DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter and its respective characters belong to J.K. Rowling. This plot line, however, belongs to me.
The Prisoners of Azkaban
Of all the places in the world that Hermione wanted to be in her life, this was definitely not one of them.
"Have a seat, Miss Granger."
Hermione walked quietly to the wooden chair and sat down, her spine straight as she lowered herself uncomfortably in the not-so-accommodating seat. Her hands folded on her lap, she stared at the pert and seemingly young woman opposite the desk before her, but any Healer in St. Mungo's would have known that the youthful appearance was an elaborate and expensive façade.
"I hear your last extraction went very well," the woman stated.
Ah yes. The extraction of a deadly (and magic-laced) snake venom that had also taken her Potions professor's life. She'd been working on an antidote against if for years ever since she saw the death of Severus Snape by Lord Voldemort's living horcrux, the thick green serpent that hosted a part of Tom Riddle for so many years. Thankfully that particular snake was nothing but a severed pile of snake skin by now, but ever since she learned of its existence, she could not help but feel an extreme disinclination towards that particular species.
"I wouldn't be that forward, but yes, it was a success."
The corner of the woman's eyes crinkled in a half-smile. "You always were modest."
Modest? She'd nearly killed the victim in the process of the extraction, guaranteeing a one-way ticket to Azkaban if she had. Lucky for her, the injured man survived and nobody on her team brought up her near-fatal mistake of giving the patient a vial of Sleeping draught right before the extraction, something in normal cases would have mixed and reacted badly with the venom in the patient's system. Thank Merlin her patient had not been a normal case.
Now Hermione was filled with doubt. Had someone on her team mentioned her mistake? Was that why she was here now?
At Hermione's silence, the woman continued. "I'm assigning you to a new case, Hermione. It's an outpatient case."
Hermione felt like a ton of bricks fell atop her head. "But I'm already assigned to the treatment of the Longbottoms," Hermione protested. "Dr. Janes, I can't just leave them like every other Healer has."
"I've already reassigned them to someone else," Dr. Janes assured with a wave of her manicured hand. "Besides, I'm sure you're going to love this case. It just came in this morning."
Hermione sighed inaudibly, her heart sinking horribly. It seemed her superior was adamant about her transfer, and if she wanted the position of Chief Healer, she would have to play by the rules. However, her goal of such a position seemed more of a distant fantasy if her hyperactive mind was correct.
"What is it?" Hermione asked with a subdued tone.
Dr. Janes smiled widely, sensing her admission. "How familiar are you with Dementors?"
Hermione's eyes widened. Images of cloaked, hovering figures clouded her mind, the icy feeling of depthless despair…
"Are you serious?" Hermione said incredulously. It was confirmed then; she was being punished. Suppressing an impulse to apologize profusely and beg not to be demoted, she said instead, "Why in the world does a Healer have to go to Azkaban?"
"There're always Healers in Azkaban, darling," she admonished with a click of her tongue. "They're just not as notorious as the ones working in St. Mungo's."
Hermione was at a loss for words. Finally she managed to say, "Am I being punished?"
Dr. Janes raised an eyebrow, perceptibly shocked. "Why in the world would you need to be punished?"
I guess not. But the words had already come out, and instead of slapping her hand against her head and brushing it off, she told the truth. "About the Sleeping draught in the extraction."
The shocked mask fell of Dr. Janes's face and replaced by a relieved sigh. "Merlin's beard, Granger, you nearly had me there," she let out a small laugh and shook her head. "No, I'm not punishing you about that, and no, none of your coworkers mentioned it so you can stop making lists of who to harass after this meeting." Hermione grimaced and Dr. Janes smiled. "I'm head Medi-witch for a reason, darling. Nothing happens in this hospital without my knowledge." She paused for a moment before adding, "If he had died, though, that would be a different story."
Taking a moment to let the words sink in, Hermione responded, "So if I'm not being punished…why are you sending me to Azkaban?"
"Because you're the only witch in Britain qualified for this case," she said flatly.
Dr. Janes sifted through stack of papers on her desk and retrieved a thick manila file. Hermione reached out and took it, surprised at how hefty it was. She glanced uncertainly at the woman before taking a breath and opening it.
Her eyes met immediately with a sallow face, scraggly hair grown wildly, and bold letters written across the top of the document.
An intense flash of hatred flitted through her and she looked at her boss with masked disdain. "I don't want this case."
"Now Hermione, you don't even know what the case is," Dr. Janes reprimanded.
"I don't care. I can't be around him."
"Have you ever met him before?"
Hermione's eyes narrowed. "I don't think I'd be able to control myself if I ever did," she said coldly.
Dr. Janes's face closed and she fixed Hermione with a hard stare. "I expected a little more professionalism from you, Miss Granger. It is your duty as a medic to aid any person in need."
Hermione sobered a little, feeling a slight twinge of guilt for the immediate refusal she showed, but her feelings did not change. "Dr. Janes, you know why I would have a hard time with this, especially with who I am associated with. I just wouldn't feel right treating him without Harry's knowledge, and I don't think I could give him the treatment he needs because…"
"I understand," Dr. Janes sighed, "we all have our biases. But damn you, you're the best we've got. Nobody compares to your extensive medical skills and knowledge. You became a notorious Healer after a year out of finishing your seventh term in Hogwarts. You're a bloody genius, Granger, and I've fought tooth and nail to keep you here in Britain."
At that Hermione's eyebrows raised. "Other nations want me working in their hospitals?"
This time it was Dr. Janes who gave an incredulous laugh. "You really are modest," she said with a disbelieving smile. "Honey, the entire United Wizarding Nations wants you with them. You're a rare gem. It's time you own up to it."
Hermione bit her lip and looked down at the file. Sighing, she flipped through the pages and began to read. Her brow furrowed as she read further and further in the text.
"This doesn't make sense," Hermione shook her head. "It says he was attacked inside his cell by something other than a Dementor?"
"That's not even the beginning," said Dr. Janes. "He's started refusing meals. Wouldn't have been caught either if he'd found a sufficient way to dispose of the food before it started rotting."
Hermione wrinkled her nose at the thought. "So where do I come in this?"
Dr. Janes shrugged. "Well the first part of you job is to do your job—heal him. It's actually quite a mystery how he got banged up so bad, there're bruises and nasty gashes running down his skin. The only things in Azkaban are the Dementors, and two ministry officials who work down in the lower quarters away from the prisoners. I've never actually heard of police brutality in Azkaban; the Dementors do just fine in making them feel like utter shit."
Hermione nodded slowly. "So…what's the second part of the job?"
She pointed at the folder. "There's a lovely little description on page four."
Hermione glanced down and turned the pages until arriving on the right one. Eyes roving the parchment quickly, she found herself in shock.
" 'Examine his mental stability and discern if psychologically compromised'?" Hermione was flabbergasted. "Am I to decide whether or not he's gone loopy? Why on earth does it matter?"
"Indeed, seeing as everyone in Azkaban is mad anyway," Dr. Janes said dryly. "But this has come straight from the ministry. It's a kind of undercover deal, so it's best if you don't talk about it with anyone else. Especially not Harry," she warned, and Hermione huffed. "Your job for now is to patch him up and check on him every afternoon to see if he's got new wounds, and if it's self-harm. In more or less words, you're his personal Healer."
Dr. Janes did not catch the look of horror on Hermione's face, instead sighing and looking away in faint disgust. "Though I really am curious as to what the hell the Ministry is planning on doing with Sirius bloody Black."
The name made Hermione grimace and she looked down at the file again.
Sirius Black: the reason so many people suffered for two decades.
If not for him, Harry's parents would not have died and the course of history would have been different. He proved himself a loyal Death Eater, however, and not only killed Lily and James Potter but his best friend Peter Pettigrew in the aftermath, along with a handful of muggle civilians. It was truly disgusting, and Harry had sworn to murder him after defeating Voldemort, which he did almost two years ago. However the euphoria of killing the Dark Lord had somewhat pushed everything else from his mind, so the name of Sirius was never mentioned again. It was especially never mentioned that Sirius Black, to this day, was still Harry Potter's godfather.
"I don't see why a ministry worker can't do this," she muttered darkly. "I'm not one for undercover things. I refused the ministry offers for a reason."
Dr. Janes smiled wistfully and reached over the desk to pat Hermione's arm. "I understand, darling. But orders are orders, and it's the Ministry of Magic that funds us. Without them, we're nothing."
"Without us they'd be dead!" said Hermione angrily. "We're a damn hospital! They need us!"
"It's a two-way mirror, dear," said Dr. Janes gently. "This isn't going to take long anyway. Worst case scenario you treat him for a month. From what I hear, Sirius Black will be executed by the end of the year."
Hermione folded her arms across her chest as she walked away from the Apparition spot. The grass crunched under her skin, deadened by the intense cold and lack of sunlight. Goosebumps ran up and down her skin and she shivered, walking faster towards the massive dark tower.
A security guard met her halfway and led her to the entrance. Never in a million years did Hermione Granger think she'd ever set foot in Azkaban prison, where only the most vile and filthy witches and wizards were kept. Yet here she was, a case of medical supplies in one hand and a wand in the other, striding willingly to the foreboding tower.
They arrived at a pair of iron wrought gates, and the security guard tapped it twice with his own wand and a crystal blue light reflected against the metal. He motioned for her to step back as he opened the gates, allowing her through first.
It was then that Hermione caught her first glimpse of the Dementors; they were hovering a few hundred feet above her, circling the perimeter and even more densely around Azkaban itself. By the gates, she noticed the hooded figures stationed every twenty feet, waiting for nonexistent prey.
"You'll get used to them," said the guard in a friendly tone. Hermione smiled a little.
"Don't worry; I've had plenty of experience with Dementors before."
The guard glanced at her warily then proceeded to the entrance of the prison. The closer they got to Azkaban, the colder Hermione felt. She suddenly wished she hadn't decided to wear the pencil skirt and white sleeveless blouse, and she glanced down at the outfit with remorse. She would have to remember to dress warmer next time.
"Here we are," announced the guard. "My colleague will take you to the warden's quarters for your assignment papers."
Hermione nodded as the guard stepped up front and waved his wand, muttering a complicated spell that was not in any language she recognized, and the locks on the tall, black door began clicking into place before swinging open lightly. Hermione said her thanks then took a breath, and stepped inside.
The door closed immediately, cutting her off from the outside world and directly into an endless pit of doom. It was dark, only a few lamps glittering on far sides of the hall. Hermione stared blindly, wondering where the associate who was supposed to guide her was.
A tap on the shoulder made her jump slightly, and she whirled around and met face-to-face with a short man with tanned skin and a scar down his eye. "Gildon Herberst. A pleasure to meet you."
He extended his hand and Hermione shook it warily. "Her—"
"I know who you are," Gildon cut her off, causing Hermione to scowl. She supposed working in Azkaban for so long diminished any trace of manners.
"By all means, then, lead the way," Hermione retorted wryly. He nodded curtly and spun on his heel, leading her towards a deep passage. He paused at the entrance and reached above him to grab a nearby lantern, then reached into his back pocket and retrieved his wand. Muttering something incoherently (perhaps the same language the guard outside had spoken), he waved his wand deftly in the air and the door sprang open. He stepped in first then glanced back expectantly. Suppressing a roll of the eyes, Hermione stepped in after him.
The descent was not very long, and within a few minutes they reached a second door. This one opened immediately just by the turn of the knob, and this time Gildon swung it open for her and motioned for Hermione to step in first. Shooting a dry expression at a Gildon who was too busy watching his shoes, Hermione entered.
The vast room was well lit, much to Hermione's relief. It was nice to be able to see where she was going, and this room held no modesty or drear like any other part of Azkaban.
Centered in the room was an ancient oaken table. Sitting behind it was an even more ancient man, who currently had a smile on his face.
"Healer Granger, so good to see you," the aged man grinned, rising from his seat with surprising agility and extended his hand. Hermione shook it and took at the seat he proffered before him. "I trust your Apparition went well? No splinches?"
Hermione suppressed a look of annoyance and forced a smile. "Never splinched in my life."
The aged man raised his eyebrows, giving her an appraising look. "Quite an accomplishment. How old are you again? Eighteen? Nineteen?"
"Twenty-one, actually," said Hermione a little tersely. She was not liking this warden already, and the fake smile constantly plastered on his face made her feel suspicious and uncomfortable.
"Good lord, they give out Healer licenses at such a young age! Times have certainly chanced since my youth," the man laughed. Hermione clenched her jaw.
"My assignment?" asked Hermione in a civil tone. She had enough small talk.
He seemed to collect himself as he let out a loose laugh. "Of course! It's right here," he pulled out a drawer and retrieved a small folder, handing it to her. "History and physical from his initial imprisonment. You'll be making a new one to update his file."
Her eyebrows rose as she glanced at the papers inside. "Are you telling me that the last thing you wrote down about this man is twenty years outdated?"
The warden shrugged. "They're scum of the earth, Healer Granger. Most of them die within a year anyway." His eyes flickered to the folder. "There's also a room pass needed to enter Black's cell. It's yours to keep safe until your job is completed."
Hermione flipped a page and saw a card attached by a paperclip. "Isn't this muggle technology?"
The warden chuckled. "You'd think that, but no. There's no "swiping" of this card. Think of it as an imprint of magic needed to pass through the door."
Hermione blinked and waited for him to explain further, but he simply continued smiling.
"O-kay…" she muttered, and closed the folder before tucking it in her briefcase. She rose from her seat and said, "I'll get started, then," then headed to the door.
"Ah, Healer Granger," said the man, and Hermione paused. "You need not check in with me every morning. My schedules are very busy and I'm afraid it would affect my work too much. You can simply sign in at the floor you work on every afternoon."
As if I wanted to see you everyday, Hermione thought darkly, but merely smiled in response. "Of course, sir."
"Please," a smile spread on his own thin face. "Call me Warden."
Hermione left the room with a scowl and a deep frown. If there was any man that needed to check into the psychiatric unit in St. Mungo's, it was the warden "Warden". Who the hell calls himself Warden? Hermione scowled deepened even more. He had a name, for sure. Perhaps spending decades in Azkaban did strange things to the people working inside it. Hermione shuddered, thinking of what state of mind she might be in after a few weeks working here. So far the only normal person she'd met was the friendly guard outside with the hovering Dementors.
She only made it two feet before another escort stood waiting for her. Hermione wondered if they would be taking her to Sirius Black's cell every day, and secretly hoped they would not. Even though the place would be swarming with Dementors at every corner, she did not appreciate feeling watched every second.
The man led her to a set of stairs that seemed go on forever. After ten flights Hermione was panting, and reminded herself that she really needed to start exercising. Wiping moisture from her brow, she skidded to a halt when he paused. "Down this way, miss," said the man gruffly. Hermione walked carefully around him, seeing herself face to face with a long, dark passageway.
"Down the hall, last room to your right. Further instruction will be given there." Without any further notice he turned around and left, closing the door behind her and disappearing down the staircase.
Again with the ambiguity! Hermione strode angrily down the hall. Why was it so hard to tell her straight what to do, where to go, without all the stops and escorts? If this was Azkaban's definition of tight security, then it should definitely be revised.
She reached the furthest room on the right. It was a metal reinforced door with a small square in the center. Hermione fished out the room pass card from her briefcase and examined it closely.
This was her 'imprint of magic'? Hermione huffed, but the longer she held it in her hands the hotter the card began to be. Eyes widening in surprise, she nearly dropped it when it started glowing blue.
Hermione gasped. The bloody thing was leeching the magic right from her fingers! Blinking rapidly, she took the card and stuffed into the square in the door. Immediately the pressurized door unsealed and swung open.
She supposed it made sense; without magic there was no way to get in or out of Azkaban. Though she did not understand why the card was necessary when she could simply wave her wand and all the magic necessary would be supplied…
Hermione almost walked into the person standing in front of the opened door, and staggered back a little to prevent it. A woman with a tight bun and Healer's clothing was standing with a wide smile.
"Erm…hello," breathed Hermione, a little thrown with the wide grin the woman had on her face.
"Healer Granger! I have heard so much about you, it's really quite an honor to meet you, although I can't say I imagined it would be in a place like this," the woman said in a rush. Hermione gave a nervous smile.
The woman suddenly held out her hand. "The name's Miranda Delling, dear. I'm the Head Healer here at Azkaban."
Hermione shook her hand firmly. "Very nice to meet you," replied Hermione. She looked at her surroundings skeptically. "Is this Black's cell?"
Miranda laughed. "This? Heavens, no. This is the intermediate room where you drop off your wand and belongings. No, no; his cell is through that door." She pointed behind her to another metallic door. "He's the only one in this ward. It's an isolation room. He used to be held in a normal prison room, but as the years went by we moved him up here. Too dangerous to be with the other prisoners, considering."
Yes, considering he was still the biggest Voldemort supporter alive.
Hermione nodded, feeling a little numb at the thought of being completely alone down there. She glanced at Miranda apprehensively. "I have to give up my wand?"
"Of course. We can't have him taking it from you, can we?"
"How the hell am I supposed to heal him without a wand?" Hermione said a little angrily.
"There's a ministry wand right there. You will be able to use it but any prisoner will not."
Hermione glanced at a box on the table near the corner of the room. "You know it won't be as efficient as my own wand."
"It's what's allowed."
Hermione scowled for a moment. "Will you be accompanying me?"
Miranda shook her head. "I have my own duties, dear. I'm just here today to show you how it goes. Which I should probably start now," she turned away from Hermione to a box that was sitting on a table in the corner of the room. "Here's where you'll be putting your wand," she stated. "You'll need the card to open that as well. And over here…" she led her to a small wardrobe. "You can hang your coat and things. Also need the card."
Hermione took out her wand and stared at it wistfully. She did feel safe parting from it, but took a breath before placing her card on the box and it opened. The ministry wand was lying in there. With a heavy heart, she put her wand inside and retrieved the other one. The box sealed automatically.
"Just sign in and sign out on that sheet on the table, and you're good to go. Good luck," Miranda gave another wide grin before taking out her card and opening the door.
Hermione heard the door close with a bang, but barely noticed. Nothing but questions were running through her head.
Every second that she spent here in Azkaban, the sketchier and sketchier it was growing. What was with the cryptic answers to her questions? Why the hell had she been assigned to this case by the Ministry of Magic, and why did everyone seem to be keeping a secret from her?
Hermione did not have any answers to these questions, but one thing was certain. She did not want to be here. But the fact that she was here anyway and could not leave until her job was completed made her angry. The fact that she could not have her own wand with her when meeting a notorious murderer made her even angrier.
Hermione walked to the last door she had to open with a sigh. She held the briefcase lightly in one hand and the room pass in the other, and with a defeated stance she pressed the card in the little square slot and the door swung open.
The first thing Hermione noticed was that it was very, very dark. There were few lamps suspended on the ceiling and as she walked further inside the more her eyes adjusted to the lighting. The door closed behind her and she found herself in a large, expansive cell with jail bars running the length of the room, separating her from Sirius Black and the exit.
She shuffled a little closer, feeling a draft that made her shiver. Her eyes squinted up to see a small square window, probably fifty feet above the floor. Then her eyes settled back to the cell.
Hermione kneeled on the ground and opened her briefcase, taking out the file Warden (she snorted at the name) had given her. She skipped the preliminary papers and turned the page.
She frowned a little, noting that they opted not to use his actual name anywhere in the file. Attached to the second page was a little brass key. Hermione huffed. So much for the ministry wand.
Ripping it from the page, Hermione glanced up at the cell. She saw exactly where it would open the metal bars, but felt herself not wanting to ever do so. She could simply treat from here. On the other side of the bars.
But as Hermione flipped through the pages, her duty was reminded. Right. She had to heal him completely, and take a brand new history and physical. The papers were already supplied in the folder, so she took them out and snapped the briefcase closed.
Taking a steadying breath, Hermione pushed herself off the cold ground and walked steadily to the prison cell. She squinted her eyes, trying to make out where Sirius Black was.
Her eyes traveled to a formless lump in the corner of the large cell. Was he asleep? Hermione cleared her throat.
She was about to speak when she realized she had no idea how to start. What was she supposed to address him as? 'Mr. Black'? 'Black'? 'Traitor'?
"Number three-ninety," said Hermione in a clear voice. "I'm here for your healing."
He did not move. Hermione shifted uncomfortably. "Black?"
What was she expected to do? Hermione wanted to groan in helplessness, but knew that she had the faster she got this over with, the quicker she'd be out of here and back home, sitting with a hot mug of tea and watching a sitcom on her muggle television.
Finally tired of waiting and not giving a damn of the consequences, Hermione took foreign wand and held it up to the metal bars, disregarding the brass key in her pocket. "Alohamora."
It unlocked, a little slower than if she had her own wand, but at least it got the job done. Hermione stared anxiously at the where Sirius Black was lying. She knew she would have to get closer to him, and so with a calming breath she held her briefcase tightly and took slow steps towards him.
He made no movement. She repeated a few times, but when she was certain that he would not be attacking her, Hermione kneeled down slowly beside him. A patched blanket was covering him completely, even his face. Hermione reached out and, suppressing the urge to shift away, she pulled it off.
An involuntary gasp escaped her. What the…
Blood was matted along his hair and face, his clothes tattered and frayed more than a house elf's pillowcase shirt. He was so thin that she could probably wrap one arm around him completely.
She realized that he was not sleeping; he was unconscious.
"Merlin…" said Hermione with a little disbelief. She had not seen someone look this bad since the Second Wizarding War. She felt her mind automatically click into Healer-mode, and she cracked her fingers before holding up her wand.
She cast a simple spell to rotate him onto his back, and another to draw the blanket away from him completely. His face was covered with hair that had grown down past his shoulders, a beard obscuring the majority of his mouth. "Now that won't do," she muttered, and waved her wand again.
She checked his pulse to make sure he was actually alive, and checked his breathing. It was a little shallow but enough to indicate that he would not be heaving his last breath tonight. Hermione began clearing the dried blood from his face, then stopped. She sighed before inching closer until her knees were next to his side, and reached for the buttons of his shirt.
Pale skin was exposed as one by one she unbuttoned the tattered shirt. Finally she pulled the material to the side and saw what she had expected.
A hematoma was on his back and extended to his torso; several cuts and scars that seemed fresh crisscrossed his abdomen. He was badly bruised and a thick gash ran along his shoulder blade down to his bicep. As much as she hated the man, she never did like seeing this kind of brutality. Such unnecessary force was…such a muggle way of imprisonment.
However, according to the case itself, this was a probable self-harm case, as Azkaban officials claimed that no one had laid a finger on him. Furrowing her brow, she began the healing.
Opening her briefcase quickly, she took out a glass vial and shook it thoroughly before popping the stopper and swirling the contents lightly. Leaning over Black, she lifted his head a little and slowly poured the contents into his mouth.
He swallowed reflexively and Hermione laid his head back down. Immediately his bruises began fading until they were very faint; the hematoma was still visible but not to the gruesome extent before. Hermione took the wand again and took a nervous breath. She didn't like performing magic without her wand, but she had to seal up the wounds that were still bleeding. She muttered a spell and pointed the wand to his chest. Slowly the torn skin began patching itself up, and some scars healed completely.
Hermione worked on him for a good hour before she was satisfied. He had a few broken ribs for which she would need him to be conscious to administer. She checked his vital signs again, and checked for more internal damage. Then she went out of her way and used her wand to crop and cut his hair, then removed the offendingly long beard completely, knowing it would make taking any subsequent examinations much easier. After a quick scourgify to not only his hair but the rest of his body, she did a drying spell and was a satisfied with the cleaner and less scraggly convict.
Now it was just a matter of him waking up.
Hermione sighed heavily and leaned against the wall. After spending most of last night dreading today, Hermione had to admit that it all was very anticlimactic. She had expected a few punches thrown and Hermione having to use a body-binding charm on him to keep him at bay. Maybe even an attempt to kill her. Anything. But alas, here she was.
She decided to start writing down the physical she'd taken of him in the process of healing him. She took out a pen and began writing furiously, filling in the progress report until a good three pages were completed.
It was then that she paused. Something felt off, something she could not quite place. Her eyes narrowed as she tried to pinpoint it. It was still a bit chilly, everything seemed in place…so what was it?
She realized belatedly that the even breathing of Sirius had stopped completely.
Her eyes widened and she whirled around but was already too late. He came at her with an unparalleled speed, and within a second she was pressed roughly to against the floor with a firm hand wrapped around her throat.
"Come to get me again, have you?" he hissed.
She struggled against him, angrily beating her fists against his chest. "Get off—!" she screamed.
"Who are you?" he growled, gripping her tighter. She flailed against him and he pushed his body down on her, preventing her movement. With a last burst of energy she reached to his side where she knew his hematoma still was and struck it with all her might. He groaned and his grip loosened just a fraction, but it was enough for her to get her wand out of her pocket and send him spiraling in the air away from her. He crashed against the stony wall with a grunt and toppled atop the mass of sheets once more.
Hermione scrambled to her feet and took several steps away from him, wand pointed at him resolutely. She was panting hard when the prisoner pushed himself off the floor and stood unsteadily.
"Don't move," Hermione threatened.
"Who are you?" he hissed.
"You're bloody healer, you idiot."
He did not stray his eyes from her. "What do you want?"
He scowled. "Then why the fuck are you here?"
Hermione blinked. Why was she here? She did not know herself. Instead she replied, "I was sent to heal you, which I obviously have. Though I don't think any amount of soap or magic will make you look any better than the scum you are."
He barked out a laugh, dismissing her insult. "You were sent to heal me? How stupid do you think I am?"
"Why don't you look for yourself," she hissed through her teeth, wand still pointed at his chest.
He paused for a moment and flickered his eyes over his body. It was then that his composure dropped a notch. "Bloody hell," he breathed, smoothing his hands over his torso where he knew should have been a mass blood and bruises. He pressed his hands to his face and stared at her. "You gave me a shave?"
Hermione twitched, not bothering to respond. He glared at her then. "Well, your job is done. Feel free to leave."
"My job is not done. I have to take your history before I leave."
"What, the books in school don't teach you enough about me?"
"Oh believe me, we all know who you are," Hermione leered. "Your name is still as filthy as it was twenty years ago."
"Then my mission has been accomplished," he replied with a condescending smile.
Hermione knew her limit was reached. The anger was welling inside of her uncontrollably. Before it had been easy to deal with him because he was unconscious and she only had to heal him. Now, talking to him, arguing with him, seeing life in his cold, grey eyes, it set her teeth on edge. Every bad instance during the war and before splayed in her memory like a carousel, and before she knew it, her anger had taken over.
"You disgust me," Hermione whispered. "Sorry to disappoint you, but your precious Voldemort has been dead for four years. What will you do now? Your leader is gone, so is that why you've been starving yourself? Might as well die and join your beloved in the afterlife?"
Sirius smiled, revealing a row of yellow teeth. "Don't hold your breath on it, love."
Hermione scowled. She had enough. Pointing her wand at her briefcase, she cast an accio and her belongings flew towards her. Keeping the wand pointed at Black, she exited the cell and closed the barred door with a loud clang of metal. Shooting him one last dirty look, she pushed the room pass card against the exit door and it depressurized, swinging open. Without another look back, she left the cell and retrieved her own wand before storming down ten flights of stairs, striding onto the dead grass and Apparating away from Azkaban.
The next morning Hermione awoke with a groan.
Images of last night flashed in her head and she wanted to roll over and die in her bed. Why did she have to explode like that? She did not even get to finish the report she was supposed to have completed on the first day. Now not only would she have to go back and get the information, but she would have to perform today's examination as well.
She did not have to be at Azkaban until six o'clock, which gave her plenty of time to brood and get over her previous actions. She was only human after all, and she knew going into this case that it would be tough on her. Healing and treating the man responsible for murdering her best friend's parents? It was not something easy to digest.
And she couldn't tell Harry, or anybody for that matter. Nobody knew of her new assignment, or that she would be going to Azkaban every day. It made her feel even worse that she couldn't confide in anybody to cope with the workload.
She heard the bell to her front door ring and Hermione forced herself out of bed and down the stairs. Fighting off a yawn, she opened the door.
"Morning," Ron grinned.
Hermione groaned and closed the door.
She turned to walk to the kitchen and heard the door open behind her. "What's gotten your knickers in a twist?" said Ron with a touch of amusement.
"Everything," Hermione sighed, taking a glass from the cupboard and rinsing it lightly. "Water?"
"No thanks, I already ate," said Ron. "Actually I'm heading to the ministry right now. I think I'm up for promotion."
Hermione paused, her eyebrows raised. "That's great, Ron!" she set the glass of water down and walked over, giving him a hug. "Weren't you hoping for this for like, a year now?"
"Well, I always knew I'd get it in the end," said Ron nonchalantly, brushing it off as if it meant nothing. "But it would be loads better if the three of us were together again."
Hermione smiled wistfully. "You know how my passion is in the healing arts," replied Hermione softly. "Especially after the night in Malfoy Manor."
"I know," Ron had a grim expression on his face, as if trying to repress the memory. "How are the Longbottoms by the way? I heard you were getting pretty far in their case."
Hermione's eyes lighted. "I did. I've been researching the damage to neural pathways caused by the Cruciatus curse for months now, and I really think I've got something."
"Well that's great, Hermione!" Ron grinned. "Neville is so pleased that you took over as his parents' primary Healer."
The smile dropped from her face as she remembered that she actually wasn't their primary Healer anymore. No, she was the Healer of a murderer now.
"Alright there, Hermione?"
She blinked in surprise and gave a nervous laugh. "Of course," she grasped the glass of water and resumed drinking.
"Well, I stopped by to say Pig's out of commission since his left wing got clipped by accident, so I'm telling you in person that you cannot miss the reunion dinner tonight."
Hermione paused. "The…the reunion dinner?"
Ron nodded. "Yeah. We're all going to Three Broomsticks and meeting up with everyone. Harry, Ginny, Seamus, Neville, Dean, Luna; you know, everybody."
She blinked. "Right, right. Of course I'll be there."
"Good. Drop by around nine? Luna gets pretty tired and I don't want her to overexert herself with her due date so close."
Hermione nodded in understanding. "I promise I won't be late." Her eyes flickered to his left hand where a golden band rested. "I really am happy for you two. You're lovely together."
Ron smiled a little shyly, glancing at his feet. "Thank you." He looked up and knocked her on the shoulder. "Please tell me you dumped that creepy bloke McCormac."
Hermione had to laugh out loud at this. "Yes. Dear Merlin I have no idea why I ever looked at that man twice."
Ron raised his eyebrows knowingly. "I can think of a few reasons," he said, and Hermione pushed him and started making breakfast.
"I'll see you later tonight, then?" Ron called as he headed out the door.
"Count on it," she answered, and with that her best friend left.
Her face immediately dropped into a somber expression.
She did not sign up for this job. She was a Healer, not an undercover agent! What was the purpose behind her visiting Sirius Black every day to observe him?
After a few hours cleaning the house, she got an owl at her door with a seal from St. Mungo's. She opened the letter and read it carefully.
Miss H. Granger,
Your report from yesterday was incomplete. Do not return from duty tonight until Form B is completely finished.
Dr. Georgia Janes
All Hermione could do was curse her boss and wish she had been born a muggle so that she wouldn't have to deal with the stresses of the Wizarding world.
Six o'clock approached faster than Hermione wished for, but she was out of the house and dressed warmly this time. She quickly Apparated and found herself staring at the black gates of Azkaban with disdain.
The guard led her to the entrance again, and Hermione maneuvered her way up the ten flights of stairs by herself, much to her relief. On the tenth floor she did not find Miranda, nor any stray Dementor that would cause her problems, so she took out her room pass and pressed it against the metal door.
Putting away her wand and taking the ministry one, Hermione shrugged off her coat. Her professional wear was a bit more conservative; black dress pants and a sweater. She refused to give the convict something to remark at.
Hermione held the briefcase that she so longed to throw into a pit of fire and opened the second door leading into Black's cell.
He was awake, lounging against a wall lazily. At her arrival he smirked, but said nothing.
Hermione refused to enter his cell through the bars, so she kept that one shut and merely conjured a chair and sat down opposite his cell. "Let's keep this short," said Hermione coldly. "I ask you questions, you answer, and I'll be out of here in five minutes."
He did not respond but shifted a little in his seat on the ground. Hermione opened her briefcase and took out his file.
She looked at the list of questions the ministry provided with some skepticism. It wasn't protocol, but orders were orders. Breathing deeply through her nose, she began.
"Do you know where you are?"
He shot her a glare. "That's a 'yes'," she muttered, writing it on the paper. "Do you know why you are here?"
At this he smiled. "Because I'm good company."
Hermione was not amused. "Do you know how long you've been here?"
"Not nearly long enough."
Hermione scowled. "Would you stop being so difficult?"
"Would you stop asking mediocre questions?" he mocked.
Hermione closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. Questions were getting her nowhere. She opened her eyes and stood, putting the clipboard down and taking out the ministry's wand.
He eyed her for a moment but did not respond. She sighed. "Get up so I can examine you."
"It's part of the job as a Healer to check on my patients," said Hermione with a twinge of annoyance. "And since you refuse to answer my questions seriously we might as well get this part over with. Now get up."
"Are you afraid of me?"
Hermione blanched. "Excuse me?"
"You heard me."
Hermione scowled. "No, Black, I am not afraid of you. Now get your arse up before I force you."
"Then why aren't you in the cell today? Afraid I'll try to kill you?"
"If the shoe fits," Hermione said evenly.
Sirius raised his brows. "Muggleborn?"
Her expression closed. He smiled at her lack of response. "I could always tell, you know. They have different phrases that magic-folk don't know about."
"Well aren't you a pureblood through and through," Hermione said icily. "Is that how you tracked your victims, back in the day? Figured out they were muggleborn and murdered them?"
He stared at her for a long time, and suddenly he looked all of the twenty years he spent in Azkaban. He looked away wordlessly.
"What? Notorious Sirius Black lacks a response?" said Hermione in a mildly mocking tone.
"I don't converse with children."
Anger flared inside her. She pointed her wand and cast a levitating charm, lifting Sirius in the air. He yelped and glared at her. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" he growled as she set him hovering in front of her.
"Stop moving," Hermione ordered, walking up to the bars to inspect him closely. She moved her wand so that he rotated slightly.
"You look about right," she noted as her eyes roved over where his wounds had been. "I've got one last thing to check though."
"What are you—hey!"
Hermione twisted her wand and part of his tattered shirt moved up his torso. He protested as she inspected where the hematoma had been yesterday. It was completely gone.
Hermione smiled. Her potion-brewing skills were still flawless.
"You look absolutely terrifying right now," he said dully. "I hope you're not one of those Healers."
Hermione let out a small giggle, but cut it off short. Did she just laugh at a joke Sirius Black made?
Did she just laugh at something a murderer said?
"Merlin's beard, it's started," Hermione breathed, mentally shaking herself. She was already going crazy, and it was only day two at Azkaban prison. She released him from the charm and sank onto the chair.
"I've seen you before," he noted.
"Is that so," she said lightly, closing her eyes as she massaged her temples. She just wanted to go home, go to the reunion dinner and maybe find someone who would make her life a little more complete than it was right now, something that Harry found with Ginny and Ron found with Luna…
"You're the girl. Harry Potter's best friend. You helped defeat Voldemort."
Hermione looked up slowly and blinked. Sirius was standing near the metal bars, his eyes flashing in the dim light. "Sometimes a guard will forget his newspaper when dropping off meals. I saw them four years ago…you fought against him…you fought alongside Harry…"
"Yes," replied Hermione slowly. Her eyes narrowed. "Does that bother you?"
"No," a slow smile spread on Sirius's face. "That makes it perfect."
Hermione couldn't have seen it coming even if she had time to think. The room pass card resting atop her briefcase flew to the cell and directly in Sirius's hand, and Sirius cocked his head before looking at the card as it burst into flames. Hermione gasped and sprang to her feet, raising her wand defensively. But the wand in her hand was thrown aside, as if an invisible hand had snatched it from her fingers. Hermione watched it toss far away from her and she looked back at Sirius in shock.
Her eyes grew wide as the metal bars of the cell door swung open and he crooked his finger. She went flying in the air and directly in the cell, crashing against the stone wall similarly as Sirius had yesterday. She distantly heard the cell door slam shut and the lock clicking into place. Hermione groaned and rolled onto her back. She saw a dark frame hovering over her.
"How…how…" was all she managed to say.
"Did you really think I spent twenty years in prison twiddling my thumbs?" said Sirius with a smirk. "Wandless magic is as natural as breathing to me."
Wandless magic? Hermione tried to respond, to move, to do anything, but the pain in her head where it had slammed into the stone wall was overpowering her. Her vision faded as the image of the cell began to disappear. She vaguely saw Sirius crouch beside her and brush her hair back, and the last thought in Hermione's head was that she would not be able to make it to the reunion dinner tonight.
And there you have it. This idea came to me out of nowhere two days ago, so I spent the better part of it quickly jotting it down while it was still fresh in my mind. There's probably a load of mistakes but I'll edit it later. I'm sure any of my readers for my other Sirmione fanfiction are furious, but a good story should never be ignored!
I'd like to think that this is an original kind of plot for this pairing only because I've never come across a Sirmione that's not a time-turner or a marriage law. This plot is actually quite exciting for me, and I get to take a break from the many burdens poor Hermione has in Sands of Destiny. Don't worry though, I'll be updated my other fic by the end of the month.
Also, writing about Hermione and Sirius at their normal ages is just so, so tantalizingly seductive.
Review to tell me what you think so far! They really are helpful!