In the summer of 1996, Voldemort launches eleven attacks against the Muggle-born of Hogwarts while he leads an attack against Privet Drive. In the aftermath of the attack on Privet Drive, Harry i...
Tuesday, July 16, 1996
"Would you care for some tea, Professor McGonagall?"
"Thank you, Mrs. Granger. It was a long night for all of us."
"Are you hurt?" Hermione asked.
"No," McGonagall nearly snapped. "Due to my . . . accident at the end of term, I was not allowed into the fight at Privet Drive. I have been busy cleaning up the aftermath."
"Like moving Hermione's friend?" Mr. Granger suggested.
McGonagall blinked, showing Hermione's parents that she thought of Hermione as Harry's friend, not the other way around. It was clear who the dominate person was in the professor's eyes, which surprised the Grangers a bit. They were of course used to thinking in terms of their daughter.
"In part," McGonagall said. "I will be off to check on the other families as well. How long are you prepared to give shelter to Mister Potter?"
"Bill Weasley said 'a few days'," Emma Granger pointed out. "We are planning on leaving for vacation on the Tenth of August, to the States for two weeks."
"Mum. . . ." Hermione started. Her mother waved her quiet.
"How long would you like the boy to stay with us?" Dan Granger asked. "We could consider adjusting our plans, even to the point of taking him with us"
McGonagall thought about it, then said, "The greatest danger to you right now are the dementors. As long as Harry is with you, you are safe from them. They are unlikely to attack during the day, so it might be best of Harry were here at least until your vacation starts."
"But. . . ." Hermione started, and was stared down this time by McGonagall.
"I know what you were going to say; dementors can be instigated to attack during the day. Yes, it is possible. Still we have to play the odds, as detestable as that sounds." She turned to the Grangers. "Here."
"Flashlights?" Hermione asked.
"They look more like laser pointers," Dan said.
"They are, I have been told, in fact similar to these laser pointers, although these throw a somewhat wider beam. The difference is, they throw a combination of deep purple and ultraviolet light, which dementors cannot stand. If one of you is attacked by one dementor and you can keep your head, we believe this will keep them at bay, and perhaps even drive one away. If you are attacked by more than one, and you can put your back into a corner, these may save you even then. They will actually fluoresce under ultraviolet as well as be driven away by it, so that you can see them."
"A Muggle defense against dementors! Wow," Hermione said in admiration.
"Believe it or not, it was thought up by Percy Weasley and made by the twins," McGonagall said. "They are far from perfect, because it is difficult for most people, magical or Muggle, to think straight when a dementor is near. Still, it is a start."
"That's all we need," Dan said with determination.
"Yes, but that isn't what I needed to ask about Harry. . . ." Hermione started.
"Let's see how things work over the next few weeks," Dan said. "Alright, princess?"
Hermione frowned at the term, but nodded. Taking Harry to the States would have to left up to fate for the moment.
"So, where is Mister Potter?" Emma asked.
"Have you seen the clothes his family dressed him in?" McGonagall said with a sniff. Emma nodded while Hermione also sniffed in derision. "Remus Lupin has escorted Harry to Gringotts, where he is withdrawing some money. Actually, they are probably at some Muggle stores right now. Knowing those two, they will likely stop and eat lunch before arriving. They should show up between One and Two. If they are not here by Two, I shall track them down and hurry them along."
All three Grangers were certain the pair would show up by 2:00, no matter what.
McGonagall finished her tea. "One of our people, Hestia Jones, will be with Hermione until Harry and Remus arrive, more for protection against reporters than against Death Eaters. Some aurors will be here tonight at Six. Try not to shoot them unless they are obnoxious, and if they are known to you, do not let on unless they are ALL known to you."
"Understood," Emma said.
"Lucius, if you do not stop pacing this instant, I shall kill you," Voldemort said in a hiss.
Lucius Malfoy paled and quickly sat back down.
"We shall soon see if our professor shows up. I have doubts about him, even if you do not. No matter if he is loyal or not, if he does come, he will tell us the truth. If he does not come, then either he was or has just become a traitor. Still, he did not know about last night, and so cannot be blamed for what happened."
Voldemort suddenly looked towards the entrance to the cavern. He sniffed, and then his reptilian forked tongue flicked, tasting the air. "Ah. He comes."
Within seconds, Snape walked into the small cavern, escorted by Peter Pettigrew. Snape bowed low, while Pettigrew retreated silently to a corner.
"Have you a report, Severus?"
"A preliminary one, my Lord. I can gather more details later, if you command it."
"Then report. What of the eleven attacks on the Muggle-borns? Why did they not distract the Order?"
"Ten of the eleven failed, my Lord, and it appears as if they failed largely because of the actions of the Muggles. The majority of the most able members of the Order came to defend Potter. The Muggles actually managed to defeat, and some times even kill, your servants."
"Lucius, do not interrupt. Explain."
"I am uncertain where to start, my Lord. . . ."
Malfoy spoke. "What about Draco. . . ."
"CRUCIO!" Voldemort held the curse for a few seconds, then released it. He turned to Snape. "Give me some idea, Severus. Do not try my patience today."
"Yes, my Lord," Snape said, with another deep bow. "The attack on Dean Thomas, which was carried out by Goyle Senior and Junior, failed in part because one Seamus Finnigan, a half-blood of the same year, was staying over. In a brief firefight, they stunned the Goyles."
"Go on. What happened next?"
"There is a group of Muggles called 'skin heads,' British Muggles who hate immigrants, especially non-white ones. Finnigan removed the Goyles' hair and the pair threw them into a pub used by the Jamaican community, saying the Goyles had attempted to rape Thomas' eleven year old sister."
Even Malfoy winced slightly, since he could guess what had been done to the Goyles.
"The pair was severely beaten. They were taken to a Muggle hospital, where they were put back together with metal screws. It will take months for them to recover, if they ever do. I could spirit them out, but it would take a great deal of effort to fix them magically at this point."
"Forget fully rescuing them. See if you can't help them somehow."
"Yes, my Lord."
"And the other three Gryffindor Muggles? Leave Granger for last."
"Yes, my Lord. Johnson, Jones, and Macnair attacked the Creevy brothers. The boys, only just out of their Second and Fourth years remember, stunned Johnson and Jones. Macnair had stunned one of the boys' uncles and was concentrating on Crucioing the younger boy. The boys' father and another uncle had some sort of metal hooks, the kind stevedores used to use. They gutted Macnair like a fish."
"It seems the Defense teachers have not been as mediocre as I have been led to believe," Voldemort said, giving Malfoy a suspicious look.
"If I may, my Lord?" Snape asked. Voldemort signaled him to continue. "As much as it pains me to admit it, this was actually Potter's doing, along with Granger. Their 'Defense Association' taught all the Muggle-born students we attacked but one how to react. They and the Old Man in turn coaxed their parents into being ready, with warning wards on top of the Ministry ones."
"And when did you find that out?" Voldemort demanded.
"This morning," Snape answered ruefully.
"Very well, before dear Lucius does himself an injury, what happened at the Grangers?"
"Granger's father blasted Dolohov with a shotgun," Snape said. "I'm not certain how Bulstrode and Draco were captured. Bulstrode is apparently unhurt, however Draco. . . ."
"What?" Voldemort demanded, while Lucius was as taut as a drawn bowstring. Pettigrew, however, merely watched.
"Somehow, Draco was emasculated."
"WHAT!" Lucius demanded.
"Emasculated?" Pettigrew muttered in puzzlement, while the Dark Lord said nothing at first.
"How?" Lucius demanded.
Snape looked at Voldemort, who nodded with some slight sadistic enjoyment. "Somehow, his testicles were crushed in the confrontation. According to the healer, they not only could not be repaired, but because of the bleeding Dolohov had done into them, they were infected and had to be removed."
Pettigrew gave a soft snort, which brought Lucius swinging towards him, his wand upraised.
"CRUCIO!" Malfoy fell screaming to the ground. "That was your last warning for the day, Lucius. You can spawn another sprog after we have won." Voldemort sneered. "My Death Eaters became soft while I was gone."
Voldemort turned back to Snape. "Where is the Boy? Do you know?"
"He has been thrown out of his relatives' house. He is to go to the Grangers' today. I do not know for how long, but it will be for at least a week."
"Really?" Voldemort was slightly surprised. "Then the blood protection has ended at last?"
"Yes, my Lord."
"And how displeased was the Old Man?"
"Not very, actually," Snape answered in honest puzzlement.
"Interesting. Are there more defenses planned for the Grangers?"
"I do not know, my Lord. If there are any more defenders, I do know they will not be directly in the house after today."
"I see. I shall think upon this. I may need the lumbering Goyles after all. See what you can do with them, Severus. If possible, bring them to me in ten days."
"I obey, Master." Snape bowed and left.
Ron Weasley came into his room, slammed the door, and laid down on his bed. He just laid there, just looking at the ceiling, for some ten minutes.
At that point, there was a knock on the door, and Ginny came in. "What's your problem?" she demanded.
"You heard what George said," Ron groused.
"What? That Harry is staying at Hermione's. Bill said that at breakfast."
"No, Bill said Harry would be with Hermione for a few days. Now it looks like he'll be there 'til mid-August!"
Ginny was confused. "So?"
Ron thought for a moment, and then asked, "Ginny, tell me honestly. Would you still like to date Harry?"
Ginny shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly.
"Ginny," Ron warned. He still had not fully forgiven her for teasing him about Dean when she really was not interested in him.
"So okay, I would," she admitted.
"Would you like to date Neville?"
"You know Neville likes you, right?"
"I suppose, but what's the point here?"
"The point," Ron said, "is that you would date Neville but would prefer dating Harry. Now, suppose you were to spend three or four weeks at Neville's. Would you still hold out for Harry, even if you decided that Neville was pretty nice and really liked you?"
"Maybe, but not certainly," Ginny admitted. "But Harry's never shown any interest in Hermione, or Hermione any interest in Harry. I mean romantically, that is."
"The difference between you and me, dear sister, is that when you're in a room with Harry, you only watch Harry to see if Harry sees you. Even if Hermione is right and I only have the emotional range of a thimble. . . ."
"Whatever. The point is, I watch Hermione interact with people. Hermione watches Harry. She has since that fight she, Harry, and I had in our Third year. She ignored me, but followed Harry with her eyes. I don't know if she has any romantic feelings for Harry or not, but one reason I can't get her to date me is because she is centered on two things: her studies and Harry. She loves him, Ginny. I don't know if she just loves him like a big sister, or if she could fall in love with him or not, but after three weeks or so with him, we'll find out."
"You have it bad, Ron," Ginny said sympathetically. "I like Harry, and I'd like to try and date him, but I'm not crushing anymore. You have it worse than I realized."
"I know," Ron admitted.
"Therefore, I will do you a favor, even if you don't deserve it. I will write to the one person I figure might have the inside track with Harry besides Hermione."
Ron was puzzled. "Cho?"
"No, idiot. Luna."
"Loony? Why would she. . . ."
"She and I had a long talk after the feast. Harry was, and maybe still is, hurting. She helped him. She likes him, and I saw him watching her when Patil and Turpin grabbed her for their compartment on the train. If looks could sizzle, the looks between them would have fried a steak."
"I never would have guessed," Ron admitted.
"It's nothing certain," Ginny warned. "They like each other. Harry and Hermione like each other. Who knows what could happen? Now, let me write Luna a letter. I presume I can borrow Pigwidgeon?"
"Good. Now, stop sulking and get ready for lunch. Since I'm writing the letter, you can set the table."
"Fair enough." Ginny turned to leave, but Ron stopped her. "Why don't I deserve it?"
Ginny paused. "Are you sure you want to know?"
Ginny turned around. "Why didn't you ask Hermione to the Yule Ball?"
"Did you really not think of Hermione as a girl before that day you asked her to the Ball in such a backhanded way?"
"Well, I knew she was a girl, of course, but I thought of her as, well, you know. . . ."
"Another one of the boys? Hermione was hoping you'd ask, you know. She didn't answer Viktor the first two times he hinted around for a date, you know. No, she stalled him, hoping YOU would ask. And you didn't, so when Viktor asked outright, she gave up and said yes, because she wanted to go."
"Don't be a git, Ron," Ginny warned. "That's why I agreed to go with Neville. This was a big deal. We wanted to go with the boys of our dreams, and they, you and Harry, disappointed us. What do you expect us to do? Wait around and hope you notice?"
Ron had the grace to look abashed.
"You should look more ashamed than that. It's been almost nineteen full months since the Yule Ball. Other than that disgusting paint thinner you called perfume, have you done one thing to even hint that you want to date Hermione, other than growling every time she looked at a boy other than you and Harry?"
"The answer, dear brother, is no, you have not done a thing. What do you expect? Hermione to sit around on the off chance you decide to ask her out before she hits menopause?" Ron flushed. "I'll write to Luna, but if Harry and Hermione decide to date, you will be happy for them. I will, because even if I'd like to date Harry, I care enough for him to want him to be happy. Do you?"
"I suppose," Ron said, without much conviction.
"Well, work on your attitude, and hope for the best," Ginny said, leaving. 'Besides,' Ginny thought to herself, 'even if they do date, that doesn't mean they're engaged. I'll still have a chance, if it doesn't work out.'
"Just how much do you expect the poor boy to eat?" Hestia teased Hermione. "And your parents are dentists, all these sweets!"
"Those people always half-starve Harry," Hermione growled as she started to stash some of the junk food in the kitchen.
"Won't your Mum find these?" Hestia asked.
"Of course," Hermione said, surprised. "After she rations these, Harry can eat the rest upstairs. I'll put them away up there." Hermione ran up the stairs, Hestia's laugh echoing in her ears.
Harry and Remus showed up at 1:52. Hestia and Remus left together at 1:58 to prevent McGonagall's wrath.
Her hostessing duties finished, Hermione embraced Harry in a strong hug. "You look good, Harry," she said.
"Thanks," Harry said without much enthusiasm. He was in jeans that fit, and a dark green t-shirt that said, "MAGICK" in a medieval script, and which showed that Harry had not only not lost weight for once, but had put on at least seven to ten pounds of upper-body muscle.
"What's wrong, Harry?" Hermione asked, walking him from the front hall into the front parlor.
"Nothing. I'm fi. . . . OW!"
"You're not 'fine', Harry," Hermione said sternly. "This is me, Hermione. No one else can hear us. No one will be here for more than three hours. I know you're a very private person, Harry, but if you can't be open to me then you can't be open to anyone, including yourself."
Harry said nothing. He sat on the large sofa very stiffly. Hermione sat next to him and placed her arm around him. Even though she felt the tension in him, she leaned over and placed her head on Harry's shoulder.
"Harry, you're my best friend. I care about you more than I do anyone else. Please, share with me."
"Really?" Harry said, doubt in his voice.
"Really," Hermione assured him.
"You care for me more than you care for your parents? More than you care for Ron?"
"Harry, I know Ron has a crush on me. I like him, and he's a good friend. I might have had a small crush on him around the Yule Ball, but that died quickly when he never followed up after the Ball. I still care about Ron, but I don't love him, I'm not attracted to him. I do love and care for my parents, but when I knew you needed me last Christmas, I chose you to go to. I'm not saying I'm in love with you, Harry. I honestly don't know if I am or not. I know you matter more to me than anyone else."
Harry started shivering slightly, trying to hold his emotions in check.
"Harry, tell me. Have you been sleeping?"
"Not well," Harry admitted, his voice shaking. After a moment of silence, he went on, "I haven't slept more than two hours straight, or four hours in all any night, since Sirius. . . ."
Hermione squeezed his waist.
"It's hard. . . . It's so hard. . . ."
"It's so hard what? It's hard to be you?"
"Have you had anything to do while you were at your relatives?"
Harry shrugged his shoulders. After a moment of silence (Hermione had decided that since nagging had never worked, silence might), Harry said, "My relatives were nastier than usual, but other than the insults they left me alone. I did chores in the morning, and Dumbledore had me working on Occlumency, hexes and defense with Remus in the afternoons, down in Mrs. Figg's basement."
"With an unmatched wand?" Hermione asked. The Order had given her one to defend her house with in questionable situations. She had used it to hex Draco Malfoy.
Harry nodded, and then said, "It didn't help."
"Help with what?"
"Sirius is still dead, and it was my fault."
"You mean it was partially your fault, right?"
"I know it's mostly Voldemort's fault, and that bitch Lestrange's, and a lot of other people's fault, but it feels like it's my fault."
"That's because you love him and you miss him, and because you couldn't stop what happened."
"I suppose." Harry had stopped shivering, and now leaned just a little against Hermione. "How are you feeling? How's your side? Tell me honestly, and I'll try to be just as honest with you."
Hermione frowned, but said, "It still hurts. I'm down to two potions a day, one at night and one three times a day. I'm tired; we were both up fighting last night, and we could probably both use a nap. How else do I feel? I'm frightened, Harry. I saw my father kill Dolohov." Harry put an arm around Hermione to comfort her, and Hermione held on to Harry even more tightly. "I saw that little prick Malfoy and that cow Bulstrode right here, in my home."
"I heard what you did to Malfoy."
"I should feel bad about that, but I can't," Hermione admitted.
The pair sat in silence for a moment, then Hermione said, "Harry, did Dumbledore tell you the prophecy while Ron and I were in the Infirmary?"
"Harry . . . do you have to die to defeat Voldemort?"
"No," Harry answered in a clipped voice.
"But you are the one prophesied to defeat him, aren't you?"
"No, I'm not."
"You're not?" Hermione said in a surprised voice.
"No, according to the Prophecy, either I kill him, or he kills me," Harry said flatly.
"Oh . . . Harry!" Hermione held on to him, and started to cry. Harry held on her as well.
After a few minutes, Hermione sniffed and let go of Harry. "I'm sorry. I think it was partly because I'm so tired."
Harry's mouth quirked. "I seem to have this effect on pretty girls."
Hermione snorted, and grabbed some paper tissues from a box on the coffee table. "I'll be right back, and then I'll show you the rest of the house."
Harry and Remus had come in through the back door, so he had figured out the floor plan of the ground floor. The back door led to a narrow pantry. Half of the back of the house was the kitchen, and the remaining space was taken up by the smallish (some 15 x 15) dining room. There was a room the same size between the dining room and parlor. The parlor was also the same size, although there was a rounded folly tower on the far front corner of the house that extended the parlor a few feet and gave it more light. There was also the large front hall, leading to the stairs. Off the short corridor leading to the kitchen was the side entrance Dolohov had come in through, under the stairs, as well as a small closet. He would later see that the backstairs that had led from the upstairs to the kitchen had been replaced by a small room with a toilet and sink, and that the cellar had been partially fixed over into a library.
Hermione came in, and she helped Harry carry his things up the stairs. Since Harry still had his spare wand, he was able to use magic to lighten his shopping bags and to guide his trunk up the stairs.
"Is that a new trunk?" Hermione asked, carrying eight bags of clothes.
"Yeah, it's a twelve compartment trunk. Since I don't have a home, it makes sense to store everything in one place. It's permanently charmed to weigh only as much as the stuff in the first compartment."
The upstairs had four rooms and a large bath. The Grangers' slept in the room over the front hall and part of the parlor. The other front room was the tv room. The round 'tower' had a small table with a chess board on it. Hermione's was the room over the dining room, while Harry would sleep in the room between the tv room and Hermione's.
"Do you want to change into shorts or something?" Hermione asked after she had shown him all the food she had squirreled away for him, and why. They had moved on to putting Harry's purchases away. "It's getting warm."
"Good idea," Harry agreed. Hermione went to her room, and Harry followed after changing.
Hermione's bedroom was the same size as his room and the tv room, some 15 feet wide and twelve feet deep. The common wall between Harry and Hermione's wall was all bookshelves, some 3/4's full. The other inside wall had a dresser and a wardrobe. There was a large bed, Hermione's trunk, a comfortable chair for sitting and reading (from which Crookshanks looked up at Harry and then went back to sleep), and a small writing desk and chair.
Harry was hardly surprised by the books, or, when he looked later, by the range of titles. He was slightly surprised that there was nothing on the other walls, other than a few family photos. There were three photos on her desk.
Hermione nodded at the photos. "I keep those on my desk at Hogwarts."
Harry looked, and saw one photo of Hermione with her parents, taken, he guessed, while they were in France three summers before. One had been taken at the Weasleys two summers before, showing the Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione. Since Percy had taken it, he was not in the photo, although Fred had directed a one-finger salute at him.
The third, of just Harry, been taken by Colin sometime the previous year, and showed Harry asleep in a chair in the common room. Hermione tapped the frame with her wand, which Harry then recognized as a magical frame that was sold in Hogsmeade. It was full, and all twelve photos had Harry in them. Five were other solo photos of Harry, taken by Colin in the common room between their Second and Fifth year. One showed Harry and Ron wide-eyed in the common room, dressed for the Yule Ball. One showed Harry and Hermione, wet after the Second Task, while the others showed Harry and Hermione studying.
"Are you trying to tell me something?" Harry asked.
Hermione shrugged. "No, not unless you didn't believe me when I said how important you are to me, Harry." Hermione hesitated and held out her hand. Harry also hesitated, and then took it.
"Let me show you the security system, and then, unless you're hungry, we should probably rest a bit."
"McGonagall made me eat breakfast, and Remus stuffed me with Chinese takeout for lunch," Harry said, following her out of the room.
"Humph!" Emma Granger snorted softly that evening.
"What is it?" Dan asked from the kitchen.
"Come look," his wife called softly.
Dan came into the parlor and looked. Harry, his trainers kicked off and his glasses on the coffee table, was half laying and half sitting on the sofa (that is, he was leaning against one arm rest, with one leg on the sofa and one leg on the floor), sound asleep. Hermione, barefoot and also in shorts and a t-short, was laying against him on the sofa and cuddled in his arms, her head on his stomach. The pair was fast asleep. Crookshanks was laying on the back of the sofa. He looked at the parents, blinked, and went back to sleep.
"I didn't expect that," Dan said.
"Neither did I, but I think it's good for them," Emma said. She glanced at the clock. "Those aurors are supposed to be here in twenty minutes. I guess I have to wake them."