There was a ritual that every member of the Black family spent their whole lives waiting to happen. It was celebrated with huge parties, everyone dressing up and dancing the night away. Tables would overflow with delicious food, and glasses never lacked for champagne or elf-made wine. Fairy lights would hang from every available surface, giving off a soft low. Hermione glanced around at her friends and family, all laughing and having a wonderful time. It was her turn for the Black Family 'coming-of-age' ritual (as they would call it in the Muggle world), and she should have been having the time of her life.
She was miserable.
She was hating every minute of it. Her dress (while gorgeous, Sirius bought it so of course it was) was hot and heavy, and all she wanted to do was take it off. She had allowed Ginny to do her hair and although it wasn't bushy anymore, Ginny had attacked it as if it were. The result was her hair was soaked in Sleekeazy. She tried to shake off her whiny attitude as Sirius and Remus had gone through a lot of trouble to arrange this party for her.
She smiled as she watching Harry dancing with Daphne Greengrass, a huge smile on his face and laughter leaving his lips. It warmed her heart and if anyone deserved some happiness, it was Harry. And he certainly seemed happy as he danced with his soulmate.
Oh yes, did she forget to mention that part?
The ritual, completed upon turning eighteen, was one to find their soulmate. Hermione found the whole thing rather odd, if she was being honest. She wasn't so sure she wanted to know, but no one would take her concerns seriously. They all told her it was an honor, that she should be happy. She thought that Remus understood, as she caught him eyeing her with something akin to pity in the days leading up to her party.
The worst part, in her opinion, was that Sirius would not tell her exactly what was going to happen. Sure, she had attended Harry's party, but he just called out Daphne's name and that was that. Sirius insisted it was a closely guarded secret, only handed down to the Heirs of the house.
It was driving her nuts.
Harry just laughed at her, telling her that some things were better off left unknown. All she had to do was show up to the party, let everyone stare at her, and let Sirius cast some spells on her. She had argued with Sirius, trying to get out of it by insisting she wasn't really a Black. The look he gave her at her words almost killed her. It was a mixture of disappointment and hurt. He told her, in no uncertain terms, that she was his daughter and as much a member of the House of Black as he was. She had flung herself at him then, grateful that Sirius and Remus had taken her in and adopted her when her parents were attacked and killed by Death Eaters in her fifth year. That was also the year Sirius had finally been able to have Harry come live with him. They made quite the happy family, even if Sirius had taken to complaining about his pups growing up and leaving him.
She cast a discrete Tempus and noticed it was almost time. Her eyes caught Remus', and he gave her a quick nod. He whispered something to Sirius and then made his way to her.
"Ready?" he asked when he reached her.
"Not really. You know I despise attention."
"I know, you take after me in that regard. But it will be over before you know it and then you will know the person who is your everything."
Remus was such a romantic. Knowing her luck, she would get stuck with Malfoy, who she noticed kept eyeing her up every time he thought she wasn't looking. She was fairly sure she saw Sirius smack him upside his head once. Speaking of Sirius, he was currently making an announcement that she was missing.
"...almost time for my daughter to find out who the person is that will take her away from me and Remus. Without further ado, may I present Hermione Lupin-Black!"
The applause and cheering was drowned out by the pounding of heart. She felt Remus squeeze her hand gently in understanding as he led her to the dais where Sirius was already standing. He smiled at her as she approached.
"Come on, Hermione. It will be great; you'll see. I mean, just look at me and Remus or Harry and Daphne."
Right. They were all deliriously happy and obviously expected she would be too. Hell, even she thought she should be happy. Who wouldn't want to know who their soulmate was? But if she wanted to know who it was so badly, why did she feel as if something terrible was about to happen? She looked out into the crowd, everyone watching her with expectant expressions. Catching Harry's eye, she gave him a shaky smile and turned her attention back to Sirius. After giving him a quick nod to signal she was ready, he began.
"Numen fati invocaverimus. Benedicere cognitionem animae tribuas petere mate. Ostendere decachordum fatum."*
She could feel the magic swirl around her, and her dress fluttered with it. She almost thought she could see it as it settled around her wrists, before turning into strings. It was a curious sight, being able to see the strings that she knew everyone had. Her gaze moved from the strings out to the crowd, and she jumped a bit at all the faces staring at her. She had forgotten they were there.
"Hermione," Remus said softly, trying to get her attention.
"Right. Um, I thought they were supposed to be red. Isn't that what you told me? Red strings of fate?"
It was almost like the room itself breathed as she heard a collective gasp rise from the crowd. From the two men standing next to her, she heard two different things.
Her guests were starting to whisper among themselves as she turned her attention to Sirius.
"They aren't red, Sirius."
Sirius looked like he was about to pass out from shock, and she reached out to comfort him. Remus stopped her, instead pulling Sirius close and whispering in his ear. If it was at all possible for him to grow paler, he would have. He made a quick gesture in Harry's direction and the next thing she knew, Harry and Daphne were at her side.
She was half aware that Remus was making some kind of announcement as Sirius lead her out of the room. Once they reached the library, they only had to wait a couple of minutes before Remus joined them as well. She tried to ignore the fact that the other occupants of the room all were looking at her with concern.
"Would someone please tell me what is going on?"
"Hermione, what, exactly, do you see?" Remus asked her.
"I see the strings, just like you told me I would."
"Strings? You see more than one?"
"I see two. And, like I said, they aren't red. They are both black."
"Oh gods," Remus muttered. Harry and Daphne both looked confused, while Sirius looked close to tears. "Do you see any names on the strings?"
"No. But I should, right? Isn't that how Harry knew about Daphne even though she wasn't at his party?"
"There's a choice, when the strings are black. You can choose to know, or choose not to know," Sirius explained, his voice broken and sad.
"But what does it mean that the strings are black? And why do I have two?"
She watched carefully as Remus and Sirius appeared to be having a silent conversation between them. Sirius seemed to be almost pleading to Remus. Remus finally let out a great sigh and turned towards her.
"Hermione, it means your soulmates are dead."
She heard gasps sound throughout the room, one from Daphne and the other from herself. She hadn't even realized she made a sound.
"But... dead? Both of them?"
"I'm sorry, Hermione," Remus said.
"I want to know. I want to know who they were."
"Hermione, no! You can't!" Harry yelled, finally speaking up.
"Harry – "
"No! You'll drive yourself crazy with that knowledge. I know how you are. Please, don't do this," Harry pleaded with her.
"I have to know. Sirius, please."
Sirius looked very much like he wanted to refuse her request, but a quick glare from her had him waving his hands in her direction. Wandless magic, she assumed. Suddenly, like they had been there the whole time, a name appeared on each string, and she felt ill, wishing she had listened to Harry. The horror she felt as she looked at the names must have been clearly communicated to the others, because she could hear them asking what was wrong, but yet it sounded like they were far away.
"Hermione? Are you okay?" Remus asked softly, his voice finally getting through to her. She raised her eyes, looking between Sirius and Harry, knowing she could never tell them what names appeared. Jumping up suddenly, she ran from the library, knowing she could not stay there a minute longer. The names of her soulmates were forever burned into her mind.
Regulus Arcturus Black
James Charlus Potter
*We call on the goddess of fate. Please bless this request and bestow the knowledge of the soul's mate. Show the strings of fate.
Huge thanks to Liza and Raybe for all the help and betaing duties.
Written for:The Second Theme Competition
The Getting Around Challenge: (character) Hermione Granger
A few notes (please read): Obviously this is not a canon story. Harry is a bit older than Hermione here. The war still happened in pretty much the same way (except Sirius and Remus did not die). There may be other departures (Reg will die a bit later than he did in canon). Also, please take note of the pairing (triad) for this story.
Please read and review!