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...
In part to recover from their embarrassment at being caught napping together on the sofa, Hermione and Harry went quickly upstairs to change before the aurors arrived. Hermione came back down at 5:50, Harry five minutes later, both in jeans and with their trainers back on. Hermione had already explained about Harry's sleeping problems, and so neither of her parents said anything.
The wards chimed at 6:00, and one of the aurors gave a password which signaled 'friends' to the wards. Hermione then opened the front door, although both she and Harry had their wands out.
There were three aurors, and the only one they knew was Tonks. She introduced the other two as Adam North and Sam Bryce. The two older aurors soon let the Grangers know that they were determined to interview the three Grangers separately.
Hermione objected. "The rules state that a minor may only be interviewed with a parent or guardian present, and that under these circumstances Muggles may have a witch or wizard present."
"Now look. . . ." Bryce started.
"No," Hermione said firmly. "None of us have any reason to trust the Minister or you."
"You really don't have much of a choice," North said.
"We can force you," Bryce agreed.
"No," Tonks said, "we won't."
"You follow orders," Bryce snapped.
"Perhaps it would best if you either listen to Hermione or leave," Harry said quietly.
"Look, kid. . . ." Bryce started.
He did not finish. Harry had stood up and looked into the auror's eyes. The other five people had frozen just like Bryce had. Harry was just a tad over 5 foot 6, and despite his recently added muscle he would be considered thin rather than lean. Still, raw power seemed to radiate from Harry, and there was a slight aura around his wand. "I stunned four Death Eaters this morning, dueled and captured Bellatrix Lestrange, and drove off Voldemort," Harry stated, exaggerating slightly. "I've fought Voldemort four other times in the last five years. Last year, I was set on by dementors sent by the Minister's assistant and nearly railroaded by the Minister personally. Excuse me for not being overly impressed or confident."
"Right," Bryce said, backing down. He turned to Hermione. "What spells did you perform last night?"
"I moved Dolohov and moved, bound, and stunned Malfoy and Bulstrode. I won't swear as to the order. The last spells before that were some feather spells on trunks for the First year students the day we came back from Hogwarts."
"Hold out your wand, and we'll see. That does agree with what the underage detectors claimed, but Malfoy claims you tortured him."
"The only pain he should have been in would have been from Dolohov and Bulstrode falling on him, plus he might have banged his head, but he didn't say anything about that."
"What did he say?"
"When I bound him, he said he would get me expelled for underage magic, and he also claimed he would pretend he was under the Imperius."
"Well, let's see."
Thirty minutes later, the three aurors were finished with their questions. North and Bryce were not fully satisfied, but there was really little they could do. Neither Malfoy nor Bulstrode had the Dark Mark, but they had been wearing full Death Eater regalia and of course Dolohov had been a convicted Death Eater who had twice escaped from imprisonment, while Draco Malfoy's father was also considered an escaped Death Eater, although he had not been tried before his recent escape. In any case, the Grangers certainly had the right to defend themselves.
"Tell them," Tonks told her two more senior colleagues. "Tell them both."
North grimaced but pulled out a piece of parchment after consulting his partner. "Due to the emergency conditions, and the threat posed by the Death Eaters of the self-proclaimed Dark Lord to those living within the Muggle environment, Hermione Jane Granger and Harry James Potter are hereby allowed to practice magic despite being underage. The usual restrictions about practicing magic within any Muggle environment apply, and both are responisble for any damages done, in either the magical or Muggle spheres of influence." He looked at a clock. "This will go into effect as of Eight o'clock tonight."
The three aurors took their leave, Tonks giving the teens a wink as she left.
Mrs. Granger locked the door and turned around. "Hermione, set the table. Harry, dinner will be ready in thirty minutes."
The household went to bed early that night. It was shortly after 10:00 that found the Grangers cuddled together in bed. "This has been a very weird evening, after an even more upsetting morning," Dan admitted. "It still hasn't really hit me that I killed someone."
"I know," Emma agreed. "It's also very strange to be partially protected by our daughter and by things we don't understand."
"True." Dan took a deep breath. "What about Hermione's relationship with this boy?"
"I was as surprised as you to see them this afternoon. I need to have a chat with her in the morning."
"Do you think it's safe to leave them alone for nine to ten hours a day?"
"Well, after what Harry did to those aurors, at least we know our baby is safe from outside threats," Emma teased. Hermione had assured them that Harry could drive off any number of dementors, and Harry had added that he had now been trained on how to destroy them, with a bright burst of concentrated light.
"Very funny. He's almost sixteen, she's almost seventeen."
"Hermione will not do anything she does not want to do," Emma said firmly. "I really feel Harry will let her take the lead, if they really are forming a relationship."
"That doesn't make me feel much better," Dan complained.
"Look, when we started dating at University, how many girls had you been with?"
"Well. . . ."
"You were my fourth," Emma pointed out. "I was what? Your sixth?"
"That's not the point. . . ."
"No, the point is you're acting like a father. Hermione is not going to go overboard, or do anything desperate. I really don't think Harry would ever force her to do anything. We can trust her to do what is right for her."
"That does NOT make me feel any better, either."
"Considering the danger we're all in, do you want to send Harry away? Even if he and Hermione do fall in love and have a physical as well as an emotional relationship?"
"No, but I don't have to like it, do I?"
"No, you don't have to like it. Just don't take it out on Harry."
"And have him look at me like he did those two twits?"
"And he did that to defend Hermione. Remember that, dear."
Dan sighed. "I will."
Wednesday, July 17, 1996
Hermione woke up with a jerk, breathing fast. She listened very hard, wondering what had awoken her. It hadn't been a dream.
She heard nothing.
Hermione sat up and looked around her room. When Crookshanks raised his head from near her feet as if to ask, 'What's wrong with you?' that reassured Hermione. The previous night, Crookshanks had started to lightly dig his claws into her a few seconds before the first ward alarm went off. If Crookshanks wasn't bothered, she probably should not be, either.
Crookshanks stood and then jumped to the floor, strolling towards the door. He stopped and looked over his shoulder.
Hermione stood, barely noticing that it was a little before 4:00.
The night was hot, not at all common in East Anglia, but not totally unheard of, either. Hermione was only wearing a light cotton nightgown that didn't quite come down to her knees.
Hermione peeked into the upstairs hallway. All the doors were open, to keep some air circulating. Hermione took three steps into the hall, and looked into Harry's room.
Harry's room was in some ways a mirror of hers, although with only one window. There was the bed up against their common wall. There was a dresser on one side of the door and a wardrobe on the other. Shelves of novels and reference books were against the far wall, and there was a small desk near the shelves. Harry had pulled the captain's chair from in front of the books and placed it at the open window.
He was sitting there, just looking out into the night.
Hermione walked in, and felt a ward fall.
Harry spun out of his chair, wand at the ready.
"Sorry," he whispered.
Hermione made a gesture at the door. Harry put up another ward to insure that sound wouldn't escape. "Are you alright?" she asked, trying not to stare. Harry was only wearing boxer shorts, and despite being too thin and still having rather knobbly knees, Hermione liked what she saw.
"I'm f. . . ." Harry started. "Actually, maybe I am okay, if not fine. I slept from around Ten-thirty until just after Three. That's far and away the best I've slept since, well, you know."
"I know." Hermione walked over and gently pushed Harry back into the chair. She sat on the window sill.
Harry had rather ambivalent feelings about that. There wasn't much light coming in from the night, but it was enough to make her nightgown transparent. Harry crossed his legs.
"Harry, may I ask you a personal question?"
"Anything you want," Harry replied, glad he was able to keep his voice steady and his eyes mostly on Hermione's face.
"If I tell you the main reasons why I shouldn't date you, or wouldn't want to date you, will you tell me the reasons you think we shouldn't?"
"Alright," he answered doubtfully, confusion fighting with both relief and disappointment.
"I had a goal, Harry. The magical world is very small. It's almost medieval in some ways. Who a person's family is really means a lot. Most people get jobs because of who they're related to. Even in the Ministry, who you know means as much as what you know and how well you do it. I'll have to make my way through that maze, and without much help. I need to show that I deserve to be taken seriously. Therefore, I really didn't want to have a serious boyfriend."
She looked more directly in Harry's eyes. "I could embarrass you with all your good qualities, but you're also moody, Harry. You have a difficult time trusting anyone. You have a harder time opening up to anyone than anyone I know, although you made a good start this afternoon. You're very independent. If we were to date, we'd have to be partners of some sort."
She gestured. "Your turn."
"I don't want to hurt your feelings," Harry said.
"Do your worst. Be blunt and get it all over at once."
"You're bossy and at times self-righteous, and I can't be bossed." Harry shrugged. "That's it. You're already known as my friend, and most people probably believe we're dating anyway, so you'd be in no more danger than you are now."
"Am I really self-righteous?"
Harry nearly smiled, and explained in detail the effects of Hermione's knitted hats for the house elves.
Hermione frowned. "Don't you think they should be free?"
"Yes," Harry said. "However, I don't know how to do it. I do know it won't be from knitting hats. House elves might be brainwashed, but you should realize that they might have to serve. We'd need to figure that out first. If they're brainwashed, then we can argue for direct freedom. If they really do need to serve, we'd at least have to figure out some way to prevent abuse."
"We?" Hermione asked, with a smile.
"If I do defeat Voldemort, I'll need to save someone else, won't I?" Harry teased.
"I'm sorry about that remark," Hermione said.
"I forgive you," Harry said.
"You're never going to be bossed by me, are you?"
"Never," Harry said. "If you want to be the boss, it won't work. It's not like I would want to be, either."
"We'll argue, won't we?" Hermione asked, sadly.
"We will, but not like you and Ron."
Hermione smiled. "No, we've snapped at each other, and even fought a bit, but never like Ron and me." Hermione heaved a great sigh of satisfaction. "Do you think you will be able to go back to sleep?"
"Well, I could try," Harry said, doubtfully. "Why?"
Hermione leaned over and kissed Harry's forehead, which caused her nightgown to gape open, which pleased Harry even more than the kiss. "Get dressed," Hermione murmured.
"Put on shorts and a vest," Hermione said. "Please. I'll be right back."
Harry watched Hermione disappear back towards her room, and then hurriedly did as she said. Hermione was back in less than five minutes, dressed in loose shorts and a sports bra, and carrying a pillow in one hand and a fan in the other. She plugged in the small fan and then tossed the pillow on the bed. She laid down. "Come here."
"Won't your parents have a fit?" Harry asked.
"I don't know," Hermione admitted. "That's why we're dressed and using your bed, and leaving the door open. If we tried to hide this, then they would certainly object. Now, come here and lie down. Please."
Harry did as he was told. In less than a minute, he was spooned against Hermione. In less than three minutes, Harry fell into a very restful sleep.
Hermione smiled, and fell asleep soon thereafter.
Emma Granger woke up early, a little before 5:00. She made her way to the bathroom. Coming out a few minutes later, she peaked into her daughter's room. Seeing it empty, she frowned. She stepped back and looked into Harry's room, and saw her daughter and Harry intertwined on his bed. Crookshanks was guarding the foot of the bed.
Emma frowned, and took a step into the room for a closer look, and Crookshanks got to his feet to glare at her. She saw, to her relief, that they were at least dressed, which also told her that her daughter had likely planned this, that this was not merely spontaneous.
Emma saw Harry move stiffly, as if he was in pain. Hermione moved and gathered him to her, cuddling his head against her breast and hugging him tightly. Hermione kissed Harry's scar, which Emma realized was standing out clearly despite the dimness of the room.
Harry gave a sigh of relief, snuggled even closer, and the pair settled down, breathing deeply.
Emma went back to bed, confused.
When Emma woke up again, she beat the 6:30 alarm by a few moments. She turned the alarm off and hurried out of the bedroom. She saw that the guest room was empty. She went into Hermione's room, and saw that her daughter was in her own bed, covered by the afghan Hermione kept on the back of her reading chair.
Emma adjusted the afghan to cover Hermione's bare foot, and after gently awakening her husband, she made her way to stairs.
Emma could smell the coffee part way down the stairs.
"You're up early," she said to Harry, who was reading the paper in the kitchen.
"Believe it or not, I slept better last night than I have in over a year," Harry responded. He stood. "Hermione said you usually have half a toasted bagel and an egg for breakfast. How would you like your egg?"
"You don't have to fix breakfast for us, Harry."
Harry shrugged as he pushed half a bagel into the toaster. "I've cooked breakfast for my relatives for about ten years."
Emma's eyebrows went up at that, considering Harry's age, but said nothing. Obviously, Hermione had not exaggerated the few stories she had told about Harry's relatives. "Fried is fine for both of us. Dan should be down in about ten minutes. Hermione's muselix mix is in that cupboard, and the yogurt and jam are in the ice box. There's some ham in the blue container in the back of the bottom shelf. Eat whatever you want. Are you confined to the house?"
"Not that anyone has said," Harry answered, cracking the egg into the hot non-stick frying pan.
"Then you and Hermione should go to the stores today. I'm sure I can cook anything you bring home." Then, in a faux whisper, she added, "Hermione can't cook, you know."
Harry smiled. "I can."
"I believe you," she said, as Harry flipped her egg without breaking the yolk. "I like it a little runny." She paused, and then asked, "Harry. . . . What are your intentions towards our daughter?"
Harry paused, but plated the bagel and egg, and then poured out the coffee. "I don't know," he admitted. "Even though I've always known your daughter was as attractive as she is smart, I always thought she was more attracted to Ron than she was to me. I wasn't going to get into the middle of that. I couldn't do that to either of them."
"And now that you know it's you she's interested in you, not Ron?"
"Ron's going to take that hard," Harry said.
"Is that going to stop you?"
Harry shook his head. "I thought about a lot of things these past few weeks. Nearly all of it was bad, frightening, or at least depressing. About the only thing that wasn't any of those things was, well. . . ."
Emma halted her fork to help out. "Thinking about girls, or Hermione specifically?"
"Girls," Harry admitted, now blushing a bit. "I tried to date a girl last year. It was a disaster. I thought about a number of girls, and I realized something."
"What was that?"
"That there were only two or three girls I could rely on. And of them, I was attracted to two of them, but I knew that one of them was away for the summer, and that the other was sort of dancing around my best friend."
"And now you're staying with the second girl, who, it turns out, if quite taken with you."
"Yeah. . . ."
"I saw the two of you earlier this morning."
Harry's blush now reached near Weasley-levels.
Emma finished her half-a-bagel and egg and then stood. "That sounds like Dan. A whole bagel and two fried eggs." She poured herself a second cup of coffee. "I'll wake Hermione up, and I won't mention any of this to Dan this morning."
Hermione was smiling, although her eyes were shut, when Emma sat on the edge of the bed. "Good morning," Emma said.
Hermione opened her eyes in surprise.
"Surprised it's me, or that you're in your own bed?"
"You saw, then?"
"I did. Perhaps fortunately, your father didn't."
Hermione shrugged as best she could from a prone position. "We weren't doing anything wrong."
"You weren't sleeping together? Not just napping, but spending the night together?" Emma inquired mildly.
"We were, fully dressed and with the door open," Hermione replied. "Mum, Harry hasn't slept much in over a month, and from Ron said, he didn't sleep all that well for over a year."
"Harry did say he slept better last night than he had for over a year," Emma admitted.
"Awake and he made breakfast for me, and was starting your father's," Emma answered. "Hermione, I get the impression that Harry is a very powerful and determined young man, but that he is also both an abused and sheltered boy. Normally, it's the boy who is warned. I'm warning you. Harry is fragile. You either hold his heart in your hands, or you easily could. Be very careful, and don't think sex will either help mend him or bring you closer together."
Now it was Hermione's turn to blush. "Come on down stairs and eat with your father," Emma said. "We were late going in yesterday, and we both have paperwork to catch up on."
"Yes, Mum," Hermione said.
"I told Harry that, if you two aren't confined to quarters, as they say in the cinema, you can go shopping. You can cook."
"Ha, ha," Hermione said. "At least I can heat up the pre-packaged stuff. That's more than Daddy can do."
"Actually, Harry said he could cook," Emma offered.
When Hermione found her way to the kitchen, she found an owl awaiting her. There was a note, saying that if either of the teens left the property, they were to contact their minders 'in the usual way.'
"What way is that?" Harry asked.
"Believe it or not, with a telephone call," Hermione answered.