A/N: So I'm combining three challenges from the HPFC forum: the House Quotes Challenge I put up but never started, the Random Quotes Challenge, and the 100 Quotes Challenge. Any quotes I wind up using are going to be in bold. I'm nuts for starting another story now, but I'll just have to write more often.
That's all he could feel for the first few minutes. Then he realized that he was lying on the ground, the weight of his body pressing against the cold stone floor. Slowly he started feeling pain. What was going on? The last thing he remembered was...
The battle! He fought to open his eyes, and when he was finally able to all he could see was blackness surrounding him. In more effort than he had ever had to exert in his life he placed his hand in front of his chest and pushed himself into a kneeling position.
Voices were sounding behind him, and with great pain he turned his head around. The old, tattered veil stood behind him, and voices were sounding from it, but he couldn't make anything out. Struggling, he stood up and looked around. Not only was the battle not waging as he remembered, but there were no signs that any battle had been fought here recently.
He slowly stood up and it slowly made his way out of the Department of Mysteries. As he traveled through the corridors he didn't see anyone. But to be safe he took his Animagus form. He stumbled to the elevators, pressed a paw to the button, and waited for one to come down. It took a few minutes for one to appear, and as it did he jumped to the shadows as two wizards rushed out, talking excitedly.
He hurried on as the grille slid shut and pressed the lobby button. The elevator moved quickly and soon the grille was sliding open again. The sight that greeted him was amazing.
"It's over!" a witch was crying in front of him as several more witches and wizards looked as though they were celebrating behind her. He slid out of the elevator and rushed along the wall towards the fireplaces out. Along the way he caught snippets of the joyous witches and wizards excited celebrations.
"...most of the Death Eaters, too..."
Harry. Where was he? Who was dead? He needed to find out what was going on. He had gone to the Ministry to save Harry. Had something happened to Harry? He had to get to Grimmauld Place. Maybe there were Order members that could explain everything to him.
To Floo he would have to change back to his human form. That could be dangerous, but he would have to risk it. People were pouring in from the other entrances, but they seemed to be avoiding the fireplaces. As there was a break in the stream of people he quickly transformed, grabbed a handful of powder, and stepped in without being noticed.
He arrived back at Grimmauld Place and was shocked by what he saw. The kitchen was in disarray, a layer of dust covered everything. As he hurried through the house, calling for Harry, he noticed that it looked as though people had torn the place apart, looking for something. The wards must have fallen. The Death Eaters must have been here, but a quick spell with his wand revealed that there was no one else there at the moment.
He couldn't control the sudden wave of tiredness that washed over him. He went into the library and cleared the couch of books that had been carelessly thrown onto the couch. He collapsed onto the faded black fabric and was out within moments. He wasn't sure how long he had been sleeping when he was woken up by a female scream.
Hermione was exhausted. She had spent the hours following the final battle explaining several times what she and Harry had been doing, even though all she wanted to do was to go into a quiet room and cry. Too many times she had looked into the face of another mother crying over the body of their child, a face that looked too worn to be jubilant over the fact that Voldemort was dead, a Death Eater survivor screaming as they were being dragged off to Azkaban to await a trial that would more than likely earn them a Kiss.
Thinking of kisses, it had been hours since she and Ron had kissed. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. They were in the midst of a battle that neither one was sure they were going to survive. They had liked each other off and on for years, and it was sort of the culmination of that attraction, but now she was confused. Their future had seemed so short-sighted before, like they would only make it until Voldemort was dead or they were. Now their future was open for them to do anything they wanted.
And yet she didn't want to do anything. Ron was with his family, mourning his brother, not wanting interaction at the moment, and she was more than happy to avoid him right now. She needed some time alone-to sleep, to think, and to make some important decisions about her future. The only thing she knew she needed to do in the upcoming weeks was go to Australia and release her parents. Maybe she'd go and have a bit of a holiday herself.
Once most of the bodies had been moved, and most of the people had gone to mourn or reflect in private she finally felt as if she could leave Hogwarts. Maybe for good.
"Professor," she finally found McGonagall in the Great Hall, carefully preparing Snape's body, which Harry had insisted be retrieved quickly and with full honors. Even though Hermione had seen him die it was still a shock to see him lying there.
"Hermione," Minerva replied with a tired smile, covering Snape carefully.
"I need to get out of here," Hermione murmured, trying not to cry.
McGonagall nodded and motioned towards the door. "How are you holding up?" she asked quietly as they made their way towards the Headmaster's office.
"I just need to rest," Hermione replied softly.
McGonagall nodded. "I think that would be best for everyone."
"Where is Harry?"
"Off with Kingsley and some more Ministry officials, retelling his story to the Aurors and helping make plans for funerals and trials and such."
"Oh," Hermione looked at the ground. Going anywhere without Harry seemed almost wrong at the moment, but she had no energy to deal with a bunch of people who had, less than a day ago, advocated for the imprisonment of all the Mudbloods.
"Where do you want to go?"
Hermione thought for a long moment. She didn't want to disturb the Weasleys, so the Burrow was out. Most of the other places would be filled with witches and wizards celebrating Voldemort's death, and they would probably want her to recall her tale yet again. She had no energy to go to her parents house and deal with the emotions that seeing the once vibrant house lay empty would no doubt stir up. "Grimmauld Place," she whispered.
"It should be empty, I'll put up some wards and I can be safe there for a while."
"I'm not so sure it'll be empty. Maybe I should go with you just to make sure."
"You don't have to, Professor. I can take care of myself."
"All the same, I'd feel better if I went with, at least until I'm sure you're safe."
Hermione, too tried to argue, just nodded, and they Flooed to Grimmauld Place. They stumbled out of the fireplace, and the moment they did McGonagall pushed Hermione behind her.
"Stay quiet!" she hissed, drawing her wand and pointing to the ground. A fresh set of footprints cut through the dust on the floor.
Hermione drew her wand as well. "Homenum Revelio," she whispered. The wand glowed and pointed towards the library.
"We should go and let the Aurors take care of it," McGonagall said, pushing Hermione back towards the fireplace.
"No," she responded firmly. "Harry would want to know who is in his house and why."
Minerva nodded and they started to follow the tracks in the dust towards the library. Outside the door there were tracks that lead in, then out, then returned. McGonagall and Hermione looked at each other, nodded, and pushed the door open. McGonagall went first, and almost immediately she gasped loudly and clutched her chest.
Hermione looked around Professor until she saw what was up. A figure was sleeping on the couch, McGonagall's wand pointed directly at it. It took Hermione a few seconds to look over the figure before...
"Sirius!" she screamed and fell to the floor.
She was lying on a bed, and someone's hand was running casually through her hair.
"Hermione?" a voice called gently.
"Sirius?" she murmured, opening her eyes. She recognized the room as the one she and Ginny had spent so much time in several summers ago. "You're dead. How can you be here?"
Sirius shrugged. "I don't know what happened. I woke up on the floor in front of the Veil yesterday."
"How long have I been asleep?"
"About fourteen hours," he smiled, running his fingers through her hair reassuringly again.
"Where's Harry?" she asked, looking around.
"Upstairs. When he heard I was back and you had fainted he rushed over. We spent about six hours talking, and now he's sleeping."
"When you saw me sleeping on the couch. You woke me up, and it was all Minerva could do to keep from fainting herself."
"What did she tell you?"
"Enough to know that you and Harry need as much rest as you can get right now."
"Actually, what I need right now is food. I'm so hungry. I haven't eaten anything decent in a long while."
Sirius smiled. "Come downstairs when you feel up to it. I'll see what I can whip up for you," he said before he walked out of the room. Slowly Hermione sat up. Her stomach growled, but she felt like taking a shower. She found some clothes that Ginny had left behind and headed towards the bathroom. She took a long, hot shower, feeling the grime of the fight being swept from her body. She stayed in until her skin couldn't take the scalding water any more. She dressed in the clothes, which were a little tight and a couple inches too short. No matter how many times she tried to pull the t-shirt over her bare stomach it wouldn't stay. Smelling eggs and bacon she abandoned her modesty and hurried back to the kitchen.
"Smells delicious," she said as she entered.
"Thank you," Sirius replied as he turned to place a heaping plate of food at the table for her. He paused as he caught sight of her, and she blushed as she noticed him checking her out briefly.
"How are you feeling, Sirius?" Hermione asked before taking a large bite of eggs.
"I'm alive, which is apparently more than you guys thought for the past couple years."
"I'm... sorry," Hermione said, looking at her plate.
"Don't worry about it. Minerva said you guys saw me fall through the Veil. I don't fault you for thinking I was dead."
"What happened when you came out of the Veil?"
"At first it was pain. Like I had gotten the shit kicked out of me. Then it was just confusion. Last thing I remembered was an all-out battle, so I was expecting it to still be going on when I woke up. Like I had come back from being Stunned or something. But I looked around and I was all alone. I walked through the Ministry, and everyone was celebrating, I didn't know it was because Voldemort was dead. I came back here because the last I knew it was Headquarters. I came here, saw no one had been around in a while, and felt the need to sack out for a while. And the next thing I knew you were waking me up screaming."
"Sorry," Hermione said, blushing.
"Again with the apologizing. You have nothing to be sorry for, Hermione. From what I hear, you've done wonderfully the past couple years."
Hermione looked down at her plate to avoid Sirius seeing the now deep-red flush across her face.
"I'd ask what you've been up to, but Harry seemed to not want to talk about it for a while, and I don't want to press the issue."
"Thank you," Hermione murmured. "It feels weird not having anything to do."
"Life is nothing without a little chaos to make it interesting," Sirius smiled at her.
"Are you kidding? I don't know how much more chaos I can handle," Hermione rolled her eyes as Sirius chuckled.
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