A/N: I want to thank everyone who supported, favorite, followed, reviewed, and read this story. It was a little idea that blossomed and I enjoyed giving it you guys. I hope you enjoyed it just as much and find the ending what you hoped it would be. I just couldn't leave a supposedly angst-y story well enough alone!
One Year Later
"James come here! That is not food!" Sirius laughed as the light of his life with tufts of messy black hair walked towards him with Sirius' wand. The little, now two-and-a-half year old boy was sucking on it while Ginny looked on frantically. Sirius assured her it was okay and took the wand away from James before picking the boy up in his arms.
"Snuffles!" James smiled, having begged Sirius to play with him in his dog form all morning and Sirius looked to Ginny and Remus who gave him happy shrugs. The animagus quickly transformed into the large black dog and barked happily as James and Teddy began chasing him around the living room of Grimmauld place.
After Hermione had moved out, Sirius had invited Ginny and James as well as Remus, Tonks and Teddy to have rooms at the house to stay at whenever they so desired. He had plenty of space and they took him up on the offer frequently to help with his broken heart. None of them had been in contact with Hermione. They had all tried, even Sirius, but their owls all went unanswered and shortly after she had left him early that fateful morning Remus informed them that she had quit her job at the Ministry. It was easier for Sirius that way, to quit her cold like that. He quit drinking as well and today marked his year anniversary of being sober as he was currently celebrating with his two favorite children.
All three of them, and even Tonks sometimes, wondered about Hermione because she had never officially pushed the divorce papers through. Sirius was in a state of limbo with his marriage, but he wasn't in a hurry to run off and date. He knew he was getting up there in years and had no desire to try and replace the love he once had that he now took responsibility for ruining. He still wore his small silver wedding band on his hand and no one ever questioned why he never had taken it off.
In a sense they all still hoped she might come back. Ginny missed her best friend desperately. Remus worried about her well-being and mental health often—hoping she hadn't had some sort of breakdown. And of course Sirius missed his wife. He often reminisced to himself about happier times and kept the picture of them on their honeymoon by his bedside. Sirius was often shocked how easy it had been to forget the bad since she was gone. He had even reached out an made amends with George, who apologized profusely for what he had caused in their marriage and Sirius, like the gentleman he had grown back into, assured him it was not his fault.
As Sirius looked back on their fights in the days before she left and the final moments of making love to her, he tried his best to remember the passion that fueled them instead of the gut-wrenching loss that he would sometimes awaken to in the middle of the night. He still wasn't used to her presence not being around, and wished he would have enjoyed it in the months before she left instead of being drunk or unresponsive to the world.
He also visited Harry's grave on a weekly basis. It helped him to heal and to keep on the right path for James as well as for Teddy. Sometimes the man could swear he heard Harry talking back.
Hermione sat in her small apartment in London holding her two and a half month old daughter in her arms and cooing to the precious baby girl. She hated raising her alone but knew that it was her only option at the moment. A few weeks after she had left Sirius she had realized she was pregnant after getting sick at work. After going to a Healer at St. Mungo's, her fears were confirmed and she promptly quit her job, took her savings out of Gringotts and moved into a modest apartment by herself. She cut off all ties with her friends and threw their letters in the fire before reading them. Eventually they just stopped owling. She had wanted so badly to read what they had wrote but she knew it would be too hard and she might have broken down and asked for help.
Nearly the second after she had left Grimmald place a year ago, Hermione knew she had made a grave mistake. She loved Sirius so much it hurt, but she didn't know if she could trust him to change. She had no idea if he was even alive and well and the thought scared her. Being alone hurt her, but she didn't want to hurt him anymore than she already had.
During her pregnancy, she had plenty of time to think about how things had deteriorated in her marriage, and to try and forgive herself for her affair with George. She knew she had made a mistake and had to move on. But when the Ministry inquired about the divorce papers she had requested, she wrote back saying that her and Sirius were merely separated, not divorcing. She just couldn't bring herself to make that next step and figured that if Sirius wanted it, he could go to the Ministry himself. She hadn't heard anything more of the matter and assumed now, as she held their baby, that she still had a legal husband.
It was this fact that prompted her decision to go to Grimmauld place. Her daughter Cassie looked so much like Sirius. She had his eyes and she looked into those eyes every day. They only served as a reminder for her and she knew that Sirius—regardless if they ever got back together—deserved to know his daughter. She didn't want child support, and she hoped she was making that very clear since she had supported the entire pregnancy on her own. There was no way she could feel comfortable taking his money after the horrible things she had done to him. But yet she just wanted Sirius to see her, to know she existed and came from him, not another man.
The resemblance between Cassie and Sirius didn't stop at the eyes. She had small wisps of black hair on her soft little head and dimples that reminded her so much of him when the baby smiled. Hermione loved that she could hold a small piece of him in her arms every night.
She had no idea if she made a good mum though. Cassie seemed happy enough, but she was a quiet little child and barely cried. Hermione found what she needed in books (of course) and tried her best at raising her, oftentimes wishing she had help but was too stubborn to ask for it.
Hermione didn't even know if it was a good idea to walk back into Sirius' life so abruptly. For all she knew he could have a girlfriend, or be living somewhere else. He could slam the door on her. But something inside of her nagged her to find out, for the baby's sake—or at least that was what she told herself.
The truth of the matter was that Hermione had never once stopped loving him. She had forgiven him. And she wanted him back.
She dressed Cassie up in a little grey jumper to match her eyes and some miniscule socks and shoes. She wrapped her up, grabbed her baby supplies and headed for Grimmauld place with a nervous stomach and a hopeful heart.
Remus watched Teddy ride on Sirius' back as the two of them chased James over the couch cushions they had turned into an obstacle course. Sirius didn't mind wrecking his house if it was for the children, and Remus smiled seeing how good he was with the two boys.
The doorbell rang, chiming three times slowly into the interior of the old house. Tonks stopped her singing from the kitchen where she was fixing lunch and Ginny looked oddly at the door. All of the company they ever had was inside. Sirius and the boys kept playing and Remus got up slowly to get the door.
The werewolf walked down the long, old hallway and slowly opened up the heavy front door. The sight in front of him almost made him pass out. He couldn't believe that Hermione Granger was standing there in the flesh after having been gone out of their lives for almost a year to the date. Holding the cutest little girl, no less.
"Remus…thank Merlin…" she whispered and she looked like she was on the verge of tears. He walked out onto the porch and shut the door behind him so they could have a moment alone and he could gather his racing thoughts.
"Is that Sirius'?" was the first thing that came out of his mouth. She nodded and held out baby Cassie for Remus to hold. He took her in his arms and she could see him fall in love instantly. It was hard not to, she was beautiful.
"Why didn't you tell him? Me? Ginny? We could have helped you darling…" Remus' voice softened. When he had seen her standing there he had the right mind to yell at her for leaving Sirius with a broken heart, but now he just couldn't.
"I didn't want Sirius to feel obligated. I wanted to give him a chance to move on and maybe find love again. And I don't want his money. I just want him to see her…" Hermione reiterated. Lupin nodded with a smile, rocking Cassie back and forth.
"Hermione, he's still as in love with you as the day you left. I don't know how he's going to react, but I am glad you made the decision to come back. Please tell me you won't disappear again," he looked at her with his stern academic glare and she shook her head promptly.
"Only if he wants me to. I still love him. That's why I never pushed the divorce papers through," she explained and he glanced down at her left hand. She was wearing both her wedding band and her engagement ring.
Their conversation was interrupted by Ginny bursting out the front door and nearly screaming. Remus gave her a look of warning as the read-head looked back and forth between Hermione and the baby in Remus' arms. She finally flung her arms around her best friend.
"You bitch! You left me! And went off and had a kid? What the hell is wrong with you?" Ginny laughed through tears as she nearly strangled Hermione with her hug. Hermione broke down and cried back. She had missed her friends, she had missed general human contact. All she had had was baby Cassie.
"Gin, meet Cas," Hermione smiled and Remus handed the happy baby to Ginny who took her reverently.
"She looks just like him," Ginny smiled at the baby, holding one of her small hands lightly.
"I know," Hermione said proudly, "Is Sirius inside?" she asked, suddenly nervous.
"Playing with my son and James. Tonks is making lunch, I'm sure she wouldn't mind fixing another plate for you…" Remus said.
Suddenly, her nerves hit Hermione full-force. "Maybe I should leave. Maybe it isn't the right time to tell him."
"Nonsense. She's too beautiful to be kept a secret any longer…" Ginny decided, opening the door with the arm that was not carrying Cassie and marching decidedly back inside. Remus nearly had to drag Hermione in with them.
"Sirius!" Ginny called out authoritatively. She functioned as the universal mother now in their little conglomerate of a family and Sirius never questioned her. The happy barking ceased and he walked into the hallway in his normal form. Hermione blushed at the sight of him and almost cowered behind Remus' tall form. Tonks came out of the kitchen and watched her cousin look from Ginny with the unfamiliar baby to the bushy halo of hair protruding from behind Remus' back.
"Stop being a coward," Remus whispered to her and pushed her forward out in the open. She had no choice to stare and be stared at by Sirius. She could hardly believe that he had seemingly gotten more handsome in a years' time. He looked healthy. His face was full and glowing and he looked years younger.
"'Mione…" he whispered in shock and she took a tentative step forward. He crossed the rest of the distance in two easy strides and hugged her close to him, his hands buried in her hair and her face pressed against his chest. They held each other for a long time like that before she backed away.
"I'm so sorry I just showed up and ruined your afternoon…" she apologized, glancing down at the confused looking Teddy and James who had come out of the living room from playing, "I just wanted you to meet someone…and I just couldn't wait any longer."
Hermione walked to Ginny who gave her the baby. She held Cassie close before walking back over to Sirius.
"Say hi to Daddy, Cassie," Hermione whispered and Cassie instinctively reached her little chubby hands out towards Sirius. He regarded the baby with a look of instant love and nervousness before taking her hesitantly in his arms. He held her knowingly, skilled from the practice of holding and playing with James and Teddy. Remus walked over to his wife and held her hand as they watched the moment unfold. Ginny picked up James and held her son close to her, wishing Harry could be seeing this.
"She's…she's….." Sirius mumbled incoherently as he looked at his daughter for the first time.
"She's yours. She's ours," Hermione finished for him. She could see some tears forming in his eyes as he looked from the precious new life he was holding and back to her. Ginny realized that this moment was better left as a private one and shooed Remus, Tonks and the boys into the kitchen, closing the door behind them.
"She's perfect Hermione, but why now…why has it taken you so long? Why didn't you tell me?" he begged for answers. He hated that he hadn't been there to see the beautiful little girl come into the world. He felt like an awful father and he had only known her for five minutes.
"I was scared. I was a fool for leaving, but I was too proud for my own good. I'm so sorry for everything Sirius I really am…"
"It's over love, I've moved on. I'm a changed man. I've gotten my life back together and I am happy. All I was missing was you and now you are here…there's no need to fight anymore. We've already lost too much time," he told her, bending to kiss her on the forehead.
"I never submitted the papers…we are still married," she gave him a small smile.
"I figured as much, it was the last shred of hope I was holding onto, that maybe one day when I least expected it, you would come back. And you did…but with a present…." He grinned at the baby in his arms.
"I missed you," Hermione said tearfully.
"I love you," Sirius replied.
"I love you so much more…" she said back, wanting to add a thousand things more but he closed the foot of space between them and they both held their baby for the first time together as he gave her a longing but sweet kiss on the lips. She couldn't believe she hadn't kissed the man in a year and yet she was just as in love as on their very first date. He was her other half, and she was glad she hadn't waited a day longer to see him.
"Welcome home," Sirius smiled at her and Cassie giggled happily between them. She had taken to Sirius so quickly. It was just so natural.
"Harry would be so proud if he could see you now," Hermione kissed her husband once again. She felt complete. All of her nerves had left her. She was safe and happy and whole.
"He'd be proud of both of us," Sirius nodded, parting from his wife to hold up Cassie and kiss her on the forehead.
Neither of them ever spent one more night apart from that day forward.