Hermione didn't faint. Her heart stopped beating for a few lengthy seconds, true, and then it started pounding erratically while all of the blood rushed to her head. She went from deathly pale to an angry red even while Sirius simply shook his head firmly.

"That's impossible."

For some reason, which Hermione was most likely not ready to admit (but probably had to do with personal insecurity), her anger flared wildly. He was such a child. He'd always been childish. He'd been the king of pranks in school. He had a hot temper and was irrational which, in turn, led to his stupid childish arse getting thrown into Azkaban. He'd been a womanizer back in his day and, evidently, was still a womanizer now! Is this who he really was? He'd appeal to a woman, get her to trust him, bed her, leave her and then (for those who end up pregnant) refuse to admit that it ever happened? She was just a part of his game. Why did I think I could be different?

"Oh, I cannot even believe you, Black! At least accept responsibility for your own stupidity." She glared at him violently, "It's about bloody time your childish arse grows up!"

And then, deciding that maybe her friends had it right, she disappeared with a POP before anybody had a chance to say anything.

There were a few moments of silence before all hell broke lose.

"Sirius, you idiotic son of a-"

"I can't believe you would actually-"

"She's a conniving little-"

"Now look what you've done you-"

"We never even-"

"What are you talking about-"

"Maybe we should go to my place and talk this out," Sophie interrupted the them, adding sweetly, "Darling."

Sirius gaped at her like a goldfish. "There is nothing to talk out! ...And don't call me that!"

In a manner that very much resembled a wounded puppy, Sophie's eyes widened. "You mean, you... you don't want to be a part of your... your son's life?"

His glare was harsh. "Trust me, if I had a son I would have every intention of being a part of his life. But I don't."

Sophie looked at Remus and Tonks who were exchanging uncertain glances. "He's in denial," She nodded sadly. "I've seen this before."

Sirius arched a sardonic eyebrow. "And just how many men have you gone through this with, Sophie...? Quite a few, I'd guess."

"Sirius," Tonks warned. They were starting to attract some attention.

"That was just mean," Sophie sniffed. "I'll have you know you're the only man I've slept with this entire year."

"Ha!" Sirius laughed at the outrageous notion. "Then I don't know how you're in this situation, darling, seeing as we've never had sex."

For a short moment Sophie looked confused. But then it was gone. "What are you talking about?" She snapped. "Of course we did. That night at the pub…"

"You were all over me and entirely annoying. I bought you a few drinks figuring you might leave me alone after that. Instead, you got completely smashed - you must be a lightweight - and you could hardly stand at all. Your friend told me it was my fault and gave me your address, so I dropped you off at your apartment, dumped you on your bed and left. Nothing happened."

It was now Sophie who gaped like a fish. "But I, I mean, I..."

"Assume far too much; did you honestly think I re-dressed you after sleeping with you? Real men don't like girls who make things easy and you were far from a challenge." Maybe a bit harsh. But honestly! Who does she think she's fooling? ...Bullocks. Hermione.

Immediately the sweet Sophie morphed into something else entirely. "You wouldn't have been a good lay anyway," She snarled. "Merlin, you're probably gay. Not that I need you," She stuck up her nose. "I've got five guys handing over the cash for child support as it is."

Tonks' jaw dropped. Remus seemed amused.

Sirius merely laughed again. "How'd you manage that if I'm the only guy you've slept with?"

Her mouth moved but nothing came out. Cheeks stained red, she huffed at him and - what is it with women and dramatic exits - disappeared with a POP. Remus and Sirius exchanged heavy glances. Damn, Sirius had quite the mess to clean up. What was he going to say to Hermione? Would she even listen to him right now? When he voiced these questions Tonks patted him lightly on the shoulder.

"The truth; tell her the truth." Pause. "You might want to let me do some damage-control first."

His shoulders relaxed immediately and, hopefully, he inquired. "Will you, please?"

Tonks smiled and - POP!

. . .

Hermione's anger subsided almost as soon as she stepped inside her flat. Feeling absolutely morose (and pathetic) she kicked off her shoes as she walked into the house. She threw off her jacket as she walked down the hall and, as soon as she reached her room, fell upon her bed with fantastic dramatic flare. Was I really so stupid? If she were honest, something about the whole situation didn't feel right. Sirius had always seemed so... sincere. But he was a good actor. She'd heard plenty of stories of his "charm" getting him out of trouble back in his school days. Charm, she thought bitterly, a pretty word for lies.

Sighing, Hermione told herself she wasn't being fair. He hadn't had any real ties to her that long ago and it wasn't as if he knew he was the father of a tiny being inside of some woman's stomach. But then, what was she to think of his denial?

There was a knock on her front door. Immediately she tensed.

"Hermione...?"

Tonks. She relaxed only slightly but stood from her place (curled on the bed) reluctantly.

"Here, Tonks," She walked down the hall tiredly. "I'm here."

Unsure as to how she was to comfort Hermione without telling her what, in Tonks' opinion, Sirius needed to tell her himself, there was silence for a while. Finally, Tonks made an attempt. "Look, Hermione, I know you're upset right now but you really need to talk to him."

Hermione shook her head adamantly while crossing her arms. "I don't want to talk to him right now."

"I know, trust me, I know..." Tonks tried to choose her words carefully. "You missed a lot of stuff when you left, important stuff, and I promise that if you just let Sirius explain you'll see that this entire situation was just one big misunderstanding." That's what I'm afraid of, Hermione thought wryly. I've misunderstood his intentions; he never really had any interest in me... "He may be a smarmy git sometimes, Merlin knows I won't argue with that, but this was not one of those times. Give him a chance, yeah?"

Hermione let out a deep sigh, her arms dropping from their defensive position crossed over her body. "Alright, yeah. I suppose he's waiting outside or something?"

Curiously, Tonks pulled the door open and laughed. "Well, look at that; he is!"

Hermione watched as Sirius stepped nervously through the doorway. The sight caused Hermione's lips to quirk into a smile. Was she really so scary? Tonks stepped out.

Awkward silence; far too awkward. Hermione's arms crossed over herself protectively once more. "Well?"

Sirius stepped forward. "Look, Hermione, it's not what it looked like-"

"That's what Tonks was saying. But, then again, that also happens to be a well known phrase that is generally used once someone gets caught doing something that is exactly what it looks like. So, forgive me if I have my doubts."

"I get that," He saw her distress and moved to run a hand through her hair, to hug her, to touch her shoulder... something. But stopped. She wouldn't be receptive to his attentions right now. He sighed in frustration. "I know how it must have seemed to you but it's not - what I mean to say is - Sophie isn't... I've never had anything to do with her!"

Hermione's shoulders had relaxed slightly over the course of his speech but her arms remained crossed. She quirked an eyebrow. "Explain, please?" And so Sirius did just that. He went on to tell her exactly what he told Sophie, offering more detail of his night, and Hermione was left feeling quite silly when he was done. "...So you, ehm, didn't have sex with her?"

"No!" In his relief the exclamation was quick. In exasperation, though, he blurted without thought: "I was too in love with you!"

Time seemed to altogether freeze. Hermione's heart had stopped. All expression disappeared from Sirius' face... and then, quite suddenly, he looked to be on the verge of a panic attack. What did he just say? Sure, this Mister Black had been wondering over the depth of his feelings toward Miss Granger for quite some time now… but love her? He'd never been completely sure of it before and, yet, he experienced no doubt now. Well, except for the doubt of his sanity. Hermione still stood in shocked silence. How had such a comment come from his lips with such lack of finesse? Since when was he anything less than smooth in these matters?

"Look, Hermione..." And though these words created a sense of deja vu, something different happened this time around. Hermione moved forward and didn't stop until she stood directly in front of him.

Sirius gulped and couldn't continue with his excuse. His mind had stopped working. She was looking up at him with such abundant expression in her big brown eyes but he still couldn't tell what she was thinking. She was close enough for him to count the tiny freckles across her nose. She was so near that he could smell the Raspberry Vanilla that was from her shampoo and, he noted even in his absence of mind, that her hair was curled in perfect little ringlets. He would have liked to think she'd done it especially for him but, no, that was a bit too pompous to assume... even for Sirius Black.

"Say it again," She whispered. The words were disbelieving but her eyes were now hopeful.

It suddenly occurred to Sirius (with an incredible force) that he did love Hermione Granger. He was quite certain, in fact, that he'd never felt this strongly for anyone! Not even for Matilda Agrette had his heart danced in such fashions... and he had once fancied himself in love with her too. But (and here we find the most notable difference) he had run away from Matilda upon that realization and Sirius Black certainly had no intent in removing himself from the presence of Hermione Granger. Ever. Or, more than was necessary, at least.

And so, taking her hands in his, Sirius caressed them gently. "'Mione...?" He began softly.

"Yes?" Her voice was breathy.

His forehead is leaning against hers now as, with all the finesse in the world, he says: "I love you."

She was at once hit by insecurity; could this possibly be some grand joke? But she was simultaneously sure, more sure than of anything ever before, that what she had just heard was as serious and heartfelt a statement as Sirius Black ever could make. Her insecurity was washed away and, with it gone, Hermione's heart felt so full of new emotions that it could burst.

One of her hands pulled away from his... but only to be placed gently upon his cheek. It was but the slightest bit scruffy beneath her hand. She scooted toward him. His heart beat wildly, desperate to hear her return his sentiments.

"Well," She smiled. "That works out well for me because, you see, I happen to be in love with you."

Her smile was so contagious that he couldn't help but smile himself. Then he was grinning and, quite soon after, laughing with such a delight that Hermione couldn't help but join in! So he was swinging her around in circles and clutching her to him tightly, both feeling as though a huge burden had been lifted from their shoulders. It was when they became still though, smiling softly at each other, that his warm lips pressed gently against hers.

Two hearts shared an incredible connection that night. There was a blooming excitement, a hope, for the future. There was tranquility, a peaceful content, in what was happening now. There was certainly a plenty of sheer joy and, ultimately, Hermione was sure that she had never been happier. She wondered if Sirius Black could even possibly feel the same way. The twinkle in his eyes told her all she needed to know, and so, Hermione was positive that (at that moment, at least) they were two of the happiest people alive.

THE END

. . .

A/N: I know, The End, there was no warning! I was starting to hit some major writer's block, though, and I really didn't want this to be one of those stories that drag on forever just because. I am, however, considering adding an Epilogue! This chapter was incredibly difficult for me to put together, which is why it's taken so long. Please forgive me! Thank you so much to all who have read and to those who have reviewed. I hope you enjoyed reading this at least as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let me know what you think. I personally rather liked Sophie in that way that you love to hate people!