The Last Battle has been fought, and Harry Potter has won. The price, however, has been high. Nearly every person Harry cared for is dead, maimed, or otherwise injured. The magical culture of ...
Harry's life stabilized into a fairly set pattern by the first week of August. He was always up early and after jogging around the property he enjoyed making breakfast for whomever was at the house that morning. (Winky cooked lunch and dinner and did all the cleaning, but had stopped fussing about Harry's cooking breakfast when she saw how much he enjoyed doing it.) After breakfast, Harry went flying (weather permitting). The rest of the mornings Harry spent revising his lesson theory from the first six years of the curriculum and mastering the practical lessons without a wand.
After lunch, Harry worked on his Occlumency, exercised or flew again, and then spent the rest of the time before dinner reading Muggle and magical assignments, designed to improve his knowledge of both worlds, and once in a while did some potions work with Moody, Sirius, or even one of the Dumbledores. Harry had decided that Runes and Magical Languages was a more interesting subject than Arithmancy, and Aberforth Dumbledore made arrangements to teach Harry several languages magically. By Christmas, Harry would be fluent in ten new languages and would know an even two dozen languages by the time he left for Hogwarts. While far short of the hundreds which some wizards, such as the Dumbledores or Barty Crouch knew, Harry felt he could be content with twenty-four, six more than the N.E.W.T. standard.
Sirius spent parts of at least three evenings a week at the Dumbledores' plus at least two afternoons, and Harry usually went shopping in different Muggle towns with Sirius and sometimes Remus once a week. Harry also hosted Ron, Neville, Ernie, or Anthony at least one late afternoon per week and had at least one child over on Saturday afternoons. Harry would maintain that general schedule through Christmas, and after then he revised a little less and added at least half an hour of dueling with Remus, Moody, or Sirius each day. To their surprise, Harry usually won, although he tired fairly quickly at first, since his body was channeling far more magic than it normally could. By the end of the following spring, however, Harry had become used to it and his magic started to grow again. In addition, his body also grew faster than it had in his previous life, in large part because of his better eating habits and greater exercise. Harry's reflexes and balance, both exceptional, also started to grow, as his higher level of magic fused more completely with his body than anyone within living memory. Over the course of the next few years, even his eyesight would become normal, and then even better than average.
All that was in the future. As that first August changed into September, Harry's guardians were upset by his insistence that he go to Diagon Alley for the first time on September 29. He would not explain why, but since the group had been expecting Harry to demand to go there sooner or later they could make few objections since he was giving them more than enough time to set up security.
Saturday, September 29, 1990
Harry, disguised with the simple techniques of gray-lense glasses and a brimmed hat worn low over his scar, walked down the Muggle street, Remus and Dedalus on either side of him.
"When do we find out why we're going this way?" Remus asked, curious as to their mission.
"Right now, actually," Harry grinned. He pointed out a trio of figures standing near the Leaky Cauldron. They were obviously parents and their daughter. The mother and daughter had wild, bushy hair, and all three had a bookish air about them as they perused a sheet of parchment. The parents obviously could not see the entrance and the daughter was trying to convince them that it was there.
"Come on," Harry said. "If we don't help them, they'll be there another half hour or so."
"How would you know. . . . Never mind."
"It was one of her favorite stories to tell Muggle-born students who were home-sick," Harry said. "You talk to them, Moony."
Remus sighed and walked up to the parents. "Excuse us," Remus said politely if quietly, "but I think what you are looking for is right where your daughter sees it."
The couple blinked. Remus pointed at the parchment. "For those of us in the know, it's pretty obvious. I'm Remus Lupin, my friend Dedalus Diggle, and my nephew, Evan Jamison."
"Dan Granger," Hermione's father said, "and my wife Emma and our daughter Hermione."
"If I might suggest," Remus said with a smile, "partially close your eyes and let your daughter lead you in. Evan can guide your wife, I'll run interference, and Ded will guard the rear."
"It won't put you out?" Emma asked.
"Not at all," Remus said. "Evan has been bothering me about this visit for weeks, and Dedalus was available today. Oh, Mister Diggle is both a magical and non-magical solicitor and we have some business to attend to at the bank. You'll need some help getting into Diagon Alley. I take it your daughter just turned eleven?"
"Just over a week ago," Dan said. "She's been excited about this visit ever since."
"Well, you're welcome to come along with us as we make the rounds," Remus said. "We might be a bit longer in the bank than you, but we're in no hurry if you need to spend any extra time anyplace else. Diagon Alley can be a bit overwhelming for first time visitors"
"That's very kind of you," Emma said.
"Not at all," Remus said. "My mother was much like your daughter. My grandparents were often confused by our world, so we're glad to lend a hand." And with that, the six went into and out of the Leaky Cauldron and into Diagon Alley.
While the vast majority of pedestrians were dressed only in various wizarding garb, a fair percentage also wore something that they, at least, would consider Muggle (such as Diggle's purple top hat). It was enough for the Grangers not to feel totally out of place.
Well, until they entered Gringotts. The goblins ignored them, but it was difficult for the wide-eyed Grangers to ignore the goblins. Remus escorted the Grangers to the exchange desk, while Diggle went with Harry to meet with the goblins (Harry had stated he also wanted to speak with some of the leading goblins, to get to know them) and then to his vault.
Remus took this time to examine Hermione. She was short and skinny for her age, and in fact she appeared to be at first glance mostly hair with extra large front teeth. She had also been very quiet until that point. As Remus watched, however, he noticed that her eyes were missing nothing, not just from her parents discussing exchange rates and the value of having a small vault for their daughter (capable of having money transferred in from their Muggle bank, to the Grangers' surprise), but she also took in the large pile of topaz and amethyst one goblin was weighing to one side and the loud Scots warlock in a kilt arguing about the cost his vault to the other. Remus realized that if Hermione was anything like her parents, she was likely smart as well as observant. This belief was highlighted when they went next to Flourish and Blotts. Harry explained that he already had the texts and was after other books, and Dan explained that this was one store where Hermione nearly had carte blanche. Harry frowned a little when the clerk persuaded Hermione to take an over-priced edition of Hogwarts: A History with tooled leather covers, but Harry evened things up by pointing out several inexpensive pamphlets and small works about both the wizarding world and wizard-Muggle relations, some of which Hermione had discovered herself over time in Harry's previous life and some Remus had recently found for him as he tried to learn more about wizarding culture this time around, although he hadn't gotten to many of them yet.
Harry next persuaded Remus to allow him to purchase a multi-compartment trunk, and convinced the Grangers to do the same, so that Hermione could both build a reference library and be able to transport it to and from school easily. By then, it was close to 12:45, and Remus managed to persuade the Grangers that an ice cream parlor was a good place for lunch, as it was a rare treat. "Hopefully at least once a year," Harry had commented, which made all three Grangers smile and agree. Fortunately Fortescue's served sandwiches and pumpkin juice as well as ice cream. Emma even teased Remus for his obvious addiction to chocolate as they ate the main course -- large sundaes.
Their next stop was Ollivander's. Harry had insisted on Dumbledore sending his old friend a note, and Diggle had gone on ahead to warn the wand maker who his next client was going to be. Therefore, there was no palavering and mismatched wands. Harry picked up his wand and was matched instantly, to his relief.
"Now, Miss Granger," Ollivander went on, "matching wand and witch is an art, not a science. Even if I knew every wand the members of a family had used for many generations, I still could not accurately predict what wand would best match any single person even with the best measurements, although sometimes I can come close. Mister Jamison was quite lucky that I matched him with the first wand we tried. I believe the average number is a little over seven tries. I tell you this so you do not get discouraged." Hermione merely nodded. It took Ollivander twenty-one tries to match Hermione with a vine wood and dragon heartstring wand. "Interesting," was his final comment. "You are the first witch under thirty I have ever matched vine wood to. I believe you will do quite brilliantly at practical applications, Miss Granger."
"Well, Princess, what did you think of this new culture of yours?" Dan asked during tea that afternoon.
"I don't know," Hermione answered. "It was very odd, sort of like walking into a television series in the middle -- it was like we were the only ones who did not know their parts. And we got some very odd stares, which I don't think were always friendly."
"I noticed that, too," Emma agreed. "I'm glad we ran into Mister Lupin."
"The boy must be some sort of heir, to have a solicitor dancing attendance like that," Dan mused.
"He seemed very nice," Hermione stated, although with a puzzled look.
"He did, and he was also rather mature for his age," Emma agreed. "Normally, I'd say a boy with that straight-forward a manner is spoiled, but somehow, he didn't seem to be."
"And it's good for you to get to know someone in your year, if you do go," Dan said.
"I would think, after spending all that money, I'd be going," Hermione said.
"We have enough money, Princess," Dan said. "If we didn't think this was right for you, we wouldn't begrudge the expense."
"Thank you, Daddy." Hermione thought. "I think I should start reading those books."
"Which book are you going to start with?" Emma asked.
"Why, the one which will help her turn a frog into a prince, of course," Dan joked.
"No," Hermione said, seriously, "I think I'll start with Hogwarts: A History and move on to that set of pamphlets Evan pointed out. I can't let my regular school work fall behind, after all."
Dan beamed. "That's my girl."
"So, your quest was the intelligent Miss Granger," Sirius teased that evening.
"Hermione always supplied the brains of the outfit," Harry retorted. "We succeeded in winning in one year because I was very lucky and because Hermione is brilliant. She scored ten O's and an E on her O.W.L.s. . . ."
"Pretty good," Sirius agreed.
"And four O's and three E's on her N.E.W.T.s, even though she hadn't taken the Seventh year classes."
"That is impressive," Remus agreed.
"Was she your girlfriend?" Sirius asked bluntly.
"Not really," Harry answered. "I dated Ginny Weasley during the last part of my Sixth year, but we drifted apart that next summer, mostly due to my having to, well, to go to war. Then she was killed. Ron and Hermione had danced around each other for over a year, and dated for about the same length of time as Ginny and I. They were always fighting though. I think once they had sex, they discovered they weren't right for each other."
"But did you two. . . ."
"We never dated," Harry retorted. He looked out into an internal distance. "We did sleep together several times, but that's about all we did."
Harry shrugged. "Slept as in slept, not shag. I mean we cuddled, after Ron was killed and we were both in pain. I don't know if she wanted more than that or not. I was torn between her, in part because we were so close, and Luna and even Ginny a bit until she died and her memory after she died. To tell the truth, I really just didn't have a lot of time to think about that. I do know that I want Neville and Ron in my life this time around, and that I'll likely need Hermione." He smiled. "Fortunately, she's very mature for her age, so it should be easier making friends with her."
"What more do you want to do about her, then?" Remus asked tiredly, since the full moon was less than a week away. "If anything, that is."
"I'm hoping you'll visit the Grangers in two weeks," Harry said. "You can explain a bit more about who I really am without scaring them off, and hopefully get Hermione here to practice some magic under adult supervision -- if I know the Grangers and Hermione, that will be a good selling point. By the New Year, I hope to bring in a couple more girls as well."
"Like who?" Moody asked. He would need to vet them, no matter what Potter said. The boy might know the children, but he didn't know their families.
"Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott, who were both in Hufflepuff and the Patil twins, who split between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw." Harry frowned. "I'd like to ask Tracey Davis, but she was Sorted into Slytherin, and she really didn't come out against the Darker members of her House until the last year. So, I'll just put her name out and you three can decide."
"Just us three?" Remus asked.
"I think the Headmaster would want me to include her, but she could get very hurt, and I don't just mean emotionally," Harry said. "Four of the five Slytherin boys in our year took the Dark Mark between the beginning of the summer of 1996 and the end of summer in 1997, and Zabini stayed officially neutral but hostile. Two of the girls helped get Death Eaters on the grounds, and the others stayed at best neutral, other than Tracey. I don't know if we might not be causing more problems than not."
"Let's see if Draco can be saved," Sirius said. "If we think he might have any chance by Christmas, then he'll need allies in Slytherin."
"I noticed you don't mean we'll see if he can be saved by Christmas, just that we might think he has some remote chance of ever being saved," Harry noted.
"He's been brain-washed," Sirius pointed out. "His mother only agrees with two-thirds of the brain-washing. If we somehow just can get him even to that point, he might be salvageable in the future," Sirius added hopefully. He still didn't like his cousin all that much, but he was going to do his best to save the boy. He hoped to do a better job with Draco than he had with Regulus -- hopefully Draco wouldn't have to die for his mistakes this time.
"Why don't you write down your opinions of all your classmates?" Moody suggested. "I know, we can't judge them now by the acts they might have committed in an alternative future. Still, it will give us a hint."
Harry snorted. "Oh, Mad-eye. I have a list of almost three hundred names I've worked on so far. Now you've ruined your Christmas present."
Saturday, October 13, 1990
Remus had called on the Grangers' surgery during the week and made an appointment to meet with them at their home.
"Good afternoon, Mister Lupin," Hermione said politely as she opened the door, making certain she did not smile too widely, which would reveal her teeth. She looked a little disappointed. "Evan isn't with you?"
"No, I'm afraid not," Remus said with a friendly smile.
"Please come in," Hermione said, swinging the door fully open.
"What can we do for you, Mister Lupin?" Dan asked as his wife poured tea a short while later.
"First of all," Remus said, "Miss Granger, have you been reading your books?"
"I have," Hermione answered simply.
"Have you run across the story of Harry Potter?"
"That's the boy in your year who somehow defeated this wizarding Hitler that you told us about?" Dan asked. Hermione nodded.
"In a nutshell, this Dark Wizard, who was leading a movement for alleged Pure-Blooded supremacy, attacked a family called the Potters," Remus said. "He killed the parents with a curse known simply as the Killing Curse, but for some reason the curse bounced off of Harry. It left a curse scar on his forehead."
"And the evil wizard?" Dan asked.
"This will be a bit more difficult for you to believe," Remus said.
"Harder to believe than magic itself?"
"Sometimes the specifics are difficult to believe even for those of us born into the culture," Remus answered. "As for Voldemort, some believe he is dead. In reality, while his body was destroyed, his essence lives on, looking for a host for shall we say temporary accommodation and also looking for a way to come back into a body of his own."
The Grangers looked at each other. Finally, Dan asked, "And this concerns us how?"
"Ah." Remus knew this was a sticky point. "Should Voldemort actually come back, he does hope to eventually destroy your world and take over ours. More importantly, your daughter will be one of the few Muggle-born in her year, and so those who believe in Voldemort's ideas will give her a hard time." Seeing the look in their eyes, Remus said, "Think South Africa. The believers in Pure-Blood culture want apartheid at the least, and many of us are fighting hard to keep equal rights in place."
"We appreciate your telling us all this, but why?" Emma asked. She wondered if perhaps Remus wasn't actually a 'Pure-Blood' himself, and that this was a way of driving her daughter away from her Gift.
"Ah," Remus said again. "First of all, Miss Granger, where is Harry Potter?"
"According to the books which even have a guess, he's hidden with Muggle relatives, but I'm guessing we met him two weeks ago."
"Very good," Remus answered. "His Muggle relatives hated magic and were emotionally abusing Harry. We therefore removed him from, for lack of a better term, their care this past June. Now Harry could have been very embittered by their treatment of him. What bitterness he has is directed against them, not Muggles or the Muggle world, let alone the world in general. We have been having Harry meet selected peers since July, but they were all boys from magical families. Since our meeting you two weeks ago, well, Harry has hardly stopped talking about it. The boys he's met know the magical world. We don't want him to lose touch with the Muggle world. We're hoping Hermione might be interested in visiting him, and that you might allow it."
"Hermione visit Harry? Not Harry visiting Hermione?" Dan asked.
"We may be overly security conscious," Remus said simply. "I won't say that Harry can't come here, only that it might take a bit more planning."
"How dangerous is this world of yours, Mister Lupin?" Emma asked, still suspicious, if now along slightly different lines.
Lupin grimaced. "There are a lot of ways to answer that. In Muggle terms, we all carry lethal weapons." He pulled his wand. "This allows control of that power, and any power can be abused. If it isn't controlled, Hermione's power will lash out throughout puberty, and cause many problems. After that, if she hasn't exercised it beyond the flare-ups, it will decrease and disappear except in very stressful situations."
"I think Hermione has the potential of being a very powerful witch," Remus went on. "Because of her heritage, she will be disliked by some of her fellow students. If she is friends with Harry, that may also cause some people to dislike her even more. On the other hand, Harry is going to be an incredibly powerful wizard, perhaps the most powerful since Merlin. Harry is also a symbol of Light Magic, and we're making certain he is well-trained in advance of his starting school. And, if Hermione learns with Harry, she will be ahead of the curve."
"How many others in our year is Harry going to be working with?" Hermione asked.
'Damn, Harry was right. She is sharp!' "There are four or five boys from your year, and there might be a few girls later on."
"You're setting Harry up with allies," Hermione stated.
"I'm hoping we're setting up Harry with friends," Remus corrected.
Hermione thought while her stunned parents sat silent. Finally, Hermione looked at Remus and then at her. "I'd like to join Harry."
Dan and Emma looked at each other and silently made their decision. "Then we'll see if we can work out the details," Emma said.