Ozma and the Witches of Hogwarts
“Are you alright Harry?” Hermione looked very worried and frightened when he woke up with a start. “Did you have a nightmare about last night?”
In fact, Hermione was restless with bad dreams of violence and blood herself the night following the attack on Astoria, and had been awake for a while. And Hermione was especially shaken because instead of Astoria, it had been her under Malfoy.
Hermione couldn’t help but remember the night of the terrorist attack at the World Cup. Malfoy’s horrible comments were still as clear as if it had been yesterday:
“You wouldn’t want them to find your pet Muggle and have their way with her/] would you? ...” and, “You’d better keep your eye on her Potter. There’s a new order coming... soon they’ll all know their proper place - beneath a pureblood or six feet under...” still echoed in her mind.
“No! It was Voldemort,” Harry replied, his scar prickling. “I’ve actually been having the same ‘dream’ for the last few nights, but it was sort of hazy... This is the first time I can actually remember a bit of it. I think it had to do with Mr Malfoy too - Voldemort was angry with him... I think maybe he tried to kill Malfoy and Malfoy escaped - I’ll tell Dumbledore tomorrow.”
Harry peered at Hermione, who seemed to be terrified about something.
“What about you Hermione?” he asked gently, “Have [/you been having nightmares about last night?”
Hermione looked at Harry, then bit her lip and cast her eyes down, unable to say anything. Tears began trickling down her cheeks and Harry had a bad feeling that she had been dreaming about Draco Malfoy being on top of her.
“Come here Hermione.” He took her in his arms; she began sobbing into his chest and trembling. “It’s alright now Hermione,” he whispered, holding her tightly and kissing her bushy head, “I’m here... I’ve got you...” his own eyes glistening.
Harry went straight to Dumbledore in the morning - before breakfast - to relay the information about Voldemort and Mr Malfoy. The headmaster seemed very concerned as he peered at Harry and Hermione over the top of his half-moon spectacles.
“Harry, perhaps you and Mrs Potter should take a few days off to recuperate from the turmoil...”
“It’s alright sir... I think I’d prefer the distraction of classes,” Harry interjected. “How about you Hermione?”
“Yes! I feel exactly the same way Harry.” Hermione nodded, biting her lip.
“Very well,” Dumbledore sighed. “But be sure to see Madam Pomfrey if you begin to experience any more ill effects.”
Indeed Harry and Hermione both began feeling ill during breakfast. Harry groaned when he saw the headline blazing across the front page of the morning edition of the Daily Prophet. Hermione gasped in horror, her eyes boggling.
MAYHEM AT HOGWARTS
by Rita Skeeter
Does Hogwarts have a new Dark Lord in the making? That is what this sterling reporter set out to discover after rumours of a gruesome occurrence yesterday on the grounds of Hogwarts reached her ears. This attack appears to confirm previous reports about the Dark proclivities of Mr and Mrs Potter.
Certain Ministry officials - unnamed due to fears of retribution - revealed that a bloodbath unfolded sometime late the night before last, though it is unclear where the dreadful incident took place. All that is certain, is that it was somewhere on Hogwarts grounds, and indicated that the Potters may have a penchant for Blood Rituals.
According to the unnamed official, Harry James Potter, previously known as the Saviour of the British Wizarding Community, engaged in just such a ritual. Utilizing an unknown Dark Curse surely belonging among the class of Unforgivables, Mr Potter, a man of the age of majority, mutilated two young children in a most horrific manner.
A healer at St Mungo’s, too terrified to reveal her name, revealed that multiple limbs had been savagely severed from the traumatised victims’ bodies.
Young Demon Potter’s thirst for blood must surely give the other Champions in the Triwizard Tournament pause to continue. Are the Headmasters of the foreign schools which are participating too frightened to withdraw? Enquiring minds want to know.
Despite being unable to eat breakfast due to the churning of their stomachs, Harry and Hermione couldn’t help simply sighing in resignation and slumping in their seats. It would almost be amusing if Hermione hadn’t had such awful nightmares last night.
Dora’s eyes nearly popped out of her head. Then she began to look furious, angrier than Harry or Hermione had ever seen her.
“That bloody bitch!” Dora fumed. “I swear I could murder her!”
Lavender and Parvati, who had been told by the Potters exactly what had happened, both looked appalled. Luna and Ginny approached the Mingling Table together. Ginny looked almost as enraged as Dora. When Fred and George arrived, Fred began chortling.
“All hail the new Dark Lord!” said Fred, a look of glee on his face. “Bow before his might!”
“Shut it Fred!” Ginny snapped. George shot Fred a reproachful glare, perhaps for the first time ever. Only Luna appeared to be calm, almost serene.
“It’ll be alright Hermione, Harry,” Luna assured them with a smile. “Wait till you see the Quibbler. Daddy wrote a really good article - you’ll see!”
They didn’t have to wait long, soon numerous owls began arriving, dropping free Quibblers on every table. The headline above the fold couldn’t have been more different.
KIDNAPPING AND ATTEMPTED RAPE FOILED
DEATH EATER SCION ARRESTED
The front page article factually revealed all of the events which had transpired in great detail, and quoted Madam Bones as admiring Harry Potter’s “great restraint in subduing the criminals who had been caught in the act.” Aurors Kingsley Shacklebolt and John Dawlish were cited as praising Harry Potter, and hoping that he would one day consider becoming an Auror himself.
Draco Malfoy and Theodore Nott were named as the criminals. Warlock Greengrass offered his “utmost gratitude for Harry Potter and his wife’s courageous act” in preventing his twelve year old daughter from suffering “a fate worse than death.”
A copy of the DMLE’s full arrest and conviction report was enclosed inside. There were a number of other articles too; including one about a healer at St Mungo’s who had been bribed by a lower-level Ministry Official from the Department of Magical Sanitation to lie to the Daily Prophet, and yet another article detailing corruption in the Ministry and the Wizengamot, and one attacking the credibility of Rita Skeeter.
There was also a feature on the numerous crimes of Lucius Malfoy and Nott’s father, committed before the end of the last war, to which they had both claimed they had done under the influence of an Imperius Curse.
As in the previous riposte to the Daily Prophet’s lurid hit piece against Harry and Hermione at the beginning of the Triwizard Tournament, every single article and editorial was hard-hitting, credible journalism at its finest, backed up with named sources. Not a single advert could be found in the Quibbler, nor a single article about oddities or undiscovered creatures.
Luna whispered proudly in Harry and Hermione’s ears. “You were right... Daddy is working with Dumbledore now!”
A buzz of conversation and argument filled the Great Hall, and many, many more students than after the original challenge to the Daily Prophet seemed to be supporting the Quibbler’s version of events. The rest appeared to be divided between confusion, and support for the Daily Prophet. A number of students - mostly muggleborn - grinned at Harry and Hermione, flashing thumbs up at them.
Even Slytherin seemed awkwardly at odds with each other. Many glared malevolently at the Potters, but most of Astoria’s friends and acquaintances in first and second year were engaged in heated arguments with the older Slytherins.
Most of the Slytherins in fourth year and above registered shock and anger when Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson left the Slytherin table and made their way to the Mingling Table. Cries of Blood-Traitor and other choice insults could be heard over the noisy hubbub in the rest of the Great Hall.
Needless to say, the Potters’ and their friends’ jaws dropped in surprise as Pansy and Blaise approached the Mingling Table. Pansy Parkinson looked at her feet, shame-faced when she reached the table.
“Erm... I... I’m so s...sorry,” she stammered, addressing the Potters, trembling as tears trickled down her reddening cheeks. “I... I’ve always been so ho...horrible to you both. B...but you didn’t even seem to care that I had been so mean to you and that I was a Slytherin when you saw me with Daphne when Daphne asked you to save Astoria.
“And you didn’t even stop to think about it, you just went and saved Astoria, and ... and, Daphne told me how you'd saved her from Draco too. It... er... it's made me rethink a lot of things about... er... everything. Anyway, I... I just want you to know how much I appreciate everything you’ve done... and how much I hate Draco now! I kn...know it’s not enough just to say that, and I... I would understand if you hate me and don’t believe me...”
“Er... of course we believe you!” said Harry. “After what you did for Daphne - sticking your neck out for her and Astoria? ... It was very brave... I'd say it was almost Gryffindor of you.” he concluded cheekily. Harry felt cheered when he heard Pansy's sniffles broken by a teary giggle.”
“Anyway you’re welcome to join us.” Hermione smiled at Pansy, beckoning her to sit down.
Harry grinned at Zabini - somehow intuiting what he was about to say - and gestured towards an empty seat. Blaise sort of smirked a bit at the Potters, but not in a nasty way. If anything, he looked very embarrassed.
“I’m glad you put that filthy little knob in Azkaban,” said Blaise, shaking Harry's hand. “It was nauseating pretending to be Malfoy’s friend...”
That afternoon, Harry and Hermione passed through the secret passage under the Whomping Willow, and paid a visit to the Shrieking Shack. They were stunned when they looked around after Sirius let them in.
The interior had been completely redone and they no longer worried about possibly putting their foot through a rotting floorboard. Sirius was as bright and cheerful as the decor.
“Remus’s touch,” Sirius smirked. “I would’ve been just as pleased if everything was painted red and gold.”
Remus snorted with mirth and rolled his eyes. “Yes, well... I see no reason to decorate our place like the Gryffindor Common Room.”
“Anyway, I’m very pleased you both came to visit,” said Sirius. “I just wanted to say how proud I am of you both...”
“Would you like to stay for Tea?” asked Remus. “I was just about to make some sandwiches, and put on a kettle.”
“Er... sure,” Harry replied with a grin.
“That sounds lovely,” Hermione beamed.
Remus and Sirius both commiserated with the Potters about Rita Skeeter’s article as they ate and sipped their tea.
“Pay no attention to that Hag... er... Hack!” Sirius pretended it was just a Freudian slip as they all groaned and laughed. “She wouldn’t know the truth if it bit her on the arse.”
“Well, for my part,” said Remus, “I couldn’t be more pleased that Xeno Lovegood is on board. It’s nice for the Order to finally have someone like him to counter the Daily Prophet’s rubbish...”
Professor Moody had seemed to have the same notion as Dumbledore. He had given the Potters space over the days following the attack on Astoria. But as with classes, exercise had proved to be a welcome distraction from Harry and Hermione’s darker mood, and they had decided to take a nice jog by the Black Lake.
Being away from the bustle of the castle, in the bright sunshine and fresh spring breeze, their agitation began to settle, and they almost forgot about the horrible nightmares. There were only a few clouds in the sky, and a pair of swans followed by their cygnets drifted by on the shimmering surface of the lake.
But their reverie was not as lasting as they had hoped when they spied two familiar looking figures up ahead. McLaggen and Towler seemed to be grinning and leering at something on the other side of the bushes. Harry had a bad feeling about this, and his stomach clenched. But he was less willing than he might have been to simply barge in without thinking things through. And this time he took Hermione’s words to heart.
Harry motioned Hermione to approach with caution, and was surprised to see her bristling. She looked like she was about to march right over and give the two burly fifth and sixth year Gryffindors a piece of her mind. The scowl on her face deepened as they drew nearer to Towler and McLaggen. She was beginning to look as irate as she ever had been at her angriest.
Perhaps her hearing was just better than Harry’s; his jaw tightened when he began to make out bits of Towler and McLaggen’s hushed conversation.
“Just look at those two,” said McLaggen, “They’re really going at it.”
“Yeah...” Towler sniggered. “Who would’a thought that those little bints were a pair of muff divers?”
“Lovegood probably gave up on guys after mucking about with that fairy squib, Longbottom,” chortled McLaggen. “...And Thomas - he’s all talk, no action. Maybe those slags both need a real man to show them a good time,” he said, grabbing at his crotch.
Cautiously, Harry peeked through the gaps in the bushes to see what Towler and McLaggen were on about as Hermione peered over his shoulder. Harry’s eyes widened with surprise when he spotted Luna and Ginny lying on a mossy bit of ground, snogging like there was no tomorrow. He suddenly understood what they had been doing when he had spotted them in the Three Broomsticks the other day.
Hermione’s anger was really making sense. Harry began to see red when he realised that McLaggen and Towler seemed intent on forcing themselves on Luna and Ginny. Harry couldn’t believe this was happening again, just days after he had dealt with Malfoy. Throwing caution to the wind, Harry stepped around the bushes and purposefully drew their attention.
“Oi... McLaggen,” he said loudly, “What d’you two think you’re doing?”
McLaggen spun around and smirked.
“Well, if it isn’t the little Harem Lord himself,” McLaggen chortled. “Don’t be greedy Potter... Care to share the wealth? We won’t use them too much... promise! They’ll still be tight enough when we’re done with them.”
“You’re utterly revolting!” Hermione snarled.
“...And a real bloody idiot!” said Harry, more nonchalantly than he felt. “What say I give these two a taste of what I gave Malfoy, Hermione?”
“Malfoy? You must be joking Potty!” laughed McLaggen. “That little Princess can’t do anything without his daddy holding his hand!”
“Go ahead McLaggen... try me!” Harry’s face darkened as he reached for his wand. Hermione suddenly looked scared.
“Harry, what are you doing?”
“I think I’m going to give this fool a little demonstration, Hermione.” Then Harry returned his attention to McLaggen. “You know McLaggen, you’re even stupider than Malfoy! Maybe I should take your hand too...”
That seemed to do the trick... at least as far as Towler was concerned. Towler paled, took a few steps back, and gulped nervously.
“Hey... Cormac, maybe we should just leave it!”
“What? And let this attention-seeking pipsqueak push us around? ... So what if he stared at a dragon - it’s not like he actually fought it. And Malfoy couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag! Come on Potty... show us what you’ve got!”
Harry stood his ground as his fury began to rise, nostrils flaring, but he didn’t say a word. He was used to playground taunts, and he wasn’t about to take the bait. Harry simply gave the large muscle-bound oaf a hard stare.
McLaggen must have spotted the dangerous look in Harry’s eyes though, because he seemed to have a change of heart.
“You’re right Ken...” McLaggen scowled. “I don’t need to prove anything to Potty...” His sneer was as magnificent as Malfoy’s. “I could take him on anytime... Let’s go!”
Harry let out a sigh of relief as McLaggen and Towler stalked away. He glanced at Hermione, ashamed of having frightened her.
“Sorry Hermione - I wasn’t going to do anything unless he started something... I promise!”
“Don’t be sorry Harry!” Ginny emerged from the bushes, holding Luna’s hand. They were both trembling; but Ginny’s eyes had a look which promised vengeance, much the same as the look she had given the Slytherins the day that Skeeter’s Harem article had come out.
“She’s right Harry...” Luna smiled. “Don’t ever be sorry for standing up to bullies!”
“I agree a hundred percent!” said Hermione, her scared look replaced with one of pride in her husband. “I just don’t like fights.”
Hemione was in fact very pleased that once again Harry had proved that he was more than capable of letting his retorts do the job when the enemy was just spouting hot air. And that once again Harry had proved that he would never back down when defending others from bullies and creeps.
Dora, who had been shadowing the Potters, was just grateful that they hadn’t had a repeat of the other night. At least this time they had managed to arrive in time to prevent any potential nastiness.
Minister Umbridge walked through the ashes of Lucius Malfoy’s estate, her jaw set with anger, while Unspeakables combed through the rubble looking for any evidence of human remains. It was clearly the work of Voldemort. She had to keep this quiet for now, lest she lose the support of the Death Eaters in the Wizengamot. She looked up when the lead Unspeakable of the Operations Investigation Unit approached her.
“There’s no sign of Warlock Malfoy Ma’am. The evidence suggests that he escaped. There are some indications of portkey activity, and apparition.”
Minister Umbridge breathed a sigh of relief. Lucius was alive, but possibly injured, or he would surely have apparated to the Ministry. And he must have lost his wand, as he could have healed the worst of his injury and found a way to send a message by now.
That meant that he was probably still injured and traveling by foot as it was unlikely that he would seek out muggle transportation or muggle medical attention. It was probable that Lucius would attempt to locate a wizard tavern with a public floo port.
Another Unspeakable approached. “Ma’am, we’ve found traces of Warlock Malfoy’s blood just outside the borders of his estate. But there’s no body.”
“Very good!” The Minister nodded brusquely; she was pleased at the confirmation of her supposition. “Start a search then... Notify me immediately when you have found him, and have the Operations Medical Unit see to his injuries. He is not to be admitted to St Mungo’s.”
“Of course Ma’am.” The Unspeakable was well aware of the need for secrecy.
The Minister apparated back to London and accessed the Ministry through her private entrance. She hoped that there had been some movement on the other major task assigned to Operations. Just as she was about to have one of the Ministry house-elves bring her a pot of tea, Rookwood entered her office with a sinister smile on his face.
“Good news Chief! One of our undercover operatives in Newport was approached and offered a position as a Snatcher... We have him!”
The Minister’s eyes lit up. “Avery? You have him? ... Really?”
Rookwood nodded, grinning. “Yes! And we’ve got the Interrogation Chamber all ready to go.”
“Excellent!” The Minister practically cackled with glee. This was a major break, and would be a serious blow to Voldemort, given how few top lieutenants he had. “I’ll be there shortly after I’ve had a cup of tea.” Then she remembered another task she had set for herself today.
“On second thought, Rookwood, put him in a cell for now... Withhold food and water from him, and keep him awake with loud noises to soften him up! The interrogation can wait for a day or so.”
After her second in command of Operations had departed, Chief Umbridge put her Minister hat back on and sent a memo to Percy Weasley. It was time for his promotion to Senior Undersecretary...
“Excellent Potter!” Professor Moody nodded with approval. “I’ve had a look at the pensieve recordings of your memories, and the way you handled the Malfoy and Nott boys was brilliant. It’s not many fourth years who can perform nonverbal spells. Same goes for you Mrs Potter.”
“Er... nonverbal spells?” Harry was perplexed. He glanced at Hermione, who looked surprised.
Hermione was stunned. She hadn’t really thought about it before, but she and Harry - especially Harry - had been performing a number of spells nonverbally for some time now. Dora’s eyes widened and she peered at the Potters with wonderment.
“It means performing spells without speaking the incantation, Potter,” Moody answered with an ugly grin, looking very impressed. “It’s a powerful advantage in a fight - it keeps the enemy on their toes - they’ll never know what’s comin’ next, or when. Flitwick’ll be so happy that he’ll throw a party for you when he finds out.”
“Really?” Harry’s eyes widened in astonishment. “I... er... I thought it was normal. I thought everyone did it. I just sort of forget about the incantation when I’m... erm... when I’m in a fight. It just sort of happens. I did it a lot during the Second Task... Hermione too.”
“Usually most folk have to learn how to forget about it Potter, and it’s not even taught until sixth year. It’s a sign of how strong your Intent is that you and your missus can do it already.”
“That’s brilliant Harry! I really hadn’t even noticed until Professor Moody pointed it out.” Hermione was thrilled. She almost threw her arms around Harry for a kiss, but restrained herself in front of Moody and Dora.
“Anyway, it’s nearly time for the rest of your team to show up fer trainin’ - so fall in and start doin’ some calisthenics until they get here.”
Fleur, Viktor, and Cedric were awed by the Room of Requirement, as were the others when they arrived. The only one missing was Daphne as she wasn’t back yet, and probably wouldn’t be for a few days. Harry and Hermione both sadly assumed that she still needed time to be with her sister. But training otherwise went very well.
The older Champions were more prepared for the spell-work, but weren’t quite up to snuff on the physical end of things. Professor Moody chuckled as he put them through their paces. Meanwhile, Dora was hard at work training Luna, Ginny, Parvati, and Lavender. They were all groaning and sweaty, sprawled out on the mat at the end of the first session.
The following day, they all met after classes to discuss what they might be facing for the Third Task. Surprisingly - or perhaps not given the Lovegood penchant for magical creatures - Luna was already prepared with a list her father had given her.
As it was teatime, the group of Champions, the Potters’ friends, and Dora all gathered under a willow near the Black Lake, eating cucumber sandwiches and salt and vinegar crisps. When they had finished, Harry began the conversation.
“We all know by now that we’ll be contending with a maze, but other than swarms of Acromantulas and Skrewts, we really have no idea what we’re dealing with...”
Then Luna pulled a number of parchments out of her robes.
“There’s one for each of you,” said Luna, “It’s the list of creatures Daddy thinks the Ministry might add to the task. He said some might be more likely than others, but it’s probably best to prepare for them all.”
Hermione gasped in shock as she glanced at the list. Harry’s stomach tightened. They had both been expecting the worst, but it was another thing altogether to see a list of the most dangerous creatures that the Champions were likely to face. It all became suddenly more real. Dora’s eyes nearly popped out of her head.
“A Manticore... surely not!” Hermione muttered angrily. “They’re incredibly violent.”
“I dunno Hermione. According to Hagrid and Dumbledore, the Triwizard Commission procured one to mate with a Fire Crab and gave Hagrid the Skrewt Eggs to raise.”
Fleur paled as she read her copy of the list.
“A Gorgon...?” she gasped, “Ees your father serious Luna?”
“Absolutely,” Luna nodded, “After what happened to Harry in the Black Lake with the Kappa, and to him and Hermione with the Merpeople, he thinks you should be prepared for the worst.”
Parvati peered at her copy to see what Harry might have to deal with. She shuddered in fright at the idea of an Egyptian Mummy - or several - possibly running loose on the Hogwarts grounds. Viktor and Cedric both grimaced as they read their copies. Lavender and Ginny were equally appalled.
Harry sighed in resignation when he discerned Chimaera on Mr Lovegood’s list. It was surely more likely than a Sphinx. Harry was beginning to doubt that the Minister would have something as easy to deal with as a cryptic but relatively benevolent Sphinx in the mix. Harry thought Mr Lovegood was probably quite right to consider that the Minister would most likely choose those creatures most capable of murder to throw at the champions.
“I suppose we should be thankful there isn’t a Cockatrice on the list,” Hermione snorted sarcastically. “Mr Lovegood is probably correct to assume that the Minister wouldn’t employ the creature that got the Tournament canceled to begin with.”
Luna was scared for her friends, but she was quite pleased that everyone was taking her father seriously.
“Well, Hermione,” Harry sighed again, but then he couldn‘t help grinning her, “looks like we’ll have to cancel our date and spend it in the library.”
“Prat!” Hermione glowered in mock indignation, and she poked Harry in the ribs, before returning Harry’s grin. They had both learned in recent months that their mutual study sessions could be quite stimulating in more ways than one.
“Anyway,” said Hermione, “you’ll still have obstacles to deal with as well, and there is no way that we can predict what the Ministry has planned in that regard.”
The Champions eventually resigned themselves to facing some of the most dangerous creatures that existed, and began to return to the castle. Luna and Ginny went to look for a quiet place to hang out together. As Dora made to follow the Potters back, Fleur approached her with a beseeching look in her eye.
“A moment please, Tonks...”
“Er... Yeah, alright.” Dora turned pink and began to look as flustered as she always did when Fleur was nearby. She turned and beckoned the Potters, “Harry, Hermione... I’ll just be a minute, okay.”
“Sure Dora,” said Harry, glancing at Hermione who nodded. “We’ll just wait over by the tree then.”
Dora returned her attention to Fleur, who appeared to be batting her silvery eyelashes coquettishly, but looking strangely nervous as well.
“Tonks, I was... ‘ow do you say?... Oh, oui, I was wondering, per’aps... er... per’aps you might like to ‘ave a date wiz me?”
Dora goggled in surprise. She didn’t know how she could be so lucky. Dora had dreamed of it, but she never could have worked up the nerve to ask. Fleur could have her pick of guys - or the right sort of girls - but Fleur was asking Dora for a date.
“Er... you sure about that? Me?” asked Dora, still not quite believing it was happening.
“Oui, ze boys here at ‘Ogwarts, in zem I am not so interested, or they are too young, or zey have girlfriends - An’ ze girls, there are not so many who like ozzer girls - An’ I must confess, I very much like your hair.”
“Er... yeah! I’d really like that Fleur!” Dora couldn’t help but have a big soppy grin on her face. “Er... but if we’re really goin’ on a date, you really ought t’call me Dora.”
“That’s brilliant!” said Harry, grinning as he and Hermione got ready for bed. “You were right Hermione - Fleur’s into girls as well.”
Hermione rolled her eyes at Harry’s silly expression.“ Well I think it’s really nice that Dora has finally found someone she really likes to go out with.”
“Yeah, of course Hermione,” Harry quickly agreed. “You know I’m perfectly alright with it. I think it’s nice that Ginny and Luna like each other too.”
“I know Harry,” said Hermione, “It’s just that you always have such a goofy expression when we talk about that sort of thing.”
Harry reddened and his face started to feel hot. He had to admit, he rather liked the fact that some girls liked other girls. And as Hermione had indicated that she would be willing to help Harry with the only thing as a metamorphmagus that he had yet to master, he had rather hoped that he and Hermione could have a bit of fun together when he finally did.
And he also had to admit, the way everyone who knew his parents went on about him having his mum’s eyes, he was beginning to think that might mean something.
Hermione was puzzled as to why Harry seemed so embarrassed. Then it suddenly hit her why Harry was so interested in being able to change into a girl completely. Her eyes widened and she giggled, biting her lip.
“Alright Harry, I think I understand,” said Hermione. She grinned and had a look on her face that was almost as goofy as Harry’s. “Come on then, it’s time for bed.”
“Erm... Hang on!” said Harry. “I just want to get a book out of my trunk. I feel like reading for a bit.”
“What’s it still doing in your trunk Harry?” Hermione asked, her curiosity getting the best of her. “Shouldn’t it be on the bookshelf?”
“I bought a few of the Oz books in London when we were staying at Number Twelve before the World Cup, and put them in my trunk... Then with everything that’s been going on, I just sort of forgot about them.”
“You mean there’s more than one Oz book?” Hermione asked, surprised.
“Yeah, loads more.”
“Oh... I’ve only read The Wizard of Oz - I didn’t know there were more,” said Hermione a bit sheepishly, turning pink with embarrassment.
Harry grinned at the oddness of having read some books that Hermione hadn’t. “I found some in my primary school library. I managed to read about five of them before Uncle Vernon made me take them back to school when he caught me reading them...”
“The only reason I didn’t know was because I mostly grew up reading the ‘literary classics’ and lots of non-fiction,” said Hermione. “Though Mum and Dad did get me some children’s storybooks too, but mostly just British ones. I’m more familiar with books by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl and The Hobbit of course, and The Chronicles of Narnia...”
“Oh yeah - I loved those,” said Harry, his eyes shining. “I managed to read all of the Narnia books without getting caught... Dudley did have a few children’s books with fairy-tales in, but he’d never read them. I dunno why they even got them for him.
“I suppose the Dursleys never thought I’d find them in his second bedroom and read them. I’ve always liked reading actually... though mostly just any storybooks I could manage to read before the Dursleys caught me out. Funnily enough, my favourite ones usually had wizards or magic in them.
“Here let’s try this one then - it’s one of my favourite Oz books - The Marvelous Land of Oz - it’s about Ozma of Oz... I’ll read it to you.”
As they settled in, Hermione snuggled under Harry’s arm, her head on his shoulder, and an arm across his chest, sighing happily as Harry began to read to her. Finally Harry put the book down after reading a few chapters.
They lay there for a while in silence, letting the peace wash over them. Hermione felt really good; it was nice to forget all the horrible things they’d had to deal with lately.
After a bit, Harry’s mind began to roam, and some thoughts popped up, unbidden.
“I wonder how everyone’s getting along at Number Twelve,” he murmured.
“Well, I... I’m a bit concerned about Mum and your Aunt Petunia being under the same roof together to be honest.”
“Really? Why?” Harry asked, perplex crossing his features.
Hermione blushed, smiling bashfully.“Mum’s grown quite attached to you Harry. I don’t think she’ll be very happy with Petunia for how horribly she treated you all those years, and for letting Vernon and Dudley hurt you.”
“Oh, I... er... I didn’t think about that.” Harry sighed. “Are you sure? I mean, after... you know... your dad. Maybe your mum will understand after what Uncle Vernon did to Aunt Petunia...”
“Maybe... I really hope so Harry.” Hermione yawned sleepily.
“Yeah! Me too.” Harry felt the onset of approaching slumber as well. “I think it’ll all work out just fine Hermione,” he murmured as they both drifted off.
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