Title: A Passion for Portraits
Music: Flying Without Wings by Westlife feat. Christian Castro
Relationship: Sirius/Hermione
Summary: It was ridiculous, of course. But... She couldn't seem to make her heart believe the same as her head.

A Passion for Portraits
by: atruwriter

"What do you know about portraits, Hermione?"

It was more the use of her first name that drew her attention back to him. It wasn't so uncharacteristic of him to get in the way of her work; in fact, it appeared to be his favorite pastime. He was always calling out for her attention with a loud, "Granger? Did I ever tell you about...?" Why he had his portrait permanently stuck to the wall of this particular office, she would never know. She refused to admit, to herself more than anyone, that there were other rooms she could do her work in but avoided.

Looking up from her papers, she tucked a loose tendril of brown hair behind her ear and raised a brow at him questioningly. "In what way does my knowledge of portraits relate to women or alcohol?" she wondered.

He smirked, letting out a small chuckle. "In no way..."

Her eyes narrowed. "Then why are you asking?" She shook her head, leaning back in her seat. "For nearly a year now the only time you interrupt me is to either regale me with another poor attempt at humor involving your many female companions or a bottle of firewhiskey and the rest of your chaotic friends."

He grinned reminiscently. "Thought it was time to change the pace a little. Now... will you answer the question or must I believe you have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever?"

She huffed at the very implication. "I know quite a lot, thank you. In order for the person inside the portrait to take on the many characteristics and mannerisms as those whom they're made after, some part of the photographed must be ingrained inside. Hair is the usual but back in the early 1400's they were quite interested in the powder of ground teeth that they would then place inside the paint to be used." Her eyes flashed with vast knowledge. "Most wizards and witches nowadays cut a lock of their children's hair and put it off to the side for a later date, like when its time for their portrait to be made. And then those hairs are sewn right into the very canvas used." She scrunched her nose then. "Rather morbid if you ask me."

He simply stared at her from his easy slump in the chair that accompanied him inside his portrait. The black dress shirt he wore was unbuttoned to his navel, leaving the tails of his shirt to hang over his sides as he lounged. The top few buttons too had been undone and if she paid it any mind, she'd notice the tattoos he bore from prison and beforehand. But, of course, she was far too busy to be gawking at the man in front of her, no matter how attractive he might be...

"Right... The very essence of a person, trapped inside a portrait..." He stared at her searchingly, something strange in those eyes of his. "Quite a bit of magic that..."

"Mmm," she agreed absently, her eyes falling back to her work. "Is that all then?"

He grinned at her. "Well... Actually, I just thought of something else."

Lifting her eyes back to him, she waited.

With a slow smirk, he leaned forward as if to share a secret. "It was 1977 and there was a redhead on my arm with a body you wouldn't..."

She sighed, shaking her head.

...

"Shouldn't you be sleeping?" his voice whispered across the room to her, as if he didn't want to wake the other portraits.

Looking up from her book, she peered through the darkness to search for him.

There was some shuffling and shushing coming from the pictures that seemed to be closer and closer and then, suddenly, he was above the fireplace, looking down at her.

"Shouldn't you?" she asked, lifting a brow.

"Seems more like habit than something I really need to do." He shrugged carelessly. "What're you reading?"

Looking down, she furrowed her brow at her book and then raised her eyes back to his. "Er, nothing important."

He grinned. "Ah... one of those books, eh? Didn't see you as one of those types."

"Those types?" She pursed her lips.

He simply laughed at her annoyance. "It's a romance. Probably some strikingly handsome man sweeps a damsel in distress off her feet... A little jealousy, some fiery denials and then mind-blowing shagging..." He shrugged, smirking to himself.

Snapping her book shut, she shook her head. "Of course not. Why would I muddle my brain with that rot?"

He perched his head on his hand and stared at her. "You tell me..."

Sighing, she shook her head. "It's a romance but she's no damsel in distress..."

"No?"

"Of course not." She lifted her chin defiantly. "She's cunning and smart and very innovative given what's going on. And Roland is-"

"Roland?" he interrupted, his tone obviously amused.

"Yes..." she said snappishly. "You know, it means royalty-"

"Go on," he said, waving his hand so she wouldn't begin ranting.

"Anyways... Roland and Joanna are entrenched in this awful war where..."

He listened patiently, not something she usually connected with him. And even more astonishing, he somehow convinced her to read the book to him. So, with a warm quilt wrapped around her legs and the fire crackling before her, she leaned against the couch and read the book aloud to him. He didn't fall asleep, didn't make fun of her and only interrupted to put in his personal thoughts on the happenings or the characters, which she didn't really mind because it led to a debate over certain people's actions or reactions or the plot itself. By the end, the sun was rising, painting the floor with its light and she was yawning after every few words.

"Time to sleep, love..." he told her gently.

Rubbing her eyes, she sighed. "I have work in..." She glared at the clock as if hoping somehow that might turn it back a few hours.

Chuckling, Sirius shook his head. "Unless you plan on napping on those papers, I think you're fit for a day off."

"Oh but... I can't just..." Sliding onto her side and drawing the blanket around her a little more, Hermione closed her eyes and shook her head. "I'll just rest until Harry gets up and then... Then some tea will wake me up... Yes, and then... Then off to work I... I go..." Yawning, she drifted away, falling deep into her dreams where her own personal Roland whisked her away, looking much like a dapper Sirius in her mind's-eye.

...

There was something in what he said that wouldn't stop bothering her. Pacing back and forth across the Black library, she tried to figure out just what was meant behind those vague words of his. He wasn't one for tossing unusual thoughts around unless he had a much deeper process going on. So why then did he want to know the inner-workings of portraits? What purpose did it hold?

Sirius Black's portrait had been delivered to Grimmauld place about a year earlier and had immediately been placed where he asked; stuck to the wall across from her desk, where she did all of her work and brainstorming. Harry hadn't argued over the placement, saying only that it was where Sirius wanted to be and so it was where he would be. Why he'd ever want to return to Grimmauld place and not somewhere better, she had no idea. But then perhaps it had more to do with the people inside the home that housed so many retched memories for the man. She never asked, though it did constantly come up in her mind. He was a man who took his secrets deeply and only shared them when he felt the need. If he didn't want to tell her then she would have to accept that. Grudgingly.

The first day she laid eyes on the portrait, she'd nearly spilled her tea all over herself. This wasn't the Sirius Black she remembered. Gone were the rotted teeth and scraggly hair. Even the beard had been shaven and replaced with a much younger and charming face that much resembled the stories of the young Black that had stolen so many a witch's heart. But that smirk of his was the same and the way he leaned back in his seat on only two legs and sprawled so regal without even meaning to; it was all the older man she'd known. And his usual manner had returned full-force despite the lack of a corporeal body to back him up. He was quick to tell her she spent too much time in her office, working and thinking. And he was always encouraging her to live a little and let her hair down. But she simply wrinkled her nose at the thought. She had her way and he had his and she was certain neither of them should do the opposite. Although, he could do with a little more common sense, in her opinion. Though seeing as he was a portrait, it was a little later for that now.

The boys had their lives; Harry with Ginny and Ron with Luna. They had their friends and their young adult lives to live, but Hermione didn't feel as though she fit in with the twosomes. She was almost always single when she arrived for their usual Friday night bash at the pub and it only made her feel awkward when they thought to get her a nice gentlemen to play the blind-date part. Too often however, he was either far too boring or entirely too touchy. And so Hermione did what she did best; learned and worked. Or at least, if it wasn't what she did best it was what she knew.

But in the past year or so, she had spent more time in the company of Sirius Black's portrait than she had any of her friends and she wasn't quite sure what to make of that. It was probably ridiculous that she had grown an odd sense of friendship with him. That when she had a bad day, her first place to go to was the office, if only because she knew he'd listen. Or that when she had a good day, he was the first face to come to mind, wondering how he might react to her news. Yes, unusual that... How she confided in him so trustingly.

"What's wrong, pet?" he'd ask her, in a tone that was entirely too warm.

And she'd forget that he was merely a copy of the man she once knew and let it all out in one long breath that left her feeling empty and alone. And then he'd puff up her spirits with some ridiculous story that either had her ranting about rules or clutching her aching sides from laughter and whatever plagued her mind would be long forgotten. However, that proved to be a large problem. It simply wasn't right. She should not be relying on the company of an inanimate object to occupy her time and friendship. She knew plenty of alive and real people that she was sure she could go to if she really needed to and really, it wasn't as if Sirius would be lonely without her. Bored, perhaps, but it was a manufactured boredom if she really thought about it.

The problem was though, she couldn't seem to talk herself into leaving him alone for much longer than a few hours or so. She'd go out, eat, see her friends, maybe get in some grocery shopping, but by the end of the night... She missed him. Missed that smirk or his barking laughter or even just the way he leeringly winked at her to get her attention off her work.

Ridiculous, of course. But... She couldn't seem to make her heart believe the same as her head.

...

"What are you doing?"

"I'm writing. What does it look like I'm doing?" She sighed, shaking her head as she pressed the quill harder against the parchment, not even bothering to care that any more pressure and she was bound to tear it.

"I'm not sure that constitutes as writing, love," he mused. "Looks more like purposeless torture against a defenseless roll of parchment."

With a heavy exhalation, she threw her head back and leaned against her chair, lifting her hands up and covering her face with them. "What is wrong with me?" she mumbled, far too incoherent for him to understand.

"Of all the languages I can speak, I'm fairly certain that isn't one..."

She rolled her eyes behind her fingers and let them fall. "Can I have a moment, please?"

"To do what with? Wallow in self pity?" He pursed his lips rather mockingly. "No, I'd rather we skip that part."

Shaking her head, she learned forward. "Am I not allowed to feel sorry for myself every once in awhile?" she wondered, annoyed.

"Sure, if you have good reason." He shrugged, flicking black hair out of his eyes lazily. "But you don't."

Her eyes widened, offended. "Excuse me?"

He smiled slowly, knowingly. "You have a whole world to explore and do with what you want and instead you spend it all in here... My company is consuming, I know, but... You can't use it as your excuse."

Chewing her lip, she turned her eyes away. "I've done plenty of exploring, thank you."

"Running for your life and chasing after Horcruxes' to save the bloody world does not count as exploring... It's just trying to get by." He waved his hands around. "Which is what you're doing here, just sitting around with your books and your stacks of paperwork that don't need to be written in such elaborate detail." He snorted. "You think anybody reads those?"

Stiffening her shoulders, she glared at him. "Of course they do. Not everybody is as immature as some people..."

Rolling his eyes, he sighed. "Right, here we go again... I'm immature and have no direction in life."

Clenching her jaw, she stood up from her desk, hauling her many books and parchment into her arms. "Well that's just it, isn't it? You're not alive at all, meaning you can't waste away your life like I'm sure you would've liked to."

Glaring, he sat up a little. "Well if I were alive, I can guarantee you that I wouldn't be wasting it anymore than you are!"

She huffed. "Right, of course, because doing the world a service must have absolutely no good bearing at all! It must be boring and pointless and a complete waste of time!"

"I never said that! Obviously you've done good for the world." He clapped rather mockingly. "So what good have you done yourself?"

Her brow furrowed. "What do you mean by that?"

He tipped his head, looking at her as though she was a complete dunderhead. "I mean how much of your life has to be spent on others? When do you get some time for yourself?"

Her eyes fell a fraction. "I... I have plenty of time I just..."

"You just spend it on others, again, always..." He shook his head, his hair falling elegantly across his face once more. "A waste."

Feeling the build-up of tears behind her eyes and unwilling to let him see them, she bit her lip and fled the room, leaving her inkwell and a trail of parchment behind her. However, it hadn't escaped her attention that like all other portraits, he could leap from one to another. And with a sigh, he began calling after her and chasing her through the house, hopping over other portraits and whatever they might be doing. She heard him step in Lady Demurtia's Christmas pudding as he hopped across a table and he managed to kick Sir Westmore Black's terrier as he went by, nearly tripping over the leash in the process. And finally, he came to a stop at the last portrait before the door.

"I'm only looking out for you, pet," he told her, his voice much more concerned now.

"Well you needn't have, I'm doing quite fine on my own, Mr. Black and I don't need your assistance," she spat angrily, hurrying out the door and slamming it behind her.

Tears falling, she hurried down the sidewalk with no idea where she was going.

...

It was nearly a week later before she decided to show her face inside Grimmauld, finally convincing herself that it was utter rot that she was worried over seeinga portrait of someone. She stepped inside with her shoulders stiff and her chin lifted, taking the stairs with a purpose before she stepped inside her office, refusing to glance at the portrait as if she hadn't even remembered it was there. She stopped at her desk, searched around for her inkwell and then began looking for the papers she'd left behind when she was last there.

There was a clearing of a throat that she ignored and immediately she got back down to work, further ignoring the attention-seeking noise he was making.

"Oh come on... You can't ignore me forever."

"I can try," she replied primly.

He sighed. "I'll warn you now I can be a right annoying git when I need to be..."

"I already knew that."

Without looking, she knew he was rolling his eyes.

"So I said a few things and you said a few things... Doesn't mean we can get past it."

Her quill stilled and with a small sigh, she finally lifted her head. "What is there to get past, Sirius?" She shook her head. "You're a portrait and I've been silly to have taken what you've said to heart. You... I..." She bit her lip, turning her eyes away. "This is my life; it's the one I've chosen and I've been quite content. And... You'll just have to accept that."

He stared back at her; his expression clouded and finally turned his head away, a brooding expression crossing his handsome face.

Softly, she told him, "If you're really unhappy with that... I can always see if Harry might un-stick you and place you elsewhere."

He turned back toward her rapidly. "You'd... You'd get rid of me? Just like that?"

Blinking hastily, knowing that she'd dearly miss his intrusive behavior whenever she needed peace and quiet, she simply nodded. "If it's for the best, then we'll just have to cope, won't we?"

"Right... For the best..."

He didn't speak to her for the rest of the day and while work was more than finished, she couldn't help but want to stay in hopes of hearing just one more of his silly stories.

...

When he finally did begin speaking to her again, she almost sighed with relief just from hearing that warm voice again.

"Have you ever talked to a medi-witch about this lack of sleeping? It could be a serious condition, you know."

Whirling her head around she found Sirius inside a portrait of Lady Cromwill; an old witch that often ran off to Mr. Wendall's portrait to flirt. He looked out of place amongst the flowery tea set and pristine white furniture he lounged in.

Crawling out from beneath her covers, she turned to sit in the center of her bed, facing him. "I don't have a sleeping disorder," she replied, primly. "I just have a lot on my mind."

He lifted a brow. "Does it ever stop? The thinking, I mean..." His eyes narrowed. "Have you ever been so passionate about something that thought evades you...? That you're just caught up in that one moment and nothing else can taint it or draw you away?"

She swallowed tightly. His voice evoked feelings inside her, of want and desire; for him or the things he spoke of, she dare not wonder. "I... I've been passionate about many things." Her eyes fell away.

He smiled. "Not for others... I don't mean Elfish welfare or the war or making sure everything is in alphabetical and chronological order..." He winked when her cheeks burned with a blush. "There has to be something or... or someone that's made your true passion come out..." He leaned forward and she told herself that it was silly to hope he could come right out of his frame and sit next to her or in front of her.

She shook her head. "Life is not made of fantasy and passion, it's... It's made of order and living a proper life means you must... sacrifice certain desires..."

He cocked a brow, unconvinced. "Truly living life means you shouldn't have to sacrifice anything you deserve... Desire and passion are what drive us... And you may have passion for some things, but what you really need is to find that inner fire of yours and just... Let it loose!"

With a sigh, she frowned. "And just whom should I let it loose on?"

He laughed lightly. "Well who gets your knickers twisted up? Who drives you up the wall so much that you just want to knock them to the ground and ravish them entirely?" His eyes flashed. "Who would you willingly toss your books and papers aside for just for a moment, a glimpse, of what they might be able to give you and show you and bring to life inside of you?" He smiled genuinely, staring searchingly into her eyes. "Is there anybody you'd throw order away for?"

She wished she could tell him, even just to whisper her answer, but... She couldn't. And so, she simply tugged at her nightdress and looked up at him with a vague smile. "Some of us just weren't meant for passion, Sirius. And if I've grown to accept that, maybe you should too." Crawling away from the center of her bed, she drew up her blankets and crawled beneath.

She dimmed the lights with a little wandless magic and closed her eyes, hoping it might stop the sting of tears that begged escape. Biting hard on her lip, she wished sleep would come soon and she could forget all about the silly fantasies he'd just renewed her heart with.

Not to be so easily dismissed, he whispered, "I won't give up on you just yet, pet."

She couldn't help the tiny smile that broke through.

...

"Sirius has been asking about you," Harry said, appearing rather suddenly in her work office.

Lifting her head, she squinted at him. "Has he?" Shifting in her seat, she turned her gaze back down to her papers. "I've been busy."

"So busy that you never return home to do all these stacks of paper?" he wondered, lifting a concerned brow.

"Somebody needs to fill out the right papers, Harry," she defended, huffing to herself.

He crossed his arms, peering at her rather wonderingly. "Isn't home at least a little more comfortable than here though? Ron says he hasn't seen you for days..."

"Posh, I just saw him the other..." Her brow furrowed. "Well it couldn't have been that long..."

Pulling up a chair, Harry sat down in front of her desk. "Look, I know you and Sirius are having some issues..."

"Issues?" she exclaimed. "What issues could I have with a portrait?"

He stared at her, unconvinced. "Hermione... I spend lots of time at Hogwarts, just chatting with Dumbledore..."

She blew out a breath of irritation and returned her eyes to her work. "It's not the same, Harry..."

"Why? Give me one good reason why running away to work and sleeping at your desk here could be any more comfortable than being at home in your cozy office with a friend overlooking your shoulder." He sounded so insistent and some part of her really did want to tell him, to explain it, but she had a feeling he really wouldn't get it.

"Never mind, all right? I'll be home tomorrow. I just... I just needed some quiet, okay?" She smiled lightly. "And you must admit, if Sirius had it his way, there'd be no such thing as silence."

Harry offered a half-grin, nodding agreeably. "All right... But if I don't see you by tomorrow, I'll haul you back myself." Standing up, he winked at her playfully before apparating home.

Sighing, Hermione sat back in her chair and closed her eyes, wondering over her bad luck with men.

...

It struck her late at night; she'd been nearly asleep and her eyes were clouded when they suddenly shot open and it all fell together in a sleepy haze of brilliance. Tossing away her blanket, she leapt from her bed and barely noticed the chill of the hardwood beneath her bare feet before she was rushing toward her bookshelf and drawing down book after book, throwing them to her bed. She muttered a hasty Lumos and the room lit up for her to peruse for what she needed. She spent hours on end, reading and searching and finding what she desperately needed. It was with hesitant hope that she threw all of herself into this new possibility before her.

By four in the morning, she had it; the answer to all of her agonized worries.

...

Harry's engagement party was in less than an hour and Hermione had already gone through three different outfits, certain they were all hideous. Her hair was thrown up and off her face but she was still sure that the second she let it loose, the brown bush would suffocate her without pause.

Finally, she drew on a simple black dress, left her face free of make-up and untied her hair, letting it fall down her back and hoping that for once, it might actually stay in place. She dragged a brush through it and let out a prayer for the best before turning to see herself in the mirror.

"Smashing," she heard from behind her and she didn't have to turn to know who it was. It wasn't rare for him to hop portrait to portrait, following her around the house. And more than once she'd found him front and center in her bedroom as she dressed. But any scathing chastisement she gave was only met with, "I'm only a portrait, right? So what's it matter?" And she couldn't really fight him on that.

With a quirk of her lips, she replied, "You lie but I appreciate it nonetheless."

With a grin, he shook his head. "Learn to take a compliment, love."

"I take them quite well, thank you. When you're honest."

He cocked a brow. "What makes you so sure I don't think you're absolutely entrancing?"

Turning, she looked up at the portrait before her where a far too charming and good-looking Sirius Black stared back at her. His eyes were the grey she remembered, but not nearly as jaded or dark. His skin was tanned a warm brown and his smile was as crooked and heart-melting as ever. He looked younger in his portrait than she'd ever known him to be and she wondered if when this was all over, he would look the same or perhaps as she had once remembered. It should've worried her that no matter what he looked like, her feelings wouldn't change, but she couldn't muster the thought.

"You're doing it again," he murmured, lifting a black brow.

"Doing what?"

"Thinking too much." He grinned. "One of these days... I'm going to find a way to preoccupy that incredible mind of yours until you're immersed in nothing but bliss." His voice was husky as he whispered his vow, his eyes darkening as they stared into her with the same intense stare a real set of eyes might.

"Good luck," she told him.

He smirked, something in the subtle twist of his lips made her body quiver on the inside, showing only a slight shiver outwardly.

"Is my date ready then?"

With a quirk of her brow, she replied, "Is my engagement present?"

He bowed his head and with one last prayer to Merlin, Hermione Granger tossed her salvation at the portrait before her. A pink liquid coated the entire portrait and let out a brilliant glow of yellow that she had to shield her eyes from. There was a tearing sound and then the thud of the frame falling from the wall and hitting the floor. Her heart beat quick and loud in her ears and all she could do was hope that she hadn't just completely ruined the one piece of Sirius they all had left.

She could see through her closed lids that the light had dimmed and no longer were there any sounds to be heard. She refused to open her eyes, however, worried about what she might see. But then... a finger, touching her cheek and she let out a heavy breath of relief, opening her eyes to see none other than a corporeal Sirius Black before her, just as dashing as he'd been in the portrait. Only this time... she could touch him.

He grinned at her, proud and excited and let out a loud bark of happy laughter before gathering her up in his arms. "You did it, pet! You really did it!"

She nearly cried, wrapping her arms tight around his neck and burying her face against his shoulder. He even smelled delicious.

"I knew it." He sighed thankfully. "I knew you could..."

"It should be impossible," she muttered, shaking her head. "I was sure that it wouldn't work! I... History, books, the past, everything says it shouldn't, but..."

She could feel him grinning against her hair. "The elixir of life..." he murmured, lips brushing her ear. "So easy, my dear. And so brilliantly complicated all the same. Only you could've succeeded."

"Do you know what this means?" she asked, leaning away from him to look directly into his eyes. "Do you know what could happen from all this? If there's a portrait out there of Voldemort or-"

He cut her off with the warm consuming embrace of his lips, his tongue delving forth to tangle with hers. And really, she could do nothing to stop him. His long fingers buried in her hair, gripping so tight she could barely move her head. Not that she could even fathom breaking away from him then. His nose bumped hers and stole the exhalation escaping her nostrils as he inhaled deeply and took the very thoughts from her mind. His lips, so smooth and warm against her own; they slanted and cradled and met hers with such vigor and passion that she felt her knees weaken. But his arm around her waist, tight, strong, consuming, held her in the air. She was plastered to him, her breasts flattened against his chest, her hips tight against his own. And when he finally pulled apart, the both of them panting, she was almost certain that it was too much like a heavenly dream to be real. She almost didn't open her eyes, afraid she might wake in her bed.

But his voice, deep and familiar and a passionate growl that had his breath skittering over her lips, met her ears, and she knew it was real. "I don't care. I... If nobody has to know, we won't tell them. I don't have to be Sirius. I don't look like the man they remember. We'll only tell a few, yeah? We'll... We'll keep it all to ourselves after that... It'll be our little secret." He cupped her cheek, his thumb stroking back and forth as he gazed into her eyes. "I can be anybody you want me to be."

Sniffling, she stared up at him with a wavering smile. "I can't imagine wanting anyone else but you... Sirius."

With an arrogant grin, he winked at her. "Well you have me now, Granger... Whatever will you do with me?"

Raising a brow, she replied in a husky tone, "After introductions are made..." She leaned up, lips brushing his earlobe as she whispered, "I'll explain in great detail every last thing I'd like to do to you... It's not nice seducing a woman when she has no way of reciprocating."

His hand slid up her spine, fingers splayed out against her back, drawing her in tight. "Going to teach me a lesson then, love?"

Nibbling his earlobe, she drew back and grinned. "Mm... One you'll never forget."

The doorbell suddenly rang and Hermione was brought back to her senses then. "Seems the party's about to start then..."

Sirius nodded, still gazing at her. "You should get Harry so he's not too surprised and then we'll shock the crowd with your astonishingly handsome boyfriend..."

With an indelicate snort, Hermione broke away. "I see bringing you back to life did nothing to ease your arrogance."

Smirking, he shook his head. "If anything, I think my head's actually ballooned a little."

She nodded; a teasing smile, tugging at her lips. "Yes, from this angle, I believe I can see what you're talking about."

Laughing, he waved her away. "Go, wench, get my godson..."

"Wench?" She lifted her brows. "You'll pay for that later."

"Lucky me."

Rolling her eyes, she left toward the door before coming to a sudden stop and turning toward him. "Is this why you were put in my office? Because you'd hoped I'd figure it out?"

Fixing his tie, Sirius looked over at her. "I was put in that office because when I was first asked where I'd like my portrait, it had to be in my family home... And the only place I felt safe was there... When you look out the window, you can see the Muggle village much better and as a child I used to imagine I lived there... That I'd never been born a Black at all..." He smiled. "Finding you in there was simply a bonus... And falling for you... Well that's just good luck on both our parts I think."

Hands on her hips, she replied, "And just what makes you think I love you, Sirius Black?"

He grinned. "Deny it if you must... But I'll get a confession out of you tonight, I can promise you that." He stared at her with dark, seductive eyes. "I always knew there was a fiery passion inside you... You needed just the right man to bring it out."

With a slight shiver, she lifted her nose as if to deny him and left the room, letting her grin show as she heard his laughter fill the room behind her.

They had a rocky road ahead of them. There would be suspicion and questions and people would wonder. And perhaps one day, fooling with just such a powerful magic might come back to haunt them. But for now, she had the man and not the memory and she would leave worrying for later. Because, truly, she was in love with him and he her. So whatever came of it, good or bad, she would just have to face. Sirius was right. It was time for Hermione to live life and now she had just the right person to do so with.