Chapter 9: I love you

"James, hang on a second!" Lily called again, but he didn't slow down. He continued walking at his fast pace. "James, look, I'm sorry!" she called. With those words, James stopped and turned around.

"What did you just say?" he asked with a grin on his face.

"I said… nothing!" Lily said with pride.

"You said you were sorry!" James said.

"No I didn't," Lily denied.

"Yes you did!" he said.

"All right, fine, I did," she admitted. "But please don't make me say it again."

James chuckled. "Say it again," he teased.

"No!" Lily replied.

"Come on, say it one more time," James said, still grinning.

Lily smiled too. "James..." She reached out to hit him playfully but he grabbed her hand and pulled her close to him. Before she had time to think about what he was doing and respond to the situation, he began to kiss her softly. She pulled away. "James, stop it!"

But James Potter was not one to give up so easily. He began to kiss her again, but this time more passionately. For a moment, she fell deep into the moment and did not think about what she was doing. Suddenly, reality hit her, and she shoved him away. "James Potter, how dare you! Everything I said about you before was right! You are a horrible person!" Lily shouted as she stormed off.

"Great," he mumbled to himself.

"Yo James!" a voice called from behind him. He turned around to see Sirius coming toward him.

"Don't start Sirius, I'm not in the mood," James said stopping him before he could even say anything.

"What? I was just gonna see if you wanted---" but James cut him off again.

"I don't want to, okay? Whatever it is, I don't want to!" he announced.

"All right fine. Someone's in a bad mood," Sirius said.

"Isn't it funny the way people are?" James said.

"What do you mean?" Sirius asked.

"I mean how people can claim to love you one minute and then the next minute they can hate you. So did they ever really love you, or were they lying? Or did they love you and then that love disappeared?" James questioned.

"Oh, you're talking about you and Evans," Sirius said in realization.

"I am not!" James said. "I gotta go." And with those words, he walked off.

"Peter, come out of the corner!" Sirius said loudly.

"I don't want James to hurt me," Peter said coming into view.

"He's gone, Come on, we're going to talk to Dumbledore." Both Sirius and Peter walked toward Dumbledore's office.

"Don't we need to have a password to get in?" Peter asked. But before Sirius could answer, Dumbledore appeared from behind them and passed them.

"Sir!" Sirius said getting his attention.

"Mr. Black, Mr. Pettigrew, hello," a smiling Dumbledore said acknowledging the two students. But he said nothing more, and continued walking to his office.

"Sir, wait! I need to talk to you about something!" Sirius called.

"Yes, of course," Dumbledore said stopping. "How may I be of service?"

"We need to talk to you privately," Sirius replied.

"May I ask, what is this regarding?"

"The new kids, Harry and Hermione."

"Well, I have no idea what you could possibly want to say to me about them in private. However, you seem very adamant, so step into my office," Dumbledore said. They walked in silence to Dumbledore's office. "So, what is it that I can help you with?" he asked.

"Professor Dumbledore, don't you think there is something wrong with the new transfer students?" Black asked.

"No I don't think there is anything wrong with them. And from the way you've been showing your attentions to Miss Granger, I don't see why you should think there is anything wrong with them, Mr. Black," Dumbledore replied with a smile on his face.

"How did you know we were dating?" Sirius questioned.

"Ah, this is my school Mr. Black, I know everything that goes on in it," Dumbledore said.

"Well, you must see that there is something weird about them!" Peter stated.

"No I do not, Mr. Pettigrew. Sorry to disappoint you both. If I were you two, I would forget about this and do something useful with yourselves. Like homework! Quite a concept, isn't it?" Dumbledore said grinning. "Now, go on, I have work to do."

Sirius and Peter left Dumbledore's office unsatisfied with the information they had been given. "He was hiding something from us," Sirius said.

"I don't know Padfoot, maybe he was right. Maybe we are overanalyzing this whole thing. Maybe we should just forget about it like he said," Peter said.

"What? Forget about it? No. We are so close. I can tell. Look, I have to go, I'll meet up with you later."

"Wait! Sirius, where are you going?" Peter asked, but Sirius was already out of sight.

With Harry and Hermione

"So… now that Professor Lupin knows that we're from the future, don't you think it's time for you and Sirius to cool it?" Harry asked taking a bite of his eggs at breakfast.

"Cool it?" Hermione asked. "What are you implying Harry?"

"You know, stop seeing each other. Since he's practically twenty years older than you. Don't you think Professor Lupin thinks you're kind of gross now?" Harry asked.

"I'm gross? Gosh Harry, you are so immature. I really like him and nothing you do or say is going to change that," she stated confidently.

But Harry was smart, and he knew how to break her. "Hermione, listen to me," he said very seriously. "I know you care for him a great deal, but that is not all to take in account. Be realistic. We are going to leave in a few months, and you continuing to see him is just going to make it harder for you later."

Hermione felt like she had just been hit with a slap of reality. Harry was right. What was she thinking? What good could come of this little relationship? "Oh Merlin, Harry. You're right," Hermione said, completely dumbstruck.

"Thank you," Harry said quickly. "Finally some of your rational sense has come back. "

"Harry, you're so right. I never got it. I mean…I've finally realize that no matter how long this thing lasts, it inevitably has to come to an end," Hermione said, still in a little shock.

"You're just now realizing this?" Harry asked.

"Well, I mean… I realized it, but I managed to push it to the back of my head and not think about it."

"You need to go talk to him," Harry said.

"You're right, I do," she said.

Back at the Common Room

Hermione glumly walked through the portrait hole to the common room. It wasn't just the fact that this was doomed that was making her sad. It was that when she went back to the future, Sirius wouldn't be there. He was dead. And there was no way she would ever be able to talk to him after these few months. Sirius was sitting on the couch, doing what seemed to be some kind of puzzle. "Sirius," Hermione said getting his attention.

His face brightened at the sound of her voice. "Hey babe!" he said getting up. He walked over and pulled her into a big hug, lifted her up and spun her around.

"Hey," she said softly. He kissed her gently.

"What have you been doing all day?" she asked.

"Well actually…" Sirius said with a grin on his face.

"Oh Merlin, what did you do?" Hermione asked. "Did you pull a prank on the Slytherins again?"

"No, I didn't. I got you something," he said. Hermione could not have been more shocked. "Close your eyes and hold out your hands," he said.

"I'm scared," Hermione said.

"Close them," he demanded. Hermione obeyed and held out her hands. And it wasn't even close to what she expected. It was soft and fuzzy…. and it moved.

"Ahhh!" she said as she dropped it and took a leap backwards.

"Hermione, calm down. It's just a cat. And you scared the poor little thing to death," Sirius said.

Hermione looked at it closely. It was the cutest cat she had ever seen. It was tiny, it couldn't have been more than a month old. "It's absolutely adorable. I love it," she said honestly.

"Good," Sirius said. He picked up the cat and handed it to her.

"Does it have a name?" she asked.

"Yeah, I named it Scamp," Sirius replied.

"Scamp?"

"Yeah, I thought it was cute."

Hermione laughed. "Is it a boy or a girl?"

"Actually… I have no idea," Sirius said. "Let's check," he said as he picked up the cat and lifted up its tail. "Definitely a boy."

Hermione giggled. "That's so sweet Sirius. You picked him out just for me?"

"Well, not exactly," Sirius replied. "I found him. I was taking a walk, and I found him by a dumpster. He's been starving."

"Oh my! Is he okay?" she asked worried.

"Yeah, he'll be fine, I fed him. He just needs some time. And I wanted to give him to you because I know you could take care of him better than anyone else," he said handing her the cat.

Hermione was flattered. "You really think that?" she asked.

"Of course," he said with no hesitation. "You're the sweetest, smartest, prettiest, most caring person I know."

Hermione felt like she was about to cry. She suddenly remembered why she had come up here: to break up with Sirius. And now she didn't have the strength to do it. "Sirius, I can't accept this," she said handing it back.

"Why not?"

"Because…" Hermione hesitated. But she didn't want to drag this out. She preferred to be blunt about things. Especially things like this. "I think we should breakup."

"Why?" he asked, rather shocked.

She paused, and started to think about it. "Sirius, I'm not who you think I am."

"No, I think you don't know who you are. You think it won't work because we're too different, but we're actually very similar."

"No Sirius, that isn't it at all," she said.

"Then what is it?"

"I can't have you the way I want you," she said. That was the best way she could explain it,

"What the bloody hell does that mean?" he asked, getting a little angry.

"I can't tell you. Just trust me," she said, looking down.

"Hermione, I really care about you. I like you more than I've liked any girl I've ever dated. Even Amy," he said softly.

Hermione paused. She remembered back at Hogsmeade when he had said Amy was his only serious girlfriend, and that he loved her. Wait, he loved her? Does that mean he loves me? Oh Merlin, this is all too much. Hermione's thoughts were racing.

"You look shocked," he stated. "I love you Hermione. I was going to tell you tonight. I guess that was a bad idea." He plopped down onto the couch and put his head in his hands. "Why do I always fall in love with girls who don't love me back?" he said to himself, but loud enough for Hermione to hear.

"Sirius, you've only knowm me for a month," Hermione said.

"Time," he said softly. "Time has nothing to do with love or how well people really know each other. Thirty years could be an insufficient time for some people to get to know each other. And we've only known each other for about thirty days. And yet I feel like I really know you."

Hermione thought hard about his words. Were they true? Time has something to do with love. You can't love someone or completely know someone who you just met, she thought. "So you think thirty days is sufficient enough for some people to really know each other?" she asked.

"I do," he replied.

"And you think thirty days is sufficient enough for two people to love each other?" she asked.

"I do," he replied again. "Do you love me?" he asked.

She thought about it, and didn't say anything for about fifteen seconds. "I don't know," she finally replied.

"Well maybe you should think about it," he said.

"Sirius, that really doesn't matter. I just know that---," she began but was cut off.

"How do you know Hermione? You don't know the future!" he said.

She laughed mentally. "Yes I do," she whispered to herself.

"What did you say?" he asked suspiciously.

"Nothing."

"Hermione, stop hiding things from me, I'm sick of it. You have this secret, and I don't know what it is, but whatever it is, it's what's ruining us. So just talk to me about it and I'm sure we can work it out," Sirius said.

"What? I don't have a secret. I have no idea what you're talking about," Hermione lied.

"Stop lying!" Sirius said angrily. "You show up out of nowhere! Everything you said about where you came from is full of holes. Nothing you and Harry say makes any sense. You know your way around the school. You've never got lost once Hermione."

"Look, will you please stop accusing me?" she said frustrated as she sat down. "I'm a fast learner. And I have a good sense of direction."

He suddenly realized that him yelling at her would not make her tell the truth. And it wasn't helping anything at all. "Babe, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to accuse you of anything. I just… I was mad. I don't want this to fall apart."

"You don't want what to fall apart?" she asked.

"What we have going," Sirius said. "We have something Hermione."

"Yeah, I know we do," she replied. "But nothing good ever lasts."

"That's not true. And it certainly is not a good way to look at things. Is that how you want to live your life? You shouldn't end something just because there's a chance that it might not work out. You should just enjoy it while you have it. Life is short Hermione, and we only go around once. Don't you want to have fun and be happy?"

"Yes," she replied. "I do." She paused and thought hard. She thought about what Sirius had just said, about what really mattered to her in life, about how much she cared for Sirius. She didn't say anything for about a minute, and then finally she spoke. "You see, the thing about me… I'm so organized and everything in my life is so structured. But when I'm with you... I don't think about any of that. I feel like a totally different person. And, you see… everyone has always thought of me as the smart girl and that's it. But I think you see more in me than everybody else does. That's why I love you Sirius."

"What did you just say?" he asked.

"You heard me. I love you too."

He walked over to her and gave her a big hug, followed by a passionate kiss, which she willingly accepted. Hermione knew after that day that nothing would be able to break them apart again. Nothing that Harry said, or anyone else. The only thing that could break them up was time, Hermione's new worst enemy.