Every promise that I have made about the ending of this chapter… I take back. I had to change it. You'll see. I'm sorry.

I do not own anything that somebody else owns.

Chapter 32: In The End

"Miss Snicket, how nice of you to join us," Headmaster Albus Dumbledore said composedly. He was standing behind his desk, absentmindedly stroking Fawkes's vibrant feathers. His twinkling eyes moved from the rest of the Gryffindors, who were all standing in a semicircle around his desk, to Hermione, who had just entered the room. Her eyes were stained with melancholy tears. Much to her relief, Dumbledore, nor anyone else, commented. She quickly wiped them off onto her sleeve before joining the semicircle. Noticing it out of the corner of her eye, she saw James repeatedly glancing at the door, as if he was expecting someone to walk in. Hermione looked away before his focus turned to her with a questioning air.

"It is safe to assume that you all know why you're here, is it?" began Dumbledore again. A light murmur and a few half-hearted nods of the heads was all he received in reply. "I have at long last found the near impossible to find Life-Alter." His pause had a great effect: it gave all the students a chance to steal a quick glance. During this time, he picked up a glass triangular prism that had been lying on his desk. One third was a transparent but rich green and the other was an endless black. Between the two coloured sides was crystal clear glass. "To refresh your memories, a Life-Alter is a magical instrument with dual purposes. One, of course, is to travel far distances in time—"

Sirius now entered the room as Dumbledore was pointing to the black side of the item in his wrinkled hands. No one else but the headmaster saw his entrance. Dumbledore continued as if there had been no interruption.

"And the other is to bring back a recently deceased person," fingering the green edge.

Sirius stopped in his tracks. He had, for the first time, heard the description of the Life-Alter and automatically looked at Harry and Hermione. He noticed that their chins dropped ever so slightly to their chests and with glazed eyes stared at the ground.The question that popped into James, Remus, Lily, and especially Sirius's head was:

What made them mess with a Life-Alter in the first place?

"For reasons which will remain unknown," Dumbledore said, putting great stress on the last word, reading their minds, "Mr Thewler and Miss Snicket used this side of the Life-Alter to travel back to this time in 1976." Dumbledore looked up from the machine in his hands and cast his eyes around the tense and anxious group of students. Sirius was standing still at the door, his hand still resting on the doorknob. All the teenagers were still oblivious to his presence. "Unfortunately," Dumbledore continued, "their Life-Alter was already at the end of its tether. After they used it to travel here, the last of its old magic died out. Harry and Hermione were stuck here. Another Life-Alter had to be found, for it is quite impossible for them to stay here for their remaining years." He stared pointedly at James and Sirius, who immediately looked away from Harry and Hermione respectively and towards the headmaster. "So my quest to find another Life-Alter began. I must admit, I did not put in all of my effort. I have been occupied with—other things—some current events.—"

Harry just noticed an edition of the Daily Prophet lying on the floor as if it had been tossed down with great frustration. A giant picture was printed on the front page, moving of course. The image looked like a constellation of stars lined with a hazy smoke connecting the dots. It was the Dark Mark hovering over a small brick house.

"At length, I have achieved in obtaining one." The twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes became suddenly and very noticeably bright. "I will not answer how I procured it," he said immediately afterwards. Hermione closed her mouth. She looked somewhat put out. "That is not important. What is important, however, is that Harry and Hermione can go safely back to their own time. We will see them again," he said directly to Lily and the Marauders. "Nonetheless, it would be best not to dwell on them and their past presence and to forget everything that they have been a part of. I—"

"But how can we forget?" Sirius spoke up at last. Everyone turned to face him. Hermione quickly looked away. He strode forward, stopping between the two time-travelers. Only when he continued to speak to the Headmaster did Hermione finally set her eyes on him again. "How can we?" he repeated, his voice faintly cracking. Nobody laughed. "How can we forget these two when they have impacted our lives in such a short amount of time? Professor, you have known them so much less than we have and yet they have left a mark upon your life. How do you think they have affected their friends? And you want us to forget about them! Sorry Professor, but you're asking for a damn miracle." Sirius let out a deep, quivering breath, as if he had been holding it in throughout his entire speech.

Dumbledore spoke as if there had been no interruption, only the cheerless twinkle in his eyes gave it away. "I know it will be difficult, but I thought about this long ago, almost four months. When I first met Harry and Hermione, I had to judge them from that moment if they could handle this," he said, waving his hand around, "living in the past. I've already told this to you, Harry. I thought, just from first glance, that you two would be able to handle it. Harry also mentioned that day that he knew of a handful of students here in this time, one of them being you, Mr Potter." James inclined his head. "So not only did I have to judge Harry and Hermione, but also the students they were most likely to become acquainted with. I unfortunately made one mistake, and that was a student who did not get along well with any of you—"

"Snivellus," growled Sirius.

"Severus was too scarred by 'the Marauders,'" Dumbledore continued, using air quotations, "to put past his grudges. Fortunately, Professor McGonagall instructed him not to tell anyone else of Harry and Hermione's true identities before anything too serious took place."

"Git," both James and Sirius grumbled at the same time.

"I knew you four had enough strength and courage to go through this," Dumbledore said to Lily, Remus, James, and Sirius. "For quite some time, Harry and Hermione will be constantly in your thoughts, no doubt about that, but with time you will dwell on them less. And finally, when you least expect it, they will appear. You will have memories that will be brought back, but remember this: you will have grown up. You will have matured, we can hope, into adults who do not take things as lightly as you do now. Harry and Hermione, however, will most likely be younger than they are now. They will not remember what they have experienced within these past few months for quite some time. A few weeks right before sixth year, if I do recall correctly." Harry and Hermione both nodded. Dumbledore turned to them, now, giving Lily and the Marauders time to contemplate.

"As for you two, the time-travelers." Dumbledore gave a chuckle. "Ah, where to begin. How about at the beginning?" He chortled some more at their confused faces. "Yes, you will travel back to exactly when you left, within a few hours. That's right, Mr Thewler, you will not have missed any schooling. You will arrive the day and at the same place as where you left."

"But Professor," Harry broke in, unable to contain himself, "shouldn't we go to exactly twenty years from now? That way, we won't have lived six extra months?"

"And the world would continue on without Harry Potter?" whispered Dumbledore. It took Harry a few seconds to realise that Dumbledore had called him by his real name. "Yes, Harry, I know more than you think, but not a lot at all. I think it would be best if you didn't miss anything."

"In—in that case, Professor," stuttered Harry, "would it be possible to travel a little earlier than when we left? I mean, there's something that shouldn't really have happened…"

In the corner, Sirius's ears perked up. James, Remus, and Lily were still engrossed in their whispered conversation.

"Absolutely not," said Dumbledore suddenly, his demeanor almost sharp. His expression softened at Harry abashed face. He laid a warm and comforting hand on Harry's shoulder. "It must be very hard for you to hear this, but all who pass on, they die for a reason. That reason may be clouded, and may yet remain clouded forever, but we must accept it…" Dumbledore leaned close to Harry, whispering in his ear, "even if it has happened in great quantities." He straightened upwards. "The ones who die never really leave us, do they? They remain here, with us, as long as we remain loyal and loving to them."

Dumbledore's last words rang in Harry's ears, even after he left Harry's side to talk with Hermione. Harry stood numbly by himself.

"Hermione, I don't know where to begin," Dumbledore said softly.

"How about the end?" Hermione said, giving a great sniff and drying her eyes. Dumbledore gave a low laugh.

"This is hard for you, I know it," Dumbledore said in a comforting yet grievous tone.

Hermione sniffed once more. Then she said in dead quiet voice, as so not even Sirius could hear, "He's not to going to be the same once I get back, even if he was alive. He changed greatly, Professor, over the years. He's not the same at all. I fell in love with his younger, more exuberant self, not the deadened one. I'll never see my Sirius again." She looked upon the Headmaster with doleful eyes. "Must I go?"

"I'm afraid you must, Miss Snicket," said Dumbledore sadly.

"Please, Professor, it's Miss Granger," Hermione said.

Dumbledore's eyes widened slightly for a moment, then twinkled once again. "Miss Granger." Hermione leapt into his arms at the sound of her name being spoken in that majestic voice. The Headmaster returned the hug after a startled second.

"Now is the time," Dumbledore spoke loudly after he broke away from Hermione. "Harry, Hermione, step forward." Dumbledore reached behind him, his fingers clasping around the Life-Alter. Harry and Hermione glanced at each other, took the other's hand tightly, and stepped forwards together. "Lily, Remus, James, Sirius, would you please step back." All but the last one complied. Sirius rushed forward and gave Hermione a quick hug, kissed her on her forehead, and almost inaudibly whispered, "Don't forget." He then rushed to the back of the room with the others.

Dumbledore handed the Life-Alter to Harry. "It was by mere coincidence, or maybe fate, it would seem, that you two ended up here in this time, instead of landing in the time of Queen Elizabeth I. If you look closely, you will see numbers inscribed on the inside of the black end. There is the hour, day, month, and year. If you would be so kind as to set it to the correct date."

"How?" asked Harry and Hermione simultaneously.

"By twisting the black end separately from the other two," said Dumbledore. "Don't worry, it won't send you back in time. Not yet, anyhow. You two must not have noticed, but magic needs to happen in order for it to work properly."

At last the two time-travelers finally got it set to the right time approximately. It took some recalling of memories and sophisticated rotating of the Life-Alter. They started to hand it back to Dumbledore, waiting for the spell. Surprisingly, Dumbledore shook his head.

"No no," the Headmaster said. "You two must do it. It wouldn't be of any use to have me go into the future. Now, take out your wands and simply tap the tips to the numbers on the black side and that will take you home."

"That's it?" asked Harry, his wand hanging in midair.

"That's it," said Dumbledore, amused. "You two must have unconsciously tapped that spot when you traveled back."

"I guess so," mumbled Hermione, recalling that day. She looked at Harry. "Didn't Fred and George barge in seconds before we left?"

"Yeah, I guess them banging in just startled me enough to trigger this thing," Harry said, holding the Life-Alter. "I was already shaking out of sheer apprehension," he mumbled in an undertone. He looked to the others, who were all standing in trepidation. "Take good care of each other, all right?" Harry said in a quaky voice.

James smiled and carefully laid an arm around Lily's shoulders. "Don't worry, we will." Lily flushed but leaned into her future husband's warm embrace. Her emerald eyes were bright with tears. James lovingly brushed a strand of hair out of her face. Harry smiled upon the two.

"So when can we talk to you both about this?" asked Remus, a sad smile stretched on his thin face.

"Summer before our sixth year," choked Hermione, her voice straining to hold back tears.

"I look forward to it," replied Remus, standing up straighter and holding himself more upright. Harry and Hermione both had to grin: he was the mature-est of the lot.

Sirius was leaning against the wall, his hands stuffed tightly into his pockets. His face was tilted downwards, away from the two time-travelers, leaving it partly masked in shadows. A glossy sheen of silver could be seen in the dim light. His jaw was clenched firmly.

"It'll be all right, Sirius," said Hermione barely above a whisper, her voice cracking. He finally looked up. "I promise." Letting out a deep sigh, he gave a nod.

Hermione looked back to Harry, whose eyes were solidly set upon his parents. "Are you ready?"

Harry first turned towards Dumbledore. "Thank you, Professor, for everything that you have done for us. I can assure you that you continue to do an excellent job at this school."

Dumbledore broke out into his old smile. "Why thank you Mr Potter. I hope to see you soon."

"You will." Sooner than you think.

Harry turned back to his parents and past mentors. They all had gleaming eyes. Taking in a deep breath, he gave them all an encouraging smile, though his heart was screaming in agony. "Everything will turn out all right in the end," he assured them once again. Lily, James, Sirius, and Remus nodded solemnly in response. Harry glanced at Hermione, signaling their departure. They raised their wands to the Life-Alter, which they held together with their other hand. They both looked at the foursome for the last time.

"We'll see you around."

And the last thing James, Lily, Sirius, and Remus saw was a tear roll down both Harry and Hermione's pale cheeks.

The first thing that Hermione took note of was the feeling of air streaming past her. She was falling. Looking beside her she noticed Harry was in the same predicament. The next moment she heard someone give out a shout of surprise, and then strong arms enveloped her. The catcher buckled under her weight.

Hermione with shaky breathing opened her eyes. For a moment, she saw sixteen-year-old Sirius Black holding her tightly. She blinked and the image faded away. Ron Weasley, with bright blue eyes widened in shock, was sitting on his leg at an odd angle, Hermione lying in his lap.

"Hermione?" he exclaimed. He sat there, his mouth agape, for several moments. "Hermione! You're back!" Both Ron and Hermione launched at each other, embracing the other in a death-by-hug embrace. Ron's shirt started to become soaked with Hermione's tears. "What happened?" Ron asked fearfully after they broke. "Where were you? Lupin said something about his years at Hogwarts. We were all worried sick about you. We had no idea what happened. Fred and George said something about midnight and you and Harry just disappearing. Oy! Where's Harry!" Ron looked wildly around.

"Right here," grumbled a female voice. Harry had not been caught by someone, but rather had landed on her. Ginny Weasley shoved Harry off of her seconds after he landed only to learn that his fall had sprained her wrist and had broken one of Harry's ribs. At the moment, she was anxiously crouching over Harry's almost unconscious form.

"Lily?" Harry asked in a quivering yet hopeful tone. His glasses had been knocked off at one point. Also, his head had unluckily collided sorely with the ground when he fell.

"No, it's me, Ginny," she said in a caring voice. Ginny brushed his messy hair out of his face and slipped his glasses on. She noted his tear-stained features. "What happened? Where were you two? Was Lupin right? Did you actually go back to 1978?"

"76, actually," said Hermione. She slid off of Ron's lap with pink cheeks. He gave a piteous moan.

"I—I think I broke my leg," explained Ron. They all looked at its odd location and nodded in agreement.

For the first time, Hermione and Harry gazed at their surroundings. They were back at Grimmauld Place. At the moment they rested in the main hallway. Everything around them screamed Dark, evil wizards. Near the front of the corridor hung Sirius's mother's portrait with the curtains pulled around it. The candles were glowing dully and obstinately, seeming that if they had it their way they would burn every inhabitant there into a pile of ashes. Cobwebs were laced throughout all the grotesque pictures and sculptures. The air itself was a tad bit musty. Heavy footsteps of an adult suddenly resounded throughout the corridor.

"HARRY! HERMIONE!" shrieked Mrs Weasley, running to Harry's side. "YOU'RE BACK!" But because of the loud sound, Mrs Black threw aside her caging curtains and began to shriek loutish things.

"Horrible Mudbloods besmirching my home! Blood traitors running amuck. How dare you defile—"

"Shut up!"

A middle-aged man ran up to the portrait and gave the curtains a tug in vain. "Tonks! Help me with this, why don't you!" A violet, spiky haired witch ran up to his side moments later. The both of them managed to swing the curtains closed. They both panted and muttered a thank you before trotting to the two time-travelers' sides.

"Wotcher, Harry!" smiled Tonks. He could only manage a wince before looking upon a quite familiar face.

Remus Lupin, now twenty years older, was kneeling beside Hermione. His face held many more scars of his lycanthropy, death of close friends, and that pesky thing called time. His hair was certainly streaked with more grey. His eyes had grown harder and more pain-filled. He stared at Hermione with uneasiness.

"Are you all right?" he asked. His voice was filled with trepidation. Hermione paid no attention to him.

"Is he here?" she asked at once, ignoring everyone fussing about her. Hermione looked over her shoulder as if expecting to see someone. "Did he make it?"

"Who, dear?" Mrs Weasley asked. Remus held an odd face. Hermione noticed it.

"What?" she asked immediately. "What happened? What happened to Sirius? Is he here? Is he alive!" Her voice cracked with impatience and fear.

Remus just shook his head, lowering it down to his chin. "Hermione…" After a few breathless moments he gazed upon her again, his eyes solemn and slightly angered. "You should know better than to mess with time. Serious things could have happened. What did you tell Sirius?"

Hermione's breathing became sharp and uneven. She didn't believe what she was hearing. It took her a minute to answer. "I—I told him to listen to you." Her puffy eyes glared straight at him. "I told him to listen and take heed to what you told him. Why didn't you tell him not to go to the Department of Mysteries? Why didn't you stop him?"

"I always told you that she made you more commanding, Moony."

"Sirius!" yelped Hermione and Harry in unison, spinning around. (Harry gave a wince at his broken rib.)

Sirius Black was leaning over the railing at one of the closer landings. His long, black hair shone in the light. His eyes were now a tarnished silver, etched with twelve years of deep unhappiness and apathy. His clothes hung loosely on his frail build and the lights carved out his high cheek bones. Through his depressing demeanor, Sirius was beaming at the twosome. Turning suddenly, he bounded over five or six stairs at a time to reach them. He tripped over the last set and came tumbling beside them like an eager boy on Christmas morning. All three held each other close.

"You're alive," gasped Harry. "My God, you're alive! How did this happen?" Hermione didn't say anything but embraced him and Sirius tightly.

"Let us answer all the questions together at once," came a deep, bell-like voice from behind them. Headmaster Dumbledore had just entered from the kitchen, a peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich in hand. He did not seem perturbed at their entrance. On the contrary, he acted as if they were late. "Once we get you three fixed up, we can all talk things over in a more cheerful room." He waved his wand over Harry, Ginny, and Ron. They were instantly cured of their minor pains. Harry's chest was still aching, though it had nothing to do with his ribs.

"Are my parents still—"

"Dead? I'm afraid so, Harry," muttered Sirius, helping his godson off the floor. He hugged him once more. Ron grabbed Hermione's hand and eased her up to her feet. She seemed shaky, so he grabbed her around the waist to steady her. They both started to walk like so toward the room Dumbledore had just entered when Sirius stopped them.

"I'll handle it from here," Sirius said to Ron quietly. Remus and Harry listened closer. Ron appeared rather hesitant, as if he would lose Hermione again if he let go. Sirius noted this, plus the jealous tint in his blue eyes, and quickly added, "It's okay." Ron, after casting a shrewd glare, let go and strode onward. Sirius put his hand where Ron's had been, steadying Hermione.

"I just wanted to thank you," he said gently. She kept her eyes adverted. "So, thank you for saving ole Siri's life. Again. I'm deeply in your debt." Hermione looked up at him with a pained, almost longing, expression. Her heart beat faster at their closeness. But seeing his eyes changed everything. Sirius, indeed, had changed dramatically over twenty years. He was not the same boy she fancied. Not at all.

"Thanks for catching me," Harry said to Ginny, scratching his head nervously though he didn't know why.

"It's not like I had much of a choice," laughed Ginny. She punched him lightly in the arm. For some odd reason, it left his skin burning. "Just don't make a habit of it… Where'd you get the scarf?" Ginny asked to break the silence.

Harry automatically reached toward his neck and fingered a crimson scarf. He stared at it for a long while. It was a "Potter scarf." Mrs Potter knitted one each year for every one of the Marauders. James Potter had once lent it to Harry to go outside for a snow fight. When Harry tried to return it to its original owner, James called it "a present from the past… Get it, present, past, heh heh." Harry's eyes refocused onto Ginny.

"My dad," he spoke softly.

"Oh." She didn't know what else to say, so she wrapped an arm around his waist. He stiffened for a moment, then leaned slightly into her embrace. "C'mon. Let's go." As they walked together, Ginny looked over her shoulder. "Hurry up, you two! I want some questions answered."

Sirius and Hermione glimpsed up to see Ginny laughing at them.

"Can you walk on your own?" Sirius asked Hermione.

"Yeah, I think I can," mumbled Hermione. Unexpectedly, she spun towards him. "Sirius, I must know—"

"To spend twelve years in Azkaban gives a guy a lot of time to think," Sirius said, reading her thoughts. "And trust me, I did a lot of thinking. It really puts things into perspective. I know this'll feel abrupt to you, but for me, it's been boiling inside me for twenty years. You left me when I was barely sixteen. I was young and foolish then, you know this. But I certainly did fancy you… a lot. Years went by and my feelings changed… considerably … So, as good-looking as I am at thirty-six, I don't think it'll work out—"

"I've been expecting this for three months now," sighed Hermione. "I mean, how could I think of anything else? Before Harry and I left, you and I didn't get along so well. I won't describe the specifics, but you're right. You have changed. You are not Sirius Black, the charming rebel anymore. You're Sirius Black, the ex-convict—"

"Oy," barked Sirius suddenly with an air of dignity. "My name's been cleared, if you must know." A playful smile danced around his mouth.

"Who has matured into an adult," finished Hermione, grinning too. She looked up to see Ron waiting in the door frame for them. Hermione faltered. "You didn't happen to tell Ron about us, did you?"

"No," said Sirius. Hermione breathed a sigh of relief. "Remus did. Including himself, too, of course." He laughed at Hermione's horror-stricken face. He gave her one more hug. "I'm glad to see you again, Hermione. Now go catch up with that Weasley kid. Personally, I think you can do better, but he'll do for now." He gave Hermione a wink before pushing the furiously pink girl ahead.

A hand patted Sirius on the shoulder. The black-haired man spun around to find Remus smiling at him. "What?" Sirius asked uncomfortably. He never liked that grin.

"You've grown-up, Padfoot," smirked Remus.

"You've finally noticed that after twenty years?" asked Sirius.

"Just about." Remus thumped his friend on the back. He started to push his friend forward. He had on his wrinkled face a lost-in-thought smile. "James would be proud." Sirius whipped his head upwards and surveyed his friend with round eyes. He found that Remus had on a wide grin, one that he had not seen in almost twenty years. Sirius smiled back, slung his arm on Remus's shoulders, and staggered towards the room.

Dumbledore looked around at everyone: Mr and Mrs Weasley, Ron, Ginny, Fred, George, Tonks, Moody, Mundungus (who was steadily slipping into unconsciousness in a chair), Remus, Sirius, Harry and Hermione. Snape, however, was not called to this meeting, and when asked why by Harry, Dumbledore evasively said that Professor Snape had other, more important matters to attend to. The Headmaster's face had fallen slightly at the mention of it.

Before Dumbledore started, Fred and George walked up to Harry and Hermione. They both looked slightly abashed.

"We just want to say," George began.

"Sorry," said Fred.

"For causing you two to jump back in time."

"We just wanted to see who was awake."

"It's okay," said Harry.

"It was just an accident," Hermione said.

"Yeah, I guess," said Fred.

"And you got Sirius back alive," added George.

"That's good, isn't it?"

At that moment, though, Dumbledore turned towards everyone, ready to speak. Fred and George took their places in the back .

"Harry and Hermione found a letter from Sirius describing a very dark instrument, the Life-Alter. It has two purposes, to bring back a recently deceased person by using the dark yet powerful Redivivus Spell. The other is to travel back and forth in time. This past evening, they decided to bring back Sirius, who had apparently died in the battle at the Department of Mysteries. By either fate or coincidence, they traveled back to the year 1976. It just so happens that James and Lily Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Severus Snape were students at that time. The Life-Alter died in the process of their time-traveling, and Harry and Hermione were stuck there.

"Am I right so far?" he asked Harry and Hermione.

The twosome nodded.

"So they lived from September to December back in 76, going to classes, doing their homework, going to Hogsmeade. In short, they lived their daily lives back there. Another Life-Alter had to be made, which left them thinking that their stay would last all year. Fortunately, I came across one after four months of searching. They are rather rare devices.

"I must say that I caught on quickly to Harry's urgency to come back here to this time. I did not know the deals, I did not know that he was indeed 'The Boy Who Lived' or 'The Chosen One,' but that he was a key figure in the future, or what is now the present.

"And it was not only Harry who was jeopardizing the future. I won't mention details, but feelings were being shared in the past that should not have been." Remus and Sirius, rather embarrassed, bowed their heads while Hermione looked quickly away to hide her reddened cheeks. "They left almost too early and almost too late. If it had been just two regular students, I would have sent them back exactly twenty years later, so they would not have to repeat the first half of their sixth year. But since it was Mr Harry Potter, I decided otherwise."

Ron gave Harry a nudge and wink, whispering "Lucky you."

"So now Harry and Hermione are back just twelve hours after they left, though it will seem to them four months since they were last here. To everyone else, be mindful. Things may have changed because of them, and they are unaware of it." All Dumbledore saw was confused expressions. "Harry and Hermione will have a different memory of this past summer because they lived through it with having Sirius dead. We all know that never happened. Therefore, our memories of summer will be poles apart." Their confusion only lifted the slightest bit. "You'll get used to it. So if Harry and Hermione start to go on about something that never happened, be kind and quietly set them right." The headmaster's eyes flashed over to Fred and George.

"Any other questions?"

"Sir, what ever happened to the Masquerade Ball?"

Dumbledore smiled at Hermione. "That is a story one of the, ahem, Marauders can tell you, since they play an important role in that story." Remus sighed and rolled his eyes while Sirius let out his bark-like laugh. When Hermione looked expectantly at them, Sirius answered, "Maybe it should be saved for another time," eyeing Mrs Weasley with her hands on her hips.

"If that is all," Dumbledore said, then giving a pause. No one else spoke. "All right. Harry, if you could come over here. I have some important matters to talk to you about the past summer's events, and what we still must do. Now, have you ever heard of a man named Horace Slughorn?..."

Meanwhile, some people began to shuffle out of the room. Mrs Weasley whacked Mundungus over the head with Mr Weasley's newspaper to wake him up. Tonks stumbled into a chair, steadying herself by grabbing Remus's arm. Both turned slightly pink. Moody staggered over to Sirius. He clapped him on the back.

"I guess I should say 'Welcome back,' with you being dead and all," Moody growled before letting out a laugh. Sirius gave a chuckle, for he knew better than to not laugh at one of Moody's jokes, even if it wasn't that funny.

"Maybe you all should throw me a return from the dead party," returned Sirius. Much to Sirius's dismay, Moody laughed even harder and clunked towards Mrs Weasley to spread the idea.

Sirius was about to moan and trot after Moody to cancel the plans when he felt someone's strong gaze upon him. He turned to find Hermione's gaze from across the room. Memories came crashing down upon Sirius that he had not visited since Azkaban.

Seeing Hermione for the first time, lying in his arms. The detention they were in. The pang of jealousy when Hermione and Kyle were together. Singing for her at the ball. Jealousy flaring up again whenever she and Remus were together. Sirius and Hermione running down the streets of Hogsmeade, laughing their heads off. Hermione carrying his limp body to the Hospital Wing after his fall off the tower. Everyone sitting in a circle for Marauders Dares, both repeatedly glancing at each other. Hermione finally kissing him. Sirius yelling at her for the death of a relative. Them hugging and making up again. The twosome walking down the halls together, hand in hand. Hermione kissing him good bye. Everyone lined up in Dumbledore's office. Hermione and Harry disappearing out of thin air.

Sirius remembered being moody for weeks afterwards. Sirius had never met a girl like Hermione. But the weeks passed, and Hermione shrank farther and farther from his thoughts. He soon began to date again. Sirius almost had her completely out of his mind by the time James and Lily got married. Once baby Harry was born, though, memories of Hermione (and Harry) came flooding back. But the death of Sirius's two best friends knocked her out of his thoughts for good. Only when the Dementors in Azkaban ripped away all of his happy memories was he reminded of her. But Sirius was older. He didn't think of her romantically any more. She had touched his heart, yes, but no more than that. When he finally broke out from Azkaban and saw Hermione again (in her third year) his breath wasn't taken away. Old feelings didn't spring up. She was a insufferable, know it all, thirteen year old. She was his godson's friend. No more, no less. As Sirius watched her grow up, his feelings remained dormant. She was just a good memory. That was all.

Hermione was unaware of everyone else moving out of the discussion room. She had to look at Sirius one last time. He had changed so much that it made her heart ache. Twelve years of torture tore away the Sirius she had loved. Now there was just a mere shell of him, a reflection. He was bitter now, rash, slightly deadened, temperamental, not to mention unkempt. All the spark and fire that he once held inside of him had diminished over the years. It was sad, really.

Hermione must have been pointedly watching him because Sirius soon turned away from Moody to gaze at her. The effect was next to zero. Once upon a time, when they held eye contact, they had been electrified. There were left breathless. Now Hermione felt nothing more than she would looking at Mr Weasley.

Their knowing gaze lasted minutes. Finally, Ron came up to Hermione, trying to usher her out of the room. Hermione looked one more time at Sirius. He grinned and gave a slight nod of the head. Across the busy room she returned the nod before walking out with Ron. Hermione's face cracked into a light smile; she had lost the boy she loved, but gained the friendship of a man who was now alive because of her love.

The End.

Author's Note.

It's done. That's it. That's all. Wow. No more "Saving Siri."

I hope you all have enjoyed these twenty months with me and my writing. I sure did.

Please review. I'm begging you. If you've read this story and you've never posted before (and I know you all are out there!), just once, please review. I don't care if you just type "Jolly good job" as long as I know you've read it. Do that for me, please. I've gone through almost two years of writing this rather long story. All I want in return is a pat on the back if you like it or if you don't like it a smack on the head.

Just in case you wanted to know, every single chapter I've posted that describes the "present day" after Harry and Hermione left and before they came back…. They "have been erased from time." They are still posted, but since Harry and Hermione came back just hours after they left, the present chapters are impossible. If it doesn't make sense, tell me, and I'll try to explain it better.

If you have any other questions, things that will annoy you until they are answered, write them in your review. I am going to post another entry, but not a chapter! No, it will have all the answers to any questions you have.

As for a sequel………………..No. I couldn't for a few reasons. One: I tried as best as I could to end this story so it could possibly go into book six. Bit of a stretch, but hey. I tried. Two: I am, and have been since book one, an avid Hermione/Ron and Harry/Ginny "shipper." Sirius and Hermione don't work out for me, especially when he is older. Not because of the age difference! I'm fine with that. I just don't think it could happen. Why did I write this story then? A clear Sirius/Hermione story? Because I wanted to write about Harry and Hermione, but also about the Marauders. Three: I am working on two other Harry Potter stories. Before you all get too excited, I plan to write them, and then post them. I learned from this story that it is better to have everything planned out and written, then post it. I have a rather indecisive mind, and I always try to change the plot mid-story. I might post them, but it will be in a very long time. (One will be a very very very very very long story. I plan to write out the entire history of James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, Lily Evans, Severus Snape, and Regulus Black. Their years at Hogwarts from day one clear up to book six. Hell, it's going to be long.) So if I were you, I wouldn't be expecting it ANY time soon. The other one is a romance for, you guessed it, the Marauders (Sirius mostly). It is still a work in progress.

Thanks to all that wished me luck on my tap dance performance. The first one had some technical difficulties. But it just kept getting better and better until—PERFECTO:)

172,284 words of just this story (not counting all the author's notes it has). Typed up on my laptop, it is 510 pages. 32 chapters. One story. Wow. Let's just take a moment………………………………………… And our moment is done!

Remember, I expect one review from every single reader. Thank you all once again for sticking with me. It has been great. Thanks.

- Accio Flaming Stake