Her door slammed behind her as she rushed into her room, heading straight for the in-suite bathroom. She hunched over the sink and splashed cold water on her face, as if to wash away the tears that did not seem to want to stop falling. Never had she ever wished that she remained in the dark regarding the pursuit of knowledge before. How was she ever going to be able to face Sirius knowing that his brother was her soulmate? He could not even say Regulus' name without holding back tears.
And Harry. Oh gods, Harry.
How could she tell him that his father was her soulmate? His father, who everyone said married the love of his life. Which brought up another question. James' mother was a Black. Why did he marry Lily if he knew she wasn't his soulmate? Actually, the more she thought about it, the more questions she had. She wouldn't have been born yet when Regulus and James completed the ritual. Did they know they had two soulmates?
Frustrated at her many questions and having no answers, she threw her pillow across the room and threw herself down on her bed. What did this mean for her? Was she doomed to be alone for the rest of her life? She wasn't sure she could date, knowing that person was meant for someone else. The thought of never having the love that so clearly shone between Remus and Sirius or Harry and Daphne brought fresh tears to her eyes.
She jumped up when there was a sudden pounding on her door. That would be Sirius. He always tried to get her to open her door when she was upset by making as much noise as possible. Confident in the knowledge that he would not be able to get through her wards, she ignored him (even if she felt slightly guilty doing so). He'd give up before long.
And he did. Only to be replaced by a slightly less loud knocking. Must be Harry's turn. She ignored him as well. Harry always meant well but had the tendency of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. It took him a few minutes to realize that she wasn't going to let him in and finally, the knocking stopped.
She figured she had a very short time before Harry and Sirius would convince Remus that it was his turn to try. Taking that time to think about whether she wanted to talk to him or not, she decided she would talk to him. She needed to talk to someone, and she certainly couldn't talk to Sirius or Harry.
She could almost grin with the predictability of the men in her life. Almost. With a wave of her hand, the wards around her room fell and the door swung open. Remus walked in, the door shutting behind him. He said nothing as he just sat next to her and opened his arms, which she immediately flung herself into. She clung to him, the tears starting anew, as he tightened his grip on her.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
She pulled back, bringing a hand to her face to swipe frantically at the tears.
"No, not really. But I also know I will go crazy if I keep it to myself. You can't tell Sirius, though. Or Harry."
"Hermione... Sirius is my husband; I don't keep secrets from him. Not only that, he is your father. He's going to want to know."
She sighed, guiltily. Remus was right (he was always right).
"You're right; I know that. I just... I can't... it's going to break his heart, Remus. I don't want him to feel worse than I'm sure he already does."
"Yes, he's already in his full guilty mood over making you do the ritual when you didn't want to. But he's an adult and he'll get over whatever it is you have to tell us."
They sat there quietly for a few minutes while she gathered her nerve. That was one of the things she loved about Remus the most. He never pushed you, and he was always there with his quiet, yet strong, support. She knew she could go to him about anything, and he would always be there for her. She took a deep breath.
"Well, you already know about the strings, how there were two and they were both black. So, that brings us to the names. Remus... " she trailed off, unsure of how exactly to say what she needed to say.
"It's okay, Hermione. Whoever they were, we'll get through this. Together."
"It's Regulus Black and James Potter," she blurted out. Since she was already watching him closely, she could see his face turn white as the blood drained down. Slightly concerned that he might pass out, she was relieved when he seemed to snap out of the shock. The shock, however, turned to a different emotion as his mouth turned downward and he sighed heavily. She was certain she saw tears beginning to gather in his eyes which instantly made her want to cry again. There were few things that made her more upset than seeing her family hurting. Especially if they were hurting because of her.
"So you were their third. Somehow, that does not surprise me as much as it should. I'm so sorry, Hermione. So very sorry."
"Wait. So you knew about Regulus and James being soulmates? Why did James marry Lily then if he knew?"
"He didn't know. Even though James' mother was a Black, his father was against the ritual so he never completed it. And as far as I know, I'm the only one that knows that Regulus not only had two strings, but that one was James and the other was clear with no name. Which apparently meant the person that string belonged to had not yet been born. Regulus and Sirius' relationship was strained by that point, but I had maintained a friendship with him, of sorts. I'll never forget the day he told me."
Remus jumped slightly as the walls of his flat started shaking from the force of the banging on his front door. He stood up, making his way to the door, wondering who it could possibly be. Flinging the door open, he was very surprised to see Regulus standing on the stoop, hands fisted in his hair and looking more unkempt than he had ever seen him.
"Regulus? Um... Sirius isn't here right now."
"He's not who I wanted to see, Remus. Can I come in?"
"Of course," Remus said as he moved aside to let Regulus in. He motioned to Regulus to have a seat, which he promptly did, and Remus sat across from him.
"Regulus, are you okay? You look like – "
"I need you to take a Vow that you won't tell Sirius anything about this visit."
"I know you and Sirius don't get along, but Reg, he's my husband. I don't keep secrets from him."
Remus took a closer look at the man sitting across from him and was stunned at what he saw. His eyes were rimmed with red, his hair was disheveled, and it looked like he had spent the last week in the clothes he was wearing. Smelled like it, too. It was obvious that Regulus needed help. So he agreed and took the Vow.
"Now, tell me what's got you so upset."
"My eighteenth birthday was last week."
"Something odd happened. I had two strings, one was clear with no name and the other..."
"Clear? What does that mean? What was wrong with the other?"
"Uncle Alphard said the clear meant that person hadn't been born yet. As for the other, it was James."
"Oh. Oh Reg, I'm sorry. Maybe if you went to him, told him he's your soulmate – "
"No! No. He made his choice when he dumped me for taking the Mark. I tried explaining that Mother forced me, but he didn't want to hear it. Besides, he's marrying Evans in a few months," he spat out, bitterness dripping from every word. He continued, "I just... I need you to do something for me. He's your best mate so I know you will, but keep an eye on him for me, yeah? And if it ever comes out who the third is, them too."
"What? Of course I will, but Regulus, what is going on?"
Regulus said nothing more, merely shaking his head as he stood up abruptly and made for the door. Remus was so shocked at his uncharacteristic behavior that it took him a few seconds to react. He jumped up and chased after him.
But it was too late as the sound of Apparition hit his ears, he knew Reg was long gone.
That was the last time he would ever see Regulus.
Hermione had no idea what to think about the story that Remus just told her.
"You never told anyone what Regulus told you?"
"Only you. I took the Vow so I literally could not tell Sirius. Regulus' name came up as dead on the Black tapestry a week later, and I didn't see the point in telling James. Instead, I tried my best to keep him safe. It seems I failed them both, and, as it turns out, you."
"Remus, no! Don't say that; it's not true. I just... I don't understand. James and Regulus were together, in school?"
"They dated in our sixth year, Regulus' fifth. They kept it quiet, no one really knew. Sirius thought they were just good friends."
"Regulus took the Mark. He wasn't like his parents; he didn't want the Mark any more than Sirius did, but he found it much harder to go against his parents. His mother ended up having to Imperius him to get him to take it. Once James found out, he was livid. I think he took it as a personal betrayal. He left Regulus straight away and refused to speak with him."
"That's awful! James should have listened to him."
"I know. When we got the news of Regulus' death, James was a wreck. I'd never seen him so upset, not even when his parents were killed. I thought then, and still do, that he was still in love with Regulus."
"Why did he marry Lily then?"
"I don't know. I never could bring myself to ask."
They fell silent then. Hermione was grateful as her mind was swimming with all the new information that Remus gave her. She lay her aching head on Remus' shoulder, his arm coming up to rest on her shoulder, pulling her in closer. His warmth, and all her previous crying, relaxed her into such a state that she was asleep within minutes. Her last thoughts before sleep claimed her was how unfair the whole thing was. Love ripped apart by war and two lives ended before their time. Damn Voldemort. She hoped he was rotting in hell.
Remus laid the sleeping girl, his daughter, down gently on her bed. It always amazed him to look at the family he had now, after spending so many years alone. He certainly never thought he would have kids, what with Sirius being locked up for the majority of their marriage. But he had him back, along with Hermione and Harry, and it was more than he could have ever hoped for. He would do anything for them and it killed him to see Hermione so upset, to know that he would have to leave her room and further upset his husband and their other pup.
With one last glance to make sure Hermione was okay, Remus made his way to her door, pausing at the threshold to steel his nerve. As he exited the room, he found Sirius, Harry, and Daphne all waiting for him, looking concerned. Well, Harry and Daphne looked concerned. Sirius looked... devastated.
"Harry, why don't you escort Daphne home? I need to talk to Sirius."
Harry looked like he was about to argue, but a quick look from Daphne had him agreeing. After they left, Remus led Sirius to their bedroom.
"How much does she hate me?"
"She doesn't hate you, Sirius. She loves you. She's just... upset that her soulmates are dead and worried about your reaction."
"My reaction? Why is she worried about that?"
"Sirius, her soulmates were James and Regulus."
He watched as Sirius silently mouthed the words 'James' and 'Regulus' before his eyes rolled up into his head and he promptly passed out.
Huge thanks to Liza, for rec'ing this fic to her readers, and Raybe for all the help and beta-ing duties.
Thank you for all the favs, follows, and reviews! I'm completely blown away by the response for this new fic! :)