All chapters updated : fixed grammar, reduced pov switches, reordering paragraphs for a more linear timeline, and added scenes. Hopefully a more enjoyable, easy read.
It's been awhile so enjoy the re-read, if necessary.
She crept down the stairs carefully, not wanting them to creak and groan beneath her weight. She couldn't sleep.
After that invitation appeared, Regulus had been rather subdued. He had looked scared while reading it. It was quick, but it had been there. Hermione snorted in amusement. Some Slytherin. But it had made her nervous. He was never scared. That night the two Death Eaters talked quietly, voices drowned out by the crackling of the fire. She watched their faces, concern etched into them. Hands ran through their hair, their heads shook, eyes rolled. Since then Regulus no longer called her a Mudblood and no longer insulted her then asked for her help. Rosier, Evan, was the same as he'd always been. She would never admit it out loud, but she rather liked Evan. He was smart and eager to share what he knew, even if it always took a turn to the macabre. And he didn't call her a Mudblood or seem repulsed by her presence. Regulus was smart too, she acknowledged grudgingly. When not harassing her, he always had a book in his hand.
She wondered what they had planned. If there was a plan. The idea had been swirling around her brain for the past week. They didn't seem to be doing much of anything. When she thought about it, they never really did seem to have a plan. She frowned. What if there never was a plan? Surely they had a plan, she tried to convince herself. Harry said they seemed to plan for everything. Always planning. Plotting, scheming, she corrected herself. Maybe their plan involved taking her to Voldemort. Maybe the plan was to keep her trapped in this house until she went crazy and broke down and gave them information about Neville. Maybe they really did want to kill Voldemort.
Her plan had slowly been formulating for a while now. Escape. She had a good idea of what to do, her plan ready to implement. She was nervous though. She had her beaded bag hidden under the loose wood panel of the floor, near the large bay window at the front of the home. She crept toward the window but paused. Sitting on the couch was Regulus. He seemed lost in thought.
"Couldn't sleep?" he asked lightly.
Maybe he hadn't been as lost in thought as she assumed. She sighed. She abandoned her plan her plan for tonight. She'd save it for when another opportunity presented itself.
"Me either," he stated as he looked at her indifferently from over his shoulder.
She made a noncommittal noise and sat as far away from his as possible. She sat gingerly on the cushions of the wide ledge of the window. Regulus stared at her. She felt his gaze boring into her. Despite being bundled in heavy clothing she felt naked.
"Where did you plan to go?"
She jumped. She looked up at him, now looming over her, "W-What?"
"You're dressed for the cold," he said slowly as he offered her a cup. She eyed it suspiciously. "It's just tea." Reluctantly she took it.
"I'm not going anywhere," she muttered.
"No, you're not," he agreed as he took a seat next to her.
She pressed her lips into a thin line. Her mind reeled. Did he know? Did they know? He'd kill her. Her eyes snapped to his face when he let out a soft sigh. His shoulders were slouched and he'd found a sudden interest in the floor.
"Why won't you help us?"
Hermione looked at him like he was crazy, "Because I won-"
"Work with Death Eaters. I'm aware. We've missed our chance because you wouldn't help. We could've killed him if you'd...now he -" He stopped himself and shook his head.
Guilt began to worm its way through her body. She tried to suppress it, urged it to go away. No, she wouldn't help a bunch of Death Eaters. They'd kidnapped her, tricked her, wanted to use her in some unidentified scheme. His words rolled around in her head, each hit making the guilt worse, the curiosity worse. What did he mean?
He was looking at her strangely, eyebrow raised. He drank from his cup and cringed. Mustn't be very good tea, she thought as she looked at her own. She hadn't drank any yet.
"What 'he' means is we had a plan to kill Voldemort. A good one. We'd have to steal from Hogwarts, which...well, it was a good plan. We needed a Gryffindor to do it, someone they wouldn't expect - you; Harry'd said you were clever enough to find a way out if things went awry," he paused, taking another sip, "Well, he didn't say it in those words exactly, he's not very eloquent. There were a few other steps too, but you don't want to help so it's useless now," He frowned into his cup.
She found her skin heating up as she realized she had spoken her mental question out loud.
"Me," she finally squeaked out. Curiosity was now overwhelming her, "We can't do it anymore, this plan?"
"No," he said flatly, "You don't want to help."
She couldn't find it in her to look at him. She stared down at her cup, contemplating the amber liquid swirling in it.
"Now we'll just have to kill you," he said softly.
"What!" She moved away from him quickly. They still had her wand, she was defenseless.
"I'm joking. We'll just use another plan that doesn't involve you. It won't be as easy, but it'll do."
She doubted he was joking. She looked back down at her cup. Maybe it was poisoned. She grimaced. If it was, maybe that would be the easier way to go. She took a sip.
"Merlin, what is this," she sputtered between gurgling coughs. Beside her Regulus laughed and hushed her.
"I lied. It's Firewhiskey," He laughed quietly, happy with himself.
Hermione felt rage welling inside her. "You have an awfully twisted idea of what's funny," she snapped.
"I am a Black," he drawled, interrupting her, "Don't you ever have fun? You looked like you needed a drink. What's the harm in drinking at 2 am?" Amusement was plastered across his face.
She glared darkly at him. "Aren't you too old for this," she bit out, "Drinking alone at 2am at your age is sad, not fun."
He hummed in agreement, angering her more.
She scowled. She had become too comfortable around them. They could kill her at any minute if they wanted to – as Regulus had reminded her. Hell, they were probably feeding information to Voldemort right now. She stood, intending to stomp away in anger, but he pulled her back down. She fell roughly into him. He leaned away, shifted along the ledge, and wiggled away from her. She looked at him bitterly. He returned her gaze with his own nonplussed one. He rather looked like Sirius, she thought absently, taking in his face. She'd never really looked at him before, not deeply at any rate.
"Are you inspecting my face," a statement, not a question. He had a way of reading people's minds. Maybe he could. She quickly looked away. The last thing she needed was a Death Eater inside her head.
"You look like Sirius."
"I get that a lot," amusement crossed his face again.
Stop looking at me, she thought, suddenly uncomfortable with his gaze. She turned away and situated herself to look out the window. She had to admit the house was rather nice. It had a great view. It was set back in the woods, behind a small creek; it was cozy. In the distance she could see the outline of mountains, blue and black in the moonlight.
"Where are we?" she asked.
"Rockies," Came the simple reply.
Her mouth formed a little "o" in surprise. She hadn't expected that. That certainly ruined her plans of getting home. Disappointment filled her. She turned away frowning. Their plan, her plan, were stuck in her muddied brain. She returned her scrutiny to the man beside her. Hermione secretly hoped he'd tell her more. But he didn't. He just sat quietly, resting his elbows on his legs, content with staring at the dying fire. He really did look like Sirius. Same haughty features. He had a nice nose. There was a slight bump in it. She wondered if it bothered him that he looked like his "blood-traitor" brother. She knew her presence in the house bothered him.
He turned his head slightly, looking back up at her. He smiled briefly. It was a nice smile. He had nice teeth. Straight and white. Her parents would like his teeth. He probably flossed. That, her parents said, was the key to nice teeth and a healthy mouth. She wondered if he stood in the mirror in the morning and flossed. The idea was a funny one.
"You're not going to kiss me are you?" he asked, his nose scrunched in disgust, pulling her out of her reverie.
"What?" she asked, shock coloring her voice, "I - no!" He looked at her doubtfully. "I was just thinking," heat rose to her cheeks as she grasped for words.
"You were staring at my mouth," he said uneasily.
"I was thinking about flossing," the words tumbled out of her mouth. She groaned internally. It sounded, well, stupid. Like a poor cover. She could tell he thought so too by the unconvinced look on his face.
"My parents are dentists," She stated, hoping it would explain everything. "Uh, Muggle teeth doctors," She added; he wouldn't know what a dentist was.
He frowned, "You should get back to bed."
She looked down at her firewhiskey. Fun, well, she could have fun, she thought as she drank the rest of her cup. She winced at the burning taste that traveled down her throat.
She held her cup out to Regulus, "I need another," she rasped out.
He took it gingerly from her, "I think you're okay."
She watched his back as he walked to the kitchen, grabbing the bottle of whiskey from the side table on his way there. There was a tinkering of glass before he appeared again.
"Seriously," he snickered, "You're not getting out of here, so just go back to bed." With that he began to ascended the stairs.
"Wait," she whispered harshly. He half turned to look at her. She sighed and swallowed her pride, "What's this plan?"
He looked at her curiously, "You want to know?"
"I-yes. If it's good I might help."
He snorted and continued up the stairs, "Seriously Mudblood, go to bed."
He couldn't sleep. And neither, apparently, could two other patrons of the house. Rosier threw the covers off himself dramatically. He made his way to the top of the staircase to eavesdrop on those below him.
Regulus and Granger. It didn't surprise him. They'd known she'd try to make a break for it eventually. She'd just get lost, but they'd still have to trudge through snow to get her. He listened carefully to the conversation. He couldn't hear the words, but the tone was rather friendly. He was glad. He'd talked to Black about this multiple times. The idiot couldn't understand that insulting the Mudblood wouldn't help their cause. He didn't like being around her either, and frankly would be fine with killing her one day. It wouldn't help him to reveal that to her though. They did need her for their plan to work.
He tried to pound it into Regulus's head "Be nice, be nice, be nice". But then Evan noticed something and stopped telling Black to be nice. Where Black's words came with malice, Granger's...well Granger's he wasn't so sure. Certainly not with ill-will. He'd been married twice, he knew the conflicted feelings that bubbled their way to the surface in the form of nasty quarrels. Black had been shocked when he told him he thought Granger had a crush. It was completely obvious. Even Harry had been giving them curious looks when they'd try to read a book at the same time, arguing over when to turn the pages. Black was a moron when it came to women.
Evan leaned over the bannister trying to hear better. Granger was telling Regulus he looked like his brother - he hated that. It'd given him a lot of trouble through the years. He braced for Regulus' nasty reply. But none came. He heard amusement in Black's voice instead. Rosier grumbled. Not two weeks early had he and Black argued over Granger's not so obvious ogling. Regulus stated, confident, that it was only because he looked like his brother. Evan vehemently disagreed. He knew this little incident, Granger's little comment, would be used as proof to solidify Black's beliefs. Evan was not excited to face Regulus' smug grin.
Their conversation lulled. Even though Black was a numbskull, he did know how to manipulate people. He wondered if Regulus had taken his advice on this particular matter.
"You're not going to kiss me, are you?"
Evan's attention snapped back to the conversation below. That dumbass. Evan sighed. All that hard work for nothing, it seemed. He listened to the girl stammer and choke on her words. Well, maybe not for nothing, he amended his previous thoughts. But still, simply not accusing her of wanting to maul his face would have worked infinitely better. Soon Black was walking up the stairs toward him. Evan watched him with narrow eyes.
"Really, Regulus?" he hissed.
"What? Why are you lurking about?" Regulus snapped back.
"'You're not going to kiss me are you'" Evan said, mocking Regulus' obnoxious drawl, "The hell was that? You ruined our plan."
"Your plan," Regulus huffed, crossing his arms. "And if it's that big of a deal to you, you do it."
"She doesn't like me!"
"Yes she does, she's all over you and your," Regulus gestured wildly, groping the air for his lost words, "your books!" he finished accusatory.
"My books? She practically sits in your lap to read your books."
"My plan is working better anyway," Regulus frowned.
"Your plan? You didn't even have a plan!" Regulus's scowl deepened at Evan's words. He pushed forward, "You should have just let her kiss you, that would've made this a million times easier. The plan was to seduce her! Not make her-"
"Your plan was to seduce her, I never agreed to that. It's a supremely shitty plan. You really think manipulating a witch and breaking her heart is going to help us? Merlin, the idea is so stupid! It's something you'd read in a weird smut novel."
Evan looked at him reproachfully, arms now crossed, "You agreed, Black."
Regulus threw his hands in the air, exasperated, "I did not! I said to just be nice to her. It'd throw her off. You said - it doesn't even matter, even if I did agree to your plan, which I didn't, I can't kiss her!"
"Why not? Just close your eyes and think of your mum."
Regulus glowered at him, "She's a Mudblood," Regulus stared him down, his face calculating and hard, "And half my age," Regulus added after a while, "That's...weird."
"What's weird is you not following a plan that's going to help us kill the Dark Lord, even though killing the Dark Lord was your idea in the first place," He growled, poking Black viciously in the chest.
Black batted away his hand, "Your plan sucks. You can't make everyone else do the dirty work."
A creak captured both their attention. He looked past Black, who lazily turned to look over his shoulder. Granger stood on the stairs owl-eyed. Evan found himself praying that the girl hadn't heard their conversation. She shifted uneasily, eyeing them.
"Well, use your plan then if it's so much better than mine," he whispered harshly. Evan gave Regulus a pointed look.
Regulus sighed, resigned, "Granger, Hermione."
Evan watched his friend shuffle around. He suppressed a smirk. Hopefully the girl would take it as a sign of nervousness, not anger at being forced to apologize. Regulus was blocking his view of the girl's face but he imagined it was frozen with shock.
"I, err, I wanted to tell you," Regulus glanced at him before returning to Granger. Black was a good actor.
"Um, that, this is hard," Regulus whined, looking back at him. He glared and pushed Regulus forward.
"I wanted to tell you that," Regulus paused, "I'm sorry...for calling you a Mudblood a lot, and, uh, all that other stuff."
Evan rolled his eyes.
"Right," came Granger's flat reply. Thoughts that she'd overheard them rushed into his mind again. "I want to know the plan."
"Fancy another drink, Granger? We can talk about Black's...well, everything that makes him so shitty." Granger laughed lightly, Black let out an indignant hey.
"Regulus didn't think I should have another-"
"We both know he's a stick in the mud, come on, lets have some fun."
"I am not a stick in the mud!" Evan looked at Regulus unbelieving, "Maybe a little."
Evan raised an eyebrow, urging Regulus to go. Regulus snorted and turned away. He marched into his room and slammed the door shut. In the distance he could hear Harry's muffled "shut up!"
"I'm okay," she said as she walked down the stairs, "But you owe me a plan."
"Well I'll just drink by myself then."
Harry walked groggily down the stairs, Regulus at his heels.
He stopped suddenly and Regulus bumped into him. Harry stumbled slightly forward. He blinked and tried to understand the scene that lay in front of him. On the couch laid Rosier, sleeping peacefully, with an equally peaceful and sleeping Hermione on top of him. He turned, shocked, to Regulus, who was eyeing the pair disdainfully. He snatched a map off the table and glanced over it. A smirk graced his lips. Regulus thrust the map into his hands.
"Wha…" Harry started. It was too early for the morning for this, he decided. He watched, detached, as Regulus poked Rosier and Hermione in the head with his wand.
"Wake up lovebirds, it's time to go."
Hermione moaned grumpily and snuggled further into Rosier's chest, trying to fend off Regulus' wand with little success. Harry looked down at the map. It was a hand drawn blueprint of Hogwarts. Two levels of it, and the common rooms. He smiled. Maybe they had talked Hermione into helping after all.
"Come on, up and at em," Regulus continued. For once Harry was glad it was someone else on the end of Regulus' annoying insistence that if he was up everyone else should be up too.
"Black, if you don't stop I'm gonna send you back to the Dark Lord with a bow on your head," Rosier said gruffly as his eyes blinked against the light. Regulus only offered a smug smirk.
"It's time already?"
Harry rubbed his head. "We're starting, today? I thought you said it was too late to get the sword?"
"Sword?" Hermione said from her place on Rosier. Maybe they hadn't told her the plan. She looked down and quickly pushed herself off the older wizard, her face turning red. She stood awkwardly. Harry stifled a laugh. Regulus did not.
"Godric Gryffindor's sword," Harry added helpfully.
Hermione glared at Regulus reproachfully, "Why did nobody tell me? Why didn't you tell me Evan?"
Harry wrinkled his nose. They were on a first name basis now?
"Because you didn't want to help," Regulus said sharply. He turned to face Harry, "It's still possible. We've got a new plan, that will hopefully work out," he glared at Hermione, "but we have to get going. We've portkeys to catch."
Regulus pulled a tie out of his pocket, "Grab hold."
"What about our stuff?" Hermione asked Harry's unanswered question.
"You got your wand, right?" Rosier asked as he grabbed the tie.
Harry grabbed hold of the tie. He noticed Hermione reluctantly did too. Whatever they had planned, Harry knew this was plan B. He was happier than ever that they planned every minute detail with back up plans for each little possibility. Then again, they were some of the top Death Eaters, he thought, compared to the Death Eaters he had known. Suddenly he was happy that the Death Eaters in his "timeline" weren't as competent as them.
"Well, that's all you really need," Rosier stated.
Harry's stomach lurched and suddenly he was on the mossy ground.
"Grab hold". A sandy beach. "Here, touch this." A field of wheat. "One more." Ice and chilling cold. "Grab my arm, Harry," Harry obliged quickly. The squeeze of apparation took hold of him. It happened too quickly to see where they landed. One after another until they stopped in an airport.
Harry looked up at Rosier, confused. Rosier spoke, "We can't use magic, got to go the Muggle way."
Rosier and Black's lack of robes made sense now. Harry's eyes wandered to Regulus and Hermione. Hermione looked terrified, Regulus disgusted and sneering. He quickly let go of her and pushed her away.
"Don't be prat," she yelled angrily.
"Come on, we already got tickets," Rosier added, looking both ways before leaving the hallway they'd apparated into. Rosier looked at his watch, "The uh, thing, leaves in an hour."
They sat, uncomfortably, in the hard seats at their gate, waiting. Harry noticed Hermione watching the others with interest. Harry followed her eyes. They lounged in their seats and watched passing Muggles aloofly. Regulus leaned his head on his hand. Rosier picked lint off his pants. If they were uncomfortable they didn't show it. Harry moved in his seat. He didn't know how they looked so elegant in the horrible chairs. His back started to ache. Even if he lounged like they were, he'd look like a trouble maker not a bored banker. Part of that would be due to clothes, but he didn't have the regal air about him like them. Rosier and Regulus were trying to blend in, draw as little attention as possible to themselves. It didn't really work; they stuck out like sore thumbs in their dress clothes and ties. Purebloods didn't know the word "casual".
Harry watch as a young Muggle woman sat next to Regulus. He leaned away from her but kept his face blank. She smiled brightly at him.
"Those your brother and sister?" she asked, nodding towards him and Hermione.
"That's my associate's boyfriend," Harry heard Rosier let out a strangled noise, "And she's our assistant."
Hermione glared at him. The woman opened her mouth to respond, but shut it quickly.
Rosier leaned forward and looked over Regulus' arms, "He's joking; they're interns."
The woman looked relieved, "Oh, okay!"
"So what do you do?" She asked after it became apparent neither man was going to carry on the conversation.
Regulus looked at her briefly, considering his options. "Bounty Hunters," he finally said.
Hermione rolled her eyes and let out a small hmp.
The woman laughed, "I don't know that I believe you!"
Regulus shrugged, "I always wanted to be a doctor but this business is more lucrative."
Before the woman could respond an overhead announcement rang out.
"That's my plane," she said with one last look at Regulus, "it was nice to meet you." She gave him a little wave he didn't return. He looked darkly at the retreating woman's back.
"This plan is awful."
It was after thirty-two hours of plane rides filled with watching Regulus hold on for dear life and Rosier jump at every creak and groan, a 3 hour taxi drive - this time with Regulus cursing colorfully and Rosier looking sick - and a seemingly endless boat ride that they ended up at the dock of a small tilted bamboo house that sat in murky water on high stilts. Twisted and gnarled trees rose from the water and created a canopy overhead.
"Where are we?" he asked, wonder colored his voice. He stepped gingerly onto the dock. It shook with each step.
Regulus looked cheerfully at the landscape, stretching his arms and back, "Cambodia!"
"Cambodia was Plan B?" he asked in surprise.
Hermione choked in her own shock from her place in the boat. Rosier climbed out slowly, grunting, and laid on the dock. He had rowed the boat through the swamp. He complained loudly the entire way.
Regulus watched Hermione climb out of the boat, looking ashamed and nervous, "Well no, we hadn't really planned for this. Not really what we wanted but it's the only option right now."
Harry could feel his eyebrows shoot up in shock, "You two - not prepared?"
"Think of it as Plan A in Timeline C?" Rosier asked, uneasy and unsure of himself, from his position on the bamboo floor.
Harry felt sick. Those two, nervous? Caught unaware? That didn't happen.
"I told you things go sideways when I'm involved."
"And I am much too old for this shit."