Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or any of the characters, I just like to play with them
"What did you do?" The tired sounding question held a note of familiarity, as though it had been asked a thousand times before.
"She – I – She." Sigh. With each choked out word Sirius would look up, finger raised, only to be defeated by some force as yet unnamed. Defensive in tone, Sirius finally managed to get out a whole sentence.
"She wants me as much as I want her, damn it." It was unclear who he was trying to convince; himself or Remus, or perhaps the absent Hermione.
Remus eased into the room and glanced around at the evidence of teenage witch. A worn out leather shoe violated the sanctity of the fluffy pink throw rug, threadbare in spots, but still defiantly girlish. The creak of protesting joints preceded long fingers that wrapped around Hermione's wand, forgotten on the floor where she dropped it.
"You know I actually believe you're right, Padfoot," said Remus, as he pulled a wooden chair from beneath what had probably once been a writing desk. Still might be, but an identification was made impossible as it was covered under a mountain of unbearably precious artifacts. "But you are going about it all wrong." Remus settled into the chair with one last glance at the desk, menacing in its fuzzy, glittery cuteness.
"What should I do differently?" asked Sirius. He knew what Remus meant. He was loath to admit just how wrong his approach really was. He wasn't sure he could bring himself to confess that he had just impulsively grabbed and kissed Hermione, or that he had been slapped.
"That's hard to answer," said Remus calmly, "since I still don't know what you did wrong."
"I just thought I'd cut through all of the nonsense," said Sirius evasively. "So I did, and I know she felt it too. That's why I don't understand why she…"
Sirius trailed off, dangerously close to an admission he didn't want to make. The silence that passed seemed to drag. Sirius stared hard at the long pink fibers on the rug, watching as in the quiet a few doxies poked their head out from under the bed, bright blue and wings a flutter. He absolutely refused to look up at Remus because he knew the guilt would show on his face like fairy lights on a Christmas tree.
Finally Remus spoke.
"Padfoot, you didn't –"
Sirius looked up miserably and nodded before Remus could finish. He didn't want to hear the words spoken out loud.
"Merlin's Robes," breathed Remus. "You fool." Remus twirled Hermione's wand in his nimble fingers for a moment. "Well, I must say I'm impressed with her restraint."
"Well, look at you, you don't appear to have been hexed," replied Remus thoughtfully, but hummed a small amused sound when Sirius fidgeted and looked away. "So, not a hex, what then? Did she slap you, because you certainly earned it."
Sirius gave Remus a black look.
"Well, good for her. I suppose those are her Muggle tendencies showing through," said Remus, his expression one of intrigue over this bit of insight.
"Muggle?" Sirius sounded genuinely surprised. "She's Muggleborn?"
Remus smiled. "Interesting that, isn't it? You always could sniff them out."
"Well, they were… a little something out of the ordinary for me, weren't they?" said Sirius defensively. "Exotic somehow… I mean, seeing our world through their eyes… I don't know, I always got a deeper sense for how unique and special our abilities really are. It always made me grateful that it didn't just run in wizarding families." Sirius looked up to see a rather amused expression on Remus' face. "Oh, shut it you," he grumbled.
Remus laughed. "I didn't say a word, Padfoot."
"You were thinking it, something. I don't know what… do I amuse you, Remus?" Sirius looked away, appearing both embarrassed and petulant.
From a few floors beneath them, an apparent herd of elephants were on the stairs. A minute later it was revealed to only be Harry and Ron. Harry wore a concerned frown, eyes darting between Remus and Sirius.
"Why did Hermione ask Harry to come up here and get her wand?" asked Ron. He looked like he was fit to burst with curiosity and annoyed at the same time. The aggravation laced in Ron's tone told Sirius all he needed to know; Ron wasn't happy about his pursuit of Hermione.
"Where is her wand?" asked Harry quietly, eyes trained on Sirius.
Remus handed it over and then Harry gave it to Ron. A silent exchange took place before Ron acquiesced. Harry closed the door behind him and then looked around the room.
"I had forgotten just how girly it was in here," he said to lighten the mood a little. The small room really didn't afford many places to sit down, so he leaned casually against the door.
"Alright, just how bad is it? I've never seen Hermione so angry." Harry's tone was mild, but it carried a note of reproof and something else, something steely, cold even.
"Have – Have you ever felt – no known, known something was right? In your gut, it's more than just belief –"
"Sirius, you've only known her three days, mate," said Harry exasperated. "And in that time you have managed to get such a reaction out of her –" Harry paused, briefly at a loss for words. "Well, I've never seen her dislike someone the way she does you." Harry picked out something glittery and vaguely reptilian from one of Ginny's shelves. "And honestly, I can hardly blame her."
Remus stared at Harry, his expression stunned with a tinge of something wistful. Sirius looked like he'd seen a ghost.
"What?" asked Harry suspiciously, and then examined his robes, pulling and patting.
"Sorry," said Remus. "It's just for a minute there you sounded just –"
"Like James," finished Sirius.
"His Emmeline Pierce speech to you," agreed Remus, nodding.
"Almost verbatim," grumbled Sirius.
"Though it was sort of humorous at the time since he wasn't making headway with Lily," continued Remus with a chuckle.
"But –" Harry sighed. "If it didn't work with the other witch, why try it again?"
"Because the hard to get ones always confuse him," said Remus with a large smirk. "He knows what to do with the witches that throw themselves at him but… well, it's his way of handling being flustered. Not very effective though, is it?"
Sirius' looked unhappier than ever.
"So, you know her, what should I do?" he asked helplessly.
"Well, first I'd leave her alone for awhile," said Harry. "After that, I'm not sure. She's never been confronted with a wizard like you."
"Actually, after that you'll be like any other poor sod who wants a little of her attention," said Remus. "She looks fantastic doesn't she?"
"She does," said Sirius miserably. "Even today when she clearly wasn't trying that hard, she's still bloody kissable."
Harry put a hand up. "Please stop. That's more than I wanted to know."
"So, I leave her alone and then what?" asked Sirius.
"You have other things to worry about, don't you?" suggested Remus. "I thought you were going to open an investigative agency."
"Yeah, we've talk about that," said Sirius, with a little jerk of his head to indicate Harry. "Something like a contract office for the Ministry."
"Focus on that," offered Remus. "Try not to pester her, and actually attempt to do things for her that please her."
"Right," said Sirius thoughtfully. "Right. What pleases her?"
"Well, I think half the fun is in the figuring it out, don't you agree, Harry?"
"Oh, absolutely," said Harry with a large grin.
"I could learn to hate you both," grumbled Sirius.
Frustrated, Hermione paced her room like a caged lioness. The second floor bedroom was quiet except for the sound of her feet tracing over the same steps in a hypnotic, but rather dreary dance. She was angry and more than a little confused by the intense feelings Sirius evoked. He had no right to kiss her like that, but oh Circe, what a kiss that was. Her toe caught on the edge of the throw rug making her stumble a little.
"Damn it!" she swore viciously.
Oh Merlin, this just wasn't her. All over a stupid, arrogant, handsome…
"No," she refused. "You will not think that last one. He is an arse who has no respect for you, or he would never have pushed himself on you like that."
The old bed groaned as she settled onto the edge of it. She massaged her throbbing toe first and then curled up in the middle of the bed. She wasn't so silly as to deny that she had an attraction for him. Well, honestly – who wouldn't? He was ridiculously handsome, almost beautiful but in a wholly masculine way. Tall and toned with sharp angles in his face, shoulder length silky black locks and the eyes… It was all a rather unfortunate distraction to his rather difficult personality.
"Only difficult for me though," she said miserably. "Everyone else thinks he's bloody fantastic."
She would dearly love to go to her office and get some work done there, but Harry had asked her for one more day. There was no one to commiserate with because they were all at the stupid party. She would get no sympathy from Ginny or Molly who were clearly in love with the prat already.
It was miserable to feel this alone. If anyone were jumping to her defense, they weren't doing it where she could see. That too was frustrating. She didn't want to come out and ask if anyone had told the prat off, because she was clearly more than capable of handling it herself.
Try as she might though, with nothing but her poor hurt toe to distract her, the kiss did invade. She couldn't have guessed that was what he was coming in for. Well, perhaps that was a lie. 'I'm about to give you the kiss of your short, little life' was written all over his face. Matters were made worse by the fact that thoughts of kissing him had invaded her daydreaming prior to the event itself. Her day dreams paled in comparison to what his lips on hers really felt like. Or that of his tongue dancing deliciously with hers.
"Stop this," she commanded quietly.
Fine, if admitting she fancied him was what it took, she could do that, but only to herself. He hadn't earned her consideration even if his one kiss made all of Ron's look like slobbery mistakes in comparison. She was stronger than that, stronger than him.
Slowly, she stretched out on her bed and hugged a pillow tight, cold comfort though it was.
A/N: Thank you for the reviews to this story. They've been lovely!
I apologize for the delay. I'm doing a submission for the Big Bang Blackout (Sirius/Hermione of course) which is completed and with the betas know. I've got another submission for a different fest that I'll be working on (different pairing though I dare not tell you which) so updates might still be a little slow but the story isn't dead. I'm just distracted with other stories.