Disclaimer: If I'd written Harry Potter, Ginny Weasley would've been killed by the Basilisk.

AN: Sorry for the long lapse in updates! I started my new job already and have been furiously house-hunting in LA, and it's not easy! (It doesn't help that my friends think that writing this story makes me regress into teenage mode, lol.) I'm hoping to get a new chapter out in the new few weeks though, but for now here's a short teaser from the next chapter.

Hope you enjoy, and please keep reviewing!

Thanks again to my beta, Radical, for helping edit this teaser!


The Ravenclaw Chronicles

Year Three, Part Two: Sirius Black


Leaning her cheek on the cool window of the Express, Hermione sucked contentedly on the Sugar Quill. She rarely ate sweets but when she did she went all out, eating the sweetest, most fattening candies. Hermione bit off parts of the stem while watching the soggy English countryside fly by.

"What was that all about?" asked Padma while delicately popping a Chocolate Frog into her mouth – no small feat while they wriggled about.

Pulling the quill out of her mouth, Hermione responded, "She demanded to know what my 'relationship' with Potter was. Felt like an interrogation."

Anthony looked up from a French DADA text he was perusing and smirked teasingly, "Did you tell her all about the hot hot sex you two had on French nudist beaches?"

He and Padma broke out into laughter while Hermione scowled.

"Seriously, though, Parvarti tells me that Ginny Weasley is stalker-obsessed."

"Every breath you take / Every move you make / Every step you take / I'll be watching you..." crooned Anthony dramatically, holding his hand to his chest.

"Huh?" asked Padma, confused.

"You listen to The Police?" exclaimed Hermione.

"Oh can't you see," continued Anthony, standing up and gesturing theatrically to Hermione, "You belong to me..." and pulled her close to him.

Hermione broke out in giggles, exclaiming, "That's exactly what she said!" before stepping away from Anthony and turning to Padma.

"It's a old Muggle pop song by a band named The Police. My dad loves them."

"My dad used to work as the liaison to the British Muggle government," explained Anthony. "He always had all these records and books about Muggle culture, and I got really into them when I was younger. Radiohead and Sting were some of my favorite artists."

"Well, whatever it is seems to describe Ginny Weasley perfectly," stated Padma, "She was so rude when she came in I almost didn't want to leave you in here but..."

"I can handle her," said Hermione firmly.

"There was never any doubt about that," declared Anthony before resuming his off-key rendition of Every Breath You Take. [1]

Both girls broke into another fit of laughter, until suddenly a chill ran through their bones. It was as if the cold muggy outside air had seeped into their bodies and the colors had bled from their vision, casting shadows in the compartment and in their hearts. There was an inexplicably oppressive presence that forced down their laughter and good cheer and replaced it with morose sadness and loneliness.

Wide-eyed and hearts in their throats, Padma and Hermione looked confusedly at one another. Anthony quickly took out his wand, stance defensive and eyes belying his fear, and screamed, "Dementors!"

But the shadows left just as quickly as they arrived.


Anthony sat as his window seat, eyes staring off into the distance and hand tapping the end of his quill against the desk.

The three friends were sitting at the coveted study table in the library – in the back, so extremely quiet and beyond the eyes and ears of Madam Pince; solitary, so as to avoid any chatter or distraction from other tables; framed by two windows, for a spectacular view of the Lake and Forbidden Forest; and near the DADA section, for easy access to relevant books.

He sighed, leaning back in his chair and stretching his feet out underneath the table.

"Anthony!" Hermione scolded, "Stop tapping your quill, it's distracting."

"But 'Mione – "

"Don't call me that!"

"Fine. HER-mione, are you done looking up the Patronus? I'm telling you, you have to practice it. You can't learn it from a book."

"But we have to understand the theory behind the spell before we can even think about attempting it. The correct wand movements, the intent..."

"We already know the basic hand movement, incantation and intent. The rest is fifth-year Arithmancy work," interrupted Padma, "Nothing we'll learn for two years."

"We can still read the texts on it – "

"Arithmancy is difficult, and we haven't even learned the basics of it," argued Anthony, "Can you seriously tell me that you understand what you're reading?"

"Of course I do, I – "

Padma set her hand on Hermione's arm. "It's OK if you don't," she soothed, warmly, "We're not being patronizing; we wouldn't even dream of reading that text. We're just being realistic."

Hermione closed the book, angry and defeated. "Fine, then, what do you suppose we do? Wave our wands around and hope for the best?"

Anthony scowled, "There's no need to have such a bad attitude, we're just trying to help – "

"Right, and how is this helping – "

Padma held up both her hands in a conciliatory gesture. "Ok, this is not constructive. I propose we visit Professor Lupin and ask him for extra help."

Hermione scoffed, "Like we're behind or something?"

"No," said Anthony, "Like we want to get ahead."

Hermione glared at Anthony. He raised his eyebrows in challenge. "It's perfectly logical. There were dementors on the Express and now there are some stationed near the school," he looked out over the Forbidden Forest, "and we want to defend ourselves but aren't sure how to perform it correctly. We don't need extra help, we're thinking ahead. Think of it kind of like private tutoring, if you want."

Padma agreed. "Anyone who thinks we three need help are barmy, and you know it."

"In fact we might just start a trend of students pestering Professor Lupin for help," Anthony pointed out, "So either way we should keep our visits low profile."

Hermione sank into her chair, defeated. "Oh, alright. You're right." She sighed and turned to Anthony, "I'm sorry for the unjustified snarkiness. I know you were just trying to help – it's just that Trelawney's been driving me batty."

"That's what I hear from Parvati too," added Padma. "'Vati says all Trelawney does in class is predict Potter's death."

"Yeah. It's terrible. And now she has Harry thinking that Sirius Black is after him."

"Black? The Azkaban escapee?" inquired Anthony.

Hermione nodded.

"Why would he think that...?" asked Padma.

"Well, he said that he overheard Ron Weasley's dad talking about it." She remembered her conversation with Harry earlier that month –


Hermione tapped Harry on the shoulder as they left Divination. He turned around and smiled at her.

"Hi."

"Can we talk?"

"Sure, just let me tell Ron." Harry walked over to Weasley, who'd been scowling at her behind Harry's back. After a series of increasingly angry gestures, he returned, exasperated, as the red-faced Weasley stomped away.

"Are you sure it's OK...?" she asked, looking at Weasley's retreating back.

"He'll get over it," huffed Harry. "Anyways," he said, gracing her with a rare smile, "What'd you want to talk about?"

"Oh," said Hermione, distracted by his sudden change in expression and the brilliance of his smile. "Nothing big, I just wanted to say that I'm sorry about Trewlaney and you shouldn't believe a word she says. It's absolutely ridiculous, her 'predictions'..."

Harry grimaced. "Thanks. I know she's a fake but it's just so annoying to have to listen to her all the time, talking about me dying as if – "

"It were a joke?" she finished, questioningly.

"Yeah. Yeah, exactly that."

"I'm sorry...I wish I could do more or say it'll be OK but it sucks because you have to listen to her every other day – "

"Unless I quit Divination. I know. I've seriously thought about it," he said, bitterly. "I've also seriously thought about making up a premonition about my own death so she'll just give me an O." He gave a wry smile.

"Or you could make up a premonition where she dies," joked Hermione.

They both laughed, a little awkwardly.

After a brief silence, Harry moved a little closer and whispered, "You know it wouldn't bother me so much if I didn't think that Sirius Black was after me."

"What!" screeched Hermione.

"Shhh!" insisted Harry, pulling her into an empty classroom. "Don't be so loud."

Hermione blushed. "Sorry. So, Sirius Black...?"

"Yeah. Well, I overheard Mr. Weasley talking about it, how now that Sirius escaped he'd be coming for me at Hogwarts. And then the Dementors attacked, and I think they stationed the Dementors around the school because they – the Ministry, that is – are afraid he's going to come here too."

"Well they are the creatures that guard Azkaban but if he escaped them there what makes them think that he won't get past the Dementors again?"

"I'm not sure. I don't even know who he killed or why he's after me..."

Hermione sympathetically put a hand on his shoulder. He jumped back, surprised and Hermione blushed.

"Sorry, it's just instinct I guess...it's what my parents do when I'm upset, sometimes it makes me feel better; I'm sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable though..."

"No!" yelled Harry.

She stepped back, a little offended.

"No, no that's not what I meant. I just," he paused, as if finding it difficult to continue. "It's the first time someone's wanted to comfort me like that and I'm not used to it. But," he smiled a little, "it felt good though..."

"Ok," she smiled back.

A couple seconds passed before she asked, "Well, how's your new commitment going?"

Harry flushed in shame. "Um...it's harder than I thought. Maybe because I slacked off last year but it's hard understanding some of the concepts."

"You know, you could always come to me for help," said Hermione.

Harry nodded but said nothing. After a moment, he continued, "Neville's been a great help in Herbology but Ron...doesn't really understand my new commitment to my work. He gets annoyed when I want to study instead of playing Quidditch or chess."

"Oh." Hermione wanted to be sympathetic but didn't really know what to say. "Have you tried talking to him about your mother and – "

"No!" Harry exclaimed again. He flushed, "No. I'm sorry, I don't mean to yell...it's just that I don't feel comfortable talking to him about that kind of stuff, you know?"

She patted his shoulder again, tentatively. He relaxed into her touch, smiling back at her.

"I understand," she said. "Maybe you just need to make clear to him that school is a priority for you now."

"But how?" he said, helplessly.

"Tell him?"

He answered her with a skeptical look.

"I'm not sure," she admitted, unsure of what could get through to Weasley. "But," she said firmly, looking him in the eye, "If he's a true friend, he'll understand and stick by you no matter what. Even without knowing your reasoning for your change in priorities."

"Yeah," agreed Harry.

"Yes," she affirmed, smiling. "And in the meantime, maybe I could look into Sirius Black when I have time."

"You'd do that?" he asked, incredulously. "What about all your classes...?"

"Don't worry," she said, smiling at him even as she was inwardly cringing, wondering how she had yet again got herself into a mess concerning Harry Potter. "I'll make time."


Anthony and Padma listened to her tale pensively. They both seized upon different aspects of her recollection.

"What do you mean, 'I'll make time'!" questioned Padma.

"You promised to help him, again! Don't you remember what happened last year?" demanded Anthony.

Hermione dropped her head to the desk dejectedly. Padma shook her, demanding answers.

"Oh, ok," sighed Hermione. She turned to Anthony, "I don't know what I was thinking! I know I was stupid and I know I said I'd never do it again but it...slipped out of my mouth before I realized what I was saying. He just looked so excited, I couldn't take it back!"

He looked at her disapprovingly.

"Hey! I'm not forcing you to help me and I didn't really commit to anything...He knows I'm busy and he doesn't expect anything...I'll just ask Luna to check old Quibbler issues, that worked last year and maybe you guys can ask your parents? Maybe we have a stack of old Prophets here..." Hermione would've nervously rambled on more but Padma stopped her.

"Ok, we'll both" she looked pointedly at Anthony, who grudgingly nodded, "check with our parents. You can check the Prophets on your own time. And I guess this means that we're inviting Luna to more study sessions. Now," she paused to look at Hermione straight in the eye, "tell us about making time." [2]


NOTES:

[1] I've always thought this was the ultimate stalker song. And that it described Ginny Weasley perfectly.

[2] Dun dun dun! I've been totally wanting to end a chapter on that sentence. I see the Time Turner as 'making time' in the same sense that banks 'make money.'


Spoilers for the next chapter: In which there is a campaign to save Sirius Black on legal grounds and Hermione and her friends attempt to work out the exact mechanics of and regulations surrounding Time Turners.