Disclaimer: Sadly, I don't own a thing :(
IMPORTANT: If you haven't read the extra 3,000 words I added to the end of the last chapter, not much of this will make sense, so go read it now! xD
Miss Cherry Bee
Chapter 3: A New Beginning
Harry was awoken rather abruptly the following morning by a far too cheerful Hermione Granger. She jumped on his bed in the spare room and crawled across it to lie down beside him. She was beside herself with excitement, like a child on Christmas morning.
"Harry, wake up!"
He rolled onto his front, hiding under the covers. "No… it's too early…"
She slapped his back through the covers, but he wouldn't budge, so she settled for telling him the news as he was. "The Daily Prophet came this morning, I don't think I've ever been so happy to see Rita Skita's name on the front page before!"
Harry managed to turn his head to the side, so he could see her, deciding to ignore the fact that the clock on the other side of the room read '6:30'. "What are you on about?"
"Listen: 'Auror Nymphadora Tonks and ex-Hogwarts Professor Remus Lupin (werewolf), were seen entering the Atrium of the Ministry for Magic last night with a man (unknown), and what appeared to be long-since-dead Peter Pettigrew. The man was tied up and unconscious, later placed under the fountain as the Auror shouted about his betrayal of the Potters, that Sirius Black was innocent, and that this man, once seen as a saviour for standing up to Sirius Black was a cheat, and a liar, and he should take the sole heir to the Black line's place in Azkaban prison.
Sources say that the Minister appeared in the Atrium to see the damage himself. The four were later whisked away to what we assume must be a very painful meeting on the Ministers part. Confirmation that the man is, in fact Peter Pettigrew has yet to be seen, but the Minister surely can't keep this scandal under wraps now?'" The grin that adorned her face threatened to rip it in half. "How great is that? Rita will blow this story up! There is no WAY they can hide this now! The entire Legal department will be embarrassed that such a travesty ever even happened, that the wrong man went down without a trial! Hopefully Tonks should make sure he gets questioned before they lock him up, they can't expect him to stay behind bars for long…"
"What do you mean?" Harry had closed his eyes again, slightly groggy.
"He's a valued asset to both Dumbledore and Voldemort. So long as he was out of the picture, so was Sirius, which meant that his influence over you was none-existent, and he could make sure you knew as little as he wanted you to. And he is one of Voldemorts most loyal supporters, also his only connection to Sirius' motives and your own, having known him and your father as a teenager… not to mention the fact that Sirius has been out of action for almost 15 years now."
"What has that got to do with anything?" He was having trouble staying awake.
Noticing the problem, she threw the paper onto the end of the bed and threw back the blankets, getting under the covers with him where it was warm. She flicked his hair out of his eyes with one of her fingers, causing him to open them half way. "The Black family fortune. He's the heir to it, it's legally his. But because he's a convict, he can't have it. It is frozen for 15 years, at the end of that period of time, if he doesn't claim his place as head of the Black family, his closest male relative will automatically receive it. I don't know who that is, but he has a lot of cousins, and it can't be a good thing. I think that's one of the reasons why he wanted to clear his name, other than getting you back, that is. If he's named head of the Black household, he gets all of his influence and power in the wizarding world back. The Blacks are high up in Pureblood society. The more connections he has the better chance we have of winning this fight."
"What about the Potter household name, then? It'll be 15 years since my parents died in October."
"Yes." She said. "But you're a minor. The assets are frozen until you either become of age – 17, or become emancipated. It's all very interesting, actually. You see there is a contract both you and Sirius will eventually have to sign saying that you agree to certain terms and conditions to being the head of the household. You'd immediately become –"
"Hermione…" He moaned. "It's half past 6, I'm barely taking any of this in as it is. Can we talk later?"
She leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead. "Fine. But we're getting up at 9 so that I can go shopping. It's time we got organised."
"Fine, fine…" he grumbled, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her close. "Go back to sleep."
Hermione woke up at 9am on the dot, her internal alarm clock impeccable, finding herself with her back to Harry, his arm wrapped around her waist. For once grateful that both of her parents were at work from 7am, she wiggled back into his arms, playing with his fingers.
"Harry…" she started.
"No. I don't care what time it is, or where you want to go, I'm tired, and I had a long day yesterday. I'm still trying to get my head around it." She shuddered as she felt his voice vibrating through his chest into her back.
"That's why I need to go out!" she said, lacing her fingers with his over her stomach. "Stationary things… muggles are much more organised with this kind of stuff than wizards are. I'm not writing out a million scrolls worth of information and rolling them up with ribbon to put in little pigeon holes. This stuff is getting filed away properly. If I can write down everything we know, I can start to figure out what information we need before we can-"
He slid back slightly so she landed on her back unexpectedly with a small squeak, and pinned her to the bed. "Hermione." He said firmly. "It's 9am on a Thursday. It's the summer holidays. I don't have homework or school, and I'm happy just lying here and waiting for the news that the Ministry is deeply ashamed to have to inform the public that Sirius Black is innocent, and Pettigrew is a traitor, awaiting trial. Then we can go shopping. You can get your stuff, even though I am pretty damned certain that you have a cupboard somewhere that may as well be a stationary shop. You need to be at my grandparents' house to get the information from the library, and we can't get there until Sirius is back – so… just… calm down. Relax… we'll do it later."
She scowled. "Is that your answer for everything?"
He grinned, hovering over her. "Not everything…"
"Don't be lecherous."
"I'm not being-"
She flipped him over onto his back, straddling his hips. "You know, we never really did talk about… this." She sat back, her hands on her thighs.
He took both of them in his and spread their fingers out against each other, only just realising now how much smaller her hands were than his. "Do you want to talk about it?"
She pursed her lips, eyes trained to their hands as she slid her fingers to the right so they scissored his. "I don't know. I mean… I guess I've always… liked you that way. But when we were just friends, I could safely say that I loved you and I didn't ever want you out of my life. Now that we're more than friends… it seems wrong to say that out loud anymore. It's like I can't put a word on how deeply I feel about you anymore because it's somehow different if we're romantically involved."
He smirked, closing his fingers down around hers, watching as she followed suit. "So don't. You don't have to admit to anything until you're ready, everything's going a little fast, I guess, it's hard to know when to stop… it feels like we've been together for years."
She pushed their hands down so they lay clasped either side of his head and leaned closer to him so their faces were inches apart. "Maybe we have… we've always been close… more so than friends are supposed to be. Maybe we've been dating all this time, and we just didn't notice because we weren't involved sexually?"
Harry went slightly pale. "I saw you yesterday." He admitted. "In the hallway."
Her eyes went wide, sliding her fingers out of his grip as she sat back again. "I knew it! I knew you did!" She smacked his chest. "Why didn't you say anything?"
He gave her a funny look. "Oh, and how would that have gone? 'Hermione I saw you in your underwear before, have I ever told you you have an amazing arse?' You would have hit me."
Laughing, she brought both of her hands up to cover her face. "Oh god… Of all the times you could have seen me in my underwear…"
"Hey – I've seen you in a bikini more times than I can count, and it's pretty much the same thing – though, I admit, you look sexier in see-through knickers then you do in that black bikini."
She moved one hand down from her face, slapping his chest. "Stop it."
She lifted her other hand away from her face apprehensively. "So you don't think I'm some ugly whore that walks around her house stripping off all the time?"
He snorted. "No." he pushed her hair back behind her ear. "You could never be ugly Hermione. And you can walk around the house with as little clothing as you want; I promise I won't call you a whore."
She rolled her eyes. "You're so charming." She said sarcastically.
He sat up and pushed himself back to lean against his pillows, grabbing her by the bum to pull her with him. "Have I changed your mind then? Can we stay at home today? Because there are so many things I would rather be doing before we actually have to get started on the serious stuff."
"I'm sure you would."
She rocked forward on his lap, suddenly realising that he was only in his boxers, while she was in shorts and a vest top, watching his face for his reaction. He just raised an eyebrow at her, trailing one of his fingers up the outside of her right thigh, leaving goosebumps in its wake. She gave in and slid her fingers into his hair, suddenly rather happy they had the house all to themselves until 6. She'd intended to kiss him slowly, but it didn't ever really seem to happen, their lips moving together with a kind of passion that had never entered into their relationship before now. Her heart began to pound in her chest, fingers tugging desperately at his hair as he, in turn, ran his fingers up her back beneath the pyjama top she had on.
She could feel the effect she was having on him growing between her legs, the way she was sitting back on his lap leaving something to be desired as she involuntarily ground forward into him. He broke the kiss, moving to her neck as he dropped down slightly against the pillows to get more comfortable and slid his hands under the waistband of her shorts. He pulled her forward to where she wanted to be, grinding her down into him a second time, this time eliciting a small groan from the both of them as they suddenly seemed to connect in all the right places. He grabbed the hem of her vest, waiting for a couple of seconds to see if she would protest before yanking it up over her head and throwing it unceremoniously across the room.
She managed to steal another quick kiss before his head delved down between her breasts. She pulled at his hair. "Have you done this before?" she managed, her voice sounding thick with something she couldn't quite comprehend.
She shuddered once again as he laughed and it vibrated down across her body. "I don't think you want to know." She felt his fingers ghost across her chest as he caught her lips with his again, this time pulling back as he lifted her breasts up in his hands over the thin bra she had shoved on before coming into his room earlier. "I'd be lying if I said if I hadn't noticed these had existed, but bloody hell, Hermione…" he said, letting go and looking back down at them. "You need to wear less clothes more often."
"I'll wear no clothes all day, if you stop talking and kiss me again." She gasped.
All at once she was suddenly on her back, and everything was moving so fast, his lips on her neck, a stray had unclasping her bra, her hand finding its way to Harry's stomach… and a loud indignant shriek traveling across the room as a letter fell on her head. Both of them suddenly paralyzed with shock, it took Hermione a couple of seconds to slowly remove her hand from where it had travelled and pick up the letter that was leaning against her cheek.
Hedwig hooted almost gleefully from where she had found a perch on Harrys back. Hermione stroked her plumage stiffly. "Thanks, Hedwig."
The owl hooted once again and flew off out into the rest of the house. Harry cleared his throat above her, his eyes dancing with laughter. "Is that important or can I burn it?"
Recognising the handwriting on the front of the letter, she shoved him off her, sitting up underneath him. His head dropped into her lap, flinging the blankets back slightly. He sighed. "Go on then, what is it?"
She turned it over, carefully tugging the folded parchment out of its casing. "It's from Neville and Luna. She must be staying at his grans… or perhaps the other way around, you never can be too sure with his gran… one minute she's not happy having a girl in the house, the next she's not happy with how indecent it is for him to be staying at her house…" She tried to ignore the pleasant feelings emanating from her right leg, where Harry had taken to tracing patterns with the tip of his fingers. She scanned it quickly. "They want to know how we are… Luna says that Umbridge is finally on trial for hitting Neville with a Cruciatus curse last year… at least we know she won't be coming back… The Minister is in trouble with parents and the board of governors for the school for appointing her in the first place…Neville's greenhouse is flourishing… apparently he accidentally cross-bred a couple of plants. He's not sure which yet, and he's sure it's never been recorded. Apparently they're looking through some books at her dads house to see if they can find out what it is – Neville must be at Luna's then. Erm… Oh! And they read the paper this morning. Neville's gran's been raving about how Sirius was your godfather and she knew he wasn't a bad man… I'm confused… if she's been at Neville's this morning, then how can they both be at hers now-"
"Hermione…" he started.
"Right, sorry. They want to know if you're okay, how you're dealing with the news... and they'll come through to see us as soon as they can." She folded the parchment back up and slid it into its envelope, sliding her free hand into Harrys hair. "I'd completely forgotten about those two… what are we going to tell them about Sirius? We didn't discuss this before they left! What are we supposed to do if anyone asks you if you plan to contact your godfather after he's free? What if they ask you if he's contacted you?" Visibly panicking, she jumped out of bed, realising too late that she'd been sat there that entire time topless. Embarrassed, she picked up her vest and pulled it over her head, feeling her cheeks heat up as she hastily re-arranged her bra underneath it.
Harry rolled his eyes. "Stop it." He said, before she could voice any of her concerns. "I take it I have no choice in the matter anymore, you have to do your 'thing'."
She chewed on her bottom lip nervously. "I'm sorry! I know you want… I'm just – I need to be organised. My head is too full of stuff and I'm afraid that if I don't write it down I'll forget, and it's important stuff, you know? And we need to figure out what to do with Luna and Neville, what you're going to say to Dumbledore, because he's probably going to show up soon, and then there's the fact that Sirius is sat at the Ministry, likely being questioned by now… I wonder if the Daily Prophet will send out an emergency bulletin saying he's free?" she added, becoming side-tracked.
Harry dragged himself out of bed, taking her head in his hands and kissing her soundly. "You do your thing. I'm not going to stop you. I'm going in the shower. We'll have breakfast… go into town… then whatever else it is you have in mind."
She nodded slowly, relieved. "Right… okay, that's good. I'm going to make breakfast…" She went up as if to kiss him again, only for her eyes to go wide with realisation. "And write a list of things I need to do – I need a list!" She darted off into the hall, leaving Harry stood there laughing silently at what was one of Hermione Grangers many eccentricities.
He found her in the kitchen 20 minutes later standing over the hob, two pans going at once, her pyjamas switched for a pair of denim… rather tight shorts, and a bright yellow vest. He wrapped his arms around her waist from behind, looking over her shoulder at what she was cooking.
She grinned. "Full English." She confirmed. "I get the feeling we're going to have one hell of a day. It's definitely needed."
He took a look out of the window, noticing the state of the weather. "It's raining outside…" he tugged on her yellow vest. "You are aware of this, right?"
She huffed. "It's summer. The rain can bugger off, I'm wearing summery clothes."
Harry let her go, standing back to laugh loudly. "Move to Spain, if you want a rain-free summer, Hermione."
She grumbled something under her breath that he didn't quite catch, choosing to pull two plates out of the cupboard, leaving them on the counter ready for her while he poured two glasses of what he assumed was apple and mango juice. "If your mum is going to buy fresh juice…. Then why doesn't she just buy orange juice like normal people?" he said, looking at the numerous cartons of pineapple, cranberry and apple juice at the bottom of the fridge.
"She doesn't believe in it. You know she doesn't."
"Yeah, but you like it… I like it… your dad certainly 'believes in it'." He walked into the dining room with the glasses of juice.
"He has a stash in the spare fridge out in the garage." She said idly, pulling a bowl of what he hoped was beans out of the microwave.
Diane liked to be inventive with food. Usually in the form of serving mushy peas instead of beans with a full English, and homemade pizzas with a topping of sweet corn, broccoli and peppers. It was yet to be seen whether Hermione had inherited any of her mother's culinary finesse.
She sat down opposite him at the table, sliding his plate over to him. They had just about managed to get half way through it before a wolf patronous appeared in front of them, Remus Lupins voice sounding out from it.
"Dumbledore is coming. You haven't seen Sirius. You do not want to see Sirius." Was all it said.
No sooner had it vanished than someone knocked at the door.
Hermione shot out of her seat. "I guess we know what our story is then." She said hurriedly, tugging on the shorts she was wearing regretfully as she run out into the hallway and tore the door open.
She tried to look surprised at the appearance of her Headmaster in the doorway. "Professor! What are you doing here?"
He smiled. "Just a few minor things to discus with Harry. I assume he is here?"
She stepped back. "Yes, of course, he's just in the kitchen." A woman with long blonde hair appeared behind him, following on into the house.
She winked at Hermione as she went past.
Harry lifted his eyebrows at his headmaster as he entered the Grangers kitchen, Hermione in tow. "Headmaster! What brings you here?"
Dumbledore sighed. "I assume you have seen the papers this morning? The rumours of Sirius Black being innocent… that he is your godfather?"
Harry frowned purposefully. "So it's true, then?"
Dumbledore nodded grimly, motioning behind him to a blonde woman wearing a pencil skirt and a blouse, her heels clicking across the kitchen tiles as she walked. She looked dressed for serious business. "This, is Mary MacDonald. She went to school with both Sirius, and of course your parents. She is a seer, and our newest member in the Order of the Phoenix. She was… close to Black during their school years. I have brought her here as a character witness of sorts. Has he tried to contact you at all?"
"Black?" Harry shared a brief look with Hermione. "No, sir."
He nodded once. "Well, I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to after this court hearing is over. Last I heard he had been cleared of all charges and was being sent to the registry office to sign a few forms. Pettigrew is currently under questioning, but we can't be too sure how long it will stay that way, there are Death Eaters at work within the Ministry… I wouldn't be surprised if he miraculously 'escapes' before the Dementors arrive to administer the kiss. I am here to see where you stand on the matter. He is your godfather… and if you so wish, I will not stop you from seeing him… but you must know what kind of a man he is before you make this decision. I myself, do not recommend it."
Mary leaned heavily against the counter island, shooting Hermione a brief smile before turning to Harry solemnly. "The Blacks are a dark family. Riddled with Death Eaters and worse. One of his close cousins married Lucius Malfoy, and the other is Bellatrix Lestrange… I know you've met her… I does not help, I suppose, that metal illness runs in the family, as I'm sure you've seen in the form of Bellatrix. He was unhinged before he even went to Howarts, and it only worsened as his family pushed him further and further to breaking point after he was put into Gryffindor. He loved the attention and the thrill of doing things that would otherwise harm, perhaps kill others. I know first-hand what he's capable of…" she paused. "I've known… I knew him," she corrected herself. "Right from when we were kids. Pureblood families tend to be quite dark… corrupted. They used to throw parties and dinners… that's how I met him. I fear that the years in Azkaban may have weakened his resolve… pushed him further into insanity. I don't trust him. Neither does his old friend, Remus Lupin."
Dumbledore cut in. "Considering these developments, I consider it in your best interests to stay away from him. I know it is tempting, he was friends with your father, but so was Remus, and I'm sure he can vouch for how much of a liability Black was… is."
Harry pursed his lips. It was a bit of a weak case. Even if he hadn't met Sirius the other day, he would probably have still given the man a chance. His father had seen something in him, and had clearly trusted him with his life. So why shouldn't he? But he went along with it all the same. "Remus has mentioned him before. How out of control he was… I understand."
The headmaster almost smiled, eyes twinkling dangerously behind his half-moon spectacles. "You do not wish to meet him?"
Harry shook his head slowly. "No. The last thing I need right now is to deal with another dark lunatic…" He replied, referencing Voldemort. "Is that all you came for, professor? Only I've certainly made up my mind, and Hermione wanted to go into town today…"
Dumbledore nodded once, making his way towards the door. "That will be all, yes. So long as you are sure. Though I would rather you didn't leave the house today. Just until we can be sure of where Black is heading. I wouldn't want him to surprise you while you are out and about unattended." He turned to Mary. "Are you planning to come back to headquarters until the meeting?"
She opened her mouth slowly, hesitating. "Actually… I was wondering if Harry wouldn't mind me picking his brain for a bit… seeing as he is confined to the house… I never did meet him as a baby, but Lily was such a wonderful woman… It would be nice to see how much of herself she passed on."
Dumbledore smiled widely. "Of course. I shall see you later, Mary."
There was a long silence after he left, where Hermione leaned to see out of the kitchen window, waiting for the Headmaster to apparate away before she pounced. "You're not-"
Mary held a finger to her lips, smiling. "You know what, I've just thought! My mum, she was expecting me back for lunch, and it's almost 12…" she gave an exaggerated shrug in full view of the window, 'silly me'. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to go. I'll be on duty here soon enough though, I might pop in for a chat then if that's alright. In fact… if you have a pen and paper at the ready, I could jot down my number. I have to have a muggle phone for work. If you ever need anything, or if Sirius comes knocking, I can be here like that." She snapped her fingers. "We have history; I know just how to deal with him."
She was speaking in a far to exaggerated fashion for a normal human being, with obvious arm gestures and body movements, almost purposefully in front of the window.
Hermione narrowed her eyes. "Sure." Without taking her eyes of off the unusual witch, she leaned behind her to the note pad and pen her mother kept by her work diary, handing it over.
It took the woman far longer than it should have done to write down the number, scrawling something down the page before ripping it from its pad and folding it over twice, handing it over with a big smile. "I'll see you soon."
And with that she was gone, walking down the garden path, stopping only to wave at something invisible by the far corner of the hedge surrounding the garden.
"What the hell…" Harry trailed off, looking over at Hermione with bewilderment.
But Hermione was already looking at the piece of paper that allegedly held the woman's number. She went slightly pale. Putting on a grin, she turned to harry, again, in full view of the window. "Harry!" she said, far too loudly. "We should go sit in the living room, there's a film my mum bought the other day that you would love…"
She didn't wait for him to reply, dragging him out of the kitchen and down the hall into her living room.
"Hermione, what are you –"
She whirled around and kissed him forcefully, widening her eyes at him when she pulled back in a clear 'be quiet' kind of way. He sat down on the sofa and watched as she flung the curtains around the windows looking into the pool room closed and shut the doors, putting the telly on with the volume relatively loud. Sitting down beside him, she pulled his wand out of his pocket and cast a quick silencing barrier around the sofa.
"Now, can we talk?" he said, looking annoyed. "What the hell was up with than woman?"
She rolled her eyes. "Don't you see? She's that woman, the seer, that saw foresaw Dorcas Meadows death. The one that Sirius had a fling with."
"What's that got to do with anything?"
Hermione blew her hair out of her face, looking frustrated. Holding out the piece of paper that Mary had written on, she turned it around so he could see that there was more than just a number on it. "Listen: 'Sorry, I'm pretty sure Dumbledore has had your place bugged since he found out that Sirius was getting let off this morning. Moody was put on guard outside after we came in, so I had to make sure he knew I was leaving. If the place is bugged, he's the one listening in. I have known Sirius since we were kids… and I'll admit, he is a bit unhinged… just not dangerous. He's been through a lot. Sirius came to me the night he escaped from Azkaban in 1993. He told me that he had seen Pettigrew in his animagus from in a picture of some family on holiday in Egypt in the paper. We have… history. I have believed him and looked after him when he came to me in trouble in the past. This time was no different. I'm a healer, I took him in and brought him back to full strength. After convincing Remus that he was innocent, we got to work together in finding Pettigrew… and, well, you pretty much know the rest. I was the one who sent out the anonymous message to the Ministry that he had been sighted in the Caribbean, so they would remove the Dementors from the school grounds. Remus mentioned that they were causing you problems…
Of course, Pettigrew caught on and ran off to his master… But we found him recently, hiding out in Spinners End, nearby you. I'm on your side. Sirius is coming back from the Ministry at half past 1. Ring your mum and tell her you are going to visit Luna Lovegood at her father's house. The place is so heavily warded that they will not think to send any one there to watch over you. Floo there at 1pm, and I'll meet you there. We have much to talk about. I do actually have a number if you need to contact me.' The numbers listed underneath. I need to write it down and burn the note…" said Hermione absently.
"So she's… oh, my head hurts…" he dropped his head into his hands, pushing the heel of his hands into his eyes until colours burst out behind his eyelids.
Hermione folded the letter up neatly and shoved it into her pocket. "You were right; I do have a lode of stationary type stuff in a cupboard in the other room. I'm going to go and grab a few things, start mapping stuff out so I can make sense of all of this. I'll ring my mum, and we can get going, see what's going on."
She sat up, about to move into action, when she noted the way Harrys shoulders were slumped forward, the black rings under his eyes that showed that he didn't sleep as much as she had thought last night, a weary expression on his face. She felt her resolve strengthen slightly, for him. Leaning forward, she captured his lips with hers, gently breathing some life back into him. She lent her forehead against his, closing her eyes as she raked her nails across his scalp. "I know you wanted to spend the day together, just me and you. But everything else is progressing so fast that I can't keep up with it as it is, I just don't have the time, or brain capacity to be able to shove all of that to one side and worry about me and you on top of that." She sat back and slid her other hand into his hair, pulling his head down slightly so she could kiss the top of his head.
"You stay here, watch a film for real, I'm going to get started figuring this out."
He didn't answer, choosing instead to lie down across the sofa as she vacated it, cancelling the little bubble keeping their conversation private himself. She couldn't help but feel slightly guilty as she walked away, leaving him to his own devices for an hour while she tried to pull everything together, her mind buzzing with the knowledge that had come with what had to be one of the most hectic two days of her life.
Hermione let Harry hold her loosely in his arms as they stood in the kitchen just before 1, a tote bag that would look inconspicuous to Moody if he saw it from outside sat on the counter with two files, pens, paper and various other things she thought she might need. She rested her forehead against his chest as she dialled her mother's mobile number into the house phone, knowing but not caring that her voice would be muffled as she spoke.
Only Diane didn't pick up.
"She must be busy." She murmured, leaning back to put the phone back on the counter. She sighed and raised her voice. "I'll just write her a note saying we're going to Luna's and not to expect us back until late, if at all."
Backing out of his arms, she did as she'd said, sticking the bright sticky note to her mother's diary, slinging the aforementioned bag over her shoulder, forcing a smile despite her doubt, and the worry burning away in her eyes.
Harry smiled back, reaching out for her hand as they made their way over to the fireplace in the living room.
Landing in Luna's house unannounced had become an extremely common thing as the years of friendship had progressed. Luna and Neville where known to do the same thing to Hermione's, or any of them to Neville's Grans. Only those circumstances usually involved them actually spending the day (or longer) with her. Neither of them had seen Neville or Luna since they left school for the summer holidays, and Hermione couldn't help but feel bad at the prospect of using her house as a quick stop on their way off to Merlin-knows-where with a woman they'd never met before.
Which was something else entirely. While her story had been convincing, she could very well have been lying.
It was Luna's ringing laughter that brought them outside, where they were surprised to find Neville sat unpotting plants in the back garden, while Luna weeded the patch of ground in which they were to be planted… both of them talking rather animatedly to Mary.
Hermione quickly tore her hand from Harrys, realising all too quickly that no one yet knew that they were together. "Uhm… well this is a surprise!" she laughed nervously.
Luna looked up at the pair with wide eyes. "Is it true?"
"Is what true, Luna?"
"That your godfather, Stubby Boardman, is trying to get his name cleared?"
Harry blanched; forgetting for a moment that one of Luna's old theories about the man was that he was an estranged singer by the name of Stubby Boardman. "Yes… but he really is just Sirius Black… I think, isn't he?" he looked at Mary nervously, who nodded and smiled, looking amused.
"Oh yes. Just Sirius. If you can say that about him. I don't think he's ever been 'just' anything."
Neville stood up and wiped his soil-covered hands on his jeans, walking over to draw the two into a hug. "It's good to see the two of you! Don't worry, I know you're not staying, Mary told me she needs to take you to see Sirius. And we won't tell anyone from the Order if they come knocking." He beamed at them, but all they could do was stare at him blankly.
"How do you know Mary?" asked Hermione, lowering her voice.
Neville looked confused. "She's my godmother. I've mentioned her before, haven't I? She was my mum's best mate in school; she comes to see me all the time."
Hermione's eyes glazed over for a moment as she tried to remember any instances where the woman may have been mentioned. She gasped. "So she is!" she pulled Neville into another hug. "Thank you!"
"What for?" it was his turn to be confused.
Harry shook his head. "Don't worry about it mate. We'll explain everything later. I think we have to go now."
Mary nodded behind him. "We really should. I need to explain some stuff before Sirius and Remus get back." She looked down at Luna, who had been sat uncharacteristically still throughout the entire exchange. "Are you alright?" something akin to pity washed over her face, and Hermione's heart missed a beat.
But after further inspection, Luna looked no different than usual, staring off into space with that odd glazed over look she got when she was lost in her own thoughts.
Luna started, smiling brightly. "I'm fine!" she stood up and pulled Hermione into a hug. "It's good to see the two of you!" she did the same to Harry, this time squeezing his right arm just a little too tightly with her hand before stepping back. "Good luck, Harry."
He smiled back at her; used to the out of place things she had a penchant for saying. "We'll see you later."
It wasn't until they had flooed out to Harry's grandparents' house that Mary spoke again.
"Does Luna know that she has the sight?" she asked casually, leading them into the living room.
"I… no… does she?"
Mary nodded slowly. "Yeah… I should talk to her about it. It must be hard not knowing if what she's seeing is real or not."
Hermione, completely flabbergasted at the new revelation, opened her mouth and closed it again at least twice before shaking her head and deciding to file away the information for later. "So… what exactly is it that is happening… has happened?"
Harry pulled her down beside him on one of the sofa's as Mary began the slow walk to hell that was explaining what was going on.
"Well… As I've said, Sirius and I have history. We went to school together… he came to me whenever he needed to be with someone who wouldn't judge him for what he had done. So… when the Weasleys went on holiday and he saw Pettigrew in the picture, he broke out of prison, using his animagus form, as you know, and came straight to me. I'd… already seen that he was coming to me. I gave him a chance, and he explained everything to me. It made sense, and I've never doubted him in the past. I never truly believed that he could have betrayed the Potters. The way he went on about you, Harry…" she sighed.
"So I took him in, hid him from the Ministry and brought him back to health. I snuck him into Hogwarts to contact Remus in person. Luckily, I don't know how, he had the Marauders map, and was able to see that Pettigrew was in your dormitory, with Ron. We went to apprehend him, or rather, Remus did, as he was the only one who could legitimately get into the tower, but the rat must have seen it coming, and he ran for it. Shortly after, I anonymously mailed the Ministry to tell them that Sirius was in the Caribbean, with a fake picture to prove it, in the hopes that they would remove the Dementors from the school. After the school year was done, and Remus had to resign, he gave you back the map and we all came here, knowing that it would be last place any one would look – we were hiding in plain sight.
We knew there was no way to clear Sirius' name without proof, and there was no way we could possibly give you any hope of seeing your godfather if he was still a convicted criminal, it didn't seem fair. So we worked on finding out his whereabouts. Of course, we didn't realise that he could have possibly gone back to You-Know-Who until the Triwizard Tournament… he was the one who cut your arm and administered the blood into the cauldron. Do you remember him now?" She took Harrys wide-eyed look of recognition to be a yes and nodded solemnly. "That's when the Order started up again. Remus was offered to join, and he accepted immediately in the hopes of gaining some more information on Pettigrew's whereabouts and what was going on with You-Know-Who, whereas I declined so I could stay with Sirius. It was then that all of the stuff about the Prophecy came to light and Sirius realised the possibility of Horcruxes. And then… well, you know the rest. We found him. They found you… And I enrolled in the Order of the Phoenix so I could be a part of the watch over you. Once I know when I'll be there, we can draw up a timetable of when Remus, Tonks and myself will be on duty." She took a deep breath.
"You get all of that?"
Harry nodded slowly, only now realising that Hermione had been taking notes. Resisting the urge to laugh and the absurdity of it, he looked back to Mary. "What about Sirius? How did everything go yesterday?"
"Well… I'm free, if that's what you mean." Came a voice from the door.
Mary was out of her seat in seconds, throwing her arms around the man in question. "Oh thank god! I thought they were going to throw you straight back in prison!"
Sirius snorted, hugging her back. "Like I'd let them. You were right, Pettigrew 'escaped' late last night. Luckily Remus and Tonks managed to get them to question him before locking him away for trial. AND they accidentally found out that Voldemort is back while they were questioning him. Amelia was in the room while they were doing it; she forced them to cross-reference it with some of his memories. So not only am I free, but the Minister is about to lose his job for letting that monster Umbridge onto school grounds last year, and withholding information from the public – apparently he was pushing to keep it all under wraps, and refused to believe that anything sinister was going on. He was trying to get Amelia to throw me back in prison and Pettigrew with me for 'impersonating a beloved hero'." He rolled his eyes, addressing Mary this time, warily. "I signed the papers to return the fortune back to me, by the way. I may have been disowned, but I'm the only living descendant to my mother so it's all mine now… should be a help in the long run. That is… if you're okay with it. You know what I have to do to keep the money."
Mary stepped out of his arms and smiled secretively. "I can see your future stretched out in front of you. Surely you're aware that if I wasn't, I wouldn't be here."
He grinned almost childishly as he leaned down to kiss her, only to be interrupted by Tonks as she followed Remus into the room. "Stop it, cousin, you're scaring the children."
There was a small bout of laughter before the four of them turned to stand facing Harry, looking as if Christmas had come early, and it suddenly seemed to hit Harry that this was it now, they were his life from this point forward. And Voldemort was out there waiting for him. "This is it now, isn't it?" he said.
Sirius grinned. "The beginning of everything, mate. But don't forget. I have a plan."
A/N: I thought that that was a good place to stop this =] Sorry for the delay, I got really busy with the run up to the end of the school year. Now that it's summer I can update every Monday or Sunday, once a week. AND I was better with replying to reviews this time… although I did it later than I'd thought I would… and I'm willing to overlook the incident where I replied to one twice -.- I'm also sorry for the amount of information I threw at you this chapter -.- I promise that the next one is a lot more interesting in terms of story progression and things actually happening.
Next Chapter: Sirius' plan comes into action, Harry learns a thing or two about magic, Hermione finally gets to do her 'thing' and go shopping for supplies and what Sirius has to do to keep his family's fortune kicks into action.