AN- Takes off after DH, and hence contains spoilers, but not very many. Also, I'm going on the assumption that Sirius never died (how I wish). If that's too much to take in, you can assume that the cryptic forces of the universe tossed the dice a little too far and a strange and conveniently gone wrong spell caused him to tumble out of Veil. Or you can be like me and forget that he's supposed to be dead. I kind of like the second view better, right?

CHAPTER 1

'Happy birthday, Harry!' Hermione said, brightly, as she walked into the Leaky Cauldron 'Here's your present.'

'Thanks,' Harry grinned, taking the red parcel from her and tossing it onto a heap of dazzling gifts. 'That it makes it three fifty four. Almost one for every day of the year, right? You're looking pretty, Hermione.'

'Don't I always?' Hermione teased, curtsying for the heck of it. She was wearing a butter yellow dress made of some soft material, with a round neck and an empire waistline. She glanced around and saw that the party was in full swing. Wizards and witches were laughing, playing music, eating finger foods from the long, white draped table at the corner, and swinging back shots of Ogden's Best Firewhisky. 'Looks like I'm a little late.' She said.

'Just a little,' Harry assured her. 'Some people turned up early. Get yourself a drink- I can see Cho over there; I better go say hey to her.'

'Don't let Ginny see you,' Hermione said, with a grin and set off to find herself a drink. She caught sight of Ron, sitting with a bottle of vodka in front of him, and Lavender beside.

'Hi, Ron,' she said, 'having fun?'

'Loads,' he said, with a very unlikely smirk. 'Did you see Harry? He's got a truckload of presents.'

'I just gave him mine.' Hermione told him. 'Anyway, I'm getting myself a drink.' She waved to them and walked to the table for a glass. She poured herself some vodka (she never had liked Firewhisky very much) and glanced around for a table.

She caught sight of Sirius, sitting at a table that was piled high with food. Sitting beside him was a skinny blonde woman with a bright pink dress that was so tight Hermione wondered how she could breathe. She walked over to them, just as the woman was saying, 'Darling, I have to go powder my nose, will you give me a moment, please.'

Sirius offered her a charming smile, and she got up and left. Then he turned and smiled at Hermione.

'Hey,' he said, easily, 'Glad to see you could make it.'

'I wouldn't miss it for anything,' she told him, sipping her vodka. 'Harry's 18th? I'd rather die. You seem to be having a lot of fun.' She inclined her head with a quick birdlike movements towards the direction in which the blonde had set off.

Sirius rolled her eyes.

'Her name is Cristobel,' he said, in a voice that suggested that should explain everything to her. 'She's twenty seven years old and unemployed. I gather that her father is a rich tycoon.'

'That would explain a lot,' Hermione agreed. 'Mind if I sit here till Lady Charming gets back?'

'You have my permission till after that as well,' Sirius said, generously. 'She was beginning to bore me.'

Hermione sat down beside him, and raised a hand to her mouth in mock surprise. 'Bore you?' she asked. 'She's blonde, she's wearing a pink dress, and she's dumb. How could she bore you.'

'You're forgetting she is also very well endowed,' Sirius reminded, holding up his hands. 'But she still manages.'

Hermione laughed. Cristobel was obviously not up to par with the Most Noble House of Black. She finished her vodka and glanced around.

'There's another bottle here,' Sirius said, dragging it towards him and pouring a generous quantity into her glass. 'You drink it neat?'

'I love it neat,' she replied, taking a swig and then glanced up. 'Nice tie,' she said.

Sirius tweaked the navy blue tie and grinned. 'D'you like it? Molly told me I had to dress formal, since it was my godson's birthday. It's actually Remus's.'

'He has good taste,' Hermione said. Sirius wore the tie casually over a half-unbuttoned white silk shirt, and charcoal gray pants. 'However, I don't think that's what Molly meant by formal.'

'Maybe not,' Sirius said, taking a shot from the bottle. Hermione finished her second glass. She was definitely feeling a little tipsy now. She leaned back against her chair, and slipped out of her high heeled shoes, savoring the feeling.

'Why are you taking of your shoes?' Sirius asked, glancing under the table.

'They're killing me,' Hermione replied. 'My feet breathe this way.'

'Right,' said Sirius, and then glancing around, 'Damn, Cristobel seems to have found someone else.'

The blonde was standing beside the finger food table, absolutely wrapped around a tall brown haired boy, who Hermione seemed to remember as a Ravenclawe from their year.

'He's about nine years younger than her.' She informed Sirius. 'He was in our year. His name was- Terry Boot, I think.'

'Sucker,' Sirius said, idly, setting down his drink. 'Our bottle's over. Shall I get more firewhisky?'

'Vodka,' Hermione said, and Sirius summoned it with his wand. He uncapped it, and began pouring out for both of them.

'So how come here late?' he asked, putting the bottle back on the table, and licking his fingers where the vodka had spilt.

Hermione did not answer at once. She was momentarily distracted by the sight of Sirius licking his fingers. She shook her head as though to clear it, and said, 'I was writing to the Ministry.'

Sirius stopped abruptly, mid-lick. He glanced over his finger, and raised his eyebrow. 'What?'

'I have a job interview.'

'You're working for the Ministry?'

'Wizengamot, maybe,' Hermione said, a little proudly. 'I have my interview the day after tomorrow. They think my qualifications are good enough.'

Sirius shook his head. He was clearly too drunk to talk about sensible jobs at the moment, but Hermione sensed that something was disturbing him. She decided to ask him about it later. Instead, she said, 'Cristobel's vanished.

It was true. The table where she and Terry had been standing had been occupied by Parvati and her boyfriend.

'I know exactly where she is,' Sirius said, complacently.

Hermione raised an eyebrow.

'She's pushed up against the men's bathroom wall being fucked against the tiles by Terry Boot.' Sirius said, and then explained, 'I was the fortunate receiver of an invitation only a while back.'

Hermione burst out laughing, loud enough that Ron threw her a concerned look over Lavender's shoulder.

'You don't say,' she said, still chuckling. 'And here I though you were an Occlumens.'

Sirius grinned. 'It's the power of sex, lover,' he said, waggling his eyebrows, and Hermione began to laugh again.

He glanced at the bottle. It was empty again.

'We've finished another bottle,' he said, dubiously. 'How did that happen?'

'Because you're drunk!' Hermione crowed, pointing at him and proving that she was very much so as well.

'Maybe,' Sirius admitted, and summoned a third bottle.

'You're not going to puke, are you?' he asked, anxiously, as Hermione downed her entire glass in one.

'Trust me, I've got over that phase,' she assured him, pouring herself another.

'You're eighteen,' he pointed out.

She hiccupped indignantly. 'I began drinking when I was fifteen! I might not have much capacity but I certainly don't puke.'

'My, my,' he drawled. 'All right, I'll take your word for it. I'm just sick of little witches asking me for drinks and then puking all over me.'

Hermione glared at him, and then forgot why. To cover her confusion, she picked up the bottle and poured the remainder into her glass. Sirius summoned the fourth.

It was as the fourth bottle was getting over, that Hermione suggested they go dance. A slowish tune had started, and several couples were revolving on the floor. Sirius looked surprised.

'You want to dance with me?' he asked.

'Didn't I just say that?' Hermione asked, frowning. Sirius wasn't able to make up his mind as to whether the question was rhetoric or she really didn't remember.

'All right,' he said, getting up and offering Hermione his hand. Taking it, she was conscious of a slow blossoming happiness, as he led her to the dance floor and slipped her into position. She placed her hands on his shoulders, and felt his around her waist.

They were silent for a while, both revolving, and listening to nothing but the lilting music. The lights which were always dim now were positively black. A faint blue flame shone from one corner.

'You're a terrible dancer,' Sirius told her.

'Thank you,' she said, beaming. Sirius laughed and drew her closer, so that her head rested on his chest.

Hermione decided she rather liked the feeling.