Authors Note: Written for the 2012 FQF at Granger Enchanted. Thanks so much to my beta CurseWeaver and my cheerleader Mistress Malfoy, you are both wonderfully wonderfully amazingly wonderful. I think I've captured the prompt, even if I don't use the line directly! This story uses multiple POVs and points in time, the normal text is the present, the italicised text is flashbacks, and the bold italicised text is from a single consiousness' point of view.

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 of this story. The author is i

Original Prompt : 'You have a choice my dear.' The veil whispered to her. "You may bring back one wizard of your choosing...only one and you must mean it with all your heart." Given the chance to rescue a wizard from the pearly gates will she choose with her heart or the greater good?

Hermione should be a smart logical girl, like we all know and love. Bonus points for her being an Adult instead of a teenager and for Remus love! No whiny Hermione, no whiny Harry and no Ginny/Draco. Angst! Happy ending! Post Second war, Remus is still alive, Tonks is dead

Parallel to the Dark

I need... something. I need blood and flesh and heritage and someone to look after me. A soul. A soul to inhabit the cold shell I have become. I have been ignored for too long. I must show them. I must show them what I can do, how I have grown. How I can fix everyone, make them good and pure.

I need to make them all part of me. All of them. Every last one who walks past and ignores my decline. They can fix me. I know they can.

All of them.

…...

Hands ghosted over pale flesh, turning the once smooth surface rough with goose bumps. The body beneath the skin shuddered, a whimper escaping from her previously silent mouth.

The man's hand travelled from her shoulder, down her pale torso, until it reached her thigh, teasingly inching closer to the spot where she ached to be touched, snaking beneath the rough lace of her underwear. Lips hovered above hers, teasing, not quite touching but close enough to feel hot breath.

A loud creak came from the floor below, just as he dipped a finger into her slick heat, and she moaned loudly.

"Shut the fuck up!" Sirius chuckled and pressed against the wall of her vagina, rubbing a spot that made her writhe in pleasure and swear for an entirely different reason. She shuddered and made a sound of protest when he stopped. "What in Merlin's name are you stopping for?"

"Keep your knickers on, yeesh."

"I thought the whole point of this exercise was to get them off."

He responded by sucking her lower lip into his mouth and releasing it suddenly, trailing his own lips over her chin and down her neck. "Just for that comment, your knickers can remain on for the duration of this exercise."

"Is there a reason why you're talking like a transfiguration professor?"

His head lifted a little and he raised an eyebrow, looking at her pointedly as she stared down at him, head tilted against the fluffy pillow. He opened his mouth to talk, but instead of speaking, he darted his tongue out, biting down on it as he shoved two fingers back inside her and rubbing firmly against the spot she liked so much yet again.

"Oooh, fuck."

Crack!

They both stilled for a moment, Sirius extracting his fingers, waiting for any other noises coming from other parts of the house. When all was silent for a few long seconds, Hermione groaned again and tossed her head back against the pillow.

"This house is going to be the death of me."

"It's getting used to us. I think it kind of likes you."

"If it liked me then it wouldn't be distracting me when I'm trying to have a fucking orgasm."

"Ignore it. Just... lay back and think of England."

"You did not just say that."

"I was kidding."

"Doesn't make you any less of an arse."

"If you would rather, feel free to lay back and think of Scotland. The countryside is rather lovely."

She groaned and pressed her head back into the pillow as his fingers returned to pussy, sliding home in a swift motion. His free hand pressed hard against her breastbone, holding her down as she writhed against the sheets.

"Wouldn't you rather I think of your mouth on my clit?"

He raised his slightly bushy, dark eyebrows and grinned. "Why Miss Granger, is that an order?"

…...

The older woman sat quietly across the table, unusually nervous and picking at her fingernails. Hermione reached over and gripped her arm, gently stroking her wrist with her thumb in a gesture of comfort.

"What about Draco?"

Andromeda shook her head. "It needs to be someone descended from the patriarchal line."

Hermione pulled her hand back and rubbed it across her brow, setting her mouth in a hard line. "There may be a way. I can't talk about it, but I've been working on something the last few years that could help."

Andromeda looked up at her in confusion and Hermione raised an eyebrow. The dark haired woman's eyes widened, realization setting in, and she smiled. "Does this mean-"

"Andy, you know what I do, it's protected by my employment contract, I'll break out in festering boils if I let anything slip."

Andromeda smiled and let out a sharp bark of laughter. "Good to see the Ministry is still praying on their employees insecurities to keep them in line."

"Well-"

"I know, I know, easy way to spot the secret spillers." Andromeda took a breath and met Hermione's eyes, nervousness once again creeping into her expression. "Hermione, I'm so sorry I didn't come to you with this earlier."

"It's okay, really. I understand."

"I mean, the house has been quiet for so many years, I assumed that the death of its last heir would break the curse."

Hermione pushed back her chair and stood. Looking down at older witch, she grinned widely. "That's exactly it though, have a think about it. You know a lot about planes of existence, deep down I think you know what I'm talki-"

"Gran!"

The front door slammed and Hermione threw Andromeda a wink, turning her attention to the entrance of the kitchen. "In here!"

The light saloon doors swung open and a grinning fourteen year old loped through, eyes immediately falling on Hermione. "I thought I recognised your voice!"

Hermione grinned and held up her hand for a high five, which was promptly received. "Looking forward to school this year?"

Teddy made a face and looked down at his toes.

"Oh come on. You can't seriously tell me you're not looking forward to catching up with all your friends."

Teddy looked back up at Hermione pointedly. "You have no idea what it's like to have your father as a teacher. Worst ever."

Hermione laughed and ruffled his hair. "Just be glad you don't have to live in his quarters too then, huh?" Teddy poked out his tongue and she flicked him around the ear.

"Ow!"

Hermione glanced back at Andromeda who was chuckling silently, the cup of tea she held in her hands threatening to spill over. "Look, I have to get back to the Ministry. I'll keep you updated, yeah?"

Andromeda nodded. Hermione gave Teddy one last smile and bid her farewell, briskly walking back to the front door.

"Hermione!"

The door was half open, and she turned back in the direction of the voice. "Yes, Ted?"

"Are you coming to the barbeque?"

"And miss seeing you off for the term? Of course! Three weeks Thursday, right?"

"Yup."

She gave him a little wave and stepped out the door.

…...

She visited me today, the dirty one. She was wearing some kind of spell that stopped me from hurting her like I wanted to. She poked me and prodded me and made me so angry but I couldn't get her. She was too clever. Someone so dirty shouldn't be so clever; it's wrong, all wrong.

She was muttering something about bringing me someone, a treat. Someone who will play with me and keep me company. But I don't want them if the dirty one brings them. They will be tainted with the stench and filth of the impure.

But then I need someone. I need the line to continue, to give me children and something to allow to grow inside me. She says it's the only way. I don't want it to be. I don't want her to be the one who helps me.

…...

They sat at the dining table, large pot of earl grey sitting in the middle of the large slab of rough hewn wood, him reading The Quibbler, her reading The Guardian. She jumped a little when he loudly shook the paper closed and put it back down on the table.

"You know, the first time you walked into that med bay, I thought I was having a nightmare," he blurted out, looking a little sheepish.

"How so?" She didn't look up from her newspaper and he paused before responding.

"You just looked so... un-Hermione like."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You were there and all in black and looking sexy as hell, but you were... I dunno... harder? You looked like you had seen some stuff that was hard to forget. Perhaps that you didn't want to forget." He had his head resting in his hand now, elbow on the table as he looked at her intently.

"Do you think the war was easy for us?" She still hadn't looked up.

"No, that's not what I mean... fuck I'm doing that thing again where I say the wrong thing and you get all angry, aren't I?"

"You kind of are, yeah."

"I mean, you looked... look... like life dealt you some bad hands and you decided to just... keep existing."

"What makes you think that isn't what happened?"

"Why don't you talk about it?"

"No sense in rehashing the past." She was looking down at the article she had been reading, but her vision was unfocussed, looking into the middle distance.

"Why are you so determined to ensure this house is happy?"

She laughed harshly and put the paper down on the table, studying her nails and flicking nonexistent bits of dirt from under them. "It was hurting people, Sirius."

"Why not just destroy it?"

She sighed and slapped her hands back down on the table, pushing her chair away and standing up quickly. "I don't want to talk about this right now."

"When can I stop hiding?"

"You can't, not until I know whether or not this is working."

"Why won't you tell me about the world?"

"Isn't the newspaper enough for you?"

"You know what I mean."

"They can't know, Sirius. Not yet."

…...

"Miss Granger!"

Hermione turned around, half way down the obscenely long, black tile lined hallway, and stood with her hands on her hips in a gesture of irritation.

"Yes, Mister Russell?"

"It's the veil ma'am."

She gulped, attempting to keep her expression neutral, feign ignorance. "What about the veil?"

"It has..."

"Well come on, spit it out."

"It's... well it's literally spat someone out... ma'am."

"Oh for the love of Morgana, don't talk rubbish."

"It has, ma'am. Saw it with my own eyes."

Hermione frowned. "Well that just sounds odd. And incredibly unlikely, considering it's never done that before. And can you please stop calling me ma'am, it's distracting. How many times have I asked you that?"

"I don't know, ma'am. Perhaps the veil ejecting Sirius Black is more important than how I address you?"

"Black?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Well, I suppose seeing as he's the first person in recorded history to fall through the blasted thing; it makes sense that he's the first one to fall out of it."

"Quite possibly, ma'am."

"Where is he now?"

"Medical bay on sublevel two."

"Right then. Tell Octavia to cancel my afternoon meetings will you?" She spun on her heel, smirk forming at the corners of her mouth as Russell acknowledged her request, his voice already faint over the hurried clacking of her heels against the hard tile. Finally, the solution to her Grimmauld Place problem was within her grasp.

…...

The rustle of the stiff curtain brought him back to attention, scattered errant thoughts and memories of a vague half existence fluttering to the back of his mind as he watched the hand flex at the edge of the fabric. There were voices, not quite loud enough for him to make out, and what sounded like a short argument before the hand ripped the curtain aside swiftly, and his eyes fell on a familiar face.

She was taller, older, even more terrifying than he remembered. Her black, very finely tailored and lightly pinstriped pantsuit screamed power and authority, and he shrunk back against his pillow a little as she studied him. His eyes slid quickly to the healer that stood behind her, silent and shrinking back meekly in her wake.

"So... thought you would grace us with your presence again huh, Black?" She closed the curtain.

He laid still, quiet and unsure what to say to her aggressive greeting. She smirked and pulled a stiff plastic chair across the cubicle, leaning on the back of it for a few moments before stepping around to the front and sitting, legs and arms crossed. He ached to reach out and touch her, make sure he wasn't dreaming, but the arm restraints holding his wrists to the side of the small medical cot held him back.

His voice eventually rasped out, the first words spoken since landing on the cold tile of the Department of Mysteries. "What's going on? Why are you old?"

She frowned a little; the space between her eyebrows creased, and crossed her arms tighter over her chest. The black shirt she wore bunched a little around the placket and he found his eyes drifting to her cleavage. "Do you remember what happened before you... well, ended up here?"

His looked back at her face and wrinkled his brow, trying to remember the events leading up to that moment. "I remember... a fight. I remember Bellatrix and Lucius and Harry and... chaos. And then..." He drifted off, realisation crossing his mind. "I fell, didn't I?"

She nodded, eyes still intently staring into his. "And then?"

"And then nothing. Just darkness and vague shapes and sounds." He gulped. "Hermione, when am I?"

She didn't answer, just reached into her pocket, pulling out a small object around the size of a Muggle calculator. She held it over his chest, a few inches from his heart and it beeped. She smiled and tucked it away again. "Just checking."

"Hermione. What year is it?"

She uncrossed her legs and set her hands on her knees, leaning forward a little. "Does it matter?"

"Of course it matters, for fucks sake. Look at you, you must be what? Mid to late twenties? I'm sure you're not the one who has been travelling in time, you're far too sensible for that business."

She grinned and nodded. "Yes, I suppose you're right." Reaching for the wrist straps she looked at him warily. "If I undo these, you aren't going to go crazy, are you?"

"No, why would I do that?"

"The psychologists thought you might be a little... damaged."

"Just undo the fucking straps, Granger."

"Okay, okay." She stood and quickly unbuckled the leather from both hands, casting a quick charm to finish the release. He lifted his arms, flexing his hands and wrists, rubbing the points where the slightly too tight restraints had rubbed against his flesh. "Two thousand and twelve."

"What?"

"Two thousand and twelve. That's what year it is." She smiled warmly and handed him a newspaper that had been sitting on the side table, obvious and yet unnoticed. He took it from her hand and stared blankly at the date below the masthead. "Thanks for the compliment, by the way."

"Hmm?"

"Mid to late twenties. Very flattering."

He looked up at her, brow wrinkling. "The Daily Warlock?"

"The corporate owners thought perhaps 'prophet' implied some form of divination and possibly... untrustworthiness."

"Isn't 'warlock' a bit sexist?"

She shrugged. "It's also a bit crap, there's more than one paper to read. The Quibbler's probably your best bet to be honest; this one just happened to be floating around the office."

"The Quibbler?" He shook the Warlock out and folded it, grimacing at the puff pieces and celebrity hijinks that littered the front page. "Oh."

Hermione chuckled and raised her eyebrows, running a hand through her long light brown hair. "Let me guess, no idea who anyone on the front page is?"

He shook his head, folding the paper roughly and tossing it towards the end of the bed. "Why am I here?"

"I don't know, you tell me."

"Cut the crap, there's something you're not telling me." He glared at her, head turned on the pillow, fingers clutching at the edge of the thin sheet covering the cot. "I don't understand what's going on. All I remember is... that vague feeling of being suspended somewhere after the fight, and now I'm here. I..." He took a breath and shrank down under the sheet a little. "Fuck it, I'm scared. I don't understand what's going on."

She sighed and sagged in her chair a little, rigid shoulders dropping in defeat. "I can't talk about it here, it's classified."

"That doesn't instil me with a deep feeling of confidence."

"You just have to trust me."

"Can I trust you without liking you very much?"

"Whatever moves your furniture, just..." She reached over, squeezing his hand quickly. "Don't be scared, okay?"

"Okay."

…...

I took a small girl today. She kicked me, so I took her soul. She didn't scream or cry, just laughed. She says she felt empty anyway, that her mummy ignores her and daddy does things to her that she doesn't understand.

I feel sick. Her soul is wrong. It's damaged and not right for me, but I can't give it back. The dirty one says she can bring me the one I need, but how does she know? She doesn't understand such things, how can she bring me the one I need when she can't know?

I don't want to hope. I can't rely on someone so filthy to bring me life.

…...

"At least tell me if Remus made it."

She looked up from the worn copy of The Book Thief, a reluctant flicker of resignation crossing her face before she sighed. "Remus is fine."

"Okay." He went back to fiddling with the small portable wireless he had dug out of the attic, fingers twisting the wires in an attempt to fix the minor fault. "When can I get a new wand?"

She grunted and ignored his question.

"I want a new wand."

"You can't have one right now."

"Why not?"

"You know why not."

"You can glamour me."

"And yet when we enter the store, I'm sure young Mister Ollivander will know exactly who you are."

He didn't bother responding, his silence an acknowledgment of her superior argument. He made one final twist and turned the dial, the radio crackling to life. Placing it on the side table he smiled, leaning back and closing his eyes.

"Hermione?"

"Yes?"

He was quiet for a moment before responding. "Why are you here?"

"To make sure you don't do anything stupid."

"Why are we... doing what we're doing?"

She put the book down and stood up, striding purposefully towards the armchair he sat in, and leaning over him, hands placed firmly on either arm rest. "Are you complaining?"

He shook his head emphatically and she pressed her nose against his. "I just-"

"Don't. Don't say it."

She kissed him then, lips warm and soft on his, not asking for more than a chaste exchange of quiet desire. He wanted more, needed more, but he knew that today she was not offering. Even so, he found his hand setting the radio down blindly on the side table and his hand sliding up her side, gripping her around the ribs and tugging her down onto his lap.

She kneeled over him, knees on either side of the large and cushy chair, hands still gripping the overstuffed arms. His body screamed for him to push her, to tear at her soft grey tee shirt and clutch roughly at her flesh but he stopped himself, content with just their kiss. The feel of her lips on his, their lust simmering, barely reined below the surface.

Eventually she stood, her own hands removing his from where they had gripped her shirt, the material bunched in his large, scarred fingers.

She looked down at him before she headed for the door, and he shrunk back into the cushions, ashamed at his desperation, of the fragility of his determined but tenuous grip on sanity.

"This has nothing to do with the assignment, Sirius. Don't torture yourself by assuming it does."

A self deprecating grin spread across his features and he looked down for a moment, studying his fingernails. "I think we both know that torturing myself is what I do best."

"It's not your fault you always end up stuck in this house."

He sighed and looked back up at her, grin gone, replaced by neutral expression. "And if I hadn't been such a childish asshole, would we be sitting here right now?"

"We can look back on our lives and find many ways in which we could make things better Sirius, but really. Would you honestly want to live in a perfect world?" She smiled warmly and padded away towards the hallway, bare feet silent on the plush carpet of the sitting room. She peeked around the door one last time before heading for the kitchen. "I mean, wouldn't it be intolerablyboring?"

He chuckled and shook his head as the grin disappeared back behind the heavy oak. She was right; it would be very boring indeed.

…...

She says he's coming.

That she's bringing him to me.

That my hunger will be gone.

She says I have to give back those that I took, but I don't trust her. She is dirty. Dirty and a liar.

When she is with me I want to throw her away, to push her into the street and watch as she's taken by some dirty Muggle contraption, but I can't. Someone has protected her.

But she says he's coming.

So I wait.

…...

"We have to send him to the house, Minister."

Kingsley Shacklebolt sat back against his tall chair, fingers steepled in front of his chin, bottom lip resting on his index fingers. "And you're prepared to shoulder this responsibility?"

Hermione sighed and sat back, rubbing at her forehead. "There isn't any other way, sir. The veil offered the choice to me. Directly or indirectly, I will be the one to return him to his place."

Kingsley made a soft noise of acknowledgement and leaned forward. "I fear, Miss Granger that you may come to regret your decision."

"I will always choose the souls of many over my own, sir."

"While this is admirable, I urge you to reconsider destruction."

"And risk the curse splintering? Spreading to neighbouring buildings? No." She pushed the chair back and stood, offering him her hand which he accepted, gripping firmly and shaking once.

"I expect full daily reports with your progress."

"Yes, Minister." She turned and walked brusquely towards the heavy oak door.

"And Granger?"

Hesitating, she looked back over her shoulder. "Minister?"

"For the love of Morgana, don't let him see anyone until you give the all clear."

"Understood, sir."

…...

They walk down the cobbled street, his arm wrapped tightly around her shoulders, their bodies pressed together at the sides.

"I feel ridiculous." His voice was low and quiet, barely audible above the hustle and bustle of Diagon Alley. She elbowed him in the ribs and shushed him.

"You look fine, just calm down and remember your American accent."

He groaned softly and scratched at his closely shaved, grey hair with his free hand. "I don't like this, everyone is staring at me."

"Do you want a new wand, or not?"

"Okay, okay. Point taken."

They were half way down the street, nearing Ollivander's, when a familiar voice called across the street from the ice cream parlour.

"Hermione!"

He flinched at the sound of the man's voice, lolling his head back on his shoulders and reluctantly following Hermione's cue to turn towards the other side of the street. She waved enthusiastically, pinching his side when she felt him tense up. "Remember your cover."

The man had already made his way across the street, followed by two others, one a teen. Sirius turned towards the shop window behind him, pretending to be engrossed in the display of ladies' fashions, unable to face the small cluster of familiar faces.

He tried to ignore the conversation going on behind him, but he was eventually dragged into it, the oldest of the three newcomers asking to be introduced to Hermione's latest companion.

"Oh!" She was feigning embarrassment at not ensuring their acquaintance, and grabbed his wrist firmly, pulling him towards her and back to face the street. "This is Richard. Richard, this is Remus and Teddy Lupin, and Harry Potter."

Sirius gulped and shook their hands one by one, struggling to keep his voice steady and accent consistent, attempting to greet them in a manner befitting a slightly star struck foreigner. "Lovely to meet you all, Mister Potter, your reputation precedes you."

Hermione interrupted before they could begin asking questions, insisting that they were in a rush to get back to the Ministry. Remus was beginning to look at him curiously, eyes lingering on his hands and arms, and Sirius breathed a sigh of relief when Hermione dragged him off down the street once again.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, fine." His reply was a little shaky and he took her hand in his, trailing half a step behind for the rest of the short walk.

She had told him earlier in the day that it wasn't much longer, that her report into the state of the house was nearly complete. That once the Ministry was convinced it posed no further risk to the public that they could reveal the manner of his return.

He wasn't convinced. He was certain the Ministry would keep him imprisoned in the place for years, only allowing him out from time to time in disguise to stop him from going entirely mad. He had voiced this to Hermione and she had laughed, insisting he was being paranoid, pointing out that he would never be allowed a wand if this was the plan.

The bell above the door jangled and he was pulled from his thoughts, instead being forced to focus on the dark interior of the wand shop. A middle aged man with dark hair flecked with grey stood on a ladder towards the back of the store, a young family looking up at him as he pulled down three thin long boxes.

"I shan't be long, Miss Granger. Please take a seat; I think we're nearly done here." He was a jolly man, ruddy cheeks and a rather rotund waistline.

Hermione pulled Sirius towards a small group of club chairs next to the main windows and he looked at her curiously. "What happened to Mr Ollivander?"

She wrinkled her brow in confusion for a moment before realisation over took her. "Oh, Garrick? He had a bit of a rough time of it during the war. That over there is his son, Everett."

"Garrick?"

"Don't act so surprised, everyone has a first name, you know."

Sirius made a face and settled back in the slightly uncomfortable chair. "I just always assumed his was 'Mister'"

Hermione rolled her eyes and picked up a copy of the Warlock that sat on the small side table. Making a face, she turned the newspaper towards him and he raised his eyebrows.

"That was quick."

Across the front of the paper was a headline that read Hermione Granger steps out with mystery wizard. Sirius scratched his head and bit his lip. "How on earth..."

"They've been getting ideas from Muggle technology. Quick quotes quill and a charm that changes headlines on command means you pay a subscription and get one of these." She handed him the news paper and he took a closer look at the masthead.

"The Daily Warlock: Perpetual Edition?"

She nodded. "Don't bother reading it; it will just be filled with supposed facts about my life and sound bites they've had on file since I was a kid."

He skimmed the article quickly, bursting out in laughter at one point. "Notoriously fickle dater?"

She bristled. "So I'm a bit fussy, stands to reason really, doesn't it?"

He grinned and set the newspaper down. "I suppose though... thirty-three and unmarried. Rather scandalous in the Wizarding World."

She glared at him. "Almost thirty-three."

…...

The rest of the visit had been largely uneventful. The younger Ollivander had signed a contract with the Ministry, and as soon as their appointment started the door sign had been turned to closed despite the closeness to the beginning of the school year, and they had managed to find Sirius a wand that was agreeable within a ten minutes or so.

As they walked out, he twirled it in his fingers, relieved to once again be afforded this small token of trust. Despite Hermione's insistence that his incarceration had nothing to do with him and everything to do with the house, he still wasn't convinced.

He had asked if they could go for ice cream, but she reminded him of the awkward and slightly upsetting encounter with Harry and the Lupins earlier, and he conceded that perhaps it would be better to head home.

Instead, she lead him back through to the Leaky Cauldron and out into Muggle London. A few minutes later, they were seated on a bus bound for SoHo, sandwiched amongst the hordes of tourists enjoying the summer heat. Hermione had said that it normally wasn't as busy, that the Muggle Olympics had not long finished and there were still many holiday makers around, but he didn't mind. The anonymity that the large crowds provided was a welcome respite from being such a noticeable odd one out in Diagon Alley.

He longed to ask her to remove the glamours she had placed on his features, but he was aware that despite being in an unfamiliar part of town, that didn't mean they wouldn't be spotted by someone who would notice his very recognisable face. He momentarily cursed the rash decisions and the ludicrous series of events that had lead him to where he was, but shook the thoughts from his mind, considering the other options.

"Hermione?"

"Hmm?" She looked up from her enormous ice cream, tongue licking around all three flavours at once.

"Is it odd that I'm kind of... glad things turned out the way they did?"

"How so?"

He glanced around the small store furtively, looking for anyone who may be within earshot. "Well... if I hadn't... fallen."

"If you hadn't fallen what?"

"Then I wouldn't be here now."

She narrowed her eyes and lowered the ice cream. "You're not getting all sappy on me are you?"

He took a bite of his own cone, already having consumed a majority of the frozen treat. "No, fuck no. It's just... you know if I hadn't... fallen... then I would probably either be dead for real, or I would be just as bitter as I was before. Childish and bitter."

"You're still childish and bitter."

"I'm working on that."

She laughed and took another swipe at her ice cream. "Things always turn out the way they're supposed to, Sirius. Don't fight it, just go with it."

"Wise words for someone so uptight."

"I'm not uptight, I just like to consider my options and be prepared."

"So no going with the flow?"

She considered his words for a moment and sighed. "You know what? Maybe I should listen to myself sometimes, huh?" She took one final lick from the cone and stood, striding towards a nearby bin and tossing the remainder of it in. Grabbing his hand she dragged him towards the back of the store, where there was a door marked with male, female and wheelchair symbols.

He still held the remainder of his cone in his free hand, unsure of what to do with it when he found himself pressed firmly against the other side of the door, her lips on his and her hands snaking under his untucked shirt.

A moment later the ice cream was gone from his hand, tossed carelessly towards the basin in the corner of the room, and he had his fingers buried in her hair, body pressed hard up against hers, mouth open and heated against her throat as she pulled her wand from where it was kept in a holster against her torso.

"Sirius?" Her wand was pressed against her head, ready for side-along apparition.

"Hmm?"

"Promise me you won't spend the rest of your life wondering what if?" Her free hand slid down the front of his pants and squeezed his crotch quickly before she closed her eyes and the grey haze of apparition overtook his vision.

He couldn't help but wonder if he had in fact, died and ended up in some kind of Wizarding heaven.

…...

She brought him to me today. He's perfect; I can feel his magic running through me again. He's been gone so long I almost forgot him. The dirty one says that he was trapped between the living and the dead, but she brought him back.

The dirty one has made me in her debt. I cannot harm her. She has taken the protections from her, she trusts me not to harm her. She says she's going to be with me too, that she will be here to ensure he doesn't leave again.

She says she will ensure that his blood remains with me for another generation, that she will ensure I'm not alone again.

She must be the one. Nobody else will do, it must be her.

…...

They stood on the small porch, two pairs of cautious eyes lingering on the building's facade. It looked like any other house on the street, if a little neglected, but Twelve Grimmauld Place just didn't feel right.

Actually, to Sirius it felt downright wrong. Creepy and cloying and a harbourer of bad memories. Memories of incarceration and a desperate need to get out, escape, memories of being a prisoner in his own home.

And here he was, once again about to begin confinement in the decaying opulence.

She inserted the key in the lock after a minute or so of pause, shoving the door open roughly, taking a deep breath before stepping inside.

The house was quiet, an eerie haze of dust floating in the air from the breeze coming through the door. Hermione waved her wand and the particles clumped together and fell to the floor.

A door down the end of the hallway slammed and they both jumped, snapping Sirius out of his thoughts. Hermione turned back to him and frowned. "Well, hurry up; get inside before someone sees you."

"That door didn't slam because of the air pressure, did it?"

"Probably not." She strode off towards the kitchen, pulling the black satchel she carried from her shoulder and retrieving the calculator sized instrument she had used to scan him a day earlier. After waving it around in a few places and checking a few rooms she returned to the entry hall, cautious smile on her lips. "I don't think it's going to try to take our souls, I studied the history of the curse pretty thoroughly and it seems to be reacting as I expected."

He let out a breath he hadn't realised he had been holding and nodded. "So... what next?"

She shrugged and looked up towards the tarnished chandelier above their heads. "I guess... I go shopping." He raised an eyebrow and she huffed. "For food. You do want to eat, don't you?"

"Oh, yes. Right." He started towards the stairs, pausing when he heard a muttered spell from behind. "Wait, what are you doing?"

"Making sure you don't try to get out."

"You don't trust me?" He narrowed his eyes and glared at her.

"Forgive me if I have memories of you escaping this house at every chance you got."

"Death changed me."

She rolled her eyes. "Sorry, no chance. I'm not taking any risks with the possibility of mass panic. I can see the headlines now... Sirius Black, spotted on London Street, Inferius... or conspiracy?" She looked at him pointedly and cocked her head. "And I very much doubt that all that time in only vaguely remembered limbo served to change your inherent personality traits."

He groaned and turned back to the stairs, stomping off to the first floor. He hesitated outside the door to his old room, and instead decided to stay in the smaller one next to it, uninhabited when his family had filled the house. No bad memories to invade his dreams.

He lay down on the large bed, drifting off into his own thoughts, mind racing uncomfortably when they settled on the details Hermione had imparted regarding his reappearance.

The house was angry, cursed to take the souls of passing citizens in a quest to reinstate the family line. Hermione had briefly detailed the numerous curse-breakers who had had brushes with death and even some who had been parted with their own souls before he had asked her to stop.

His selfishness and arrogance had harmed innocents, Muggles and wizards alike. She had told him not to dwell on the past, to move forward with an open mind. He had closed off then, angry at her dismissal of his distress.

She talked about her own indiscretions, the events he had missed while he had been trapped beyond the veil. She shared as much as she could without breaching her secrecy agreement, and she talked of her penance.

An eternity with him. Her presence for the souls of those the house had taken.

He muttered the passage she had read to him. "She, who returns the heir to his rightful place, shall be forever bound in both life and death." She admitted that she wasn't sure of the exact details of the magical binding, but the use of the personal pronoun 'she' implied continuation of the family line.

He rolled over and buried his face in the slightly dusty pillow, groaning loudly in his frustration. She had insisted that eventually someone would be able to break the curse, that the arrangement was only temporary and that as long as she remained in the house in the mean time that everything would be fine.

She also insisted that someone needed to keep an eye on him, ensure that he didn't do anything untoward or drink himself to death.

He hadn't bothered to ask if there was any chance of her going for it. He knew she held a certain respect for him, but to her he would always be an overgrown man-child with limited impulse control and a bad temper. And after all, they had only reallyknown each other for twenty four hours.

He didn't really count two years of on and off interaction when she was a teenager asknowing her. More being in her vague acquaintance and then increasingly more and more in her bad books.

The front door slammed and he rolled back over, glancing the utilitarian watch the Ministry had provided him. He had been trawling his thoughts for an hour, no closer to any kind of understanding what was going on. Or understanding the strange feeling in the pit of his stomach when he looked at the woman who, the last time he saw her, was twenty years his junior.

A few minutes later, he heard the bedroom door next to his open and shut, and heels clicking back along the hallway. The door to the room opened, and Hermione's face peeked around the corner. He turned his head on the pillow and met her eyes.

"Oh, you're in here. Why aren't you in your room?"

"Memories. Not very nice ones."

"Fair enough." She stepped into the room and moved to sit next to him on the edge of the bed. "Are you okay? I haven't actually bothered to ask you if you're coping with all this."

"I'm not entirely sure. Nothing has really... sunk in yet."

She patted his arm and stood back up. "Well... let me know if you need anything."

"This is my house, you know."

She grinned at his snarky response and turned back to the door. "The offer still stands." She left, and he turned his eyes back to the ceiling, staring at the ornate moulding around the light fitting in the centre of the room. After a few minutes he decided it was time to stop moping and stood, suddenly imbued with fresh energy.

If he was going to be stuck with Hermione Granger as a babysitter, then he was going to drive her absolutely crazy.

…...

She was on the kitchen bench, legs wrapped around his, hands fisted in his scruffy black hair. Their lips and tongues danced, sucking and licking and biting and she was lost. The wave of desire coursing through her unfamiliar and a little frightening.

She could barely remember what had led them to the position she found herself. She remembered arguing and getting in his face, her anger so vehement that she was vaguely aware of tiny flecks of spittle flying from her mouth. He had stood there, looming over her, head bent, challenging her to push him further, into a rage that would frighten both of them.

It had become a regular occurrence over the three days prior. Fighting over tiny things. She honestly didn't know what had caused this one, but now, crotch pressing wantonly against his, tongues teasing and dancing, she didn't care. She just wanted... more.

Her hands shoved under the edge of his thin tee shirt, pushing it over his stomach until the hem reached his chest. He pulled away momentarily and tugged it over his head, tossing it carelessly in the direction of the pantry. Neither looked at the others faces, they just met again, pushing each other with their mouths and bodies until her skirt was bunched up around her hips, and his slacks had been unbuttoned and shoved down.

He was buried in her moments later, her desire evident in the lack of friction. She whimpered and bit down on his lower lip, hard enough to taste the tang of blood on her tongue. He gripped her waist tightly, fingers biting into the soft skin of her stomach, the other hand flat on the cool wood of the bench

Neither of them spoke. It was silent in the room apart from their intermittent moans and whimpers, occasionally punctuated by a broken word of encouragement or a deep groan when one of them did something particularly satisfying.

She cried out throatily when he had pulled her forward a little, pushing himself in deeper than he could manage with her sitting safely on the bench, and next she knew she was pressed against the wall, clinging to his shoulders and back, managing to keep a tenuous grip on him as he stilled, pelvis pushed as hard against hers as she could stand. She twitched, flexing her insides and he chuckled against her neck, mouth open and breath ghosting against her collarbone.

Neither lasted long after that, she shuddered with release moments later when he shifted in such a way that caused a delightful friction against her clitoris, sending her into a gasping and twitching orgasm, her feet pressing hard into his buttocks and hands clawing at his scalp.

He bit her when he came, his teeth sinking into her shoulder painfully, his hips jerking without finesse. They slid to the floor afterwards, sitting next to one another, dishevelled and exposed.

"Well..." She stared straight ahead, eyes focussing on a name scratched into the slab of wood that served as a kitchen island. "That was..."

He grunted, still not moving. She went to straighten herself up and collect her shirt, but he reached out, grabbing her wrist. "That wasn't the cu-"

"Don't even say it."

"Bu-"

"Don't." She snatched her hand away from his, reaching down to pick up the ripped piece of fabric from the tile. Suddenly angry with herself, she left the room, heading straight for the bathroom and a hot shower.

…...

12 Grimmauld Place

Family lineage curse

FINAL REPORT

Assignment 2012-8-7U4

Supervisor: Hermione Granger OoMFC, Unspeakable

Reporting to: Kingsley Shacklebolt OoMTC, Minister for Magic

Project date: 7 August 2012 – 29 August 2012

Status: Closed until further incident

Identified problem:

Property at 12 Grimmauld Place, Belgravia, London, SW1X, SW1W has been identified as having been placed under a curse harmful to both Muggle and Wizard. After observation of victims by healers, the conclusion has been made that their souls have been removed following passage past the above address.

Attempted solutions:

Curse-breakers (unsuccessful) - Both employed by the Ministry of Magic and contracted from Gringotts Bank.

Alternative heir (unsuccessful) - The curse requires a wizard of Black family patriarchal lineage only to reside in the premises.

Destruction (dismissed) – Destruction of the property poses significant risk to surrounding properties as the nature of the curse indicates a tendency to splinter.

Recovery of heir (successful) – Project supervisor Hermione Granger used outcome of a previous assignment to restore heir Sirius Black to physical form. Details of previous assignment in report 2012-3-5U9

Additional notes:

Hermione Granger required to reside in premises until such time as residual effects and potential recurrences of family lineage curse are neutralised.

FULL REPORT REDACTED

Detailed analyses of project including references require identification. Authorised personnel limited to Kingsley Shacklebolt, OoMTC, Minister for Magic

Page 1

…...

She is mine. I can feel it, what she feels for my master. It is not my doing, this magnetism. The curse makes me hungry, but her I cannot touch. She is my saviour.

The others are free now. I let them out, I know not where. Free to fly on the breeze, to find their bodies or float forever, no human cares or worries to hinder them. The little girl says she will not go back to her flesh.

I wish to fly on the breeze. To feel the wind running through me, to be free of these cloying walls.

My hope rests with her. The dirty one will set me free.

…...

"The Minister has agreed to publicise your return."

Sirius looked up from his book, his excitement hidden carefully behind wary eyes. "Why so sudden?"

"He has agreed that the property poses no significant danger to the general public going forward, and that your return to bodily form will be a solid boost of morale for a Wizarding public that is suffering from peace time restlessness."

"You sound like you're reading from a report."

"I'm quoting a report."

"Yours?"

"Of course." She grinned and sat next to him heavily, snuggling down into the cushions of the sofa. "Obviously I had to flub a few words, you wouldn't want me breaking out in hideous boils now, would you?"

"Surely you're okay to talk about it if I'm going public?"

"It won't be going public until Friday."

He raised a bushy eyebrow and turned to her. "You're making me wait three more days?"

She turned in her seat, tucking her one foot beneath her leg and leaning against the back of the sofa with her elbow. "I thought maybe there were others who deserved to see you first."

He grinned and leaned forward, hugging her tightly and breathing her in, nose buried in her thick curly hair. "Thank you." He pulled away framing her face with his hands, palms resting on either cheek. "Thank you so much."

"Just promise me one thing."

"Anything."

"Promise me you won't go all sentimental and clucky from hanging out around the kids."

He kissed her firmly and warmly, hand sliding down her neck and onto her breast. "I promise." He squeezed, and used his other hand to flick open the buttons of her crisp grey shirt, sliding his fingers beneath the fabric and teasing her flesh just above the line of her bra.

"Good, because I don't want any kids right now."

He chuckled, mouth barely touching hers, breath ghosting over her lips and mingling with her own. It wasn't until she was in his lap, hips twisting and flexing hard into his, teeth tugging firmly on his earlobe that he responded.

"Does this mean this is real?"

She sat back for a moment and looked him in the eye, a slow smile eventually overtaking her expression.

"Yeah. Yeah I guess it does."

End.