IMPORTANT NOTE: This fic is a Triad-centric pairing between Sirius Black/Hermione Granger/Remus Lupin. And I mean that in every sense of the word. There will be slash content, as in guy on guy. There will be smut, including 2 guys, 1 girl and every possible variation of the three of them. There will be violence. There will be time-travel. There are squicky bits. If you can't handle any of those things, kindly depart, stage left.

A HUGE thank ShayaLonnie for helping me out with this fic. I would still be stuck puzzling over time loops, relativity theories and confusing time-jumps if it wasn't for her. She's truly amazing.

Used To Be Mine

By Kittenshift17

Chapter 1

2nd August 1995

Number 12, Grimmauld Place

Hermione Granger blushed as she tiptoed into the kitchen at Grimmauld Place in the early hours of the morning. She'd been trying to be as quiet as possible, having snuck downstairs from the bedroom she shared with Ginny on the second floor. She had come with the intention of making herself a nice cup of tea, clutching a book to her chest, dressed in her pale blue pyjamas, her purple robe fastened around her tightly. She'd meant to sneak down making as little noise as possible, not wanting to wake anyone or disturb the other occupants in the musty old house.

She didn't know why she'd awoken so early. It was barely even six yet, but nonetheless she had done so. She'd tried to lay in bed and read quietly but when she'd begun to get thirsty, Hermione decided to sneak downstairs rather than waking Ginny. She hadn't bothered getting dressed in her day clothes yet because her trunk had a creaky hinge that often woke Ginny.

She had expected that she would have the dark kitchen to herself at such an early hour of the morning. The Order meeting the previous night had run late and Hermione knew that even Mrs Weasley wouldn't be up just yet. That was why she froze in place as she entered the kitchen, her eyes landing on the dark haired wizard sitting at the kitchen table, already dressed for the day.

Sirius didn't look up at her stealthy entrance and Hermione tried to keep from blushing, scolding herself for the silly crush she'd developed on the man. It was foolish of her, she knew, not to mention wildly inappropriate. He was almost twenty years older than she was and had never showed even a skerrick of inclination that he cared about her at all beyond that of a strictly platonic relationship between an adult and a teenager still in school who was the best friend of his godson. Hermione had tried to tell herself she was just being silly and that she was only interested in him because he was so handsome and so witty. She would never act on it and even if she did, it wasn't as though Sirius was interested in her that way.

She was the best friend of his godson, for crying out loud. She was still just sixteen while he was thirty-five. Hermione wasn't deluding herself that there could be anything between them, but that didn't stop her thinking he was handsome. Currently he sat at the kitchen table, his hand absently trailing up and down the length of Crookshanks's back where the cat laid curled up in a ball on the table in front of the wizard. Hermione could tell from his faraway expression that Sirius was lost in deep thought. So deep that she forwent bidding him a good morning for fear of startling him too greatly.

Instead Hermione slipped across the room, tapping her wand to the side of the kettle to bring the water to a boil while she went about filling a teapot with some tealeaves. She glanced at Sirius surreptitiously, noticing he was still oblivious to her presence. She wondered if he'd like a cup of tea too. She didn't dare ask him when he was so far away, but noticing that he didn't have a cup in front of him, Hermione simply reached for a second tea cup, levitating all of the tea making requirements over to the table.

Sirius still didn't seem aware of her as Hermione slid into a seat beside him at the table, though Crookshanks lifted his head and peered at her intelligently, purring softly at the affection he was receiving.

"Sirius?" Hermione asked softly, her voice quiet in the dark kitchen so as to keep from startling him. Hermione suspected he heard her, because he turned to face his body in her direction slowly, but his eyes were still focused on the scarred and battered wood of the kitchen table. His eyebrows raised slowly, but Hermione knew he was still away with his thoughts.

"Sirius?" she tried again, a little bit louder this time, "Would you like a cup of tea?"

She watched as his lips tilted up at the corners slowly, but he was still away with the fairies. Hermione smiled a little, wondering what he was thinking about that had him so enthralled that he'd not noticed her. She almost didn't want to interrupt him any further. He looked far happier lost in whatever daydream had captured him than he usually did cooped up in this hellhole he'd once called his childhood home.

"Padfoot?" Hermione whispered, trying his nickname instead of his given name in the hopes that it might draw him more easily back into the world of the living. His eyes turned towards her this time, but still they were glazed with that faraway look of one who is reliving memories. Hermione found herself smiling gently as she reached out tentatively and touched his shoulder lightly.

She didn't shake him, instead she simply rested her hand on his shoulder with a gentle yet firm pressure designed to ground him. Hermione watched him come back to himself slowly at the feel of the unfamiliar touch on his shoulder. He didn't jerk or jolt in her grip, didn't gasp in surprise. Instead his eyes simply focused on her face as she peered at him through the dim light of morning. Neither of them had yet lighted any of the many candles in the room and the hearth had died during the night, leaving the room dim with only the faint light filtering in through one of the grimy windows to illuminate the pair.

Sirius blinked at her, but she didn't see any surprise in his expression. He simply peered at her for a moment before the small smile still playing on his lips widened into a full smile of greeting.

"Hermione?" he asked, blinking again and though he didn't show it, Hermione could tell from his expression that he was surprised to find her sitting next to him at the table with her hand on his shoulder, smiling indulgently at him.

"Good Morning," she murmured to him, feeling her cheeks turn pink at the cheerful smile he was giving her, "Would you like some tea?"

Sirius turned his eyes from her face towards the tea set she'd laid out on the table before them both. His hand still stroked Crookshanks' fur in an absent sort of way.

"How long have you been up?" he asked rather than answering her, frowning in confusion at the sight of the tea.

"A little while. You were faraway," Hermione smiled at him, reluctantly letting her hand fall away from his shoulder as she reached for the teapot to pour herself a cup before quirking an eyebrow at him to ask if he would like one as well. He nodded, holding his cup out towards her as she poured it for him.

"You have a gift for drawing a person out of their daydream in a gentle and calming sort of way," Sirius told her, complimenting her softly. Hermione blushed at that.

"I didn't want to startle you when you looked to be so lost," Hermione replied just as softly, picking up her teacup and sipping from it in an attempt to keep her hands from fidgeting nervously in her lap as he scrutinized her, those grey eyes fixed on her face.

"You did a good job of it. Usually Moony startles me out of my thoughts with a malicious sort of glee. He has a habit of sneaking up right next to me and shouting 'BOO!' in my ear," Sirius replied, smiling fondly, "I must admit I prefer your approach."

He was still watching her, his gaze holding hers and Hermione wondered how she seemed to him. Did he look at her and simply see the curly mess of hair she'd pulled into an unruly bun on top of her head, a slightly untidy appearance and mud-coloured eyes? Did he see a child, timid and shy and trying not to blush beneath his gaze? Hermione didn't delude herself into thinking he saw her any other way. He was old enough to be her father, something she often reminded herself of. She didn't even know when it was that she had developed her schoolgirl crush on the darkly handsome wizard sitting there watching her as he sipped his own tea. All she knew was that she had, and that she couldn't seem to shake the romantic notions that slipped into her mind at the idea that he might someday fancy her back.

When she had first come to Grimmauld Place, Hermione had found that Sirius was more flawed than she'd originally realised. He was reckless and at times incredibly immature. He was also rather selfish when it came to the relationships in his life, especially in regard to Harry. She also still disliked his treatment of Kreacher, the House-Elf, whom, for all his faults, nasty mutterings and bad habits was clearly just a senile elf that needed to be given clothes and released. She understood the reasons for Sirius not being able to do so, but it still bothered her when Sirius was cruel to the elf.

However, Hermione had also found herself analysing his behaviour and trying to understand why Sirius acted the way he sometimes did. She'd realised after much thought, that he was selfish in his relationships because he had spent so much time alone. He'd been only twenty-one when he'd gone to Azkaban, and suffering the grief that came with the death of his very best friend. It was hardly surprising that he jealously guarded the relationships he now had. He spent so much time a prisoner, and then even more on the run from the Ministry, and now cooped up in this terrible place, that Hermione could hardly blame him for wishing that Harry might be expelled and so have to move in here permanently. Poor Sirius no doubt craved the company of having others around after so long spent with no one but himself and his worst memories.

She had noticed too that his close relationship with Remus was one he took very seriously, for all their playing, due to the fact that had it not been for the mistrust they'd had for each other during the first war, he might never have gone to Azkaban. Hermione could tell that both men sought to repair the rift torn in their friendship during the thirteen years they'd been apart.

His recklessness seemed to be a carryover from his earlier life when he'd been young and carefree, and Hermione often wondered if his time spent in prison, influenced by the Dementors, had perhaps stunted his mental growth. It was entirely possible. After all, the man had spent twelve years of his life often reliving the worst memories of his youth.

"What are you doing up so early anyway?" Sirius asked her, drawing Hermione's attention back to the real world rather than her musings about the man before her.

"I couldn't sleep," Hermione admitted to him, "I tried reading in bed for a while, but I got thirsty…. How long have you been down here?"

Sirius looked mildly guilty at her question, his cheeks turning pink as he looked away from her.

"All night, I think," he muttered.

Hermione felt her heart constrict painfully in her chest. She could tell by looking at him that he didn't rightfully know how long he'd been sitting there and she wondered idly if maybe he was beginning to lose his mind after being so cooped up in this house for so long.

"I don't think so," Hermione said softly, looking at him critically, "You had different clothes on last night at dinner, and your eyes aren't bloodshot as though you've been awake all night."

She could tell she wasn't the only one wondering whether it was worse that he'd stayed down here all night or that he hadn't but didn't recall the hours he'd spent during the night. He'd clearly spent far too long trapped in this house and Hermione glanced around the dark kitchen with distaste. It was no wonder he was going stark mad cooped here. It wasn't the most appealing place in the world.

Clearly it had been once. Hermione could tell from the furnishings and the layout that this house had once been an aristocratic stately home, but that time and age and an abundance of crazy people dwelling within it had clearly not done it much good. How could Sirius stand to live here? How could she have thought badly of him for so often wanting to get out of here?

"Going mad in this place," Sirius muttered, almost to himself, "Don't even know what I do with myself half the time I'm here."

As she peered at him, Hermione found herself thinking on the rules Dumbledore had made about Sirius not leaving the house for fear of being spotted and reported to the Ministry. It was a fine rule to be sure, designed to protect Sirius and the Order and to keep him from being locked up again or from being captured by the Death Eaters. When she'd first been told of it, Hermione had thought it made sense to her, as most rules did.

However, as she looked at Sirius's slightly dishevelled appearance and his obvious agitation and depression at being locked inside, she found herself thinking that sometimes there were more important things than rules. For example there was a rule that at sixteen she shouldn't be using her wand outside of Hogwarts yet, but that rarely stopped her, when she was around other wizards, from pulling out her wand and using it. The rule was in place to prevent magical accidents because until they were of age a magical being didn't have full control over their magic.

Except that Hermione did and she knew she was safe to be using them. And thus far she'd managed to get away with it over the summer. She'd been developing a new state of mind regarding the rules and what was supposedly the right thing as she matured and as the Darkness of the Death Eaters and Lord Voldemort began to make itself more widely known. And she was realising that some of the rules that had existed in the past could no longer be followed without resulting in less fortunate circumstance than if they were to be broken.

As she looked at Sirius, who had begun doubting his own sanity due to his continued confinement, Hermione made a decision that this particular morning was one of those times. Glancing towards the front door furtively, Hermione felt herself begin to smile. She knew it was probably entirely because she had a crush on the frowning wizarding sitting next to her that she was so willing to risk breaking the rules, but Hermione decided it might be worth it if she could make him smile again.

Pulling her wand out of her pocket, Hermione began muttering the spells to transfigure her pyjamas into something more appropriate to wear outside on this early summer morning. She transfigured her pyjamas into a pair of denim jeans and a blue t-shirt, and her robe into a purple hoodie. Sirius was too busy staring moodily into his cup to notice, and so Hermione grinned to herself, suddenly feeling very spontaneous.

"Come on," Hermione said to him softly, reaching for his hand as she leapt to her feet, tugging him up as well.

"Hermione, what are you doing?" he asked, sounding completely baffled and eyeing her strangely to see her clothes suddenly changed. She was already tugging him by the hand towards to door of the house, whispering as they went past Mrs Black's portrait and the many stuffed elf heads and other portraits in the hall.

"Put this on," she whispered to Sirius, stopping at the coat rack to pick up the heavy black hooded cloak he'd worn the last time he'd accompanied them out of the house.

"Whatever for?" he asked, still confused though he took it from her just the same, eyeing her as if she had gone mad.

"If being stuck in the house is driving you 'round the twist, then the obvious answer is to get out," Hermione told him, waving her hands at him to hurry him into putting the cloak on.

"You're intending to sneak me out of the house?" he asked, and Hermione marvelled at the way the years seemed to fall off his face as a mischievous grin slipped across his handsome features.

"Yes, but we have to hurry, or someone will wake up and hear us. Come on!" Hermione hurried him, taking his hand and dragging him for the door even as he was still shrugging into the cloak. Sirius was chuckling softly by now but looked rather approving of such a reckless disregard for the rules.

The door creaked slightly as they opened it and a cold chill of early morning greeted the witch and wizard as they stepped out onto the doorstep. There was a heavy fog laying on the streets and lawns, indicating they would be in for another dismally hot day, but for now, Hermione preferred it. It meant there were less people to notice as she glanced sideways at Sirius on the top step, her hand still clutching his. He was watching her with an expression of amusement and expectation on his face, and Hermione knew he was ready.

Closing her eyes, Hermione visualised in her mind very clearly the place she intended to take him. She knew she shouldn't be apparating without a licence, but Hermione had secretly been practicing in the house after watching the twins do it plenty of times and studying up on it. She'd never mentioned it to anyone of course, but she was able to successfully apparate from the drawing room upstairs into the top most bedroom of the house that no one used without incidence. How much harder could it be to apparate out of the city?

Turning on the spot, Hermione visualized the little seaside village in Kent and felt the uncomfortable jerk behind her navel as she apparated them both to Herne Bay.


Herne Bay, Kent

They landed in a little wooded cove not far from a children's park Hermione recalled her parent's taking her to when she'd been a girl.

"I thought you were supposed to be the responsible one who never broke the rules," Sirius grinned at her as he pulled up his hood and began walking towards the deserted swing set of the playground. The fog swirled about his legs as he went and Hermione noticed that he had more of a bounce in his step than she'd ever seen.

"Only when following the rules does less harm than breaking them," Hermione replied, following Sirius over and dropping down on to the swing next to his, where he'd immediately begun to swing himself back and forth as though he was a little boy rather than a grown man. He looked positively gleeful.

"There's far more to you than most people realise, I think, Hermione," Sirius told her, swinging freely now and looking like Christmas had come early, "I can't say I know many witches not of age yet who can apparate so effectively either. And you're not supposed to be doing magic outside of Hogwarts. What's gotten into you?"

Hermione watched him, swinging herself on her own swing with far less vigour than Sirius, smiling at him fondly.

"I don't know," Hermione admitted, "You just looked so sad and so concerned about not knowing if you'd slept last night that I knew you needed to get out of the house."

"And you weren't concerned about breaking the rules set by Dumbledore to do it. You didn't even stop to think about it," he said, eyeing her strangely. Hermione felt her tummy swoop with excitement and nervousness. She could tell he was grateful to her for dragging him out of the house when in the past it had been her telling him he ought not to, and that he was impressed with her magical ability. He looked a little proud of her, Hermione thought to herself as she watched him swing higher and higher.

He was in danger of swinging so high that the swing was going to flip up and over to top of the swing set in a full three-hundred and sixty circle, but Hermione didn't say anything. She suspected from the wide grin on his face and the determined glint in his eyes that having it flip all the way around was his goal. He whooped when he managed it and Hermione found herself laughing along with him when he flipped all the way around and then launched himself out of the swing like he could fly as the seat flung forwards with his inertia.

He rolled as he hit the ground a few meters away, disappearing in the thick fog for a moment before he popped back up again this time in dog form. He barked at nothing and set off around the park at a bolt leaping over the seesaw and jumping up onto the top of the slide before he skidded down it, his tail thumping the metal as it wagged crazily. Hermione couldn't hold back her laughter at the sight of him when he leapt off the end of the slide with ease and dashed so quickly onto the seesaw that he ran up it and rode the pull of gravity back down without falling off.

She knew that if they were to get caught being out of the house by anyone back at Grimmauld Place, they would both be in terrible trouble. And given her penchant for rule following, Hermione suspected Sirius would bear the brunt of people's anger and frustration. But as she watched him look so happy and carefree, his tail wagging so hard that he was running wonkily, Hermione couldn't bring herself to regret her spur of the moment decision.

"Come on," she called, catching his attention from where Sirius had chosen to truly indulge the doggy side of himself by racing after a squirrel and chasing it up a tree, where he was barking at it madly while it chittered at him angrily.

"Sirius!" Hermione called louder when he ignored her, "Let's go and get some breakfast down by the pier."

He looked over at her as she waved her hands to get his attention and Hermione marvelled at his magical abilities as he transformed back into his usual self and strolled towards her looking delighted.

"Will anything even be open at this hour?" Sirius wanted to know, glancing at his pocket-watch.

"Of course it will. The pier is a tourist attraction," Hermione told him, "The cafés open early in the summer so they do more business with those individuals who are early risers. Or the poor souls with children."

Sirius chuckled at that, strolling beside her and looking positively delighted to simply be out of the house. He glanced around at everything, taking big deep breaths in through his nose as though savouring the scent of something other than dust and Mrs Weasley's cooking.

"I don't have any muggle money," he pointed out as they wandered along the boardwalk, eyeing the café menus for something good.

"Of course you don't," Hermione rolled her eyes at him, "But I do."

"You're going to buy me breakfast?" Sirius asked, raising his eyebrows in shock.

"Why not?" Hermione asked, "My parents gave me a muggle credit card for emergencies. I think the possibility of losing one's mind qualifies. Don't you?"

Sirius grinned widely at that, nodding his head though Hermione suspected he didn't know what a muggle credit card was.

"So," she said, "Where would you like to eat?"

Sirius glanced along the many café options. Most of them sold the same types of food.

"That one," he pointed and Hermione knew he liked it because of the brightly coloured umbrella-tables outside where they could sit and overlook the bay.

Smiling softly to herself, Hermione nodded her head in agreement.

"Table for two please," she told the serving girl who looked like she wanted to crawl back into bed, "One of these outside tables."

"I'll bring you some menus," the girl promised, waving them towards a table. Hermione watched the way Sirius threw himself into one of the chairs, his attention jumping about the many people and sights to enjoy.

"You look like a kid on Christmas," Hermione told him a little while later after they'd been given menus.

Sirius glanced at her, his grey eyes dancing with happiness and Hermione noted how very different he looked beyond the prison he'd been trapped in. She supposed that there must be a certain novelty to be outside the house. Not to mention to be free from Azkaban and entirely anonymous in public for a change. She could tell he was delighted about not needing to even hide his face.

"I'm surprised at you," he admitted as they both ordered some breakfast. Hermione requested pancakes, while Sirius insisted he wanted the big breakfast.

"Because I'm breaking the rules?" Hermione guessed, smiling a little in return, "I didn't get to be friends with Harry and Ron for nothing you know. I might have to be the voice of reason among the three of us, but I'm usually the one coming up with the ideas that break school rules or the law."

"Oh?" Sirius asked, quirking an eyebrow as though he wanted to hear the story.

"Well, in second year I tricked Professor Lockhart into signing a form for me so I could retrieve a book from the Restricted section," Hermione began, "Which I needed to get past Madam Pince to borrow Moste Potente Potions in order to brew Polyjuice potion and sneak into the Slytherin common room to interrogate Draco Malfoy about the Heir of Slytherin."

Sirius looked impressed.

"That was your idea?" he asked, laughing now.

"What? You thought Ron came up with that one?" Hermione rolled her eyes, smiling her thanks when the waitress bought them a pot of tea.

"Thought maybe it was Harry's idea," Sirius admitted, "Used to be James coming up with the crazy ideas."

"I somehow doubt that," Hermione told him, "I think you had the crazy suggestions, he just had the bollocks to get you all acting them out."

Sirius's smirk was wicked at her words.

"Might've been," he admitted, "What about when you and Harry helped me escape? Your idea again?"

"No," Hermione told him, "That one was Dumbledore's idea. I was just the one with the Time-Turner."

"You had a Time-Turner in third year?" he asked sharply, "That's how you did it?"

"Didn't you know that?" Hermione asked him curiously.

"No. I just thought you'd somehow stolen Buckbeak and hunted me down."

Hermione shook her head.

"Buckbeak was supposed to be executed earlier the same afternoon. The first time around, I suppose he was. He was executed and you were given the Dementor's Kiss. And that wasn't alright. So we went back a few hours, stole Buckbeak and saved you."

Sirius looked impressed.

"I hear you faced down Moony after he'd transformed too," Sirius commented.

"We did. Well… Harry did. I might've cowered while Harry wrapped himself around me to protect me," Hermione admitted, blushing.

"Still," Sirius shrugged, "Takes a lot of guts to still talk to him and not be afraid of him."

"I'd known all year that he was a werewolf," Hermione shrugged, "It was hardly his fault."

Sirius eyed her thoughtfully for a little while after that, chewing his food as he regarded her speculatively.

"So tell me," he said finally, "Are you and Harry an item?"

Heroine choked on the mouthful of pancake she'd just eaten.

"No!" Hermione said, a little too loudly, "No. I mean, Harry's wonderful. We're great friends… But I think of him more as a brother than a potential boyfriend. Besides, Harry's interested in Cho Chang, from Hogwarts."

"Cho?" Sirius asked, clearly fishing for details.

"She's the year ahead of us," Hermione explained, "She plays Seeker for Ravenclaw. Harry started noticing her in third year when they played against each other. You probably saw the game. As I recall, you were hiding on the grounds at the time."

"Didn't he tell me she was dating Cedric Diggory?" Sirius asked, his face turning sombre.

"She was," Hermione confirmed, "I'm personally pulling for Harry and Ginny to get together. Ginny's been mad for him since the first time she ever met Harry."

"Is that right?" Sirius grinned.

"Don't tease her about it," she warned, "She'll thump me for telling you."

"I make no promises. Weasleys are funny when they get embarrassed," Sirius grinned, "So if you don't fancy Harry, then you must fancy Ron?"

"What makes you think I fancy either of them?" Hermione wanted to know.

"They're teenage boys," Sirius rolled his eyes, "And every girl alive gets completely infuriated with boys in their teens. Yet you put up with them. Experience with the fairer sex tells me that it's only ever done out of adoration and infatuation."

"Not this time," Hermione smiled, "Ron and I argue far too much for anything romantic."

"You should've seen the way James and Lily used to argue before James screwed his head on right," Sirius grinned, "Lily despised James. The rows they used to have could shake the windows of Gryffindor common room. She'd snarl and shriek at him about something – usually about us being cruel to Snivellus – and she'd always say something to make James annoyed enough to shout back."

"Maybe so," Hermione smiled, "But that's not for everyone. Besides. I've found that Ron's main interests lie in Quidditch, chess and food. And that doesn't exactly make for stimulating conversation."

"Most wizards like Quidditch, chess and food, Hermione," Sirius pointed out, grinning at her.

"Of course they do. And so do I. But sometimes I want to talk about something other than those things. I don't envision being able to do so with Ron unless it's when we're strategizing about some new mission against darkness that we're undertaking."

Sirius looked intrigued to hear that.

"Then what do you look for in a potential boyfriend?" he asked nosily, "Do you have a boyfriend?"

"Not currently," Hermione admitted, "I was dating Viktor for a little while, but long distance relationships are a hassle."

"Viktor?" Sirius queried curiously with a quirked eyebrow.

"Viktor Krum," Hermione supplied, her cheeks turning pink.

"The Bulgarian Quidditch seeker?" Sirius exclaimed, "The greatest Seeker the International League right now?"

Hermione nodded.

"And you're complaining about boys not caring about anything but Quidditch? After you dated a famous player?" Sirius scoffed at her around a mouthful of bacon, "You date an international Quidditch superstar and you're worried that boys don't talk about anything but Quidditch?"

"Actually, he preferred not to talk about Quidditch," Hermione admitted, nibbling on her pancakes, "He was a great player, but he really hated the publicity and the spotlight. I'm fairly certain the only reason he started to fancy me in the first place was because I was the only girl around who wasn't panting after him, trying to get his autograph or overly concerned with his career."

"What do international Quidditch sensations talk about then?" Sirius wanted to know, looking highly amused by her answer.

"We didn't do very much talking to be honest. Viktor's more of a physical being," Hermione said before clapping her hand over her mouth when a bark of laughter and a shocked expression crossed Sirius's face.

"Is that right?" he laughed, quirking one eyebrow and looking at her as though she'd just stepped out of the shower in the nude, making him realise she was female.

"I didn't mean… not like that!" Hermione hissed, swatting at him when he continued to laugh in amusement and her embarrassment while Hermione's cheeks flushed crimson.

"What like that, Hermione?" he smirked wickedly at her, "How much do you know about that?"

"More than you might think," she retorted defensively before covering her face with her hands when Sirius actually looked shocked at her reply, "Argh! Why are you so… so…."

"Handsome?" he offered, "Dashing? Charming?"

"Infuriating!" Hermione correct insistently.

"Infuriating?" he teased, "I'm the most fun you've ever had…. Well, maybe not ever…"

"Stop," Hermione rolled her eyes, lifting her head to glare at him once more and finding him wiggling his eyebrows at her suggestively, "I didn't mean…"

Sirius's face was positively lit up with amusement and delight as he tormented her, looking like he was having the most fun he'd had in ages. Sighing, Hermione decided to focus on her breakfast rather than allowing him to continue embarrassing her.

"Little Hermione Granger," he taunted, "All grown up, breaking the rules and knowing more about that than anyone might think. What is the world coming to that innocent little bookworms are willing to bust prison escapees from their cells and are getting frisky with international Quidditch players?"

"Sometimes I think about what it might be like to hex you, Sirius Black," Hermione informed him while she polished off her pancakes, shoving the remainder of her breakfast towards him when he finished his own and still looked hungry.

"You wouldn't hex me, love," he chuckled, "I'm too pretty."

"You're too smug for your own good, is what you are," Hermione retorted, accepting the bill from the waitress when she came by with it and tucking the right money inside it to pay for their breakfast.

Sirius watched her do it looking curious about muggle money and a bit put out over the idea of her buying him breakfast. Hermione could tell from his expression that he wasn't used to having a witch pay for any meal he ate with her like this.

"You want to walk along the beach with me?" Sirius asked her rather than continuing to tease her for the moment.

Hermione nodded. Despite her embarrassment over her own slip-ups and his teasing, Hermione was having entirely too much fun watching the way he looked so happy and so alive outside of the wretchedly gloomy hell-hole that was Grimmauld Place.

"Come on then," he offered her his hand as he got to his feet, tugging her up before tucking her under his arm.

Hermine noticed the way a few individuals were looking at them curiously as people began to flood the area in search of breakfast. Joggers ran on the beach by the waves. Tourists began to gather. Hermione caught the way a couple of people looked like they might recognise Sirius from his wanted pictures a few years ago. She knew they weren't still being circled in the muggle realm, but that didn't mean some people might not notice that he looked familiar.

Curling her arm around his waist, Hermione tucked herself under Sirius's arm more securely, ensuring she looked happy and comfortable with him. She was trying to make him look less like a criminal and hoping to deter anyone from approaching them or from reporting them to the police. She wanted to make it look like she was free and happy and not being controlled by him, which of course, she wasn't but they didn't know that.

"You noticed 'em too, eh?" he asked when she leaned into him a little more.

"They don't recognise you, they just think you look familiar. When you escaped, your picture was circulated on muggle television a lot, warning people to stay away from you and to report any sightings of you," Hermione told him, "Kingsley told me they stopped accepting the reports when they were inundated with so many false reports of people spotting you. Especially given that you were spending most of your time as Snuffles."

"You think they'll say anything?" he asked, pressing her to his side firmly and glancing down to look into her eyes.

Hermione wondered idly if they looked like father and daughter or if they looked like a couple. Sirius himself didn't look that old, despite the time he'd spent in Azkaban. Because he'd spent so much time transformed while he'd been in prison, his good looks had remained very much intact and he barely looked the thirty-five years he claimed.

"No," she shook her head, "I think they might be staring now because they're judging us."

"What for?" he asked, raising his eyebrows and glancing around the crowd.

Hermione caught the way an elderly couple out for a morning stroll were eying them both with distaste, looking very much like they disapproved the age-difference. Another woman walking with some young kids eyed Sirius with interest and Hermione could tell she was trying to figure out if Hermione was his girlfriend or his daughter.

"They can't decide if you're my father or my boyfriend," Hermione chuckled, "That old couple think you're a cradle snatcher and I'm a tart. And that woman with all those kids is hoping you're my dad and that you'd be interested in taking on a few more."

Sirius snorted.

"The lad over there looks like he wants to high-five me for scoring such a pretty young thing like you," he nodded in the direction of a man was watching them from a nearby café table and did actually look like he approved. Indeed, when they both looked over, he gave Sirius a thumbs up. Hermione laughed and peered up at Sirius, noting with some amusement that he was wiggling his eyebrows at the man in return and looking smug.

"You realise that if you were allowed out of the house, you could do far better, right?" Hermione asked him quietly, still chuckling when he wrapped her into his hold even tighter and looked like he didn't want to let her go.

Sirius paused as they walked the length of the boardwalk and down onto the beach.

"Better than you?" he asked and Hermione felt a little special when he looked doubtful.

Hermione nodded.

"I don't think so, Beautiful," he murmured, pulling her even closer and dropping a kiss to the top of her head.

"You've really been cooped up too long if you think that," Hermione laughed self-deprecatingly, "Can I ask you something?"

"Does it involve what I look for in a witch?" he asked in return, his arm still around her shoulders snugly as they resumed walking, strolling along the sand, "Because if so, then no. Can't tell you that, Beautiful."

"It's not about that… it's… about your imprisonment," Hermione said carefully.

His arm tightened reflexively for a moment.

"What would you like to know, Hermione?" Sirius asked, looking out over the bay as the sun continued to rise high into the sky.

"Did they give you a trial?" Hermione asked.

He sighed.

"Yeah, they did," he murmured, "Botched as it was."

"Botched?" Hermione probed, wanting to know more.

"The Ministry was in disarray when they hauled me in; Death Eaters everywhere, people Imperiused to do Voldemort's bidding. Half the Wizengamot were still reeling from their recent release from being Imperiused, some of 'em were even still under the effects. The rest were all still in shock over the fact that Voldemort had been seemingly vanquished," Sirius sighed, "Suspicion was rife and families like mine had pretty bad reputations."

"But you were different from them," Hermione frowned, "It's always bothered me that they convicted you, not just because you're innocent, but… I mean, anyone who knows you at all would know you'd never have betrayed James and Lily."

Sirius sighed heavily at the mention of their names.

"Things were dark back then, Hermione," he told her, steering her over towards some rocks at the far end of the small bay and releasing her as they both sat down on them, "Everyone was suspicious of everyone else. There'd been a lot of death. A lot of torture. Kidnappings. We had a traitor amongst the Order and no one trusted each other. Moony had spent the better part of two years living rough with the werewolf pack he'd been instructed to infiltrate. James and Lily had been in hiding from the time when she was about four months pregnant. What's that make it? Bit over a year and a half in hiding. They had Harry in secret, you know? Remus didn't even know they'd had him until almost ten months after he'd been born. I mean, he knew they'd been secreted away due to pregnancy, but not how far along Lily was or when Harry's birthday was."

"But how could anyone ever think that the Godfather of their child - that someone they trusted with their lives and the life of their son - would ever betray them?" Hermione wanted to know, frowning as she sat beside him, reaching for his hand idly when he clenched his fist in his lap.

"You have to understand, Hermione," Sirius said without looking her, "That my family is rotten to the core. If you knew the type of childhood I had, the type of people my parents were… well, it wasn't hard to believe that I might've finally caved to their whim – because trust me, love, they tried everything in the book to make me fall into line. You've seen how prejudice works in the wizarding world. A good third of my family members were good, decent folk, but the rest were rotten to the core. I'm the first-born son, heir to the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. I've had expectations heaped on me since I was conceived. And I defied every single one of them, but people forget about that in war time."

He shook his head sadly.

"My trial was botched. James and Lily had put their faith in a traitor, but we'd spread it around a bit that I was the most likely candidate for being their Secret Keeper. Hell, we even told Moony it was me because he was so deep in it with the packs that we thought he was compromised. That's the thing, you look at us now or you look at how we were as kids, and you think how could we possibly have turned on each other? We'd been inseparable at school, all four of us. Hell, when my Mum kicked me out, the first place I went was to James's house. Didn't have a moment's hesitation over how I'd get by or what I'd do. But things change. We finished Hogwarts and were thrust into the Order of the Phoenix and suddenly everything was so much more real."

Hermione smoothed her thumb over the scars on his knuckles as she held his hand, listening to the tale.

"James and Lily married almost as soon as we finished school. Within the year. Things were alright then. It was getting darker and more dangerous out there, but it wasn't a clusterfuck yet. We all lived together for a bit after school. A little place outside Walthamstow. All six of us… Wormtail left first. Should've known back then that things were off with him, but we were all a bit distracted – didn't even occur to me that he was backing off, jealous and bitter over what the rest of us had. James and Lily were newlyweds, talking about getting bigger place in the country, talking about starting a family."

Sirius's hand tightened around hers for a minute and Hermione heard the catch in his voice. She didn't speak up despite the bite of curiosity she felt when he said six instead of five, though not for lack of interest. She didn't want to spook him into not continuing.

"'Somewhere that our kids would all have room to play,' Lily said," Sirius closed his eyes for a minute, his jaw clenching as though he were fighting the emotions down, "Somewhere that Remus wouldn't have to be chained in the basement every full moon, locked and silenced to keep from being heard by the neighbours. She wanted us all to go together."

Sirius wiped his free hand over his eyes for a minute and Hermione cuddled into his side without even thinking about it, her own eyes leaking with tears at the raw pain in his voice.

"Things went to shit soon after Wormtail took off. Remus was drafted into going after the pack. Mimi… Um… shit…" Sirius cursed, darting a glanced towards her for a moment, before clenching his eyes tight, "My um… the girl I was…"

His breath caught in his throat again and Hermione looked up into his face, seeing it screwed tight with a pain so acute she could hardly stand it. She could tell the very thought of the girl he spoke of was painful – noticing the way he pronounced the name 'My-my'.

"My wife," he whispered as though the words tasted bitter and sour and yet delectable all at the same time, "She… we lost her… and shit just… fell apart."

Hermione's heart clenched at his words.

"You were married?" she asked, shocked to learn such a thing. She'd never heard that before. She also realised how insensitive it was to ask him such a thing when he was already upset.

"Yeah," he laughed bitterly, "Got married in secret. No one knows, 'cept Moony. James and Lily were the best man and matron of honour, respectively, and we had Moony officiate since he's Alpha of the pack we all… uh… well, it's a werewolf thing… but yeah… Erm, not even Wormtail knew we'd gotten married."

Hermione watched as he fished his hand down the front of his shirt and withdrew a long goblin-made sliver chain with two gold rings hanging from it. She'd seen it before. She'd noticed it a hundred times. He had a habit of playing with it and more times than she could count, she'd seen him fiddling with it, especially while he drank.

"I thought those belonged to James and Lily," Hermione whispered softly.

"Nah, these are mine," he said, squeezing her hand tightly for a minute and clenching his eyes closed again, "When I lost her, everything went to hell. We were all fucked up over it, but things got bad. James and Lily were in hiding, Wormtail was always M.I.A. and Remus was so deep in it with the packs that even I thought he must've switched sides. And me… well, you know how reckless I am twenty years after this shit went down."

Sirius shook his head, laughing bitterly again.

"I was a wreck. Drank too much. Picked fights. Instigated duels. I took out Death Eaters left and right, picking those bastards off one by one. I didn't care who was behind those masks. They were fair game and I took them all out. James tried reasoning with me when I'd stop by to see him, Lily and baby Harry. I was too far gone. I was a killer by then. People knew I was one of the only ones who'd been given access to their place at Godric's Hollow. They thought I was Secret Keeper. Everyone forgot about Peter 'cause he was hardly ever around and sour when he had to be anywhere near us after his spat when he left our flat."

He let go of her hand then, his fist balling so tightly that Hermione could see the way his nails bit into his palms, drawing blood.

"They wanted me to be Secret Keeper," he told her and Hermione could see a tear trickling down his cheek closest to her as she pressed herself closer, curling her arm around his chest as though she might somehow keep him from the pain he still suffered, "They asked me to do it… I should've fucking done it. I'd have died keeping them safe if I could. I was ready to die. I… without Mi… without her I was itching for a Killing Curse in the back. But I knew that if I were Secret Keeper and I got myself killed, they'd be vulnerable again. I talked them into making Peter the one instead. Everyone forgot about Wormtail. He wasn't hanging with us, he wasn't real brave for the Order. He stayed out of it as best he could, the fucking coward."

Hermione's heart was breaking at the pure agony and the fury in his voice as he told his tale to her. She'd never heard this version of the events that had led to James and Lily's murders. That had led to Sirius being locked up in Azkaban for twelve long years.

"That night… the night Prongs and Lily were murdered… I was hunting. While Voldemort went to Godric's Hollow, there was a Death Eater raid planned for Angeltown. I was there. I picked them off one by one. Without Moony around to pull me into line or put me back together, I didn't care who I hurt. I… one of those masked bastards recognised me and begun to laugh. Said I'd been betrayed. Said my friends were dying. I didn't want to believe them… killed every last bastard there before I took my bike and flew it to James's place," Sirius kicked at the rocks opposite where they sat hard enough that his knees cracked, "It was destroyed. The house was fucked. Nothing but rubble in places. The front entrance was blown open, looked like a Bombarda…. James was just… in the hallway…. He didn't even have his wand on him, the idiot. He was in his fucking pyjamas, for crying out loud."

A sob caught in his throat and Hermione cried with him, her heart constricting inside her chest as she tried to pull Sirius even closer to her, trying to hold him together. Trying to help him and offer what little comfort he might take.

"The nursery was a wreck. Lily put up a fight. She didn't just let that fucking cunt walk in and take Harry. That door was blown off its hinges, the shit she'd piled in front of it was in pieces. Her body was on the floor in front of the crib. Her eyes were open and I could see it in them that she'd died screaming. He tortured her when she refused to step aside and let him murder Harry," Sirius curled his arm around her back then, burying his face in her hair and crushing her to him as though she might somehow help relieve his agony.

"Harry was still in his crib, great big lightning shaped gash on his forehead. He was screaming and crying, reaching through the bars trying to get Lily's attention. Shit was levitating all of the place, stuff from the nursey. Accidental magic presenting itself. He had blood all over his face from that lightning bolt but he recognised me when he saw me," Sirius could barely speak, his voice was so hoarse, "'Siri' he used to call me. Little tyke couldn't say my full name yet. There he is, this great fuckin' kid, screaming and crying for his Mum and Dad, reaching for me like I'll make it all better."

Hermione trembled as she fought not to sob at his words. Fought and lost.

"It was all my fault," Sirius whispered brokenly, "It was all my fault. I never should have trusted Wormtail. I never should have let them put their faith in anyone but me. Little Harry's reaching for me, crying, wanting me to make it all better 'cause he doesn't know it's all my fucking fault his Mum and Dad are dead."

"Sirius, no," Hermione whispered, "You didn't… you couldn't have known Pettigrew would…"

Sirius squeezed her even tighter but Hermione could tell he didn't believe her words. Instead of commenting, he kept on with his tale.

"I got Harry out of there, fixed his head as best I could…. Hagrid found me sitting on the steps out the front, clutching that fucking kid and bawling my bloody eyes out," Sirius told her, "He was pretty wary of me. Looked like he might give me trouble. I didn't realise then, was in shock… he thought I'd sold James and Lily out. All I could think about was finding Peter. I'd already murdered plenty of Death Eaters by then, and I was going to get one fucking more. When Hagrid told me Dumbledore has sent him to get Harry, I handed him over. Didn't even occur to me that I might never see the kid again for twelve years. I gave Hagrid my bike, told him to take it. I wasn't going to need it to hunt down Peter."

Hermione felt tears dripping off her chin. She couldn't even begin to understand how he'd survived Azkaban drowning in guilt and believing himself guilty of contributing to James and Lily's death. How could he have survived knowing his wife had been killed?

"It took me a few days to catch up to Wormtail," Sirius told her quietly, pulling away from her slowly as he spoke before he fully got to his feet, "He was sticking to public places when he realised I was after him. That day in the street when all those muggle died… he taunted me. He told me that, though I didn't know it at the time, my kid brother Regulus had been among the Death Eaters who'd been at Angeltown. The ones I'd…. He taunted me about killing my own brother. He tried to reason with me about having sold James and Lily out. And then he did the worst thing he could possibly have done."

Hermione held her breath watching as Sirius began to pace in front of the rock where she was sitting, looking like a caged animal again.

"He told me he knew what had happened to Mimi… to my wife," Sirius growled and when he lifted his head to look at her, the familiar grey of his eyes had slipped away, replaced by the canine yellow of his animagus form, "He told me he knew what had happened to her, that he'd tell me if I spared his life. He even tried to bargain with me, lying, telling me she was still alive."

Sirius shook his head.

"And even after everything he'd done. After he'd sold my best friend to Voldemort, I hesitated," he snarled, "I fell for it. Before I could regain my senses he hit me with a Body Binding curse. The fucking rat got right up in my face and he hissed at me that he'd never tell me where to find her. That I'd never have that happy family Lils had talked about – the one he'd been pulling away from. He even hissed that I deserved it. That it was my fault. That if he couldn't have y… Mimi, no one could."

Hermione watched as his teeth began to lengthen in his mouth and his nails hardened, turning black with the beginning of the transformation, his rage completely overwhelming him.

"He dashed away, screaming about how I'd killed James and Lily; that I was going to kill him too and sliced off his finger before casting a curse to blow up the entire street, killing those twelve muggles in the process. Nearly killed me too with the blast. Then he transformed and disappeared into the sewer," Sirius snarled, "By the time I got free of the Body Bind, the Aurors were on the scene, already called thanks to us duelling. And all I could do was laugh. I thought for sure that I'd be tried and found innocent."

"Why weren't you found innocent?" Hermione asked, him trying to dry the tears from her face.

"You ever seen a trial in the wizarding world?" he asked her.

Hermione shook her head.

"They're brutal at the best of times, and it was very far from the best of times. Dumbledore, Hagrid, even Remus – they all thought I'd been Secret Keeper for the Potters. Remus knew about my wife… but no one else alive did. I mean, people knew of her, but not that we'd married. Not with James and Lily gone. They tested my wand for Priori Incantatem…."

"And you'd been hurling Killing curses and dark spells, at Peter in the street and the Death Eaters and Angeltown," Hermione's eyes widened.

Sirius nodded his head.

"Muggle witnesses claimed Peter had been seen begging for his life. Accusing me of killing James and Lily. No one heard what he said to me. No one saw him transform. We were all unregistered. If I'd told the truth, I'd have been implicated further for illegal animagi. To make matters worse, I'd been found at the scene in Godric's Hollow, holding Harry and covered in blood. Killing curses on my wand, blood on my hands, no evidence to the contrary."

"But you'd always been loyal to James and Lily," Hermione pointed out, "Didn't that count for anything?"

"No," Sirius shook his head, "No one believed it. They checked my arm for the Dark Mark, of course. Don't have one, but it didn't matter. They reckoned I hadn't been branded because it'd have been too easy to discover. Some of the Order testified that they'd known there was a spy in our midst. They didn't figure on Peter being there often enough to be the spy because no one saw him. He'd make excuses not to be there and then turn up as a rat."

"What about Remus? Didn't he vouch for you?"

"Remus thought I'd been Secret Keeper too," Sirius sighed, "And one of the muggles gave a statement that I'd shouted at Peter that Remus would be next. I meant he'd be the next one to hunt Peter if he got away from me. They took it to mean I'd turned on them all, sold James and Lily out, murdered Peter so that all they found was his fucking finger and was hunting Remus next. The thing to understand is, no one trusted anyone. We thought Remus was compromised. He didn't even meet Harry until the pup was ten months old. He only got to visit once with James, Lily and Harry – away from Godric's Hollow 'cause we thought he was the spy. They knew I was reckless and beyond all fuck's given after losing M… her."

"He thought you were guilty?" Hermione's heart fell.

"Until the day Harry mentioned seeing Pettigrew on the Map at Hogwarts in your third year," Sirius nodded, "When I escaped one of the reasons Dumbledore hired Moony was because he thought Moony would need the protection and that he'd provide protection and guidance for Harry when Harry found out the lies about who I was. Until then, he'd thought it was me. Thought I'd lost my mind and killed them all."

"You were sentenced without any further evidence," Hermione whispered, nodding her head, seeing it all too clearly in her mind.

"They had me at the scene, had me giving Harry up without a fight, handing over my bike – the only prized possession I had left by then – and incorrect statements about my intentions along with Priori Incantatem signing my fucking guilt," Sirius shook his head, "I couldn't tell them about the animagi. Even if I did, they weren't going to search the entire sewer for one bloody rat on the word of someone they perceived to be a traitor, a madman and a murderer."

"Why didn't Remus come forwards to report it?" Hermione frowned, "He knew you were an animagus and so was Wormtail."

"Didn't want to besmirch the memory of James and Peter – believing them both dead. Didn't see the point in further implicating me when I'd already been handed a life sentence. Didn't think anyone would believe him anyway when he was outed as being a werewolf and put on the register. There'd been a lot of werewolf attacks during the chaos of the war and he was tried himself before being found not-guilty of attacking anyone."

Hermione watched as his fingers began to shorten, the transformation progressing further.

"I'm gonna…" he jerked his thumb over his shoulder towards the water then, looking like he couldn't go on, even if he'd had more to say.

Hermione nodded her head slowly, watching him transform into Snuffles before he trotted towards the water and began diving into the waves, barking at them and snarling. She got the feeling he was attacking them at though they were Wormtail and the people he wanted to hurt for the way his life had turned out. She felt horrible for bringing the entire thing up at all.

She'd meant to make this day a better one for him. She hadn't wanted to bring up the things that drove him to drink himself stupid most nights. She'd wanted to get him out of the house and take his mind off things. Sighing heavily, Hermione dried her face, determined to make the day a better one after such a rough start.

Something she thought might be slightly harder when she heard the crack of apparition behind her and looked over her shoulder, her wand drawn, and spotted Remus Lupin.