Carefully, Sirius lifted Hermione up and carried her back to the hospital wing. She'd fallen asleep on his shoulder. Thankfully, Madam Pomfrey was off attending to a student who had tried using an Engorgement Charm on himself and ended up with a belly the size of a Bludger. Sirius chuckled. Such low self-esteem in boys these days.
Sirius sat, once more, as Hermione slept. Later, he went and fetched a glass of pumpkin juice and the Daily Prophet. He returned to a tired but smiling Hermione.
Hermione took the glass and sipped it, remembering Madam Pomfrey telling her about how Sirius had come in every day the first time she was in the hospital wing. She asked Sirius about this. "Why were you so interested in whether I woke up?" she asked curiously.
"How could I not be?"
"I remember when I woke up," Hermione said reminiscently. "I promised myself I wouldn't fall for you." She paused. "But you knew I would, right?"
"Yes," Sirius said simply.
They exchanged careful glances.
"Why didn't you want to fall for me?" Sirius asked.
Hermione didn't look at him as she answered. "I didn't want to get hurt."
"What made you change your mind?" Sirius asked.
Hermione answered, "You. You made me change my mind."
Sirius couldn't help himself. He wanted to kiss her. He drew himself toward her. When he was an inch from her lips, he stopped himself.
An embarrassed silence followed.
Sirius rubbed his hands together eagerly, as if rubbing out the awkwardness. "Well. It's a fresh start for us, right?"
"So I was thinking we should go out on a first date."
Hermione smiled. "We've already had that."
"I know, but this time will be so much better."
"I don't know if anything can top seeing you run in the rain," Hermione said sincerely.
Sirius' heart swelled. "We'll just have to try, then."
Hermione scooted over in bed and motioned for him to join her. He hesitated, but climbed in at her encouraging smile. They lay together and watched the shadows on the ceiling.
"We could go to Hogsmeade again," Sirius murmured sleepily.
"Too many people around," Hermione mumbled.
"You'd prefer the library?" Sirius sniggered.
Hermione smiled. "I would. It's quiet, not too many kids around–"
"I don't think Madam Pince would be too happy with us snogging over in the Restricted Section."
"Who says we're going to snog?"
"I–well–just wanted to be prepared, I'm sorry...."
Hermione giggled and Sirius relaxed. "I love you," he whispered.
Hermione shivered. "I love you, too."
"WHAT IS THIS?" screeched Madam Pomfrey. Apparently the boy with the Bludger belly had been attended to.
Sirius jumped out of the bed so fast it creaked and moved a few inches. The blanket fell to the floor and Hermione fell face down on the bed.
"Just. . .making sure the bed was stable," Sirius said hastily. "Well. . I'll be going, now. Be back soon." He glanced longingly at Hermione, then left, mouthing 'I'll be back later' to her.
Sirius whistled on his way back to Gryffindor Tower, a spring in step. He passed James in the corridor
. "Where did you go last night?" James asked worriedly. "You seemed like you were in a rush."
"Hermione's in the hospital wing," Sirius said quietly.
James exhaled deeply. "What for? Is she all right?"
"She's all right. She fell through the ice."
James shook his head. "That's too bad. I'm glad she's okay, though."
Sirius nodded. James looked at Sirius expectantly.
"Well?" James said.
"Where did you go last night?"
"I was with Hermione," Sirius admitted to a disapproving looking James. "I couldn't leave her alone in that hospital wing," he said defensively. "And. . ." he took a deep breath. "We're back together."
James' eyes widened. "But–"
"Don't say it," Sirius said with a warning tone in his voice. "It's my choice. We're sorting out our problems."
"But, Sirius, don't you remember all she's done to you?"
"I told you, we're working it out."
James looked dubious.
Sirius breathed in deeply. "Look. I love her and she loves me. What we choose to do is not anyone's business, but I want my best friend to support me."
James stood in silence for a while. Then slowly, painstakingly, he nodded.
"Fine," James said.
They shook on it. Then James groaned.
"What?" Sirius asked.
"Now I've got to admit to Lily that she was right."
Sirius returned to Hermione's hospital bed late that night, holding a bag.
"Had a few errands to run," he said breezily.
"What's in that?" Hermione asked curiously.
Sirius smiled slyly. "Just a few odds and ends. So you won't get bored in here."
Hermione reached into the bag and spilled the contents on her bed. Sirius sat on the edge of the bed amusedly as he watched her sort through the contents.
The first item was a book. Hermione looked like a kid in a candy store as she read the title. "Hogwarts, A History," she read. "Oh, this one's my favourite!"
"You've read it before?" Sirius asked.
Hermione sighed. Of course she wouldn't have. "No. . .it was another book." She fingered it carefully. It was a rare edition that had gone out of print in the early eighties. In her own time it would be worth a thousand Galleons, at least.
Hermione pulled out the second item. "Chocolate Frogs."
"I heard Madam Pomfrey likes them," Sirius chimed in. "You could bribe her with them."
"I don't know if I'd be up for that kind of mischief," Hermione said, her eyes shining.
"You should, your boyfriend's the number one troublemaker in the school," Sirius said lightly.
The next item was a brand new pair of knitting needles and yarn. Hermione had mentioned her knitting to him once. "You remembered?"
Sirius leaned forward and whispered,"I remember everything."
"Maybe I could teach you to knit?" Hermione said, fingering the needles lovingly.
Sirius winced. "Erm. . .no thanks. Not as long as I'm on the Quidditch team."
The last item was a small photo album. Inside were several pictures of Sirius and Hermione, taken before their breakup. In one, Sirius was tickling Hermione and her face was beet-red. The second was a picture of the Autumn Ball, and the third was a picture of them looking into each other's eyes.
"That one's my favorite," Sirius confided to Hermione. It was the third picture. "In that one, it looks like neither of us wanted to be anywhere else."
And how true it was.