'birthday punch' that Regulus was convinced ought to be outlawed. It hadn't tasted all that strong, but now as Regulus weaved his way unsteadily up the stairs of his building he suspected that it was much stronger than Sirius had let on.

"Zut!" A furious feminine voice hissed.

Regulus froze on the stairs and looked around him. He didn't see anyone else on the stairs.

"Zut! Where are you, you wretched thing," the voice hissed again in French.

Curiosity made Regulus move cautiously up the stairs as silently as he could and peer down the hall blearily. Crawling about on her hands and knees was a pretty young witch with a delicious-looking bum wriggling in the air as she moved. Her head was low to the ground and she was peering underneath the recycling bins.

The witch gave a soft cry of joy. "Zut! There you are. Come here, come on sweetheart."

The witch pulled out the biggest, ugliest kneazle that Regulus had ever seen in his life and cradled it in her arms as though it were a precious baby. The great hulking brute appeared to be missing an eye and most of one ear. Its malevolent yellow eye settled on Regulus and he fought the urge to shiver at the glower the kneazle sent his way.

"You poor thing," the witch crooned to the midnight-black monster in her arms. "Let's go home and I'll make your dinner."

Regulus watched the witch's hips sway as she moved down the hall. He grinned to himself when he realized that she was his new neighbour. He suddenly felt much better and he whistled softly to himself as he let himself into his flat.


Working for the Int'l Confederation of Wizards under Madame Encausse was everything that Hermione had hoped it would be. Every day she was meeting people who were important to various wizarding governments around the world. The ICW offices were located across from the Ministry of Magic, and if Hermione's work happened to take her to the MoM building she would often eat in the cafeteria because it was quick and easy. A lot of her co-workers turned their noses up at the MoM cafeteria's fare preferring to eat at one of the local cafés that dotted the nearby neighbourhoods, but a lot of their offerings were a sort of comfort food for Hermione. Shepherd's pie, chicken curry, and fish and chips were all things that her mum had cooked for them at their home in Marseille. Of course, Hermione had grown up in Southern France and she loved ratatouille and bouillabaisse just as much as the next girl, but she still had a soft spot for a good pork pie, or a pasty.

"Is anyone else sitting here? It's just that all the other tables are pretty full, and we're a big group," a tall redhead in Auror's robes asked with a rueful grin.

Hermione looked up from the report she was reading over and blinked at the group in front of her. There was the tall redhead in front, and next to him was a slightly shorter man with messy black hair and green eyes who was also wearing Auror robes. Standing next to the man with the messy black hair were two older wizards who looked enough alike to one another that she would guess they were brothers. Those two were handsome as sin and appeared to be just as dangerous. One was in the robes of the Auror, but the other wore the plum-coloured robes of the Wizengamot. On the other side of the redhead was a worn-looking man with greying hair with a pretty female Auror with bubble-gum-pink hair leaning against him. Next to them was a small blonde witch who was staring off at a fixed point above Hermione's shoulder. They all looked polite and friendly enough. Hermione shrugged.

"Please, be my guest," she replied in the crisp accent that she had never quite been able to shake. She didn't notice the wizard in the plum-coloured robes' surprise at her accent, or the speculative gleam that entered his eyes.

"Don't think I've seen you around here before, you new here?" The redhead asked curiously before he took a giant bite out of his pork pie.

Hermione gave him a slight smile. "New enough," she admitted. "I work for the ICW in the office building across the street. Whenever I have to come over here I usually grab lunch."

The redhead nodded. "I'm sure the food's much better over here," he said through a mouthful of it. "Not like all the weird stuff in the restaurants around here."

Hermione blinked. "Weird stuff?" She asked cautiously. She hadn't noticed anything weird.

"Yeah, there's a boo-linger-ee or something at the end of the street, and then there is that Bim-Bam-Map place," the redhead explained.

Hermione took a sip of her tea to buy herself some time and glanced at the other people in the group. They were all eating quietly, and Hermione noticed the worn-looking man roll his eyes at one of the Sinful wizards. The one in the plum-coloured robes winked at her, and she sucked in her tea the wrong way which lead to a coughing fit. A horrified expression flitted across his face and he jumped up and began to pat her firmly on the back.

"Are you all right?" He asked in a deep, resonant voice.

"Fine. Thank you," Hermione gasped. She turned to the rest of the table. "Sorry about that."

"Don't worry," the Auror with the bubble-gum-pink hair assured her. "I've done much worse and in front of the Minister of Magic, too." She flashed a cheery smile. "I'm Tonks, by the way, and this is my husband Remus."

Hermione sat up straight at that. "Remus Lupin?" She clarified. He nodded and Hermione saw his eyes narrow and his mouth turn down. She offered him a tentative smile. "I have an appointment with you tomorrow."

The suspicion on his face cleared and he nodded thoughtfully. "You're the ICW adjutant?"

"Hermione Granger." She held out her hand and he accepted it almost gingerly.

"Pleasure," Remus murmured. He exchanged another look with the Sinful Auror.

"I'm Luna Lovegood," the little blonde informed her in dreamy voice. "I don't think we have any appointments together."

"No," Hermione agreed.

"I'm Ron Weasley and this, of course, is Harry Potter," the redhead announced proudly.

The names sounded vaguely familiar, but Hermione couldn't remember why at the moment. Hermione gave them both a polite smile and then turned to the Sinful duo. "And you are?" She asked politely.

The one in the Auror robes smirked at Ron and Harry and then grinned at her. "Sirius Black," he purred at her. The other wizard elbowed him in the ribs. "And my baby brother, Reggie."

"Regulus Black," the other wizard corrected him. He gave her a slow, easy smile.

"What House were you in at Hogwarts?" Ron asked with a frown.

Hermione tilted her head at him. "Why do you assume I went to Hogwarts?" She asked.

Ron blinked. "Well, you're British," he pointed out.

"There are British people all over the world, Mr. Weasley," Hermione retorted.

"But, British wizards always send their kids to Hogwarts," Ron protested. "Everyone knows it's the best magical school there is. No one's going to send their kids off to Durmstrang or Beauxbatons if there's a better option."

A flare of white-hot rage filled Hermione's chest. Before coming she had been counselled by her superior, Madame Encausse, that wizarding Britain was insular and had a rather inflated sense of self-worth. Due to their recent wizarding war they had been focused internally, and were not on top of some of the more recent developments in the rest of Europe and beyond. Still, Ron Weasley had not been the first wizard to spout off this ridiculous nonsense about Hogwarts being 'the best'. It was a nice educational institution, and it had its merits, but it wasn't 'the best'. That accolade belonged to Volubilis Academy, which was located in Morocco, and about five hundred years older than Hogwarts. Before she opened her mouth to blast Ron Weasley she glanced at Regulus Black. He was smirking at her with a knowing look in his eye.

"'Ermione! Vous y êtes!" Madame Encausse called out. She continued in rapid-fire French. "They've changed our meeting. Minister Bones will see us in fifteen minutes. Come on, or we'll be late!"

"Oh!" Hermione jumped up and grabbed her briefcase. She gave a small nod to the entire table. "It was a pleasure to meet you all," she said politely. She paused when she got to Ron. "I attended Beauxbatons, Mr. Weasley, most likely for the simple reason that my parents were not British wizards. They were… I can't remember what you all call them, but in France we are called Sang Perdu. Perhaps in your opinion that means that I am somehow lesser, and that my education suffered, but I would beg to differ with you. Good day, sir."

With that, she turned around and marched off after her boss.


Regulus and Sirius turned around almost as one unit and watched the angry little witch march off, her hips swaying with every step. Sirius turned back around and smirked at the rest of the table. He leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head.

""I just spotted my next big heart break," he announced.

Regulus caught his foot in the leg of his brother's chair and tugged so that the chair tipped over and Sirius was sprawled across the floor. He glared up at Regulus from the floor.

"What was that for?" Sirius demanded furiously.

"She will not be your next conquest, Sirius," Regulus said coldly.

Sirius frowned at him. "Reg, what's going on with you? She's just a bird… like any other."

An image of Hermione cuddling the vicious behemoth 'Zut' in her arms and crooning lovingly to it rose in Regulus' mind. "No, she isn't," he retorted. He shook his head and glared at his brother. "Leave her alone, Sirius."

Sirius stared at his brother for a moment. "All right, Regulus," he said quietly.


"Ow," Regulus muttered under his breath as he carefully cleaned his battle wounds. He'd accidentally crossed paths with Zut the other day, and had come out rather the worse for wear. He sighed and dabbed more disinfectant paste on his leg.

The pretty witch, Hermione, was a Muggleborn, or as she had said it: Sang Perdu… the Lost Ones. Regulus stared at his leg thoughtfully. Being an ex-Death Eater didn't exactly have the witches lining up outside his door. Occasionally he would get strange witches who would rub up against him in some of the seedier bars that Sirius liked to frequent and beg him to cast the Cruciatus curse on them. He shuddered at the memory. Nutters.

Most witches, and especially Muggleborn witches, wouldn't come near him with a ten-foot staff. He sighed and rubbed his forehead. Why did she have to be a Muggleborn?

There was a sharp rap at the door. With a groan, Regulus heaved himself off the couch and slouched toward the door. He pulled it open with a scowl. Standing on his doorstep was his neighbour, the very same Hermione that he had just been moping over. She was dressed casually in a comfortable-looking maxi dress that clung to her generous curves. The friendly smile that she had worn faltered slightly. Regulus stood up straight and plastered a warm, friendly smile on.

"Hello," he blurted out. Then he laughed and shook his head. "What can I do for you Mademoiselle Granger?"

Hermione's smile rallied, but worry shone in her cinnamon brown eyes. "You haven't seen a kneazle have you?" She asked. She wrung her hands anxiously and peered down the hall. "It's just that I've only just moved, and he isn't used to the building yet, and I'm so worried about him."

"Zut?" Regulus demanded incredulously. "That great, hulking thing?"

Hermione blinked and then arched a brow at Regulus. "You spied on me?"

Regulus snorted. "Not you, love, that black brute. He tried to take my leg off the other day." Regulus pulled up his pant leg and showed her the deep scratches in his calf.

Hermione's eyes widened in horror. "Les anneaux de Melusine!" She leaned down and carefully traced the angry red lines that marked his flesh. She looked up at him. "I am so sorry."

"Don't worry about it," he told her with a shrug. "I've had worse." Hermione looked at him disbelievingly. "It's true!"

"You must let me make this up to you somehow," she begged him.

For a split-second Regulus channelled his older brother. "Go out to lunch with me?" Lunch was safe, right? It wasn't obviously a date. It was daylight out. She could easily escape to work or wherever.

Hermione stared at him for a moment and then her cheeks turned pink. "Lunch sounds lovely," she agreed.

Regulus grinned at her like a fool. "Splendid." He rubbed a hand along his jaw. "This Saturday? There's a Korean restaurant with fabulous food a few blocks from here."

Hermione nodded. "Saturday is fine."


"So, tell me about yourself," Hermione suggested. "All I know is that you have a brother, and that you serve on the Wizengamot."

Regulus ducked his head and stared at his hands. "What sorts of things do you want to know?" His voice was quiet, subdued.

Hermione nibbled on her lower lip. "Well, where did you go to school? Do you have any other family? Why did you decide to serve on the Wizengamot? What do you enjoy doing for fun? What's your favourite book?"

Regulus laughed. "Let's see… Hogwarts, of course."

"Oh, of course." Hermione nodded solemnly and then spoiled it by giggling behind her hand.

"Family is… a tricky subject," Regulus said slowly. How could he describe the tangled, tortured limbs that made up his family tree? He rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. "My mother and father are both dead. Sirius is my only sibling. We've got some cousins, but they are… well, we don't really communicate with most of them. Our cousin Andromeda and her daughter—you met her the other day—Tonks?"

"Was she the Auror with the pink hair?" Hermione asked.

Regulus nodded and gave her a half-smile. "That's her," he admitted.

"She's got your jaw," Hermione observed with a smile.

"They're the only family that Sirius and I are willing to claim," Regulus told her quietly.

Hermione nodded. "I understand. On my dad's side of the family there was some kind of big argument years ago, and my gran and her sister refused to speak to one another for 40 years."

Somehow Regulus rather doubted that Hermione's gran, or her gran's sister, had actively tried to kill one another or other members of their family over that argument. Regulus suppressed a sigh as he felt the gulf between him and the pretty witch across from him yawn ever wider.

"The Wizengamot." Regulus looked at his hands and then looked up at Hermione. Sharp intelligence gleamed out at him from her eyes, and she waited patiently for him to speak. He smiled almost against his will at the picture she made. "I joined because I wanted to do some good in the world. I wanted to change British wizarding society from the inside out."

Hermione frowned and nibbled her lower lip again. Then her face lit up with recognition. "Regulus Black!" She gasped. "Aren't you the one who was campaigning for the changes in Werewolf rights and the House Elf Initiative?"

Regulus flushed. "That was me," he admitted.

"The newspapers were horrible to you," Hermione complained.

Regulus shrugged. "They usually are."

"I really enjoyed the speech you gave before the Wizengamot. All the newspapers in France reprinted it. It was very moving," Hermione gushed enthusiastically.

"Thank you," Regulus muttered. Most people in the UK had no idea he'd even made a speech. The Daily Prophet hadn't even mentioned it. It was disconcerting that Hermione knew all about it. He frowned. That reminded him of something that had struck him as odd. "You met Harry Potter the other day and you didn't seem near as excited to meet him."

"Who?" Hermione appeared to be genuinely confused.

"Harry Potter. Don't you remember the young wizard with the messy black hair and the green eyes?" Regulus tried.

Hermione frowned slightly, and then her face cleared. "Oh yes, the young Auror. What about him?"

"He's the Boy-Who-Lived," Regulus sputtered helplessly.

Hermione's frowned deepened. "The what?"

"You know—Voldemort tried to kill him and failed. He was the only person to ever survive the Killing Curse. He's famous all over wizarding Britain," Regulus explained.

Realization dawned on Hermione's face. "Ah. I see. Well, in France we were taught that the only reason that Voldemort was defeated was due to Lily Evans Potter. She was Sang Perdu, but she was very smart and she studied the old magic. I was taught that the spell she used to save her son was one of the most ancient spells we still have—the Caritas enchantment."

"So… you don't talk about Harry Potter at all?" He asked curiously.

"No, but why would we? He did nothing. He was only a baby. It was his mother who studied, and she who made the ultimate sacrifice for her son and for the wizarding world at large. It is a pity that her spell did not work the way she meant it," Hermione explained.

"Huh." Regulus shook his head. "I never thought about it like that. It makes a lot of sense though. We always raise a glass to Lily on October 31st."

Hermione seemed to understand that the subject was a difficult one for him because she changed it. "Now, what do you like to do for fun?"

Regulus flushed with embarrassment. "Well, I like to read," he admitted quietly.

"I do as well. My friends are always teasing me about it." Hermione grinned at him. "And that makes the last question fit perfectly. What is your favourite book?"

"That's too hard," he complained. "I love so many. Let me think… New Theory of Numerology by Lukas Karuzos was one of my favourites as a teenager."

"Oh, I loved that one," Hermione added excitedly. "Do you like Arithmancy?"

Regulus gave her a slow, lazy smirk. "That's one way of putting it," he agreed.

Hermione clapped her hands. "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," she announced.


A cheerful rap on the door made Regulus smile, and he automatically rose to go answer the door. He pulled it open and grinned at the witch on his doorstep.

"Hello, neighbour," she said cheerfully. "Are you ready?"

"What is this thing called again?" He asked as he pulled on his coat and grabbed a scarf.

Hermione laughed. "It's a charity book sale to benefit Muggleborn war orphans… I think that's what they said it was anyway."

Regulus froze. "Oh?"

"Yes, one of the wizards in the Bulgarian Office recommended it to me," Hermione explained. She paused at the look of consternation on Regulus' face. "Would you rather not go? We could do something else, if you want."

"No, no, I want to go." Regulus rushed to reassure her. I'm just not sure how welcome I'll be. "Let's go. We don't want all of the good books to be gone before we get there."

The Fifth Annual Hogwarts Charity Book Sale for the benefit of the Muggleborn Scholarship Fund was much larger than Regulus had expected. He noticed the stares directed his way and gave a mental sigh. It had been nice dating Hermione these last few months. It was so pleasant to have someone who didn't come with all of the emotional baggage of the wizarding war. Someone who took him at face value and liked him for his own sake, and not what they supposed him to be. He placed his hand at the small of her back and followed her as she oohed and aahed over the different tables of books.

"Look at this, Regulus, The Keys of Wisdom by Zosimus." Hermione looked at him with an excited gleam in her eye and he could feel heat pool in his belly.

"Definitely worth having on your shelf," Regulus observed.

Like a literary butterfly Hermione flitted from table as she picked and chose which books she wanted. The stack of books that Regulus carried as he followed behind her grew larger and larger, but he didn't mind at all. It was all worth it to see the joy on Hermione's face and the shining light in those eyes. That all ended when someone shoved him in the back and sent him sprawling with the books flying everywhere.

"Oh!" Hermione cried and she flung out her hands to stop the books mid-air. With a clever bit of wandless magic she stacked the books up again and rushed to help Regulus get up. "Are you all right, Regulus?" She demanded.

"Him, miss, he's just Death Eater scum," an angry witch called out.

"Your kind isn't welcome here," growled an angry wizard who was standing on the other side of the table. A chorus of voices joined in, agreeing with the wizard.

Silently, Hermione helped him to his feet and dragged him away from the book sale—leaving behind all of the books she'd spent a good hour choosing. Judging from the perfectly straight line of Hermione's back, her tightly pressed lips, and the way her hair was sparking she was absolutely furious. Regulus' heart sank somewhere around his ankles. This was it then.

When they got back to the apartment building Hermione dragged him down the hall to her apartment and forced him onto her small couch. She paced back and forth in front of him for several long minutes. Finally she sighed and faced him.

"Is it true?" She asked quietly.

"That I'm Death Eater scum?" Regulus countered. His lips twisted into a bitter, mocking smile. He pulled up his shirtsleeve, revealing the faded Dark Mark that still marred his arm. Hermione stared at his arm.

"Why didn't you tell me?" She asked at last.

"Because it was nice," Regulus confessed in a soft voice. "You didn't judge me. You hadn't already decided the kind of wizard I was. You just… you treated me like a person."

Hermione nodded. "The comments in the paper make a lot more sense now," she murmured to herself. "Why did you join?" She asked.

Regulus put his head in his hands so that he wouldn't have to look at Hermione and see the disgust in her eyes. "I was raised a certain way," he began carefully. "My brother Sirius always rejected what our parents tried to teach us, but he was braver than I was. When the war came my cousins flocked to Voldemort. Sirius had been disowned for siding with those who were fighting Voldemort. I thought… it was my duty."

"How old were you?" Hermione asked softly.

"Seventeen," Regulus whispered. "I had just turned seventeen and my cousins were pressuring me to join them."

"You aren't in Azkaban," Hermione pointed out in that same quiet voice. "So what changed?"

"Voldemort asked for a House Elf," Regulus whispered. "It seemed… safer than some of the other volunteers he asked for. Kreacher was willing to do it, for my sake, and I gave him very strict instructions." Regulus paused and swallowed hard. That night still gave him nightmares. A gentle hand was placed over his and he knew without looking that it was Kreacher's.

"Master Regulus ordered Kreacher to return to him when Kreacher was done," Kreacher told Hermione solemnly. "Master Regulus saved Kreacher's life." The House Elf went on to describe what Voldemort had done to him that night, and then went on to describe how he and Regulus had gone back to destroy the Horcrux.

"Les anneaux de Melusine," Hermione whispered when Kreacher was done.

"I didn't know what else to do, so I had Kreacher take me to Sirius," Regulus added. "It took me months to recover from the Inferi wounds, and Sirius had to keep me completely hidden because Voldemort had set a price on my head." He sighed and rubbed at his temples. "After that I helped Sirius and the Order of the Phoenix to take down Voldemort. There was no going back for me."

Hands grasped his jaw and forced his head up so that Hermione could glare at him. There was a fierce look in her cinnamon eyes which made them almost glow. "You are not Death Eater scum," she whispered forcefully. A muffled sob escaped her and she blinked rapidly. "That was the most… you are the bravest wizard I've ever met. I can't tell you… oh, merde!" Hermione cried and then she kissed him.

It was a fierce kiss filled with too much emotion for Regulus to properly sort out. Hermione wrapped her arms around Regulus and plastered herself to him, not that Regulus was complaining. He cupped Hermione's face in his hands and kissed her back greedily for fear that this might be his one and only chance to do what he'd wanted to do for months.

Hermione was the one who ended their kiss. She pulled back her eyes searching his face. Finally, she offered him a tentative smile. "Hi neighbour," she whispered with a grin.

Regulus could feel his lips curving in response. "Hi," he whispered back.