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Firewhiskey and Enchanted Trees

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The plan had been simple. In fact, at first there had been no plan at all, it had only been an idea that was thrust upon her by chance. It had all started when she had decided to properly tidy and clean her office at the ministry and in her desk drawer, she had happened upon a broken time turner. Clearly, it must have belonged to a previous employee but given the amount of dust and tarnish on it…probably from a long time ago. The realisation that her work desk was in fact much older than she initially thought had made her feel somewhat guilty about the ink stain on it from the bottle she had spilled on her second week with the department. Still, she had carefully inspected the broken time turner, noting that it looked slightly different to the one she had previously been in possession of, before storing it carefully in a small box and putting it back in the draw.

She should have turned it in. Instead she had thought she had known better, known enough to meddle with time. She should have known better after her third year and the stress and burn out that resulted. How could she had been so stupid?

 

August 2000

 

Hermione glanced around her, nodding to herself when she caught sight of the large familiar calendar on her bedroom wall. The tests had been going well. Better than she could ever have expected. She was ready for the first test of her true destination.

She had spent months researching time turners after she found herself unable to resist the call of the one in her desk. When she had realised that the runes on it indicated that it was a time turner which could go both forwards and backwards, traveling outside of time with some kind of shielding charm, she realised that this time turner was special. She had heard the tales of witches and wizards that went back in time and tried to jump forwards again only to age dramatically on their return. It had even resulted in a few people returning only to turn to dust and leave nothing but a time turner on the ground. But this…this was special and it gave her an idea.

Hermione had spent months making test journeys, spending a few hours and then a day and then a few days in the past, always making sure to magically record her biological age when she did so. Once she had established that it was safe to go back further and then return without having to live through all the years the long way, she would provide Harry and Neville each the opportunity to travel back in time and spend some time with their parents. Neville probably looked different enough from his parents not to be an issue, but she thought Harry could probably do with a glamour charm to alter his appearance, perhaps even just a change of his hair would be enough. People saw what they wanted to see after all, and once the most obvious James Potter qualities of the boy were hidden it was likely no one would give him a second glance.

Harry had lost so much in his life, his parents, Sirius and even Remus. Even though Sirius had come back…it wasn’t exactly the happy reunion that anyone could have hoped for. Neville had become a brilliant man but had no one to really be proud of him after his Gran passed in the battle. She wanted to give them both a couple of memories to cherish. A handful of hours with their parents. If Sirius wasn’t so unstable she would have considered offering him the same, in fact for Sirius all it would take was a deaging potion and knowing where his past self was and she could have granted him a few hours with his friends again.

Unfortunately, Sirius had fallen through the veil only to return inexplicably upon Bellatrix’s death. Stumbling out of the archway in a confused state his first thoughts were of Harry. He arrived at Hogwarts only hours after the battle to find that Harry had died and returned to life and destroyed Voldemort at last…but his best friend, the last marauder, was dead. The first few months, Sirius had been confused but reasonably alright, given everything he had been through and Harry had been the happiest he had ever been. The weight of the world lifted from his shoulders. It was when Harry moved out of Grimmauld place, having married Ginny that he began to spiral. His guilt at missing the battle, wondering if he were there whether Remus could have been saved, if others could have been saved. Not to mention…why was he returned from death when so many others were more deserving. It all ate at him. Now Harry was losing Sirius all over again, this time to firewhiskey and misery.

It was why she was so determined to give Harry something happy, something of his parents that he could hold onto. It was that determination that pushed her towards her first proper attempt at reaching a past where Harry’s parents were still alive.

November 1979

Hermione had researched the past extensively before making the trip, having questioned anyone she could about the time. She made sure not to ask any one person too many questions so as not to alert them to anything unusual. She arrived one cold November lunchtime in Godric’s Hollow. The first two hours she spent there she had spent trying to track down where the Potters and Longbottoms were. From her questions, she had discovered that her best bet was a pub just down the road from the Prewett’s home. It seemed like a large number of order meetings were taking place at the Prewett’s and although she knew the location from her previous research, she couldn’t actually find it in 1979, presumably due to it being secret kept. However, sometimes order members, particularly the younger ones, spent time in the two wizarding pubs nearby. Hermione darkened her hair colour a little and darkened her eyes a little to match, hopefully that would be just about enough to prevent her being easily recognised in the future by any Order members who might come across her. It’s not like they would be likely to remember every feature of a strange witch they met once or twice decades ago.

Still, instead of making herself suspicious by lingering too close to the Prewett’s property, she explored the area a bit more. It was a wizarding village, so that made things a bit easier. She visited the Pub, the ‘broken knight’. It was one of the nicer wizarding pubs that she had been into, the walls and floors were clean, the tables weren’t sticky and had nice place settings on them. Not to mention how cosy and warm it was compared to outside, it reminded her of the Gryffindor common room. The probably explained why so many of the Order members liked it, since a large portion of them were Gryffindors.

The plan had been to sit there, just relaxing with a book and a drink for an hour or so, get locals used to her face then leave. Then the next time, she could do similar and start trying to coincide her visits with the Potters or Longbottoms or both and try to find a way to introduce herself. If she could become known as a casual acquaintance, then it would be easier to come here with Harry and Neville and just casually slide them into the group for a few hours. She didn’t need to be a trusted friend or know them well enough to appear on the Order’s radar, that would be too big a risk. She just needed to be the friendly face that they sometimes spoke to at the pub. Unfortunately, she had not anticipated being hit on.

“So, bored you needed to bring a book love?” A voice asked, a dark-haired man sliding onto the chair opposite her. She could make out his muggle t-shirt and leather jacket in her peripheral vision, it made her wonder if he were muggleborn like herself.

“I like reading.” She replied, not looking up from the book. “Always have, take a book with me everywhere”.

“Nothing wrong with a witch with a brain in her head.” He nodded. “Surely you wouldn’t mind a bit of company though, it’s terribly boring in here tonight and my friends decided to call it an early night.”

“Probably because it’s freezing this evening not to mention rather wet out there.” She replied. Still not allowing her eyes to drift from the page. Perhaps he would get the hint, not that she overly minded a casual chat with someone, she just hoped that he didn’t have any ideas or expectations of it going further. “The weather didn’t look so bad when I got here but it seems to have turned on me.”

“And what does bring you here?” he asked. She felt a flicker of uncertainty, his voice sounded somewhat familiar. Was he an order member? Or a relative of one perhaps? She wasn’t sure she could resist the urge to look, even if it might put her on the Order’s radar.

“Closest wizard of village to the person I was visiting is all. Quite nice here actually. I’ll have to come on a nicer day.” She hoped he was going to get the message from her still not looking at him but apparently not. Out of the corner of her eye she could see him shifting and making himself comfortable. He clearly wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.

“Supposed to be nicer next week. You could come back here then; I could give you a tour.” He offered.

“Do you live here?” She asked, finally giving in to curiosity and looking up at him. Her heart flipped in panic. Sirius Black. It had only taken a second to recognise him in his younger body. His hair was longer than his older self, but his face though slimmer and more pointed held the same neatly groomed facial hair that she was used to…though actually it was less neat of late. His eyes were so similar to the man she knew before he had gone through the veil, except without the crinkled lines when he smiled. This Sirius was a teenager, possibly younger than her even. Bugger, she hadn’t quite meant to meet anyone except the Potters and Longbottoms if she could help it. At least they weren’t going to be around in future to recognise her, though she supposed that there was always a chance she would only come across the Potters while they were with Sirius or Remus. She was glad for the minor glamour charms she had cast now. She had meant it to protect her if she ran into one of the Weasleys that she knew in the future, but it was good with Sirius too; it wasn’t like she was going to become a best friend of anything. Hopefully, Sirius wouldn’t remember her at all, after all, she was just a girl in a bar. If rumour was to be believed, he had met quite a few of those. Then again, she knew more than most how false rumours could be.

“No, but I come here a lot, some friends live here.” He replied easily. “I’m Sirius,”

“Helen.” She replied, giving her mother’s name easily.

“Can I buy you a drink Helen?” He asked. She bit her lip; it was a terrible idea.

“I probably shouldn’t...” she hedged gracing at the clock.

“Come on, a cold day like this, a good drink will warm you up more than that tea.” He insisted, waving his arm for the barmaid’s attention.

Instead Hermione had many drinks with Sirius. He was engaging, charming and by far the most attractive to her; smart. He was quick witted and discussed her books on ancient runes with her at length. Two hours later she glanced at the empty glasses in front of her and then towards the clock again. Right, she told herself. Now I really need to leave. Making her excuses, she stood to leave and didn’t even give him a chance to speak as she exited the pub and made her way out into the rain. The rain was heavy, the water hitting her hard and soaking straight through her clothing, it hit the ground and bounced back up against her legs as if it were hail instead of just rain. She needed to apparate to a safer spot for time travel, thinking of a familiar wooded area near Hogsmeade, she went to spin on the spot only to feel a hand catch her arm. She froze. Sirius.

“I can’t let you leave without at least a proper goodbye.” He called, speaking loud enough to be heard over the rain, “And not without checking you’re safe enough to apparate after all those drinks.”

She knew he could tell that she was far more drunk than he was, but that wasn’t surprising given the difference in body mass and the amount of practice the man had with drinking. It was sort of sweet that he did genuinely seem to be concerned about her leaving impaired. He didn’t seem very drunk at all. She found herself looking up at him.

“I’ll be alright I think, I’m a bit drunk but not enough to affect my magic.” She assured him. “You’re getting drenched out here.” And then he was kissing her, in the freezing rain and up against the pub wall. She didn’t even resist him, not even for a second. The second his mouth hit hers it was like a rush of warmth that filled her from the inside out, warming her chilled skin from the November rain. Well, some of the stories were clearly true, Sirius Black knew how to kiss.

She wasn’t supposed to be one of those witches, she told herself when they parted for air. She needed to leave before she changed something that she shouldn’t.

“Sirius…I’m really not-” she shook her head, trying to think of the best way to refuse him. His mouth dropped to her neck drawing a gasp from her. “Oh bugger it.” She muttered, burying her fingers into his wet hair and lifting his mouth back to hers.

She felt the dizzy sensation of travel, her feet stumbling slightly causing her mouth to leave his. They were outside a door on a street she didn’t immediately recognise. It was even more disorientating that wherever they were now, it was still cold and dark but no longer raining and somehow that made her feel even more cold and wet.

“Don’t worry love, I won’t be offended if you just apparate off on me, but I was thinking privacy and a roof might be better than a wall in the rain.” He told her, his lips moving back to her neck. He licked at the scar there and she shivered. This was a bad plan. “You can always change your mind and apparate away from me from inside.”

It was surreal. This Sirius, the one leading her into his flat, was both very like the one she knew and very different. Physically, he had the same features, but he was younger and slimmer, every inch of him was lean and hard. Personality wise, he was so much more open and engaging, she had seen glimpses of this boy in the man that had been Harry’s godfather before the veil but the man that had come back lacked the brightness that this young Sirius Black had. It made it easier for her to separate the two men across time. Though if she was honest with herself, she had seen a shirtless Sirius Black stumbling hungover to the kitchen of Grimmald place several times and the man was not unappealing. Obviously, she had never entertained that observation as more than the passing thought that it was. Unlike the thoughts filling her head right now, watching the younger Sirius peel his wet t-shirt over his head.

Tattoos. The was where her eyes were drawn first. Not as many as his older counter-part but his torso and arms held more than one inked symbol. His hands were warm as they reached for her jumper and tugged it up from the hem. She helped him remove it, her own t-shirt quickly following.

“Muggle.” He commented, referring to her t-shirt. It occurred to her that wizards wearing muggle attire in the way that Ron and Harry often did, was not really done at this time. Though Sirius himself was clearly rebelling against that.

“Problem?” she asked, eyes going to his, which were distracted by her exposed bra.

“Absolutely not,” He murmured, his head ducking to press open mouthed kisses at the tops of her breasts above her bra. “I love muggle clothes.” It didn’t take them long to remove the remaining wet clothes from their bodies, leaving only damp underwear as he drew her towards the bed.

“I really shouldn’t be doing this.” She said, accepting another kiss before, dropping backwards amongst the covers. She watched as his eyes fell on her stomach and then her arm. She glanced at the scars self-conciously but said nothing. He kissed her again, her insecurities dropping away as he reached around her to unfasten her bra.

“Is that-“ his words cut off as he leant her forward to get a better look at her back. “A tattoo.” He realised.

“Do you see me examining all of yours?” she asked him.

“No but…I’ve not met a witch with a tattoo before.” He said. “Let alone runes like mine.”

“I like ancient runes,” she shrugged. In truth, it had been Harry that had come to her about choosing a couple of runes for himself to get tattoos. He wanted something that would be a reminder of Sirius but also of his own. Hermione had helped him choose and Hermione, Ron and Ginny had all gotten runes tattooed as well. On the back of her shoulder were three runes; raido, uruz and and dagaz. Journey, strength, hope. Sirius didn’t need to know that he had been the inspiration for a bunch of witches and wizards getting tattoos in the future. “Do you want to inspect those all night?”

He pressed a kiss to the tattoo before, pressing her back into the mattress. “Good point.” He agreed. “How rude of me to neglect so many of your other charms.” She laughed aloud as he lowered himself over her, tossing her unfastened bra across the room and pressing his bare chest against hers as he kissed her. Kissing him was like getting drunk, when she was kissing him any doubts about what she was doing evaporated. The way he looked at her, the way he kissed her, it was like she was the most desirable witch he had ever seen. She knew that likely wasn’t true, but the idea of being desirable was alluring. Hermione wasn’t a virgin, but her relationship with Ron had fallen flat rather quickly and left her feeling inadequate in comparison to the witches on his arm these days. But here she was, this was Sirius Black. Young, charming Sirius Black, supposedly able to get any witch he wanted, and right not he wanted her. It was intoxicating. He was intoxicating. It was a terrible idea, but as she murmured a contraceptive spell, she knew she was going to do it anyway.