A/N: Nothing terribly special to write here...disclaimer: you know it's not mine.

On with the show...

Days passed...three to be exact, but to Hermione they felt like weeks. Everywhere she went, Sirius was there. When she woke up in the morning he was already making breakfast. When she went to the library to get some reading done, he was already in there, pouring over one book or another, researching something, though she had no idea what. The worst part was, in Hermione's opinion, that even when she was alone he was still there. When she closed her eyes she could see his face. When she dreamed he filled her subconscious. His smell lingered in rooms where he had visited and she always took a deep breath when she encountered it.

::I am undoubtedly going insane:: she thought to herself as she stumbled, half asleep, down the stairs. First, she had another Sirius dream last night, only in this one he went so far as to kiss her neck...something dream- Sirius had never attempted before. And now she could swear she heard muggle Christmas music, Bing Crosby to be exact, playing from the den of 12 Grimmauld place.

She carefully pressed herself against the wall to her right as she came off the stairs, and peered through the doorway to the den. There was Sirius, humming along to "Joy to the World," a Santa hat upon his head, elf slippers upon his feet, hanging up stockings along the fireplace. She gasped in complete shock, her hand going to her mouth too late to stifle the noise.

Sirius jumped and turned, but when he saw her head peering out from the doorway his expression quickly returned to a grin as he pointed above her head.

Curious, now more than ever, Hermione stepped out from behind the wall and stood under the doorway, looking up. She groaned at what she saw and was about to turn and run when she found she was held in place by Sirius's arms around her waist. He looked at her mischievously, and one hand moved up to cup her face. She tried to pull away, but his grip on her only tightened and his face moved forward so that their noses were touching.

He tsked at her as if she were a naughty child and whispered "Mistletoe" by way of explanation, his breath on her lips making sigh. Sirius took advantage of this and quickly kissed her lips ever so softly and quickly and then pulled away, going back to his stockings.

For her part, Hermione turned as red as a Firepidgeon flower. How dare that man do such things to her, drive her...well, get her all...hmph. And then just peck her and turn away. What a jerk. She turned and stomped out of the room and Sirius watched her retreating figure over his shoulder, a twinkle very apparent in his eye.


A few hours later, everyone else was up and the kitchen was becoming rather crowded as everyone tried to get their breakfasts at once. Suddenly Ginny, who had been drinking her tea quietly in the corner, dropped her mug and moaned. No one really cared, the conversations stopped momentarily and they all turned to stare at the corner where the noise had come from but once they realized what it was they all resumed what they were doing. Hermione slipped away from Tonks and moved towards Ginny.

"What's the matter Gin?" she asked, muttering "reparo" over the broken mug while Ginny wiped up tea.

"Oh Hermione it's awful!" She whispered, clearly horror stricken "I forgot to buy Harry a gift!" She moaned again. "I can't believe how dense I can be."

Hermione giggled. This was the awful tragedy? Poor girl, she was clearly enamored. "It's ok Gin, tell you what, we'll go Diagon Alley today and pick him up something. I have a few more things to get myself." She reassuringly patted the girl on her shoulder.

Tonks slipped behind Hermione. "What fun! I need to pick up a few things too and the boys will surely accept me as enough protection! It'll be a girls shopping trip." She grinned in that crazy, Tonks sort of way.

Ginny looked visibly relieved and the three girls looked at eachother, grinned, and ran off in different directions to get dressed.


It wasn't long before the girls were ready and assembled in front of the door, but before they could head out they were blocked by a barrage of males.

"And just where..." Lupin began, his wand gripped in his hand, one foot tapping on the floor "Do you think you're going?" Harry and Ron finished simultaneously, glancing at eachother quickly before turning back to the girls. Arthur Weasley, Mad-eye, and Sirius were also present, looking equally perturbed.

Ginny was too busy blushing furiously and avoiding eye contact with Harry to respond, since it was her idea, so Hermione picked up the slack before Tonks, sweet girl though she was, could reveal too much.

"We were going to step outside the door and then Tonks was going to use this lovely, unsuspicious portkey," Hermione gestured to Tonks' purse, "to transport us to Diagon Alley for a little last minute Christmas shopping."

"I'll go instead!" One of the men volunteered. Hermione wasn't sure which one.

"And what if one of the presents we have to get is yours?" She asked, smiling patiently. "That's just silly. No one can go but us."

"I won't allow it!" Ah, that was Mad-eye no doubt. "Well Mad-eye. You are not our guardian." Hermione pointed out, and before Arthur could say anything about his and Ginny's relationship, Ginny spoke up.

"And daddy, think of how mum will react if I don't have a present for her on Christmas!"

Arthur Weasley blanched. He was a bit afraid of his wife.

"Good then it's settled. Ta-ta boys!" Hermione began, hand on the door- knob, before Harry spoke up.

"I'll come with you, for protection!" "Me too!" added Ron. "I'd happily join you ladies" was Lupin's reply. "Count me in" was Sirius' input.

Hermione turned and faced each one in turn. "Harry, you being there would only put us more at risk since you're the real target. Ron, you're more likely to get us into trouble. Especially if one of the Malfoys turns up. Professor Lupin, you know how Mrs. Weasley can be with her boggarts. She'll certainly need your help if we're to prevent a panic attack like last time. And Sirius...you should know better. You're not allowed out."

All the men looked properly abashed except Sirius, who growled. Tonks chose that moment to speak up.

"Aren't I good enough protection boys? I can change the way I look, I'm a full fledged auror. And nothing is less suspicious than three girls shopping together. Adding a man would only complicate matters."

Hermione grinned at the now silent men. She mentally patted herself and the other girls on the back for effectively evading their ridiculous possessive behavior. "Well, then I guess we're off!" She knew the boys had nothing left to say and wouldn't follow them. And if Sirius was still looking slightly rebellious well...the other men could easily keep him in check.

Taking the girls by the elbow, Hermione practically skipped out the door into the cool, sunny day, inhaling the fresh air before they all took hold of Tonks' portkey and were off.

Diagon Alley

The girls were ecstatic at finally being out of the house and doing something really in the spirit of the holidays. Diagon Alley was decorated to the nines for the Christmas holiday, with wreaths on every light post and charmed dancing Christmas trees wandering through the crowd. One store was seen to be selling seasonal potions that could turn your hair red and green, give you a blinking red nose, or make antlers grow out of your head. Madame Malkin's had a wide variety of red and white Christmas robes for sale, and Eeylops' owls all had Santa hats upon their adorable heads.

Giggling as they wandered down the street, Hermione, Ginny, and Tonks stopped in every store they could. There were a ton of sales going on for the holiday season, and Hermione was especially impressed at the way the prices were literally "cut" down in front of you by a magical hand.

Ginny ended up purchasing a broom warmer for Harry in a lovely shade of Gryffindor red that slid right over the handle of his broom to prevent any scratching or damage. Hermione picked up wonderful charmed study agendas for Harry and Ron that gave encouraging comments and kept you on task, (naturally, she also grabbed one for herself), and a very Christmasy red velvet collar with a large red bow and lots of bells for "Snuffles." Tonks found "The Art of Disguise" and decided to get a copy for all of the other Order members, so they could at least be almost as good as herself in that area of expertise. None of the three noticed the large shadow following them.

Hermione asked the girls if they could stop in the "Enchanted Stories" store, full of music boxes, statues, and other such items from your favorite stories. Confused but with no reason to argue, the girls agreed. While Hermione shopped in earnest, Tonks and Ginny giggled over the Robin Hood statue, where a very cute Robin Hood continuously poked Prince John in the arse with his arrow. Not soon after, Hermione announced that she was finished, and the trio headed back out to the street. They finally decided to rest in a small bar and grab some butterbeers.

Their waitress was a cute girl, if a bit anxious looking and pale, but they didn't think on her too much and as their drinks arrive they began to relax and chat merrily.

"Now Ginny..." Hermione began, "Mind explaining to us just why you were so panicked over not getting Harry a gift?"

Ginny blushed fiercely and looked down at her drink, mumbling something.

Tonks, catching on, joined in the fun. "What was that love? We couldn't hear you..." She taunted, stirring her drink innocently.

"I said...I like him. Still. I never got over him. He's just so nice and sweet and he always defends me when Ron's being a prat!" Ginny burst out, her cheeks growing so red they matched her hair.

Hermione giggled. "Well of course you do Ginny, and don't worry we won't tell your secret...but you should know, I think Harry was a little jealous when you were dating Seamus."

Ginny just blushed again and mumbled some other comment, but before Hermione could ask what she said, Tonks jumped in.

"And what about you Hermione...can you explain why my cousin has been looking at you like some lovesick puppy?"

Now it was Hermione's turn to blush. "Well you see I...I mean..."

Just then, a noise sounded from the kitchen and all three heads turned. When the yelling began, their hands automatically went to their wands. Before they could decide what to do or what was going on, a girl burst from the kitchens, their waitress. Her eyes looked red with unshed tears but she bustled past them quickly, heading towards a door in the back.

"Excuse me...miss?" Hermione said, catching the girl as she wandered past. The waitress turned and bobbed a little. "I'll be right with you ladies." She sniffled, about to hurry off again.

"No no wait," Hermione stood, "Is there anything we can help you with?"

The waitress' eyes brightened a bit. "Well yes...that is if you don't mind. You see, my Uncle, he owns this bar, and he wants me to bring up a whole bunch of boxes from downstairs. But I'm not much with charms and certainly not strong enough to move them myself but he gets ever so angry when I don't do as he says." The girl was wringing her hands and obviously in distress and Hermione couldn't stand to let the poor thing get in trouble.

"I'm wonderful with charms. We can help you...can't we girls?" She turned to her friends with a pleading look but it didn't take much to get Ginny and Tonks in on it. All three were very helpful girls.

"Of course we will!" Ginny agreed standing, and Tonks followed close after.

"Oh thank you, thank you!" The girl exclaimed. "Come on, it's just down the stairs behind that door."

She led the trio to the back of the bar and unlocked a plain looking brown door. She motioned for the girls to go in ahead of her and once they were through, shut and locked the door behind them.

"HEY!" The three exclaimed in unison, but it was no use. The door was locked and not even alohamora was going to open it. Locked in an unknown room, faced with blackness that gave no indication of what sort of room it was or whether they were standing on a cliff or in an endless basement, Hermione was about to suggest a plan of action when two hands grabbed her roughly from behind and covered her mouth. She moved to scream but was hit by a silencing charm and a Petrificus Partialus was placed on her hands and head. From the silence of the other girls, she assumed the same had happened to them as well. Forced to march by some unknown spell, Hermione walked forward down a long hallway, a wand poking her in the back. Her attackers said nothing, but Hermione could see that they were headed towards daylight, and for that she was grateful. With the small bit of light beginning to appear, she made out the shapes of Ginny and Tonks near her, and was calmed somewhat by the knowledge that they seemed to be alright.


The large shape that had been following the girls all morning was, in fact, a large, black, grimm looking dog. When the girls wandered into the bar, he was forced to wait outside, thanking his large size for allowing him to watch them through the window. When they walked into some door in the back with another girl and didn't reappear for a while he grew worried, and gave a small whine. A passing woman took pity on him and patted him on the head. "Poor dear, your owners never should have left you outside alone!" She tsked, and then wandered off again. Once she was safely past, the dog headed back down the alley, looking for a safe place to "morph" and then apparate back to tell the others what he had seen.

As he padded through the streets as quick as his four legs could carry him, he noticed that he was heading out of the light of Diagon Alley and into the more suspicious Knockturn Alley.

Knowing that nothing was counted as truly odd behavior in Knockturn Alley, he headed for it at full speed, stopping only when he saw a strange sight. Well, strange to anyone not familiar with Knockturn's odd crowd. There were three people, walking with very short steps, wands extended forward as if they were pushing against something. Suddenly a scent wafted towards his large black nose and his dog eyes widened. ::Hermione? Where?!:: He looked around desperately, unsure as to where the smell was coming from, until he saw a red and white sneaker appear in front of the three odd people. Putting two and two together, he gave a loud "whuff" and bounded after the sneaker.

Wasting no time, he pounced on the first of the three in the group, bowling him over into the second. The third turned to cast some sort of spell the dog managed to grab his wrist first, causing him to drop his wand. Moving behind his attacker, the black hound tripped him, causing the strange character to hit his head on the concrete and pass out, joining his other two companions on the ground.

That part completed, the shaggy head swiveled around to look for the sneaker which, he realized with glee, had finally stopped when the third attacker had fallen unconscious. In fact, the sneaker was now attached to a leg, and then a torso, until it was finally joined by two other bodies, with three pairs of eyes looking around angrily. When one of the sets of eyes landed on their rescuer, they widened.

"Snuffles?!" Hermione gasped, angry and relieved all at the same time. "What are you doing here?"

Realizing there was no one around, Sirius changed back into himself before answering. "Rescuing you, of course. Just what did you think you were doing going off with a stranger like that. You could have been killed! Or worse..." his eyes looked deeply worried and while he was reprimanding all three of them, he was only looking at Hermione. He was well into his tirade before Ginny asked, "But why did they let you out of the house?"

He rounded on her, finally taking his eyes from Hermione's, finger pointed at the Weasley's nose. "Let me? I'm a grown wizard young lady, unlike you! I apparated out! I doubt they even know I'm missing. And it's a damn good thing I did too. Why if I hadn't been following you the whole time!"

"Following us?" Hermione looked grim. "Following us?! We were shopping, we were having fun! We weren't supposed to be under a guard!" At the word shopping, all three girls looked down at their bags. They were still there!

"Well it obviously wasn't a very thought out attack," Tonks commented. "They didn't even make us leave our bags. And luckily...that means we still have our wands and the portkey, so I can get you girls home. Come on now...we can talk about this when we're safely back with the Order."

So saying, she reached into her shopping bag and pulled out the purse she was using as a portkey. The three girls touched it and disappeared, while Sirius huffed and apparated after them.

A/N: Yay a long one! Sorry it took me so long to get out but it is extra long...real life got in the way. :o(

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