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.


7. Nuts?

Ron Weasley woke on Christmas morning to silence, not something he was accustomed to. This was his first Christmas away from home, and also his first without his parents' presence. His mum and dad had taken his young sister to visit their dragon handling brother in Romania, where they would all be spending the entire holidays. With all his dorm-mates away home for the Christmas holidays too, he had the entire dorm to himself. This resulted in the unusual silence, not something Ron was familiar with - either in Hogwarts or at the Burrow.

He had hoped Harry would be staying in Hogwarts too, instead both he and Granger had left the day before the express. Ron didn't even get a chance to wish him a Merry Christmas, and hopefully start to rebuild their once strong friendship. Ever since Granger got her hooks into Harry at Halloween, he was like a different person - a person who didn't need Ron Weasley in his life.

After having basked in the notoriety of being the boy-who-lived's best friend for two months, to have that snatched away from him in an instant was hard to take. What was even harder to take was his once best friend claiming he had no memories of those two months, or that close friendship they'd shared. Now Harry and Hermione were certainly a package deal, yesterday's Prophet announcing she was his intended made the entire country aware of that.

Harry had appeared to go out of his way since Halloween to make new friends, Ron was sure that certainly helped see this unbelievable news almost casually gain acceptance amongst their peers. Then again, most students' attentions were held by the fact Snape had changed his plea to guilty, and was therefore heading for Azkaban - ending once and for all any possibility of him ever returning to Hogwarts as a professor.

Having to ask his twin brothers for advice on anything was always going to be fraught with danger, their reputations for making mischief being well earned. Ron didn't see any other options open to him though. Fred and George were certainly people both Harry and his new intended counted as friends, he would need to ask the twins how they managed it. That would be for later since there were currently gifts to open. Ignoring what he guessed by shape and feel was another Weasley jumper, Ron made straight for those packages that might contain sweets or cakes.


Draco Malfoy was another first year student who wasn't having the Christmas he'd imagined, and again Harry Potter was at the centre of his troubles. The Malfoy Christmas Ball was normally the highlight of the British magical social calendar, but not this year. For the first time ever, owls had been busy delivering scroll after scroll offering invited guests' apologies - apologies that they wouldn't be able to attend. There had usually been the odd one or two, neither family emergencies nor ill health being unavoidable - even at Christmas. This year however over half of those invited were not going to be attending.

The scroll from the Minister of Magic, citing the lame excuse of a previous engagement, really had his father swearing. All three Malfoys knew that, in previous years, it would be the other engagement that would be receiving the excuse scroll. That the minister was suggesting there actually was another engagement worthy of his attendance tonight really brought home just how far their star had waned.

The Malfoy Annual Christmas Ball was usually such a success, with everyone who was anyone attending, no one would dare run another ball on the same evening. It wouldn't be until later tonight they would discover just where all their missing guests had gone.


Severus was spending his first, and hopefully last, Christmas as a guest in Azkaban. While he wasn't being held in the high security wing, this level was easily bad enough for the potions master. He would keep his head down and strive to become a model prisoner, there was no way he wanted to spend an additional two years in this place. Severus was still trying to get over the shock of being betrayed, both back in Hogwarts and again in that courtroom.

Dumbledore had effectively ended his career then, when Severus had tried to defend himself at the school board meeting, the headmaster played the Potter card to have him arrested. The sly old bastard even took it a step further, completing his betrayal in the most public fashion possible. As far as Severus was aware, only three people knew of the prophecy made that night. Dumbledore, himself and the Dark Lord.

That Dumbledore must have told Potter the prophecy was a shock, a shock that changed everything. Sitting in that courtroom, he couldn't take the chance that the old wizard hadn't told the Potter brat exactly how the Dark Lord came to know that prophecy. Staring into Potter's eyes in that courtroom, Severus couldn't get a read on the brat - other than that he meant business.

Knowing full well the boy-who-lived claiming Severus Snape was complice in the murder of his parents would mean an up close and personal visit from a dementor, he was backed into a corner and left with no other option but to change his plea to guilty.

The fact that he was guilty, and guilty of both crimes, didn't seem to register with Severus. His anger was focused on Dumbledore's betrayals, and of course the hated Potter brat. Apart from his obvious skills, there was one other thing Severus was exceptionally good at - holding a grudge. Since he still had another three hundred and sixty three days left to spend in this shithole, Severus was sure he had plenty of time to figure out how to get even with both Dumbledore and Potter.


Albus received the usual haul of books as Christmas presents from his friends, however there were a couple of packages that surprised him. A gift from Harry, though still books, certainly accomplished that. It wasn't the fact that they were muggle books that was surprising, but rather the apparent subject matter of those books. Glancing at the three books that obviously made up the set, he was struck by an image on the cover that appeared very similar to his own. Not only that, this image - which contained a powerful sorcerer with a long white beard - was completed by a young boy in the background. His interest piqued, Albus would be sure to make time and read the first in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, over the holidays.

The other package that surprised him was from Miss Granger, a dozen pair of warm wooly socks. That these socks were also made from wools that had been dyed every colour of the rainbow just endeared Albus all the more to them. He hoped the young couple liked their gifts from him as much as Albus appreciated theirs.


Wearing his housecoat over his pyjamas, Harry waited on Hermione collecting her own from her bedroom before they both headed down the stairs. Dan and Emma were there to greet them and all four decided breakfast would come before presents.

The happy and relaxed atmosphere around the table was what Harry's memories were telling him his Christmases usually were. After visiting Privet Drive yesterday, he now knew that was not the case. Hermione however seemed to read his mind, even without having to resort to entering it.

"All your memories will be real from here on in, and I promise you to try and make those memories as good as I can." With Harry's mood now saved from crashing, Hermione led them through to the living room - where the tree and presents were waiting.

There was much laughter, oh-ing and ah-ing over the gifts everyone received. Hermione couldn't help but smile as Harry opened a plain parcel and found a shimmering cloak inside.

"The message says this belonged to my father, but not who sent it. It's very nice, but not really my style. I can't see me wearing it…"

At that Hermione buckled with laughter, urging Harry to put it on so everyone would be in on the joke. Unlike Hermione though, none of the other three were laughing as Harry's disembodied head appeared to float in mid-air. Once he pulled the hood up and disappeared completely, Emma quickly stood and walked forward with her hands searchingly out. Watching her find and then hug an invisible Harry left the grin on Hermione's face in danger of becoming a permanent fixture.

"He's still here, just invisible…"

Pulling his hood down, a puzzled Harry asked Emma what he considered a stupid question. "Where did you think I had gone?"

"I just saw you vanish right in front of my eyes and was suddenly worried, I didn't know if you'd left us. You've just joined our family and we certainly want you to stay."

Seeing his wife and Harry moved by what happened, Dan tried to lighten the conversation. "Will that cloak work on anyone? I mean, do you have to be magical?"

"The magic's in the cloak, dad. I'm sure Harry will let you try it on."

Harry duly handed over the cloak, then Dan duly disappeared. "Hey, didn't it work?"

"Yes it worked, why wouldn't it?"

"I never got a hug…"

Quick as a flash, Emma was in there with a quip. "After you've seen one invisible man, they all look the same…"

This time everyone was in on the joke and it took a few moments for Hermione to stop laughing and notice there was one present left - a present that had her name on it. She opened the briefcase sized package to discover that's what it contained, but this was no ordinary case. There were instructions from Dumbledore on how to operate her new library trunk, earning a squeal from the young but already committed bibliophile. A quick glance at the instructions and Hermione was soon showing off the thirty or so books the professor had left in there for her. Adding and indexing her own collection of books to the system would be a bit more complicated but Hermione couldn't hide her glee at this gift.

She would probably have raved about it for the rest of the morning had not Dobby appeared with a letter for them.

"An owl just delivered this, Dobby recognised the handwriting and brought it straight here."

Harry and Hermione recognised the writing too, it was from Neville.

'Hi Harry and Hermione

Hope you're both having a wonderful Christmas and please know you gave most of the Hogwarts students their best present early - putting Snape in Azkaban. Really sorry about the short notice for this, my gran wanted to personally ask you both at the station when we got off the express, and we will understand if you have already made other plans. The Longbottoms are holding a Christmas Ball this evening, your invitation is also in this envelope. Knowing you don't have access to a floo, the invitation is also a portkey that you just have to tap with your wand and say 'Ball'. I do hope you both can make it but have a great holiday either way, you deserve it.'

After reading the letter out loud, Harry looked to Hermione but she appeared just as puzzled. "Neither of us have ever been to Neville's house, so this certainly didn't happen the last time. You and Ron both spent this Christmas holiday in Hogwarts…" She had no intention of mentioning what they were trying to research, or Harry finding the Mirror of Erised.

"I've never been to a ball before..."

"Actually, you have. End of our fourth year..."

"Did I take you?"


"How the hell did you ever fall in love with the other Harry? He sounds like a bloody idiot to me. I want you to know I will ask you to be my date for anything that comes up in the future, but I vote we give this one a miss."

It was Emma who responded first to that. "Why would you not go?"

"Where do I start? Apart from having no suitable clothes, and not being able to dance a step, I get the feeling it's the boy-who-lived who's being invited - not me."

This confused Emma further. "I thought you were the boy-who-lived?"

"I'm just Harry, Emma, someone who likes his books and loves his intended. I get the feeling that's not who they're inviting. Neville knows me as Harry but this invitation is from his grandmother, who I've never met. Besides, Hermione and I already have a previous engagement. I was invited to spend Christmas with her parents. I can assure you, I would much rather be here with you than somewhere else - and being stared at by a bunch of strangers. We had more than enough of that at Snape's trial. What do you think, Hermione?"

"Do I want to go to a ball with you - yes. Should we race about trying to get organised for tonight, and also squeeze some dancing practice in there too - no. This is our Christmas and I agree with you, it should be spent here. If I know Dobby, he will have spent ages working on our Christmas dinner. I want the five of us to sit down as a family and enjoy it together, without the two of us fretting about having to get ready for a ball we knew nothing about until ten minutes ago. It took me bloody ages to get dressed for the last one."

"Please tell me you didn't go with Ron?"

"While I hoped you would ask me, I didn't think that was going to happen. A boy from a visiting school asked me so I went with him. You and Ron waited until the last minute then went with the Patil twins..."

"That Harry was an arse. This Harry would rather be with you than anyone else. If you're happy with spending our evening here, I'll write back and offer our apologies."

Dan then wanted to ensure they were making this choice for the right reasons, and not because they were worried he and Emma would be upset if they went.

Hermione quickly allayed her father's fears while Harry then put those fears to bed. "I have only two months worth of memories of the magical world and, apart from Hermione, I've yet to find anything that would keep me there. I would much rather spend Christmas here, and can't thank you enough for inviting me."

After Harry penned a quick letter offering their apologies, they all settled back to enjoy their first Christmas together.


After the festive feast at Hogwarts, Minerva and Albus had flooed to Longbottom Manor, mainly to show their support for the stance Augusta was taking here. Deliberately holding a ball on the same evening the Malfoys traditionally did was practically a declaration of war in social terms.

Spotting her friend, Minerva congratulated Augusta on what was a well-attended ball. "Thank you, Minerva. I was rather disappointed though that Harry Potter refused my invitation. At least I have the consolation of knowing he's not attending the Malfoys event."

"I'm just relieved they're returning to Hogwarts after the holidays. Anything else is a bonus."

Augusta's eyes had been roving over her guests as Minerva spoke, the Hogwarts' Deputy now had her undivided attention with that remark.

"And why wouldn't he be returning?"

"I asked him the same question, he turned that question back on me. To understand, you need to know that accident Harry suffered at Halloween caused him permanent memory loss. He didn't know he was a wizard, anything about Hogwarts or even how he got there. The only person he remembered was his girlfriend, now intended, Miss Granger."

"I assume you've had the boy examined?"

"Poppy checked him over medically before, with Harry's permission, Albus visited his mind. Both confirm that, while he is now fine, those memories are gone. Harry has only known about him being a wizard since being told so on Halloween evening. In the proceeding couple of months after being given that news, he's been attacked by a troll, had an illegal spell cast at him by a member of staff, continually had his mother and intended referred to as mudbloods and twice been attacked by students - the last one being organised by a head of house. Given that background, how could I honestly say staying at Hogwarts was in his best interest?"

The matriarch of the Longbottom family was an extremely shrewd witch, Augusta soon put a few things that had been puzzling her together. "The mystery of why Albus finally hung Snape out to dry is now explained. Faced with a choice of losing one of them, Albus chose to retain Harry Potter."

"You may be right, I know Albus spoke at length with both Harry and Hermione to convince them to stay. Don't let their ages fool you either, those two are very much a couple. Harry is actually spending the holidays with Miss Grangers' parents. I may be wrong but I got the sense he could hardly wait to be back in the world he was familiar with. I would say that, rather than any slight on your invitation, is probably the main reason neither of them are here tonight. Having Harry raised in the muggle world may have kept him safe, it leaves him though questioning everything we take for granted. In every way but one, he's as much a muggle born as his intended."

This left the eldest Longbottom shaking her head. "Neville seemed to be half expecting our invitation to be refused, he also didn't appear to be in any way upset about it. I'm beginning to understand his attitude at the matter a bit better now. I've long argued there should be introductory courses to our society for muggle borns, I just could never get any support from the rest of the school board. Trying to get them to allocate resources specifically for muggle borns was never a popular proposal. Would you mind if I used Harry Potter's situation to revisit this at the next school board meeting?"

"I wouldn't mind, and you'll certainly have my vote. I think that idea should be put to Harry first though, rather than just using his name without his permission."

Dumbledore and Fudge arrived in time to catch the end of their conversation, leading to a fuller explanation being offered. The minister was then left looking to the headmaster for some reassurances - Albus didn't have any to give.

"With Harry only having those few months worth of memories pertaining to magic and Hogwarts, I managed to convince both of them they should stay a little longer before making decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. Both agreed to continue at Hogwarts until the summer, though I wouldn't be surprised if they were using these holidays to research just what other options they have available to them."

Thinking of the public and political outcry Harry Potter leaving Hogwarts would cause, Cornelius only had one thing to say. "Anything me or my ministry can do to prevent Harry Potter leaving Hogwarts, you only have to ask."

While Albus stoically proclaimed he would do his best, inside he was smiling broadly. He had no idea what the two time travellers had planned next, Cornelius though had just given Albus a way to get ministerial backing for it.


Dan shot up in bed, the loud shouting and swearing that had woken him however came to an abrupt halt. This didn't stop him though, he headed straight to where he knew the disturbance had been coming from - Emma now right behind him. Opening Harry's bedroom door saw the instant return of the shouting, the silencing spell Hermione had hastily erected being negated when her parents walked into the room.

An agitated Harry was standing in a corner of the room, an expression of horror and disgust worn on his face. This was the source of all the shouting, and Harry soon gave them the reason behind it.

"I killed a man when still eleven, and you know what those stupid bastards did? They gave me fucking house points, a pat on the head and then sent me home to this version of the Dursleys for the summer. Crazy, they're all fucking nuts..."

"Harry, please..."

"Hermione, I killed someone. Who's to say I won't do it again? Perhaps you'd better stay away..."

"Harry James Potter, that's not an option. Not now, not ever. What you did was pure self defence. An evil man was trying to kill you, he was so evil even the touch of someone as good as you was too much for him to bear. That's all you did, Harry, you put your hands up to protect yourself - nothing more. Dad, mum, sorry about disturbing you. I started to tell Harry about our past, he obviously wasn't ready to hear that bit. Come here, love..."

Hermione held her arms open and Harry slowly made his way into them, only then did the situation calm enough to where Dan felt it was okay to speak.

"This is clearly going to be a lot harder on you both than you first though, Hermione. You don't have to go through this alone though..." Holding out his hands in the universal sign of stop, Dan headed off his daughter's argument. "You are going to tell me that Dumbledore will be able to read our thoughts, but he won't be able to if we're not here. Your mum and I will be elsewhere when he comes to install these shield things, then we probably will never see him again."

His intended holding him had considerably calmed Harry. "With your mum and dad there, maybe I won't be as quick to fly off the handle. Hey, I hope that phrase is not a quidditch reference?"

Harry even attempting humour told Hermione he was back in control, though still not over the shock. "I'm sure it means something like an axe or hammer flying off its handle. That temper of yours however will get you into trouble someday." Hermione was smiling as she said that, both knowing that's exactly what brought them to here.

"I'm sorry, Hermione. It was a hell of a thing to find out about yourself though. You know I wasn't angry at you?"

"Yes I know, you practically ran away from me..."

"I felt dirty, tainted, unworthy..."

As he said the last one, Hermione gently pecked him on the lips. "Quite the opposite, Harry. Dad, mum, we would love to take you up on your offer. I'm warning you now however, you won't like most of it."

That was why the five of them were sitting in the living room, spending the night hearing about the horrors of the alternative past. There were a few bright spots, freeing Dobby and Harry discovering he had a godfather being a few of them. Hermione's tale though just kept getting darker and darker, proving her right - Dan and Emma hated most of it. Hearing that Dobby had prevented Hermione from being at least sexually assaulted during her fifth year saw Emma wrap the elf in a hug and kiss the top of his head in gratitude.

Hermione ended her story with all three Grangers saying goodbye at Niece Airport, she had no intention of mentioning what she and Harry had done as nineteen and eighteen year olds.

Dan was now the one on his feet, Harry had planted his head in his hands twenty minutes ago and not moved since.

"Hermione, I want to thank you for trusting us with this. Did we know these details the last time?"

"I told you and mum everything after they took Harry away. Neither of you wanted me to return to Hogwarts but we figured that would be our safest option at that time. When things started going downhill fast, Dumbledore got you both out of Britain and intensified my lessons with him. The writing was on the wall however and it wouldn't have been safe for me to sit my N.E.W.T.s at Hogwarts. He arranged my transfer to Beauxbatons too."

"You may not want to hear this but your mum and I are going to need some very strong reasons to let you both return to Hogwarts. A move to Australia is looking better and better to me." Rather than that demand being unpopular, Dan found himself with an unexpected supporter.

"Dan, I've been saying that since Halloween. I keep waiting on the situation to improve but keep getting stuck on one recurring theme - they're all bloody nuts! Hermione, how could Dumbledore sit back and let some of those things happen to me? He could have quashed most of them simply by acting as he does now."

"When he approached me in fifth year, that was the first thing I asked him. He actually broke down in tears, mumbling about how he'd now failed you too. Dumbledore is very much a 'big picture' player. With that philosophy though, sometimes individuals can get trampled. He's smart and powerful but not infallible, he also hoards information like a miser. The Dumbledore you know understands he must have made some massive mistakes, and that fact is actually helping us this time. Whatever grand plan Dumbledore had set for you, us arriving back in time told him those plans were fatally flawed. That is why he's changed so much from the headmaster I remember - otherwise I would instantly be taking dad up on his offer and dragging you off to Australia with us."

Shocked by most of what she'd heard here, Emma was in a 'taking no prisoners' mood. "That's all well and good, Hermione, but I never heard your father's question being answered there. This evil wizard is not only alive but in Hogwarts at the moment, possessing one of your professors. Thankfully Harry has no memory of what happened the last time, I won't sit here and let him go through that horror again..."

"Not a chance, mum. So not happening. I've already told Harry we won't be anywhere near that chamber, or Quirrell when he makes his move." Hermione then told all of them how she intended to handle that situation, leading to her parents wearing their first smiles of the night and Harry looking at her in awe.

"We're only committing to Hogwarts until the summer, then we can sit and have this discussion again. You're placing a lot of trust in me and Harry and I would prefer there to be no secrets between us. Dobby will be able to pop between Hogwarts and Crawley, keeping you up to date with exactly what's going on..."

"Dobby will be popping home to serve his family dinner, Dobby can pass on any messages then..."

"No Dobby, you will sit down to dinner with Dan and I and we can all catch up with the happenings of the day." Nodding enthusiastically in Emma's direction, Dobby readily agreed to that.

"Hermione, my godfather?"

"When you were taken from us, Sirius went ballistic. I thought he was going to attack Dumbledore when the headmaster walked into Sirius' house with Ron's dad and not you. I cried all night and headed back home the following day. As I said goodbye to Sirius he told me he was leaving Britain again, and that he would stay in touch. He said the number of people who cared for the real Harry Potter were few and far between and we needed to stick together. I did keep in contact, right up until I came back for you."

She smiled at their little friend. "Dobby of course counts Sirius as family too so could always find him to deliver my letter. Your godfather is a smart man, I think he guessed what I was going to attempt. He gave Dobby unrestricted access to his home, allowing us the run of the Black Family library - some of those books were invaluable to the success of our attempt. In Sirius' last letter, he told me to take my time and get things right - and also not to worry about him. He was telling me not to rush things, Sirius had survived in Azkaban before and would again."

"But he's innocent!"

"I know, Harry. I want him out of Azkaban as much as you do, and this time I hope we can get him a trial too. We've got Dumbledore, Amelia Bones and now the Minister of Magic in our corner. There's no Snape to say we were confounded, this time we may be able to pull it off."

He slid over and wrapped his intended in a hug. "How have you coped with knowing all this since Halloween? I've just found out about it and want to run amuck with all that information."

Kissing his cheek, Hermione told all of them how she'd managed not to do that. "The old version of Dumbledore made a very convincing case for changing very little. The more you change, the less your knowledge of future events is worth..."

It was her father though who was first to express his disbelief at that view. "What's the point in having all that knowledge if you don't use it?"

"Couldn't agree more, dad. You also have to take into account we came back in time for a reason. To either stop things going bad again or, at the very least, to get us all to safety before it happens. The dilemma is how to get things done without revealing we have knowledge that's impossible for us to know."

Sharing a look, Emma's nod saw Dan give their opinion on the matter. "Your mum and I will certainly have more questions in the coming days but, at the moment, we're not going to object if you want to go back to Hogwarts. We reserve the right to reverse that decision if something changes, and that permission is only for this term. We will be having another long discussion over the summer, though hopefully not at four a.m."

Exchanging hugs, the weary family all headed back to their beds. Tomorrow would certainly be a lie-in day.


The following day started with brunch. The household rose too late for breakfast yet it was still a bit early for lunch. A ball of flame suddenly appearing beside them led to a few screams before Hermione took charge.

"Relax, it's only Fawkes - Dumbledore's phoenix. Hello Fawkes, is that a message from the headmaster?"

Harry, Emma and Dan were all in awe of the beautiful bird who'd emerged from the flames. It seemed to trill an answer to Hermione before handing over the scroll clutched in his claw. As Hermione was reading the message, Harry hesitantly found his voice. "Is this the bird that.."

Not wanting her intended to give anything away, she cut him off there. "Yes, Harry..." Hermione then had a thought and decided just to ask. "Fawkes, you know Harry has lost his memories? Is there any way your tears could heal him?"

You didn't need to speak phoenix to know the beautiful bird was answering in the negative, the mournful tones were followed by some head-shaking.

"That's okay, Fawkes, I reckoned the professor probably asked you that question too. Tell him tomorrow at that time is fine with us."

After another burst of flame they were once more alone.

"Can that bird actually communicate with Dumbledore? That's why you stopped me saying too much..."

"I'm not certain but didn't want to take a chance. Dumbledore is going to be here tomorrow at noon to install the wards."

"Your mum and I will make ourselves scarce. What about you, Harry, are you going to be able to act normal around Dumbledore?"

Answering Dan with a shrug of his shoulders, Harry then tried to explain how he felt about that. "When I came back with Hermione, she was the only person I knew. She deliberately didn't tell me anything about the people I would meet, wanting me to form my own opinions. Everyone started with a blank slate, even that arse Draco. This Dumbledore has been nothing but helpful to us, I can't really hold him responsible for what happened in another reality or timeline."

An arm slid around Harry as Hermione rested her head on his upper arm. "That version of Dumbledore also thought you had to die in order to defeat Voldemort. A lot of his energy and planning went into trying to find a way around that - and he actually thought he may have succeeded..."

"Harry will not be standing there and letting anyone kill him!"

"Mum, that was only a theory the other Dumbledore had - one that is now defunct since Harry's scar is just a scar. Dobby will help keep us out of trouble and I'll be training Harry on how to deal with any that gets past our little friend."

"Just how good are you..." Dan regretted starting to ask that question as he barely saw his daughter move before he found his body frozen stiff as a board. Dan was then floated above the table before Hermione added a bit of spin to her spell.

"I am a fully qualified witch who studied under one of the greatest wizards in the world for a year, before then graduating with top honours from Beauxbatons. I may be only twelve at the moment but I have all of my knowledge and most of my magic to call upon. Harry doesn't have his memories but his magic is even more powerful than mine. He's also a very quick learner, soaking up what I'm teaching him like a sponge."

A giggling Emma stood as her helpless husband slowly rotated toward her. She reached out her hands and pulled his face gently forward to meet her lips. "I think we have to concede our little girl can look after herself." More giggling from the Granger girls followed as Dan was lowered to the ground and had the body bind lifted.

"Those were a couple of the gentler spells, and Harry can already cast them too."

Dan found himself unable to disagree with his wife, Hermione could certainly look after herself.


It had been a stressful couple of days for Dan and Emma, a drive then stopping somewhere for lunch was exactly what they needed to help them get a handle on the changes in their lives. Those changes might be in the shape of an eleven year old boy and a house elf but their impact far outweighed their size.

The more Dan got to know Harry, the more he liked the boy. Emma appeared to have bypassed all of that, going straight to accepting him as a member of their family. Neither parent could doubt their daughter's deep feelings for the lad, feelings they were glad to see Harry reciprocated. It was also obvious to each of them the entire 'when Harry met Hermione' episode was being glossed over by the young couple. Seeing how devoted they were to each other, the parents could guess how that meeting had gone.

Dobby's impact on their lives was growing too. They'd just eaten a lunch that the little guy would have prepared better and, unlike the restaurant, his service was exceptional. It was in his role as bodyguard and now go-between that his real worth lay though. They were now aware of the dangers both kids were facing inside that Scottish castle. That Dobby was going to help keep the kids safe, and pop to Crawley every night to let them know Hermione and Harry actually were safe, was simply priceless to a couple of worried parents.

Pulling into the driveway, Dan turned to his wife. "I didn't feel anything different. Do you suppose the headmaster isn't finished installing them yet?"

"Oh I do hope so. I would hate to give anything away."

They entered the house and found no one, that was until Dobby popped beside them.

"Headmaster has erected the wards and left. Wards also hide magic being done. Harry and Hermione are in garden practicing magic."

Dobby popped away as the curious pair headed for the kitchen and beyond. Standing at the back door was enough for them to see what the kids were up to. Hermione was firing these blasts of light at Harry which were bouncing off an invisible shield he was using to protect himself. As they took a break, Emma made their presence known. "Hermione, won't the neighbours see that?"

"Hi mum, hi dad, did you have a nice lunch? Professor Dumbledore had the wards up in no time. Even although Harry and I have magical exemption licences, we can't perform magic where it could be seen. These wards hide that magic from the neighbours."

"Those spells you were using look a lot different to the ones you used on me?"

"I would never fire these at you, dad. I wouldn't be firing them at Harry if he didn't need to know how to deal with them."

It was then Emma put her foot down. "Hermione, I don't mimd you practicing magic with Harry - but not all the time. This is a holiday, I want you both to enjoy it as such."

"Harry said he doesn't know how to dance, I had planned to teach him that too. Is that fun enough?"

Dan came at it from a different angle. "At least you would be inside, you must be bloody freezing out here..." The spell left his daughter's wand and Dan felt warmth spreading throughout his body. "What was that?"

"A charm to keep you warm, I cast one on Harry and me before we came out here..."

Harry doing the same to Emma had a wide smile on her face. "Magic is so much fun, I'm glad you can at least show us what you're learning - or have been taught."


Hermione was limping slightly as she climbed into bed beside Harry.

"I'm sorry, I told you I wasn't much of a dancer. Two left feet doesn't quite cover it."

"It's fine, Harry, though I wouldn't say no to a foot massage."

This saw Harry sitting at the foot of the bed, slowly and tenderly massaging Hermione's foot. After almost twenty minutes she was practically purring as he lifted her foot up and kissed her toes. "Does it feel better now?"

"Mmmm... Not really. That's the wrong foot you were massaging. You were doing such a good job though, I just couldn't bring myself to tell you."

A smiling Harry just picked up her other foot and started again, much to Hermione's delight. They both fell asleep with contented smiles on there faces, Hermione promising more lessons if that was going to be her reward.


On the car trip back to King's Cross, Emma noticed in her rear view mirror that Harry appeared pensive. "What's the matter, Harry? You look as if you don't want to return to Hogwarts."

"In all honesty, after enjoying a brilliant two weeks of 'normality' I'm not looking forward to returning to the madness. Even today is nuts. We traveled from Hogwarts to London in minutes by floo the last time. Now, we've got to sit on a train all day to make the same journey. Some witches and wizards will even use the floo on their trip to King's Cross so they can then catch the train to Scotland - bloody nuts."

It was just something about Harry's tone that had both Granger ladies laughing at that. Dan was holding down the fort at work so it was Emma who hugged both of them at the station before sending them off to walk through a brick wall. She found herself agreeing with Harry, sometimes nuts was the only description that fitted magical Britain.

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