Disclaimer: "Harry Potter" and every one of its characters belong to JK Rowling! I own only this plot, and all the characters you don't recognize. The poem used in the story is mine too.
Summary: In the future, Voldemort is no longer the terrible threat that begins to loom over the horizon. How can the survivors of the war believe the truth they have been told - a truth that condemns someone they loved and honored? A story of love, faith, loyalty and the legacy somebody left behind ...
Note: Set in the future. The trio are all 21 years old, and I think some of this story might be A/U.
Chapter Ten: The Final Proof
It was not to be expected that once the great threat was vanquished, everything would automatically right itself, and a cliched 'happily ever after' ending would take place. This held particular true, because the Minister of Magic arrived on the scene despite Dumbledore's instructions, and before he was whisked away by Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt, he saw that Sirius was alive and instantly leaped to the wrong conclusions.
Luckily, however, he assumed that Sirius would flee the country at once, and did not suspect he was still hiding out at Harry and Ron's penthouse. Unfortunately, this logic did not apply to Hermione and Sean, and it was on the second of January that a knock of foreboding came on the door of the apartment.
They had been having lunch and then Harry had left to complete some paperwork. For a little while, Fred and George hung around to argue with Ron, try to sell Remus some of their newest additions to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes and finally left because Tonks threatened to stick her wand up their noses if they didn't accompany her to the Leaky Cauldron for a painful meeting right away.
Sirius, who had gone to see what had become of his wizard's robes (it had been so long since he'd worn them), emerged from his room, and asked, "Hey ... do any of you know whether Ginny said she'll be coming here today?"
"Uh - no, she said she couldn't make it today, but she said she was definitely going over to the Burrow for tea tomorrow," Ron informed the older man.
"Great! What time?"
Hermione gave Sirius a look, noticing with a slightly unpleasant turn of the stomach that he seemed positively excited about Ginny's visit. She saw Remus smile slightly, and turn towards the window, and Ron, oblivious as ever, said, "Dunno, Sirius, but I'm guessing it would be around three-thirty or four, because that's when Mum said to come over, and Ginny finishes work at the bookshop at three."
"Why're you so eager to see Ginny?" Hermione wished fervently those words had come from anyone's lips but her own, but the fact that Sirius was looking at her confirmed her worst belief.
He shrugged, and opened his mouth to say something -
Sirius, Ron and Remus all jumped violently, and whirled around, looking for the cause of the disturbance. Hermione, who was well accustomed to these frequent western-cowboy-ambush style battles, turned with a smile to Sean. The little scamp had been crouching behind the couch, and had now leaped up and was pointing an oddly metallic looking object at his father.
Sirius stared. "What in hell is that thing?" He demanded curiously.
"It's a toy gun," Hermione explained shortly, "Muggles use it to protect themselves, but mainly to kill each other."
Ron snapped his fingers, and Remus said, "Ah ... wasn't that the object the Ministry told the Muggle world Sirius was carrying when they wanted him caught during your third year?"
"BANG!" Sean added helpfully, grinning.
Sirius laughed, and snatched Sean up off the ground playfully. "That's a nice feeling to have towards your own daddy," He snorted, "But I can assure you, scamp, it'll take more than a toy gun to kill me!"
A predictable wrestling match began at once, and quickly moved into Sean's room, where yells and laughter echoed. A bark informed the others that Sirius had trasnformed into dog form, a source of the greatest pride and entertainment to his son. Ron and Hermione were still out in the living room with Remus, and they all stiffened instantly when the tapping came at the door.
"I'll get it," offered Remus at once, standing up and moving over to the door. At the same time, Ron bounded up with surprising speed of thought, went to the door of Sean's room, murmured something to the two occupants, fetched Harry's Invisibility Cloak and tossed it in, and hurriedly shut the door.
Remus pulled open the door, and found Mr. Biggs standing there with two of his officials flanking him. "Hello, Mr. Lupin," He greeted the younger man cordially, "I suppose Harry and Ronald are here, are they? Well, well, tell them I said excellent work on the Fitzgerald mission - oh, no - don't bother calling them, I'm actually here only to deliver an official summons."
"A summons?" Remus frowned. "For what?"
"For Miss Hermione Granger," Biggs responded promptly, and Hermione, standing behind the half-open door, felt her heart plummet. "She is hereby summoned as a witness, and possibly an accomplice, to provide evidence in the matter of Sirius Black's murder of Aberforth Dumbledore and attempt at accessing powers unfit for wizarding kind, at a hearing scheduled for tomorrow at three P.M."
"I see." Remus's voice was hard as stone.
Biggs clearly sensed the younger man's sudden hostility, because he sighed and said regretfully, "I need hardly remind you, Mr. Lupin, of the consequences should Miss Granger avoid the hearing. Ignoring a Ministry summons is a crime in itself, and besides that, I really don't want to have to take a little boy away from his mother and put him into foster care."
"Mr. Biggs," The werewolf responded in mild, but cool tones, "Surely you've realized by now that neither Albus Dumbledore, nor Harry Potter, nor myself, will very easily allow you to take Sean away. By all law, if he leaves his mother, his first place of home would be with his godfather -Harry. If you try to stop that, or attempt to take Sean away from his mother at all, you may find yourself losing two of your best Aurors."
There was a long silence, and then Mr. Biggs smiled slightly. "Be as that may be, Mr. Lupin." There was a hesitancy in his voice with gave Remus some satisfaction, "I will go to any lengths to discover Sirius Black's whereabouts and apprehend him, as much as I may have to sacrifice for that. Do pass on the official summons to Miss Granger, and I bid you a good day."
"Tomorrow then, Mr. Biggs," Remus said coolly, before shutting the door firmly in the faces of the three resounding Crack!s.
He rather regretted his coldness, because he was intelligent enough to see no arguments would prove effective here. No matter what Dumbledore had said, true to his predictions, Biggs had refused to accept that Sirius was an innocent in the murder and the situation. A report had appeared in the Daily Prophet, screaming out that Sirius Black was alive - but Dumbledore had absolutely forbidden any mention of Sirius's connection to the case, which was probably the reason for the hearing - to prove guilt. Unfortunately, there was, as Dumbledore said, no proof as to Sirius's innocence.
"Well," Hermione said quietly, when Remus and Ron both turned to her a moment later, "Unless someone can find some proof as to Sirius's innocence - "
Ron suggested, "Why don't we ask him where he was that night?"
"No!" Hermione said quickly. "Don't tell him about this. Tomorrow, you and Harry can leave for work as usual, Ron, and Remus, you and I will say we're going to Diagon Alley for something. I'll ask Bill or Mrs. Weasley - no, she'll be getting tea ready, so it'll have to be Bill - to come over, and he and Sirius can stay here with Sean, and Sirius will know nothing about the hearing. I'll tell Bill too: but don't even let him set eyes on the Daily Prophet."
Ron was clearly flummoxed. "But why not?" He demanded.
"You know Sirius, Ron," Remus said gently, "If he hears a whiff of there being a risk that Hermione's silence would cause her to lose custody of her son, he'd sooner turn himself in for crimes he hasn't committed than let either of them go through that. You may not believe it, 'Mione," He added softly, "But Sirius would rather die than cause you any more pain."
The words, 'I don't think he cares that much', hovered on the tip of Hermione's tongue, but she said nothing. Ron nodded, understanding at last, and then she exhaled heavily and miserably. "Well, if some evidence doesn't come to light by tomorrow, it looks like I've got a very difficult choice to make."
Three P.M of the following day saw Hermione waiting once again in the wretched little room off the Ministry courtroom, hearing her name being called out, magically magnified, walking slowly into the circular room and feeling like a criminal being looked critically down upon by God and his Angels at the golden gates on Judgment Day.
"Please have a seat, Miss Granger," Biggs said.
It was all too, too familiar ... right down to Dumbledore smiling reassuringly at her and the three anonymous figures sitting up to her right, accompanied this time it appeared by Moody, Kingsley, Ginny, Luna and Tonks (the bubble-gum pink hair was the most striking of the lot). Each gave Hermione an encouraging thumbs-up or something like it, but none of it helped ease the knots tying themselves in her stomach.
How was she supposed to do this? This time, it would be a lie to say Sirius had known nothing about the Sphere of Pagnon. It would be a lie to say she didn't know where he was. She would either have to lie, and be pounced upon and then subjected to the removal of her son's custody ... or she would have to tell them the truth, and betray him.
"Now, Miss Granger, I did warn you that we might find ourselves here again," Biggs said calmly. "I hope that this time, you are aware of why you're here. You are being charged as an accomplice to Sirius Black, due to your shielding of him and uncooperation with us."
Hermione said nothing - what was she supposed to say anyway?
"Well," Biggs cleared his throat, frowning at her. "Let us begin the questioning then, and need I remind you, Miss Granger that you are officially under moral oath. Either tell us the absolute truth, or we will know if you are lying and will then have just grounds to use Veritaserum. Let's see ... we can begin with the following: are you aware of the current location of Sirius Black?"
Hermione closed her eyes, knew she was trapped, and said calmly, "Yes."
"Where is he, Miss Granger?"
"I'm not going to tell you that, Mr. Biggs."
There was a considerable ripple of astonishment and shock. Several witches and wizards gasped, one tiny witch wailed, "Oh the poor thing!" and burst into tears, and others merely glared at Hermione in sudden suspicion and surprise. Hermione thought she heard soft cheers from the right corner of the courtroom.
"Indeed?" Biggs' face was turning red. "You won't tell us, you say? And why is that?"
"Because if I do, you'll hunt him down and arrest him."
"And why on earth shouldn't we do that?"
She looked at him defiantly, a sudden vein of sincerity throbbing through her voice, "Because he is not guilty of the crimes you seem to have pinned to him. Sirius Black is innocent! He did not murder Aberforth Dumbledore, and yes, he was aware of the existence of the Sphere of Pagnon, but he is not the man who tried to use it three nights ago!"
"You sound very convincing, Miss Granger," Biggs said slowly, "But unfortunately, unless you can give us concrete evidence as to Sirius Black's innocence, he is guilty. I saw him myself at the scene three nights ago, when the whole magical world believed him to be dead. What more could one need to prove a man's guilt? But due to Dumbledore's insistence - and the concurrence of several memebers of the Wizenmagot - I have not put notices out offering rewards for any information about this wanted man - yet. So ... can you give me any proof?"
Hermione's jaw tightened, and she said nothing, but forced herself to continue to meet Biggs' hard, hawk-like eyes.
"I didn't think so." Biggs said with an air of satisfaction. "Now then, Miss Granger, I'll give you one more chance. Will you or will you not tell me where Sirius Black is?"
"No." Hermione responded without hesitation.
There was dead silence. The tension, once again, could be felt so vividly. Hermione felt like she was inching closer and closer to the edge of a plank on a pirates' ship.
"Very well," Biggs said, at last. "Your knowledge of his whereabouts and refusal to cooperate with us makes the situation much more suspicious and serious than before, I'm afraid. Therefore, I have no choice but to have to incarcerated until further evidence can be developed." (There was a ripple of gasps, and she thought she heard Ron and Tonks let out indignant shouts) "Order, please! Ahem ... Hermione Granger, you are hereby charged as an accomplice to Sirius Black, who has been charged with the attempt to access powers unfit to wizardkind - on the 31st of December 2001, as well as the murder of Aberforth Dumbledore on the 14th of May 1998. You - "
Hermione's ears, gradually grasping her fate, suddenly felt like they were clogged with water. Surely she'd heard wrong!
"What was that?" She interrupted sharply. "What was the date of Aberforth's murder again?"
"May 14th 1998," Biggs said wearily. "Now - "
Oh Merlin, why didn't I ever bother to find out the dates? Why didn't I remember?
"Mr. Biggs!" She said quickly, her voice rising in intensity and eagerness. A sudden hush fell over the entire courtoom. "I believe I can give you the final proof as to Sirius Black's innocence. I can give you his alibi for the night of May 14th 1998."
Dumbledore abruptly turned around to look closely at her.
There was a deadly hush now in the entire room. Biggs stared. "I beg your pardon, Miss Granger? What alibi could you possibly give us now, after all the questions we have pelted at you? What are you going to tell me?"
"Sirius couldn't have committed the murder," Hermione said slowly, "It was someone else - Donald Tyler - and it couldn't have been Sirius because he was with me that whole night."
She was intensely conscious of Dumbledore's blue eyes boring into her. The entire room seemed frozen, and for a moment, Biggs looked at her like he'd just been steamrollered. Then he uttered a short, harsh laugh, and his voice was almost cold and mocking as he said, "Well, Miss Granger, if that's the best you can do, then you are clearly not as clever as the world says you are. After everything we've been through, surely you've realize that I will not take the word of someone who refuses to cooperate and who happens to be the accused's ex-lover! Come, come, let's not waste any more time. You cannot give me rock-solid evidence that Sirius Black was with you that night - "
"Yes, I can."
The Minister of Magic froze, and his eyes bulged in astonishment. "W-what?" He sputtered.
"The evidence, Mr. Biggs - if you will be so kind as to magically check the dates and certificates down to precise timings," Hermione said calmly, "Lies, as you will see, quite rock-solidly, in the living and breathing form of my son, Sean."
Needless to say, it took only a moment to check the dates magically, subtracting from Sean's precise timing and birthday. Before four o' clock, Mr. Biggs was forced to announce to the magical world present in the courtroom that Sirius Black was hereby cleared of all charges, and was indeed the hero he had been until two months before. Miss Hermione Granger was free to go.
Hermione became something of a goddess as she rejoined her friends outside the Ministry of Magic. Harry couldn't wait to get to the Burrow, find Sirius, and tell him the news, whereas everyone else was so beside themselves with excitement that Hermione began having trouble breathing due to Ron's death grip around her shoulders and neck. Eventually, they managed to gather themselves up sufficiently to Apparate to the Burrow, where tea was out in the front garden.
Several other members of the Order, including Dumbledore, were waiting there with Mrs. Weasley (who burst into tears and hugged Hermione). Sean was there too, enjoying himself thoroughly with Fred and George's entertainment and the fascination of the various Order members.
Soon, however, it was noticed that Sirius wasn't there.
"He's upstairs in Ron's old bedroom, dear," Mrs. Weasley said brightly to Hermione, "Why don't you go on upstairs and be the first one to tell him that he's a free, innocent man again!"
Hermione hesitated, but then decided that it was time to bury the hatchet. She wanted him too much - loved him too much - to continue this insane estrangement. They'd gone through too much together, and sacrificed far too much to remain unhappy for the rest of their lives. At least - she wasn't willing to stay miserable forever, without at least trying.
"Okay," She nodded and headed into the house, which was now empty because everyone was outside enjoying themselves. She thought she heard Fred and George say fiercely as she disappeared inside, "Anyone so much as step inside this house in the next hour and you'll have bat bogies chasing you for the rest of the evening!"
Her heart thumped with nervousness, but she determinedly walked up the rickety steps towards Ron's old bedroom. She got to the door, which was open a crack, and still had the faded old plaque - Ronald's Room - and stopped for a moment. That was when she heard low voices coming from inside the room. Her brows drew together in perplexity. Sirius was with someone in there? Or was there someone else in here altogether, because who could he possibly be with? Who on earth - ?
She pushed the door slowly open, and her insides seemed to shrivel up and die.
Sirius was there all right, and he was with Ginny. Ginny's back was to Hermione, but she would recognize that red hair anywhere. They were both standing close together ... far too close ... and Sirius was holding something between two fingers, something both he and Ginny were looking at and smiling - and Hermione heard, as if through a roaring thunder - Ginny said, "Oh my God, Sirius, this is amazing!" - and something sparkled on the tiny thing ...
A sick swoop of nausea hit her as the realization struck with utmost bitter horror that the sparkling thing was a tiny diamond set into a ring ...
She must have made a choking noise, or maybe the shattering of her heart was somehow audible, because suddenly, Sirius looked up, and stark shock laced his achingly handsome features as he stared at her over Ginny's shoulder.
"'Mione!" He exclaimed hoarsely, stepping hastily away from Ginny, his hand closing quickly over the sparkling little thing and stuffing it into his pocket. That act in itself was guilty, and she felt like her soul was being ripped out through her mouth. "What - what - when - ?"
Ginny had turned around, and was looking at Hermione with a startled, uneasy expression. "Hermione - "
"I don't believe this!" Hermione choked out, her hand shaking as it gripped the doorframe. She looked from Ginny to Sirius in utter shock, horror and pain. "You two - you two - I - I gave you everything, you're the father of my son - and you - you, I trusted you with everything, you were one of my best friends - and now - you two - "
"What?" Sirius growled. "'Mione, that's - "
"No, Hermione!" Ginny said in anguish. "You don't understand - it's not like - that's not what - Oh my God, I know I should have said something, but I didn't tell you - but you'll see why - I couldn't! I'm sorry!"
Hermione felt like the world was spinning, but she hardened her voice with effort. "I don't want to hear anything more you have to say. I don't want to know."
"Ginny," Sirius said abruptly, his eyes blazing, "Go downstairs. I need to talk to Hermione."
"But - "
Ginny scuttled for the door, hesitated with a tentative pained look in her eyes by Hermione, who stepped away from her, further into the room - and then she hurried out, closing the door behind her. Hermione turned slowly around to look back at Sirius, and she felt the sharp pain and disappointment - of getting over her fears of trusting him again only for this to come at her - sink in deep. Suddenly, a vein of anger bubbled to the surface and her brown eyes flashed.
"What were you both doing here?"
Sirius frowned. "Quite honestly, 'Mione, that's none of your business," He drawled, and she was too hurt and angry to notice how strained the drawl was, "After all, you were the one who made it clear to me several times that you wanted nothing more to do with me."
Her jaw dropped. "After what you did - "
"I screwed up." He bit out. "But you're not a sinless angel either. We could have gotten past it, and let our passion run undeterred, had everything - but you were determined on hating me forever for what I was stupid enough to do, and more than once, you walked away from me."
"And I could walk away from you again." Hermione snapped, her heart aching terribly.
He raised his eyebrows. "Could you? Need I remind you, 'Mione darling, that every time you walked away, I was always able to lure you back ... just by coming close," He covered the distance between them, and reached up to touch her cheek, "Touching you ... kissing you ..." He bent his head, and kissed her, hard, demanding, his tongue intensely forcing her mouth to open for him -
"No!" She pulled away, her voice and body trembling. She'd almost been lost - yet again. Her eyes burned with surface loathing, "So what if I want you just as much as you want me? You've always made it clear that my body was somehow the only thing you wanted. I'm not going to let myself get wrecked by you all over again, Sirius, so I guess I'm glad that I saw what I just did. Sooner better than later."
"Hermione - "
"You're right." She said coolly, ignoring the tears that were burning her lungs up inside, "We could have had everything ... but it's too late now. I don't want to have anything more to do with you, Sirius, and now that there's no Sphere of Pagnon to worry about, I don't even have to see you again. Whatever we may have had between us, it's over now. I'm leaving, Sirius - this time, for good."
His hand came out faster than whiplash and between two strong fingers, he gripped her chin, forcing her to look at him. His face was very white, his eyes starkly black, forbidding and impenetrable, and his voice was cool and hard as he said, "And what about my son, Hermione?" Her heart took a terrible nosedive. "You haven't forgotten who Sean's father is, have you? I have every right to see my son, and if that means seeing you as well - "
"No!" She spat angrily. "I won't let you do this! We'll go back home, and you won't see him."
Sirius let her go, and gave her a mocking, pitying look. "Don't you know magical law well enough by now, 'Mione?" He drawled, shaking his head, "Without just cause, a mother can't keep a child away from its father. Unless I heard the celebrating yells wrong from that window over there, I am now an innocent man - a hero, in fact. Who do you think the sympathy will be with? In fact, if you try to keep Sean away from me ... the only option left for me would be to take this to the Ministry, and have them take custody away from you."
Hermione felt all the color drain from her face, and her heart seemed to have stopped beating.
"I didn't think you'd want that," Sirius smiled triumphantly, "So it seems you me, that you'd be smart to go back to Harry and Ron's after this, instead of to your home in Ireland or wherever, and unless you want to lose Sean - again - that's where you'd be better off staying."
She stared at him for a long time, watching the muscle throb in his jaw, watching his fathomless black eyes burn back at her, and she felt a nauseating wave of bitter loathing and anguish. Her lower lip trembled as she shook her head and spat out in a strangled whisper: "And to think - I - I actually believed - believed myself - to be in love with you."
She didn't wait for him to speak; she turned on her heel and made for the door. But before she fled from the room, she caught a glimpse of Sirius's face - he looked like his best friend had just pointed a gun to the back of his head and fired.
"Hermione!" He yelled.
Without pausing, she raced blindly down the stairs, nearly tripping and falling, and had the rpesence of mind to flee out of the back door rather than the front. She heard him racing after her, and was halfway across the backyard when he caught up to her, grabbing her by the waist and shoulders and forcing her to turn around. She didn't dare cry out, for fear someone would hear and see them, but pushed herself away from him and faced him with a pale, glistening-eyed face of defiance.
"What - what did you just say?" He demanded croakily.
She glared at him. "What in hell does it matter? Nothing you can say or do will make me stay! You've ruined my life - ever since the first time you showed up with your revelations about Wormtail - you've wrecked me!" Her voice was fairly low, but bordering on hysterical, tears were brimming and spilling out of her eyes, "You've taken everything away from me - my sanity, my innocence, my heart, my dignity, my life - and now - now you're trying to take my baby away from me!"
"Dear God, 'Mione," His arms fell limply to his sides, and the mask crumbled off his face, revealing pure anguish and wretchedness. "I would never - you know I'd never take Sean away from you! Hell, I was angry in there! You were talking about leaving me for good, and I couldn't - couldn't take that, so anger was all I had left to cover up that hurt. I didn't mean a word of what I said in there!"
"You wrecked me," She repeated brokenly, hugging herself desperately, feeling suddenly chilly.
"I know that," he admitted, shaking his head, "And God help me, I never meant to hurt you. Ever. But I've only wrecked you as much as you've wrecked me. I haven't been the same since I've known you, and I don't think I could ever be the same if you left."
She stared at him, not sure of what to say, what to do. Not even understanding what was happening to her ...
"I - I don't know!" She mumbled.
Something flashed across his features - she couldn't identify it, but for a second, his eyes seemed to ignite with a spark of hope. "Just come back with me," He pleaded, "Give me another chance. Give this another chance - don't - don't leave. That's all I'm asking." He took a step toward her, and she automatically stepped hastily back, and he let out a growl of frustration. "You said you love me, and yet you won't let me come close to you. What do you want from me, for God's sake?"
I just want your love, a wretched voice whispered in her head.
The wind picked up, and it was only as she saw the disbelief appear on his face that she realized she'd said the words out loud. The horror of that admission, the danger it evoked, made her feel dizzy and her already wearied body swayed dangerously as her head swam hazily.
Sirius swore, and moved quickly to steady her with his arms. When she didn't protest, he pulled her closer and held her tight, the warmth and hardness of his strong body holding her safely, and she felt tears sting her eyes all over again.
"You've always had it," He murmured huskily into her hair, "Always, 'Mione."
She looked up at him. "Only because you want me, that's all," She said, not daring to believe it. It meant too much - far too much.
"Merlin's beard, 'Mione!" He growled, stepping back slightly and glaring at her. "If you didn't look so damned adorable and sorrowful right now, I'd shake the living daylights out of you! Are you the only damned person on this planet who doesn't know that Sirius Black experienced only a second of Harry Potter's best female friend's spirit and intelligence, and took one look at her two years ago, and fell quite crazily in love with her?"
"What?" Hermione stared into intense, warm black eyes. She looked so utterly astonished and startled that Sirius let out a low laugh, and his eyes danced with amusement. She felt her knees go weak. "You - but I didn't - you never once said - "
"That was a mistake," Sirius sighed, "I should have told you how I felt - I just - I just couldn't bring myself to, because back then, you were so young and I didn't want to tie you down to anything, and now - when I came back, well, now - "
"I didn't give you the chance," Hermione finished sadly, "I know, Sirius. I screwed up too."
Sirius reached out and drew her to him, his arms tightening around her waist and his breath warm and husky against her skin as he began to nuzzle her neck, "Do you know how hard it's been for me to keep my hands off you for the past three days? Hell, for the past three years, even! Do you think you could forgive me?" He looked up, meeting her eyes.
Hermione traced a finger along his jaw, and suddenly felt so incredibly lightheaded and free that her eyes sparkled with mischief as she said, "Well ... you'll have to make it up to me."
"With all the pleasure in the world!" Sirius laughed. He lifted Hermione up into his arms without warning - she squealed - and he kissed her hard. She wrapped her arms around his neck and traced her tongue along the inside of his mouth, smiling to herself as he moaned softly. When he lifted his head and grinned rakishly at her, she laughed.
Grinning, she said, "Mmm ... that was a good start ..." She baby-kissed along his jaw teasingly, and saw with some interest the way his eyes burned with desire and emotion.
"Damn it, you little devil!" He growled, moving towards the house, and staring heatedly down at her, "You're determined to make me go through hell, aren't you? Careful, or you might end up getting a hell of a lot more than you bargained for!"
Hermione laughed, and leaned close towards his ear. "I love you, Sirius," She whispered softly.
He came to a shuddering halt in the middle of the stairs leading up to Ron's old room. "Do you have any idea what it does to me to hear you say that?" He asked quietly, kissing her on the forehead.
"Do you have any idea what it did to me not to hear you say it?"
Sirius looked at her seriously. "It was no way to begin, was it? A relationship based on so many deceptions and secrets?" A slow smile spread across his face, making her heart thump harder, "You think we could do a hell of a lot better this round?"
"I don't know ... last time it was pretty great," She teased, tempting him by nibbling on the skin exposed by the open top two buttons of his shirt, "You'll have to convince me about this round."
He set her down, and kissed her for a long time.
"Wait," Hermione said suddenly, looking up at him. "What about Ginny?"
Sirius shook his head, chuckling. "Ginny means nothing to me like that, 'Mione. She was just helping me, because I figured she was the only girl who knew you well enough and was young enough to tell me what you'd think of a certain idea I had."
"What idea?" Hermione was puzzled.
He looked a little sheepish, and reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver ring with a small diamond on it. He stared at her, and she saw him swallow. "Uh - well - I thought that if you were willing, Sean might like to be Sean Taurus Black from now on."
Hermione stared incredulously. "Sirius, are you - ?"
"Marry me." He said abruptly.
For a long moment, she stared at him in a mixture of elation and disbelief. Then, with a squeal, she threw herself at him and they both fell onto the stairs, laughing. The laughter slowly faded, as Sirius brushed away stray brown hair and ran his thumb gently over her trembling lip. Hermione sighed, smiled, and gave in to his hungry, loving demands.
It was nearly an hour later when Remus ventured to look for them, and finding a shirt and a couple of buttons on the stairs, smiled to himself and left the house with a firm declaration that one of the garden gnomes had flooded the kitchen and under no circumstances were any of the others to go inside for a little while.
A/N: And so yet another story has come to its end, and it's been quite an unusual one for me! It's been great doing this, and I hope everyone has enjoyed reading this story as much as I've loved writing it! Hopefully, another idea will strike me sometime soon ... until then, happy reading, merry christmas and please let me know what you guys think of my writing!