A/N: Two snaps up for those of you who spotted Hannibal from the A-Team's signature line.
On a completely different note…has anyone ever noticed that poor Sirius' initials are S.O.B.? Did his mother hate him from birth, or what? Or was it some sort of vindictive comment from his dad, about his mum? One wonders…
Point of Clarification: Hermione Sees possible and probable futures. Often she can gain a sense of the probability of a possible future. For those of you that thought I was making up Arithmantic formulae, probability vectors are a real thing in "muggle maths", and it seemed like a helpful way to explain how a Seer's abilities work. So not all probable futures are going to happen. Every choice Hermione makes is for a reason and most of those reasons are fueled by what she Sees. I hope that makes sense to all of you.
Further Point of Clarification: Occasionally, the things that Hermione Sees, or the things she's read about in Gloswinda's journal have frightened her so badly that she's had nightmares about them. Her dreams are NOT visions. I've tried to show that visions are specific events. Dreams on the other hand, usually represent our dreams, hopes, fears—the secret hidden things that we have a hard time acknowledging and/or the things we are stressing/obsessing over.
She had come back to Hogwarts for the Tri-Wizard Cup to cheer on her goddaughter, and for no other reason. Really, it had been extremely difficult for her to even come to Scotland, but living in France for the last fifteen years had made them quite close and Fleur was like another daughter to her. She was staying in Hogsmeade so that she could come to every event. So far, she hadn't run into…anyone, and she truly hoped her luck continued. She hurried toward the stands to find a place when she heard a chorus of voices.
She turned and was tackled by her children and Fleur. Cassiopée and Cephée were too young to enter the competition, but they had come as part of the Beauxbatons contingent anyway. They were dying to see their mother's alma mater and they desperately wanted to be near to hand if Fleur needed them. She laughed and hugged all three of them, listening and nodding to the rapid fire French that all three children were using to try and talk over one another. She did not notice the surprised and shocked faces on several wizards who had been standing and talking near the stands. One of them had to blink his hazel eyes rapidly to get rid of the gathering moisture. His sandy haired friend gripped his arm and he shook his head slightly. They both turned to a dark haired, grey eyed man.
"Did you know they would be here?" James asked in a strained voice. Regulus shook his head.
"No, but I should have guessed. She loves Fleur like she was her own. They would feel like they had to be here, despite the risks," Regulus muttered. Remus looked worried.
"Does he know they're here?" He said finally. The others shook their heads, and Regulus listened with half an ear to his niece and nephew chattering in French.
"And then, this arrogant blond boy told me that I was 'passably' pretty, and he might be willing to let me warm his bed! Can you imagine? I wanted to punch him in the nose, Maman!"
"Which arrogant blond boy?" Cephée asked darkly. "Is it that one? I'll go punch him right now."
"Cephée Alphard Delenoir! You will do no such thing! You will show me where Beauxbatons is sitting and you will be a perfect gentleman, or I will send you home tonight. Do we understand one another?" Hermione's voice was chillingly cold, and the handsome boy hung his head sheepishly.
"Oui, Maman," he muttered obediently. Hermione's gaze narrowed sharply on him.
"You go, Fleur, we'll be watching you," Hermione urged her goddaughter. Fleur took one last tight hug and one last kiss on the cheek and then she was hurrying toward the champion's tent.
"It's right this way, Maman," Cephée carefully led his mother toward Beauxbatons' section in the stands, where Hermione sat delicately, and crossed her ankles.
In their excitemtent, they did not notice the group of people that they had moved past to get to their current seats, nor did she see the look of shock on their faces. One in particular looked particularly tormented when two miniatures of himself—one female and one male—moved with an unconscious grace passed him, their beautiful faces turned up to their mother with devotion and adoration there for anyone to see.
"Maman," whispered Cassiopée a few minutes later. Hermione turned to her daughter with a smile of love and affection that was touching to those who were watching the small family.
"Oui, chou-chou?" She asked gently.
"That man is staring at us," Cassiopée whispered from behind her hand. Hermione cast her eyes over her shoulder and spotted the man her daughter was pointing out to her, who was indeed staring at them with burning eyes. She paled dramatically and turned back toward the event. "Do you know him, Maman?"
"I suppose you could say that," Hermione whispered through numb lips. Cephée looked up at his mother sharply.
"It's him, isn't it?" He asked darkly. He turned and glared viciously at the man who was staring at them and then turned resolutely away. He put his arm around his mother's shoulders which were shaking just slightly. "It's okay, Maman. He's not coming anywhere near you."
"Cephée, my little lion-heart, you need not worry about what will never happen," she said with a slight catch in her voice.
"Hermione?" She stiffened under her son's arm and he turned to glare at the red-headed woman who stood uncertainly behind them.
"Please leave us alone," the boy said stiffly, his French accent slight.
The teenage boy's grey eyes were stormy, and to Lily Potter, he looked just as Sirius had in his fourth year. The girl who was frowning at Lily fiercely looked like a feminine version of Sirius, though her delicate face had a lot of her mother in the shape of her jaw and her small nose. They both looked willing to protect and defend their mother like fierce little warriors. Lily swallowed heavily, her heart breaking in her chest yet again. That this was what they were reduced to caused her more pain than she'd ever admitted to James. If only Sirius hadn't been so impetuous, or if only she had known what was going on and had been able to stop them in time. Some days her life seemed consumed by 'if only'.
"I…I'm sorry, Hermione. For everything," Lily said softly, not trusting her voice to speak any louder than that. Then she turned and went to sit with her son and husband. Hermione blinked rapidly and Cephée's arm tightened about his mother for a moment.
The event began, and the tiny Delenoir family focused its attention on Fleur. Hermione could feel their eyes on her, but she ignored them for the most part. She jumped to her feet, her hands to her mouth when she thought that Fleur had been burned by the dragon, and then shouted encouragement in French, forgetting that her goddaughter couldn't hear her. The other group watched her with a sort of longing fascination, one with a burning hunger, as she interacted with her children and shouted at both her goddaughter and the dragon. When the event was over, they hurried out of the stands and flew to Fleur.
"Marraine, marraine! Did you see?" Fleur was proud of her work. Hermione gave a low throaty chuckle and hugged her goddaughter to her.
"I saw! You did well, ma petite Fleur. I am very proud of you," Hermione said with a grin.
"You were incredible, Fleur!" Cassiopée was shrieking excitedly, jumping up and down.
"Cephée, what is wrong?" Fleur asked with a worried frown. He scowled darkly.
"He's here," he said flatly. Fleur's eyes widened and she turned to her godmother with a determined look on her face.
"If he comes near you, he shall deal with all of us," Fleur said flatly. Hermione shook her head.
"Don't worry, he won't," Hermione said with a sad finality.
He was watching them covertly. He'd been reduced to spying, but he couldn't help himself. He'd told her that he never wanted to have anything to do with her again. Then, spurred by his own impetuous nature and his righteous anger…he'd made the biggest mistake of his life. Later, he'd found out the truth and he'd been almost mad with grief at everything he'd thrown away. He'd been utterly inconsolable…and it had been far too late. She'd disappeared and never returned. He'd known she was pregnant. She had sworn that the child was his, that there had never been another man, ever, and he had laughed in her face. His heart twisted in his chest as he watched his son and his daughter talk to their…what? He heard them call her cousine, but the Potters had no family in France. Ah, she called H—her—marraine, so she was a goddaughter.
"Uncle Padfoot?" Harry came to stand near his uncle who turned to him and gave him a sad, bitter smile. He glanced at the small group that was speaking to Fleur Delacour, the Beauxbatons champion, and frowned thoughtfully. "That's her, isn't it?"
"Yes," Sirius said quietly.
"And those are your kids? My cousins?" Harry asked curiously. Sirius nodded again. "What are their names?"
"I don't know," Sirius said sadly. He turned and walked toward James and Lily. Harry looked after his uncle and then turned resolutely toward the aunt he'd never met.
"Aunt Hermione?" Harry called uncertainly. The woman turned and she looked a lot like him…like his dad. Her face tightened and pain rippled across her features.
"Hello, Harry," she said softly in English. He started slightly. She knew his name! He remembered his Dad saying that his sister 'knew things', but he hadn't realized what that meant.
"I've never met you before," he stumbled along uncertainly, "and I thought maybe I ought to."
"Perhaps you felt it wasn't right? That you hadn't met me, I mean?" Hermione asked dryly, one eyebrow raised. He blushed.
"Maybe," he muttered. Hermione nodded.
"A lot of things happened, Harry, that cannot be smoothed over or forgotten. Some things, once done, are irreversible. There are choices that stay with a person forever," Hermione explained carefully, her eyes seemingly bottomless pools. He stared at them for a moment, and felt as though he were teetering on an abyss before he mentally pulled himself back. Harry frowned, but he nodded.
"Yes, ma'am," he said softly. He looked at his cousins. "I don't know them, either. That seems sort of sad."
"It is very, very sad," Hermione agreed. "This is…you would say Cepheus and this is his twin sister Cassiopeia."
"Just like you and Dad?" Harry asked curiously. His parents didn't talk about his Aunt Hermione when he was around because it always made his Dad upset. Once, they didn't know he was eavesdropping, and it was the one time he'd seen his Dad cry. Hermione's face tightened again.
"Yes. Just like Jamie and I," she managed to choke out.
"Hullo," the twins said sullenly, their grey eyes watching this cousin of theirs most carefully.
"You both go to Beauxbatons?" Harry asked curiously. His pretty cousin tossed her long black hair over her shoulder.
"Of course," she said coolly, eyeing him up and down. His other cousin, the handsome boy who looked like old pictures of Uncle Padfoot was hovering protectively near his mother. "We attend with our cousins, Fleur and Gabrielle."
"Well, um, it was nice to meet you all," Harry said uncertainly. Hermione nodded.
"It was nice to meet you, Harry," she said with a fragile, sad air.
Hermione awoke gasping in her bed, tears streaming down her cheeks. She reached out, her hands searching, and she realized that she was in her own room. She crawled out of her bed and ran down the hall to Sirius' room. He'd woken as soon as he heard the door creak slightly and he already had his arms open and waiting for her. He cuddled her against his bare chest, stroking her back and pressing light kisses into her hair.
"Bad dreams, kitten?" He asked her softly.
"Awful," she whispered, shuddering against him. Sirius frowned slightly. Hermione refused to talk about a lot of the dreams. Sometimes she would just cling to him and sob.
"Tell me?" He asked quietly. She was still shuddering and her arms tightened around his neck.
"I…you…," she started crying and it was as though she was trying to burrow inside of him.
"Did I die?" He asked uncertainly. She shook her head.
"No," she gasped out. "You thought that I…that I…you repudiated me."
Repudiation was a very old magical ritual that was unheard of in this day and age. There was no such thing as divorce among the pureblood families—once they married, they were bound for life. However, if one were desperate enough, one could perform the ritual of repudiation. Such a thing was rarely undertaken because the magic involved was great and it was just as magically binding as the marriage bond. Sirius went cold even at the thought of performing that ritual with Hermione in mind.
"I was wrong though, wasn't I?" He asked quietly. He knew that Hermione just wasn't capable of doing any of the things that had historically been grounds for repudiation. He could feel her nod, her sobs broken, heartrending.
"You had two children, twins like Jamie and me, and you didn't even know their names," she whispered into his chest. Sirius swallowed hard and blinked rapidly.
"What had you named them?" He asked in a suspiciously husky voice.
"Cassiopeia Dorea and Cepheus Alphard," she whispered. His arms tightened around her and she could feel his hot tears falling on her shoulder. She looked up at him in surprise.
"I repudiated you and you still named them using the Black family customs?" Sirius said softly in an awe-tinged voice.
"I love you, Sirius Orion Black," she said simply.
He kissed her passionately, his hands stroking down her back. She kissed him back, putting her whole heart and soul into it. He tried to concentrate this time, he could feel his magic, and he tried to wrap Hermione in it to protect and cushion her. She sighed into his mouth and her hands slid into his hair holding him tightly to her. Their magic flared and meshed together, the way it usually did, and the soft feather light touch of Sirius' magic brushed against her skin.
"Are you purring?" Sirius asked curiously. Hermione pulled black from him, but his arms wouldn't allow her to move too far away from him.
"No," she denied quickly. He chuckled, and she could feel it reverberate in his chest. She shivered slightly.
"You were," he teased her, nuzzling her neck and nipping the tender skin there.
"No marks," Hermione reminded him. "We have a betrothal party in just a few hours and I do not want to listen to anyone's auntie acting scandalized because you bit me."
"Sirius! That was not a challenge! Bloody hell, I'm going to have to glamour that," Hermione complained. Sirius licked the offended area and then pressed light kisses to it. Hermione melted against him and began purring again. He hid a smirk against the curve of her neck.
"Congratulations, Hermione!" sang a chorus of feminine voices. Hermione turned slightly and spotted a group of pureblood young women that were veterans of the tea parties that she'd attended since she was eleven, all dressed in beautifully flowing dress robes. She smiled at all of them and nodded graciously.
"Thank you," she said smoothly.
"So, when's the wedding?" Medea Scamander asked curiously. They all knew that Mr. Potter and Mr. Black had pushed heavily to get the betrothal contracts approved as quickly as possible. Hermione smiled slightly.
"The end of the summer, August 30th," she said calmly. "It's to be a double wedding."
"Who else is getting married?" Portia Greengrass asked in surprise.
"Jamie and Lily Evans," Hermione continued in that calm voice. The girls around her were so shocked that they were struck mute, unable to say anything. "Turns out that she wasn't exactly a muggleborn after all, and her family's including property in Godric's Hollow as part of her dowry."
All right, so the property in Godric's Hollow was the total sum of Lily's dowry, but these girls didn't need to know that. No, Hermione was counting rather heavily on their excellent gossiping skills. Let the pureblood purists put that in their pipes and smoke it. Godric's Hollow was a very old and venerated magical community. Everyone wanted to live there and everyone wanted to be buried in the same cemetery that contained so many ancient and noble houses. It was almost impossible to find anyone that lived in Godric's Hollow willing to sell, and it was considered prime real estate. Hermione could practically see the jealous wheels spinning in their little heads. She smiled smugly, but on the inside where they couldn't see. On the outside she kept up the serene façade that served one so well in society situations.
"I wondered where you'd wandered off to, kitten," Sirius murmured into her ear as one well-muscled arm slid around her waist and pulled her against him. The looks on the faces surrounding her were satisfying. So many of them had been…er…'fans' of Sirius, and moments like this amused that little part of her that was perhaps more Slytherin than it ought to be. "Your father wanted to talk to us."
"Oh! Well, let's go then," Hermione smiled brightly at the women. "So sorry, thank you for your best wishes."
"You looked irritated," Sirius murmured quietly as he led her toward her father. "You okay?"
"Fine, love," she murmured back. His arm tightened slightly around her waist. "Be careful, Sirius, it's bad form to ravish your betrothed on the sideboard."
"Sounds like fun though," he growled at her, his eyes darkening. "I could cover you in chocolate mousse and then lick, er, hello, sir."
"Sirius," Alphard Black nodded to his nephew and tried not to laugh. The boy was looking at his betrothed as though she were some sort of tasty dessert, completely oblivious to the witches in the room—both married and unmarried-who'd been trying to catch his eye. Hermione had received more than one dark look, and he suspected more than one or two social hexes had been sent her way, but she seemed completely unperturbed. She appeared calm and collected, but she also appeared to be a trifle pale. "Hermione, my dear, are you feeling well?"
"Thank you for your concern, Uncle Alphard," she blushed prettily when she used the familiar family form for the first time, and he smiled encouragingly at her. "I have…been overworking myself a bit with social commitments, but now that we've had our betrothal party, I think I can relax enough to take a quick break."
"It's that damn Ladies' Aide Society," Sirius groused at his uncle. "They've got her supervising so many committees even she forgets which ones she's on. I know that helping sick people is important, kitten, believe me I get it, but I don't see why you have to spend every waking hour with those women."
"It's not every waking hour," she pointed out mildly, giving him a look. He shrugged.
"Feels like it most days," he muttered under his breath, earning him another pointed look from his betrothed.
"Regardless," Alphard said with a slight smile, "I do hope that you'll take care of your health."
"Of course, Uncle Alphard," Hermione said with another pretty blush. He took her hand and brushed his lips against the back of it.
"You're going to make a very lovely addition to the family, my dear," he said sincerely with a slightly wicked smile that only increased his likeness to Sirius.
"She's not got much competition," Sirius pointed out dryly, taking his betrothed's hand back with a pointed look at his uncle. "I'd pick her over Lucy or Rudy any day of the week."
"Lucy and Rudy?" Hermione said faintly, blinking at Sirius. "I hope for your sake that neither one of them ever hears you say that."
"Are you acquainted with Narcissa and Bellatrix's husbands?" Alphard asked with amusement. Sirius glowered at him, and he bit the inside of his cheek to avoid grinning back at his nephew. He'd been forced to listen, at length, to the many failings of Lucius Malfoy while the young lady currently held tightly against his nephew had dated him.
"I know Lucius," she acknowledged quietly, "but I am unacquainted with Mr. LeStrange save through his reputation."
"His reputation most likely does him more honor than he deserves," Alphard observed coolly. Hermione smiled slightly.
"That would be difficult to believe as his reputation is less than savory," Hermione pointed out. Alphared gave her a tight smile.
"That's exactly what I meant. I can't figure out why on earth Cygnus agreed to that match," he said the last part to Sirius who shrugged and shook his head.
"I'm just grateful that mother never got it into her head to make a betrothal contract for me when I was in nappies," Sirius replied with a convulsive shudder. Alphard snorted.
"Your father held the family with much tighter reins when you were a child. Something happened right before you went to Hogwarts…he was never quite the same afterwards, which was why I wondered if maybe he was imperiused. Your father would never have stood for your disownment, it's just so odd," Alphard said slowly, frowning.
"You knew Orion well then?" Hermione asked curiously. Alphard nodded, that slight frown still playing about his lips.
"Yes, I did. Don't get me wrong, Orion could be a right bastard, and he was definitely the quintessential Black: proud, arrogant, cunning and intelligent with a healthy affection for the Dark Arts, but he believed that family was family. If my sister had her way, there wouldn't be any family left but her…and that's no way to bring in the next generation," Alphard explained carefully, his face pensive. Sirius nodded. He remembered the way his father had been when he was young, and he missed the strong, vital man that he recalled.
"That is odd," Hermione said thoughtfully, nibbling at her lower lip. Sirius' arm tightened around her waist and he pulled her against him tightly. She glanced up at him in surprise and realized that he was looking longingly at her mouth. Alphard coughed to cover what sounded suspiciously like laughter.
"Well, erm, oh look, it's uh…Mrs. Grapknobble! Yes, I haven't seen her in forever and I simply must pay my respects," Alphard managed to get out without snickering at them, and he left them alone. Sirius dragged her to a small empty parlor, and after making sure that it was empty, locked and warded the doors.
"Sirius?" Hermione blinked at him in surprise.
He pulled her roughly into his arms and kissed her putting all of his frustration and longing into it. The fire, the heat and intensity that came through just his lips made Hermione melt against him with a happy sigh. She wound her arms around his neck and let him ravish her just a little. Their magic flared and meshed and she shivered in his arms when her skin tingled. His lips were making their way steadily down the rather deep décolletage of her dress robes and all she did was press tighter against him. He was pressing eager kisses to the swell of her breasts when the door flew open and the two of them sprang apart. Charlus Potter stood in the doorway looking less than amused.
"She's your betrothed, so I really can't beat you with a stick," he bit out coolly, looking at Sirius with a steely gaze. "However, your mother is looking for you, princess, and I suggest you go to her now."
"But Daddy," Hermione said faintly. Charlus shook his head, his eyes never leaving Sirius' face.
"Not now, princess. Run along. Daddy's just going to have a quick chat with Sirius," Charlus said firmly. Hermione paled slightly and her lips tightened.
"Don't you dare hurt him, Daddy," she said coldly, and she fixed her father with an icy stare as she swept out of the room.
"Mr. and Mrs. Evans, thank you so much for agreeing to meet with me on such short notice," Hermione said politely.
"It was our pleasure, dear," Mrs. Evans assured the beautiful young woman to whom her daughter would very shortly be related.
The Evans' and their guests were seated in the Evans' living room. Hermione Potter was perched delicately in a chair, her ankles crossed neatly, wearing what Mrs. Evans suspected was another Chanel suit, with more jewelry that was probably real. This time, she had arrived with three guards, or Mrs. Evans assumed they were some sort of guard detail. All three men were wearing black tailored suits, and they all seemed to have chosen strategic positions surrounding the young woman seated across from them. She noticed her husband giving them an appraising eye and hid a small smile.
"I understand that you know almost nothing of your family's heritage," Hermione began carefully, "and much of what I'm about to say will most likely strike you as odd or peculiar."
"My grandmother used to tell me stories," Mrs. Evans said uncertainly, glancing at the three guards nervously.
"Do not worry about my milites," Hermione assured her. "They are completely trustworthy."
"Domina," one of them said warningly, his dark eyes flashing a warning to the young lady who ignored it gracefully.
"Although, it might be prudent if you neglected to mention them to my parents," Hermione said after a thoughtful pause and some sort of unspoken communication between the four of them. Mrs. Evans, student of medieval studies, understood quite a bit in those few moments and frowned slightly.
"I thought you said there was no nobility in the wizarding world," she said slowly, "but these…gentlemen…call you domina."
"They mean it in the original sense of the word," Hermione said smoothly, with a slight smile for Mrs. Evans' quick mind. "They have sworn binding oaths of fealty to me and I am their liege lady."
"I…see," Mrs. Evans muttered to herself. Mr. Evans frowned slightly.
"Is that normal? In your world, I mean?" He asked carefully. The tall blond man snorted.
"Indeed not," he said coolly.
"Lucius!" Hermione snapped, frowning at him in disapproval. "Don't be rude."
"I apologize, domina," he said politely, bowing his head slightly. He did not apologize to the Evans family, and after a moment Hermione nodded slightly and turned back to Mr. and Mrs. Evans, ignoring him. He had been a little touchy since her formal betrothal to Sirius, which she supposed she should have expected.
"Now, I'm here without my family's knowledge. My milites have uncovered intelligence that you both are at risk because of your recent alliance with my family. We do not intend to leave you helpless or defenseless, and instead we should like to offer you asylum," Hermione said calmly.
"Your family is offering us protection?" Mrs. Evans asked cautiously. "We won't have to swear fealty to you though, will we?"
"Of course not," Hermione said smoothly. "You are part of our family; it is our duty to ensure your safety.
"What does that entail, exactly," Mr. Evans asked with a slight frown. Hermione gave them a slightly nervous smile.
"We're going to move you to a secure location," Hermione explained gently. "Your house will be kept in stasis for your return, and it will be as protected as possible. We will accept responsibility for anything that happens to your property while you are under our protection."
"A secure location?" Mr. Evans said doubtfully. "What exactly does that mean?"
"I have purchased a small property for your use in Wales," Hermione said smoothly. "It may be a little cramped and inelegant, but I hope you realize that your safety was paramount in the choices that we made."
"When you say cramped and inelegant," Mrs. Evans began, worry clearly evident on her face, one of the dark haired men cleared his throat.
"You may not remember me, Mrs. Evans," he began in his deep, silky voice, but she interrupted him.
"Of course I recognize you, Severus," Mrs. Evans said with a shake of her head. "You've grown, obviously, but…I remember you."
"Then please trust me, ma'am, when I tell you that if Hermione considers it cramped or inelegant, it's probably smaller than Buckingham Palace," he said dryly with a slight smile for his blood-sister. She stuck out her tongue at him when Mr. and Mrs. Evans weren't looking at her.
"Potter Manor isn't that large," she argued with a slight glare at him. He snorted. She just gave him a look.
"It isn't as big as Buckingham Palace, no, but these poor people think you're putting them up in a shack or a hovel," Severus chided her gently. She blinked in surprise.
"Oh! I'm sorry. Well, I suppose it's a bit bigger than this place, but I wanted you to have enough bedrooms so that Lily and James could visit after the wedding, and if James visits you it's bound to follow that Sirius and Remus will follow him at some point," Hermione explained swiftly, embarrassment turning her cheeks a lovely shade of pink.
"How many bedrooms does it have?" The other dark haired man asked dryly, his grey eyes light with amusement.
"Oh…only fifteen, I believe," Hermione said after thinking for a moment. Severus snorted.
"Only fifteen?" He repeated and rolled his eyes.
"Fifteen bedrooms?" Mrs. Evans said faintly, trying to imagine cleaning a house that large. "Are there…there are servants to help clean it, right?"
"Oh yes, of course," Hermione said with a nod. "Lolly?"
A smallish, wrinkly pinkish-grey sort of being popped into the room and Mrs. Evans gasped in delight.
"Oh, it's a house elf, isn't it? My gran told me stories…but I thought that's all they were," she exclaimed in excitement, her green eyes wide in wonder. Hermione nodded and smiled at her.
"Lolly, this is Mrs. Evans and Mr. Evans. They are Lily Evans' parents and they shall be staying at Gaer Penrhôs. They have no magic of their own, and they are to be protected members of the Potter family. Do you understand?" Hermione asked the house elf seriously, her expression grave.
"They is under the old protection?" Lolly asked curiously. Hermione nodded again.
"Isn't Gaer Penrhôs a ruin?" Mrs. Evans pointed out doubtfully. The four guests smiled.
"It appears that way to muggle eyes, but no. Gaer Penrhôs is a bit drafty, but it's certainly not a ruin. Lolly here will be able to make any changes necessary for your comfort," Hermione explained carefully.
"So…we've been threatened, and you want to move us for our own safety," Mr. Evan said carefully, looking at the three men, who exchanged looks and nodded almost imperceptibly to him. He nodded to himself. "Okay, then. What about Petunia? She's just as much our child as Lily is, we don't want to see her hurt, either."
"Mrs. Dursley will be fine. There is nothing that links her to the future Mrs. Potter," the blond man Hermione had called Lucius drawled coolly. "The information that we have received shows that they know of you, but not about her. That is unlikely to change considering the relationship between the sisters."
"But we can't just cut off all contact with Petunia," Mrs. Evans said in a worried voice. Hermione's smile was tight this time, and her eyes had turned cold.
"You may contact Petunia, of course," Hermione said in an icy voice. "It is my understanding that her husband will be less than impressed with the methods of communication open to you, which will be mostly owl post. She may visit you at Gaer Penrhôs, but we must insist that you not leave its safety to visit Petunia. If you do…the results would be disastrous."
"I see," Mr. Evans said with a slight frown. "How long do we have?"
"One week," Hermione said after a quick glance at the three men who sat perfectly still, their eyes constantly scanning their surroundings. They glanced briefly at her and nodded.
"What about the wedding?" Mrs. Evans asked with a worried frown. Hermione's lips twitched.
"Lolly will bring you to that," Hermione said firmly. "It will be the safest way for you to travel."
"It seems that you have thought of everything," Mr. Evans said with a slight sigh. Hermione nodded gravely.
"I have tried to do so," she said quietly.
"Jamie?" Hermione asked hesitantly.
"My Own?" He mumbled, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing…I just…can I sleep with you tonight?" Hermione asked, shifting from one foot to the other in James' doorway.
"Our last night?" He asked dryly. She nodded and he sighed. "Come on, get in."
The Potter twins laid in James' bed, side by side, and they reached out and grabbed one another's hands. They stared at the ceiling of James' room and thought about everything that was going to happen tomorrow. Everything was going to change and yet everything would stay the same. Hermione had convinced James and Lily that the Potter's townhouse in London would be safer for the both of them for the time being because it was surrounded by muggles. They'd already made it completely unplottable and had warded it to within an inch of its foundation. Severus had placed Prince wards on it, and linked those to Hermione who'd placed Gryffindor wards on it, which she had Seen in a vision of her ancestress, Gloswinda Gryffindor. James had placed the Potter wards on it and Sirius had placed the Black family wards on it. Remus, after much cajoling by Hermione, had placed the Lupin family wards on the house as well. Lucius and Regulus had both admitted that they were the tightest wards that they had ever seen and acknowledged that even if someone could find the place, they wouldn't be able to get in.
Sirius had purchased a townhouse on the same street, and the wards that her milites had placed on it were positively frightening. Regulus had insisted on using a specific set of wards that he'd found in the Black family library that were incredibly ancient and powerful, and had required a blood sacrifice. Sirius had almost had an apoplectic fit until Regulus and Hermione had pointed out that cutting one's hand and allowing a specific amount of blood to touch the foundation stone counted. They'd placed the Black family wards on top of those, and added all the rest as well. When the houses wards were all in place it was like a fine-woven mesh of magical chainmail that stood between her home and the outside world, and Hermione smiled in satisfaction.
"Are you scared about tomorrow?" James asked curiously in the dark. Hermione thought for a moment.
"No," she said simply. "I love Sirius and he loves me. Tomorrow is…aggravating more than anything else. We are going to have a natural bond, we were meant to be together. The rest is just for show."
"It will ensure that Sirius isn't murdered by father," James pointed out. Hermione giggled.
"Well, there is that," she acknowledged. She worried her lower lip between her teeth. "Jamie…if something happens…to me…"
"Nothing is going to happen to you," James said firmly. Hermione sighed.
"If something did, please keep an eye out for Sirius. Make sure he doesn't do anything rash," Hermione said softly.
"Have you Seen something?" James demanded suddenly. She shook her head.
"No, not exactly. I just want to make sure that he'll be okay," she said quietly.
You are such a liar.
He really doesn't need to hear about this the night before his wedding. Now hush.
"My Own," he began hesitantly. "Have you seen anything…about Lily or me?"
"Oh, many things Jamie," Hermione said with a wicked smile that he couldn't see.
"I probably don't even want to know," he muttered.
"Nothing of a delicate nature," she assured him.
"She…she's okay though, right?" James pleaded.
"We're working on it," Hermione said at last. "Actually…actually, for you two the probable future is quite good. Do you want to know how many children you have and what you've named them?"
"So she's safe then?" James pressed. Hermione sighed.
"Yes, James. Lily is quite safe," Hermione told him quietly.
Your sister's not, though. She's rapidly becoming public enemy number one as far as old Moldy Pants is concerned, but don't you worry your pretty little head about that. You just try and keep her husband from completely losing it when she's eviscerated in front of him.
That only happened in one vision. The probability is markedly low.
I'm sure that would be a comfort to the both of them.
There is nothing they can do, and it would only worry them.
I'm worried, and there's not much I can do, either, but at least I know. Then I can plot, and plotting always makes me feel better.
You know, it is truly some sort of miracle that we were never sorted into Slytherin.
There's no need to be nasty.
Hermione eventually drifted off to sleep, her brother's hand clutched tightly in her own. James listened for the deep, steady breathing of his twin and then he allowed himself to drift off. He was worried about Hermione, she looked pale and ill most of the time anymore. He knew that what she saw terrified her half the time, but she refused to talk about a lot of it. He and Sirius had discussed it, and they were both uncertain as to their course of action. Sirius was worried about her health, about her making herself ill, and James was concerned about that as well. They knew that what she was doing was important, but it still worried him. Whatever happens, I'll be there for you. I promise you, My Own. Sleep finally came for him, and he gave himself over to it fitfully. His excitement over tomorrow, his worry about his sister, and his general restlessness all flowed together to provide him with strange dreams that he couldn't quite recall.