You're my Density

Just Suppose Harry hadn't heeded his godfather's advice, and actually lost his temper at his trial? Time travel fic and title is 'Back to the Future' joke.


3. Dobby's on his Game

Harry and Hermione were sitting with their heads together, studying for their first classes in the morning. Harry though kept getting distracted by the glower aimed in their direction.

"What is his problem? One minute he's all over us, next minute you'd think we'd kicked his puppy. Is he bipolar or something? The last thing we need is a ginger version of Malfoy in our own house."

"Ron's eleven, Harry, and he thinks you still are too. This time last Sunday evening, you would have been sitting right beside him and just generally goofing off. He's also jealous. Not only are we getting out of Snape's class, Professor Dumbledore is going to teach us potions. We'll face a lot more jealous stares when that news gets out."

Harry had been delighted to hear that from Professor McGonagall today at his detention, he still had a worry though. "Do you think Gandalf's up to something?"

"Dumbledore always does things for a reason but I don't think it's something you need to worry about. While I'm trying not to give you a read on what I think about people, I know Dumbledore will be watching me too - purely to see what he can learn. Albus Dumbledore is the best hope we've got of pulling this off. At the moment, only he has the magical and political power to stand up to the ministry and Malfoy's malignant ministrations."

"At the moment?"

"You'll get there one day, that's why they moved to take you out early. We have time though, Harry, this is something else I don't want you worrying about."

"Meanwhile, you're gonna worry for the both of us. That's not fair to you. When can we start on these lessons so I can be told what you know? Then we can make the decisions between us."

"As soon as we get you up to speed with your coursework, then we can shift our focus. With you spending Christmas with me, we can even work on it then too."

"We haven't heard back from your parents about that yet…"

"Harry, we will be staying together over Christmas. I'll miss the bloody train and stay here with you if that's what it takes. I'm sure my mum and dad will love me having a friend home for the holidays, hence why we're waiting until later to say you're my boyfriend. I think you are going to ask me on the train heading home for Christmas, I of course will say yes…"

"You look as if butter wouldn't melt in your mouth, yet I knew I was in trouble the moment I walked out of the uni bar with you. Harry, I said to myself, this lady is going to steal your heart. I didn't know then it already belonged to you."

"Mister 'I've got no lines' Potter, that was beautiful." A peck on the lips just seemed to increase the ferocity of Ron's glare, though neither of them was complaining now.

"Last night Ron mentioned something about a giant three-headed dog that's hidden in the school. He seemed to think this was something we should investigate, I told him no bloody chance. He also seemed to think this was something you knew about, claiming both you and Neville were there when we found it."

"Yes it is something I know about and I agree totally with you, there's no bloody chance of us going anywhere near it."

"Eh, he also said you thought getting expelled was worse than being killed. Did you really say that?"

Though blushing, Hermione was smiling too. "Not one of my better moments. Then again you two used to drive me nuts. I was obsessed with learning and thought all figures of authority were perfect. The ministry railroading you finally cured me of that last one, and I think I've got a better handle on the first."

"Have you got a handle on what we're going to do to stop me being railroaded again? I'm not asking for any specifics here, more a general idea to tide me over until I can be told what you know."

Hermione was chewing her bottom lip, a sure sign she was deep in thought. "Last time all our efforts seemed to be concentrated on merely staying alive, with everyone else calling the shots. I'm proposing we let Dumbledore deal with Voldemort, that wasn't who railroaded you anyway. We need a plan for fixing the real problem, namely Lucius Malfoy and his control over the ministry. We're nowhere near ready to take that on yet but I have a few ideas. Since Dobby used to be their house elf, he may be able to help us immensely with that. I don't know how Dobby coming back in time will have affected his former bond. He might not be able to tell us anything, or everything we want to know. That's something we can discuss with him over Christmas. I don't want Dobby seen inside Hogwarts, he's our secret weapon."

"I saw the little guy toss those three wizards right out of Stonehenge like they were nothing, I'm really glad he's on our side."

"If he spends Christmas with us too, you're guaranteed to be welcome at the Grangers anytime. House elves are at their happiest when they're working and helping their family. Dobby used to have our house in France spic and span, with meals on the table whenever we were hungry. My parents were in absolute awe of the little guy, their appreciation of his work making Dobby even happier."

This left Harry shaking his head in disbelief. "I've come to the conclusion that magic and common sense can't exist in the same universe. To have one, you have to totally suspend belief in the other."

"That might be the most profound thing you've ever said."

"Hermione, they don't let stupid people study to be vets. I'm no longer eleven and now only goof off with you."

Seeing the time, they packed away their books. A chaste goodnight kiss and it was off to bed. Hermione had promised Harry one of the first things she would teach him would be a silencing charm. The first year Gryffindor's dorm sounded like a woodworking shop some nights, with Ron giving a router a run for its money on decibel levels.


After Hermione had managed to talk Harry past the why in 'why the hell would he want to change a match into a needle' in that afternoon detention with Professor McGonagall, she discovered this version of the boy she loved was a whole different animal.

The Harry she had known always had a close connection with his magic, being able to cast a corporeal patronus charm while still only thirteen came to mind. This 'back to the future' version still came with that ability, along with a boost to his magical power, but now had an entirely different attitude to studying that Hermione could only describe as oh so sexy. She didn't need to be swept off her feet with grandiose romantic gestures, sitting holding hands with her boyfriend while they studied was the height of romance as far as Hermione Granger was concerned. Harry, under her tutorage, was flying through the first year work they'd supposedly already covered at a rate of knots.

Herbology only needed one lesson for her to run him through the basics before they were both able to rejoin the class, Astronomy was the same. History of magic was purely a case of reading the textbook, no one actually listened to Binns. Charms, transfiguration and defence would see that subject's professor set up a silencing charm for the corner of the room they were working in, allowing Hermione to push Harry with revision while the professor concentrated on the rest of the class.

Harry was up to speed in transfiguration and charms in two weeks, she deliberately dragged defence to three. While delighted Harry had no reaction to the presence of the turban wearing Quirrell, she didn't want Harry performing too well in front of the possessed professor.

Potions tuition from Dumbledore was everything Hermione had hoped for, it was easily their most enjoyable class of the week. While no one doubted Snape's ability to brew potions, his attitude to those he was paid to teach was nothing short of disgraceful. It could be broken down to 'I'm brilliant - so if the students don't learn then it must be their fault'. Dumbledore, though without doubt a brilliant wizard, never acted like that. It was almost as if he enjoyed the lesson as much as his students did. No detail was too small to be overlooked or not explained properly. Each step was carefully revealed in meticulous detail - your instructions are on the blackboard was not for Dumbledore.

Hermione even joined Harry for his flying lesson, Madam Hooch easily believing that she needed the extra practice. Harry's natural skill on a broom was still all there for anyone to see, as was the wide grin he wore zipping around while getting faster and faster.

His reintroduction to Hagrid was also a highlight. They'd been invited down for tea and Harry had once more immediately hit it off with his biggest friend. That Harry had wanted to become a vet added yet another layer to their renewed friendship, Hagrid's knowledge of his beasties enthralled the now eleven year old wizard. They left with wide grins on their faces and promising to return.

Hermione was sure coincidence played no part in them bumping into Dumbledore as they left Hagrid's hut, she was also sure Harry's wide grin pleased the old wizard no end.

As expected, Hermione's letter from home contained an invitation for Harry to spend Christmas with the Grangers - if he wasn't returning to his aunt's. Harry had written home, explaining about his accident and asking about things he thought he remembered. It had taken two weeks for the reply to come and Harry was now terrified to open it.

Since it was a Saturday, Hermione suggested they wrap up warmly and go for a walk around the lake. This would guarantee their privacy to read what the letter said, and also allow them that same privacy to deal with Harry's response to reading it.

They were spotted though and soon had a visitor, a very welcome one. Hedwig swooped down to join them and perched on Harry's shoulder. Both his girls now sitting either side of him gave Harry the courage he needed to open the envelope. He would need their support as the letter got off to a bad start and went downhill faster than a four man toboggan team on an olympic run.

There was no 'Dear Harry' or even just a 'Harry'. Like an assassin's dagger it plunged straight into the heart of the matter. Harry of course recognised the handwriting as his Aunt Petunia's, he just couldn't get his head around that the person who wrote this was the same woman. This was not a letter written to a loved one, more like curt answers you would politely give when stopped on the street by a stranger. A stranger with a clipboard who asked you to complete a quick survey on double glazing. The entire thing was short, abrupt and so impersonal.

'To the best of our knowledge, you have not visited Brighton - and certainly never with us. As we weren't expecting you home for the holidays anyway, you may spend them wherever you wish. If this Christmas arrangement works out, perhaps you could spend part or all of the summer there too?

Please let us know nearer the time as Dudley's Aunt Marge is hoping to spend part of the summer with us, we would like to arrange her visit for when you are not here. I do appreciate you sending your letter by normal methods, please do the same to let us know about summer.'

Hermione's head was right next to Harry's as she read this alongside him, she was fighting to contain her anger. "That woman didn't even have the decency to sign it, she probably couldn't think what to put there. It certainly wouldn't have contained the word 'love', and probably not even 'aunt'."

Harry understood Hermione was angry on his behalf but it wasn't helping here. He gently kissed her quiet before asking a question. "Every day I see how much you've done for me, the sacrifice you made for me. You said the only other people you would do that for are your parents. Do you still believe that, Hermione?"

"Yes, of course I do..."

"The woman who wrote this is my family. It's maybe not a family I would recognise at the moment but, apart from you, the Dursleys are all the family I've got left in the world. You have nineteen years worth of memories of growing up in a loving home. Would me telling you those memories were false change how you feel about your mum and dad?"

Stunned into silence at that, Harry asked her another question. "Why did you come back to Britain? Was it to save me, or all of this?" Harry indicated toward the castle but Hermione's eyes never left his.

She leaned forward, kissing Harry as passionately as she could with Hedwig still perched on his shoulder. The clever owl then gave her opinion on the matter by using her beak to try and weave their hair together. The young couple's foreheads were now resting on each others, both trying not to laugh at Hedwig's antics.

"I think I get the message both my girls are trying to give me here, a message I'm very happy with. I've made no secret of the fact I'm not impressed with the whole idea of magic, you two are the only reason I don't tell them all to fuck off and give me back my old life. I't may not be real to those who changed it but it was real enough to me and my family who were living it."

"I get it now, Harry. You can see from that letter though what we have to work with here. Getting your family back is going to be every bit as difficult as what we came back in time to change."

"To me, it's every bit as important. I also need something else from you, a promise. If things start to get that bad again, we grab our families and get the hell out of Britain."

This was one thing Hermione had absolutely no problem promising. "I will not lose you again. Things start going pear-shaped, we are so gone."

They stayed like that until the cold eventually forced them back into the castle. Hedwig seemed to enjoy hopping from shoulder to shoulder, making her message clear that these two should stay together. Harry and Hermione may have been chittered as they made their way back to the castle but both considered their condition to be well worth the further strengthening of their relationship.

"After Stonehenge, I never thought I would complain about being cold again."

While Harry agreed with that, his mind was still on the letter. "I kinda expected something like that response, and not just from what you'd already told me. Looking through my trunk, apart from my Hogwarts uniform, everything is Dudley's castoffs. My aunt always believed her two boys should be smart, and act like proper little gentlemen. I would only be allowed to wear rags like that if Dud and me were painting the shed or something - with the clothes going straight in the bin as soon as we were finished. I have a lot of shopping to do, I hope you're right about this vault I have?"

"Dobby could get you a statement from the goblins, even have gold converted into cash for you."

"That would be great. I need clothes, contacts and a haircut. I also need to buy some Christmas presents. For my girls, Dobby, your mum and dad - and my family. Will you come with me to Little Whinging when I deliver them?"

Hermione had both arms around him and gently kissed his lips. "I told you, Harry, you're stuck with me. Where you go, I go too..."

"Well I think the guys are going to have their eyeballs popping onto the floor when we hit the shower."

"Potter, you have a one track mind..."

"...and that track leads straight to you."

"You need to write these down, Harry, they're pure gold. The twins got Ron a book, once he realised girls were different. Twelve failsafe ways to woo your witch - or something like that. You're better than any book..."

Minerva stood at the window with Albus as they watched the young couple, with a snowy owl circling above them, head back into the castle. "I have to say I like the change in Mister Potter since he started hanging around with Miss Granger. He even told Wood he would only play quidditch if it didn't interfere with his studies."

"I have to say both are a joy to teach potions. Young Harry may look like James but his attitude is now pure Lily."

"If I didn't think it would cause a further split in my house, I would ask if Mister Longbottom could join them for your lessons. Any confidence the lad builds over the week is destroyed the instant he steps into Severus' class. Students are not supposed to be terrified of their professors but Severus seems to revel in invoking that reaction from my young lions."

Minerva just mentioning a split in Gryffindor sent shivers down Albus' spine. That was certainly not his intention here. "I will speak with Harry and Hermione, see if they would mind the rest of their Gryffindor yearmates joining the class."

"I don't think they'll mind, but we both know someone who will."

"Yes, but Severus is the adult here. I'm not prepared to put up with any childish behaviour from him over this matter. If he did the job properly in the first place, I wouldn't have to take this class. I have to admit though, I am rather enjoying teaching again."

His deputy couldn't hide her smile at that admission, and also the possibility of getting all her young lions out of Severus' clutches. He refused to accept that a teacher had to treat an eleven year old student different from those who were sixteen or seventeen. The entire first year pride of lions all receiving their potions tuition from Professor Dumbledore would certainly make the Potter-Granger partnership very popular inside Gryffindor. "Can I be the one to tell Severus when those two say yes?"


After sharing their now customary chaste goodnight kiss with Hermione, Harry then headed up to his dorm to find the rest of his dorm-mates waiting on him. They were all smiling and had arranged some sort of party, complete with cakes and pumpkin juice.

"We just wanted to welcome you back, mate. Now that you're learning the same as us again, you won't have to hang about with Hermione all the time. She's turning you into a bookworm - just like her."

Taking a deep breath, Harry tried to answer without losing his temper. Hermione's comments that they all thought he was eleven too coming to mind and certainly helping. "Guys, I really appreciate you doing this for me..." He felt rotten at now having to wipe the wide grin off Ron's face.

"There's a few things we need to sort out though. Hermione's my girlfriend, and will be for as long as I can convince her to stay with me. That means I'll be hanging about with her way more than with you guys. I also learned from Hagrid that my mum and dad had my name down for Hogwarts since I was born. That really means something to me, and I'm not here to let them down. If that has you considering me a bookworm, well I've been called worse. I really want to remain friends with you guys, but my studies and Hermione have to come first."

Ron appeared ready to explode but Neville got in first with his opinion. "That's perfectly understandable, Harry..."

The redhead wasn't about to be denied however. "No it bloody isn't. You've changed so much, I wish we'd never gone to that toilet on Halloween!"

The air appeared to be sucked out the dorm as Harry's green eyes focused on Ron. "So you would rather Hermione had died that night, then things could be okay again in Ronald Weasley's world."

"That's not what I said. Someone else would have rescued her, and you wouldn't have lost your memory."

"Well they didn't and I did, and you're just going to have to learn to deal with that fact. This is who I am, Ron. If you can't handle that then stay the fuck away from me. You have insulted Hermione for the last time. Do it again and I'll be coming after you. Sorry guys, I'm not in the party mood anymore."

It was only as Harry was heading out the dorm he realised that his voice had been raised, raised enough that they'd drawn a crowd. That same crowd parted to let him past as he went downstairs and plopped down on an unoccupied sofa. He was soon joined by a Hermione who was wearing her dressing gown. She sat on his knee and wrapped her arms around his neck, Harry curling his around her waist as the anger slowly bled out of him.

They were still quietly sitting like that ten minutes later when McGonagall found them. "I received a report of a disturbance inside Gryffindor. Would you care to explain what happened?"

"I'm sorry, Professor. I hadn't realised I was shouting, Ron just got me so angry. He seems to think it would have been better if Hermione had been left alone in that toilet on Halloween, so I wouldn't have lost my memory. He claims to be my friend and then says something ridiculous and selfish like that - I just can't work him out. You saw that toilet, how could he possibly think Hermione would be okay in there with that troll?"

"Mister Weasley feels as if he's lost his best friend. I'm not trying to excuse his behaviour, just offer a possible explanation. I'm pleased to see it didn't result in blows or spells."

"I won't lie, Professor, it was close. I'll need to stay out his way for a while. Ron just doesn't seem to get Hermione's my girlfriend, nor that I won't stand for him continually bad-mouthing her."

"I'll have a word with him, and caution you to continue showing restraint. Don't stay up too late."

Hermione didn't consider sitting on Harry's knee inappropriate so hadn't moved when McGonagall entered. She was still sitting there as she answered their head of house. "We'll hear Ron snoring from down here, then it will be time to go to bed. We won't be too late, Professor. Harry's too wound up to sleep just now anyway."

McGonagall went up to the first year boys' dorm, presumably to have a word with Ron. Harry and Hermione were still sitting in the same position when she left.

With the common room practically empty, and their heads so close no one would hear them whisper, Harry began to tell Hermione about something that was troubling him. "I think I know why I'm so poor at protecting my thoughts. You tell me to clear my mind but it's a bloody war zone in here. I have to continually walk away from the boy you tell me was my best friend, otherwise I'm going to punch his face in. At the same time I'm told the boy I thought of as a brother is more likely to do that to me than say hello. I feel like I'm flying a broom blindfolded, unable to see the horizon and even gravity is totally buggered. I just don't know which way is up anymore."

Realising that Harry needed something to focus on, she started giving him some of her future knowledge that wasn't protected by oath. "You like Hagrid?"

A little confused by her change of tack, Harry answered anyway. "Hermione, what's not to like. The man doesn't have an ounce of deceit in his entire body. Considering his size, that's some achievement."

"He's that size because Hagrid is part giant. That is not a mixture welcome in the new magical order. Hagrid's passion for dragons is also well known, he told you about it that first time we had tea in his hut. When he was captured, they recreated a stadium that had been used for an event back in our fourth year. Hagrid was flung into this rocky arena and forced to face a dragon with nothing but his bare hands. The whole school was made to watch, some of them not needing any coaxing. It took over half an hour for the dragon to finally pin Hagrid down and kill him, then it feasted on his body..."

Harry held her close as shivers of revulsion racked her body. "The castle knew I was Dumbledore's protégé, and that Dobby was effectively my elf. Dumbledore granted Dobby access to the castle in a way that another headmaster would need to specifically cancel his access. Since only Dumbledore, Dobby and me knew about it, that access was never going to be cancelled. He was able to pop into the kitchens here and find out all the latest news, no one bothered what an elf heard or saw."

A gentle kiss from Harry saw her reveal more than she'd first intended. "With the dark lord in total command, things went to hell very quickly. The pureblood elite were in charge and they could do whatever they liked with total impunity - so they did. Snape was Headmaster of Hogwarts and it was a criminal offence not to send your children here. With possession of the country's children for most of the year, they had control of any families that might oppose them. Draco didn't just threaten any more, there was no one to stop him doing whatever he pleased. He is one sick little bastard and it takes all my willpower not to gut the blond prick every time I lay eyes on him."

Harry only swore when he was really mad, using words he knew were frowned upon helped. He found it a better, or perhaps safer, release of tension than punching something or someone. That Hermione had started doing the same was an indicator of just how angry she was. Offering her comfort by holding Hermione close kept the revelations coming.

"Susan Bones' aunt was / is head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, she was one of the first people murdered. This left Susan defenceless, and Malfoy had her forcefully moved into the Slytherin dorms. Susan hung herself before Halloween. They buried her body and moved on to their next victims, the Patil twins. Things just kept getting worse. Ron had started dating Lavender, he also has a younger sister. They stuck Ron to a wall and made him watch - you may have gathered that the Weasleys and Malfoys are bitter enemies. Every time Dobby visited Hogwarts I dreaded what he would tell me on his return..."

"And the stuff you're not telling me is worse than this? I need to get a handle on protecting my mind, this is too much for you to carry about on your own."

"Dumbledore intended me to do all this on my own, you coming back too was never part of his plan."

This really caught Harry's attention as Hermione explained. "I hadn't seen Dumbledore since the end of my fifth year. He spent most of that year coaching me on what you needed to know and do, and pointing me in the direction of how to achieve that. I was supposed to travel back in time and begin influencing your decisions as one of your best friends, influence those decisions down a path preordained by Dumbledore. I was never going to play along with that."

Hermione was once more gently caressing his cheek as she whispered in his ear. "To be fair to Dumbledore, I don't think he expected things to start as early, or get so disgustingly bad. I knew what would happen if they caught you, public execution was a certainty. They would have caused you a lot of pain before that though, leaving you begging for the release of death. I couldn't let that happen to you, and neither could Dobby. The access Dumbledore granted him allowed Dobby to take books from the restricted section of the library, and even from the headmaster's personal library. I had my own room at the magical school in France, I spent every spare minute of the two years I attended there working on modifying the ritual. At weekends, Dobby would even bring my meals to that room. Since I was first in almost every one of my classes, the staff left me alone. I didn't make any friends but that was okay, I was too busy trying to save the best one I ever had."

Now that Hermione had started talking about her past, she felt some relief at getting all this off her chest. "My biggest worry was that I wouldn't be magically powerful enough to power the ritual and take both of us back. There's a reason we're not overrun with time travellers, Harry, a few very good ones actually. Firstly, the information needed is incredibly difficult to come by, I had to take an oath to destroy all my materials before attempting the ritual. Then, there's no plan B. It either works or you're dead. That means you would need to have a pretty compelling reason for attempting it in the first place, as well as possessing all the forbidden knowledge. Finally, there's the authorities' reactions to consider. Any ministry discovering a time traveller will obliviate the shit out of them. I'm not talking about the reconstruction that was done to you. This is wiping everything, and not replacing anything. You would be left not knowing who you were - a drooling blank nothing."

This overwhelmed Harry. "You were sitting safe in the South of France, yet you risked all that - for me!"

She kissed him as the girl he first met. "I told you I loved you - and the Harry I knew would have done the same for me in a heartbeat."

"Hermione, what I feel for you is too much to fit into this eleven year old body. It's growing every day too, so I don't think my body will ever be able to contain it. I'm just going to let it overflow and pour all over you."

"I can't make up my mind whether that's pure cheese or twenty four carat gold. Since my whole insides melted at hearing you say that, I'm leaning more toward precious than pasteurised."

They could have sat there all night but Ron's snores signalled it was time for bed. Harry's groan had Hermione giggling, she would have bet long odds against that after their earlier conversations. In Harry's arms though, she just felt safe.

"You have got to teach me that silencing charm. Better yet, come up and cast it now."

"I can't go into the boys' dorm when they're all in there..."

"Hermione, they'll be asleep..."


Hermione was very comfortable, and really resented the voice that was trying to rouse her.

"Miss Hermione, you need to wake. The others will be up soon."

She lifted her head off Harry's chest to grumble. "Don't wanna. Comfy." It was then it hit Hermione where she was. Sleeping in Harry's bed, wrapped in his arms. Both had their pyjamas on and had done nothing more than cuddle all night, that wouldn't stop them getting into serious trouble though. A quick peck of a wakening Harry's cheek and Dobby took her hand, he was standing on Harry's bed with her housecoat and slippers in his other hand.

Harry blinked awake and she was gone, the silence inside the curtains of his four poster was total.

Hermione emerged from the shower area in housecoat and slippers while towelling her hair to find her two roommates waiting on her.

"Where were you?"

"Did you spend the night with Harry?"

"Your bed hasn't been slept in."

She could see what was happening behind her roommates and just loved Dobby. The little guy had popped her into the shower area and was saving her bacon once again. "I would ask where you two spent the night, since your beds don't appear to have been slept in either."

Both spun around to see their beds made up before turning confusedly back to Hermione. "It would seem the house elves are really on their game today." Hermione deliberately dropped the towel used for drying her hair, and it disappeared before it could hit the floor.

"Yes, definitely on their game. Thanks very much, guys." Hermione walked past her two dumbstruck dorm mates to get dressed.

The rest of his dorm mates were surprised to find Harry in such a good mood that morning, especially after the altercation last night. He was walking about whistling a tune that only Dean recognised as being by Heuy Lewis.

Ron could hardly look in his direction so Harry broke the ice. "Look Ron, I meant what I said last night about Hermione but I'm sorry I shouted at you. If you can't handle Hermione and me being together then there really is no hope of us ever being friends. You need to go and seriously think about that before saying any more."

The redhead nodded as Harry breezed past him, almost skipping in his haste to reach the common room. Hermione was waiting and, a quick peck later, they were out the portrait hole en route to breakfast.

"This is the best I've felt since coming to Hogwarts, we are so doing that again."

Seeing Harry so chirpy, his girlfriend didn't disagree. She too had been very comfortable but they had to take precautions. "I'll need to make sure Dobby knows to wake me earlier the next time. Even although we were only sleeping together, McGonagall would have a fit."

Feeling two light taps on the small of her back immediately focused Hermione's mind on other things. Harry felt his hand being squeezed and then Hermione's thumb tracing a 'D' on the back of it. This had Harry raising a questioning eyebrow, since he couldn't see any danger. They had only taken a few more steps though when Malfoy and his posse stepped out to block their passage. Hermione however was concentrating further down the corridor, Dobby had appeared silently and very briefly to indicate there was someone else present too.

"Walking around the castle holding a mudblood's hand. There really is no hope for you, Potter. Your father did the exact same, and look what happened to him."

Knowing what was going on here, Hermione interrupted before Harry could react. "There really is no hope for you either, Draco. You actually think you're a Slytherin, when a real Slytherin would get themselves sorted into another house. Picking a fight while your head of house hides down the corridor isn't cunning, it's juvenile bullying at best. Then again, that's exactly what you lot are, a bunch of juvenile bullies."

Struggling to believe they'd been so easily read, Draco tried to force a reaction out of Potter. "You know nothing, mudblood. Do you let this bitch do all your talking, Potter?"

Now seeing this for what it was, Harry played along with his girlfriend. "Why not, she's easily got your number. Aren't you going to come out, Professor Snape? I mean, there's only five of them and two of us - they're gonna need help when Malfoy cries like the bitch he is and draws his wand. We all know Hermione will kick the little shit's arse all over this castle."

Crabbe, Goyle and Parkinson all glanced toward where they knew their head of house was, only Knott didn't respond. Draco was far too busy now hurling insults at the top of his voice.

"You think you're special, Potter, but you're both nothing…"

Hermione cut Draco off in the middle of his very loud rant. "Then why are you bothering with us? You are forever quoting how your pure blood makes you superior, perhaps you could explain that? You see I'm magically more powerful than you, easily more intelligent so just what does this superior blood do?"

Draco's rage was building and he got louder. "The Malfoys are one of the most powerful families in Britain…"

Once more Hermione cut him off, that act enraging Draco even more. "Ah, so it's daddy's money that provides the power, not anything to do with blood. Then again, it was daddy's money that kept him out of Azkaban when Harry destroyed his master. Funny how that powerful pure blood running through his veins was useless against the imperious curse. You still haven't told us what this superior pure blood does that makes you so special?"

Draco was now screaming about mudblood bitches and what would happen to them, he also had his wand out. Hermione was still signalling to Harry she would deal with this. Feeling her wand slide into her hand he was holding, Harry decided to let her.

Malfoy fired the first curse but Hermione's shield sent it right back at him, along with the other two that came their way. The fight, though it barely warranted that description, was soon over as McGonagall screamed for everyone to stop.

Minerva had been waiting for her two lions outside the great hall, wanting a quiet word with them. When she heard Malfoy begin shouting, Minerva headed in that direction as quickly as possible. She arrived just as the spells began to fly, and didn't miss Severus already lurking in a classroom doorway.

"I want to know what's going on here?"

Hermione got in first. "Malfoy and his goons tried to provoke a reaction out of us. We suspect their head of house was lurking nearby to catch us fighting... Oh, hello, Professor Snape."

"Your Gryfindors are the ones who provoked this..." Snape's version of events wasn't being believed by anyone in the corridor.

Holding her wand out to her head of house, Hermione offered a suggestion. "After Professor Snape attacked Harry in that toilet, Professor Dumbledore was able to tell which spell his wand had cast last. You'll find mine cast a shield, it would be interesting to see what their wands cast."

Severus began gathering wands from his Slytherins when Minerva simply took them off him. "Mister Malfoy's detention with you clearly didn't alter his behaviour. This incident will now be investigated by the headmaster and me, and we will be assigning whatever punishments we think appropriate."

Taking Hermione's wand, Minerva demonstrated in front of Snape that it was indeed a shield charm she had cast, before returning it. "Parkinson, Nott and Crabbe, go to my office now. The headmaster and I will be there to interview you shortly. Severus, escort Malfoy and Goyle to the infirmary. Tell Poppy they are not to leave before Albus and I interview them. Potter and Granger, follow me and I'll collect the headmaster from the great hall. Oh, and Severus, my office and the infirmary are in opposite directions. Take these two there now before Mister Malfoy's teeth get any bigger and do him an injury, at least it's keeping him quiet. You really must discourage your house from using that disgusting boil curse."

Draco was whimpering in agony, his new super-sized teeth making it impossible for him to have a louder reaction to his second batch of painful boils. Goyle had been hit in the face with a reflected stinging hex so was in a fair degree of discomfort too.

Minerva walked with her two young lions and told them why she had been looking for them. "Professor Dumbledore is offering to teach all the first year Gryffindors potions, providing you two don't object to that."

This time, Harry signalled through their joined hands that he would take the lead. His answer however shocked his girlfriend nearly as much as their head of house. "I don't think that would be fair, Professor."

"Why ever not?"

"Well the holidays are only five weeks away. When we get home, both Hermione and I will be sitting down with our families to discuss whether we want to return to Hogwarts. If we don't come back, Professor Dumbledore is then left teaching that class. If this is something he wants to do anyway, then of course we have no objections about the others joining."

"What do you mean, not return? You have to return."

"We have to return? Who decided that? Are you saying Hermione and I can't transfer to another school or take our education in a different direction? I thought Hogwarts was a boarding school, are you saying it's a prison?"

"No, of course it's not a prison. Why wouldn't you return?"

"Why? How about being injured so severely that I have no memories of my first two months here. Then I was magically attacked by a senior member of staff on the same night. I might have no idea what went on in that toilet but Hermione misses nothing. Now the same boy has hurled racial abuse and magically attacked me twice, the second time with the backing of a senior member of the Hogwarts staff. Perhaps you could explain to us why we should return, because I really can't come up with any reasons."

"Your parents would have wanted you to come here..."

"I just found out on Halloween how my parents' died, I'd previously been told it was a car crash. Hermione said they were murdered trying to save me. Do you think parents, who gave their lives to save their child, would then want their child in an environment that wasn't in any way, shape or form safe? Like so many things in this castle, that just doesn't make sense."

"What would you do about school?"

"We were leaning toward hiring private tutors, or attending a school in France. Hermione already speaks the language fluently, and has certainly proven to be an excellent teacher, so could work with me on that. These options though will all have to be discussed with our families during the holidays."

"Can I ask you not to do anything hasty, and at least talk to the headmaster first?"

Harry just shrugged his shoulders. "We're here until the twenty third of December anyway, and can't make any decisions without talking it over with our families. That's our timescale but I have to say up front, Hogwarts has not impressed me so far. In the school system Hermione and I are used to, a student repeatedly hurling racial abuse at another student would see them expelled - no matter how much money their father had."

They had now reached the great hall. McGonagall left them to their breakfast and headed straight to Dumbledore, before both of them quickly headed back out.

Hermione was forced to whisper in Harry's ear. She didn't want anyone else to hear but was desperate to understand his reasoning. "What was that all about?"

Repeating her behaviour, Harry told his girlfriend what she was dying to know. "Just putting more pressure onto Snape. He's obviously near the top of your shit list and I certainly have no love for the arsehole."

"I sometimes forget how smart you are, sorry about that. Since Snape murdered Dumbledore and then allowed Draco to do whatever he wanted, feel free to pile as much pressure on as you can. If we can get him chucked out of Hogwarts, I'll certainly sleep sounder at night."

Harry could only nod in agreement, and wonder just how far he could push Dumbledore on this. He also had to whisper something else. "I need to know what you know before we can make those decisions, that needs to happen during the holidays at the latest. I understand it'll take a lot longer to learn everything else you're going to teach me but I hate being kept in the dark."

Knowing how much she hated not knowing things, Hermione had no arguments against that. Instead she offered a suggestion. "If Dobby can pop me to your bed, we could get an extra couple of hours practice every night. Over and above what time we can practice during the day, we might just be able to pull that timescale off. My oath though won't allow me to tell you everything until your mental shields are strong enough, I can't fake it."

"I'm gonna learn everything I'm desperate to know, and get to spend every night cuddling into my girlfriend - I can do this."

Hermione was just as pleased with the arrangement and kissed Harry to seal the deal. Her main worry now was that, when he discovered everything she had to tell him, Harry wouldn't want to come within a hundred miles of Hogwarts.

She could only hope that her plans for the rest of their first year would meet with his approval, at least enough to see them return on the Hogwarts Express come January. Harry appeared happy to let her take the lead in certain situations but wasn't afraid to make sure his opinion was heard. Only his lack of knowledge was stopping him doing that more often.

They would be working their socks off to remedy this imbalance in their relationship as quickly as possible, and she'd also get to spend every night in her Harry's arms. Now that was a plan Hermione really liked.

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