How Troublesome

pyxislynx

Errr… Yeah, crappy title. It's sooooooo hard to think of a title for a story, it tends to sound… cheesy or corny or something. Oh well.

SIRIUSxHERMIONE!

I loooooooooove this pairing… oh well, enough talk! Enjoy and please review!

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in here, they're all JK Rowling's.

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Chapter One - Wish

At last…

It was over.

No more Death Eaters. No more Horcruxes. No more Voldemort.

The war had finally ended.

Sure, Christmas won't come with pure bliss. Many lost many things, and some lost all…

Hermione hastily wiped her tears. She had been listening stiffly at Professor McGonagall, forcing herself to concentrate, when moments later she realized that her frozen cheeks were warming up because of…

"Miss Granger, are you alright?" McGonagall asked.

Hermione gasped and looked at McGonagall. After taking a deep breath, she forced herself into a smile and shook her head.

"Y-yes professor, I'm alright." Hermione said, her voice shaking.

Compassion. Understanding.

McGonagall sighed and nodded, continuing her lesson without any more questions. Yes, she definitely understood. She was by her side when she saw with her own eyes how her parents were…

Shit.

Hermione wiped her eyes vigorously.

"During your N.E.W.T.S exam, expect that you will be asked to perform complete human transfiguration." McGonagall's voice rang in the silence. "It doesn't matter if you would transfigure yourself, a partner or the examiner himself or herself. What is important is that you are able to do it properly and with ease. Longbottom, if you keep up you good work you may be able to transfigure someone for a full minute, though I suggest you practice harder for longer duration."

Neville glowed pink and smiled sheepishly. Yes, ever since the war ended, ever since the battle, Neville improved a lot in spellwork.

The war may be over but N.E.W.T.s were not. Homework and assignments piled here and there and the professors were getting more and more demanding.

And it didn't help that both her parents were already… dead.

And he still hasn't come back from that veil.

Shit.

Hermione hastily wiped her face again and slapped her cheeks a few times.

No, there's nothing she could do. They're gone forever, and her heart won't heal anymore.

Someone took her hand down and squeezed it.

"Harry…"

"I know you're not alright," Harry whispered quietly. "And your heart won't heal for a long time… but please remember: we're always here for you."

Harry looked at Hermione and smiled gently at her, squeezing her hand again.

"Oy, and here's something to make you feel better."

Ron placed an eagle quill on Hermione's other hand. Harry raised his eyebrows.

"Ron," Harry said. "I know Hermione's the studies-are-everything type, but surely it would take more than a quill to make her feel better."

"Dolt, that's a Sugar Quill Deluxe— been saving it for exams but since Hermione needs it more, here you go."

"Oh…"

Hermione couldn't help but smile. Ron, calling Harry 'dolt?'

"See what I mean?" Ron said, noticing Hermione's smile.

"Idiot, she hasn't even put the quill to her mouth." Harry said.

"Potter, I see you know how the wand movement is to transform humans into owls." Professor McGonagall's voice broke in like a whip.

Harry looked at her blankly.

"Er— wand movement?"

Hermione put the eagle quill to her mouth.

"Jab and lift sharply up, since you're transforming the person into a bird." She whispered through pretending to suck her quill.

Harry nodded, looking relieved. He recited the words to McGonagall, who looked quite surprised.

"Although you've answered my question correctly, Potter, I would not recommend you talking while I'm discussing something, not unless I asked you to or when really necessary."

Well it was necessary— Hermione needed help!

But then, for a split second, McGonagall gave him a rare smile. Or was he imagining it?

"Thanks," he whispered to Hermione. "You're really a life saver."

Hermione dropped her quill suddenly.

"N-no!" Harry said, realizing what he had just said. "Hermione I-I—"

"Harry, you dolt!" Ron hissed. "What the bloody hell were you thinking!"

"I-It's alright…" Hermione whispered quietly. "It's just an expression, I'm okay…"

But really, it sparked her memories again…

The bell rang. End of classes.

"—to be passed first thing next week. Goodbye."

The class filed out and scattered to different directions. Some headed to the Common Room while others to the Great Hall for dinner.

"Hermione, what d'you think?"

"W-what?"

"I want to head to the Great Hall, but Harry reckons we should drop our bags before dinner." Ron said, a bit worried on Hermione's silence. "What d'you think?"

"Er… You go ahead and have dinner— I have to talk to Professor Flitwick about my homework… I-I think I left out something on the side effects of Luminous Charm used on humans, and- and I have to check on Professor Vector's homework too, I think I've misread the ancient numerical codes of the Humpback Wizards of Egypt…"

Harry and Ron didn't take her reasons seriously, though it was very likely of her to check on her assignments. Hermione's really a lousy liar. They still couldn't believe it when teachers believed her excuses to save their skins.

"Er, okay…" Ron said uncertainly.

"Hermione, remember what I said." Harry reminded her.

"Yeah," Rom chimed. "I have a spare Sugar Quill, though it's the normal one."

"Don't worry, I'm alright."

With one last smile, Hermione walked away, leaving the two still worried.

Hermione kept walking with no purpose. Her mind filled with images that always visited her at night.

How did they die? Yes, it was all like a dream. One by one, Voldemort weakened Order members by striking where it hurts most. Many lost loved ones to the green light or to the walls of St. Mungo's. After the attack on Ginny, who had miraculously recovered within a month, they knew she was the only one left. Other Order members, down. Well, except maybe Alastor Moody and Albus Dumbledore. Yes, Dumbledore. He survived the green light, after all. His concealed, spell-absorbing Shield Charm saved him, and he transfigured a rock into a perfect copy of himself, to fool everyone, especially Voldemort. And Moody? Well, Moody had nothing to lose. Except maybe his eye, and Voldemort wasn't fool enough to waste his time on an electric blue-irised eye.

After all of them, they all knew it was her next. Ginny of the Weasleys was down, Harry's Sirius was sent to that cursed Veil, and who are most precious to her? Well, Voldemort didn't know he had hit two birds with one stone with Sirius' disappearance, so he attacked the others.

They immediately went to the Grangers' house. But unfortunately Voldemort not only has sent his best Death Eaters there but also the Dementors. Everyone fought valiantly, but no one was aware that Voldemort had Harry to himself that moment. No one noticed, except for her.

Harry had been bleeding after a series of attacks from no less than four Death Eaters, and facing scratchless Voldemort was an impossible feat. After Hermione performed Dumbledore's Shield Charm on Harry that could've saved him from the Killing Curse, Voldemort quickly shifted his wand— and spell— to them.

No, McGonagall thought wrong. She put the wrong special Shield Charm to the wrong person. Voldemort didn't attack her, but her parents. Dumbledore was busy with the late werewolves, so he couldn't have possibly saved them. Everyone was busy battling, so no one could've saved them. No, no one could've saved them as they fell down, their eyes wide with surprise. No one could've done anything as their breathing and heartbeat stopped. No one…

Well it was a battle. People lose many things, many people, in a war.

But that pig didn't have to rub it in…

"Now, you filthy Mudblood, does it hurt?"

And his high-pitched harsh laugh echoed in the night as he and his remaining followers disappeared in the darkness.

"Bastard."

"Now, now, you wouldn't want anyone to hear that, would you? Imagine, a Head Girl saying such things."

A familiar drawl.

"Shut up, Malfoy."

"Here."

Hermione looked at Draco Malfoy, surprised. He was holding out a large Honeyduke's chocolate in the shape of a lily.

"I realized it's been a month and— and I thought you could do some cheering up… I know how hard it is, to lose them." Draco said, looking out infront of him. Hermione followed his gaze and was surprised to see that she had come to the lake without her noticing. "I mean, my father wasn't worth a single tear, but still he's my dad. If he hadn't just foolishly thought that if he joined that bastard he'd be much more rich and famous, and if he wasn't so prejudiced, he could've been a great father… And mum… Mother was so nice… If you met her you would like her a lot…"

Hermione nibbled at the end of a petal. Yes, Draco had finally come to the light. He didn't really want to come to the dark. His father was just too convincing. Snape secretly helped him escape Voldemort, and since that escape he stayed in Grimmauld Place and helped the Order with research and his knowledge of Dark things, just like Snape. He fought with his distant relative, Bellatrix, one on one, during that night.

"Sorry…" Hermione said quietly. Her throat still wouldn't allow her to speak loudly. "It's just that— I… I still can't forget that night… His last words…"

Draco winced as he remembered the tragic night and Voldemort's parting words. It was that night when he truly realized how painful that mock-word was, and he had been calling her that since their second year in Hogwarts until only a few weeks ago.

"Look, you're no M-Mudblood. He's the Mudblood. If he's not then I'm a stupid Troll, and mind you, you know how far my intelligence is from a Troll."

Hermione smiled and she bit on to another petal.

"Thanks."

"It's nothing. Come on, we've got to go in. Dinner's already started and I'm starving."

Hermione nodded and followed Draco inside the castle.

"And Hermione," Draco said, before entering the Great Hall's doors.

"Hm?"

"I've gotten used to you calling me Draco, so please don't stop."

"Oh, sorry… Er, thanks again for the chocolate, Draco."

Draco smiled. His sneer has long gone, although sometimes during boring days it surfaces now and then. Now his smile was much better— and girls from different Houses (yes, including Gryffindor) have noticed it. He nodded and joined the rest of the Slytherins in their table. Rivalry still existed between Gryffindor and Slytherin, but the tension was less darker since the Slytherins had realized the dangers Dark things could do to them. But their pranks were still getting nastier and the Gryffindors weren't the type who'd take them nicely. Ah, some things will never change.

"Where'd the chocolate come from?" Ron asked as he goggled at the large chocolate lily. Hermione had already eaten two of the five petals.

"Draco."

"What! That sneering Snape-wannabe?"

"He doesn't sneer anymore and he's nicer now." Hermione reminded him.

"Yeah, that may be true." Ron said, still annoyed. "But I won't forget how deep my eyebrows furrow because of him."

"Oh Ron snap out of it."

"Hermione, are you alright?"

Hermione looked at Harry, who has clearly been worried since they departed.

"Don't worry, Harry. I'm alright."

"Look," Harry said, dropping his voice and leaning closer to Hermione. "I'm very, very sorry… If I was just quicker and cast the special Shield Charm on myself, you could've been able to save—"

Harry choked before he could finish his sentence. Hermione had stuffed three treacle tarts to his mouth and he couldn't chew them all— and spitting them would earn him screams of disgust.

"Harry, you've been blaming yourself for a long time." Hermione said sternly (well, it was supposed to sound stern, to convince him). "Cedric, Dumbledore, my parents, S— Sirius…"

Harry suddenly gulped everything in his mouth and looked at Hermione, his mouth open. Ron, however, laughed at Harry's expression, but stopped when he realized he missed something.

"Um, I think I'd better bring my things up before I eat. Bye."

And Hermione left as fast as she could.

"What's gotten into her?" Ron asked, startled by Hermione's sudden mood change. "Girls… Honestly."

Harry knew it was a girl's thing, and he knew who the cause was… Or he thinks he does. How many times has he seen her suddenly well up whenever his name comes out? Well, she did help him get free; maybe that's why she got hurt, if possible, more than he did. And she didn't see him get through the Veil, so it must have affected her more or somewhat.

"Yeah… Women…" He answered absentmindedly.

Honestly, why can't he be saved from that dratted Veil! Bellatrix's dead, she made sure of that, but why's he still not with them, rejoicing! And Dumbledore— Dumbledore's the wisest wizard ever, why couldn't he figure out how to pull him out!

"Miss Granger?"

"Yes, why can't you still pull him out! You're supposed to be the cleverest, the wisest, the most powerful! He's been there for months, for heaven's sake! I killed Bellatrix, she's now rotting in hell, but why-is-he-still-not-here, with the living, with us!"

Dumbledore looked at her solemnly.

"I'm sorry…"

"P-professor Dumbledore!"

Hermione stepped back, stunned to death. As she recalled what she had said she sank lower and lower to the ground.

"P-professor— I'm sorry- I'm so s-sorry— I didn't mean to say—"

She painfully gasped as she remembered telling Dumbledore what she had done. No one ever knew, except for her best friend, Ginny, who now had a permanent scar on her back— they all thought Voldemort himself killed the Black Death Eater.

"I'm very sure you meant what you said." Dumbledore said, but there was no hint of anger or annoyance in his voice. Instead it was full of sorrow. "Would you like a cup of tea?"

Knowing it meant as an invitation to his office, Hermione accepted Dumbledore's hand and shakily stood up. After a few minutes of quiet walking, Dumbledore offered her a nice armchair infront of his desk and gave her a warm cup of rose tea. Her chocolate was quite long gone, settling on her nervous stomach. Fawkes flew from his desk and settled on her side.

After a few minutes more of silence, Dumbledore finally spoke, making Hermione jump with a start.

"Like I said, I'm pretty sure you meant what you said." Dumbledore said, still solemn. "I may be great, but I still haven't found out the way how to pull him out of the Veil."

"I guess I've been keeping my hopes and standards too high…" Hermione said timidly. "Harry— Harry would certainly be happy if he was out again, since he's been pardoned…"

Dumbledore nodded, but there's was something in his eyes that clearly showed he knew more.

"Miss Granger," he said, setting aside something in his mind. "You spoke about Bellatrix Lestrange."

Hermione almost dropped her tea cup. Her hands were shaking like mad.

"Y-yes, professor…"

"You do realize you've stained your soul?"

Hermione nodded slowly, the words etching long and painful in her chest.

"Avada Kedavra. The Killing Curse. A lifetime in Azkaban." Dumbledore said quietly. "I understood Harry had to do it, but you…"

"She killed Sirius!" Hermione exploded, standing up and smashing her tea cup into a thousand pieces on the floor. "If she didn't kill Sirius, and made fun of it, and reminded us of it, Harry would've been happy! He's the only person left in his life, the only one he could ever think of as a father, and then— and then she— s-she sent h-him in that s-stup-pid v-veil…"

Hermione collapsed back at the arm chair, unable to bear the pain that still hasn't passed away eversince…

Liar, you weren't completely angry because Harry lost his grandfather, but because he was gone.

Fawkes brushed his head on Hermione's arm and settled on her lap, resting his head on her shoulder.

"As it was during the time of war, you are pardoned for that. No one would dare say you should land in Azkaban, after all that she's killed and tortured." Dumbledore said, putting the tips of his fingers together. "And no one has to know, if you don't want to. You have the right to chose who should know."

Hermione looked at Dumbledore and nodded, relieved that the world need not to know what she did.

"But, I admit, I would like to know how."

Hermione looked nervously away.

"I think you need a new cup of tea, to make you feel better."

Dumbledore conjured another cup of tea. Fawkes returned to his place by Hermione's side as she hesitantly took it.

"Don't worry, it hasn't got any potion, especially Veritaserum."

Hermione nodded and drank the cup empty.

"Rose tea's nice, isn't it?" Dumbledore asked.

"Y-yes…" Hermione replied.

But Sirius had said, after one of his temper attacks 'Rose tea! Hermione, I'm not your grandmother!'

Hermione chuckled and choked with her tears. She looked at Fawkes and sighed.

"It was a few days after their deaths…" she started, still looking at Fawkes, who appeared as a hazy blur. "I saw her at Hogsmeade. I was buying flowers to send to their— their graves… I knew she was spying for Voldemort. I wanted to run to you and tell you, but… But I suddenly remembered what she did to Neville's parents, to Ginny, to— to Sirius and I- I snapped…"

Liar, you only remembered Sirius.

"I-I saw her make for the Shrieking Shack— she must've known its connection to Hogwarts through Peter Pettigrew— and I followed her, using the Disillusionment Charm on myself." Hermione continued. "She found out before she reached the gate, just like I suspected. But before she could face me and laugh, she… I killed her."

Hermione laughed quietly but was attacked again by sobs.

"And y-you know w-what I did af-fter that?" she said, her voice growing louder with each word. "I-I l-l-laughed! I l-laughed a-and laughed t-till I t-thought I w-w-was cr-crazy!"

Hermione laughed foolishly and then suddenly slumped with tears.

"Professor Dumbledore, may I ask you something?" Hermione said, looking blankly at nowhere. "What do you want for Christmas?"

"Oh, the one I've always been wishing for." Dumbledore said, making a final decision in his mind. "I still haven't received woolly socks… The closest thing I received to that was a fluffy ear muff."

"Then I can assure you you'll receive woolly socks this year." Hermione said, smiling a bit. "I've improved a lot in my knitting, you know."

"Oh I would love that." Dumbledore said, smiling. "I prefer it to be midnight blue, with golden stars… If it isn't too much?"

Hermione smiled a bit and nodded.

"Can I leave now, professor?"

"Yes, you may. But please eat some dinner."

Hermione nodded again and stood up. After patting Fawkes gently, she headed for the doors.

"Oh, Miss Granger?"

Hermione looked back at Dumbledore, her hand still holding the brass door knob of the open door.

"Yes, professor?"

"What do you want for Christmas?"

Hermione smiled weakly.

"Stairs to heaven. But I doubt about it. Goodnight."

As the door closed, Dumbledore stood up from his seat, his face full of worry.

They must succeed.