A/N: The 2016 Monthly Prompts Challenge had a Red String of Fate AU. I didn't know what that meant so I looked it up. It's a bit like a Chinese version of soulmates, or people who are fated to be together. (Wikipedia has an article.) Often the male half of the couple is horrified/shocked/whatever at whom fate has chosen to shackle him. That's how we ended up with Sirius/Hermione/Remus.
Bad Movie Tuesday Challenge: Movie 43-Two quotes
"He is not a normal cat!"
"Congratulations!? She's bleeding to death!"
Word Count 2999
WARNING: This is not fluffy. At all. I know that's not like me, but this is the story that wanted to be written.
The flat that Alphard had helped Sirius to buy had become cluttered within a month. Posters depicting The Clash, The Pretenders, David Bowie, and Siouxsie and the Banshees decorated the walls in a haphazard fashion. Overflowing ashtrays were on almost every flat surface and empty beer bottles left rings on bookshelves and coffee tables.
When Sirius woke, his room was completely dark. He rolled out of bed and scratched at his chest idly. Light spilled under his door and Sirius frowned to himself. He had been alone in the flat when he'd gone to bed. James was locked down under the Fidelius Charm, and Peter had said something about his mother needing him to come home. That only left one possible person. Remus. He smirked to himself and reached for the doorknob. It had been months since Sirius had seen Remus and his emotions were a tangled mass.
They had all joined the Order convinced that they were doing the right thing, but everything had fallen apart so quickly. That gods be-damned prophecy had made sure that James and Lily were locked down tightly, and James hadn't been able to see any of them except for rare, furtive occasions. Dumbledore had the rest of them off on obscure missions so that they barely saw one another. Remus had been gone for months at a time. Peter was the only one that Sirius saw with any sort of regularity.
The lamp in the living room was on and Remus was curled up on a corner of the couch under it. A heavy, thick book was open in his lap and he was frowning thoughtfully as he read. It was a scene that would have been familiar to any of the Marauders—Moony stuck in some musty tome. Joy leapt in Sirius' chest as he watched Remus absently turn a page. Merlin, Sirius had missed him. He grinned to himself and moved across the room.
"What's this, then?" Sirius plucked the book out of Remus' hands.
"Sirius! Be careful with that," Remus admonished him.
With a giddy laugh, Sirius plopped himself into Remus' lap. He wrapped an arm around Remus' neck and planted a wet, sloppy kiss on his lips.
"One would think you didn't miss me at all, Moony." Sirius mock-pouted at him. He turned his attention to the book in his lap. "Magic from around the World? Where did you dig this up?"
"Dumbledore lent it to me," Remus explained quietly, his voice a pleasant rumble against Sirius' shoulder. "He thought there might be something in it that could help us."
Sirius let the book fall open randomly and scanned the page. He started laughing, and one he started he couldn't stop. He fell off of Remus' lap onto the floor, curling around the book to protect, and kept laughing. A stitch was forming in his side and he gasped for air. Remus swatted him with a pillow.
"Don't be an arse, Padfoot," Remus snapped. "It was just an idea."
"No," Sirius managed to choke out. "I think it's a swell idea. I'm sure that…," he paused to focus on the page in front of him. "A Chinese spell to find your… soulmate, or whatever, is going to help us win against Voldemort."
"You do realize that there are quite a few other spells in there?" Remus countered with a growl that made Sirius' spine shiver. "On the next page is a Chinese spell that helps to detect Dark magic. There's quite a bit that is useful in that book."
"No, no, no, Moony," Sirius argued with a shake of his head. "I'm positive that this is the key to the whole thing."
"Give me the book, Padfoot," Remus sighed.
"Nope." Sirius popped the 'p' and then smirked at him.
A quick struggle, which Sirius won by cheating, and he was sitting on Remus' chest. He held the book in one arm and his wand in the other. He carefully read through the spell because, while he might be wildly reckless, he wasn't completely stupid. Sirius didn't know Chinese Hanzi, but he did know a couple handy translation spells. He carefully pronounced the spell and waved his wand according to the illustration in the book.
Two thin red cords… more strings, really… appeared to be tied neatly around his pinkie. Sirius stared at them for a moment and then moved the book so he could look at Remus who was staring, gobsmacked, at the red string that ran from Sirius' pinkie to his own.
"I'll be damned," Sirius muttered.
Remus snorted at that and rolled his eyes. "I've never doubted that for a moment."
"Shut up, you prat," Sirius retorted. "Look, there's another string. D'you suppose it's Prongs? That'd break poor Lily's heart, wouldn't it?"
"It's not James," Remus stated flatly.
A sudden thought occurred to him and Sirius gasped in horror. "You don't think it's Snivellus, do you?"
"For Merlin's sake, Sirius, don't be so melodramatic. If they're our soulmate, whoever they are, I highly doubt it would be Severus Snape," Remus sighed heavily.
"We should find out, though," Sirius continued. He clambered off of Remus and paced around the living room. "What if it is some damn Death Eater?"
Remus sighed again. "Our soulmate is not a Death Eater."
"How do you know?" Sirius insisted. "I think we should look for them. We can do a modified 'point me' spell."
"Fine." Remus threw his hands up in the air. "Fine. Do whatever you want. It isn't as though I can really stop you."
It took a bit of work to figure out all the particulars, and eventually Remus gave up and helped Sirius tweak the spell. Sirius had been so excited that he had bounced around Remus until the latter growled at him to stop.
"Come on, Remus, you've got to be curious." Sirius prodded his new-found soulmate.
"I don't mind damning you, you deserve it," Remus muttered. He rubbed a hand over his face. "I just can't… this other person… they aren't going to want to be bound to a werewolf."
"Knock it off, you wanker," Sirius said flatly. He punched Remus in the arm. "Whoever it is, they're your soulmate. They're not going to care."
"You can't know that," Remus protested.
"Of course I can," Sirius retorted. "They are your soulmate, you arse."
"Yours, too," Remus reminded him.
Sirius rolled his eyes. "As if I could ever be soulmates with someone who wouldn't love you just the way you are."
"Oh, shut up," Remus grumbled.
The spell led them to a nice section of London that appeared to be upper middle-class. The houses were all well-kept, but the entire neighbourhood seemed overwhelmingly Muggle. Sirius gave a low whistle and turned about in a circle.
"We've scored a Muggle bird," he said excitedly. "Do you know what this means?"
"She's going to think that we're insane when you tell her that we're wizards and that I'm a werewolf?" Remus suggested with a raised eyebrow.
"No, don't be silly. When my mother finds out that I've gone and shacked up with a werewolf and a Muggle… she's going to go round the twist," Sirius explained with a wide smile.
"Lovely," Remus muttered.
They stopped uncertainly in front of one of the houses. It was mostly tidy, except for a stuffed puppy that had been dropped on the front steps. Sirius moved forward and picked it up. The puppy had sewn-on eyes and slightly chewed ears. The front door suddenly opened and a distracted man stepped out onto the steps.
"It's all right, love, I'm sure your lovey is here somewhere," he soothed as he jiggled a baby on his hip.
The baby fussed and fat tears rolled down her chubby cheeks.
"Bloody buggering hell," Sirius swore under his breath.
Two thin red strings were tied neatly around the baby's pinkie finger, and they led straight to Remus and Sirius.
"Excuse me, but I believe you have my daughter's stuffed animal," the man said stiffly.
Sirius blushed and thrust the stuffed animal out. "Terribly sorry," Sirius muttered. "I just found it on the step."
The puppy rose slowly from outstretched hand and into the baby's waiting arms. She squealed happily and began to gnaw on one of its ears.
"Hermione," the man hissed.
"Not a Muggle, then," Remus observed in a detached-sounding voice that drew Sirius' attention.
All the blood had drained from Remus' face and he was staring at their soulmate, at Hermione, in horror and disgust.
"It isn't her fault," the man snapped defensively. He cuddled the baby closer to his chest and grimaced. "It just… it just happens."
"We didn't mean any offense, sir," Sirius offered. He moved closer to Remus and put a cautionary hand on his shoulder. "It's just… she wasn't exactly what we were expecting. Terribly sorry to have bothered you and all that. My friend and I will just be going."
Sirius didn't even wait for the man to acknowledge his words. He wrapped an arm around Remus and apparated them away. When they landed, Remus staggered away from him and leaned against the wall of the alley that served as the public apparition point near Sirius' flat. He hunched over and threw up everything in his stomach.
"Side Along doesn't usually bother you that badly," Sirius observed with a frown. "Usually you say that it isn't near as bad as your time of the month."
"Wasn't the Side Along," Remus gasped.
"What, Hermione?" Sirius guessed.
"She's a baby!" Remus yelled. "She's just a child!"
"Well, I wasn't going to suggest that we marry her tomorrow," Sirius protested.
Remus scrunched his face up in disgust and glared at Sirius. "There is that," he said. Then he shook his head. "No one can know, Sirius. No one."
"What are you talking about?" Sirius demanded.
"If word gets out that I have a soulmate that's a child, what do you think Greyback would do?" Remus pointed out.
"I wasn't planning on taking out an ad in the Daily Prophet or anything," Sirius grumbled.
"No, but you have a bad habit of thinking that you're amusing," Remus retorted. "It would be just like you to make comments whenever we saw dolls or lollipops or anything like that. The wrong person would overhear us and that would be it. She'd get bitten and… I don't want that for her, Sirius. The best thing that we can do is stay the hell away from her and hope that no one else ever finds out the truth."
The summer after Harry's third year at Hogwarts, Sirius had decided to lay low at some property that his uncle Alphard had owned and had left to him. It was a small plantation on a Caribbean island with a modest magical population.
"Was that her?" Sirius asked cautiously.
Remus sighed and put his face in his hands. "Yes, I think it is. She's a witch and she's the right age."
"Well, there can't be that many Hermiones running about," Sirius muttered. He sighed. "What do we do?"
"Nothing," Remus said flatly. "You're a convicted fugitive and I'm a werewolf. Even if we weren't 20 years older than her, we're neither of us good for her. She doesn't need us, Sirius. In fact, we're probably the last thing she needs in her life."
Azkaban had changed Sirius because he nodded instead of arguing.
"Yeah, she deserves better than me," Sirius muttered.
Remus rolled his eyes. "And me, as well, you idiotic dog."
"I'm a Grim, thank you very much. There's a bit of a difference," Sirius retorted haughtily.
"You managed to get Hermione's cat to help you, so you may be right," Remus taunted him.
"He is not a normal cat," Sirius huffed. "Firstly, he's part-kneazle, and secondly, I'm not so sure the other part is actually cat. Our Crookshanks is a little more intelligent than he ought to be."
"He's Hermione's familiar," Remus said with a shrug.
"Maybe," Sirius allowed.
"Harry says that Hermione went to the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum," Sirius read aloud. He looked up and cocked his head at Remus. "Should we be jealous?"
Remus rolled his eyes. "She's 15, you half-wit. Let her have her fun. Besides, what part of 'no one can ever know' did you not understand?"
"That tosser Weasley made her cry," Sirius growled as he continued to read. "Harry wants to know what he should do. Should we tell him to beat Weasley to a pulp, or just punch him?"
"Violence isn't the answer, Padfoot," Remus sighed.
Sirius waved the letter in Remus' face. "He made her cry, Moony! It was her first big dance, I bet she got all dressed up, she had a date, and then that berk ruined her night and made her cry!"
"Maybe we could put a subtle word in Fred's and George's ears," Remus said reluctantly.
The loss of Sirius was like a gaping wound in Remus' heart. He had tried to console Harry, but he had spent the entire time biting his lips so that he wouldn't howl his agony to the sky. It didn't help that Hermione was laying in one of Madam Pomfrey's beds unconscious, and the Healer wasn't overly optimistic about her recovery.
"It was a complex Dark spell," Madam Pomfrey explained in a hushed whisper to Headmaster Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall. Remus' sharp ears caught every word. "I can't stop the internal bleeding, and it's all I can do to stuff enough blood-replenishing potions down her throat. To be honest, if she manages to make it through the night I'll be surprised."
So Remus kept a lonely bedside vigil, watching over the only soulmate he had left, and hoping that—despite his desire to stay away—she wouldn't leave him. She might never know what she was to him, and what she had been to Sirius, but he couldn't leave her all alone.
"Thank you for keeping an eye on Miss Granger," Dumbledore said softly. "Her parents aren't able to come to Hogwarts, and here is the safest place for her right now—we do not know if St. Mungo's has been infiltrated and we don't dare risk exposing her when she is so vulnerable. We are having an expert coming to consult with Madam Pomfrey in the morning."
"Of course, sir," Remus muttered.
"Congratulations, by the way," Dumbledore offered as he turned to leave them alone.
"Congratulations!? She's bleeding to death!" Remus growled. A rough sob escaped him. "And I've lost…"
"Yes, I know," Dumbledore said gently. He sighed and stroked his beard. "Soulmates never quite work out the way we expect, do they?"
"No, sir," Remus sighed.
If Sirius had still been alive, he would have had a fit. But then again, it had been Sirius' death that had been the catalyst. Remus should never have let it happen, but he had been lonely and grieving, and before he knew it Dora was declaring her undying love for him.
He was poison for everything he touched. First Sirius and now Dora wanted him to destroy her life. The kicker for Remus was that everyone else seemed to think it was such a swell idea. No one seemed to grasp the absolute folly of letting someone like Dora marry a werewolf. Everyone seemed to think he ought to get married, and everyone seemed to think that it was their duty to tell him so.
Didn't they know that it was madness? Didn't they understand how Dora would be treated? How people would look at her? Didn't they know the sorts of things that people would mutter under their breath as she passed by?
Remus didn't deserve one soulmate, let alone two. He knew that. How was marrying some witch who thought she was in love with him any better? He had done the best that he could to protect Hermione—to keep her from being tainted by his presence.
Then again… maybe this was for the best. If he did marry Dora, maybe he could at least make her happy. If he did that… then Hermione would be safe. She would never know the truth, and she could live her own life… find her own happiness. He sighed heavily, letting out a breath that he hadn't realized he had been holding.
"Have you made a decision then?" Dora's voice came out of the darkness, startling him. He jerked around to find her leaning against a wall.
"Yes," he said after a moment. "I think I have." He gave her a tentative smile.
Dora's answering smile was wide and bright. "Excellent."
It was difficult to retain focus knowing that both Dora and Hermione were here. Remus knew that his duty… his obligations were to Dora, but he couldn't stop looking for a mane of thicky, busy hair. It was perhaps due to that hyper-vigilance that he saw the Death Eater target Hermione. Without a thought for himself, or even for poor Dora, he raced towards Hermione knowing that every second would count. The Death Eater raised his wand and moved it in a series of swishes. Gathering a last burst of speed, Remus flung himself between his soulmate and the Death Eater's wand. He closed his eyes as the spell hit him, thought of Sirius, and smiled.