"I told you to stay out of my room."
Hermione almost collapsed when she heard the petulant voice. It sounded so much like a young Sirius. That was impossible though; Sirius had died, gone through the veil, and left Harry horribly adrift. They were all adrift now, of course. The three of them - her, Harry, and Ron - all trapped in this filthy townhouse as they tried to make sense of the clues Dumbledore had left them. Kreacher cooked, and fussed, but good meals didn't keep them from feeling stuck. She'd taken to poking through empty rooms because she had to be doing something. She couldn't just sit and read and reread the fairy tale book she'd been left.
She didn't think she'd find the answer to how to get the locket from Umbridge, much less how to find the rest of the horcruxes, from The Tale of the Three Brothers.
"I said get out. No trespassing."
A pile of laundry on the bed sat up and resolved into a boy. Dark hair sat atop pale skin and almost black eyes. His face looked blotchy, as if he'd been crying. Those eyes were rimmed with red. "Who are you?" he asked in the poshest accent she'd ever heard. He made the Queen sound like mere received pronunciation. He might have been from a different century.
Hermione smoothed her jumper almost unconsciously at his stare. She knew none of them looked their best. She'd packed quite a bit, but you could only wear the same things so many times in a row before it felt horrid no matter how clean it was. "I'm Hermione Granger," she said, determined to press onwards. "Who are you?"
"How did you get in here?" they both asked at the same time, then looked at one another.
"This is my house," he said. "This is my room. You're the one who needs to explain things."
"Regulus," she breathed out. He was dead. He was gone. He was sitting in front of her looking annoyed that she'd had the temerity to come into his room.
He was bloody good looking.
She sank down onto a wooden chair, ignoring the wadded Quidditch banner sitting on it, and tried to think. This wasn't possible, but neither were so many things. Regulus Black was in his room. Was she in his time? Was he in hers? Could they use him in the horcrux hunt? Would he kiss her? He'd been a blood purist, hadn't he? Probably not, then.
Maybe she should kill him. He was a Death Eater, after all. She tried to look at his arm as surreptitiously as she could but she'd never been good at being subtle and he shoved his sleeve up. "Take a look, then," he said. "You can go tell Mum I did it just like she told me I ought."
"I'm not here from your mother," Hermione said. She was at a total loss. His mother was dead. He was dead. She took a deep breath. "Did you really want to be a Death Eater."
The look on his face answered that. He wasn't going to start crying in front of her, but keeping himself calm was almost breaking him.
"Want to help us kill him?" she asked.
Oh, the spark of hope in his eyes. It was wary. He didn't trust her at all. But he was desperate enough to grab on to even the tiniest branch that might save him from drowning.
She put one foot back across the threshold of the door into what she hoped was her time, and reached a hand out to him. He took it without hesitation and she pulled his across. He hadn't been in the present for more than moment before she heard the gargled shriek of a house elf truly happy for the first time in years.
She managed to get out of the way just in time to see Kreacher fling himself at Regulus Black's knees. "You found him," the elf said, or she thought he said through all his sobbing. "Master is back. Miss Hermione found him!"
She wondered how she was going to explain this to Ron. And Harry. But mostly Ron. She decided she didn't want to think too hard about why she was so sure it would be harder to talk to Ron about this and just led Regulus Black through what remained of his house down to the kitchen. They had a lot to talk about.
. . . . . . . . . .
A/N Thank you to alasseablack on tumblr for the prompt.