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.


18. Number Four

Sitting in the back of the Range Rover, Harry nervously clutched Hermione's hand. Spectacular was the only word he had to describe their summer so far but, as Dan drove them to Little Whinging, Harry was hoping for nothing more than normal for the next ten days. The problem though being he was the only person who understood what his version of normal was.

A tanned Hermione kissed him on the cheek before snuggling into his side. She was his rock, and the only reason he had any hope they could pull the next ten days off.

Both Granger ladies had instantly fell in love with Black Island, it would be hard not to. The main house was based on something like an old plantation mansion, a dozen white columns and multiple artistically wrought iron enclosed verandas ostentatiously proclaiming to all who laid eyes on the building that the people who lived within its walls were important. The mansion apparently came included as part and parcel of the island when the Blacks acquired it, since Sirius claimed his family would never build something so white and light. It sat proudly on top of a slight rise, though it was only around a four hundred yard walk to the beautiful beach that was clearly visible from every room at the front of the house.

Dan had quietly whispered to Harry that, as Plan B's go, this was a bloody beauty.

While knowing nothing about any Plan B, it was another beauty who seemed to catch Neville's eye. Hannah Abbot was a lovely girl, Neville would certainly agree with that. Harry and Hermione were busy watching another couple though, Sirius and Amelia. They had taken a stroll along the beach her first night there and the stars weren't the only things twinkling, Sirius' eyes gradually lost the look of a man who'd spent the last decade in Azkaban. Hermione confided in Harry that she'd never seen Sirius happier.

When Amelia, Susan and Hannah left, the atmosphere on Black Island dipped for a few days. With Parvati due to arrive, Neville was beginning to wonder if he'd made a mistake inviting her. They all though received a very pleasant surprise. Parvati away from Hogwarts, or should that be away from Lavender, was like a different girl. Padma too seemed to be a calming influence on her twin sister.

The results of this was the five youngsters spent a brilliant week together, with Neville and Parvati certainly growing closer over the course of those blissful seven days.

The couple's tearful parting at the end of their week together saw Hermione doing something she never thought she would, inviting Parvati and Padma to spend a day with them in Crawley. Since Neville had already invited the sisters to Longbottom Manor, it looked like they would be seeing a lot of the Patil sisters this summer. On examining their feelings, both Harry and Hermione were rather surprised to discover they were looking forward to it.

While Augusta and Sirius had spent a couple of their evenings bombarding Harry and Hermione with information on the Potters, and their place in wizarding society, it was taking the Longbottoms on their first trip into Crawley that really highlighted the cultural gulf they were trying to bridge.

The Grangers and Longbottoms effectively became each other's test subjects as lesson plans began to take shape for September. It was the simple things that astonished the other they felt simply had to be covered, tailoring what they hoped to achieve to that yardstick.

After having already visited Crawley town centre a couple of times leading up to his girlfriend's visit, Neville really enjoyed acting as a guide to the twins. Hermione was left smiling as Neville was confidently explaining a few things he'd known absolutely nothing about a few days ago to the Patils. Hermione also noticed a few people their age giving their group funny looks, though those looks were mainly in her direction. She knew these other kids of course, having grown up with them. That was the difference however, since Hermione had really grown up.

She had celebrated her nineteenth birthday before then traveling back in time on the Winter Solstice. Arriving at Halloween meant they'd been back in their younger bodies for slightly over nine months now. Adding those nine months to her actual age also meant she was now twenty years old. Glaring stares from a few of her former antagonists wasn't going to bother this Hermione Granger, especially since none of these kids had yet become a teenager.

Harry had of course heard from his aunt, phone calls between the Granger and Dursley homes had actually become quite common. They were all aware the Dursleys had thoroughly enjoyed their holiday, and Petunia said they were looking forward to Harry and Hermione's visit. The three Grangers were reserving judgement on that for the moment. Neither Dan nor Emma were in any way worried there would be trouble the kids couldn't handle, not with Dobby as their constant shadow too.

Petunia had been watching for their arrival, she also noticed curtains twitching in a few of her neighbours' homes as the Range Rover pulled up outside their door. Petunia went out and greeted Emma warmly. That same warmth was also visible as she led both children into her house, Dan following on behind with Emma and the kid's bags.

This tanned, well dressed and groomed, non spectacle wearing young man bore so little resemblance to the nephew who left last September that the neighbours would be scratching their heads over the young couple's identity for days.

Vernon and Dudley knew who they were though, and both were still under the mistaken impression that Harry need to stay with them for their safety. Not that either was going to say anything to Harry or Hermione, and certainly not with Dan and Emma in the house.

Since it was past dinnertime, Petunia had made tea for everyone. Photo's of their respective holidays were then passed around the group.

A puzzled Dudley was studying the group on the island and just had to ask the question. "Where is everything, and everyone?"

"It's a private island, owned by my godfather. We were the only ones on it, and we had to take a boat ride to another island to do any shopping or anything like that."

A horrified Dudley was now certain they had made the right choice. A buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner was interspersed by watching topless women sunbathing at the hotel pool. Add in all the hustle and bustle of the resort's thriving night life and Dudley thought he was in heaven. Dudley had just spent the best two weeks of his life on holiday in Majorca. Potter's holiday looked so boring, there probably wouldn't even be T.V. available on that island.

When Emma and Dan left, Hermione decided to call it a night. Harry led her up to the room she would use and kissed her good night. He turned to find his uncle waiting on him.

"I'm warning you now, boy. There will be no funny business with that young lady while she stays here." Harry smiling was not the reaction Vernon had expected.

He held out his left hand. "Uncle Vernon, these rings Hermione and I wear signify that we'll be marrying each other when we're old enough. There will never be any 'funny business' between us. She's my intended, my best friend and so much more." He left his stunned uncle still standing there as Harry entered his bedroom.

Harry spent an uncomfortable night, lying in a bedroom that was his, yet it wasn't. Knowing Hermione was on the other side of the wall eventually calmed him enough to sleep. Walking down to breakfast with her soon had the smile back on his face, but not for long. There were no smiles at the Dursley breakfast table. This situation had nothing at all to do with the visitors however.

"But Pet, how am I meant to do a day's work on that? Breakfast is the most important meal of the day…"

"Only because it comes first in the day. We've already had letters from Dudley's school about his weight, and that was before you two made pigs of yourselves for a fortnight…"

"We'd already paid for that food. I was only making sure we got our money's worth."

"You both put on about a stone. That weight will have to come off or the school will refuse to take Dudley. He was supposed to lose weight over the summer, not gain it."

Petunia then apologised to Hermione and Harry, but felt she had to serve them the same. While Hermione was perfectly happy with her half of grapefruit and some other fruit, Harry saw an opportunity. It was risky, but might just be worth it.

"Uncle Vernon, I know you don't like magic - and I can respect that. Magic though can do wonderful things too. One of the skills we learn is transfiguration, turning one thing into another. Your breakfast could be changed into sausage, ham and eggs…"

It looked as if Vernon was going to explode at the mention of magic, until Harry also mentioned food. It was actually Petunia who questioned her nephew.

"What's the point of that? I could easily have made their usual fry-up…"

Sensing where Harry was going with this, Hermione thought it was a brilliant idea. She tried to help him out. "When you transfigure something though, the initial material determine what's possible. If I transfigured my breakfast into blueberry pancakes and syrup, they would retain the same calories to the material I started with."

The only bit of that Dudley understood was the mention of blueberry pancakes. Vernon's ears though had certainly pricked up at the suggestion he could have practically anything for breakfast - while still maintain the diet Petunia set for them.

"Blueberry pancakes sounds lovely…" Harry had barely uttered the words when the contents on his plate changed to a stack of five pancakes, covered in syrup, with a few blueberries at the side.

Dudley's eyes were nearly popping out of his head. Not at the use of magic but rather the stack of pancakes - and that was before the delicious smell hit him. "Are they real?"

Lifting a pancake off his plate, Harry placed it on Dudley's. He then proceeded to eat the remaining pancakes Dobby had transfigured for him. Seeing Harry dig in, Dudley couldn't resist any more. His loud mmmm… at the first mouthful signalled his enjoyment, and also convinced Dudley this was what he wanted for breakfast too. His toyed with breakfast suddenly became a stack of blueberry pancakes, Dudley's wide grin broadcasting he was delighted at that.

Hermione asked if hers could be changed as well proved too much of a temptation for Vernon.

"I really do prefer…" He didn't get to say any more as two sausages, three rashers of bacon and a fried egg now stared back at him. Like his son, Vernon's first bite was also his first tiny step along the road of accepting magic. Anything that could fry his bacon and eggs exactly how he liked them couldn't be all bad.

Watching her family happily tuck in had Petunia smiling too, and that was before her breakfast changed to those tiny sandwiches a special little elf knew she loved so much. Petunia quietly whispered 'Thanks, Dobby' before enjoying the treats that were tastier than their counterparts in Fortnum and Mason's tea room.


Draco wasn't having anything like a pleasant summer. His father had been on his case from the moment he'd stepped off the train, and his mother wasn't sticking up for him anymore. His father was taking a much greater interest in Draco this summer, that wasn't a good thing as far as Draco was concerned.

He'd been given books to read, spells to learn and was then tested on everything. His only respite was two hours a day set aside for flying, though even that was becoming a chore.

Things had never been this strict at home and Draco was slowly building up to a major tantrum. Seeing this, his mother intervened. She had a quiet word with her son, hoping to offer some incentive. Draco whining at his father was the last thing they needed to happen. Lucius might withdraw his offer of giving Draco another year to prove himself, effectively throwing both of them out on their ear.

"Your father is very angry at all the positive publicity Potter is receiving..." Narcissa thought she was going to need her wand to stop her son's rant in approval of that sentiment. Eventually, she got him quietened down enough to continue.

"It's not fair that he wins these quidditch matches because he has the best broom, so your father is going to do something about that. The entire Slytherin team will be flying Nimbus two thousand and one's next term."

There was the excitement she was looking for. Now all she needed to do was turn that excitement into determination. "Your father is pushing you so hard this summer because he's determined to see you succeed. He's hoping to be sitting in the Hogwarts quidditch stands while Slytherin crushes Gryffindor. Your reactions to his training this summer will decide whether you'll be sitting in the stand beside your father, or be the Slytherin seeker who beats Potter to the snitch."

The mere thought of beating Potter, never mind the added bonus of his father being there to witness his victory, was enough motivation for Draco. He attacked his lessons with gusto, determined that prize would not be snatched away from him. Draco was enough of a Malfoy to know that beating Potter was the most important thing here. He also knew his father wouldn't hesitate to ignore his son's wishes to achieve that goal. Draco needed to spend the rest of the summer convincing his father he was up to the task, so that's what he would do.


Harry had spent a peaceful morning showing Hermione around the place he grew up. Since there wasn't really much to see, it wasn't long before they found themselves in the park. Two swings miraculously repaired themselves, allowing the young couple the simple pleasure of being together while enjoying the swings.

Their peace appeared about to be interrupted as a gang of boys were making their way toward them. Piers Polkiss seemed to be leading them, though Harry also recognised Dennis, Malcolm and Gordon. He couldn't understand why Dudley was bringing up the rear of the group. Since when did he start hanging about with these losers?

Piers started right in on them. "Well, look what we got here boys. Potter's back, and he's brought a friend for us to play with." The other three laughed, Dudley showed no reaction at all.

"Big D tells us you had an accident, one that scrambled your brain. Now you really are a retard, Potter." Again the laughter, again Dudley took no part in it.

"The accident scrambled my memories, nothing more. Hermione, does he look like a rat to you?"

This had her giggling. "Another Peter Pettigrew?"

"Piers Polkiss, Peter Pettigrew, you have to admit there are striking similarities..."

This girl giggling, and Potter's casual dismissal, really pissed off Piers. It was time to remind Potter who was in charge here. "Big D told us all the women he saw on holiday went about topless. That's a nice tan you've got, how about showing us how far down it goes?"

This time Dudley reacted. As the four boys now threateningly crowded around the couple, he took a couple of steps back.

"Only my boyfriend knows how far my tan goes, and that's the way it will be staying..."

Since they were holding hands on the swings, the identity of that boyfriend was never in any doubt. Next to Dudley, Malcolm was the biggest in the gang. He couldn't believe that Potter had pulled a hot bird like this, and intended to show both of them the error of their ways.

"Potter's nothing, you should hang about with us." To emphasise his point, Malcolm punched Harry in the chest. At least he tried to.

Harry had moved like lightning, meaning Malcolm's fist connected with nothing but air. The bigger boy was also now off balance, and Harry was inside his guard. A couple of punches to the gut took all the fight out of Malcolm before a blow to the face had him down. Gordon was next to discover this was a very different Potter they were now dealing with. His burst mouth was telling him their new sport this summer would be hiding from Harry, rather than hunting him.

Turning, Harry saw Piers also on the ground. A hard kick to the kneecap would do that every time. Hermione was now facing down Dennis, who appeared shocked that anyone would stand up to them.

"Do you want to try and look down my top? With my boyfriend beside me too?"

As Harry's arm slipped protectively around Hermione's waist, Dennis was comically shaking his head and hands, and tripped over the prostrate Malcolm in his haste to confirm he wanted nothing to do with this couple. Harry's gaze though was focused on his cousin.

"Dud, why are you hanging about with these losers? Aunt Petunia always told us we were better than that - and she was right. You've got some hard choices to make, Dud."

"You think you're pretty special, don't you Potter?"

"I didn't have to be special to beat this lot, you saw that. They're nothing but arrogant bullies, with no skill or talents to back that arrogance up." As the couple started walking away, Harry turned for one last piece of advice for his cousin.

"Had Piers been stupid enough to actually lay his hands on Hermione, you know what I would have done. You might want to explain that to your 'friends' lying here."

It was a thoughtful Dudley who sat on the now vacant swing. Piers hauled himself up and managed to slip into the other one. Rubbing his very painful knee, he had some harsh words for their leader.

"Why didn't you back us up? I thought you liked pounding on Potter?"

"You heard him, you saw him, that's a different Potter. Whatever you do, do not touch his girlfriend." The shudder of dread that ran through Big D had the rest of them wanting to know why he said that.

"They both go to the same school..."

"I thought Potter went to a school that only took boys?"

A stare from Dudley shut Dennis up, that allowed the tale to continue. "One of the teachers at that school went a bit nuts. He tried to attack Hermione, and Potter killed him."

"Then why isn't he in jail?"

"I told you, Dennis, the teacher went nuts. They gave Potter and her bloody great medals because of it."

Now they all wanted the macabre details.

"How did he do it, kill him like?"

"Did he use a weapon?"

Dudley again shuddered as he gave them the details. "He punched that teacher in the head until he was dead. Potter had to be pulled off him by the police..."

"How come it wasn't on the news? In the paper?"

He could hardly say it was, and he had carefully read every word. Dudley changed tactics. "Potter actually goes to a private school up in Scotland. His parents had a bit of cash, so it was all arranged and paid for since he was a baby. His girlfriend goes to the same school. You should see what her dad drives, dad goes green with envy every time he sees it." Dudley then found himself making an admission he'd never thought of before. "They seem alright though, her parents."

Malcolm and Gordon had first hand experience of just how hard Harry could hit, they weren't disputing Dudley's story. Dennis was just counting his blessings he'd escaped the entire fight unharmed, he would be giving the couple a wide berth too. Piers though was raging.

"There's a killer in Little Whinging and we're just supposed to accept that?"

This saw Dudley just shrug his shoulders. "Had you pulled Hermione's top to look at her tan, Potter would have destroyed you. Does anyone here think we would have been able to stop him?"

Gordon removed the bloody hankie from his mouth to speak. "For a skinny runt, Potter sure can hit hard."

"He plays some weird Scottish sport at that school of his, makes him fast and strong. Mum says he's very good at it."

"Your mum's been there?"

This got a nod. "Went to see him get his medal. She's also friendly with Hermione's parents. Her dad doesn't look like someone you'd want to mess with either."

The unanimous decision of the gang was to leave the couple well alone, though Piers still wanted some revenge.

Harry took Hermione to the local cafe, unaware this was his first ever visit in this timeline. Apart from never having money to visit before, the Dursleys would usually have kept him far too busy with chores. Like a normal young couple, they sat and discussed this morning's events over their ice cream sundaes.

Heading back for lunch, they discovered number four had a visitor - an unhappy one at that.

"Hello, Mrs Polkiss…"

"Don't you hello me, Potter, not after beating up my Piers."

"I don't know what you've heard, but I never actually touched Piers"

"That's not what he says…"

"That's hardly surprising, since he got 'beaten up' by my girlfriend. He and his buddies were determined to see how much of Hermione was tanned. Naturally, Hermione and I objected."

"My Piers would never do anything like that."

Hermione was holding Harry's hand as this woman shouted at him, not something she was ever going to accept. "Your son was reaching for my top when I kicked him one…"

"Don't you go making wild accusations against my son, you lying little strumpet…"

That was way over any line either Harry or Hermione were ever going to accept. Before they could react though, Petunia exploded.

"Dawn Polkiss, how dare you say that about Hermione. I know this girl, and have stayed with her fine family. If Hermione said that's what happened, then I absolutely believe her."

"You've got a couple of murders staying with you…"

"Indeed I do not. These two children responded to a situation at their private boarding school, saving the lives of four of their classmates. I proudly sat there as their courage and bravery were rewarded. They are also the top two students of their entire year-group, while Harry is the star player on his house sports team. These are not the type of children who have to make up lies. Emma and Dan Granger certainly won't stand for anyone besmirching their daughter's name, and you certainly won't be doing it in my house."

"You told us the boy attended St. Brutus's Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys."

Realising she would have to kill that story, and get something like the truth out there, Petunia told the truth to the one woman sure to have it all over the neighbourhood before the sun went down.

"Harry and Hermione attend an exclusive private boarding school in Scotland. The entire thing was set up by his parents before they died. Harry has spent most of the summer staying with his friends from school and spending time with his godfather, Lord Black. Both look so tanned because they spent over three weeks on Lord Black's private Caribbean Island. The Dursleys were invited too, but we had already booked our holiday."

Dawn was standing there opened mouthed, then her face hardened. "I don't believe a word of that..."

"Get out of my house!"


"Get out of my house. You call Hermione vile names, then tell me I'm a liar. Get out, before I throw you out. Keep your son away from my door too. Like you, he's not welcome here."

A very miffed Dawn Polkiss stormed out the house, with Petunia slamming the door behind her. She then turned to the young couple, clearly worried.

"I need to ask you something, and want you to be honest with me. Was Dudley involved in this?"

It was Harry who exploded this time. "Aunt Petunia! You know Dudley would never be involved in something like this..."

The relief on Petunia's face was unmistakable, as was the smile she now wore. "Thank you for that, you have no idea how much hearing that means to me. I also enjoyed throwing that bitch out. How dare she say that about our Hermione. I'll go and put the kettle on..."

Knowing that Harry's stout defence of Dudley was based on his altered memories, Hermione was at a loss to explain his wide smile.

"That's the Aunt Petunia I remember. It actually felt a little like deja vu because I remember her flinging Piers' mum out once before."

That made sense to Hermione. The memory alterations carried out on the Dursleys totally changed their attitude to Harry. That would have led to situations similar to what they'd just witnessed, where people couldn't understand the sudden polar change in the Dursley family's attitude to their fourth member.


Ron Weasley understood polar changes in attitude. Ever since Halloween last year, his life seemed to be full of them. His best friend suddenly didn't know him. When that best friend was the famous boy-who-lived, that was really hard to take.

He'd gained the respect of his fellow first years, only for the entire house - make that school - to turn against him over the censure fiasco. Ron knew only something spectacular could see him recover from that, and he'd almost pulled it off too. Choosing to forget the fear induced by seeing Quirrell with a Dark Lord growing out the back of his head, Ron concentrate on the memory of telling the truth. He loudly proclaimed to Dumbledore that Potter was second to solve the tasks, he, Ron Weasley, had gotten there first.

Ron didn't really remember much after that, except waking up in St. Mungo's. His family seemed really pleased to see him, and Ron loved all the attention. Again that underwent a polar shift the instant he got home. His mother and father shouting at him, while Ginny now wouldn't speak to him. The Prophet full of Potter and Granger being awarded Orders of Merlin, First Class, almost put him off his food.

Things didn't improve when Hogwarts let out either. His brothers may be home from school but, for all the attention they paid to Ron, it didn't really matter. Percy blamed him for losing that precious prefect badge, and any chance at being Head Boy. Conveniently ignoring his own involvement in that fiasco appeared to be a trait he shared with Ron.

The twins were good friends of Harry's and wouldn't hear a word said against Potter or Granger. Only a complete idiot would upset the Weasley twins, especially if they had to live in the same house as Fred and George.

Ron was left facing his latest polar shift. He had dreamed of being the Gryffindor hero but a visiting Dumbledore and McGonagall had destroyed those dreams. With his academic results now all in, the pair delivered a double blow. Not only would Ron have to repeat first year, he would face being resorted as well.

He now faced the choice of returning to Hogwarts, resorted and repeating first year, or being home schooled. As much as Ron hated the first option, being a first year Hufflepuff might be preferable to being homeschooled by his mother. His parents had been on his case from the moment he'd returned from St Mungo's, at least he would escape that at Hogwarts.

Using intelligence that had stayed hidden for most of the last year, Ron was working on a strategy. Returning to Hogwarts would see him become the talk of the school, right up until something happened to refocus their attention somewhere else. Worse case scenario, he would need to put up with the whispering, pointing and perhaps even insults until the first quidditch match. After that, he would be last week's news and ignored.

Staying at home though meant his mother would be on his case each and every day. With his father home every night to reinforce those lessons, Ron's thoughts were leaning toward Hogwarts. It was the memories of what he'd lost - Neville sharing private quarters and holidaying with Potter - that held him back from choosing the Hogwarts option. At least in The Burrow, he wouldn't be reminded of that every single day.

He had until the Weasleys headed for Diagon Alley to give his definitive answer. After that date, whatever Ron chose, his fate was sealed.


Dudley didn't seem as impressed when an invisible Dobby changed the salad into his favourite pizza at dinner. Nor was he really paying attention to his mother's spirited telling of how she chucked Mrs Polkiss out of their house. While his father hung on her every word, Dudley had a different question for Harry.

"How did you do that today? You made it look easy too."

"You've seen the golden snitch I gave Aunt Petunia?" Dudley's nod saw Harry continue. "It moves incredibly fast, and my job is to catch it. I also have people hitting things like cannonballs at me, trying to make sure I don't catch the little blighter. That really sharpens up your reflexes. I've also done some boxing training to keep fit..."

His uncle's ears picked up at that. "Boxing? A noble sport. In my day, Smeltings had an excellent boxing program."

"They still do, dad."

Remembering her conversations with Harry about Dudley, Hermione though they'd just been presented with a golden opportunity. It was one she intended to take. "Trying to get your weight to a place you're happy with is an incredibly difficult thing for anyone to do, especially by just changing your diet. If you can combine a sport with the dieting, the results can be spectacular. I think boxing is a sport you could be very good at."

A gorgeous girl telling him he could be very good at something was a whole new experience for Dudley, one he wasn't really sure how to handle. "Do you really think so, Hermione?"

She decided to come at this from the opposite angle. "Remember Harry from last summer, he was so skinny. A change of diet and lots of exercise has most of the neighbours not recognising him. We can help you with the food part for the rest of the summer, but not when you return to Smeltings. Starting to box now, and continuing the sport at school would really help."

"I'd be happy to show you the basics, Dud. Dodging punches is really good exercise for me, throwing those punches will help you too. We could start tomorrow after breakfast. Sitting in the park has kinda lost it's appeal..."

"You'd do that for me? Stand there and let me punch you?"

This had Harry smiling. "Dud, your job is to throw those punches, mine is to dodge or let them hit the training pads."

"Will we need to buy those things, Harry?"

He was still smiling as Harry answered his aunt. "Not right away, we can handle it for now. Give Dudley a couple of days to see if he likes it, then you could look at buying him some gear."

His son being involved in sport was certainly an idea Vernon wanted to encourage, especially if it turned into something Dudley might become good at. "We could turn the garage into a gym, it's needing a good clear out anyway."

"We could do that at the weekend. If Dudley likes boxing, it would be easy to copy the small gym I use." Only Hermione knew the gym Harry was talking about was the Dursleys' converted garage from the other timeline.

As the excitement over this idea grew, it became an enjoyable dinner at Privet Drive. Not once was it mentioned they were eating food altered by magic, or that they would be using magic to achieve a lot of what they were talking about. This was amazing progress from the family she'd first met at Christmas. Watching as Harry's smile just got wider and wider, Hermione thought his Christmas had come early this year.

It was then Hermione had her epiphany. She'd figured Harry's uncle would be the hardest nut to crack but clearly had not considered something very important when reaching that conclusion. Vernon Dursley knew nothing about magic, or magical society - except what he'd heard from his wife. His attitudes were all centred around Petunia's hatred of magic, and those who had it.

With Petunia's attitudes on magic changed, along with magic changing his food, Vernon was a lot more accepting of the situation than she'd ever thought possible. If they could help Dudley to lose some weight, and get him involved in sport, Hermione could see Vernon's objections to magic - and Harry - slowly disappearing. It was with a sense of excitement she glanced at her still smiling intended - they might actually be able to pull this off.


Minerva certainly wasn't smiling as she stormed into the Headmaster's Office. Slapping a letter onto his desk, Albus didn't get time to read it before his Deputy revealed the contents to him, and also the reason for her not inconsiderable anger.

"Albus, we can't allow this..this.. Words actually fail me. This selfish charlatan has placed seven of his own books on the required text book list. All seven books for all seven years! Does he really expect first years to be learning about vampires, werewolves and trolls? We sent him the curriculum each year is required to be taught and he's just ignoring it, in favour of selling his own books too. It's bad enough the peacock will be here as a professor but to then force every student to buy all his books is a disgrace. Albus, I don't think I can add this to the Hogwarts letters I'm about to send out."

Letting out a sigh of frustration, though not directed at his Deputy, Albus reiterated what Minerva already knew. "Gilderoy Lockhart was the only person who showed the slightest interest in the vacancy for our Defence Against the Dark Arts post. As you are well aware, each professor sets their own text book list. It's not something we can interfere with..."

"But Albus..."

"I know exactly how you feel, Minerva. Lockhart actually wanted the job last year. That was why I fell on poor Quirinus' offer to teach the position last summer. We both know how that turned out, and this year I'm all out of options. Whether this is Gilderoy's way of getting back at me for the perceived snub from last year, or his motives are purely financial, doesn't really matter. If I start interfering in the choice of textbooks for particular subjects, I would effectively be declaring I know better than the professor teaching the subject. That position would be untenable as Headmaster, and for the professor involved too..."

"Even if, in this case, it's the truth?"

"Minerva, I suspect our Miss Granger would be a more effective teacher of this subject than Gilderoy Lockhart. Unfortunately, I'm not at liberty to offer her the position. Due to Sirius' release from Azkaban, I was hoping a certain friend of his might make an appearance before now. Alas, even if Remus were to turn up, Gilderoy has now signed the contract. Hogwarts must have a defence professor but news of the position being cursed has robbed us of all of the people who would be good at the job. Quirinus' well publicised demise put the last nail in that coffin. I can only assume that Gilderoy doesn't read the newspapers."

"More like he just brushes past those stories that don't feature a picture of him in them. Would you really have given Remus Lupin the job?"

"We both know Remus would be an excellent professor, and that Hogwarts already has a proven method in place to deal with his medical condition."

"With any luck he'll turn up soon. Then we'll have a replacement for when Gilderoy leaves. You know he'll be attracted to Mister Potter's fame, and you also know how both he and Miss Granger will react to that. Sparks will fly there..."

The smile on Dumbledore's lips stopped Minerva's rant. Albus knew the young couple better than anyone else in Hogwarts. She hoped that smile was in anticipation of the castle's now famous couple running Lockhart out of Hogwarts. Minerva well remembered the hard time the couple had given Augusta - and she was a very good teacher that Harry and Hermione liked. They would eat Lockhart for breakfast, especially if Gilderoy tried to latch onto the boy-who-lived.

She still hated the prospect of all the extra books this gaudy arse would sell but consoled herself with the thought it may not be nearly as many as he hoped. If a parent had already bought any of Gilderoy's books, Minerva was sure those would be the copies heading off to Hogwarts with their children. After all, it wasn't like these novels would be kept in the house as reference books.


Dudley felt foolish. He was in their back garden, wearing t-shirt and shorts. What was making him feel foolish though was the protective headgear and rather large boxing gloves he was sporting. That, and whatever he tried to punch wasn't there by the time his glove arrived.

His cousin moved like quicksilver, and was just as elusive. Smacking into one of the pads Harry was wearing on his hands felt good though, as did the words of encouragement coming from Harry and Hermione.

Petunia arrived with some iced glasses of diet cola for all three of them, allowing Dudley to towel off before drinking it through the provided straw. Trying to pick up a tumbler while wearing boxing gloves was not an easy task.

"I though you said I could be good at this? I've hardly laid a punch on you."

"When boxing, you fight in weight divisions. You and I would certainly be in different ones, Dud. That means you wouldn't normally fight anyone that moves as fast as me, which will help you improve your hand speed. When you fight someone in the same weight division as you, this will help you be so much quicker than them."

While he was thinking about that, Hermione added another layer to the solution. "Our quidditch team practices for hours at a time, multiple times every week, and then spend even more hours talking tactics. Then again, that's why they're so good. One thing Harry insisted on though was that they had fun while doing it. You've just started training, so the most important thing is whether you enjoy it or not. It takes a lot of work to get good at anything. It's a whole lot easier to do that work however if it's something you like doing."

"How could flying on a broom not be fun? Do you think I could come to your school and watch a match?"

"Dud, you come to Hogwarts, I'll take you flying on my broom. Deal?" Harry held up his pad and Dudley punched it - sealing the deal between the two grinning boys.

Hermione hugged her grinning intended while Petunia had her arms round her son. Both boys were then keen to return to their practicing.

Dudley didn't know just how much weight a broom could carry but was determined now to lose as much of his as possible. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, one he was determined to grasp. Sitting there and the broom not rising off the ground because he was too heavy was a potential nightmare Dudley was determined to avoid.

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