An altercation and the aftermath
A/N: I don't own Harry Potter and wouldn't particularly care to. I would like a rental agreement with option to buy for Hermione Granger. A short term contract with Nymphadora Tonks wouldn't be turned down. A Long-term agreement with Luna Lovegood would probably be a whole lot of fun. Any time Padma Patil wants to open negotiations, call me and oh for a weekend with Fleur. Oddly Lavender and Padma's sister (despite being her twin) Parvati do nothing for me...
Harry Potter and YASMWTS
(Yet Another Someone's Messing With Time Story)
"Watch yourself Mudblood!"
Tom turned in time to see Caliegh Armstrong go sprawling on the flagstone floor while three third years in Slytherin robes started laughing.
He knelt next to the girl, her leg skinned from left knee to mid shin. The Ravenclaw tried to remember any of the healing charms that his Mum had needed and used so often on Harry and himself over the years to repair Caliegh's damaged leg when one of the laughing third years pushed him away from Caliegh.
"Did we say you could help the Mudblood?" she spat.
"That was great!" Tony Prewett said.
Harry smiled at his dorm mate, "Yeah. Levitation charms are cool." Harry started up the stairs. "This afternoon we get to fly!"
"My mum never let me try a broom," Tony said wistfully. "What if I can't do it?"
"You can do it. My Uncle Ron taught Tom and me last year. It was brilliant."
"I hope you're right. Your Uncle Ron? Ron Weasley?"
"Yeah, starting keeper for the Canons."
"Ok, that's just not fair. He's a third cousin and he's never as much as spoken to me, but he taught you to fly. You'll help me?"
"Mate, if it's allowed, I'll show you everything Uncle Ron taught me." The pair turned the corner into the hallway that led to the History of Magic classroom. "It's really cool when..."
Tony looked to his friend when Harry stopped speaking in the middle of his sentence, then he followed Harry's eye to where a trio of older kids were beating on Harry's brother Tom. There was a 'clunk' as Harry's book bag hit the floor, and Tony watched in amazement as Harry launched himself at his brother's attackers.
Tony continued to watch in open mouthed amazement while the thought 'But Hufflepuffs don't fight.' ran through his mind.
"I'd forgotten just how much one has to lug around for a child," Deidra Granger said as she slid a cup of tea in front of her daughter. "Of course the bulk of my load out consisted of books and writing materials."
"You missed your calling mum." Hermione said after she had taken a sip of her mother's patented calming elixir. "You should have gone into comedy instead of dentistry."
Deidra's laughter brought a smile to Hermione's lips.
"How badly do you miss them?"
"Only every second of every day," Hermione shook her head. "I even miss the mischief they got up to. But mostly I miss the way they would keep Alice and Frank occupied."
"I think it was worse for your father and me. Once you left for Hogwarts, we only had each other. For a while it was like we were newlyweds again, but we missed our little girl so much."
"Oh, Neville and I have that as well, there are certain advantages to having Augusta living on the estate after all," Hermione smirked naughtily. "But I do have one advantage that you never had." The young woman reached into her bag and withdrew a sheaf of parchment. Using her wand to activate the Marauder's Map she waited as Deidra marveled at the map drawing itself. "With this I can see what they are doing pretty much anytime."
"That is just amazing. Where are they?"
"Let's see now. If I recall their schedules, Harry should be in History of Magic, and Tom should be in Transfiguration... That's odd. They aren't in their classrooms."
"Maybe you're misremembering their schedules."
"Maybe," Hermione said doubtfully. "Oh no!" Her finger jabbed at the map. "They're both in the Headmistress' office, with the Headmistress and three of the four heads of house."
"Fighting in the Halls?" Minerva McGonagall's lips were compressed to a very thin line. "The six of you were fighting in the Halls?"
"Only five of us were fighting Headmistress." Tom Longbottom said refusing to acknowledge the pain from his blackening eye. "Caliegh was a victim, and not involved in the fighting in anyway."
"In deed Mr. Longbottom? A victim of what and what was the fight about?" Minerva asked.
"It was just a disagreement Professor." Tom said stubbornly.
Minerva recognized that Tom was firmly in the midst of a standard adolescent male 'I'm not a rat' mode. She turned to Harry. "And you Mr. Longbottom, I understand that you came late to the fight. Why were you fighting?"
"'Cause Tom was fightin,'" the bespectacled boy said simply holding a handkerchief to his still bleeding nose.
"And that is reason enough to get into a fight?" The Headmistress asked incredulously.
"He'th my bruda." Harry said simply. "Hith fighth are my fighth becauth ob Rule One."
"Rule One?" Filius Flitwick asked.
"Nobody messes with a Longbottom." Tom said quietly.
The room was silent for a moment.
"Detentions I think, a week for each of you, with your head of house. You are all dismissed. Your heads will escort you back to your dorms. Miss Armstrong, you evidently were not at fault in this sorry episode and will not be punished. I would however like to speak with you, please remain behind."
The Slytherin Head of House waited for her counterparts from Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff to leave before she escorted her charges from the Headmistress' office. "The three of you, go to my office and wait for me," She said once they had passed the gargoyle. "You don't speak to each other or anyone else. You go directly to my office and wait for me."
"But it's lunch time!" the tallest protested.
The Professor pushed the boy against the wall and came nose to nose with him. "If you ever want to eat another meal in this castle, you will get yourself to my office and wait for me."
She paused for a moment to watch the three third years scamper off, and then returned to the Headmistress' office.
The girl had been staring at the floor waiting for the Headmistress to finish her paperwork on the incident. She looked up surprised to find the Slytherin Head of House had returned.
"Miss Armstrong, on behalf of Slytherin house, I would like to apologize for the actions of my students. I will be taking steps to attempt to prevent such things from happening in the future."
"Thank you Professor."
"Yes, thank you Professor." Minerva said giving the young woman an approving nod. "This shouldn't take long; will I be seeing you at lunch today?"
"Yes Headmistress. What I need to discuss with my students shouldn't take too much time."
"Thorry for the trouble Profethor Thprout." Harry said as he accompanied Pomona Sprout to the Hufflepuff dorms still dabbing at his nose.
"And you should be Mr. Longbottom. Your altercation caused me to miss most of my NEWT class for this week," the woman said. "There is no excuse for fighting in the halls. No excuse at all. I will of course be owling your parents about your inexcusable behavior."
The boy hung his head. "Yeth Profethor."
"Fighting in the halls," the woman continued. "No excuse, no excuse at all. Wading in to a fight against odds like that, for no other reason than loyalty to your brother."
Harry's head came up. Was that... approval? They had come to the door to the Hufflepuff common room. Professor Sprout spoke the password and the pair entered.
"Let me fix your nose for you Longbottom." Sprout said gruffly. She slid her wand along the bridge of Harry's nose murmuring an incantation. Suddenly Harry's nose no longer hurt and he could breathe again.
"Thank you Professor."
"Go get yourself cleaned up for lunch Mr. Longbottom. Your detention will be served with me in Greenhouse Number One for one hour after dinner all week."
"An essay I think. Eighteen inches on the preparation of plant based potions ingredients. Yes that should be an appropriate detention."
"But Professor, that's this week's Herbology assignment."
"Is it?" Pomona Sprout put on an expression of surprise. "What an odd coincidence."
"I've had two weeks of classes with you Mr. Longbottom, I've seen what you can do with your wand, what made you decide to use your fists?"
The Ravenclaw and his Head of House were in Professor Flitwick's office where all the furnishings were scaled to the diminutive wizard. As a consequence, even while sitting on the too small chair, Tom towered over the Professor.
"You know who I am sir. I don't want to take the chance of hurting someone with my magic."
"Who you might have been Tom, who you might have been." The seriousness washed from the man's face to be replaced by his normal expression of delight. "I taught Tom Riddle you know, you are nothing like him. No, Tom Longbottom is his own man, and a good one I think. Tom Riddle would never have come to the aid of a classmate unless she could have done something for him."
"Caliegh's a friend." Tom shrugged. "I hope she's not in trouble."
"She isn't. The Headmistress is just making sure she's not too upset. Miss Armstrong has the promise to become a major force in the world. It is always exciting when pairs of minds such as yours and Miss Armstrong's are in class together. Each of you pushes the other to higher achievement."
Once he saw that the boy seemed to be relieved at that news, Filius' smile became wider. "Policy requires that I inform your parents of this incident, but knowing them as I do I suspect that they will be rather proud of your actions today."
"I hope you're right." Tom said quietly.
"Still, there is the matter of your detention..."
"Whatever you need done sir."
"I've been thinking of trying to start up a dueling club this year. It's been decades since there was a proper one, though there was a rather misguided attempt at starting one your parent's second year... Perhaps you could assist me in making the preparations for announcing said club over the next week."
"Yes sir. Thank you."
"We'll see how much you thank me when you see the amount of scrollwork you'll be doing to get this off the ground. I suggest you go wash your face and change your robes Mr. Longbottom, and then get yourself to lunch. I understand your first flying lesson is this afternoon, and I have reports from certain former students that you are quite talented on a broom... Shallow of me, I know, but I would really like to have the Quidditch cup decorate my office next year."
The Slytherin Head of House looked up from her desk to the three third years standing before her.
"I'm trying to decide if you three are suicidal or just stupid."
None of the three answered, the amount of trouble they were in had finally sunk in.
"Barely five years after a war that Blood Supremacists lost, you three idiots are standing in the hall screaming 'mudblood'," she paused as if expecting one of her students to say something. When they didn't she continued. "And then you get in a fist fight with the Longbottom boys. The Longbottom boys. Are you insane?"
Mira Umbridge had had about enough. "They're the children of a squib and a mudblood. They're nothing."
"My aunt told me all about the Longbottom and the mudblood who tricked him into marriage."
"Delores Umbridge is an unmitigated idiot." The Professor said. "She was an idiot who stupidly got herself sentenced to three years in Azkaban for attempting to kiss up to that even bigger idiot Cornelius Fudge. Did she mention that the Squib and Mudblood along with four other school children held their own against twelve of the Death Eater Elite?"
"Left that out did she? Did Auntie Delores mention that Longbottom the Squib destroyed Bellatrix LeStrange in a one on one duel? Did she mention that the Mudblood found the curse that destroyed the Dark Lord and taught it to Potter? How long do you suppose any member of your pure blood families would last against either of them in a duel? Did Delores mention that the Longbottoms are a major force in the Wizengamot and control a major voting block? That they have the power and the money to destroy your families utterly?"
The Witch took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. "If you three want to be stupidly self destructive, then do it on your own time. Your actions reflect on Slytherin House, and more importantly, they reflect on me and you have managed to make both the House and me look bad. This is unacceptable. I have arranged with Professor Hagrid that you will assist in the cleaning out of the School's stables /without magic/. The Headmistress assigned you a week's detention for fighting. I am assigning you a month for stupidity. Make my House look bad through your actions again and I will have you expelled." The Umbridge girl opened her mouth to protest. "Oh by all means tell your parents. I will enjoy asking them just how they managed to produce morons from a supposedly pure family. You three are dismissed. There will be a house meeting immediately following the evening meal. Don't be late; you are the guests of honor."
Pomona Sprout sat watching as the basic flight lesson started the free flight portion of the class. The School brooms had been replaced the year before by a consortium of former students who were in the professional Quidditch leagues, so now she could really see what the first years could do.
"Afternoon Pomona." Filius Flitwick said as he climbed onto the bench beside her.
"Scouting for your team Filius?"
"As are you Pomona." The pair watched Tom Longbottom on a speed run, while his laughing brother Harry corkscrewed around him in flight.
"Harry's as good as he ever was," the Witch said. "That trophy will look quite nice in my office next year."
"I suppose that I might loan it out to you so that you can test your hypothesis." The small man said with a grin. "Do you still agree with the unofficial ban on first years on the House teams?"
Pomona watched wistfully as Harry pulled out of a dive to end up hovering next to Rolanda Hooch, evidently to ask for some advice.
"I suppose," she sighed. "Harry did well enough the first time around, but he had Miss Granger pushing him to study then."
"You don't think she's pushing him now?"
"No, not really, or at least not as directly. Oh, don't get me wrong, I talked Minerva into letting me pull his records from the 90's, he's doing much better this time. I credit that somewhat to the tutoring that Hermione gave the both of them before this year, but most of what drives my Mr. Longbottom is a deep desire to keep up with your Mr. Longbottom."
"I've noticed that as well. If I didn't know better Imight be suspecting that the Longbottom family tolerates a bit of underage magic in their household. I've also pulled some older records. Young Tom is exceeding expectations as well. The competition for Headboy is going to be interesting in a few years."
Pomona nodded. "Quite."
"That boy was born to fly," a familiar voice spoke from behind them. "I knew from the moment he made that suicidal dive to catch a Remembrall."
"I thought you might be out here Minerva." Filius said.
"Don't let her fool you Filius, she's scouting the same as us." Pomona said with a smile. "She's here to figure out which team to bet on."
Neville Longbottom looked up from the paperwork on his desk when his assistant entered his office.
"Personal letter for you Mr. Longbottom," She said with a smile. "The owl wore bands from Hogwarts." She bent over his desk just a little too far, ensuring Neville got a clear view down the front of her blouse revealing her admittedly impressive cleavage as she passed the envelope to him.
"Thank you Charity." Neville said simply in way of dismissal. This girl had to go. She had been making veiled 'offers' the last few weeks, suggestions that she wouldn't be opposed to working late, offering company over lunch, mentioning that having a drink after work might be a good idea. Yes, a transfer for young Miss Wright was probably in order. Perhaps to the offices of one of the female members of the Wizengamot. Certainly the attention of the woman barely two years out of Hogwarts was flattering, but Neville was a happily married man, with a wife who could be really quite frightening.
Of course he didn't really have to worry about what Hermione would do. His dear wife would only make him long for death. It was his Gran who would kill him dead for even entertaining the idea of an affair.
Neville picked up the antique letter opener that Hermione had gotten him for his office when he had taken his seat on the hereditary Council of British Wizards and slit open the envelope, then with practiced ease shook out the folded page.
I've long been looking for an excuse to write my favorite former student, I'm just sorry it took my needing to convey bad news for me to have one.
So with that out of the way, you now know I'm writing as Harry's Head of House. Today Harry was involved in a fistfight in the halls, a fight that involved his brother Tom (I have no doubt that Filius will be sending his own letter on the topic), a Muggle born Ravenclaw girl in Tom's cohort, and three third year Slytherins.
All of the students involved have been somewhat less than forthcoming as to what started the fight, but it is clear to me that Tom attempted to defend his classmate against bullies, and Harry waded in to help his brother, saying something about 'Rule One'.
All of the students involved (excepting the young Ravenclaw girl who appears to have been an innocent victim in the incident) have been assigned a week's detention with their Heads of House, so as a consequence young Harry will be spending a little extra time with me in the Greenhouses. I promise to make his time more educational than punitive, so that may soften the blow for Hermione.
Well that's my duty done, informing you of the misadventures of your children, and the punishment that awaits the one in my charge.
I know you're busy, but a note or a visit to your old teacher would be appreciated greatly, plus if you visited, think of how embarrassed your boys would be.
You've raised good boys Neville; they are both joys to have in class. I don't really think that I can say that enough... Besides Harry is going to win me the Quidditch Cup next year...
Neville folded the letter and placed it back in the envelope. A fight. He smiled wryly to himself. Well, Harry lasted longer this time. At least no one had been hurt.
He glanced at the clock. There was a vote scheduled in ten minutes, hopefully the idiots in the majority wouldn't wax too lyrically this time, something told him that today would be a bad day to be late for dinner.
"Padma?" Luna entered the room in what she still thought of as her father's house that the pair had been using for their research. "Padma, what's wrong."
The Asian witch looked up from the sum of their five years of research with tears of frustration in her eyes. "It's over Luna, its over. We can't get Harry back."
The blond woman knelt next to her friend and pulled her into a hug. "I know. We can age him through at least four different potions, but we can't get his memories back."
"I actually thought we could do it." Padma sobbed. "Between you and me with help from Hermione and Cho and Sue, I never dreamed there was anything we couldn't do, but we can't get Harry back."
"I know," Luna repeated. "Maybe you should just wait a few more years. The fifteen years between you isn't all that much, really, I mean when you're fifty, he'll be thirty five." Luna stood and pulled her friend to her feet "Besides," she said with a grin, "I hear that there is much to be said for the stamina and the recuperative abilities of a younger man."
Despite her pain, Padma smiled. "You're terrible."
"And you love it," the blond said simply as she led her friend to the kitchen table where she had tea waiting. "We can always look at the other options... If Merlin won't go to the castle, we could try to bring the castle to Merlin..."
Padma blinked. "Luna, even after all these years you can surprise me. You are so weird."
"Its part of my charm," the blond admitted, seating herself and pouring a mug of tea for each of them. "I should be thanking you. With Daddy gone after the war, I needed a project to pour myself into; else I might have gone sane."
Padma picked up her mug and sipped, refusing to take the bait. Luna might have gone sane indeed. As if that was ever a possibility.
Hermione focused all of her attention on her younger children and her day with her mother, trying to not think about what might be going on with her older boys. In spite of herself she wondered just what it was that Harry had done, and how he had managed to drag Tom along with him into trouble.
That's the way it had always been at home. Harry was the adventurer who managed to pull the more studious Tom along in his wake. She smiled to herself as she settled Alice down on the bed in her old room for the young girl's afternoon nap. The twins were at an age that if Hermione wanted them to nap, she had to have them in separate room. Diedre was settling Frank down in the guest room across the hall. Hermione looked around the room, her old room, her posters and decorations still in place along with her books. So many memories.
Whatever had happened, Minerva would be informing her soon. As if that was its cue, an owl wearing bands identifying it as coming from Hogwarts flew through the open window and landed on the back of the chair at Hermione's old desk. The young woman stroked the bird. "Hello."
The owl bobbed its head in greeting and offered its leg. Hermione deftly removed the letter and found an owl treat in her pocket.
"If you're thirsty there's water down outside at the bird bath." She said as the bird took the offered treat from her hand. "The water's fresh, just added within the hour."
Again the owl bobbed, then took flight out the window. Hermione frowned, slightly dreading what the letter might hold. She shook her head and opened the envelope.
As is often required of an old teacher, I once again find it necessary to write to a former student concerning their children. I wish it were not so, but it is.
As you many have guessed by my introduction, I am writing as Tom's Head of House. In between his first period Potions class and his second period Transfiguration class young Tom was involved in a fist fight in the halls. In the way of boys of his age, Tom has been somewhat reticent in explaining what caused the dispute, but I believe that he happened upon a trio of older students abusing a classmate, and stepped in to defend her. When young Harry happened upon the scene, he joined in the melee intending to assist his brother.
The altercation was purely physical; no magic was used, which is reassuring in some ways and disturbing in others. Both Tom and Harry were rather roughed up in the exchange, but the old duelist in me almost requires me to point out that they each got their licks in.
All of the students involved (excepting the young Ravenclaw girl who appears to have been an innocent victim in the incident) have been assigned a week's detention with their Heads of House, I am unaware of what Pomona might assign Harry, but Tom will be doing the paperwork necessary for a new Dueling Club that I am attempting to start. I'm not sure how happy young Tom is going to be once he sees what he's going to end up doing, but that is the nature of punishment is it not?
Other than this unfortunate incident, Tom and Harry's time here at Hogwarts has been exemplary. They are joys in class, obedient, respectful and helpful to their peers. The first time I heard Tom correcting a classmate in her pronunciation of Wingardium Leviosa I had to check to make sure a certain young lady hadn't snuck back into my classroom. I'm sure that this incident of fighting is a one time thing, and not something either is likely to repeat.
As always, if you have any questions, I am never too busy to speak with one of my favorite students. You can always owl, flu or even come by the castle. It would be marvelous to see you again.
Hermione breathed a sigh of relief. Her boys had gotten into a fight, but Tom had been defending his classmate, and Harry helping his brother. Hermione abhorred fighting, but she knew that sometimes there was a good reason.
She quietly exited the room to discuss the letter with Diedre. Would Mum be proud or appalled by the boys' actions?
The crowded Slytherin Common room became deathly quiet when their Head of House swept into the room. While she didn’t exhibit the robe billowing élan of some of her predecessors, the woman had an undeniable presence.
She stood before the hearth with the house crest over her head. She seemed to gaze up at it for a moment before turning to face the assembled students.
“It had come to my attention that there are some of you who are very slow learners, so I feel the need to explain the facts of life to all of you, slowly and using small words. The Bloodline wars ended over five years ago, and the purists lost. Is this news to anyone here?”
She paused, waiting for any comments that might come, when none did she continued.
“Slytherin house is the house of cunning and guile, of ambition and achievement. Not of stupidity and cowardice. Does anyone disagree?”
Again her question was met with silence.
“Then could anyone explain to me just how it is that three of our third years,” she gestured to the trio standing alone by the hearth, “decided that it would be a good idea to bully a Muggle born first year in the halls all the while bellowing ‘Mudblood’ at the top of their lungs?” She looked about the room. “Where is the cunning or guile in that? What was achieved? What ambition was fulfilled? Why are there idiots in my house?”
“The Mudbloods need to be shown their place.” The male seventh year prefect said defiantly.
His head of house whirled to face him. “Do they? Mr. Yaxley, you were here at Hogwarts when the Dark Lord fell, tell me what you remember of those days.”
“Yes they did. What people?”
“Mostly Purebloods. Purebloods on both sides.”
“Correct. Entire bloodlines were lost forever to that moronic dream of a pure society.” She returned her attention to the rest of her house. “And you people want to show the Mudbloods their place? Pathetic. You, Knott, who won the Bloodlines war?”
Kelsey Knott, a particularly surly fifth year rose to his feet. “The Blood traitors won. They rallied around the half blood Potter and exterminated the old families.”
“Did they?” The Head of Slytherin House asked. “You seem to be here Mr. Knott, I know your cousin Theodore wore the Dark Mark, the idiot made sure we all knew by displaying it openly in the common room. If the old families were exterminated, how is it you’re still here?”
That question was met with silence.
“That’s what I thought. Alright let us discuss what our trio of notable third years told me today. They weren’t worried about getting into a fight with the Longbottom boys because they were the sons of a Squib and a Mudblood. Davis. After the Dark Lord, who was the most feared of the Death Eaters.”
Alexander Davis, the younger brother of Tracey Davis stood. “Bellatrix LeStrange.”
“And what happened to her?”
“She was killed by Neville Longbottom in a one on one duel.”
“And what does Longbottom do these days Davis?”
“He’s assumed his family’s seat on the Wizengamot.” The young man hesitated. “He’s the leader of a block of 17 votes, the second largest active block. He’s also in control of the Longbottom trust, which controls the Potter and Black trusts as well.”
“Very good Davis. Sit down.” She looked around the room. “Longbottom killed Bellatrix LeStrange in a duel, which seems to me to be quite an accomplishment for a Squib. When you add in the political and financial power he controls, he is a force to be reckoned with. And what about the Longbottom boy’s mother? McKinnon, as I understand it your ambition is to achieve the all time high score on your NEWTs. Who currently holds that record?”
Beatrice McKinnon stood. “Granger the Gryffindor.”
The Astronomy Professor nodded. “And how are you doing?”
“I’ll be ready for the exams.” The girl hesitated. “I don’t know how she did it, to manage the scores she did and fight in the war at the same time…”
“Hermione Granger is the most frighteningly intelligent person I’ve ever beaten up.” She smiled at the shocked looks she got from the assembled students. “Oh yes, we tussled a few times while we were both here at Hogwarts. I slapped her around during an abortive first meeting of a dueling club our second year, and again fifth year. I even bloodied Potter’s nose once, but Granger was truly a witch that belonged in Slytherin.”
She paused at the gasps from the assembled students. “The house of ambition and achievement remember? Granger’s ambition was to best all the purebloods who told her she wasn’t good enough to be here, and she did. Her achievement speaks for itself; she stood there and made it known to everyone what she was doing, as if daring any of the Purebloods to best her. No one did. No one even came close.”
“So.” The woman looked about the room. “Let us sum up the situation. The Longbottoms are smart, powerful, rich, and politically connected. Enough so that they could easily destroy any of your families, and these idiots,” she gestured to the three third years standing alone, “were publicly brawling with them.”
“When a Slytherin gets into a fight, it reflects poorly on me. When a Slytherin cheats, be it on homework, an exam or on the Quidditch pitch, if reflects poorly on me. If any of you annoys any member of the staff, it reflects poorly on me. Let me explain what is going to happen from here on out. All of you will be the most anal retentive group of rule followers this school has ever seen. You will be polite to everyone at this school, be they staff, student or visitor, Pureblood, Halfblood, Muggleborn, or a bloody Muggle who somehow wanders into the castle. All of you will be courteous, kind and forgiving. Anyone who fails to follow these simple rules will find themselves going home because I will personally expel you.”
A wave of grumbles spread through the assembled students. “Snape wouldn’t have…” came from the group.
“Severus Snape is dead. You no longer have to worry about him. You only have to worry about me.”
The Professor stood on the parapet of her Astronomy Tower, looking up at the stars that she had made her life. After a few moments her attention drifted to the lights of Hogsmeade. The little town was growing, if they weren’t careful she would soon be dealing with the light pollution that her Muggle colleagues were always complaining about.
Part of her was still slightly amused by the thought of how closely she depended upon and studied the work of Muggles given the beliefs she held during her school years. All it had taken to prove to her how wrong she had been had been a glimpse of a few photos from the Hubble Space Telescope. Amazing.
Then the Master she had apprenticed herself to had accepted a temporary research position at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope at the Mauna Kea Observatories. She went along as an ‘Associate’ and learned to pass as a Muggle. On top of Radio Astronomy and the other amazing things she had learned at the JCMT, she had found time to form a relationship with an Muggle American Astronomer from the California Institute of Technology’s Submilimeter telescope who had introduced her to the local Hawaiian culture, Mai Tais and sex, though not necessarily in that order. She had been amazed to find that she so enjoyed the company of academics as she did.
Upon completing her Mastery in Astronomy in only seven years, her former Master had recommended that she get experience teaching before attempting to return to a major observatory, so she had applied to Hogwarts to get that experience. It was during the interview with Minerva McGonagall that she found herself being convinced to take the position as head of house as well.
Until today she had been a hands off head of house, she was at Hogwarts to teach, ‘punching the ticket’ was the phrase her Muggle lover had used, so that she could obtain the research fellowship she so coveted… until she saw those two little boys in the hallways fighting against the larger Slytherin bullies.
She knew without a shadow of a doubt that if Voldemort had won, she never would have been allowed her apprenticeship, that she would never had discovered what the Muggles knew of Astronomy, that she would never have learned to dream.
And she kept seeing the faces of those boys. Harry and Tom. She recalled when she had seen Harry’s face before, so very long ago, waiting to enter the Great Hall for the first time. It must be a family thing. Everyone said that Harry Potter looked like his father James. This Harry Longbottom was the very image of Harry Potter at the age of eleven.
Millicent Bulstrode reached into her robes and withdrew a flask. She took a pull and raised the flask in a toast to the heavens.
“Thank you Harry.” She said to no one. “Thank you for my dreams. The least I can do is look out for your sons.”
“Waiting for the Express?”
Kirstie Armstrong looked up from the bench from where she had been watching the wall between platforms 9 and 10 to see the smiling face of a young woman.
“Express?” she asked. She had been warned that they must never mention the magical world to anyone.
“The Hogwarts Express.” The woman said settling down next to Kirstie with a smile. “Don’t worry, no one can hear us. You had the look of a parent waiting for their child and paid just a little too much attention to the barrier. I recognize the look from when my own parents had it.”
“Then you’re… a witch.”
“Yes I am.” The young woman extended her hand. “Hermione Longbottom.”
“Kirstie Armstrong.” Kirstie took the other woman’s hand in her own. “So… I hope you don’t mind, but you seem awfully young to have children old enough for Hogwarts. Professor Sprout explained about the extended lifespan of magical people at the orientation…”
“Thank you, but I’m only twenty eight. My husband and I adopted our two oldest when they were six years old. My natural children will be four in January, so I’m still seven years away from being the ‘right age’ for having children at Hogwarts.”
“Wait…” Kirstie’s brow furrowed in concentration. “Your name, you said ‘Longbottom’? Your boys are Tom and Harry?”
“Yes. Oh, my.” Hermione blushed. “Armstrong. I missed that entirely. Your daughter is Caleigh?”
“And my son is Alec. I’ve heard stories about your boys. Caleigh tells me that they are heroes, especially Tom, something about a fight.”
“From what I’ve been told about it, a trio of bullies was picking on Caleigh and Tom stepped in to stop it. The bullies then moved on to Tom, and Harry waded in.” She grinned. “My husband it to blame for that. He taught the boys what he calls ‘rule number one’, that being ‘No one messes with a Longbottom.’ My boys don’t usually go looking for trouble.”
“My husband has the same rule, only for the Armstrongs. If Alec had wandered by he would have done the same thing. Were they hurt?”
“Roughed up a bit, their egos took a bit of a hit from detentions.” Hermione sighed.
“Alec on the other hand believes your Harry to be… how did he put it? ‘A good friend, but utterly insane when flying on a broom.’ Is that real? Do you really fly on brooms?”
Hermione sighed. “I don’t. Oh I had to learn and pass basic broom handling first year, and I flew more than I care to remember during the war, but…” She caught the horrified look on the other woman’s face. “I’m sorry Kirstie, I tend to ramble. Yes, Wizards and Witches fly on brooms. Not just any brooms, but special brooms. There are entire sports built around flying for that matter. And yes, the way Harry flies can appear to be more than a little insane to the casual observer. To him flight just comes as naturally as breathing.”
“You said you were in a war?”
“That’s long over Kirstie. There was a madman who made a grab for power, he had followers, and it became a full fledged war.” Hermione hesitated, and then continued. “Young men and women fought that war, like most wars. I was part of it, so were my husband and all our friends for that matter. The other side was coming for us, it was either fight or run, and the Dark Wizards had an annoying tendency of following you.”
“But it’s over?”
The two women sat in silence for a moment, until Hermione spoke again. “So, are you heading home this evening?”
“That was my intention, but the soonest we can catch the train will be tomorrow morning, so I suppose I’ll be finding a hotel after I collect Alec and Caleigh.”
“Hotels in the city are horribly expensive… Why don’t you spend the night with us? We’ve plenty of room.”
“Oh, we couldn’t impose.”
Hermione laughed. “You wouldn’t be imposing in the slightest. My Mum is sitting with my youngest and it wouldn’t take much to talk her into staying as well so she could give you a firsthand account of what it’s like to raise a first generation magic user.”
“Well…” Kirstie hesitated. “It would be nice to speak with people dealing with the same things… Alright Hermione, thank you. I think it would be nice to get to know your family, as long as you promise to visit us so that we can return the favor.”
The bushy haired woman grinned. “I hear Edinburgh in your voice, is that where you live?”
“I love that city. Deal.”
“Kirstie, this is Luna and Padma. Ladies, Kirstie Armstrong. Kirstie is the mum of a pair of the boy’s classmates, and we’ve invited them to spend the night.”
“We didn’t mean to interrupt your time with your guest Hermione.” Padma said apologetically taking a seat at the table. “We just came by to tell you that we were leaving.”
“Leaving?” Hermione appeared stricken for a moment.
“We’re going to Padma’s family estates in Rajasthan. We’re going to be doing some botanical research.” Luna explained.
“You’re going too Luna? What about the Quibbler?”
“The Quibbler was Daddy’s dream Hermione, not mine. I’m still looking for what I will make my life’s work. Mr. Dunworthy was Daddy’s pressman and friend for twenty years and has been the editor for the last four.” Luna sighed. “True, without Daddy, the Quibbler has lost much of the hard hitting investigative reporting that it was famous for, but it is still the Quibbler.”
Kirstie made a note to herself to find a copy of this publication.
“Did you want to speak to the boys?” Hermione asked gently.
“No!” Padma answered sharply, and then her tone softened. “I’m sorry Hermione. Please, just tell them that I… We’ll write.”
“And send souvenirs.” Luna added helpfully.
“They’ll miss their crazy aunts.” Hermione teased.
“It’s not forever.” Padma said. “We just need to work a few things out, and the project we’re doing for my Uncle will just allow us a place away from the distractions here.”