A/N: In honor of Hermione Granger's birthday, I really wanted to write a piece for Glimpses of Hermione. But you know me . . . it became a one-shot. Inspired by Katmom, who mentioned the words "soul bond" in an email, I will lay this out here. It's kind of a journey, but I get there.

I own many copyrights in the world, but this is not among them, nor will it ever be. All things Harry Potter belong to J.K. Rowling and all to whom she has given license. I'm just here to write romances that coulda/shoulda been.

9 June 1994

Peter. Peter Pettigrew. Damned rat. Damn him to everlasting Fiendfyre for all eternity!

Sirius Black fumed and paced and waited, but he could feel his mind splintering like a broken mirror.

Mirror. James's mirror. Harry. I can give it to Harry. Talk to my boy. My boy. Talk to my boy. He's my boy. Take care of the rat and explain it to Prongslet and . . .

The Animagus growled and lurked and waited, his canine senses flaring wide open to catch the first hint of the stench of their erstwhile companion, Peter Pettigrew. Oh, he'd know. The little rat was with that family of gingers, he'd seen in the paper.

Ginger family. The Weasleys. I remember Arthur. And his brothers-in-law. Bloody hell. The Prewett twins. If only Lily and James had been able to have more kids. Would Harry have a ginger sister? A little girl? Who'd be her godfather? Remus! Of course. Guarantee that she'd be a swot like her mum. Oh, Lily . . .

Hogwarts. His boy was in there. His boy and the ginger boys and the rat. And Dumbledore. Bloody idiot headmaster.

Leader of the Light my furry arse! Leave me stewing with Dementors, will you? I'll get you for that, old man. I will . . .

"Ron, wait! What are you doing?" A girl's voice, high and shrill and demanding. Padfoot growled as the scents wafted through the light breeze to reach him.

"Scabbers! Come back! Scabbers!"

If these kids scare Pettigrew away, I'll—Wait! Is it . . . ?

He braced himself on all four legs and tossed his muzzle into the air. Pettigrew! His mind might be a mess, but his nose had never forgotten a thing. Those damnable Dementors couldn't obliterate those instincts. The rat came, its tiny legs navigating the thick grass and pebbles. Sirius growled, deep in his chest. All he'd wanted for years, so many years, right here in front of him.


The rat froze, beady eyes wide and focused on Padfoot's narrowed silvery ones. Then, he chittered and darted back to the ginger boy who grabbed the mangy thing with both hands. "Scabbers!"

No! Not now. Now when he's so close! I've got him now. And I can get him to the Shack. I can. I will and, there's Harry and the demanding girl and they'll know and . . . Ha!

He lunged, biting the boy on the leg. "Hey!" the lad said, but he kept hold of the rat, which was all Sirius cared for. The Whomping Willow was just behind him, just there, and he tugged and dragged the shouting, protesting boy and squealing rat down, past the murderous branches of the Willow and into the secret passage below.

Got him now. Moony. Hey, is it a full moon tonight? Will Moony be here? I, I don't remember. Bloody hell, I used to remember them all. And, oh no you don't, Ginger Boy. You . . . just . . . come . . . along.

"Hey! No! Stop! Agh!" The boy kicked and squirmed but Padfoot knew what he was doing. He dragged and pulled and maneuvered the boy and growled through the leg in his jaws whenever the rat dared to sneak a peek at him. "Hey! Bloody hell, you're a bleeding Grim and I don't want to die! Neither does Scabbers!"

Too . . . bad.

Then, they were there and Sirius dragged the boy through the door, blocking it thereafter so that neither boy nor rat could leave. Instead, he herded the boy up the stairs.

"All right. Fine. I'll go. You know, this doesn't mean you get to kill me or my friend Harry, right? Just because we saw you in Divination doesn't mean this is for real. You know. Harry Potter has faced You-Know-Who. He'll be able to take on a Grim, no problem. Just you wait!" Then, the boy hissed as he limped across the uppermost room, half-dragging his injured leg.

Sirius had a modicum of regret for having hurt the lad, but only a tiny bit. His focus was all on the rat the boy still held, petting it, for Merlin's sake. He kept his Animagus form so as to keep the boy on the broken bed across the room. He could better intimidate Pettigrew as well, in this form. As a human, he might not move as well; his body was worn out, tired, underfed. But Padfoot was not as burdened with the psychological parts of himself and had more energy.

Not that Sirius was able to think in those terms. He merely knew himself to be more effective like this for the nonce. But all too soon, he heard his boy.

Harry! Harry's come. Harry will help. He'll want revenge as well. But I can't talk to him like this and he'll think I'm . . . Merlin, he doesn't know me!

In that heartbeat, Sirius regained his human skin, rising to his feet with his prison uniform, rotting and ragged as it was, hanging from his too-thin frame. "Now, then, Peter, there will be a reckoning," he declared in a harsh, raspy voice. He didn't spare the ginger boy a glance; his focus was all on Pettigrew. Still, he tried to calm the lad. "Just want the rat, boy. Don't worry."

"Come on, follow me!"

Harry! His boy! His boy. His godson. Coming now.

"This is the Shrieking Shack, Harry! What—"

"You saw the prints, 'Mione, and—"

The ginger shifted, dustclouds rising around his body. "Harry! Careful! It's—"

The door opened wide, tucking Sirius behind it, but he could still see the bed. The boy. The rat.

Kill you. Kill you now, you mangy rodent. You betrayed them and their son will want to kill you as well. We both can do it. It won't be hard. No, not at all.

"It's Sirius Black," the ginger said as Sirius pushed the door to once more.

"Harry," Sirius tried to say. He took a step forward, wand at the ready, but not pointed anywhere near his godson.

"Stay away!" the girl shouted, her voice echoing in the shadowy room. "If you want to get to Harry, you'll have to get through us first!"

"I don't want Harry! I just want him!" Sirius protested, looking into the girl's fierce eyes and taking in the dirt that lined her cheeks, the wild hair that moved about her head with its own energy, and the slice she bore from what looked to be a rough object. "Now move, girl!"

"No!" She thrust her wand up toward Sirius's jaw and he snapped.

He jerked his wand arm to point at Pettigrew and used his other hand to grab the little miss's offending hand. "Stop it," he insisted, pulling her aside. "He's guilty and I'm going to make it right."

"You betrayed them!" Harry shouted.

Then, a few things happened and it was only much later, the following day, that Sirius was able to put them all in order and comprehend them fully. Because at that moment, the girl rolled up on the balls of her feet and placed herself directly between Sirius and Harry and glared. Sirius met her gaze, her small hand surrounded by his much larger and more damaged one, and a flare of magic burst in silver rain around them.

And the door banged open and Remus arrived.

And Snivellus showed up, the bastard. Harry disarmed him.

And Peter was exposed and forced into his human skin.

And the girl continued to stay between Sirius and Harry but Sirius didn't mind, for whenever he looked toward her, his thoughts were clear, his temper calm, and his chest actually felt light. As if she were a living Cheering Charm.

"What's your name?" he managed to ask her as they put the ginger boy between them on the way out of the Shack, through the secret passage, and out into the night.

"Hermione Granger," she answered with a huff. "What was that silvery explosion?"

The boy, Ron Weasley, made an annoyed sound. "Herms, come on. Later, all right? Did you forget what night this is?"

"Buckbeak's Execution!"

"Shite!" Hermione whispered, before blushing as Ron and Harry laughed.

The sound amused Sirius and he felt his face crinkle in an unfamiliar manner. "I'm smiling," he whispered. He glanced at Hermione because he just had to, and she offered him an empathetic grin. "I'm smiling," he said again. "Don't know when I've done that."

"Too long," Moony said, his voice tired as he emerged into the open air. "Pads, get the kids back to Hogwarts and get yourself out of here. You're still a wanted man." He pointed his wand at Pettgrew, who was then petrified and bound and held helpless on the ground.

Harry clapped Sirius on the shoulder and Sirius sighed, something tugging on his heart and making tears come to his eyes.

"We'll figure this out, Sirius," Harry said decisively.

"You know I'm your godfather," he murmured as Hermione guided Ron to a boulder where he could get off his injured leg.

Harry nodded. "I know."

They gazed off into the darkness, and Sirius felt, more than heard, Hermione Granger fuss over her friend. Friend. Yes, he was her friend. Sirius wasn't upset by that, but he was hoping he could see her again. She helped him think. "So, if you want, you know, I would like to get to know you. It's my job, Harry. It's a bond, a bond your father trusted to me."

Harry bounced a little. "Really?" He seemed about to say something more but Hermione jumped to her feet.

"The moon! Professor Lupin, the moon!"

"I know, Miss Granger. Sirius, help them!"

No! No time! Harry! Just got my skin back! But kids! Innocent kids! And Pettigrew! Bloody hell! Have to . . . no time! No! Yes! Shitshitshit!

His heart was racing, his mind breaking with the pressures placed upon it. He looked back to check on Hermione and she stared at him, her own focus palpable as she nodded to herself and moved quickly to his side.

She placed a hand on his forehead. "Are you all right?"

There was no flash of silvery light this time, no visible connection, but he felt it. Felt his thoughts coalescing and making sense once again. He could prioritize and act and he did so.

"Go!" he insisted, taking her hand in his for a brief but eternal moment. "Go. I've got this."

She nodded and turned to gather Ron and—with visible reluctance, Peter—before walking slowly away as Moony went wild.

24 February 1995

"Sirius, my boy," Dumbledore said upon seeing him in the stands at the Black Lake. "A fine morning, don't you think?"

Sirius took a deep breath, feeling the cold enter his body as it had whilst he was still in Azkaban, even though he was now a free man and cleared of any and all wrongdoing, ever. In fact, he was over a million Galleons richer these days, since the reparations had been made. Still, he shook his head. "No, Albus I don't agree. It's bleeding freezing out here and I can't believe you've allowed my godson to continue in this Tournament."

Clouds gathered overhead as the students clamored for excitement of some sort. The Champions had yet to show up, but their supporters were vocal enough for anyone. He was looking, though, for someone else. Someone very particular. "Where're Harry's friends?" he asked, keeping his tone casual, though his focus was not.

The old Headmaster cleared his throat and frowned whilst stroking his beard. "They're fine. Just, er, occupied at present."

Inner alarms went clanging. "Where the bloody hell are they?" he demanded on a rasp. He leaned in toward Albus, and those nearest to them drew their wands. Sirius took another long breath and backed off a bit, but he repeated his question.

"They're fine, Sirius. They're in a stasis in Black Lake as part of the Task. And I assure you that Harry is in no real danger."

Sirius narrowed his eyes and blew a heavy breath out his nose. "No. Real. Danger. The Merfolk are down there, and they do not take kindly to—"

"It's been handled, Sirius. And that's all I will say. Now, avail yourself of the fine hot chocolate there and enjoy the Task."

He did nothing of the kind, preferring a sip of the firewhisky he had in a flask at his hip under his charmed silk robes. Black, of course, for his House, but lined with crimson for Gryffindor. Taking a seat, he glared at the surface of the dark lake.

Hermione Granger. Soulmate. Bonded. Met with magic and conscious connection and a wish for understanding.

She'd been fourteen when they'd met. A furious fourteen, quick on the wand and with a temper that never failed to make him smile, when he thought of her. A brilliant girl, as he had come to learn from Harry now that he'd gained custody of his godson. She'd helped Sirius to think clearly, to heal his mind, to reattach his heart to the basic human sentiments he had of necessity abandoned whilst he was wrongfully imprisoned.

She'd spent a week with them this past summer, a week with Sirius and Remus and Harry and Ron and Ginny and Luna. A houseful of teens, but it had been enough time for him to get to know her enough. Enough to want to wait.

He was twenty years her senior, but he didn't feel like it. Some days, that week she'd been with them, he'd felt barely five years older. Some days, more like fifty. Still, they had formed a bond, even if she didn't know what it was.

Harry knew. Had he told her?

"What happened with you and 'Mione, that day in the Shack?" the boy—young man!—had asked late one night when the others had gone to their beds and the two of them were sprawled in front of a low fire. It wasn't cool, but the fire was cozy and Harry seemed to enjoy the atmosphere.

Sirius had tried to step around the question. "When she threatened me?"

"No, when there was that silvery rain that fell on you two." Harry drew invisible patterns on the carpet. "It was weird, but no one said anything and at first I thought I'd imagined it."

"No, lad. You didn't." He'd studied his godson and sighed. "We bonded. But she doesn't know it."

Harry stiffened before rolling up to sit, back straight. "She's my age, Sirius!"

"Not like that, lad. Did you see the color?"


"Right. It wasn't gold. Gold would've been . . . awkward." At Harry's impatient gesture, he elaborated. "Gold is like a romantic bonding. Eternal true love and all. Silver is for wholeness. It isn't about sex, if that's what you're thinking."

"Good. Because that'd be . . . wrong. I mean, she's Hermione."

Something prompted Sirius to say, "And Hermione is a pretty girl. Haven't you noticed?"

Harry had appeared taken aback. "Dunno. She's just always been . . . Hermione. And she's only fourteen, Sirius. Well, she'll be fifteen in September, but still." He scowled and stood up. "And I do know she's a girl."

Sirius grinned. "A pretty girl."

"She's like my sister."

"That's fine."

"And you're like, my dad's best friend. So." When Sirius had laughed lightly, Harry had thrown up his hands. "I am done with his conversation. Good night."

"Don't . . ."

"I'm not mad, Sirius."

Sirius put out the fire with a bit of wandless magic; not hard to do as he was the master of the house. "I was going to ask you," he said quietly as they opened the door of the lounge, "not to tell Hermione about the bond."

Harry snorted loudly. "She's probably already researched every possible reason for that bit of magic, you know."

And that day, as the Champions came to their designated spots on the landing on Black Lake, Sirius still didn't know what Hermione knew or guessed.

He couldn't bring himself to ask her.

20 December 1995

"Harry! Oh, Harry!" Hermione Granger all but burst into the old Black Manor on Grimmauld Place, her voice distraught and hair wild and cold with the wintery weather.

"He's up in his room," Sirius said quietly, closing the door behind Remus, who'd gone to fetch her. "He won't come down."

Hermione huffed and glared in the general direction of the staircase. "Well, I'll see about that."

Warmth, the first he'd felt in hours and days, suffused Sirius and he opened his arms to her. "I'm so glad you're here."

After a hesitance and a brief increase in her heart rate that his Animagus senses picked up on with little effort, Hermione came to him for an embrace that involved no actual skin. As she was still bundled in a cloak and jumper and who knew what layers, there was no sense of anything intimate, from Sirius's perspective.

But was there for her? Her warm brown gaze darted this way and that, avoiding his in a manner that he found endearing and frustrating. He'd have to talk with Moony about it.

"Go on up, lass. And you know where your room is? You're with Ginny, but everyone's staying here just now."

"I understand," she said. "Closer."


"Thank you," she said, pausing as she left the foyer. "Thank you for taking care of him."

Remus had been waiting for her to leave and when she had, he cleared his throat. "So?"

"So what?"

The men whispered, confident in the knowledge that no one could pick up on their nearly subsonic conversation so long as they stayed at the foot of the stairs. The rest of the Weasleys were in the lounge or kitchen, and Molly herself was still with Arthur at St. Mungo's. "So she's sixteen."

Sirius made a face at his oldest friend. "So? I can still keep caring about her the way I always have. She's twenty years younger, remember?"

"You were hitting on birds twenty years older, once."

"They weren't Her—, er, they weren't her. I don't think I'll ever bond to anyone else, and I don't want to." He just wanted her to be safe. Happy. He was proud of her and hopeful that she would spend time with him whilst she visited but beyond that . . .? "It's like we traded places, Moony," he teased.

"Right. I've got the sexual frustration and you've got the pretty swot."

"That's my cousin making you sexually frustrated," Sirius said with a low growl. "Be a gentleman. Wolf. Whatever."

"I'm trying."

18 June 1996

It all changed that night.

It had been, Sirius knew, a hellacious year for his godson and he'd done what he could to alleviate some of it, but the Ministry was sitting all fat and happy in Voldemort's pocket and there was little he could do except support Harry from a distance.

A distance that shrunk all at once one night when he heard a strange, harsh sound. He'd never heard it before and half-jogged throughout the old house to find the source of it.

It was Kreacher. And the old house-elf was actually laughing.

Laughing! That did not bode well.

"What are you laughing about?" he demanded of Kreacher.

"I live to serve the Ancient and Noble House of Black," Kreacher intoned. "Not the filthy Mudblood who would ask me impertinent questions."

Sirius felt his heart jolt within him. Hermione! "Did she Floo? Miss Granger? What did she say?" Sirius picked the house-elf up by one ear and tossed him on the nearest chair. "What did she say?"

"She was looking for Master, the Shame of our Ancient and Noble House. Looking for him to see if he was not at home. I live to serve the Ancient and Noble House of Black." Kreacher's wrinkled face was utterly impassive, save for a gleam in his large eyes.

Sirius's hands twitched with his desire to do actual physical harm to the old creature. "Where did she think I was? What did you tell her?" When the house-elf appeared as if he would avoid the questions, Sirius moved to stand over him, doing his best to intimidate without contact. Hermione, he had learnt to his dismay, felt sorry for the thing. Kreacher. "What. Did. You. Tell her? I demand you answer me."

That worked. "Filthy Mudblood wanted to know if you were at home. I said you were not. That is all."

"Where did she think I was?"

Kreacher glared at him. "Ministry. That is what she asked. If you were there. If you had been taken there or called there. Now I have answered. I have served the Shameful Master."

Sirius backed off, mind whirling. Hermione! Department of Mysteries. "What by Merlin's saggy arse is she doing? No, it'd be Harry. It's always Harry. Damn it!"

What with one Floo call and another, he arrived in time to fight. To be seen fighting. To lay eyes on the misshapen stretch of former humanity that was Voldemort. To take on his own cousin, Bellatrix, and send her through a ragged aperture.

He'd been there to see Hermione. Broken and bleeding, guarded by young Longbottom.

Sirius felt his mind splinter again, as it hadn't done for years. It was as if Dementors were infiltrating the Ministry. Cold and ominous, stealing every bit of rational thought he had and replacing it with terror and misery.

"Hermione," he whispered, falling to her side.

Harry joined him and both of them reached for Hermione's nearest hand. Harry let go first.

"Sirius," he said, his voice thick. "What if she—?"

"She can't," Sirius protested, watching a golden glow fill the space between where his hand gripped Hermione's and the open wound on her torso. "Look," he said, choking, smiling, in pain but also ridiculously hopeful all at once. "Look."

"Whab is dad?" Longbottom asked, his voice clogged.

Harry shook his head, blinking tears away. "Sirius . . . really?"

The glow faded, but Sirius couldn't let go of her. "Really." He kept Hermione's hand in his, acknowledging the bond, but needing to connect with Harry, as well. "You?"

The young man blew out a breath, took off his glasses, and scrubbed at his face. "Fine. They didn't get it. The Prophecy. You're okay. I'm okay. Remus is okay. Ron will be okay. So will Nev and Luna and everyone . . . we'll make sure she is, too. C'mon. You carry her. Let's get to Madam Pomfrey."

Sirius sat by her side for days, waiting for her to awaken. He didn't mention the bond.

I'm a coward, but at least no one's sending me away. Twenty years older; everyone'd have a fit. Molly would scream to the rafters and Minnie would guard her cub with everything she had. And what about her parents? Best to keep it to myself.

He and Harry escorted her home, and he added surreptitious wards to her family's property.

1 August 1997

She looked . . . well, edible, really. Rich chestnut hair in touchable curls around her shoulders, the playful red dress that skimmed her curves and made his mouth go dry. Sun-kissed skin from a month spent with him and Harry after they'd all three persuaded her parents to disappear from this part of the world for a while.

She'd cried after her parents had left. Weeping into his chest as he'd held her. But he hadn't done anything like chatting her up. He'd just done his best to support her and remind her that her parents would be safe, even if they were angry that she'd waited until she was beyond their legal reach to ask them to go.

They couldn't demand she join them. And part of Sirius was fearful for her safety, but mostly, he wanted her near enough for him to protect.

So seeing her at the Delacour/Weasley wedding, he was content. Sort of.

"Will you dance with an old dog?" he managed to ask her after a bracing swallow of firewhisky. Oh, Remus and Tonks though he was hilarious, but he'd show them. After this was all over.

Hermione blushed but placed her hand in his and slid into his ever-so-proper embrace on the dance floor under the marquis at the Burrow. "You're looking fit, Sirius," she said after an extended session of lip-biting.

He cocked a brow. "Well, thank you. You're a vision," he assured her with a smile.

She laughed. "I won't ask about what kind of vision."

Pulling her closer against himself for a moment, he leaned down to whisper in her ear. "The most perfect kind, as I think you may know. Golden, even." It was something of a play, that was, but he had already decided that they needed to get it said. Harry was Up to Something, that was certain, and this might be the last time they'd be together with smiles on their faces for quite a while.

Her breath caught but she didn't pull away. Instead, she rested her forehead against him. "Ah." They danced, his arms around her, her hands linked behind his neck. He felt incredulous gazes dart their way, but Harry—good lad—was acting as if they weren't even there. Molly, thank Merlin, was fully occupied being Mother of the Groom or some such. "Ah, yes," Hermione said again, her voice barely reaching his ear. She did look up then, her expression a bit wary, which made his heart ache. "Can we, would it be okay if we . . .?" She bit her lip again and darted a quick look around, nodding when she saw Harry and nodding again when she caught Ron's gaze. "Now is a good time, if we could?"

"You're up to something." He led them, still swaying to the music, to the far edge of the dance floor and then eased her off into a shadowy spot just outside the marquis. The music and laughter were all around them, but he brought his focus in on her. He could still remember that first time he'd touched her. When she'd sharpened his mind, helped him to heal himself, helped him to be . . . better.

Had he done the same for her? Ever?

She bit her lip again and he had to tug the plump flesh free. "Stop that. You'll bruise." He wiggled his brows at her in a playful manner. "And if anyone's going to bruise those lips, Miss Granger, I'd rather it be me." There, that was direct. Time to chat her up, he surmised. Instincts and all that.

"Oh!" Her hands fluttered and he caught them, waiting until she brought her eyes back to meet his. "Oh," she said again. "Well, I thank you, I, I had thought of that myself, actually, but, with one thing and another and—"

"And the bond?"

"I've researched it," she said immediately. They both laughed. Her expression relaxed and she smiled up at him. "And I wanted to thank you. For all the support you've given Harry. He's been so happy."

It was his turn to hold his breath. "Do you, do you fancy him?"

"No!" She shook her head stepped closer to him. "No. I'm bonded to another, didn't you know?" She peeked a mischievous look up through a tangle of curls. "It's just all been a bit chaotic."

His chest tightened as he drew her hands up to his lips to plant light kisses on her knuckles. She watched, wide-eyed and clearly happy. "It has been," he said against her skin. "Still?"

"As you said, we're up to something. You know," she went on in a conversational tone even as she moved her hands up so that he let go of her and settled his hands at her waist. "You know, it's very hard keeping a secret in a golden bond. It was easier when it was silver."

He laughed, a barking sound that he never tried to tame. "What secret are you keeping?" Then, he frowned. "Not if you're, you know, a Secret Keeper, love. You know how I feel about that."

"I do. Love?"

It was his turn to have heated cheeks and he did. "Apparently."

She kept her focus on his eyes. "Well, I quite fancy you, too." He took a breath to ask another question, but she began talking, her fingers curled into his hair and her words bursting forth as if she'd been holding them back forever. "Did Harry tell you his secret? We're going to look for the . . . pieces. Of his soul. So we can destroy them forever and Harry can . . . live. We want Harry to live. So we're doing this, Harry and Ron and I. We won't be going back to school, we're just going to do this, secret and smart. I've been preparing and so has Harry and, well, you know that since we've been with you, right? So we're doing that and I don't know how long it will take, but I really wanted to tell you before we go that you are so important. So important. We'll use the mirror to keep in touch, and to, to meet you." Taking a breath at last, she swallowed visibly and he followed the motion of her throat down to her delicate collarbones and out to her shoulders, his body stiff and his mind and heart racing. "Because I, I know we have this, this bond, Sirius Black, and it gives me hope. Hope that we'll get through this. That we'll win. And that . . . that gold will be our color. You know, forever."

Her words stopped but there was nothing in her face that was regretful or indecisive. This was, after all, Hermione Granger. Brightest witch of her age, he had it on good authority. What did a man say when his woman had handed all that to him?

He didn't say anything, if he was Sirius Black.

Instead, he slid his hands up her body to her face, cupping it firmly before leaning down to kiss her. It was the kiss he thought of in the dead of winter when he was alone after Harry went back to school. The kiss he thought of whilst getting dressed in the formal black robes he wore for the wedding. The kiss he dreamt of often since their bond turned golden on him so unexpectedly.

She kissed him back. Her lips were supple when they parted for him and he held back nothing when he went in to taste her. Finesse? He was acting on instinct. Instinct and an innate feel for her, for their bond, for the golden hope she held for their future.

He kissed her, drinking her in, feeling her body press into his. He didn't close his eyes, though, not for a moment. He wanted to remember it all, this first kiss of theirs. He wanted to remember everything. The curves of her body, the strength of her fingers, the arch of her brow, the taste of her . . .

Because his eyes were open, he saw the silvery Patronus as it emerged overhead and flew into the marquis. He broke their kiss and tugged Hermione inside without an explanation. He didn't need one.

Kingsley's voice issued from the silver lynx's image. "The Ministry has fallen. The Minister of Magic is dead. They are coming."

"Harry! Ron!" Hermione cried out.

Sirius still had her hand. "I'm not letting you go without me."

She gave him an exasperated look but the disorder prevalent in the marquis at that moment did not allow her time to argue. She merely dragged him with her as his godson and their best friend joined her. "Ready?" she asked the teenagers.

Harry eyed Sirius, a question in his eyes. Sirius smirked, nodded, but the gave his attention to Hermione. "I'm ready," he said.

Ron blinked. "You're coming as well? Cor, that's a bit of good luck. Good." The ginger lad nodded. "Ready, 'Mione."

"Ready, Hermione," Harry said, looking about to find young Ginevra Weasley and staring at her for a long, heavy moment. "Let's go."

3 November 1999

"Congratulations, Padfoot!" Remus shouted, waving a bottle of Ogden's Finest in the air. "Congratulations to me as well!"

Sirius laughingly took the firewhisky from his friend. "Having twins has overset you, Moony. Go on, get your son and go on back to my cousin. She's a patient woman but . . ."

"Had to come for your wedding," Remus said more soberly. "And to tell you about the twins."

Hermione drew near then, Teddy in her arms, her smile bright. "Remus! You're still here! Give my best to Tonks, will you?"

Remus took one of her hands. "I will. And thank you both. For being their godparents." He nodded slowly. "And thank you, Hermione, for marrying this old man, here."

"Old? Never. He's a pure-blood wizard. I expect he'll still be young when I need glasses."

Sirius laughed and wrapped his arms around her, nuzzling her hair. "You keep me young, Kitten. Always have."

Remus collected his son and Floo'd away to his wife and the babies. He'd been their last, lingering guest. Hermione sighed as she cocked her head. "It's quiet."

"It is." He spun her in his arms and started humming a tune over her head.

"What's that?"

"Song by Dan Hill. Was popular the year I finished at Hogwarts. It's called 'Sometimes When We Touch'."

She leaned into him. "Sounds a bit melancholy. It's our wedding, Sirius. You're supposed to be happy. Weren't there any happy songs that year?"

He laughed and twirled her out and back. "The whole album for Grease."

She grinned. "I've seen that movie. 'Tell me about it, Stud,'" she said.

"Are you quoting?" He dropped to his knees as Travolta had in the movie and let his gaze trace her form, though it was covered by a white satin dress just then. "You're the one that I want," he said in return.

"Feel your way," she quoted back, stepping away from him.

Then, he lunged to his feet and she shouted a laugh. He let her run, let her get ahead of him—she was in heels after all—and he basked in the joy of the moment. He was healthy, whole, loved, and happy.

Married. He was married. Married to a darling woman who knew how to make him laugh when he was down, who kept him sane in his dark times, who fought like a lioness to help save their world.

"Sirius? You coming?"

The curl to her voice had him at her mercy. "Not yet! Let me get up there, first!" His house would be a house of laughter, of books, of friends, and firewhisky he decided, shedding his dress robes as he reached the bedroom wing. No more darkness. No more war.

When they came together, they were enveloped in that same rich, golden glow he'd seen before. "Bonded," she whispered, her dark eyes wide in wonder and flecked with gold.


A/N: Progress report: One historical fiction bit is up on Amazon. Yay! One will be up in maybe a month or six weeks. Yay! The novel...still in progress. lol Vikings on the History Channel is coming back in November, though, so I have to hurry. ;-)