Summary: War has been raging for eight years now, and has hardened the Order of the Phoenix into soldiers with little hope. But can two people – one who cannot remember their past, and one desperately trying to forget it - in their experiences of love, turmoil, and death - make a future? Si/Hr
Main Characters: Sirius Black/Benjamin Smith, Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Harry Potter, and Ron Weasley.
Pairings: Sirius/Hermione, Draco/GinnyRating: R – Sex, language, violence
Chapter 1: Found
It was nine-thirty in the morning, and the sun was struggling through the dreary London clouds. Hermione Granger hastily made her way through the early crowd, knowing that she was already late for work and still had not gotten her daily breakfast. Her retail job at the Finishing the End bookstore could wait for the moment – she was horribly hungry.
Hermione, now a twenty-three year old young woman, had quickly discovered how simple it was to fall into a tedious routine of food, work, food, sleep, repeat. Her life as a shell of a human floating day after day, week after week through the world and doing her best to forget was not going as well as planned.
She had hoped, that perhaps, when she left, it would be over soon. Her friends would win the war, and she could settle down and have a family in the Muggle world she had receded to. She could then tell her children stories about her magical past, but how she had to give it up because of fear and apprehension of the unpredictable future.
Well, she didn't have to give it up. No, not at all – she had wholly chosen to do so. A decision made in a moment of frightened haste – but had it been the right one?
Had it been regrettable?
Ah, but it can't be regrettable if it's not permanent, her mind mused.
But it is permanent, she thought back, fiercely and defensively. But whenever she thought this, she had the undeniable feeling of falseness about the sentence.
Her head still hadn't cleared enough in her two-year absence to answer that question.
Upon entering the Seasonal Tryst Cafe, Hermione's nostrils detected the unique aroma of coffee and pastries as she made her way towards the counter. Digging through the contents of her coat pocket to retrieve the exact amount of change needed for her soon-to-be purchase, she continued walking until her shoe collided with the solid oak of the counter.
Eyes still downcast, she spoke hurriedly, "I'd like a French vanilla latte with one chocolate-" the brunette was cut-off abruptly as she ordered in her normal pace of voice, expecting Andre – her most frequent server – to be grinning and saying, "The usual."
But it was quite a different voice, with quite a different statement, from a very different man.
"Might have to repeat that for me, miss. It's my first day here, and I'm not too quick with the orders yet."
With one hand paused inside the coat at the familiarity of the amused tone, golden brown eyes rose up to meet twinkling ebony orbs.
Black eyes that were framed by shapely brows, a strong nose, and full desirable lips that had not been known to her for eight years.
Nearly choking, her eyes widened. "Sirius?"
Clearly misunderstanding, the man with the dark red nametag reading 'Ben' frowned slightly, but the twinkle remained. "Yes, I'm serious. I'm new here, and I apologize for not being able to follow you at first."
This girl, as bonkers as she appeared to him at the moment, was absolutely enthralling. At their slightly close proximity, he could feel something around her – a type of aura. It felt like electricity – no, not electricity – magnetism. He felt drawn to her as by an unknown force.
Just my luck, he mused, plastic service smile on his face, I fall for the crazy woman.
It's him – it's his voice. His voice. A sweet sound thought to be lost forever to the ears of mankind, and here it was, chiding her for rude behavior.
As the rational Hermione gave way to a confused and shocked one, thoughts clouded her mind. Had Sirius been alive all this time, thoroughly avoiding them? Just why had he been letting them drown in the painful ignorance of his whereabouts?
But if that were the case, and Sirius had merely been hiding from them, he would show a little more recognition at seeing Hermione's very familiar (although older) face. This man – whether he was Sirius or not – surely did not know her at all.
Mind clearing a bit, Hermione's cleverness overcame her as she sought out an efficient plan.
Replacing her shocked expression with one that gave the essence of sweet and calm, she grinned up at the man in front of her.
"Ben," she began, golden eyes flashing catchingly as she peeked behind her long lashes.
He arched an eyebrow (an act she recalled in a bittersweet sense, it being her favorite mannerism of Sirius) in response to her sudden mood swing, but smiled encouragingly for her to go on.
If anything, this abrupt change only allured Ben more. She's so spontaneous and… varying in emotions. So… different… But, yet, not so sudden that she seems like a PMSing psycho woman.
Latte forgotten completely, Hermione turned on what little female charm she had and offered the apron-wearing heartthrob a date.
He seemed a little surprised, but nonetheless pleased. Not bad for a first day, hmm? Grinned boldly, Ben quickly established himself as the experienced dater he was. "My shift ends at seven. Dinner?"
Doing her best to also appear nonchalant and practiced, Hermione did her best impression of a Marauder smirk. "I'll pick you up here, at seven."
With a final wink and a small push off of the counter, she exited the coffee shop, doing her best to hide her shaking body.
He was alive. She wasn't sure if she should have gotten involved in something like this, but he was alive.
Ben hadn't even noticed that she never placed an order.
Hermione soon realized, as she sat at a vacant table in the back of the bookstore, that the second stage of emotion after such a surprise was doubt.
Maybe it wasn't Sirius at all.
Another thought chased after this one.
What if it was someone using polyjuice?
Immediately following this absurd accusation, Hermione scowled. Who on earth would carry around one of Sirius Black's hairs for eight years after he died, just to work at a coffee shop?
A coffee shop that was a main part of her daily routine...
She shook her head, knowing that she wasn't as important as all that. Why would someone impersonate a dead friend to get to her? She wasn't of much use to anyone… not anymore. She couldn't be.
No, it was him, and she was sure of it. Although he didn't seem to remember his past, he had the exact expressions and actions as Sirius had. It had to be him.
But her paranoid self wouldn't forget the impostor of Mad-Eye Moody in her fourth year, and how no one had ever accused him of such a crime.
Despite the doubt now trampling over her excitement, Hermione couldn't help but take notice of the changes that had somehow taken place in Sirius. Physical changes, that is, besides the amnesia.
Surprisingly, aging was not one of these changes. If anything, Sirius looked much younger. How much more youthful, she was unsure of, but she did notice that his perpetual weariness and slightly creased skin were both gone. But, most noticeably missing, was the look in his eyes. They no longer appeared haunted, black and angry at his fate and past losses. No more did Sirius Black's eyes show the hell he had been through, the hell he had lived until they day he died.
And, more importantly, the hell he didn't deserve.
Moments later, as Hermione shuffled around some products, the shop still pitifully empty of customers, she decided that after making a final decision on who Ben really was (and if she was positive he was Black) she would speak with Albus Dumbledore… for the first time in two years. Before that, she had to be absolutely positive that this man's past was as incomplete as she was assuming it to be.
"Oi! Hermione!" called the voice of Celia, Hermione's annoying (and of course, muggle) co-worker.
Putting down a rather heavy stack of books, she turned her head in the direction of the yelping blond. "Yes?"
Celia swooped nearer to Hermione, her many bangles clinking unpleasantly, vividly reminding the young witch of her former Divination teacher. She had a nail file clutched tightly in one hand, making it obvious that the most work she did around the store involved her own personal manicures. And it wasn't like Hermione could complain to the management, or anything – Celia's aunt owned and managed the store.
"You have a visitor," she smiled, then lowered her voice a great deal. "Really cute, too! Think you can slip me his number?"
Hermione frowned at this news. A series of plausible candidates flooded her mind. The first had been Darren, her muggle boyfriend. But Celia had met him numerous times, and after weeks of Darren very pointedly turning down her unwanted affection, she had lost interest. No, this person was new to Celia – a fresh target.
Hope flared in Hermione's chest. Was it Sirius, early for their 'date'? But the hope diminished as quickly as it had surfaced. He didn't have even the slightest idea of where she worked.
So, more than likely, Celia's new interest didn't even have a phone number Hermione could 'slip'. This visitor was one of those she had left behind.
Why would one of them be here? Hermione thought, not realizing how she classified her old friends as 'them' – like they were some diseased beggars she was ashamed to have ever associated with.
Without saying another word to the overexcited girl, she headed back towards the front of the store. There were bigger things to worry about than Celia's feelings and the keeping of the books. Things that were unfolding in front of her that she had never expected to be a part of again… or, she had hoped not.
One of these things was currently running a pale hand down the spine of a cheesy romance novel, his back turned to her.
He somehow sensed her presence behind him and turned around, a calm smile on his face.
She knew this day would come. Had told herself numerous times that it wouldn't, but had still known it would. After all, she had merely left – she certainly wasn't hiding. She still kept in touch… a few letters here and there. Although now, as the years had passed, the letters only contained names of those that had passed away in battle. Names that were not hers… almost telling her that they were dying in her place, because she had been too selfish to stay.
And now, those that remained fighting, those once closer to her than anyone else - had felt her return to the fight necessary.
A small smile graced her lips as she sensed his controlled anger towards her. Ah, yes… they were angry. So was I… They didn't understand why I left – they still don't. Perhaps it would make them happy to hear that my leaving did nothing to improve my life whatsoever… I still know what I did, and I'm still capable of repeating it. That is, after all, why he's here right now. So that I do it again…
Smile still faint but visible, she nodded. "Draco."
A/N: Sorry it was short – I always manage to make them a little brief in the first chapter. Most chapters will definitely average at least 2000 words, so don't worry. Also, if you've read my other story (I Want the Fire Back) you may notice some similarities. So don't start talking about how odd it is that Hermione always has a horrid past in my stories, or how Sirius comes to make it all better. This story is a lot different than my last – this one is much more dark, more cynical – much more mature. These people have been in the midst of a war since they were teens – it calls for a darker tone.
Oh, and, this is a Sirius/Hermione story - so please don't complain about Darren, and don't get any ideas about our lovely Draco and her, especially in the next chapter. Alright?Please review!