The last thing Hermione did before she went to sleep was ask the Room for an alarm clock and set it for early the next morning.
It went off sooner than she would have liked and she got up, pulling on a set of robes. She left the dormitory and made her way down to the small corridor, emerging into the reading room.
Her intention was to ask the room for a novel and wait on the sofa for the next reader to arrive, but her plan was thwarted by the fact that Addie and Sirius were fast asleep on said item of furniture.
Hermione dropped into one of the beanbags and picked up the book that appeared, opening it to the first page. Almost immediately, there was a flash of light and a thud, and Neville Longbottom appeared in the middle of the floor, looking quite dishevelled.
The two sleeping Gryffindors didn’t stir and Hermione put the book down and stood up. “Neville!”
“Hermione?” Neville looked nervous, but accepted the hug she offered gratefully. “What happened? I was just looking in on the greenhouses and …”
“Relax.” Hermione soothed. “And sit down. I’ll explain everything.”
They settled back on the beanbags and Hermione outlined their first three years of Hogwarts, all about the Philosopher’s Stone and the Chamber of Secrets and Sirius’s innocence. Then she explained about Voldemort coming back – Neville assured her that he didn’t believe a word written in the Prophet – and how they had all be sent back in time.
By the time she’d finished, Neville was gaping at her in astonishment. “So the next book we read will be all about our fourth year?”
“And Malfoy’s here?”
Hermione nodded again. She hadn’t bothered explaining her empathy to him, since it would probably be explained today. “He won’t do anything.” She assured him.
“So why am I here?” Neville asked.
Hermione reached across and touched his hand gently. “Neville, Sirius – our Sirius, that is – told us what happened to your parents.”
Neville stiffened, his face turning white. “You-You know?”
Hermione nodded a third time, trying to keep any pity out of her expression. If he was anything like Harry, he wouldn’t take kindly to it. “We know. I’d apologise, Nev, but I know that won’t help. The reason I’m bringing this up is … Well, your mum was friends with Harry’s and she’s reading with us.”
The expression on Neville’s face changed from pain to shock to hope and lingered there. “Really?”
“Yes.” Hermione answered gently. “She is only seventeen though and you haven’t been born yet. On saying that, she and Lily both have a very strong maternal instinct, so you should be okay.”
A soft noise from the sofa alerted them both and they looked up to see Addie beginning to wake.
“Ads?” Sirius asked quietly, as the last door slammed. He knew that she now knew the extent of how he felt about her, and part of him was terrified of her reaction.
The rest wouldn’t let him sleep without hearing it.
Addie took a deep breath and turned to face him with a smile. “Well, I’m going to bed. Goodnight, Sirius.”
Sirius caught her arm as she passed. “No. No, Addie, I know what she just told you. You can’t just walk away from that. Please …”
“Walk away from what?” Addie asked flatly.
Sirius was already on edge after the day’s events and his patience had been stretched to the limit. “You know full well what I mean, Addie! I love you, alright? I’ve been in love with you since first year and every moment I’m not with you physically hurts.” He pulled her to him and kissed her, pouring everything he felt into it.
When he pulled away, her eyes were brimming with tears. “I’m scared, Sirius.” She whispered. “I don’t want to get hurt again.”
The conversation echoed vaguely in Addie’s mind as she woke up, but what came next was a blur, probably because of the tears she’d shed.
She blinked away the sleep from her eyes, wondering why her vision was dark still, only to realise that she had fallen asleep in Sirius’s arms, her face buried in his chest.
Someone cleared their throat and her cheeks burned as she sat up, disentangling herself as he stretched, still half-asleep.
Hermione was smirking at her from one of the beanbags. A teenage boy sat beside her, who looked very familiar …
“You’re Neville, aren’t you?” Addie asked. “Alice’s son?”
Neville looked startled, but nodded. “Yes – how’d you guess?”
“Family resemblance.” Addie answered, wishing for a mirror to appear on the wall. The blush had receded somewhat and she turned to nudge Sirius awake. “Padfoot?”
“’M awake!” Sirius started violently, falling off the sofa.
Luckily, Addie had already stood up and she giggled at the sight. “Neville’s here.”
“Neville?” Sirius looked puzzled for a second or two, before his face cleared. “Oh, Frank and Alice. Ads, you know I’m no good with names when I’ve just woken up.”
“Sirius, you’re no good with anything when you’ve just woken up.” Addie sniggered. “I’ll go and get her.”
“Is Frank not joining us then?” Sirius asked, shaking Neville’s hand heartily.
“I don’t think so.” Hermione answered with a frown. “The note said that Neville was our last reader.”
Addie ran into the room reserved for Alice, Mandy and Arabella, running to the nearest bed and shaking her. “Alice! Alice, you’ve got to wake up!”
Alice jolted awake. “What?!”
“Neville’s here!” Addie told her with a grin. “Come on, you have to get up!”
Alice threw the covers off her and jumped out of bed. “Why didn’t you say so?!” She rushed from the room, skidding to a halt when she spotted Neville, talking to Hermione.
Hermione caught her eye and smiled, turning Neville to face her. “Alice, this is Neville, Nev, this is your mother, Alice.”
Seeing Frank’s eyes in a face so much like hers caused Alice to burst into tears and throw her arms around him, holding him close, apologising over and over again for leaving him.
Hermione chuckled to herself, as Neville’s terrified expression softened and he patted Alice on the back gently, trying to calm her.
Leaving them to get acquainted, Hermione jogged down the hall, knocking on doors as she passed, before returning to the newly-appeared kitchen to start breakfast.
Once everyone had eaten and Neville had been introduced to and greeted by everyone – including Draco, who shook him firmly by the hand and apologised – they all settled back down in the reading room and waited.
Finally, after what seemed like an age, another note appeared in Addie’s hand. ““Good morning, everyone.”” She read aloud. ““First of all, Neville, we’re sorry for kidnapping you, but we thought you should be here. Second of all, we feel an explanation is in order about these books. After everything happened, the rumours that spread were interesting, to say the least. These books were created to explain everything. Originally, we put the information into the head of a Muggle author, but that backfired spectacularly. Not with the books you’ve already read, or even with the fourth and fifth (although they began to stray from the truth), but the sixth and seventh … Well, best not get into that. As such, we will not be sending you Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Instead we will be sending the books that we wrote using a complicated mixture of potions and charms – no, Hermione, we’re not going to tell you.””
Hermione sniffed. “I didn’t want to know anyway.”
“Somehow I doubt that.” Addie chuckled, before beginning to read again. ““So from now on, the books aren’t just from Harry’s point of view. Sincerely, your friends.””
“We’ve progressed.” James commented. “We’re getting goodbyes now.”
The note glowed and turned into a book.
“Uncovering the Truth.” Addie read. “Sounds interesting.”
“Well, let’s get going then.” Lily said, settling back onto a beanbag.