A/N: I know I already have 2 HGSB WIPs right now, but this one's just a 3-part ficlet. Inspired by Lady Antebellum's Need You Now.
I Need You Now
Part One – Lost All Control
Dancing, flickering flames licked at the edges of glossy parchment, the corners curling before being engulfed by the heat.
Another photograph fluttered into the inferno, barely touching the logs before bursting into flame. The subjects of each photograph – the same man and woman – disappeared in a puff of grey smoke.
The hand that held the stack of doomed photographs shook slightly as soft hazel eyes swept over an identical pair, just as soft, in the photograph. There was a laughter in those eyes that was absent now. With a sigh, the eyes turned their gaze to the other pair of eyes in the photo – a twinkling steel flecked with incandescent azure – and upon the viewing of those eyes the hazel started to water, the photograph floating into the fire.
A quick intake of air and accompanying sob stopped the steady destruction of heartbreaking picture-perfect memories. She dropped them as she brought her hands to her mouth to try and stifle the now-deep sobs violently wracking her body. The photographs scattered, falling softly to the floor.
As she stood somewhat unsteadily from her perch in front of the fire, Hermione Granger caught sight of a photograph she had almost forgotten about. Stooping down to pick it up, she had to smile as she watched a slightly younger version of herself run happily through a dappled grove, the setting sun giving an almost luminescent quality to her honey-brown curls. The girl in the picture – a different girl from the young woman who was now watching nostalgically – would occasionally turn, hazel eyes casting a laughing challenge to the photographer before resuming her half-hearted attempt at escape.
That day had been the start. The first photograph in a string of captured moments that had consumed her life for two years; consumed it with a fire, passion, need, and hunger just as insatiable and unstoppable as the flickering flames in front of her. And she had lost herself in it – so completely – that very first sun-drenched afternoon…
"Honestly, Sirius, stop," Hermione pleaded as she heard the click of the camera capture her image as she stood watching Harry and the Weasleys play Quidditch in the orchard.
"No can do, love. The camera adores you," the handsome animagus replied, snapping photo after photo until she glared at him.
"Aren't there more interesting specimens for you to antagonize? The garden gnomes, perhaps?" she asked, exasperated.
"They're not nearly as pretty as you, kitten," was his easy reply, followed by the click of the camera.
Hermione felt a faint blush creep up her neck, and she turned back to the game to watch her friends show off their athletic prowess in order to avoid looking at him. A few moments of appreciative silence passed before she heard the click of the camera once more.
"Sirius!" she cried, turning to glare at him again.
"Oh! Don't move, kitten. The light is absolutely perfect."
"I really wish Harry hadn't bough you that damned thing," she sighed, crossing her arms in annoyance as she waited for him to take what felt like his hundredth picture of her.
"Try and smile, love. It won't kill you."
"Leave her be, Sirius," Remus gently admonished from beside them. "You know how she hates having her photograph taken."
"Yeah," his very pregnant wife agreed. "You're lucky she hasn't run away like she normally does."
"The thought had crossed my mind," Hermione mumbled, sending a thankful smile to her two friends.
"Aha! Caught you smiling, kitten," Sirius said triumphantly, finally emerging from behind the instrument to cast the frustrated bookworm a cheeky grin.
"I swear to God, Sirius, you take one more photo of me and I will run," she warned.
"Then I'll just have to chase after you, won't I?"
Hermione couldn't help the small thrill that went through her at the idea of Sirius chasing her through the secluded apple grove to abate his unexplainable desire to memorialize her on film. While she had found it somewhat annoying, she had to admit that it was the constant attention – his artistic eye consistently watching her – that was making her more flustered than the actual picture-taking.
It gave her a false sense of hope that she even stood a chance with the sinfully-gorgeous older man.
"Right," Hermione said, looking straight at the now-aimed camera. "I'm leaving."
She turned on her heel, her heavy head of curls flipping dramatically over her shoulder as she walked into the grove, making her way back to the house. She wasn't so much annoyed with his persistence as much as in dire need of a cool down after being the sole subject of interest to possibly the sexiest man alive.
"Hermione!" a deep baritone called, and Hermione almost tripped over her own feet at the sound of his voice.
Was he really following her?
"Hermione, love, I'm sorry," he said, touching her shoulder gently to stop her movement. "It's just…well…I've never found anyone who I – the camera, that is – find so…intriguing."
An odd feeling of realization swept over Hermione, though she was unsure she dared to believe it true. The signals were definitely there – unnecessary individual attention, affectionate nicknames, slightly possessive behaviour – but she could never tell with Sirius. So she took a deep breath and turned around to face him.
"I'll let you take as many photos as you want," she whispered huskily, "If you can catch me."
She sent him a brilliant smile before taking off, praying that she hadn't just made a complete fool of herself. Her heart leapt when she heard deep laughter, the sound of heavy footsteps behind her, and the constant click of the camera.
"I don't know, kitten, I might just let you run because you're most becoming from this angle."
She turned her head to say something cheeky, but the sight of him trying to run with the camera to his face made her laugh. The camera clicked again and she turned back to her purpose.
She had barely gone five steps when a large, demanding pair of hands gripped her hips. She lost her balance, the inertia of their movement pitching them forward. Hermione felt an arm wrap around her as they tumbled, but instead of hitting the ground, she landed on top of Sirius. The camera bounced gently on the leafy earth, stopping just feet from them.
Sirius was grinning.
"I suppose you should consider yourself caught, kitten," he said, his words rolling smoothly from his lips as his eyes – those beautiful blue-steel eyes – swept over her body. She smiled, reaching out and grabbing the camera from the ground and holding it out to him.
"Snap away, Ansel Adams," she replied.
He looked at her for a minute before softly batting the camera out of her hands and leaning up, catching her lips with his as he cupped her cheek with his hand. She inhaled sharply, unsure if she had fallen down her own personal rabbit hole, her imagination conjuring the sensory Wonderland.
But as Sirius rolled on top of her, pinning her to the ground with his lean, lithe body beneath the swaying shelter of the fruit trees, Hermione knew it was too real to be a figment of her admittedly-overactive fantasy life. She could taste the faint burn of the post-lunch peppermint they had all indulged in – a treat from Harry and Ginny from their family holiday in Switzerland. She could smell the cut grass, sandalwood, and dark spice that was his unique cologne. She could hear the deep rumble of desire as he pulled away with her name on his tongue; could see the sparkle of affection in his eyes.
She could feel the smooth, hard skin as her searching fingers delved beneath leather, cotton and denim to find what she wanted.
"I rather think you're not the only one who's caught, kitten," he whispered, leaning his forehead against hers.
"What a catch," she replied before kissing him again.
They had made love in the orchard, among the leaves and the distant cry of happy, blissfully-ignorant voices. They had rejoined their friends later, most of them unaware that they had even disappeared. Only Remus and Tonks gave them both knowing looks, Remus seemingly more away of the true nature of their absence, if his warning looks to Sirius were any indication.
Hermione sighed as she gazed into the fire, the photograph still clutched in her hand. For awhile it had seemed like Remus's warning looks had been unnecessary. Sirius was devoted to Hermione, almost trailing after her from day one. Within a month, Hermione's room in Grimmauld Place had all but been abandoned. They could often be found cuddling together and talking in the living room, or reading quietly in the library. Sirius had even convinced Hermione into something of a social life, coaxing her out to drinks with the twins in Diagon Alley; dinners with Bill and Fleur, or Remus and Tonks; and once – in what she staunchly insisted was a moment of weakness – a night of dancing.
Hermione, in turn, gave Sirius a more grounded lifestyle. After actually seeing the prints he had taken of her, she suggested that Sirius pursue photography. He had the means to live several lifetimes unemployed and unproductive, but she knew him well enough to know it wouldn't have been the wisest course for him. So she subtly suggested a less potentially destructive path by encouraging his photography, which he took to swimmingly. Within the year, he was doing freelance work for the Daily Prophet and had worked with Luna Lovegood providing his talented eye to some of her less outrageous naturalist claims.
A soft tapping on the window pulled Hermione from her reverie, and she chastised herself for wandering so far down memory lane. It was all ancient history as far as she was concerned – not to be trifled with but learned from. It did no one any good living in the past.
Opening her window, a beautiful black owl swooped regally in. Hermione immediately felt her back stiffen and her muscles tense as she recognized the magnificent creature. Dowen, Sirius's owl, sat politely on the kitchen table, his leg held out for her to remove the scroll. Swallowing hard, Hermione moved forward, taking the parchment from the bird and out of habit, stroked his wing. The bird nuzzled into her palm, recognizing the mistress he hadn't seen in awhile. Stifling a sob as waves a fresh, equally painful memories started to come over her, Hermione quickly fed the owl a treat and sent him on his way.
With shaking hands she opened the parchment. The four words written in his familiar, scrawling penmanship made her exhale slowly:
"I need you now…"
Closing her eyes, Hermione dropped the parchment on the table, turned on her heel, and left the kitchen.
Hope you liked it! Thanks for reading!