She could hear whispering on the second landing, four males to be exact, as she inched further up the staircase. No noise was made as each of her four paws padded across the floor. Reaching the dark and gloomy landing, blending in perfectly with its inky blackness, she noticed a sliver of light coming from the second door, the whispering growing louder and more distinct. She moved forward crouched low, stopping just before the light touched her. Two pinpricks of light, the only sign of her silent presence, surveyed the door. Inwardly she smiled, she recognised the voices, knew them very well. With that thought she slowly and quietly edged towards the door silently opening it with her nose just enough for her sleek body to ease through. A loud creak rent through the near silent room as her long thick tail accidentally bumped the door.
She had to pull her ears down as the sound of the shout seemed to travel to the core of her brain. It was a tall boy with red hair that was widely known in their world, his name, Ronald Weasley.
"Sweet Circe Hermione, I know you don't have much chance to change into your animagus form, but do you have to use us, your loyal and great friends, as your prey?" Asked a bewildered, black tousle haired, bespectacled boy, who was none other than The Harry Potter. He had taken his wand out from the first sound and was only now lowering it shakily back to his side.
"Brilliant!" The other two occupants of the room finally making themselves heard. Both were identical to the last freckle however Hermione recognised, still in her form, which was Fred and which was George Weasley.
"Absolutely brilliant Hermione! Those two," Fred said pointing to Harry and Ron, "have finally rubbed off on you. Had I been unaware that only you have this form, I wouldn't have thought you had it in you!" he gushed, no doubt taking something from this to use for his own purposes.
Hermione grinned widely at this, the downfall of Voldemort had wrought a change in many people. While never to be mistaken, let it be known that Hermione still hated getting in trouble, still considered her education and knowledge her number one priority, this however did not mean that one couldn't have a laugh once in a little while, or perhaps a little more. Even Harry was more jovial these days, and it was worth it if it made her friends happy.
"I only did it so as not to wake anybody, and besides with Fred and George here I figured it a good time to go sneaking around and see if I overhear anything to prevent another occurrence like last time." She said, looking over at the twins, yet not voicing that they really presented themselves as lovely targets.
"Aw c'mon 'Mione, it was harmless, and your lucky we improved it, otherwise it would have made your hair fall out." Piped up Fred, his face a picture perfect representation of non-innocence.
Hermione felt her jaw drop, her words getting caught in her throat. "Well… thank you?" she said among snickering from all four boys. "Just so you know Messrs Weasley's, my hair still flashes hot pink from time to time." As soon as she said this she wished she hadn't, the four boys, while trying to contain their laughter before, seemed unable to do so now as they burst out laughing.
"Anyway Hermione" Harry managed after a few minutes of trying to catch his breath. "When did you get here? You were supposed to come at half past three this afternoon."
Hermione smiled suddenly as to why she had arrived at 12 Grimmauld Place so late. "Because-" she said brightly "-I've gotten my Hogwarts letter and-" she said a little louder realising that the boys were about to speak "-I got Head Girl!"
A round of Congratulations was issued until Harry voiced his question yet again. "Yeah, but that doesn't exactly explain why you decide to show at midnight does it?"
"Oh well, my parents decided to invite the family over to celebrate, and it only ended a while ago." She said quickly hoping to appease them. "I was going to leave it and come tomorrow, but my parents were going to drive up to my aunties early in the morning."
"It's good that you did decide to arrive tonight," said George. "Mum and Sirius were beginning to have kittens." A silence greeted his statement so he continued "You know how mum gets, and Sirius reckoned you got attacked by Death Eaters or something."
"Oh," Hermione said quite surprised and more than a little confused, "I was under the impression that they have apprehended all the Death Eaters last I heard, I mean I would have sent an owl, but there's no point when it would have arrived here only a few minutes before myself, and my floo isn't connected."
"He's just worried Hermione." Harry said quietly. "And there is no telling how many more of them are actually out there." Harry was fast becoming the voice of reason. Hermione really couldn't fault Mrs Weasley or Sirius, especially Sirius considering what the man went through.
Sirius' presence would always be a source of wonderment. After falling through the Veil in the Department of Mysteries in their fifth year, well everyone had naturally thought him dead. The problem was that, not even the ministry itself knew what this Veil was or did exactly. During the war the studies were intensified on the Veil when some hapless ministry official got too close and vanished, and what they found was that it was more of a holding place than anything else, a 'Human Storage Facility' in Ron's lovely terms. Time just plainly did not exist. Further studies on it, showed that what ever goes in, can also come out, with the exception that something of equal or greater value replaces it.
This information had stunned people, especially Harry, because if what they were saying was true, Sirius was alive and exactly like he was when he went in. The only problem being that, as a convicted murderer, there was really no point in doing anything as he would have been freed from stasis and then sent directly to Azkaban.
Hermione remembered those days as one of the worst. She couldn't even begin to comprehend Harry's anger when he was told that, for the time being, it would be detrimental to Sirius' life if they had him brought back. However six months later, a group of death eaters had been caught, among them was Bellatrix Lestrange and Peter Pettigrew. The news that Pettigrew, who was not only alive, but caught among Death Eaters, shocked the wizarding world to no end. Then it was only after being forced to take Veritaserum and undergo extensive questioning, that the Minister of Magic was forced to admit Sirius Black's innocence.
Harry it seemed was on his last temper strings, but as it happened Dumbledore proposed that the person who banished Sirius beyond the Veil in the first place should be sufficient in replacing him there. The moral outcry that arose looked set to send Harry spare. Outrage was shouted on the streets, namely from Voldemort sympathisers. But in the end it was agreed that it was better to have an innocent man out in the community rather than him living for eternity as a non-being, than allowing a convicted Death Eater to perhaps get a chance of escaping Azkaban again. And so it was that Bellatrix had been fronted to replace him.
Hermione didn't really remember the re-union that happened when Sirius got out, it was all too much on everybody involved. It seemed like such a blur, but then it hadn't really lasted too long, as the war decided to erupt to its full extent a few days later.
Bringing Hermione out of her revere was a knock on the door, looking around she smiled, it was as if thinking of the man had summoned him.
"Hermione, when did you come? I didn't hear you come in or even go up the stairs." Sirius said standing in the door way smiling, he had changed over the months after the war, he finally cut his hair, but still left it stylishly long, and it seemed that freedom suited him just fine, he was always smiling now.
Hermione was about to reply when Ron cut in front of her "She snuck up as an animagus and nearly gave us all a heart attack!" He said dramatically placing his hand over his heart.
"Ah, I see." It was said softly and Sirius had a gleam in his eyes. "The reason for the banshee type screech is now explained, I thought it was my mothers portrait again." He finished, winking as Fred, George and Harry tried to stifle they're laughter, causing Ron to go his brilliant shade of red.
"Oh come on Sirius you've gone and embarrassed our 'ickle Ronikins" Hermione couldn't help herself say it, she knew just how much Ron hated people saying that, which again caused him to turn more red, and start grumbling under his breath. She turned back to Sirius and opened her arms wide and said "Are you Mr Black just going to stand in the doorway or are you going to give me a proper welcome?"
For a moment Hermione thought that she saw him pale slightly, but before she could on it further, he walked over and gave her a warm hug. "Heard from Dumbledore you made Head Girl, congratulations Hermione." He whispered in her ear. As she made to move away, her long necklace with the pendant under the shirt brushed along Sirius' hand "What's that?" he asked almost instantly.
Hermione figured there was no point in hiding it, she did in third year and the secret was exposed to her friends anyway. "It's my time turner" she stated simply, pulling it out. She heard two groans coming from Harry and Ron.
"Don't tell us you resumed all your classes for N.E.W.T's again, do you want a reminder of what it was like in third year?" Ron said bemused
Although slightly miffed at his statement, Hermione would admit that in her third year things didn't go exactly as planned, but she simply put it down as being far too young for that kind of responsibility. The thing that miffed her was that Ron seemed to forget that her studies came a close second to her dearest friends. Yes at the age of 17 she was considered one of the pretty girls in school, yes she had dated a few times, but Hermione's academic achievements were a lot more important to think about than all those other things.
"Ron, I'm perfectly capable in handling it now, besides I didn't take every subject."
"What? You skipped Divination?" he shot back.
She opened her mouth to retort, but found herself imitating a fish with absolutely nothing of value coming out. So he was right and that put her in her place. She instead smiled sheepishly to the laughter her long pause bought.
"OK, everyone to bed, now!" Sirius exclaimed suddenly, "Or Molly will have my head if she wakes up." Leading them out of the little room to much grumbling he steered them towards the stairs. Hermione was trailing her hand along the banister when suddenly someone shouted.
"NO! Don't touch the ban-." shouted Fred, but before he could finish what he was saying it was too late, there was a loud bang that shook the floors and Hermione got flung in the air before being sent tumbling down the stairs. In all the confusion she felt a crack in her leg, but before she could register what it was she felt the time turner around her neck. Reaching for it so it didn't smash, she neared the bottom of the stairs flinging out her arm to break her fall. Too late did she realise that she was holding the time turner in that hand, and before her head hit the bottom step, she felt a sharp pain in her hand and a heard a tinkling of glass, when everything went black.
The five men who had run down the stairs in hopes to stop her falling all the way had stopped dead in their tracks as they witnessed the girl before them fade to nothing. Looking around frantically, they all wondered what had happened. Then the four boys looked to Sirius for an answer and all they got was a wide eyed Sirius saying, almost to himself.
"So it really was her."
A/N: Love it? Hate it? Please tell me. If you got any suggestions, they're welcome, constructive criticism welcomed with open arms please review. *Slightly edited, while my spelling and grammar isn't fantastic, some of the missing texts, courtesy of Fan Fic, were inexcusable.