No worries mon.
One Wizard Too Many
Harry and Hermione whizzed through magical space at dizzying speeds thanks to Harry’s portkey. Hermione knew not their destination, but she trusted Harry not to take her anywhere ‘stupid or dangerous’. She could gather from the prolonged spinning that the distance they were traveling must’ve been considerable.
After a period of about ten minutes, the spinning stopped and the couple found themselves falling. Some vigorous kicking of their legs saw them kept upright (unlike their experience with the World Cup portkey), and Hermione felt her feet contact the surface gently.
A surface that seemed very granular and warm.
“Sand! We’ve landed on a beach somewhere.”
After a moment, her hunch was proven correct as she could see, hear, smell, and practically taste an ocean somewhere nearby. There was an Italianate style villa overlooking a long beach. Two vehicles seemed to be parked in the driveway just barely visible from her vantage point, and the entire inland area seemed to be screened by a belt of palm trees.
Harry just stood by grinning like mad as she put together the appropriate puzzle pieces.
“Okay, based on that silly expression he’s wearing, he’s waiting on me to figure this whole thing out. Right then, let’s be about it.”
“We’re on a beach near an ocean, as I can smell the salt from here.”
He grinned wider. “Yup. But anyone with a nose could tell me that.”
She felt the warm sand on her feet. “We’re also at a fairly low latitude, as its very comfortable and I don’t feel any warming charms.”
“Of course.” She looked into the sky. It was just about sunset as the reddish sun was nearly sunk into the golden ocean. “We’re in the western hemisphere, obviously on a beach facing west, since we left Scotland at about eleven in the evening and it seems to be about five here.” Looking straight up, she could see a few stars beginning to show in the eastern sky. “I would also say we’re north of the equator, based on the visible constellations. We’re either on an island in the Caribbean or the western coast of Florida.”
Harry’s grin started to slip into a slight look of awe.
She smirked. “Based on the fact those two cars over by the beach house seem to be right hand drive, I would guess Jamaica or the Cayman Islands, as it’s just a bit too warm for the Bahamas.”
They were interrupted by a familiar voice. “Ten points to Gryffindor, Miss Granger. Told you she was the brightest witch of her age.”
“Couldn’t agree more Remus.”
She spun around to catch sight of Remus Lupin and his companions.
“Mum? Dad? Whatever are you doing here?” She ran over to hug her parents.
Her mum answered. “Well, three weeks ago we were visited by a beautiful snowy owl bearing an invitation for a tropical vacation. The chance to get away from chilly old England was nice enough, but what really sold us was the opportunity to see our lovely daughter fresh from the Yule Ball.”
Her Dad added. “And lovely is right! You look smashing dear.”
Hermione blushed very red.
Harry spoke. “Thank you very much for coming, Mister and Missus Granger. Hope the trip wasn’t too much of an imposition.”
Hermione’s father answered. “Imposition? An offer to spend two weeks in Jamaica over the Christmas Hols at no charge and you think we might consider it an imposition? You can call me Nathan, by the way.”
Hermione’s mum looked up from her hug. “And my name is Alice, dear. Thank you ever so much for the invitation.”
Hermione released her fierce hug from her mother and turned to attack Harry. Between kisses, she managed to say. “Best. Present. Ever!”
A thoroughly blushing Harry could only grin stupidly.
Hermione smiled at her handiwork. “Drunk on kisses sweeter than wine indeed!”
Just then something niggled at the borders of her consciousness regarding her father’s words to Harry.
“Wait. Two weeks in Jamaica? Are you guys staying on after we return to school?”
Alice smiled. She loved a good puzzle just as much as her daughter.
“Why no, we’re set to fly back to Heathrow on the first of the year. Believe you have a port-thingy set up for then too.”
“So you’ve already been here for a week? Without us?”
Nathan smiled along with his wife. “Yes and no.”
“What? How could it be both?”
Remus eased into the conversation. “I would imagine it might have something to do with Sirius over there, a certain magical artifact, and two other people on this beach whom you can’t see from here.”
Sirius walked up to the group from the seaward side, smirking oddly and swinging something around on a chain. “Hello again you too!”
Hermione was a bit confused at the strange way everyone was behaving. Remus’ mention of a ‘magical artifact’ seemed to ping off of something in her mind though.
She looked into the middle distance in thought and said quietly to her self. “We’re already here, aren’t we?” She looked up at Remus. “We are already on this beach because Sirius has a time turner!”
The werewolf smiled proudly at her keen critical thinking skills.
Sirius just snorted. “Well, you were actually halfway into the surf snogging like no tomorrow when I left you a minute ago.”
“Glad you left then, perv.” Harry muttered, but smirked in jest.
Remus cut off Sirius’ retort. “Now that we all know what’s going on, thanks to Miss Granger’s sleuthing abilities, I suggest we send these two back to the start point. Being in two places at once is a recipe for paradox.”
Harry took the time turner from Sirius and led Hermione off a short distance away.
“See you, er, later? Sooner? Another time?”
He looped the chain around the two of them and spun the dial seven times. The couple glowed for a moment and disappeared with a whoosh.
“There they go.” Remus said somewhat unnecessarily.
Sirius nodded and the elder Granger’s minds boggled a bit. The wizard may have been familiar with the oddities of time travel, but the scientifically based dentists marveled at the fact that if their daughter had happened to touch her future self, there was an excellent chance that Jamaica would be permanently removed from the map via high energy matter-antimatter explosion.
Possibly, at least. The physics of time travel were murky at best.
Still, the prospect of two hundred and ten pounds of high explosive Hermione, given the fact that two one hundred and five pound Hermione’s would be detonating simultaneously, was a cause for concern.
Even more unsettling was the fact that their school entrusted their then thirteen year old daughter with her own personal time travel device completely unsupervised. What if she had encountered herself accidentally between classes? One hundred and eighty pounds of mutually annihilating Hermione (90 lb Hermione x2) would have removed a fair sized chunk of Scotland.
Nathan spoke. “Uh Remus? What exactly would a paradox entail?”
“Usually some disorientation and a very stiff headache. Nothing too awful and catastrophic generally.”
“No high energy explosions?”
Remus chuckled. “No, but I can see where you would be concerned. I assume you’re thinking of the rules that matter can only occupy one place at a time, correct?”
“Yeah, that’s generally how that works.”
“Yes, generally. Magic, however, has a built in ‘safety valve’ that prevents that sort of thing. You see, if Harry or Hermione were to have headed down the beach and shook hands with their future selves, their magic would have established a minute field that would have prevented them from actually touching. The backlash would probably have thrown them apart and stunned them for a while, but to no lasting harm.”
“Oh. Well that’s good then. Wonder how somebody discovered that!”
“Indeed, wizard-kind are not known for careful and well considered actions.”
Sirius barked a short laugh. “Understatement of the year that!”
He took the Grangers by the shoulders and led them down toward the beach.
“To illustrate my point, let me tell you just what Harry and your daughter got up to last year…”
Harry and Hermione spun a bit in the grip of the time turner’s magic, witnessing seven odd reverse sunsets at high speed, as well as the blurs of individuals moving about the beach. The fact that some of the blurs were their future selves going about their business made it all the more strange.
Finally, the spinning stopped. The pair looked around at the quiet beach to find Sirius relaxing in a deck chair and reading a comic book, evidently waiting for them.
“Ah, ye made it! How’s the weather this week?”
Hermione answered. “Great! Looks like a little rain on Wednesday afternoon, but otherwise it’ll be fabulous.”
Harry looked at her askance. “That’s what that was? Went by too fast for me to notice.” All he saw during the eight seconds that comprised ‘Wednesday’ was an odd darkening of the sky that seemed to last all of a few milliseconds.
“The sand was wet for half a second. That translates to about four hours in real time.”
“Ah, guess that’s when we’ll have to schedule the wet t-shirt contest then.”
The comment earned Harry a smack on the arm and a muttered “You wish!”
Sirius thought it was a little funny at least.
“Heh. Anyway, Remus should be back soon with your Mum and Dad from the airport in Montego Bay. If you want to have any explanations handy as to why you’re here and also ‘currently’ in Scotland, now would be a good time to start thinking one up.”
“Well, I was tricked into being here by my boorish boyfriend.” She turned to Harry, eyebrow raised. “If you grovel effectively and well, my father may yet allow you to live.”
Harry smirked for a second before falling to his knees in front of her. He caressed her feet, kissed the hem of her dress, and began to wail piteously for mercy.
Unfortunately for Harry, Remus and the Grangers chose that moment to pull up to the villa and dismount the vehicle. Naturally, they had a splendid view of Hermione receiving homage from a kow-towing Harry, with Sirius looking on and chuckling heartily.
Once Harry was pulled to his feet and the mickey thoroughly taken from the lad, he was presented with the peculiar distinction of being introduced to two people he would actually meet for the first time next week.
“Only in the magical world can I meet someone for the second time before I meet them for the first! No wonder wizards are all fucking nuts!”
The last two weeks of the year were doubtlessly the best of Harry’s short and eventful life. Days were spent achieving his scuba certification, taught by a local muggleborn wizard. Practical instruction began in the villa’s large pool, before moving to the warm clear waters off Jamaica for open water training. He learned the ins and outs of single tank and two tank dives, the uses of standard air versus Nitrox (a higher proportion of oxygen to nitrogen than regular air) and Trimix (O, N, He mixture for really deep dives), and the trickiness of regulators. Evenings saw him and Remus inspecting the various ‘accoutrements’ the werewolf was able to gather through his underworld contacts.
“Firstly, you should know that muggle special forces have developed a whole range of weaponry for use underwater. A great deal of it is somewhat experimental and difficult to use effectively. That being said, I did manage to acquire this little beauty; a Soviet SPP-1 Underwater Pistol.” He held up an odd looking four barreled handgun with a large trigger and correspondingly large trigger guard. “The Soviets have also developed an automatic rifle variant, but I was unable to secure an example in the time we had.”
Remus frowned as he said this. While he was a bit leery about providing deadly armaments to a fourteen year old boy (“I gave him a fucking RPG-7 to whack that dragon!!!! Holy shit!”) He was bound and determined to do his best for his adopted cub. His best meant that he would make sure the deadliest thing in that lake would be an armed and trained Harry Potter. No exceptions. If that meant the giant squid would whimper in fear and surviving mermen would tell legends of the ‘Green eyed Destroyer from Above’, then so be it.
Remus continued. “This weapon fires steel darts to a range of twenty meters and has a magazine capacity of four rounds. It breaks open like a shotgun to reload. Hopefully you won’t need to reload it, or use it in the first place. You’ll have it holstered on your waist should you need it.”
Remus picked up a menacing looking metallic ‘gun’ with attached tanks and a rifle stock grip.
“This is your primary weapon, a basic speargun with larger compressed air reserves. You will be able to fire off about two dozen spears, which you’ll carry in a quiver strapped to your tank. You reload it like so.”
The werewolf took a three foot long spear with a barbed point and fitted the non-lethal end into a short tube halfway down the guns length. A quick turn of a lever near the tank locked the spear in place. A pull of the large trigger sent the spear whizzing across the room with a thunking hiss to imbed a third of its length into the thick plaster wall.
“Wicked!” Harry was impressed.
“Indeed. And quite fatal to anything you hit with it. Be very careful with this.”
Remus put the speargun back in its place on the table and picked up an old crate from the floor. Wrenching the lid off with his bare hands (werewolf strength allowed him to do things like that); Harry saw it was filled with some sort of odd metal disks about nine inches in diameter. Each had a ring taped down to its otherwise unremarkable surface, which was painted a sort of dull grey.
“What are those, reinforced dinner plates for Ron?”
“Mister Weasley would be ill advised to try and eat off of this. These are Mark 1 Limpet Mines, used for underwater demolition of enemy shipping and for you, supplemental ballast.”
“Ah, if I’m going to take some dead weight down there, might as well make it ‘useful’ dead weight.”
“Precisely. And just this once I’ll forgive you the unintentional oxymoron in that statement.
Continuing, these are used for blowing largish holes in things, and are set on a timer which is started by pulling this pin. The timer is adjustable in five minute segments, least being ten minutes.” On the back, Remus pointed out a small dial and knob. “This item is also quite deadly and very useful for covering an escape. It attaches via magnet to metallic surfaces, but we’ve set contact activated sticking charms as well.”
“Right. Anyway, what else have you for me?”
“You’ll also have a satchel of police grade flash-bang grenades. As designed for land use they are non-lethal but very distracting. Deploying them under water could potentially make them lethal, as concussive water pressure can be fatal depending on one’s proximity to the blast. Do not let one off near yourself or anyone you don’t wish so see die painfully.”
“Heh. That doesn’t leave out that many people, really.”
Remus smiled his sad smile. “Yes, well, please do try to confine your homicides to less public venues than Triwizard events if you are able.”
Harry sighed. “It’s so difficult to work under such strict conditions!”
The two week trip wasn’t all work and training for young Harry, though. Considerable beach time with his lovely girlfriend was arranged, as was acceptable amounts of snogging time in the evenings. Dinners at the various restaurants in the Montego Bay area, as well as steady patronage of several nightspots were also on the agenda. The elder Grangers got into the swing of things as well, with Nate demonstrating his decent drive and skillful irons work to the wizards on a golf outing as the ladies shopped in town. Harry found he had a pretty good short game, but everyone was impressed with Remus’ titanic drives from the tee. Sirius, on the other hand, had some difficulty hitting past the ladies tee on several holes. Luckily for him, he had no problems bringing out ‘wee Sirius’ for his second stroke from near the red marked tee box.
Nate muttered under his breath. “Have’ta get him some practice ‘fore he gets himself a sunburn!”
Harry just snickered and studiously looked away.
The evening of their ‘arrival’ was a bit odd, as the thought of two of them existing simultaneously was distinctly unnatural. Snogging passionately in the roaring surf helped take their minds off of the strangeness of the situation, while the adults were busy greeting their ‘other’ selves.
The second week passed as quickly as the first, with daily rounds of training, snogging, sunbathing, dancing, a repeat of the golf outing (Sirius’ game didn’t improve much, leading him to declare the next round he played would be performed pants less, thereby saving him a great deal of time removing and re-seating ‘wee Sirius’. Nate just offered to get him a kilt and be done with it.)
Harry also trained up on the various weapons to build familiarity, causing numerous conjured ‘merman Snape’ targets to succumb to spears, steel darts, and submarine concussions. On the magical side, Hermione insisted he learn the bubblehead charm as a backup.
Throughout the stolen two weeks in paradise, Harry’s thoughts regarding Hermione and their fledgling relationship began to worry him a bit. Not that he doubted his feelings for the girl; he had never felt more connected to a person and was having the time of his life with her. Her parents were also supportive of the couple, respecting Harry for his consideration of their daughter and the obvious affection they showed each other; minimizing any potential family troubles.
No, the problem, Harry realized as the group all lounged away a lazy afternoon on a soft sand beach by the Caribbean’s azure waters, was that maybe he cared for the brainy young witch a bit too much.
He inclined his head slightly to regard his girlfriend through dark sunglasses as she lay on her stomach and read a musty old tome that had no business being on a tropical beach. His eyes ranged over her shapely legs that were acquiring a bit of color in the warm climate of Jamaica. They moved to her rather magnificent bum barely covered by a bikini bottom and were, like her legs, well toned from near continuous stair climbing during the school term. Her back was strong but feminine, and also beginning to turn golden brown beneath the southern sun. Her hair, brunette with a few developing blonde highlights, was currently wet with sea water and scrunched into a pony tail. Her face and front side of her body was currently out of view, but Harry knew it to be of a piece with the back: breathtakingly gorgeous.
Hermione was a looker all right. She was also the smartest person Harry knew, scary smart and more brilliant than any professor or even the vaunted Dumbledore. She was funny and kind, passionate about life, love, and being a force for good in the world.
She was also, much to Harry’s utter surprise and delight, his girlfriend and best friend. He knew she would do anything and everything for him, to see him safe and successful and happier than he ever thought it possible to be.
He knew he would do anything for her, to insure her happiness and safety.
And that, right there, was the problem.
Harry shifted his gaze to scan the horizon, looking west over the sea towards a far distant Mexican shore, far below the curvature of the Earth.
He knew he cherished Hermione deeply, and would move heaven and earth to protect her. This in and of itself was a good and noble thing, for don’t we all do this for those whom we love?
The problem for Harry though, was that he realized that he really didn’t care too deeply about who might get hurt as he moved that heaven and earth for his Hermione.
Harry leaned back in his beach chair and sighed as he considered his ‘Homeric’ fatal flaw, and the one thing that would compel him to go dark.
What was Hermione worth to him? If it came down to a matter of life and death (and since it was Harry Potter, it probably would eventually), how did Hermione’s stack up? Hermione versus Gryffindor? Hermione versus Hogwarts? Versus magical Britain? The world?
His face showed a wry grin as he looked up into the bright blue sky. He knew the answer.
It was rather simple, really. Hermione had done much for him over the years, including saving his life a number of times. What had the world done for him besides shit on him repeatedly and try to kill him with monotonous regularity?
Besides, without Hermione Granger, there really wasn’t much to Harry Potter besides unholy amounts of magical power and an utter lack of restraint.
He knew that if something happened to Hermione, he would taste the madness again; that red mist that descends like a curtain over his vision whenever some fool and his hearts blood needed to be separated through violent means.
Surprisingly, he was less bothered by this than he thought he should be. Someone or something tries to deprive him of his love; he starts killing and destroying until someone stops him.
Oh well, sucks for them then, doesn’t it?
Just then Hermione slams her big book shut and stands up. A quick stretch was followed by a glance at Harry.
Harry grinned. “I would have to agree.”
She smiled. “Prat. I meant I think it’s time for a dip. Care to join me?”
“Any time my dear. Lead on.”
Harry put his apocalyptical thoughts aside to splash around in the surf with his girlfriend, with one last thought to encapsulate the argument.
“My world would be pointless without her in it, so what does it really matter if it comes out on the losing side of any decision?”
If anything happened to Hermione Granger, the world would pay.