A/N: EDIT (11/16/2016): I have gone back and deleted a lot of A/Ns so that I could get a better handle on my word count. From those you just need to know: be kind.

"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?"
― George Eliot

Chapter 18

Hermione pulls roughly at the hem of her skirt. Her stomach felt like it was constricting little by little. After she and Lily separate from Sheena, they begin walking silently towards the Great Hall. Her brain was searching for ways to rationalize what they were just told, but she just felt so far removed from the situation, almost like a dream. Hermione had this profound feeling that Ms. Meadows was leaving out something important.

"I'm not hungry." Lily stops abruptly to adjust the straps of her muggle backpack. Hermione almost sighs in relief; she did not think she could deal with the noise of her fellow students or keep any food down.

"Want to go to the library?" Hermione asks perceptively. Lily nods thankfully as they shift their thoughts towards what they could control, knowledge.

Arriving at the doors of the library the smell of old books and dust was overwhelming but comforting. They were star struck and gawking at the sheer size it, truly a bookworm's utopia. Hermione takes a deep breath and inhales, instantly feeling safe and at ease. The two girls grin greedily and move hungrily towards the stacks.

"Shouldn't you two be eating lunch?" A voice drawls from a table to their left.

"Sev!" Lily exclaims at full volume and walks towards the table he was bent over at. Madam Pince who was bustling by, hisses at her to quiet down. Lily blushingly apologizes.

"We could be asking you the same thing," Hermione states with a grin as she pulls out a chair and sits. When Severus opens his mouth to retort, Lily cuts in, not in the mood for her friends' banter.

"Great minds think alike." Lily smiles widely at her two favorite people.

"I figured you two would be gallivanting with your new friends." He accuses half-heartedly.

"Aw Sev, are you jealous? Lily coos jokingly.

Severus sputters. "I am not jealous. Don't be preposterous."

"Don't worry, you'll always be our number one." Lily laughs and begins to pull out some books. Severus turns his eyes to Hermione and takes in her absent expression.

"You are uncharacteristically quiet." His dark eyes narrow at her, his way of asking if she was okay.

"O! Yes. I'm fine." She laughs nervously. "Just excited to have Transfiguration with Professor McGonagall."

"Oh, I love your aunt. I wonder if she'd teach us to be animagi one day." Lily ponders as she flicks through her Transfiguration textbook.

"Maybe, she said it was really difficult. She probably won't even hear us out about it until we are about eighteen." Hermione taps her chin in thought.

"Well, that's bothersome." Lily groans and picks her Charms textbook up again.

"How was DADA?" Severus asks while still looking at his own textbook. Without meaning to both girls flinch. Because while the class was tremendous, the post-class conversation was horrifying to say the least. Before the girls can think of some way to respond, another voice cuts in.

"That's with Professor Meadows, right?" Evan walks over, handing a book to Severus and takes a seat next to Hermione.

"What's this Sev?" Lily gestures dramatically towards Evan. She places a hand on her heart. "Are you replacing us?"

Hermione smiles gratefully at Lily and begins to laugh. While Severus rolls his eyes. Hermione moves her eyes towards the book Evan put in front of Sev, and she knew just how to get his mind off questioning their DADA class.

"Hey Sev, is that a charms textbook?" Hermione asks absently. Lily's eyes widen and she turns to the dark-haired boy.

"Severus! You had Charms today and you weren't going to remind me!" Lily bellows low enough to be considered a whisper. She pulls out her parchment and quill hastily.

"Tell me everything." She demands.

Severus sends a scathing look towards Hermione who was smiling proudly. He then turns to Lily and begins to recall the charms lesson, Lily takes notes eagerly and almost maniacally.

Leaning back Hermione takes a deep breath, feeling accomplished for avoiding Severus' subsequent interrogation.

Evan clears his throat. "You didn't answer my question." He looks at her expectantly.

Hermione smiles through her embarrassment. She forgot he was there.

"Oh sorry. Yes, it was."

He nods and takes out his own book. "She's an old family friend. Ms. Meadows was in Slytherin with my father."

"Oh wow. I almost expected her to be in Ravenclaw." She says as she moves her large curls behind her ears. Unsure why he told her that, Hermione doesn't say anything else.

Evan nods and begins to read his book again. Hermione gets up quickly to look around the incredible library. She chooses an isle randomly and browses the selection. When she reaches the end she notices on the very top shelf a book titled "Magical Creatures and Their Society Placement by Rodolph Dephris". She automatically feels drawn to it and tries to reach her short arms up to the top shelf. She jumps up and down, trying to pull the book down with no luck.

Suddenly, the book begins to float and descends down to her. Hermione holds it out in confusion and looks around. Evan was leaning against a bookshelf with his wand out.

"You do know you have magic." He drawls. "Or is muggle-ness un-learnable?"

Hermione swallows down her embarrassment as she remembers that she did indeed have magic. The embarrassment turns to annoyance as she realizes that he has once again insulted her blood status.

"First of all, I don't want to unlearn my Muggle heritage." She sneers faintly.

"Then why bother coming to a magical school?" He counters.

"Is it so hard to believe those two cultures aren't mutually exclusive?" She straightens her spine to her full height so that she could look him in the eye.

"I can learn about magic while still practicing Muggle habits."

Hermione was starting to wish she had taken his advice and learned more about Pureblood culture because she was getting frustrated with their treatment of muggleborns. And with the news Ms. Meadows told them, it was actually horrifying to know so little about magical society.

Evan's face looks almost abashed. Hermione shakes her head and begins to walk away from him. He stops her with his hand as she tries to brush past him.

"Hold on," He almost looks apologetic. "When you were jumping your shoe came untied."

He bends down and begins to tie her shoes. Hermione's body stiffens in shock.

"Well..thanks," Her body still stiff as he finishes lacing her Mary Janes.

"I'm sorry if I offended you or whatever." He speaks like the words were burning him, stands abruptly, and walks back to the table. Hermione follows, her face still frozen. When she takes her seat Evan is already reading. He smiles slightly at her and looks back at her book. She sighs silently, and gives herself a pat on the back for her correct assessment, Purebloods were definitely confusing.

Lily's chattering continues as Severus' tries to keep up with her questions. Hermione's eyes fall on her friends and she shakes off her thoughts, joining them in conversation. The three friends fall into their old habits of debating and vexing each other.

"You know what? We should do this every day." Lily exclaims. "I feel like we would never see each other if we didn't."

"Lily, we have classes together." Severus tries to reason.

"I think it's a great idea," Hermione speaks, ignoring Severus' comment. She knew he didn't mean it. If he really did not want to hang out with them he wouldn't have been so nervous the day of the sorting. Plus, it would give the girls a chance to eventually fill their friend in on what really happened at DADA.

"Fine, Fine." Severus gives into the beaming girls. Inwardly, he was glad that they were making an effort to make sure they saw him every day.

"You'll join us too, right?" Hermione inquires of Evan. He was an interesting character, to say the least. He seemed to keep pulling her in and then pushing her away. Hermione didn't know why, but she was ready to find out. If she was going to learn about purebloods, she might as well learn first hand.

Evan looks taken aback at her offer. But nods in response. With plans now made and friendships reaffirmed, the four students regroup and continue their analysis of the boys' charms lesson. By the time it's to get up and go to Transfiguration, the girls were in much higher spirits than they had been all day.

Once they reach the classroom Hermione is face to face with a familiar Tabby cat, the one she had so fondly called 'Mama' as a child.

The cat regards her with a head tilt and a small meow, as she and Lily make their way to the front of the class. From behind them, Nora and a striking blonde walk in and join them in the front.

Nora crosses her arms and looks away from Hermione and Lily with a scowl. Lily scoffs at Nora and sticks her tongue out.

The tiny cat begins to pace on top of her desk, as seconds pass by the scheduled start of class. Hermione sighs as more students walk in but still no sign of James and the other boys.

"Where do you think they are?" Lily whispers. Hermione opens her mouth to respond when the classroom door swings open. In walks the grinning quadrant of boys.

"See boys," Sirius speaks loudly, sliding into a seat in the back. "We made it before our teacher."

Remus and Peter breathe a sigh of relief but James stares in horror at the cat. He puts his head down and slides into the seat next to Sirius who was leaning back with his arms behind his head.

"So where is our teacher?" Lee Daniels, a mousy Ravenclaw asks to no one in particular. Hermione looks to the cat with a smirk as the tiny creature morphs into a witch, effectively scaring every student except James, Lily, and Hermione.

"Woah." Dean gasps from the back.

"Woah indeed, Mr. Johnson." Professor McGonagall quips. Hermione suppresses the urge to snort; her pseudo-aunt had such a flair for dramatics.

"Mr. Potter, Mr. Black, Mr. Lupin and Mr. Pettigrew," She glares at the four behind her reading glasses. "Why are you late?"

"Well-" Peter starts as Sirius was still staring at the woman slack-jawed and James was trying to hide. Remus speaks up.

"Peter was nearly eaten by the stairs so we were saving him from imminent doom," Remus answers as he smiles innocently.

"Tardiness is unacceptable." McGonagall raises an eyebrow but doesn't press. "Next time, there will be punishments." She looks at Peter. "Try to be more careful, Mr. Pettigrew."

He nods wildly.

"Welcome to your first year of Transfiguration," The Scottish woman speaks haughtily. "Transfiguration is some of the most complex and dangerous magic you will learn at Hogwarts. Anyone messing around in my class will leave and not come back. You have been warned."

Her eyes narrow once again at the four boys.

"First things first." She raises a finger. "Seating arraignments must be made."

Groans arise and she raises a clipboard to her face and begins to read out load.

"First row, Sirius Black, Hermione Silver, Peter Pettigrew and Marlene McKinnon."

Hermione sighs as Lily gets up and Sirius takes her place.

"Sup?" He gives Hermione a toothy grin and turns to speak with Peter. Hermione smiles slightly at him and turns back to the McGonagall just in time to her Lily lament about being paired with James, Remus, and Dean. Hermione felt sorry for her best friend but still found it slightly amusing.

McGonagall begins her lesson after the class is fully seated. "Transfiguration is divided into four branches, Transformation, Vanishment, Conjuration, and Untransfiguration."

She takes out her wand and uses a cup to show them each branch. Surprisingly, Sirius was leaning forward with complete attentiveness. As McGonagall finishes her explanation she tells the students to take out their wands. As they do, feathers appear in front of them.

"To evaluate skill level, I will teach you a basic spell to turn this feather into a match." She raises her wand to demonstrate the wand movements and tells them to repeat after her.

"Mutare Velox" She starts. Hermione echoes the movements but her feather does not change.

"Keep trying," McGonagall speaks over the students' chatter. "It is important to make firm and decisive wand movements. Do not wiggle or twirl your wand unnecessarily, or the Transfiguration will certainly be unsuccessful."

Hermione tries again but is fruitless. A voice next to her pulls her out of her frustrations.

"You are thinking too hard," Sirius speaks from his perch on the table. Hermione looks at him skeptically and he gestures to the match in his hand. She gapes at him.

"How did you-," She huffs. "I can't believe-" She stomps her foot lightly. He laughs at her reddened face.

"Jealous?" He laughs and flicks his long curly hair over his shoulder.

"That is implausible." She turns away from him to try again. Squaring her shoulders, there was no one she was letting him beat her in this class. She turns slightly and sees Lily having trouble as well. But she couldn't blame her. James was talking her ear off, while she was trying to ignore him and concentrate.

"Mutare Velox" Hermione tries again. Nothing.

"Form a clear mental picture of the object you are hoping to create." Sirius' voice floats into her ears. She turns to scold him for butting in, assuming he was speaking to her again but instead she is met with the sight of the boy assisting Peter. She smiles and silently scolds herself for being so judgmental. Taking his words into account, she tries again.

"Mutare Velox" The feather twitches and Hermione feels discouragement hit her, but then the feather fully forms into a match. She claps her hands excitedly and turns to Sirius.

"Thank you." She smiles and he looks around in a confused manner. Unsure why she was thanking him but he gives her two thumbs up and turns back to Peter.

Hermione picks up the match and twirls it in her fingers, basking in satisfaction. She turns her head and raises the match in front of her so that Remus and Lily could see it. James looks over as well and raises his own match as if it was a golden goblet.

Lily yells in frustration, frantically trying the spell again, while Remus gives her a salute. Hermione sticks her tongue out at Lily and then picks up her Transfiguration textbook with a self-satisfied smile on her face.

From next to her she hears a frustrated sigh. The blonde girl, Marlene McKinnon, was having trouble with her feather. Placing her book down, Hermione turns towards the girl.

"You are jerking your arm too fast on the last part of the spell." Hermione raises her arm to demonstrate. Marlene looks at her skeptically but tries it anyway.

"Mutare Velox" Marlene recites and her feather quickly turns into a match. She turns to Hermione with a large beaming smile.

Hermione opens her mouth to retort when an explosion sounds from the end of their table.

"Mr. Black! Mr. Pettigrew!" The shrill voice of Professor McGonagall sounds off in high octaves.

"20 points from Gryffindor for being careless!" McGonagall was fuming. Every Gryffindor in the room groans in disappointment.

"Minnie, how could you?" James yells dramatically from the back of the class.

"5 more points from Gryffindor!" McGonagall yells without even looking at the bespectacled boy.

Marlene and Hermione whip their heads to see Peter's book on fire, with Sirius laughing hysterically and Peter trying to explain to the angry Scottish woman what was happening. Marlene gasps loudly.

"Who burns a book, honestly?" Marlene's face was distraught and she puts her arms out as if she could cradle the books and save it.

Hermione smiles widely at the girl, remembering her own words when she met Lily. Grinning to herself she watches Sirius try to charm McGonagall into letting him out of a detention. The rest of the class, much like the day went by quickly. Before they knew it was after dinner.

Dorcas sits with her legs crossing back and forth. She was a bit on edge about these lessons for the girls. She hadn't technically spoken about this with Dumbledore and she was positive that he wouldn't be pleased with her. She turns her head slightly and looks at the moving photo on her desk. It was of herself, Charlus, Dorea and Melanius Shacklebot, at a Gryffindor Quidditch match from their days at Hogwarts. She and Dorea stood out in their bright green Slytherin robes surrounded by a sea of gold and red. The two girls, in their rebellious phase, had taken to dating Gryffindors but in the end, Dorea fell in love. Dorcas rolls her eyes fondly as she imagines her daring love-struck friend at sixteen.

A tiny knock takes her out of her memories abruptly. The woman bounds over to the door and opens it wide enough for the girls to come inside. The first three girls walk inside in a single file slowly, but Hermione who was at the back has her head up boldly, reminding Dorcas of a young Dorea.

"Glad you all were able to make it." Dorea herds the girls towards the center of the room.

"Obviously we value our lives," Nora mutters sardonically.

Ignoring the snarky remark, Dorcas scans the four. "Let us get right into it. Partner up."

Unsurprisingly, Lily and Hermione cling to one another while Sheena and Nora reluctantly stand next to each other.

"This spell will be supplementary to what your regular curriculum entails." She flicks her wand experimentally. "But what I want you girls to learn is reaction time."

Dorcas raises her wand and moves into a defensive stance. She looks at Hermione with a smile. "Try to hit me with a hex."

Hermione looks aghast and sputters. "Hitting a teacher with a spell is highly inappropriate."

Dorcas taps her foot on the ground impatiently. "How do you expect to learn anything if you don't practice?"

Hermione bites her lip and doesn't respond, still feeling conflicted about attacking a professor.

"As your teacher, I am telling you to do this." Dorcus coxes her gently.

When Hermione still does not raise her wand, Nora steps forward with her wand up.

"I know plenty of slicing hexes." She says haughtily. "We are here to learn, goody two shoes." She heckles at Hermione, who rolls her eyes.

Raising her wand, Nora yells "Segmentum."

Dorcas quickly counters with "Arma Glutiam".

The tiny first years look on in awe as the hex in dissolved into a bright white light. It takes the shape of an actual shield and was fierce looking.

"This spell is very basic but it is effective," Dorcas speaks proudly. "It is a spell that my family has passed on for generations."

"Begin." She commands and the girls turn to each other and attempt to conjure the same shield. Dorcas supervises and occasionally throws in suggestions. She watches each girl carefully scrutinizing each girl's yield on magic. Charlus' may have asked her to interview for this job as a favor, one that she was more than happy to do. But Dumbledore hired her for her thesis during her defense mastery on magical core detection theory.

He was very vague when he gave her the position but after speaking with Charlus, who told her about the prophecy, it was obvious what he wanted. She was there to figure out which girl was the target.

She looks to the smiling yet determined girls who were attempting the protection spell, for their sakes; Dorcas silently prays that it is none of them.

Hermione raises her wand mechanically and tries the incantation. A small wiz of white light rises but falls short within seconds. Lily smiles at her reassuringly. "Just keep trying!" Lily tries it herself and pouts when nothing comes from her wand.

Hermione raises her eyebrow at Lily's tiny tantrum. "You thought you were going to get the spell before me?"

Lily smiles sheepishly and shrugs. "What's your point?" Lily challenges back and tries the spell again with more force.

Hermione rolls her eyes and tries again. The girls continue repeating the spell with little results until a sharp gasp from Sheena has them turning around rapidly.

Nora was standing with her wand outstretched; a large illuminated shield was solid in front of her. It astonishing and the magic felt like it was surrounding all four of them like armor. The girls were again staring in amazement; this truly was incredible magic.

Dorcas looks over at the girls and sees them all staring at Nora with wide eyes.

"Good job." Dorcas smiles at Nora who beams back. She would have to acquire some background on the girl. Dorcas felt proud but at the same time nervous for the tiny girl. The spell responds quickly to robust magic cores, which could indicate she was harboring what the prophecy spoke of. Dorcas bites down the small voice that was thankful for the fact that Dorea's goddaughter was no longer at the top of the "Who could the target be?" list.

An hour later, the girls were spent. It was now 10:00 pm and Dorcas was escorting them all back to their common rooms, both for protection and deflection so that the girls would not get into trouble with any patrolling teachers. Lily and Hermione were both walking dejectedly as they could not conjure the spell that night. When they reach their last stop, Gryffindor Tower, Dorcas turns to the girls.

"Stop feeling sorry for yourselves." Dorcas reprimands.

"We are not!" Hermione almost yells.

"You are." Dorcas challenges. "Magic takes practice and you two are not used to not picking up on things naturally." She places her hands on the two girls shoulders.

"You are treating this as a class and forgetting to put your intent into it."

"Our intent?" Lily asks in a small voice.

"Protecting ourselves," Hermione says regretfully. She was so caught up in her need to be the best she lost sight of why they were doing this in the first place. Dorcas was right.

"Protecting each other," Lily adds. Hermione could feel Lily's own shame seeping out.

Dorcas smiles at the girls and nudges them forward toward the Fat Lady portrait.

"I have faith that you girls will get it next week." Dorcas turns and throws a goodnight over her shoulder. She muses to herself silently; it was refreshing to see the two girls actually act their age.

Soft snores fill the girls' dorm, Hermione lays awake to stare at the high ceilings. Her mind wouldn't shut off, and her muggle alarm clock was mocking her. The bright light read 4am, which meant classes were in 3 and a half hours.

"Hermione," A soft voice is heard from the bed next to her. "You ok?" Lily sits up from her bed. "I can almost hear your brain going into overdrive."

"Sorry, Lils," Hermione sighs. "I am trying not to worry."

Lily pushes the covers off with her legs and swings her legs to the ground. 2 steps and she is nudging Hermione over to make room in her bed. Hermione turns her chestnut eyes to Lily's emerald.

Lily whispers to her best friend. "Are you scared?"

Hermione scrunches her face. "I don't want to be." She huffs.

Lily nods but does not respond directly to Hermione's answer. "I think it is nice what Ms. Meadows is doing for us."

Hermione says nothing.

"I think we should focus on the positive. We will be far ahead of the other students in DADA, so maybe a little fear is what we need."


"Meaning we will work harder. Not only because we want to but because we have too."

"Right." Hermione ascends. She would use her fear as a motivator and her need to protect the others as fuel. She takes a deep breath and reminds herself, this was all just precautionary. They were safe at Hogwarts. As if hearing Hermione's thoughts, Lily speaks up.

"We have nothing to worry about." Lily lies down with her head right next to Hermione's. "We are at a school with hundreds of other people. Dumbledore would not have let us come here if it wasn't safe."

Hermione nods.

"Let's focus on school. We have been studying magic since we learned of its existence. Whatever is going on in the magical world, we will deal with it when it comes up, for now, let's just focus on what we can control."

"You're right as always." Hermione feels Lily's smugness in waves and nudges her, almost knocking Lily off the bed.

"Hey!" Lily whisper-yells.

Hermione laughs into her hand. "I don't think I can go back to sleep."

"Wanna go to the common room and practice spells?" Lily grabs her wand from the nightstand. "We have charms today and I refuse to let you, Remus or god-forbid Severus, do better than me."

Hermione rolls her eyes. "I'll be sure to warn Remus that charms is your territory and we aren't allowed to do well." Hermione drawls dryly. Luckily, Severus needs no such warning. He was even luckier that he would not have to actually be in the class with her.

"Good." Lily perks up and walks out the door.

James sits up abruptly the moment he feels the sun shines on Gryffindor tower. He was ecstatic Hogwarts was amazing and more than he had imagined. Even though his childhood at home was wonderful and loving, it was quiet with no real excitement. Hogwarts made him feel like every day could be an adventure. He turns his head to look at the bed next to him, which contains a snoring Sirius. Leaning up he sees Dean, Peter, and Remus, all sleeping soundly.

Unable to sit still anymore, he swings his legs over the side of the bed and heads down to the common room. When he reaches the bottom of the stairs his face lights up as he catches sight of Hermione asleep with a book on her lap and Lily curled up on the adjacent chair, sound asleep. He was glad that his cousin was adjusting to the magical world, he was even happier that he was able to share this experience with her.

He saunters up to the couch and plops his self down next to her.

"Wake up!" James jovially yells.

"James?" Hermione bolts up with her eyes still shut. "How did you get in the girls dorms?"

"Hate to break it to you but you girls are in the common room." He jests.

Hermione's eyes shoot open and she groans. She and Lily must have fallen asleep a half hour ago after practicing charms.

"Sorry, for accusing you." She rubs her eyes sleepily.

"I take it as a compliment that you think I could get around the jinxed stairs."

She gives a low chuckle. "If anyone could do it. It would be you."

James eyes the books strewn around the table.

"You girls are already overworking yourselves?" James groans. "It has been one day."

Hermione shrugs and narrows her eyes at him. Daring him to insult her. He laughs and nudges her.

"I just worry." He hops up from the couch. "Try not to exhaust yourself." He points his thumb over at Lily. "That one might have a nervous breakdown if something were to happen to you."

"And you wouldn't?" She reaches up to adjust James' slightly askew glasses.

"Oh, you know I would," He gives her a toothy grin. "But I figured that would go without saying."

His stomach growls and he backs away, rubbing his belly. "Food." He licks his lips and runs up the stairs to get dressed.

Hermione shakes her head and gets up to wake Lily. The fear she had been feeling for the last 24 hours felt like it was melting. Her face had a small smirk, James Potter always knew how to make her dismay pass.

"And then they become stuck together and the other wizards were like-" James was almost shouting while trying to act out his story. He felt most comfortable holding court, his arms flailing telling his new friends about his theory on how centaurs came to be.

"Is that really what happened?" Timid Peter speaks in wonder.

"Well not exactly. But I assume that I am about 99% right." James throws out confidently.

Remus turns to Peter with a smile. "So what he means is, that he doesn't have a clue."

"I second that, mate." Sirius leans into the exchange. James pouts and crosses his arms.

"I didn't realize this was a vote." He glowers.

James opens his mouth to explain further when the mail owls fly in and begin dropping letters off. An unfamiliar owl stops itself in front of James, swiftly drops a letter in front of him and then scurries off, releasing another letter in front of Hermione, who was now seated at the other end of the table with Dean and Lily. Feeling eyes on her, Hermione lifts her head and waves. James waves back and rips open the letter quickly. Before his eyes can read the first word at screeching noise distracts him.

From next to him he feels Sirius shake slightly. A red envelope begins to hover in front Sirius' horrified face.

"Sirius Black! You ungrateful brat! Gryffindor? You were sorted into Gryffindor? Did you think I wouldn't find out? March down to the Headmaster and get resorted."

The screeching stops as Walburga catches her breath.

"You are a disgrace to this noble house! Did you do this to spite me? After everything that I have done for you?! You dare embarrass me! How could you do this to your family? Is this one of your terrible jokes? Filthy child. Cretin! What kind of role model of you for poor Regulus. You idiot! Don't think this is the end of it. We will continue this conversation when you get home." The envelope hits him upside the head before it begins to grumble and rip itself up.

The entire hall was in silence. Even Dumbledore was looking at Sirius with a small pitying smile. Instantly, Sirius looks up at the Slytherin table and sees Lucius Malfoy, the 7th year prefect staring back at him with a smirk. His cousin, Narcissa, was avoiding his gaze and looking intently at her food.

At least he didn't have to wonder who wrote to his mother. His body was shaking and he didn't dare look around to see who was staring at him. Slamming his fist on the table he nearly knocks over Remus' breakfast. He murmurs an apology and stomps out of the Great Hall.

Out of breath Sirius stops to dry heave. He slides his trembling body down the wall until he hits the ground. He grabs the ends of his curls and tugs tightly, suppressing a scream that was bubbling.

When you are the heir, it is easy to get away with a lot. Sirius knew this and took advantage of it regularly. But that was at home, under the watchful eye of his mother who would always be there to explain away her unruly son. Explaining away his behavior and lack of respect. Walburga Black was not stupid, she knew how to spin a situation so that no one could question the strength of their house. For his private and controlling mother to cause such a public scene was telling. She was sending him a warning, he had defied tradition and there would be consequences. Walburga was sending a message to the other purebloods at Hogwarts: Sirius Black was no longer under the protection of his house.

James recovers first and follows Sirius out. Sirius was sitting next to a suit of armor with his hands beating at his head. Murmuring, "Fuck."

"Are you okay?" James asks hesitantly. "Your mom has a real set of lungs."

Silence. Sirius doesn't even bother to look up, his shoulders still shaking.

"My mother is a Black." James supplies. Sirius turns his head abruptly, his eye wide.

"As you know the Potters are notorious Blood Traitors." He gives a slight smile and shrugs at the label "Blood Traitor".

Sirius didn't want to end up like his family lineage. Blood purity felt wrong and repulsive, what he valued differed so much from what his family stood for. But he felt conflicted. What would life be without his family? How could he live without seeing his little brother grow up? Could he live a blissful life as a blood traitor? But could he really live a content life as a good heir?

"Is she happy?" Sirius presses.

James considers all the times his mother smiles, he reflects on how much his parents love each other. He knew that even though she was outcasted from her birth family, she was happy with the family she had now. James knew Dorea Potter had no regrets about defying her family but Sirius would have to make that decision himself.

"Very," James speaks in a self-assured tone, and then leans back to the wall and slides down next to Sirius, tossing an arm around the curly-haired teen, giving him a grin. James could admit that when he first heard Sirius' last name he felt cautious but speaking with the boy quelled any fears that he was like his psychotic family.

"Tradition is hard to break" James starts. "My family learned the hard way after being outcasted."

James looks at Sirius and gives him a reassuring smile. "But protecting your own values should outweigh tradition." James straightens his spine and points to the Gryffindor emblem on his robes. "That's why we are Gryffindors."

Sirius feels his face burn slightly as his shoulders visibly relax. He exhales and feels himself fill with a barrage of emotions, mostly thankfulness for the messy haired boy next to him.

Sirius picks up his head and gives a low laugh.

"Mother is going to make my life hell when I get home," Sirius says through the now hysterical laughter. James runs his fingers through his messy hair and pushes himself into a standing position.

"Well," James puts his hand out for Sirius to grab. Hesitantly he does, and James pulls him up. "We just have to make sure your time at school makes up for it."

Sirius looks at him with shock and then his mouth widens in a large grin as he pats James on the shoulder.

"Thanks, mate." Sirius manages. The universe was giving him a chance to be himself and James Potter was his sign.

James waves him off and turns as he hears Remus and Peter come up from behind. Rubbing his hands together he smiles at all three boys.

"Gentlemen." He greets with a grin, his mind already thinking of ways to make sure Sirius could enjoy his time at Hogwarts.


"What was that?" Hermione's eyes were following Remus and Peter as they leave the hall after their friends.

"A howler," Dean answers

"Not that," She says with exasperation. "Why was his mother so angry that he was in Gryffindor?"

"The Blacks have been in Slytherin since forever. Looks like Sirius changed that." Deans scratches his head, remembering what Sirius told the boys after the sorting.

"Why would that make them angry?" Hermione asks in a confused manner while pushing her food around her plate.

"They don't take defiance well, a crazy lot of blood purist," Dean speaks with his mouth slightly full but Hermione was too curious to scold him about it.

"But Sirius doesn't seem like that," Lily interjects.

"Hence the howler." Dean stresses.

Hermione's head whips around so fast; her hair gives poor Dean, a sharp slap.

"Ow, Hermione. Calm that hair down."

"Hush you." She hisses. "Is that a normal pureblood thing? You're a pureblood, right? Are you going to get one of those too?"

She looks around in horror at the windows, that screeching still ringing in her ear. One thing was certain, Walburga Black was unpleasant and she felt a deep pity for Sirius and whoever else had to deal with her.

Alice Bulstrode, the second year Gryffindor who was across from Lily laughs.

"That's definitely not a normal pureblood thing." Alice flicks her dark brown hair out of her face as she piles more pancakes onto her plate.

Hermione looks down at her food, unable to eat. The strange feeling in her gut felt like bile building. Her eyes move up and she sees Alice waving a paper in her face. Hermione raises an eyebrow and the bubbly dark-haired girl.

"Didn't the same owl who delivered your mail, leave this letter for James?" Alice places the letter in front of Hermione. Hermione nods mutely, suddenly remembering the tiny envelope she had slipped into her robes.

"Wasn't it your father?" Lily adds, picking up the letter herself to inspect it. "Looks like his handwriting."

Hermione reaches out to grab the letter and sighs. If her father was sending James more ideas for pranking using muggle gadgets, she was going to send him 4 pages of parchment on what it meant to be an adult. Hermione flips open the flap to scan the page quickly. Her eyes were expecting a jovial tone, mixed in with playful banter, his normal tone when speaking with James, but her father's letter was flat. Generic well wishes and congrats on making it into Gryffindor. Her eyes move to the bottom of the letter and she gasps.

Some awful news has reached my attention, dear nephew. I must ask that you keep an eye on both Hermione and Lily. Do not alarm either of them but please report any suspicious behavior to Professor McGonagall or me.

P.S. Please do not let your cousin read this letter or let her know that you are watching out for her or Lily. (You know she won't stand for it.)

P.S.S I will send the ingredients to Stink bombs in my next post.

Be Well Nephew,


Hermione sat there re-reading the letter, instantly understanding what it meant.

Her father knew about the muggleborns who went missing, but what she couldn't wrap her brain around was why he wasn't trying to bring her home. She absentmindedly begins to bite her the nail on her thumb.

She felt herself grow angry that her father was trying to keep another thing from her. They had sworn no more secrets after she got her magic. Hermione's anger grows as she thinks about all the adults in her life who keep trying to keep her safe by hiding the truth. Her father, Ms. Meadows and she wouldn't put it past Dumbledore to be hiding more things from her. The loud noises of the Great Hall are lost on the fuming 10-year-old. Her mind kept repeating, "James can't get this letter back". The last thing she needs is for him to try to be her personal bodyguard. She was going to have a normal school year, even if it killed her. Without hesitation, Hermione takes out her wand,

"Segmentum." She hisses at the letter, effectively turning it to shreds.

Lily's sharp inhale pulls Hermione out of her thoughts. Dean, Lily, and Alice were staring with their jaws dropped.

"Hermione, now why would you do that?" Dean's hands gesture to the now scattered paper, his eyes wide as dishware. Hermione lets her mouth turns into a grimace as she throws out a lie.

"Oh, my dad was just sending James different ways to prank girls. There is no way I'm letting him see that." She gives a small laugh at the end and rolls her eyes.

Dean shakes his head and looks away. Alice does the same, but Lily was staring right at Hermione with her eyes narrow and questions on her tongue. It was obvious she saw right through Hermione's lies but she wouldn't express it here in public. Hermione groans and turns away.

This bond may be the death of her.

A/N Thank you for reading, for following, favoriting and reviewing!

Until Next Time!