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Chapter 1 - a storm in a teacup
"Did anyone here order a Hippogriff for Mr. Black?" Harry quipped as he tried to get Buckbeak to fly steadily outside the escape route he had just made. Hermione was clinging to his back, and Harry tried not to be aware of her chest pressed against him. The thin tops they had both decided to wear earlier that day (as the summer was quickly coming to the Scottish castle) were not doing much to help. In the room, Sirius just sat on the floor and stared at the hole in the wall that replaced the window of the office they were using as his cell while they waited for the executioner.
"Sirius, please get a move on, we don't have all night," Harry said. That seemed to get through to the half-starved man and he got up and came over to the window. It took a few moments but Harry was able to see hope rekindle in the man and relight the fire in his eyes.
Hermione gripped Harry tighter but turned her head so she could talk to Sirius. "Can you please hurry up and get on, Mr. Black? We are on a very tight schedule. Things will be bad if we aren't back in the hospital wing in…" Hermione checked her watch. "Fourteen minutes. Like, Harry and I ending up in your old cell bad."
That seemed to spur on Sirius, and he leapt out of the window and landed on the back of the Hippogriff. Harry could feel Buckbeak struggling with three people on his back, so he directed the noble steed up to an open air walkway that was originally made as access to the castle's "merlons and machicolations" (at least that is what Hermione said were the proper names for them) as close as possible to the hospital wing. Harry and Hermione dismounted, and Harry turned to his godfather. "Just go for now, we will be fine. Find somewhere safe to hide out and send me a message in a few weeks, we can work out what to do then."
"Harry, I don't know how to thank you." Sirius said seriously.
"Not getting yourself and Buckbeak caught will be a great start, so go now." Harry grabbed hold of Hermione's hand and pulled her through a door and down a set of spiral stairs, making their way to the hospital wing. They had managed to get about halfway there when Harry heard someone coming up the corridor they needed to go down. He suddenly realized two things: first, it was probably a prefect doing their evening patrols, and second, the most direct route to the hospital wing from here was also the way that they would go if they were going to Gryffindor Tower. Harry put these two things together and came up with a spur of the moment plan. He pulled Hermione into one of the window alcoves and pushed her against the wall. "Hermione, sorry about this, but I need you to trust me and just follow my lead, OK?"
Hermione nodded, a confused look on her face that Harry saw a turn into surprise as he pressed his lips against hers and started kissing her. It was almost thirty seconds of Hermione just standing there, like a rabbit caught in the headlights. However, she then started to kiss him back and Harry was a little surprised that she seemed to be getting into it. He was actually enjoying himself so much that he almost forgot why he was doing this, but the sound of a cough behind him was enough to bring him crashing back down to reality from where had been walking on the clouds.
Harry didn't have to fake his embarrassment when he turned to find fellow seeker and Hufflepuff prefect Cedric Diggory standing there. "The two of you are out after curfew," Cedric said, trying to sound stern but just sounding exasperated, as though Harry and Hermione were probably the third or fourth couple he had caught snogging in a corner this evening.
"Uh sorry, we lost track of the time," Harry offered.
"That will be five points from Gryffindor each and you better hurry back to your common room," and with that he left to continue his rounds.
Harry grabbed Hermione's hand and they started running down the corridor to the hospital wing. As they ran, Hermione told Harry between pants, "About that kiss, we will be talking about that later."
Harry just agreed with "Later." The two made it to the hospital wing just as Dumbledore stepped out.
Sirius watched his godson disappear through the door and wanted to go after him. But, he knew he couldn't so he slid up the back of the Hippogriff that Harry had called Buckbeak so that he was seated just behind the wings, where you would put a saddle if you had one.
"Well friend, I don't know what you did, but Harry said you couldn't be caught either, so why don't you and I get out of here?" Sirius asked the beast. Buckbeak looked back at his new rider with a solid thirty second stare where Sirius only just remembered not to blink from his lessons with Professor Kettleburn all those years ago. Then, the Hippogriff nodded and a few seconds later they were in the sky headed south-ish (Sirius didn't exactly have a compass). He tried to get an idea of where he could go. He had no money, and his face was splattered all over the Daily Prophet and the muggle media. There was nowhere he could go, and he didn't even have a wand he could use to clean himself up and change his face. Hell, he didn't even have his knife anymore, they had taken that from him while he was unconscious.
What he really wanted was somewhere like home, only he didn't exactly have one. He had been kicked out of the House of Black when he was fourteen, and the wards on the Black townhouse would probably kill him if he tried to go there. The flat he rented in Horizont Alley, a residential street just off the end of Diagon Alley, would have been stripped of anything belonging to him and rented to someone else years ago. Actually, given how long it had been, probably three or four someones by now.
Not that that flat had ever really felt like home, it was just a cheap place to live while you established yourself after Hogwarts. Honestly, the Potter cottage always felt more like home to him. He would laugh and joke with James, while Lily would berate him over something he had done in the same way she would berate James, but it was mostly a happy place, a bastion of love and calm during the war. But now, Potter Cottage was a ruined shell of what it had once been. He knew that James and Lily would have preferred the place torn down and something new built there, but when he had visited he saw that it had been appropriated by the Ministry as a shrine.
The only other place that he had ever felt at home was with Uncle Charlus and Auntie Dorea. He recalled how he and James had shrunken everything they owned at the end of their third year and Sirius had hidden in James's school trunk so that James could smuggle Sirius to his home and hide him there over the summer. Of course, that hadn't worked; Uncle Charlus had found him in under ten minutes, as the wards had reported an intruder to him and he had searched everything they had brought with them. But instead of being angry, the older man had taken the time to listen. Once Sirius and James had explained everything to him, Charlus Potter, the head of the House of Potter, had offered him sanctuary from his family. That had led to Sirius being kicked out of the Black family, but he was actually happy about that.
Now there was a thought: Potter Manor. Sirius knew that his uncle and aunt must be dead, there was no way they would have left him rotting in Azkaban or let Harry live with Lily's horse-faced bigot of a sister. But better yet, he didn't think anyone would think to look for him there, and he was still technically under sanctuary from the Potter family so the wards on the building should recognise him. And, he doubted anyone would think to look for him there.
Buckbeak flew for hours until the sun started to peak over the horizon. Navigating from the air at night wasn't exactly easy, but it was impossible during the day if he didn't want to be seen, so he set down in a large forest. They would rest here, and he would see if Padfoot could find something edible both for him and the Hippogriff from the nearest muggle town. They would be able to reach Potter Manor sometime the next night, as he could already see Snowdonia (the largest mountain in Wales) from the air, so he knew he was going in the right direction.
Harry and Hermione were released from the hospital wing the next morning as they hadn't actually been injured, whereas Ron was kept until lunch whilst Madam Pomfrey fussed over the results of fixing his broken leg. It didn't matter how much the three of them assured the medi-witch that everything was okay, Ron had come to her hospital wing on the night of the full moon with the marks of a large dog bite on his leg, and there were reports of someone she knew to be cursed with lycanthropy loose on the school grounds. She wasn't going to release him until she had the results of the moonstone potion confirming or denying his infection. Harry and Hermione had wanted to stay and keep Ron company, but Madam Pomfrey had run them out of the hospital wing with orders to go eat breakfast.
"Harry." Hermione said as they were walking alone down a corridor.
"Yea?" Harry replied cautiously, as he had an idea where this was going.
"We need to talk about last night." Hermione sounded resolute.
"What bit specifically? That my godfather is innocent? That we broke a bunch of laws ourselves? That the Minister of Magic is a bloody idiot, or…" Harry trailed off.
Hermione wasn't going to let him off easily. "The kiss, Harry, we need to talk about how you pushed me into an alcove and with barely a word kissed me like that." Her tone was carefully neutral.
"I didn't have enough time to come up with a better plan. I thought that if whichever prefect saw what they expected to see while they were on their rounds, they wouldn't have questioned it and would quickly send us on our way."
"Harry, I'm not concerned about that. For a spur of the moment plan, it was quite a good one. But Harry, the way you kissed me…I know you very well. You are not that good of a liar. That kiss was more than just a way to avoid a prefect looking too closely at us."
Harry felt his adrenaline spike as Hermione spoke, but he knew his friend as well as she knew him; she wouldn't drop this until she was convinced Harry had told her the truth. He sighed before he said. "Hermione, your friendship means everything to me and I am afraid telling you this could end it, but I have liked you for a while now. I know you don't feel the same way about me, how could you? I'm a skinny trouble magnet who makes your life far more complicated than it needs to be, and I do stupid things like getting mad at you for looking out for me, but yes I have wanted to kiss you for a while now and I shouldn't have used last night as an opportunity like that." Harry may have been the Gryffindor who faced a Dark Lord, a basilisk, and a swarm of Dementors, but not even he had the courage to look at Hermione as he spoke.
"Harry look at me." Hermione said, and when Harry hesitated she put her hand on his chin and gently tilted his head to face her. Harry saw she was smiling. "You silly prat. You could never lose my friendship over something like that. And what's this crap about me not returning your feelings? Yes you are a trouble magnet, and when you got mad at me over the broom it really hurt. But Harry, you are also the boy who jumped on the back of a troll for me, you're the boy who came and sat with me every night under your invisibility cloak while I was petrified, and you are the one who helped this bushy-haired bookworm actually have friends. I have had feelings for you for a while as well, but I never thought someone who could have almost any girl in the school he wanted would ever choose me." Hermione had pushed him against the wall during her little speech, and when she finished she leaned in and pressed her lips to his.
The kiss was far gentler than the one the night previous, but all that it lacked in physical intensity it more than made up for in emotional intimacy. Last night had been desperate, as both had feared that it would be the only time either of them would get to experience it with the one they truly wanted. Now, however, the two of them felt like they were sharing something together and the sweet chaste kiss meant the world to each of them.
Once they parted, each wearing a cheek-splitting smile, Harry asked the all important question, "Hermione, would you be my girlfriend?"
"Yes Harry, I would love to be your girlfriend." And the newly minted couple went to breakfast, wondering as they entered the Great Hall what all the commotion was about.
Ron was finally free in time for lunch, as his moonstone potion test had come back negative. Harry and Hermione were eager to tell him everything that he had missed the night before, but they knew Ron would prefer to eat first. As he had literally been trying to put himself between Harry and a man he thought to be a crazed murderer, Harry was feeling more amused at Ron's obsession with food rather than annoyed by it.
The three of them finally finished lunch, where Ron ate about as much as the other two combined. Harry didn't understand how Ron didn't look more like Dudley, but somehow Ron remained in a perpetual state of ganglyness. Once they were out of the hall, Harry and Hermione pulled Ron out onto the castle grounds well away from everyone and told him about everything he had missed while he was in the hospital wing. The time turner, saving buckbeak, the Dementors and saving Sirius.
"Then, once we sent Sirius away on Buckbeak, we were racing to get back to the hospital wing on time. However, we ran into a prefect," Harry explained.
"Ouch, bad luck. How did you avoid getting dragged off to Professor McGonagall?" Ron commiserated with them over their luck.
Hermione blushed. "Harry had a sudden brainwave wave and pushed me into an alcove and started snogging me." Ron tensed up a bit. "The prefect thought we were just another couple out after curfew to find some private time, and just took a few points and sent us back to our common room. Of course, we went to the hospital wing instead."
"That was actually a pretty good plan," Ron admitted. "Get caught for something trivial so that no-one looks at the big thing."
"Anyway, you saw us getting back into the hospital wing and what happened with Snape and Fudge, but there is something else we need to tell you, Ron. After Hermione and I left the hospital wing this morning, we got to talking about that kiss and… well… we decided we were going to try being boyfriend and girlfriend," Harry told his red headed friend, worried about how he would react
Ron looked at Harry like he had been speaking in another language, and after almost a minute of silence asked, "why?"
"What do you mean why?" Harry asked as Ron's question had clearly been aimed at him.
"Well, it's Hermione. Bushy hair, big teeth, and books, and you're you, the Boy-Who-Lived, Gryffindor seeker, slayer of Slytherin's monster. You could have almost any girl in the castle, why pick Hermione?"
"What's wrong with Hermione?" Harry was getting annoyed now.
"Nothing, it's just she's so…blah," Ron said.
Harry was definitely getting pissed now, but Hermione suddenly had an idea and stepped in front of Harry, putting herself between the two boys. "Ron, I need you to answer some questions quickly. Do you love your sister?"
"Now think of how you feel about her, now think about how you feel about me. Tell me, do you see me like your sister?"
Ron's eyes grew wide, "Damn Herms, you're right, you're like my sister. That explains why we are constantly bickering."
"Don't call me Herms! But as you see me like a sister, you don't see what other boys see. As neither Harry nor I had a sibling growing up, we didn't fall into seeing each other like that," Hermione explained to Ron, and both the boys understood. Ron just didn't see the appeal with Hermione but hadn't made the connection to why he also couldn't see any with Ginny. With Ginny, he knew why the block was there and was able to look past it and see how she would look to others. He hadn't realised there was anything to look past with Hermione.
"Well, congratulations and good luck to you both, I guess. Though Harry, if you hurt her I'll bounce you off every wall in the castle," Ron grinned at Harry as he said the last bit, causing Hermione to roll her eyes.
"What is it with boys thinking we can't protect ourselves? I know enough curses that I could bounce Harry off every wall in the castle myself, thank you."
Harry's protests that he wouldn't do anything to hurt Hermione fell on deaf ears as the two pseudo-siblings bantered. "Well it's a brother thing. It's what Percy, Fred, George, and I all agreed we would do to any boy who messed with Ginny when she came to Hogwarts. If you're my sister now then Harry gets the big brother act."
"Little brother. I'm older than you," Hermione quipped.
Ron shrugged. "I only know how to be a big brother to a sister."
The banter continued for a few more minutes until they got back to explaining their morning to Ron. "There was a huge commotion when we got to the Great Hall for breakfast. Snape told everyone that Lupin is a werewolf, so Lupin is quitting," Hermione told Ron.
"We tried to talk Lupin out of it but he has convinced himself that Snape is actually right and it's too dangerous for him to be here," Harry continued.
"Slimey grease faced bastard." Ron went off on one of his tirades against Snape, causing the other two to laugh as they walked around the lake.
Sirius was flying over a fameliar section of the Brecon Beacons National Park when he saw it. Potter Manor wasn't the largest or most opulent manor owned by an old British wizarding family, but it wasn't the smallest either. It was situated in a small natural valley that opened on the south side, giving the grounds a lot of shelter from the winds and plenty of sunlight. The Manor itself was a red-bricked four storey tall building that had about 20 rooms in total, including a dining hall and ballroom for whatever functions the heads of the Potter family wanted to host.
Sirrus crossed over the wards, and while they felt weak they were still functioning and welcomed him home. He set Buckbeak down right outside the front door and dismounted. "I need to go inside and have a look around, OK? You should stay inside the wards, but there should be something around here you can eat. If not, I will go into the local village soon and get us something." Sirius was stalling and he knew it. In all probability he would find the bodies of his aunt and uncle inside and he didn't want to see that. After a full five minutes of preparing himself, he stepped through the door into the entrance hall of the Manor and walked straight back out again. The entrance hall was littered with bodies.
Sirius stumped over to where the path was being overrun by grass, fell to his knees, and threw up what was left of his rather meagre lunch. Images of what he had just seen raced through his head, and while one part of him was fighting the need to be sick again, another was going over what he had seen with cold detachment. The bodies had been left out for over ten years, so whether by decay or because insects had gotten at them all the flesh was gone, but wizarding clothing had preservation charms on them, so it had been easy for him to spot his auntie Dorea. He had helped James pick out that dress for her as a birthday present a few years before he had been sent to Azkaban. The other bodies he didn't know, but given that they were all in Death Eater robes and masks he didn't much care who they were.
Buckbeak came over to Sirius cautiously and laid his head on Sirius's shoulder, offering the man a little comfort until he was ready to go in there again. His second time inside he was able to hold himself together. There were five bodies in the entrance hall, but Sirius only had eyes for one, the woman who had taken him in when he was a desperate child. He knelt down next to what remained of one of the best people he ever knew "I'm so sorry auntie. You shouldn't have been left here like this. I should have been here sooner. They said I killed James and locked me away. But I didn't do it auntie, I promise I never did that. I know I wasn't always the best growing up, James and I did loads of stupid shit and swore that it wasn't us, but you must know I would never do that." As the man spoke, he started to weep over the body of the woman who had been more of a mother to him than his own.
He couldn't have told anyone how long he knelt there mourning his loss, but when he came back to himself he noticed he was holding his aunt's wand and the bodies of the Death Eaters had been smashed to pieces in his grief stricken rage. He went looking for his uncle, whose body wasn't among those in the entrance hall. He wandered the house looking for any sign of his uncle. There wasn't anything worth noting on the ground floor, the only real difference was that the house plants his aunt had loved had all died long ago from a lack of food and water.
On the next floor he found another dead Death Eater; Uncle Charlus and Aunt Dorea had put up a fight and taken a fair number with them. As he started climbing the stairs to the third floor he heard something, not a bang or crash or anything that could be mistaken for a footfall, but a low constant sound that was like the sound Lily's old muggle radio used to make while she was looking for a new station. Sirius didn't bother looking on the third floor, instead following the sound to the fourth floor and passed a sixth Death Eater's body. The sound was getting louder the closer he got to his uncle's study. Sirius started to run towards the study, noticing there was a slight glow from within. He ripped open the door, a part of him furious that someone would use this place and not even have the decency to bury his aunt, but as he opened the door the sight before him knocked all thoughts from his mind.
Someone was in the room, yes, but he could hardly blame them for not doing anything, as the man was trapped in a maelstrom of magical energy. In the centre of the energy field, his Uncle Charlus was wearing an expression of fear as he held a broken time turner. Sirius could see him starting to spin and the sands of time starting flying everywhere. Then, after about seven seconds, time Inside the 'time storm' would reverse, leaving Uncle Charlus to replay the same seven seconds again and again until someone did something about it. Sirius watched the storm as it replayed again and again, looking for a way to get his uncle out of there. He positioned himself to the left of his uncle and lined up the shot, hoping that his aunt's wand would work well enough for him so that he could pull this off. Just as the time loop started going forward again, Sirius hit the time turner with a banishing spell, sending the time device sailing across the room and into the wall. As soon as he cast the banisher he cast a summoning charm on his uncle's belt, pulling the man into his arms, then as fast as he could he threw up a shield charm.
Uncle Charlus yelled in range, fear, and surprise, but it was drowned out by the sound of the much larger time storm that raged on the other side of the study. The original time storm was still affected by the spells on the time turner that held the sands of time in check. Smashing the already broken device against the wall removed those protections entirely. Everything in the time storm must have aged a thousand years in the span of a few seconds, but thankfully the sands of time are volatile. As much as the time turners acted to keep the rest of the world safe from the sands, they also kept the sands from decaying. After a minute they seemed to be gone; the wall and the furniture that had been in the storm were all going to need to be replaced, but that was a small price to pay as Sirius had his uncle back.
Dun Dun DUN! How will a living Grandpa Charlus affect Harry's story going forward? For that matter, what effect will that kiss have?
Moonstone potion. A potion of my own invention. The potion uses powdered moonstone as an ingredient, and if you place a drop of a person's blood in the brew and wait a few hours, if the person has lycanthropy the potion will change to resemble milk. If not, it will turn a shade of lavender.
I am going to try and avoid alienating Ron in this fic. So instead of classifying Ron and Hermione's fights as being like an old married couple, they fight like brother and sister. And as someone who is part of a brother-sister relationship I can confirm there are times when you want to kill each other and times you want to kill for each other, so I hope this can be fun.
Sorry I didn't write the scene where Harry asked Remus not to quit. I honestly have nothing to add to that scene.