Not The Same Girl

HARRY'S POV:

Something is very wrong with Hermione. I am really starting to worry about her. She's not acting like her usual self. And alright, I am no expert when it comes to the females of the species, but I like to think that after four and a half years of friendship, that I've developed some insight into Hermione's thought processes. And she is so different from the girl I hung out with over the summer at The Burrow.

When I got to the Burrow in August, she was alright. She was always there if and when I needed to talk about Sirius, and what happened in the Department of Mysteries. Even when I didn't want to talk, she was always there, offering her silent support. She understood me like no one else could.

Let's face it; she could have said the four dreaded words- 'I told you so'- about Voldemort playing me, but she didn't. She stood by me like so few people ever have in my short existence. She is the sister I never got to have, and without her in my corner, so much of the past few years would have been unbearable.

So, the problem becomes- how can I help her? She's been so distant these last few weeks. And whenever anyone questions her, or tries to call her on it, she gives this blank stare, like she doesn't hear or see us.

I know that I'm not the only one who's noticed. Ginny has come to me about it on numerous occasions, and no matter how oblivious he normally is, even Ron has noticed something is wrong.

Even the teachers have noticed because her grades have slipped drastically. And she only responds whenever she's called upon to answer, never going out of her way to show off her knowledge like before.

Hell, I think even that bastard Snape is worried about her in his own imitable fashion!

So tonight, Ginny, Ron, and I are going have a meeting to discuss what to do about Hermione.

Hermione's POV:

Another day, another lesson to endure; it all seems so very pointless.

I know that people are becoming concerned by my behavior- Harry, Ron, Ginny, even Professors McGonagall, Dumbledore- I can feel their concerned looks. But somehow, I just cannot seem to muster up the energy nor the interest to care.

Gone is the overachieving, know-it-all bookworm who was so eager to soak up all the knowledge she could get her hands on. My grades have gone on a swift and steady decline, and yet I still cannot bring myself to give a damn.

Why should I? When the light in my life has gone away and nothing seems worth doing anymore. I'm just going through the motions. Struggling to keep from dying even when that's what I wish for the most.

No one knows the reason behind my pain, and they would never understand anyway, so it really doesn't matter…

(Flashback)

It was the summer right before fifth year, and I had just gotten to the Burrow, when Mrs. Weasley announced that we would be spending the rest of the summer at the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.

After the announcement was made, Ron spent a lot of time grumbling about how we would be bored out of our minds, with nothing to do. I didn't understand why Ron was so pissy about it, but then again, Ron has always been something of a mystery to me. Besides, it wasn't like we could avoid it, so why bother getting upset about it.

Although when we finally did get to Order headquarters, I had a few complaints myself, even though I didn't express them aloud. Number Twelve Grimmauld Place was a dank, and dark tomb of a house. It was also Sirius' childhood home.

Good Lord that poor man had to live here? The vibes in the place gives me goose bumps- it practically radiates with dark magic.

Needless to say, that first night I didn't get much sleep.

It became the first of many nights when I would wander into the kitchen- unable to sleep for the nightmares the old haunted ruin gave way to- that I started to get to know Sirius Black.

(Flashback) Hermione's POV:

Wandering the dark scary halls of Grimmauld Place, I couldn't help but shiver. This place was frickin' creepy! I was getting serious heebie-jeebies from this haunted ruin. I just hoped that the cleaning we were supposed to be doing to make this place habitable would make it less scary.

And Kreacher doesn't help the freaky factor either. If I wake up one more time with that little freak staring at me, I am going to lose it in a big way!

Boy wouldn't Harry and Ron be shocked to hear me talking like this about a house elf, being the president of S.P.E.W. and all that. But damn, he is a freaky little bugger… I suppose I should try to be nicer to him, after all, he can't help it. He's been alone with that psychotic portrait of Mrs. Black as company for the past decade. If that wouldn't make anyone mental, I don't know what would.

Now, a nice cup of tea is just the thing to relax me. And maybe, just maybe I'll be able to get to sleep.

Caught up in her thoughts as she was, Hermione didn't notice that she wasn't the only one in the kitchen. As she went about making herself some tea, she sang softly to herself. Never noticing the person shrouded in shadows watching her every move with amused interest.

After pouring the water into a mug, Hermione turned to sit at the dinner table when she finally noticed someone sitting there, and almost shrieked aloud.

"Oh for God's sake you scared the hell out of me Sirius!" Hermione whispered hand against her heart. Once her heart rate settled down, her annoyance rose, "Why didn't you say something to let me know you were here?"

Smirking in a vestige of the boyish manner he once used to cause the ladies of Hogwarts to swoon, he replied "But, if I had let you know I was here, then I would never have gotten the privilege of hearing you sing Miss Granger."

"Hermione, you can call me Hermione. If I am allowed to call you Sirius, then surely you are able to call me Hermione, right?"

"Alright then- Hermione. What are you doing out of bed this late?" Sirius asked. "Couldn't sleep?"

"Nope. Kreacher decided to come and stare at me, which is hardly conducive to a restful sleep. So I figured I'd make some tea, and hope for the arms of Morpheus to surround me."

"Morpheus: The Greek God of Dreams. Nice analogy."

"I didn't know you knew anything about Greek mythology."

"Yeah well, there were a lot of things that had muggle connotations that I was interested in, if for no other reason than to piss off my parents."

"Ah rebellious were you?" Hermione teased.

"Yeah well, my parents were always on my case for being sorted into Gryffindor instead of Slytherin and shaming the House of Black. I became the black sheep of the Black family."

Hermione smiled at his play on words. Who knew that Sirius Black had such an irreverent sense of humor? It was rather surprising to Hermione that she could feel this comfortable around Sirius. He was actually a rather likable fellow.

"So Hermione, you have a beautiful voice. What was it you were singing when you thought yourself alone? I have never heard of it before," Sirius asked curiously.

"Oh that. It was just a song from a muggle band called Styx my parents liked when they were younger; the song was called 'Babe'," Hermione explained.

"It seemed like a lovely song. I haven't heard much muggle music. The only time I got to hear it was after James started dating Lily. From the small bit I heard, I have to say that muggle bands were much better than wizarding music," Sirius replied, "Do you think you'd be willing to sing it for me?"

Blushing at the thought, Hermione said bashfully, "Well, I don't know. I really don't like singing in front of people. It makes me nervous."

"Ah come on, please? I won't make fun or anything like that," Sirius cajoled.

"I don't know. Let me think about it, okay?"

"Fine, be that way," Sirius mock pouted.

Hermione and Sirius spent the next two hours talking about muggles and their ability to live without magic, and many other varied topics.

(End Flashback)

So no one knew of my budding friendship with Sirius. It was something we kept to ourselves. As far as anyone else knew, we were politely civil, nothing more. It was better that way, fewer comments from the peanut gallery. And I got to see a much different side of Sirius than everyone else did.

After the day's lessons were over the Golden Trio headed up to Gryffindor Tower to do homework and relax a bit (or in Hermione's case- brood) before dinner. Harry and Ron tried to engage Hermione in conversation as they did their homework, but she wasn't responding to their attempts. So giving up when numerous attempts failed to draw any reaction, both boys quietly focused on their homework.

When dinner time rolled around, Ron and Harry got up to head down to the Great Hall for the evening meal, trailing a few feet behind Hermione, talking in conspiratorial whispers.

Sitting on either side of Hermione, both Ron and Harry piled their plates with food, keeping a watchful eye on Hermione and putting food on her plate when it became obvious she wasn't going to eat anything otherwise.

As she listlessly pushed the food around on her plate, not even pretending to eat it, Harry tried to say something to her.

"Come on Hermione you've got to eat something. You've hardly eaten anything the last few meals," Harry pleaded. "Surely you must be hungry by now."

Giving Harry the now familiar blank stare, she replied "No thank you. I really don't feel like it." And with that she stood up from the table and left the dining hall.

Dismayed Harry, Ron, and Ginny stared after Hermione's retreating form, unbeknownst to them that Professor McGonagall was also watching Hermione's retreat with concern. Looking to Albus in consternation, she saw that the usual sparkle in his blue eyes was dimmer than normal as he too watched Hermione leave the Great Hall.

Instead of making her way back to Gryffindor Tower, Hermione headed for the Astronomy Tower so that she could find some peace from the prying eyes and concerned glances. It was a clear night, and the stars shone bright in the night sky. She searched the skies hoping to find his star. There it was! Twinkling brightly, like his eyes during the few times they weren't haunted from his time in Azkaban.

Even though it was a chilly night, Hermione was suddenly surrounded in a warmth and safety that she couldn't explain; only that it felt quite similar to the feeling of being in Sirius' embrace. There was a scent in the air; something woody and spicy. If she closed her eyes Hermione imagined that Sirius was actually there holding her close.

After dinner Harry, Ron, and Ginny traipsed back up to Gryffindor Tower hoping to find Hermione. But when they got there the common room was empty. So Ginny went up to the girls dormitories in search of her. Seeing her empty bed, Ginny decided to take this time to snoop through Hermione's belongings to see if she could find a clue as to what was bothering Hermione. Spying her diary half hidden by her pillow, Ginny grabbed it feeling only mildly guilty for this betrayal of trust. If this was the only way to discover what was bothering Hermione, then Ginny would just have to risk Hermione's wrath.

And Merlin did Ginny get more than she bargained for:

I don't know how much more of this I can take. How can I go on with my shining star gone? Everyday it just gets harder to breathe. I know he would be so disappointed in me, if he saw me now. He told me that he loved my indomitable spirit; that I had a fire that would ignite my soul whenever I was passionate about something. But the world is so much darker, harsher without him in it. I miss him so much. Nobody knows that I'm lost without him in my life. Because nobody knows about the love we shared.

Life just isn't worth living without Sirius in my life. I miss all that we shared. Writing him long letters and eagerly awaiting his responses, and our secret rendezvous' at Grimmauld Place over the Christmas break. And the day we spent alone while everyone else went to visit Mr. Weasley at St. Mungo's.

I had finally got up the nerve to sing for him that day. I had to tell him how I felt. Expressing with that song what I couldn't normally say. So scared that he would laugh in my face, and call me a foolish child…

It continued on for several more paragraphs and with each admission of grief and loneliness, Ginny felt her heart break for Hermione. With a sudden clarity, she realized what she had to do.

Making her way down to the common room, she related what she had found to Harry and Ron. Harry was immediately besieged by guilt and sadness that Hermione had felt that she couldn't tell them about the growing relationship between her and Sirius for fear of earning their scorn and condemnation. Running up to his dorm, he went to get the Marauders Map, seized by an irrational fear that if they didn't find her soon, they would be too late.

Seeing her on the Astronomy Tower, they hurriedly made their way to her.

It was funny how she just couldn't seem to stop the song that wanted to burst forth. So rather than trying to hold it in she allowed the words to flow from her heart to the heavens hoping beyond hope that it would reach her angel. Unaware that Sirius was right there holding her in his arms singing right along with her as she poured all her pain, grief, and longing into the song.

There are times

I swear I know you're here

When I forget about my fears

Feeling you my dear

Watchin' over me

And my hope seeks

What the future will bring

When you wrap me in your wings

And take me:

Where you are

Where you and I will breathe together

Once again

We'll be dancing in the moonlight

Just like we used to do

And you'll be smilin' back at me

Only then will I be free

When I can be

Where you are

And I can see your face

Your kiss I still can taste

Not a memory erased

Oh, I see your star

Shining down on me

And I'd do anything

If I could just

Be right there:

Where you are

Where you and I will breathe

Once again

We'll be dancing in the moonlight

Just like we used to do

And you'll be smilin' back at me

Only then will I be free

When I can be

Where you are

Then I will be free

So take me where you are

Now baby there are times when selfishly

I'm wishing that you are here with me

So I can wipe the tears away from your eyes

And make you see

That every night while you are dreamin'

I'm here to guard you from afar

And any time I feel alone

I close my eyes and dream of

Where you are

Where you and I can breathe together

(and we will breathe together baby)

Once again (oh, we'll be dancing in the moonlight)

We'll be dancin' in the moonlight

Just like we used to do

And you'll be smilin' back at me

(only then will I be free)

Then I will be free

Baby I still believe

Oh I've got to believe

I will touch you that sweet day

That you take me there

Where you are

I still believe

Oh I've got to believe

I will touch you that sweet day

That you take me there

Where you are

Oh where you are

I've got to believe

I'll always be waiting here

That sweet day yeah

Only wanna be where you are

I still believe

On the staircase leading up to the Astronomy Tower platform Harry, Ginny, and Ron stopped moving, listening to Hermione sing. The desperate longing in Hermione's voice was a heart-breaking thing to hear. Ginny wanted to weep from the pain echoing throughout Hermione's song.

But the strangest thing was that all three could swear that underneath Hermione's voice there was the echo of a male voice singing with Hermione, a voice that was strangely familiar- Sirius.

Fin.