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/Ginny
Rating: R – Sex, language, violence
DarkRaven-04: Oh yeah, much darker! Believe me. It'll be grand – just you watch. Er, and review! Hehe.
Laicamiel: Yeah, definitely poor SiriBen… Hehe… I really have to stop giggling benignly.
Emmy says: Oh, yeah, I've got me a fairly good reason as to why Sirius has been brought back. Heh. Yep yep.
Peanut Gallery - Alaska's Own: Yeah, I am entirely sick of calling him BEN, dammit.
khuu-khuu: I'm sorry I didn't fulfill your wishes of a Draco/Hermione/Sirius triangle. Lol.
Chapter 4: Scars, Differences, and Incredibility
"What the hell are you talking about?" Darren snapped, observing his girlfriend with disbelief. "Are you trying to tell me… that the guy over there is some kind of ex-boyfriend, or something? And that you're going back to him…?"
Darren clearly did not understand. But how could he? His usually sensible woman stood in front of him, babbling about never seeing him again, and returning home. And to top all of that, she had this odd look in her eyes, like she was staring down some gorgeous but horribly deadly jungle cat. She looked sheerly determined, and if he weren't so angry, he'd be a little bit intrigued.
"Oh, Darren…" Hermione bit her lip, staring at him in a way that clearly showed as pity. "You can't understand – you never will…" The blond man before her, the epitome of an athletic, did not have the capacity to know what she was. Dark, powerful... "Just… I'm leaving." She had tried to say sorry, but failed horribly. She had been through too much that day to care about anyone's feelings…
"The hell you are!" Darren growled as she turned around to head back into the restaurant, grabbing her arm in a steel grip.
Hermione whipped around, her eyes flashing in anger, causing Darren to release her arm quickly and look down for a moment, ashamed of his temper, before meeting those smoldering eyes. "'Mione…" he whispered, almost like a whimper. He didn't want to be alone, and he sure as hell didn't understand why he should be left alone.
Shaking her head slightly, Hermione felt the beginnings of tears behind her eyes. She was being so cruel to this man – the very same one who had unknowingly helped her fall into the monotony of a muggle life. Suddenly, with that thought, she realized that that was no reason to feel sorry for her treatment of this man.
Turning back towards the door, Hermione heard him take a sharp intake of breath, almost like she had physically slapped him, but she kept moving away steadily. She was going, not only away from her old life of lies and secrets, but to her future – Sirius awaited her, her old friends awaited her, and the War awaited her. Most not very promisng aspects, but they were what she was a part of.
"Come on," Hermione motioned to the dazed man still seated at a nearby table.
"What?" he looked up, utterly confused. "I thought you were going to tell me-"
But she said nothing as she grabbed his hand, tugging him out of the door and onto the sidewalk. Still in a daze, Ben mumbled, "We didn't pay for our food."
A string of Oriental curses followed them as Hermione increased their pace, quickly ducking down a nearby alley. It smelled of urine and alcohol, with a tinge of trash. It made her feel alive, being in that dark alley, holding the hand of the man with enchanting eyes. She had just run out on her boyfriend, and skipped the bill for dinner. But it didn't matter – nothing as trivial as that would ever matter to her again.
Heart pounding, Hermione heard a loud clap of thunder nearby. Ben jumped, his nerves still on edge, but his dark eyes remained focused on her, a slight glare upon his face.
Almost wanting to chuckle at his impatience, she spoke, "Sirius! You're name is Sirius. Like the star. Sirius Lee Black." As she said this, she looked up at the sky in the falling darkness, but there were no visible stars.
"Sirius," he let his own name slip off of his tongue, much as he had done for his company's name prior.
Hermione was now running her hand against the rough surface of the brick wall, whispering to herself.
"Hermione!" she turned at the call of her name, to see Sirius walking nearer to her, a small smile on his face. "What else can you tell me? Tell me everything you know!"
Looking up again from an interesting crack in the wall, she tilted her head to the side, as if debating whether or not she could speak of such things.
"I… there's a lot to know," she gave a small laugh, before straightening her facial expressions. "And I know someone who can help."
Sirius gave her a long hard look, his heart thumping loudly in his chest. He could barely comprehend anything, his emotions were on high, and his thoughts seemed slippery and hard to grasp. Another loud clap of thunder made him jump, but the woman in front of him merely relaxed against the wall, a calm expression on her face as the rain began drizzling down upon them.
"Come with me," she whispered, and despite his horridly disorientated state, he clearly saw how sensuous she looked at that moment. Her thin hand held out as an invitation, her eyes lined and smoldering, her clothes and hair already beginning to cling to her, and she looked so esoteric. Without noticing his own body dryness greatly decreasing, Sirius almost unknowing took her hand, and she pushed herself from the wall, removing something from her pocket.
The last thing he noticed was a bolt of lightning in the darkening sky before he felt his feet lift from solid ground and his vision darkened.
I hope I don't splinch us, Hermione worried.
Her hope was answered as her feet made solid contact with the cold floors of Grimmauld Place, at the same time as Sirius.
She was instantly thankful that she had taken part of the safety percausions performed on Grimmauld Place. About five years ago, all members of the Phoenix had partook in spilling a drop of their blood upon it's floors, a dark and ancient spell, so that when apparating there, you remained safe from numerous traps. It had been darker than anything most of the Order had done that far, but it was a most drastic time.
Hermione was frustrated to realize that she had hours to go before her scheduled meeting with her former Headmaster. She was unsure as to how to walk around the House, probably quite full of Order members, without them noticing a dead man and a backstabber.
But before Hermione could begin to think of a plan, she heard footsteps coming from down the hall to her left. She quickly grabbed Sirius and shoved him into a nearby room that she knew to be a closet, and he obediently remained quiet, too stunned by the earlier display of what had to be magic to really put up much of a fight.
Please be Draco, please be Draco… she thought desperately as the footsteps finally rounded the corner.
It was Tonks.
Hermione froze, completely unprepared to deal with the people that she had betrayed two years ago.
Tonks' eyes widened for a moment, then she approached Hermione, her wand in her right hand. "You set off the alarm – we didn't expect you to arrive for a while yet."
Hermione stuttered. Is Tonks treating me civilly? "Er, yeah, sorry… Did Draco tell you…?"
Tonks gave an affirmative nod, and stepped a bit closer to the brunette, a small, much remembered and cherished, smile on her face. "Careful now, Mione. Those Death Eaters have gotten a little excited about slashing hexes." Hermione looked up in confusion, not understanding what her friend meant by that, and for a moment Tonks' face faded away to a similar one, but also completely different. It was covered in horrid scars, crisscrossing over her cheeks, forehead, and chin, marring her beautiful skin. Hermione gasped, stepping back a pace from the grotesque image, realizing that the woman must hide her old face due to the injuries. "Wouldn't wanna scar your pretty little face, would you?" Sneering, Tonks stepped around the startled brunette to continue walking the way she was headed.
She turned another corner, and from Hermione's location, she could hear Tonks come upon someone and begin speaking in hushed tones. Like a deer in headlights, the young Granger stood rooted to the spot, eyes in the direction of the voices. The other person was now heading that way.
Damn it all!
A flash of red hair rounded the corner now, mimicking Tonks' previous actions. Female – it was Ginny.
Her breath caught in her throat at her friend's change of appearances. Ginny was clothed in a black cloak, completely unfastened so that it trailed behind her. She had knee high leather boots on, with flat soles, and a simple black outfit underneath. She was dressed in what was considered the easiest to fight in – easy breathing, easy moving material. Her vivid red hair was long and tied back, her face paler and more weary than ever. But most noticeably to Hermione's gaze, was Ginny's left eye. Instead of her sapphire orb, she now had a murky white globe, all signs of a pupil or color long gone.
"So you've come back, have you?" Ginny spat, almost disgustedly as she stopped a few feet in front of the startled woman. Hermione flinched, not expecting to be so close so quickly. Her eyes automatically flicked to Ginny's right hand, clutching her wand resolutely. Somewhere in a residence of her mind that was not still processing her friend's vision problem, she realized that Ginny and Tonks had come from two separate directions, meeting around the same spot. They had been on a security inspection, of course.
"I suppose you've noticed my eye, now?" Ginny continued after realizing Hermione was not going to speak soon. She stepped even closer to the rigid brunette, fixing her left eye directly in front of Hermione's stare. "Go on and look." Hermione flinched openly at this, hissing air in through her clenched teeth. That eye, the absolute and indefinite blankness of it, seemed to somehow see right through her. Almost as if it could look at her betrayal, like it was some physical specimen living inside of her, writhing and twisting and consuming her mind.
"Gin," Hermione whimpered, hurt atrociously by her friend's callousness, despite her expectations. She wanted to cry out desperately, 'Talk to me! Gossip! Giggle! Flip your hair over your shoulder and smile! Love me again!' but all she managed was a strangled sob. How many more horrible things had happened to the people she claimed to love while she traipsed around in the relatively safe muggle world?
Reaching a tentative and shaking hand to her pale friend's face, Ginny pulled away sharply in response, her one good eye sparking in anger.
"Just because you came back and you're feeling sorry for us, Granger, does not mean that I'm going to forgive you."
Pulling her hand back down and shaking her head, Hermione bit her lip. "I – I don't want you to forgive me." She gave a sudden cold bark of a laugh, Gryffindor courage flooding back into existence. "Christ, that's the last thing I want, Ginny. I know what I deserve, and I want what I deserve. I don't deserve your forgiveness." Yet, she added to herself in silent determination.
"Damn straight," Ginny snapped, irritated at how well Hermione was taking her rejection. But Ginny, despite years of hell, was not naturally an unkind or unresponsive person. She gave a small chuckle, covered in bitterness, as she locked eyes with her old friend. "You know what, Granger?"
Hermione tried to look interested, but most of her attention was praying that Ginny would someday again refer to her less formally.
"There's pretty much one difference between you and me…"
Hermione looked even more interested now, although she feared the surely cold and ruthless answer.
"I feel alone and tired… but…" Here Ginny averted her gaze for a moment, before bringing it back up, her voice merely a whisper. "I can't stop. No matter what, I know that I just can't stop."
Hermione nodded slightly as her stomach settled, the butterflies in it finally dispersing after becoming more comfortable with the rather unwanted confrontations. She was somehow aware that Ginny had not made mention of this to anyone else. "So I've heard," she whispered, referring to her previous meeting with the Malfoy.
Seemingly snapping from her emotional daze, Ginny shook her head and scowled again. "Oh just shut the fuck up! You can hear all you want, Granger, but you'll never understand. Ever."
Stepping back a bit in response to Ginny's temper, Hermione stumbled into the closet Sirius was hidden in. Seeing this as a sign of weakness, the redhead silently shook her head in disgust and walked away, boots thumping quietly on the floors.
"Christ…" Hermione whispered, rubbing her temples. This was all too much – and she had only met two of the many people from her past. "Shit… Fuck!" she swore, louder each time, releasing her built up anger, tears threatening to spill from her golden eyes. "I hate this," she moaned, furiously rubbing her eyes to rid them of the tears, knowing full well that she was smearing her make-up.
Anger fueling her shot and frayed nerves, she turned around and swung open the closet door, mumbling a quiet "Let's go," to it's occupant, and he once again, obediently followed. Sirius was too confused and unnerved to question any of her actions at the moment – after all, he had heard both rather unpleasant conversations take place, and was unsure about his place in the chaos around him.
Still, he couldn't help but ask, "Did I know them?"
Lost in her train of thought as she walked quickly down the dim hallway, she spoke, "Who?"
"Those women – the two you talked to."
"Yeah, you knew them. One of them is your cousin," Hermione's cold voice had softened at Sirius' innocent question. A pang of grief hit her as she recalled Sirius tumbling backwards into the veil, laughter written clearly upon his gaunt face, to the imminent death that awaited him, by the hand of another cousin. Not dead, Hermione – never dead. And Bellatrix will surely pay, now…
I have a family… Sirius thought, unaware of just how little his blood family actually meant to him.
Opening his mouth to shoot off more queries, Hermione quickly prevented him with, "Later, I promise," and continued her brisk pace to some unknown destination. She stopped abruptly, without warning, causing her partner to crash into her backside. Ignoring the incident, she turned around and whispered, "If anyone comes near us, I want you to keep your face down. Don't look anyone in the eye," she stressed the last sentence, knowing how easily one could detect Black from his gaze. No one had eyes alike in depth and darkness.
"Why?" he asked, slightly heatedly. He was sick of being so secret – he had been unknown about for eight years, and he was bloody sick of it. He had thought tonight to be the end of that.
Sighing, Hermione decided that she was being unfair leaving him in the dark after years of being clueless. "I'm taking us to an old… mentor of sorts, to both of us. He'll know what to do. He'll know how to help." Keep that up, Granger, and you'll almost start believing it. "I just can't have anyone see you – they… well, they think you're dead."
Sirius opened his mouth to respond, but a newly revealed cloaked figure had exited out of a room down the hall, and was now closing the door quietly behind her.
Hermione tensed as she recognized her old Head of House, but was too nervous about her teacher's soon to be recognition to remember to remind Sirius to keep discrete. Sirius was also nervous about the confrontation, and too stubbornly curious to see if this woman would remember him, to keep his head down.
Turning away from the room, the professor made her way towards the couple that stood rooted with their feet to the floor. Frowning, McGonagall realized that the people ahead of her looked quite unfamiliar, yet at the same time, tremendously proverbial. Squinting behind her spectacles, her heart jumped at the sight she had focused on. One thought dead in the throes of battle, and one thought lost to the fear of death, stood before her, unscathed and unsure.
She paused, unsure as to how to handle this encounter.
Looking to Hermione for some explanation, she gave a brief account of what she knew so far. "This is, Professor, who you probably believe him to be – Sirius Black." McGonagall's hands clutched and un-clutched at her sides as she released a breath she had been unaware about holding. As an afterthought, Hermione quickly added, "But he doesn't remember who he is."
Nodding warily, the teacher took a shaky breath. Things of this stature happen all the time, Minerva – don't be surprised that more than one of them happen annually in your presence. "Well then… Let me be the first to welcome the both of you back into the Order. Miss Granger," she nodded to her former pupil, but when her eyes strayed to the other, her gaze became teary as she whispered, "Mr. Black."
It took Sirius a moment to register with him that that was his name, from birth to supposed death, and he nodded apprehensively at the woman Hermione addressed as Professor.
A silent tear slipped down Minerva McGonagall's cheek as she recalled vivid memories of his life and numerous misfortunes. Hoping to God that this man was strong enough still to be re-exposed to his past, she offered him a teary smile. In a small way, she should have known that even the hand of the Reaper himself did not so easily affect Sirius Black. "I always knew you were bloody incredible, Black."
And it was true, in many ways. Years of mischief and disruption, rebelliousness, anger, and still overcoming it all to become a brave fighter on the side of good. Then, the most horrific betrayal, years of despair and loss, and surviving it still to become a small but satisfying part of his only remaining family's life.
That statement, was meant as not only an apology for years of mistrust - but also as a way of expressing her utmost respect and awe towards him, and more so an apology for ever believing him to be gone.
A/N: LAST CRAPPY CHAPTER! I promise it'll get better now. I'll move it along faster and the such. Review please!