Winter holidays passed with Hermione confined in her room and only coming out during meals. Sirius tried talking to her a few times but he eventually gave up when he realized that she wasn't going to let him in. He only hoped it would soon change when they got back to Hogwarts.
A few days after Christmas, he received letters from his friends and they were all wondering where his sister was and why she wasn't replying to their owls. He grabbed the letter from James and read it carefully.
To Sirius B.
Hey mate! I got your gift and it was wicked. I can't wait for us to try out for Quidditch next year. Just imagine, two Marauders winning the House Cup for six years straight! Think I'd make a good chaser?
Anyways, I was wondering where that sister of yours was. I wanted to thank her for the gloves she got me. I'm betting five galleons she got the same ones for you. Should I feel flattered that I get to have something matching with you, other than your twin?
I was hoping to see during the break but I guess I'll have to see you on the train instead.
Sirius pondered on what he should say. He couldn't tell him what happened through a letter and he wasn't sure Hermione would be comfortable with him telling their friends what had happened to her. Just the thought of it made his stomach churn and he felt himself drowning in guilt over doing absolutely nothing to help her.
He stepped in front of her door and thought of an excuse that would make her come out. He couldn't instantly confront her and he had to think of some distractions first. Realizing that they will be leaving tomorrow and stuff needed to be packed, he grinned at his laziness and newly found idea.
He knocked gently on the door. "Hello? 'Mione are you awake?"
He heard nothing and thought to himself that he would get the same results as any other day. As he turned to walk back to his room, he heard her sigh and open the door. Sirius quickly turned back around and threw his arms around her as soon as he saw a glimpse of her face. He found comfort in his twin's messy curls and in the past days, it had truly felt like a part of him was missing. If he could, he would never let go of her and make sure she was safe in his arms.
"What are you doing here?" she questioned in a hoarse voice. He reasoned that it was because she had only spoken to Kreacher over the past few days.
"I wanted to see you," he said tentatively. "And I was wondering if you wanted to pack with me."
She gave him an exasperated look, to which he responded with a sheepish smile. He smiled wider when she said, "Alright little puppy, let's go."
Packing his clothes and toiletries, they fell into a series of conversations regarding classes and people at Hogwarts. He had been so caught up in his own pranks at school that he really didn't pay attention to her and how she had settled in. He vowed to look over her with much more attention and care. Deciding that he couldn't avoid the guilt any longer, he inhaled sharply and looked at her.
"I'm so , I wish I could do something whenever they do this to you. I feel useless, how can I still call myself your brother?"
She shook her head and gave him a sad smile. "Do you really think I would blame you for something you have no control over?" As he tried to interrupt her, she put her hand up and continued, "I don't think of you as useless. Sirius, we all go through this. It's not just me. Someday it will be you or Regulus and if I'm honest? I would gladly volunteer myself but that's another conversation for another day."
"You still get hurt the most," he protested.
"And I am at fault for that," she said firmly. "I talk back, I get punished. Really Sirius, as long as I don't get shipped off to a fifty year old wizard, I'm fine," she joked.
He wanted to scream at her. He wanted to yell that she didn't deserve any of this and that nothing about this was funny. Though, he treasured the moment too much for him to ruin it and risk her walking back to her room. Hence, Sirius decided to be the gentle brother she deserved.
He jumped on his bed and moved to make space for her under the blankets. She giggled and the sound of her happiness was enough to lull both of them to sleep.
Hermione opened her eyes after several tries and blinked at the piercing light coming from the curtains. She snorted inwardly at the thought of sunshine being inside such Dark walls. She scowled and shook her head, ridding herself of such mentality on her first day back to Hogwarts. She shook Sirius' shoulders lightly and he blinked slowly, half of his face still covered in blankets.
She smiled and said, "Get up sleepyhead. It's Hogwarts Day."
"Pray to Merlin everyday is Hogwarts Day," he grinned at her.
"Wonder what students who hate school would say to you."
"Yes well, they can shove their wands up their—"
"No, you're not."
He shrugged and grabbed her hand, dragging her towards the door. "You go get ready. I'll wake Reggie up."
Not waiting for her answer, he walked away. Rolling her eyes at his energy but sharing the same enthusiasm on going back, she decided to get ready.
She walked downstairs with her brothers and noticed her parents in the Floo room. Dragging her feet and hating to get any closer to them, she looked up and saw them finally acknowledging their children's presence. Walburga had a scowl on her face and Orion's mouth was set on a firm line. Hermione couldn't hold back the roll of her eyes and luckily for her, her mother was too busy going on a rant about something.
"—and I expect you to avoid the disgraceful presence of mudbloods and half-bloods that are in your awful House. Had you been in Slytherin, you would have been around proper wizards and witches. You're stuck there so get moving now."
With that, she grabbed their hands and with a crack, they apparated to King's Cross. Before she could even turn back and talk to Regulus, her mother disapparated with him. Refusing to release the tears forming in her eyes, missing her brother already, she took Sirius' hands and walked towards the train.
"Would've taught him some pranks, but he's a mama's boy anyways," he grunted, grabbing both of their bags and putting them up inside.
"Stop it. It's not his fault he grew up this way," she frowned at her brother.
He rolled his eyes at her, "Yes, of course. It must be hard being pampered every time your older siblings are a disappointment."
She didn't bother responding to the boy and walked in the compartment where James, Remus and Peter were seated. She flung her arms at Remus, "I missed you!"
She felt him wince slightly and gave him a questioning glance. "You wouldn't have missed me so much had you replied to my letters," he joked.
She shrugged, "You know how busy it gets..."
Hermione could still feel his concerned stare even as she avoided his eyes. Over the past months, the two had grown to become as close as any best friend would be and both could read each other almost perfectly. She cursed her friend for being so smart.
She was pulled into another bone crushing hug and she pulled back to see James pouting at her. "Really, Hermione. I see you've chosen books over us."
Hermione patted his cheek and grinned, "Don't worry. I will think of a way to make it up to you."
She recognized the mischievous glint in his eyes and moved away immediately. She looked at Peter, who still had to address her, and said, "Hey Peter."
He gave her a brief smile and wave. She left it at that.