Title: How We Operate
Summary: Somebody always feels sorry for the black sheep. Although this year, empathy is about to meet design, and the results are going to be... interesting.
Spoilers: None, EWE (seriously, there are no references to book events in this)
Warnings: Coarse Language, Nudity, Scenes of a sexual nature
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
How We Operate
Roasts. Packs and packs of roasts. Lamb, chicken, turkey, duck, beef, pork, and the list went on. An entire aisle filled with roast ready meats, ripe for the Christmas dinner table.
Sirius shuffled to the end of the meat cabinet and turned the corner into the less populated and more sparsely stocked service case. The butcher looked up briefly from rearranging the lamb cutlets and raised a finger, signalling he would only be a moment. Seconds later his head popped up above the counter, jovial grin stretched from ear to ear.
"Yes sir, what can I get you on this fine Christmas eve?"
Sirius frowned and stuffed his hands in his pockets. "A T-bone, ta."
"Just the one?" The butcher flinched, the recipient of a rather nasty glare, and hurried to wrap up the largest steak on the tray of thick red meat. Tossing it on the scales, he forced another grin, "eight pound twenty alright for yeh?"
Sirius snatched the package from the butchers hand and tossed it into the empty basket rested in the crook of his elbow. It tipped dangerously and he reluctantly removed his hand from the pocket of his coat, instead tugging the sleeves down as low as possible to fight the chill from the refrigerated air. He shook his upper body and stretched his neck, telling himself to snap out of it. His subconscious was beginning to get frustrated with the extended period of self-pity.
Heading back down the roast-filled aisle, he caught sight of an older woman struggling with an enormous leg of lamb. Reluctant to continue wallowing in his own misery, he approached her, tapping gently on her shoulder.
"Can I help you there, ma'am? Looks like a mighty large chunk of meat for such a fair lady."
"Oh, that would be lovely, dear. So uncommon nowadays to encounter such chivalry at Tescos." The woman unsuccessfully attempted to keep hold of the five-kilogram roast, and it dropped back into the deep refrigerator. Sirius motioned for her to step aside and picked it up, depositing it safely into her rather full trolley.
"Looks like you're having quite the Christmas dinner," he chuckled, grinning genuinely for the first time in days.
"Oh, you know how it is dear; family always has to invite themselves to somebody's for the day. Seems we drew the short straw this year." Her eyes twinkled and she tossed her mid length blonde hair over her shoulder. "I'm sure my husband is cursing my inability to say no as we speak. He was rather unsuccessfully attempting to fix the wobbly leg on our dining table when I was heading out the door."
Sirius chuckled and motioned towards his own grocery, "perhaps you should take a leaf out of my book and avoid Christmas all together. Turns out I get to eat steak and not fix the wonky dining table leg."
She patted him on the shoulder. "Oh, I couldn't do that, dear. Got to think of the kids, you know," she paused, eyeing him suspiciously. "Handsome man like you, surely you have someone forcing you to partake in the festive activities."
"Black sheep," he replied, winking. "And I just got back from a rather long trip." Gesturing for her to move forwards, he fell into step beside her. "I'll follow you around and make sure you can get that enormous roast out of the trolley when you get to the checkout."
"Oh, that would be lovely, dearie. Overseas you say?"
"Something like that."
"Oh, my daughter just got back from a few years abroad, whereabouts were you?"
"A bit all over the shop, really. Not exactly the most constructive few years of my life."
"Aaah, taking some time out? Not a mid life crisis, I hope."
Sirius laughed. "No, not a mid life crisis. More of an... unintentional voyage of self discovery." He held out his hand, "I'm Harry, by the way."
The woman raised an eyebrow and smiled cheekily. "Jean."
"Lovely to meet you, Jean. Now let's get this monstrosity to the checkout."
Giggling like schoolchildren, they manoeuvred the overly laden trolley through the aisles, pointing and laughing at silly holiday themed products and observing about frazzled shoppers along the way. Sirius even found himself having fun, something he was most certainly not expecting when he trudged out of his front door into the grey slush earlier that afternoon. He even felt a small amount of guilt for lying about his name, unsure even of why he had done it, but brushed it off, putting it down to unwillingness to answer questions about the unusual name.
"So, Harry," Jean began as they inched their way closer towards the front of the queue, "No girlfriend even to drag you along to her family Christmas?"
Sirius grinned. "Nope. The object of my affections is unfortunately for me, currently also my boss, and has recently split up with her long term whoosamiwhatsit, so that's just not going to happen any time soon."
Jean chuckled. "Oh, dear. Older women are always a bit of an enigma. Younger women are always much less of a challenge, and far less likely to start bemoaning their biological clocks."
"Oh, I know," he replied as he began unloading the large trolley onto the conveyor. "But... me being me, I can't resist a challenge."
"Well, you will have to excuse my forwardness, but I'm sure my daughter can keep you entertained for the day. She's probably a bit younger than you and a rather large challenge." An eyebrow was raised and the corner of her mouth quirked.
"Aaaah, I see now. An ulterior motive!" He grinned and lifted the piece of meat that had caused the encounter in the first place from the trolley. "Although in my current state and with my lack of social life, I find myself forced to accept.
"Oh good, let me write down the address."
Hermione tipped the glass of scotch to a precarious angle, watching the prisms of light from the bevelled glass window play against the crystal and amber liquid. After a few moments of contemplation, she sighed and returned her attention to her grandmother, the more senior Mrs Granger.
"Yes, Nana. I know young people nowadays have no respect."
"Oh, they are just bothersome little shits. This one boy down the street from me drove past the other day and his car! Goodness, it made a racket. Rattled my windows it did." The old lady bristled and took another sip of her rum and coke.
"You wouldn't be talking about Alex Romney, would you, Nana?"
"Yes, of course it's Alex Romney. He's the only little shit living in my street." Hermione rolled her eyes.
"You do realise Alex is two years older than me, don't you, Nana?"
Mrs Granger raised her eyebrows over the rim of her glass. "Is he now? Oh, but you are a much nicer young lady, Hermione. Got a good job and all."
"Alex is a member of the House of Commons, Nana. That car that makes the big noise is worth about ninety thousand pounds"
"You would think that when you pay that amount of money, the blasted thing would be able to go down a street without waking the dead."
"Yes, Nana," Hermione replied, settling back into the cushions of the slightly too plush sofa. She couldn't even figure out why she was defending Alex, anyway. In her opinion, he was a sanctimonious prick, and probably deliberately set his car in the noisy sport mode just to make sure everyone knew how much money he was making.
"How is your job, anyway, dearie? Manage to find a nice executive to settle down with yet?"
"Excuse me." Hermione silently thanked Merlin for the interruption, not willing to delve into the complicated depths of her love life with her grandmother at that point in time. Rushing for the door, she waved off her mother, who was exiting the kitchen wiping her hands on her apron.
"That will be Harry, dear. Do show him through to the living room, won't you?"
"Yes, Mum." She grumbled under her breath on the way, annoyed at her mother for inviting a stranger to the family Christmas. She briefly pondered if her annoyance was because the aforementioned stranger shared a name with her best friend, and was therefore a reminder of her lack of invitation to the Burrow this year, but pushed the thought aside.
Wrenching the door open, she plastered a fake smile on her face, ready to welcome the cause of her irritation. When her eyes fell on the man, however, her jaw dropped, leaving her mouth to hang open in a rather unappealing fashion. The familiar combination of black hair, ridiculously enticing eyes and lips, and slightly bushy eyebrows were hard to mistake.
"Whoops must have the wrong house. You alright, Hermione?"
"Fine, Sirius. Whose house are you looking for?"
"Well see, I met this lovely lady-"
"Oh, for fucks sake why am I not surprised. Spare me the details and tell me her name so I can point you in the right direction."
"Jean." Hermione's eyes widened and she yanked him inside, slamming the door.
"You're Harry?" she hissed, gripping his forearm menacingly.
"Oh, Merlin. You're attractive thirty something daughter?" He pulled his arm away sharply and moved to reopen the front door. Hermione slammed her palm against the solid oak, clicking the door shut firmly and trapping him against the entryway.
"This is a date?" she growled.
"Well, your mother just mentioned that she had a daughter not much younger than me who had recently split up with her boyfriend and judging by how hot your mum is I thought-"
"Just... don't even finish that sentence," she snapped, interrupting his ramble. Snatching her hand away from the door as if it was on fire, she spun on her heel and headed back towards the living room
Sirius snapped his mouth shut and trailed after her as she stomped off down the wide entrance hall. Tugging on the lapels of his suit jacket, he gulped and let out a breath, the tentative enthusiasm he had previously been holding back making a quick retreat to the recesses of his brain. There was only one thing worse than an angry Molly Weasley, and that was a pissed off Hermione Granger.
Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire.
"What?" Her hand was resting on the doorknob, and she looked at him expectantly, slightly unruly hair falling across her eyes.
"No need to tell your mum who I really am, huh?" He grimaced and sheepishly scratched at his eyebrow.
"Whatever." The ominously flippant word rung in his ears and he gulped, forcing a smile as the door swung open, revealing a room full of what he could only assume to be Hermione's relatives, all chattering and swigging from various shaped glasses.
It was only seconds before Mrs Granger spotted him, her hands shooting up in a gesture of surprised welcome, fingers splayed and wriggling as if they longed to clamp onto his person.
"Oh, Harry, dear. How lovely to see you," she hurried across the large living room towards where he hovered, planting the excited looking appendages on his shoulders and giving him a kiss on the cheek. "I trust Hermione has introduced herself?"
"Oh, yes ma'am," he replied, outwardly grinning, but silently screaming on the inside.
"Did she tell you she has a friend called Harry? Very close they are, been friends ever since they were eleven..." She leaned towards him and nudged him in the shoulder. "Scottish boarding school, you know. Being stuck in that weather with the same people for seven years forges more lifelong friendships than you can shake a stick at."
"Is that so, Miss Granger?" He raised an eyebrow and turned to Hermione. "Which one? I, myself went to Dollar Academy, and if you attended for seven years you must have been there for preparatory as well." Hermione smiled serenely all the while shooting daggers at him with her eyes.
"Fancy that. You must be a fair bit older than me though, surely I would remember such a charming boy going to school with me." Her mouth hadn't wavered, and the icy look turned to one of contained mischief, curious as to what move he would play next.
"Oh, well by the time I left tuition was still under the fifteen thousand pound mark, so more than likely. You couldn't be more than twenty-five."
"Oh, flattery will get you nowhere, Harry. I'm sure my mother has informed you of my unfortunate situation, being thirty and single is rather scandalous in the upper middle class, you know." She shot a look at her mother, and Jean winked at her, a saucy grin playing across the corners of her mouth.
"Oh, will you look at that? Nana Granger is dipping into the brandy again; I should really go and stop that before she finishes glass number five." Mrs Granger excused herself and flitted back to the other side of the room, leaving the two warring magical beings to their battle of wills.
"I cannot believe you told my mother your family had cast you out, fishing much?" Hermione hissed, arms crossed against her chest.
"I didn't. She was struggling with that leg of lamb I can smell in the oven, and we got chatting. Next thing you know she was getting my life story out of me. And what was I supposed to do when she suggested I spend Christmas day with her family and her attractive thirty something daughter?" He leaned over and positioned his lips as close to her ear as he could without touching. "No thanks, I'm not interested in shagging your hot daughter, but dinner sounds nice?"
Hermione jerked and flapped her arms, forcing him to beat a hasty retreat. He chuckled at her reaction and picked up a bottle of lager and a glass from a small table next to the door.
"Fine, I'll play nice," she snapped. "But when Mum asks whether we have seen each other since today, which she invariably will, I'm telling her you're gay and only interested in a beard."
"So... why exactly did you split up with Ron again?" Sirius asked, smirking at her exasperated expression.
"Fuck off, Sirius." She continued scrubbing the pot that had been soaking in the sink, glaring at the dull steel as if it had burned the food to it purposefully. She was internally rehashing the surprisingly non-train wreck like preceding hours, struggling to find a moment in which she hadn't enjoyed the verbal sparring with her current dishwashing partner.
Sirius pulled out his wand and pointed it at the pot. "You know, you could jus-"
"Oh my god, we're in a Muggle house." Dropping the pot and dish brush, she ripped off her bright yellow rubber gloves and spun around. Shoving him hard in the chest and backing him up against the breakfast bar, she stood toe to toe with him, face tilted towards his in an attempt to intimidate him.
"Wow, taking the lord's name in vain, you must really have a Muggle on off switch."
"Yeah? Well I wish I could find your bloody off switch," she snapped.
Sirius waggled his eyebrows. "I can show you my on switch if you like."
Hermione made a face and turned back to the pot, which, while still partially submerged in the water, had become sparkling clean. She huffed and put her hands on her hips. Drawing herself up to her full five foot eight inches, she turned slowly, again moving to stand toe to toe with the subject of her infuriation.
"We need to have sex."
"Seriously, we need to bang. You want to, and I'm frustrated, and I need to get rid of this ridiculous..." she waved her hand between them and wrinkled her brow, "...thing we have going on."
"And you know we've been dancing around each other ever since you turned up on that stupid blasted hillside in Wales and had no idea what year it was and the stupid bloody ministry sent me to deal with you. And you really do look a bit like a Muggle film star now that you've cut that stupid fucking hair and had a decent shave, so it's not like either of us is repul-"
"I don't want to bang you."
The sound of surprise as he spun her around, knocking her back into the wall thrilled him and he pressed her against the cold tile, forcing her to wrap her legs around his waist as he slid her body up from the ground.
"Sirius, what in Merlin's name..."
"Shh. I don't want to bang you. And I'm not going to go into some pathetic spiel about how I want to make love to you either, because let's be honest..." he grimaced and made a gagging noise. "Gross."
"And the reason you have me shoved up against the kitchen wall with your cock pressing against my knickers is?"
"I would like to have sex with you in a manner that has some amount of feeling, but with no expectation of a repeat event." He paused, thinking for a moment. "Unless agreed upon by both parties."
"Maybe we should-"
"The bathroom is-"
Sirius grinned as she let her head drop back against the wall. "You know, I'm sure your old bedroom is just dow-"
"Seriously. Don't even go there." Her hands had migrated to his neck, gently caressing his chin as she absently chewed on her lip.
"You really need to stop doing that."
"Chewing on your lip. First off, it makes me really really want to see what all the fuss is about, and secondly, it actually makes it more difficult for me to achieve the single goal I am currently focusing on."
Hermione sighed and grinned, slipping her hands to the back of his neck and pulling his face down to hers. "You really do piss me off most of the time, you know?" her lips barely brushed against his as she spoke.
"Yeah, but you always send me on the crappy recon jobs."
"That's because you can't seem to figure out how to use a spell gun."
"I know how to use them, I just don't get the point..." he trailed off as her lips finally pressed into his, parted slightly and oh so wonderfully moist.
He pulled away sharply as a pair of heels clicked across the wooden floor of the dining room next door.
"So... about that childhood bedroom of yours..."
"If you're going to get all kinky on the first go you can forget it," she quipped, dropping her legs to the floor and pulling him towards the door.
"What? Upper middle class Muggle beds are so incredibly comfy."
She stopped at a door and turned, eyebrow raised. "Is that so? Man of experience are we?"
Sirius paused and sputtered for a moment, unsure if he had just blown his chance. Before he knew it, the door had been flung open and he was being pushed through, Hermione's lips again on his, legs close to tangling with hers in their haste. The door slammed shut and he found himself spun around, back hitting the door forcefully, lips, tongue wholly distracted, and taking over most of his brain function.
Unsure of his surroundings, his eyes fluttered open and he recognised the familiar surroundings of the second bathroom before drifting closed again. Angling them in the vague direction of the counter and sink, he took three steps, lifting her as he went. Eventually, he managed to drop her clumsily on the bench, hands moving from her bottom to the front of her shirt, fumbling eagerly with the buttons.
"Fuck, Sirius, just..." she gasped against his mouth, hands clamping over his and tossing them aside. He panicked for a moment, wondering briefly if his imagination had run wild with him again, but he was pleasantly surprised when she took it upon herself to tear the shirt, buttons scattering everywhere. Clutching her jaw possessively and tugging on her lower lip, he wondered if spending the day with Muggles had caused him to forget that it could be easily repaired with magic.
His thoughts trailed off; however, as she shrugged the garment from her shoulders somewhat awkwardly and reached around her back to unclasp her bra. Letting go of her lips, he smirked.
"Don't. I have a spell for that." She dropped her hands and he tugged on the cups of her bra, pushing her backwards against the mirror and trailing his lips down her clavicle, eventually coming to rest on a taught nipple. As he scraped his teeth across the taught flesh, she hissed and giggled.
"I thought you had a spell for that."
"I lied." He looked up at her and raised an eyebrow. "I like teasing women's nipples while their bras are still on, okay?"
"Also, your tits are so fucking perfect I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to come all over them later, are you okay with that?" He tugged the bra lower and stood back a bit, studying her chest intently, enjoying their perfectly formed, if not particularly large shape of her breasts. He noticed that one was slightly bigger than the other was, and decided to pay that one a little more attention.
"I am more than okay with that."
"Hmm... what?" In his determination to burn the image of her body onto his retinas, he had completely forgotten his question from moments earlier, even if it had been somewhat rhetorical.
"I said I am perfectly fine with you blowing your load all over my tits. Now are you just going to stand there, or are you planning on actually working towards this goal some time today?"
"Oh, I am definitely-"
Hermione groaned quietly. Flicking her wand, she righted her clothes, buttons and thread flying back into place in seconds.
"Just a moment."
"Oh, Hermione dear. Have you seen Harry?"
"He's in here mum, just patching up a wee cut from a broken glass." Waving her wand again, a sticking plaster snuck out from the under bench cabinet and she quickly slapped it on Sirius' finger. "Now act like it's throbbing or my mother will get all smug."
She tugged the door open and pushed him out, smiling at her mother on the way.
"Oh, Siriu- Harry, dear. Finger was it?"
"Yes, Mrs Gra-"
"Pardon me, mother?"
"Pardon what, dear?" Mrs Granger's eyes widened and she looked guilty for a moment.
"If I didn't know better, I would almost think you had nearly called Harry Sirius."
"Oh, don't be silly, dear." A small grin tugged at the corner of her mouth and she stepped into the bathroom. "Besides, I imagine you would never be caught doing unimaginable things with such an infuriating man now, would you?"
"Oh, do be quiet love, and let an old lady use the bathroom. It's not quite as easy to hold on as it used to be." Closing the door behind her, Mrs Granger disappeared from sight, but not without a parting comment. "Honestly, I was only speeding up the inevitable."
Sirius turned to Hermione, bewilderment marring his usual happy go lucky mask. "What just happened?"
"My mother just pulled the wool over my eyes. And I'm surprisingly okay with that."
"Do you want to go out for dinner tomorrow night?"
"Do you want to have me for dinner tonight?"
"Fuck it. Everyone's asleep in front of the telly anyway. Where's that bedroom we were talking about earlier?" She slapped him on the arm and rolled her eyes.
"Last door on the left."
Never would she have expected to meet anyone from the Wizarding World here in the midst of her Muggle family Christmas holiday but now that he is here, she is thoroughly intrigued. (Although I did take the liberty of changing this to irritated, hope you don't mind, Kel!)
I also added a couple of subtle hints at a couple of other prompts, but they are so minor I won't go into those here. You really need a microscope
Deathly Hallows/Epilogue: Compliant/Not to DH, Epilogue or not Epilogue compliant - Whatever floats your boat.
Preferred Rating: G-NC17 ratings – any, but a bit of smut would not go amiss.
Pairings: (List three to five Hermione pairings you would like to be gifted with) – Draco/Hermione, Sirius/Hermione, Lucius/Hermione, Harry/Hermione, Severus/Hermione
Squicks (what don't you want?): nothing too fluffy but happy endings a must, a little angst is not a problem, mary sue, Hermione's appearance suddenly changed for no apparent or plausible reason, no water sports. No pairings that are not requested above.