Hermione threw her arms around the beaming Peter Pettigrew as the last carriage pulled into the driveway outside the main doors to Hogwarts. She was so proud of him for finishing seven years of school, whispering words of encouragement and inspiration in his ear. Sirius was next, the handsome Marauder grinning down at her devilishly. "Come on, Fenwick you know you want to," He gave her a lazy wink and held open his broad, strong arms. She went to him instantly wrapping her own arms around his waist and holding him tightly.
Not one for big displays of emotion she was quickly passed onto Remus who looked bereft at the thought of leaving his beloved sister behind. Hermione had told the Marauders she was going on a mission for the Order and wouldn't see them for a few weeks, which was obviously a lie. She held Remus for what felt like hours, stroking his hair and holding him tenderly when James cleared his throat insistently behind them.
Remus and Hermione both turned, laughing at the innocent wide eyed expression of their best friend, pointing to himself and grinning. "Forgetting someone?"
With a small squeak she launched herself into his waiting arms, laughing gaily when he spun her around, her feet leaving the ground as his talented lips peppered kisses all over her face.
"When will I see you again?" He asked seriously, cupping her face with both his hands and pressing their foreheads against each other.
"Soon, love." She replied and kissed him softly on the lips, her arms snaking around his neck as she pressed herself against him hard.
"How soon?" He pouted and drew teasing guffaws from his mates who stood mere metres away.
"Stop pouting, Potter!" Sirius called and pulled open the carriage door. "We're going to miss the train!"
"Very soon, that I can promise you." She kissed him again, this time he kissed back with an almost frantic need.
"Gods, I want to crawl inside you and make love to you all night long." She moaned softly and although wanting him desperately, pushed him away. "Train…"
He sighed in frustration and picked up her hand, kissing the inside of her wrist tenderly. "Soon?"
She nodded and smiled as all four boys hung out of the carriage waving and wooting as they made their journey towards the station.
"Are you ready to leave, Hermione?" She jumped a mile as Dumbledore's serene voice broke through the quiet, placing her hand over her heart to still the quick beating.
"I am ready. Is the plan still the same?"
He nodded and handed over her reduced suitcases and an old dirty soup can. "You are on rendezvous two. You must not reveal yourself, they will be tested at the end of the trip."
"Understood." She took the can and counted down to five, disappearing in a whirl of rainbow colour as the Portkey whisked her away.
She landed with a thud and cursed as a spike of pain ripped through her behind, there was nothing worse than Portkey travel and she hated it above all others, well except brooms.
It only took her a minute to take her place, pulling out a luxurious black woollen cloak, securing her hair in a tight bun at the back of her head and pulling the hood up. Taking a comfortable stance against the door of the decrepit shack.
"Hush up, you three; you're drawing attention to us." Remus whispered and sure enough a large crowd of Muggles was staring at them. James and Sirius had been arguing for the better part of half an hour, deciding whether to go get a beer or wait for the Portkey, in their heated argument neither had realised they were being watched intently.
"Well, I'm thirsty." Sirius whined and looked at Remus pleadingly, who just rolled his eyes and checked his fob watch.
"It's only five minutes until our Portkey activates, have you all memorised the address we were given?"
"There you are!" An angry feminine voice broke through the roar of the Muggle crowd.
"Merlin, save me," Sirius groaned and banged his head against Remus's shoulder, his friend chuckling in response and shaking his head as he plastered a wide smile on his face.
"Hi, Lily what are you doing here?"
"Catching the Portkey with you lot. Hi, James," She smiled sweetly; James nodded then turned his attention to his fingernails which had suddenly gotten extremely interesting.
She frowned briefly then smiled again as Remus held out the small stuffed teddy bear for everyone to hold. "Peter, did you cast the notice-me-not spell?"
Peter nodded and placed his hand on the leg of the bear. "What about our luggage?"
"It's been sent along already." Sirius told him and took an arm of the teddy bear, standing next to Remus and pushing him playfully with his hip. "Better hurry up, Jamesy Poo here is desperate to see his naughty professor."
James snorted as the tingle of magic went up his arm, signally the final ten second countdown for the Portkey. "She isn't even going to be there for weeks."
"Awww, poor love," Sirius mock pouted and gave James a hard poke in his side as the Portkey activated.
"What the hell was that for?" James grumbled from where he fell, noticing everyone bar Peter was on their bums.
"Come on, mate you've been in a snit since we left Hogwarts, we all know you're pining your bird and I don't blame you she is a hot tottie, but we have places to be."
"Shut up, Padfoot," James snapped and brushed off his pants, looking around the dark, foreboding forest that they'd found themselves in. "Where are we?"
"Wands out," Sirius ordered, all playfulness gone as he felt the tingle of dark magic pulse around them.
No one dared to argue and pulled out their wands, standing in a five sided circle, wands aimed into the darkness.
"Lower those wands," Came a soft croaky voice from the shadows. "You'll put someone's eye out."
"Show yourself." Sirius ordered and aimed his wand where he though the sound was coming from, spinning around when his next words came from the other direction.
"I have something for you, Black."
Sirius reared back as a small can came flying through the air and landed at their feet. "You have five seconds."
They scrambled for the Portkey, all attaching a finger just as it activated and spun them away to their next destination.
"I'm pleased you have arrived…" All five were on their feet instantly, pointing their wands at the shapely witch whose face was covered by a long black hood. Remus sniffed the air, noting that she had no scent, she chuckled and walked around the small group, stopping at the young werewolf and running a nail down his cheek. "There are spells to remove scent, my darling wolf." She purred, and Sirius noted she had a slight accent that sounded Italian.
"Who are you?" Sirius asked curtly, causing her to laugh again, throatily.
"So many questions, Mister Black, perhaps you should take a leaf out of your friend's book and stay silent." He shivered as her cold pale hand ran down his chest. Hermione was laughing inwardly at her acting ability, thankful she'd listened to Blaise Zabini often enough to fake his purring Italian accent.
"May we have the Portkey?" James asked politely as the young woman faced him, her head tilted to the side as she appeared to regard him.
"Lord Potter, it is an honour to meet you. What makes you think I come bearing a Portkey?"
"Be-because we've had two already." Peter stuttered.
"Is that so, Mister Pettigrew?" Her cold hand ran along his chest. "And tell me do you have your original Portkey on you?" She bent down and picked up the small can, pushing it down into her enormous pockets.
"I have the original Portkey." Lily said and held the teddy bear out for the witch to take.
"Why thank you, Miss Evans. Accio brooms." Five brooms came sailing through the air and fell to the ground in front of each of the initiates. Each one with equally confused expressions on their faces.
"You will fly east for an hour, until you see a white church. Find the playground and your next contact will be waiting for you, he will only wait for you five minutes past the hour so you'd best hurry."
Lily looked down at the broom. "But I don't fly- gods where did she go?" The four wizards looked up from their brooms and stared into the empty spot the witch had just been standing.
"She didn't Apparate, we would have heard it, maybe she reactivated the old Portkeys?"
"Come on you lot, we have to go or we'll miss the next Portkey."
"But I can't fly!" Lily protested as the four wizards mounted their brooms.
Sirius made a groaning noise along with Remus and Peter who were already flying out the large gaping hole in the side of the shack.
James being the well bred wizard that he was stayed behind to help her. "Lily, just say up then mount your broom."
She stood nervously next to her brook and spoke 'up' the broom soared into her hand, she slung a leg over and squeaked as the broom lifted her off the ground and she sailed up to James. "Now what?"
"Well it's kind of like a horse, want to go left, move the handle left and the same for right. To stop just pull back on the handle, to go faster lean down on your broom and let it take you as fast as it can go."
"What if I fall?"
"Stop letting your fear control you, Evans or you'll never make it in the Order." Sirius shouted from a few feet above. "Moony's figured out our direction and started the stop watch so we have to leave now."
"Well how did they go?" Moody asked gruffly as they sat around the table at Fenwick House drinking tea and waiting for the signal to take their places in the garden.
"Absolutely horrible. Evans actually handed over their first Portkey without question, James actually asked where the next Portkey was, and Peter told me how many they had been through already. Remus and Sirius were the two stand outs, Sirius asked who I was but was taken off track when I teased him with my hands and Remus used his wolf senses to try and sniff me out."
"Impressive," Moody said with a smirk. "Did you alter yourself in anyway?"
"I used a spell from the Fenwick library that masks your natural scent also used just about the worst rendition of an Italian ever heard."
A few chuckles went around the table as more tea was poured. Kingsley jumping to his feet as his wand vibrated. "That's my cue, perimeter wards set for the air around the church. Take your places."
Moody and Hermione stood and made their way into the garden to take their hidden spots for the mock ambush.
"Look it's down there," Remus pointed impatiently at the playground, a swing moving gently in the breeze as slowly descended to the ground. "Shite, it's four minutes past the hour we have a minute to find out contact."
"I don't like this place," Lily said softly as they walked into the deserted playground, her wand aimed in front of her as they surveyed the location.
"Me, either," Said Peter and stumbled over a tree root, causing Sirius to snort in amusement.
"You almost missed the designated time." A cold hiss came from the trees, sending shivers down their backs.
"Yes, but we didn't." Remus bit back, angry that they seemed to be getting stuffed around quite a bit.
"Come closer…" The voice hissed. "I want to see you."
"I don't think so," Sirius raised his wand and had a Lumos on the tip of his tongue when a large staff was thrown towards them.
"Do not light your wand." He hissed and then loud pop was heard signalling his apparition.
"Er, well that was interesting." James said and picked up the staff, feeling once more the ten seconds countdown. "Ten seconds, quickly."
They each grabbed a spot on the staff and were whisked away by the Portkey, landing in a dense scrubland. Within seconds of their landing several stunners lit up the area, whizzing over their heads and hitting the trees behind them.
"GET DOWN!" James shouted and dropped to the ground as a stunner hit Lily in the chest and sent her flying backwards into the grass. A startled 'ommpf' and Sirius was down too.
"James?" Remus hissed as he crawled along on his stomach towards his friend. "We need to get out here."
"I know but how?"
"WHERE ARE YOU GUYS?" James huffed as Peter stood up a few metres away, as soon as his head left the scrub he was stunned and sprawled on his back.
"Idiot," Remus shook his head angrily. "We can't send out stunners if we don't know how many there are."
"Or where they're located." James said and flattened himself in the grass as a yellow light flew over their heads. "Shit, that was a slicing hex!"
"It has to be," James shuffled along the grass, gesturing for Remus to follow him. "We need to get into the trees, there is more cover."
"I don't think so, gentlemen," Both wizards stiffened as the soft purring Italian accent could be heard from behind them. They both turned their heads slowly as the young witch from earlier came into view. "Nighty-night, boys." Both groaned as twin jets of light shot towards them, darkness becoming their friend.
They woke to find themselves bound to chairs in a cold dark cell, several hooded figures lined the walls. James looked around slowly, a sharp pain in his neck from where he'd hit the ground in the first round of stunners.
"I see our lovely Lord Potter has awoken." The cold hissing voice from earlier chilled his blood and now the light from a set of levitating candles illuminated his friends who were also staring around in fright. Sirius had a large bump on his head, Remus had a trickle of blood running from his nose, Peter was sniffling and had a soaked shirt and Lily was bound to her lap, her hand twisted awkwardly and obviously broken.
"What do you want?" James snarled. Not caring that he was unarmed and his friends in danger.
"Oh isn't that sweet," The witch purred, her hand coming out of her cloak and caressing James's face. "The bitty wizard wants to play with us."
"Get your filthy hands off me." He spat as the witches fingers touched his temple.
"Don't be rude." She scolded and moved around the back of his chair, she seemed to stop for a moment and stare at Remus who was watching her with a quirk of his lip. She cursed under her breath as he made a show of sniffing loudly.
"Good work, Lupin," Moody barked and pushed down his hood. "You got her."
"Gods be damned," Hermione cursed and pushed off her hood, glaring down at Remus who was smirking up at her smugly.
"Forget your scenting spell, Fenwick?" Kingsley asked. He removed his hood and started untying the captured initiates.
"This was all a game?" Sirius snapped angrily.
Moody, Hermione and Kingsley stood together at the front of the room. "Yes," Moody barked. "And one you'd be dead at the moment if this had been a Death Eater revel."
"I don't understand." Lily said confused as a healer started working on her wrist.
"Heal the bones, leave the pain." Moody ordered. "It's quite simple, Evans, we didn't think you lot were up to scratch and we were proved right."
"We being who exactly?" James asked and glared at Hermione who smiled sheepishly.
"For the record Potter, Fenwick was against our little ambush but as a good little witch took her orders seriously. If you had been in charge of actual refugees they would all be dead now. Kingsley, go through their mistakes would you I need to report to Albus."
"Right, mistake number one. You took a Portkey from the middle of a crowded platform at Kings Cross Station, not only talking loudly about magic and the Order but opening yourselves up to numerous tracking charms. Myself and Hermione managed to put seven on Potter, five on Evans,-" he huffed at the next name. "Twelve on Pettigrew, and two each respectively on Black and Lupin. Black only because he moved around so much and Lupin because he was wearing a deflecting charm."
Remus grinned and pulled a small gold chain from under his robes. "It was my mother's, woven with several protective charms."
"Like I said we only managed to get two to stick to you and that was because we used your shoelaces as anchors, so well done. Mistake number two. Obviously it never occurred to you that the contact you were meeting could have been compromised, you took the Portkey without any verification of who you were meeting. You two," Kingsley pointed to James and Sirius. "Were making so much noise you could have woken the dead, discretion is the key in our business." Both wizards had the grace to blush and look down at their feet. Hermione slipped her hand into James's and squeezed it gently, when he didn't respond she sighed almost inaudibly and released his hand, she was about to take a step towards the front of the room when he grabbed back her hand and stroked the back tenderly, she knew she was forgiven.
"Mistake number three. When you met with our lovely Italian, Fenwick here," The boys and Hermione snorted causing Kingsley to grin and shake his head. "Black, you were taken down by a mere touch of her hand, Lupin here was rendered useless by a scent dispelling charm, Evans and Pettigrew you two were pathetic, one, handing over the previous Portkey and two, informing your contact just how many Portkeys you'd already been through. Potter, you outright asked for the Portkey again not even finding out if she was your contact, yet giving her enough information to determine where you'd come from. Next we have the brooms, Evans you were pathetic, not even able to fly a broom and needing a crash course before you could even get off the ground. A witch that can't fly a broom is as useless as an owl with no wings"
"Hey!" Hermione interrupted indignantly. "Just for the record, Kingsley, I can't fly a broom either and I am impressed Evans even managed to stay on. Merlin knows I would have fallen off before I'd even left the ground."
Kingsley laughed, his dark face lighting up with amusement. "Good lord, witch you can't fly a broom either?"
"Shut up." Hermione grumbled. "Weren't we discussing their mistakes not my faults."
Kingsley grinned. "Sorry, Fenwick but that one's just too good to pass up. Now where was I?"
"Oh that's right, Evans, you're ear marked for broom training two days from now, might have Fenwick join you I think."
"No, I think not," Hermione snapped tartly, she could feel James laughing silently next to her and it made her ire grow.
"Alright then your next mistake, once again trusting that your contact had your best interest in mind. Black, points to you for not coming into the trees when I asked you to come closer and you refused, even prepared to light the playground to reveal who I was. Now let's get to the heart of the matter, when you arrived by Portkey, you were ambushed and had no idea how many of us there were. Just for the record there were three of us and five of you. You had the advantage of trees to hide in if only you'd made it that far. Evans, you were taken out first, not heeding Potter's call to get down, you'd have been dead if it was anything but a stupefy. Black, you were next, thanks to Fenwick for that one-" He paused as Sirius's indignant cry at being hexed by Hermione echoed through the small dungeon cell. She merely laughed and slung her arm over his shoulders as he sat being tended to by the healer.
"It wasn't full strength if that makes you feel any better." Hermione soothed, running her nails down his neck and leaning over to kiss his cheek.
"Not really," He replied petulantly. "It hurt."
"Awww, love," She ran her fingers through his hair and he smiled, closing his eyes in bliss as she took the chair next to him. "I'll make it up to you."
He cracked open an eye and raised his brow. "Yes?"
"I have a bottle of Firewhiskey in my room and you five have the day off tomorrow for your induction into the Order."
"Hmm sounds good. We'll be up after we settle in." He smirked and kissed her cheek, ignoring the glare from James and resting his head on her shoulder to snuggle into her arms.
"If you two are finished…may I continue?" Kingsley barked and looked down at his list again. Pettigrew, you were next, foolishly standing up and calling out for your friends. Do you believe a Death Eater would be as easy on you as we were?" Peter shook his head and stared down at his shoes as a red flush stole up his cheeks. "Lupin and Potter managed to evade us for several minutes, not realising that their attackers had ears and could hear every word they were saying. Again, thanks to Hermione you were stunned fairly easily."
"Thanks, Hermione," Both wizards grumbled as she played with Sirius's hair.
"That's it for now," Kingsley sighed. "In a couple of weeks you'll get your training schedules for now you'll be training in basic field defence and Hermione will continue your combat classes from Hogwarts. If your wand is taken from you then you'll need everything on your side. There will be an Auror present at all times to help with the training and bring you all up to scratch. Right then, that's it, you're all dismissed."
"Excuse me?" Lily spoke up just as Kingsley was moving towards the door, he turned back briefly, brow raised in question.
"Yes, Miss Evans?"
"Where are we sleeping?"
"Sleeping quarters were decided by Hermione, she has the arrangements and cleaning schedules."
"Cleaning?" Sirius protested from Hermione's arms. "Don't you have house elves?"
"Spoilt," Hermione chided. "The cleaning schedule teaches your discipline and how to clean your own toilet."
"That's disgusting," Lily said, even James had his nose screwed up in disgust.
"Disgusting as it may be, the whole house is charmed to recognise who is doing the work and who isn't. If you fail to do your share you're added for extra duties that might include scrubbing the entire house with a toothbrush."
"That's hardly fair…" Lily had a slight whine to her voice and it grated on Hermione's nerves. How could this witch grow up to give birth to her best friend. Harry was so like his father in personality and looks, the only thing his mother seemed to have given him was his brilliant green eyes.
"Everyone is doing their share including the Headmaster."
James yawned loudly and held out his hand for Hermione to take. "Sleeping arrangements?"
"Oh right," She pulled out a piece of parchment from her pocket. "Lily, top of the stairs third door on the left is the witch's dorm. You're sharing with six others."
"Peter, you're in with Kingsley. Tenth door on the right."
Peter grinned and held out his arm to Lily, she took it with a small smile and allowed him to lead her up the stairs.
"Padfoot, Moony. I thought you'd appreciate having the same room you did when we originally stayed here."
James snorted from behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his chin on her shoulder. "Nice one, love."
Sirius smirked and slung his arm around Remus's shoulders who was blushing madly. "Thanks, Hermione. We'll be in your room after we've cleaned up."
"And had a shag!" Sirius called over his shoulder as he tugged Remus out of the room.
"Who am I bunking with, love?" His teeth nipped her ear, sending delightful jolts of pleasure down to her core.
"Me, of course, in our bedroom."
"Mmmm I remember that room, the first time we made love was in that room."
Hermione laughed breathlessly. "I remember."
"Good, let's go have a shower and get in our pyjamas."
"Come on, Moony, I'm parched!" Sirius once again tugged his friend and sometime lover to Hermione and James's room where they could hear James laughing and Hermione giggling.
"I don't want to intrude…"
Sirius snorted and rolled his eyes. "Tough, she invited us to her room and if she isn't decent that's her problem."
"Come in, you two!" Hermione called from behind the closed door.
"See told you," Sirius pushed open the door and gaped at the beautiful room, Hermione certainly had the best one in the house, with its huge king sized bed, roaring fireplace, small two seated lounge and a mammoth en suite, where he could see a huge sunken bath tub.
"What in Merlin's name are you wearing?" Sirius turned his gaping mouth to Hermione who was wearing a short tank top with, 'The hedges need pruning' emblazoned on the front and the tiniest pair of shorts he'd ever seen also bearing a slogan that had Sirius gaping even further. 'Property of James Potter' proudly displayed on the front.
"Bed clothes, why what are you wearing?" She grinned at his red silk pyjama bottoms that hung low on his hips, showing off his toned stomach and black hair pointing to his pelvis.
"Having a good look there, Fenwick?" He grinned back at her when she flushed, drawing James's attention from Remus and to his girlfriend.
"Be quiet." She hissed, but kept grinning. "Thirsty?"
All three boys nodded as she poured out generous amounts of the amber liquid, fixing herself something clear with a slice of lemon. She levitated the glasses to each wizard then plumped up the bed with dozens of small cushions before getting comfortable and patting the mattress next to her, gesturing for them to join her.
Sirius sipped his firewhiskey and sauntered to the bed plonking down between her legs so his back was flush against her chest. "Play with my hair again, Fenwick?"
"I will if you stop calling me Fenwick." She said playfully and took a sip of her drink.
"That should be my spot," James grumbled, sliding onto the bed to Hermione's right and propping his head up with his hand. Remus took her left and sat up high with the cushions against his back.
"Stop pouting, Prongs, there's enough Hermione for all of us."
Hermione took another drink and ran her fingers through Sirius's hair, to the front and all the way down to his scalp, her nails scraping across his skull. "How's it healing?" She asked and ran her index finger over his identical tattoo to hers.
"All healed, still stings a little though."
"Mind telling us what prompted you to get another tattoo?"
"My excellent powers of persuasion of course, Prongs." Although Hermione couldn't see his face, she knew he was smirking, judging by the look James was sending him.
"Was only fair," Hermione said softly and ran her nails along his scalp, smoothing out his long black hair.
"How so?" Remus asked and sipped his firewhiskey, his eyes were closed and his face a mask of bliss.
"Well I have a Lupin and Potter mark on my body so only fair that my darling pup got a spot too. Plus I wanted another tattoo and it is beautiful."
"It is," James murmured, not looking at the tattoo but right at his lover who blushed under his intense stare.
"Alright, you two," Sirius grumbled and shifted to get more comfortable in Hermione's arms. "Forgot me for a minute there, Fenwick."
Hermione snickered and finished off her drink, noting that the three wizards had done the same and their eyes were beginning to droop.
"Sleepy…" Remus fell down on the pillows and started snoring, a quick look to James and she realised he was asleep too.
"Why are you still awake?"
"Sleeping draughts don't work on me." She could hear him grinning and huffed.
"How did you know?"
"I could smell it, luckily for you those two had no idea."
"I'd best be checking on Peter and Evans, I left vials next to their beds but theirs were laced with pain potions too."
He pushed himself up with a grunt and rolled over, his eyes heavy even without the sleep draught.
"Our Ministry spy has alluded to a raid tomorrow at a secluded warehouse in London. We will be attacking the Aurors and showing them who will reign the Wizarding world."
The Death Eaters bowed in submission to their lord.
"Lucius, step forward."
"Yes, my Lord." He kissed the hem of his Lord's robes.
"You will not be telling your whore of these events, my servant. It is time we decimated their ranks."
"Yes, my Lord."
Hermione peered into Lily's room and smiled at the empty vial, at least the young Muggleborn knew a sleeping draught when she saw one. She closed the door quietly and moved onto Peter's room.
He was sitting in his bed staring at the wall, silent tears streaming down his face.
He blinked absently and slowly turned to face Hermione who was staring down at him concerned. "Yes?"
"Drink this." She handed him the vial and he drank it without question, showing a trust he'd never have with anyone else.
"Go to sleep, Peter, we'll chat in the morning."
It was a quiet journey back to her room, a soft smile falling on her lips at the sight that met her. Remus and Sirius curled up against each other with a small gap between him and James, just enough for Hermione to crawl into.
She lay facing James, entwining their fingers as he slept comfortably, feeling happy and safe despite the turmoil oh the war outside.
Chapter End Notes:
"You willingly send us out to die, yet won't protect us when we fall?"
Remus could see Dumbledore starting to get angry and was getting a little frightened himself. "That is enough, Mister Potter. Do not speak of things you do not understand."
"What is there to understand?" James bellowed, his face turning a disturbing shade of red. "The only thing I need to understand is the witch I love is in danger, and if found by Aurors will be tried for crimes against the Ministry or as a Death Eater."
"She pledged her life to the Order," Sirius said quietly, coming up behind James and wrapping his arm around his shoulder. "And we pledged to protect her to our dying breath. We should be out there looking for her and the others that haven't returned. You are happy to let them die and protect the secrets of the Order, rather than keep your members safe."