A/N. I know what you're thinking. "Another time-travel story?! What the hell?" But after The Last Marauder, I got many requests to write another. And when mh21 suggested a time-travel story where Sirius gets the girl, well... how could I refuse?
A few notes before we begin. One: this is started BEFORE the final battle at Hogwarts where Harry prevails. You will know exactly when it starts. Hint: Before the Horcrux Hunt.
Two: Sirius did NOT die at the Battle of the Department of Mysteries. Why? Because I said so. That's why.
Three: Do I know how long this will be? No, I do not. I haven't the foggiest. It could end of up being the length of Prisoner, but with my history, it probably will end up being closer to TLM. Or I could start to hate it and kick it to the curb (that's a lie, I would never do such a thing, abandoning fics makes me sad).
Four: Does this mean another unfortunate delay for Teddy Lupin:WWW to start back up? Unfortunately. But once I get on a roll, I just can't stop. I apologize. *shame*. I promise I will try to keep up with Holiday as well.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter. As awfully depressing as it is, I do not. JKR does. More's the pity.
Chapter One: Something to Worry About
Hermione Granger was tired. It was late and the moon was risen and she heard the siren's call from her pillow, all the way from the Burrow. But still the meeting went on in the dining room of 12 Grimauld Place, words being exchanged between the members of the very elite and secret society, the Order of the Phoenix.
Being a member of the Order was not, as Hermione once thought, as exhilarating as it sounded. This had mostly to do with the fact that while she was legally an adult, she was still only seventeen, and under the eyes of powerful Aurors and sorcerers like Kingsley Shacklebot and Minerva McGonagall she was still only a child. It did not help that the adults currently running the Order, in the wake of Dumbledore and Mad-Eye Moody's demises, had watched her grow up from a gawky child into her current kind-of-adult self.
Every time Remus Lupin, once her professor, looked at her, she could just tell he was seeing the Third Year with a penchant for constantly raising her hand and getting into trouble with her two best friends. None of them saw her as a very practiced and talented woman and witch that she worked so hard to be.
"...recruits from the werewolves while our numbers are diminishing..." Shacklebot was reporting in that deep, ominous voice of his.
Hermione sat between Ron Weasley and the famous Harry Potter, both of whom happened to be the aforementioned two best friends. Ron's chin rested on her chest, his shaggy ginger hair falling just enough to cast shadows over her closed eyes. His chest rumbled quietly, and Hermione could tell any minute the noise would escalate to full-blown, train-like snoring.
Harry, however, was awake and looking eager, his green eyes taking in everything and obviously paying attention to every word. His skin was paler than usual and his black hair more unkempt and the beginnings of dark circles sat under his eyes. The boy was definitely stressed and sleep-deprived, but those were the burdens that came with being the Boy Who Lived and the wizarding world's messiah.
Hermione was snapped out of his reverie by a sharp, bark-like laugh. Her eyes whipped to the source, along with everyone else's.
Sirius Black sat on the other side of the table, and towards the head, leaning back in his chair with ease, wrapped in a violet smoking jacket, his arms crossed comfortingly across his chest.
"Come now, Kingsley," Sirius said. "Surely we can find recruits and eyes on Dark Creatures elsewhere. I do not see the need to send Remus into the fray when Snivel - I mean, Snape, is doing such a bang-up job as it is."
In his corner, Severus Snape's lip curled. The animosity between the two older men was prominent and went unnoticed by no one. As long as it never got physical, the people in charge saw no harm.
Remus Lupin, looking distinctly sleepy and rugged from days without shaving, said, "While I appreciate your concern, my friend, but -"
"I agree," a blonde woman who's name escaped Hermione said. She was standing rather than sitting, leaning against the wall, wearing something similar to Auror's robes, but something was different about them. "With less sarcasm than Black, of course, but I agree. Severus is doing just fine. No need to endanger Lupin as well."
Hermione was used to new Order members popping into meeting. Apparently, no one apart from Shacklebot knew the identities of every member. There were more allies than anyone thought - but it still didn't seem enough, especially when there were only twenty on average attending each meeting, and there was always one or two new faces.
"I knew you and I thought alike, Marley," Sirius said with an affectionate smile at the blonde woman.
She was expressionless, and almost cold. Marley's wavy blonde hair was tied up into a pony tail and she looked very no-nonsense, like a younger and more attractive McGonagall. "Don't be daft, Black, you just have a point for once in your life."
"I smell a history between those two," Harry whispered to Hermione with a tinge of amusement. Hermione agreed. Sirius Black had a history of angering women, but only after making them swoon. And this wasn't the first time he'd received insult from a Order member.
"Regardless," Remus joined in, "of either of your sentiments, I'll already began easing my way in." Nymphadora Lupin nee Tonk's hand rested on his shoulder and Remus brought his own to lay atop hers.
Marley's expression did not change, but Sirius's jaw tightened.
"This is stupid," Sirius said.
"We all do what we need to, Sirius," Remus said kindly.
"But you've just become a father," Marley said in what almost sounded like a gentle tone.
Nymphadora, called Dora by her husband, said, "We know the sacrifices. I fought him many a night over it as well, but he is, as you know, quite stubborn." She gave Remus a fond smile.
"And Mr. Lupin knew the consequences when he accepted the task," McGonagall said in that firm way of hers.
The mood visibly sank in the room.
"If that is all," Molly Weasley said, sounding maternal as ever, "then I would very much like to get my children in bed before they have nightmares of their favorite professor... getting hurt." She didn't sound very pleased about the situation either and still, like every other adult, saw Hermione, Harry and all her kids like babies needing to be taken care of.
No one dared mention that if they were old enough to be members of the Order then they should be old enough not to have a bedtime, though.
"I suppose this meeting is adjourned," Shacklebot said. "Everyone rest. We are progressing positively."
"Black, if I may have a word with you," the woman Marley said, just loud enough for Hermione to hear. She sounded unhappy and Hermione sort of felt bad for Sirius. The woman was terrifying.
Everyone else began leaving, either to Apparate or heading towards the parlor, and Hermione saw Sirius follow Marley towards the back door for a private word.
Mrs. Weasley was saying, "Well, come along, dears, lets all wait our turns for the Floo."
Bill Weasley and the twins Fred and George were saying goodbye to their mother before leaving to Apparate when Hermione saw Harry's hesitation to stand from his chair.
"Are you alright, Harry?" Hermione asked. She heard the snores begin from Ron on her other side.
With only a slight pause, Harry said, "I was actually sort of hoping to talk to Sirius before we left..."
"We'll see him the day after tomorrow," she reassured him. "You look unwell, Harry. Rest would be best for you right now, I think."
"He hasn't really had time to talk to me, lately," Harry said quietly as he stood slowly from his seat. "It makes me wonder how much they're not telling us. Sure, we're Order members, but in the past our mentors have been known to withhold information."
Hermione nodded. "I know what you mean. They think it's four our own good, but really it just ends up damaging us. Do you think... they might edit the meetings where we attend and hold private ones when they're alone? Because I think it's definitely a possibility."
Harry didn't say anything, and she knew why. They were supposed to be loyal to the Order and supposed to trust that they share every piece of information. Because they were a team. And considering such a theory, having that bit of distrust, felt something like a betrayal.
But leaders were flawed, Hermione knew. Dumbledore, though seemingly all-knowing, had been just as human as the rest of them. Everyone was flawed.
"What are you three doing, dragging your feet?" Molly asked, popping her head back into the dining room from the parlor. "Come along! Harry, Hermione, Ron... Ronald... Ronald!"
With a jolting start, Ron's eyes flew open. "Wha?" he demanded, sounding shocked and still half-asleep.
"It's time to go, Ron," Hermione said with a small smirk.
"Oh, okay," Ron yawned, standing up and stretching out his arms.
"So, Ron, how do you feel about our new crucial plan of action that involves a life-changing match of Quidditch that could very well turn the tides of the war?" Hermione said, putting on her best bluffing face.
Ron's eyes grew so huge, she though his blue eyes were in danger of slipping right out of his skull. "... W-what do you... I mean... Uh..."
Then Harry started laughing and Hermione was close to follow. Harry swung an arm around his mate's shoulder and said, "Ron, next time... at least try not to snore."
"You... bloody... wasn't..." Ron grumbled unintelligibly while his feet stepped heavily and slowly. "Ugh. Can't believe... Bill getting... tomorrow... wedding..."
"On the bright side," Harry said to Hermione, "he will look the best tomorrow in all the wedding photos while the rest of us are still half-asleep from lack of rest."
Hermione took a deep breath and nodded. She couldn't say she was looking forward to the wedding the next day. It just seemed like there were bigger things to worry about.
Challenge: 1. Favorite part and line? 2. What do you think will be different with Fleur and Bill's wedding? 2. What do you think of this as a start?
~ So Long And Thanks For All The Fish