Unofficial Portkey Archive

The Perils of Innocence by puck_nc

The Perils of Innocence


Disclaimer: If you recognize the character, it isn't mine. Just playing in Rowling's sandbox.


21 March 1991

Hermione sat in the tree fort, looking out as the clouds in the sky began to reflect the setting sun and grew streaks of pink and gold. She shivered slightly and wrinkled her brow in concentration a moment, warming herself and the air around her. She wasn't sure what had called her out today, the first day of spring, but after hearing Miss Fishman's explanation of the solstices and equinoxes, something had encouraged her to brave the still-chilly temperatures and observe the sunset. The very air around her seemed to quiver with energy. If she could only find a way to connect to it, meld with it…

"Hermione?" Harry's voice cut through her meditation. She sighed and responded.

"Up here!"

She waited, listening as someone clambered up the ladder. Dean's head appeared first. "Wotcher, why are you out here alone?" He crawled in from the branch and Harry followed. "Did we do something?"

Hermione shook her head. "No, just wanted to think about things. Hearing the Fish talk about equinoxes made me realise how long it's been since I've seen a proper sunset."

Dean blew onto his hands. "Couldn't have waited for summer?"

Hermione flapped a hand and both boys blinked, feeling the warmth spread through their bodies and clothes. Dean breathed out, "Wicked!"

"Are you recording that one in your journal?" Harry asked.

Hermione nodded. "It's close enough to the drying-off thing. I think it'll pass all right." She turned to Dean. "Has Dr Greene calmed down yet over the floating thing?"

"Yeah, a lot faster than usual. Maybe because it was a good thing, I had to keep the pills away from Malia. Even my mum was happy I'd gotten them out of her reach in time."

Harry added, "That one falls into the same kind of stuff we were doing when you got here. Telekinesis." He pronounced the last word carefully. "Hermione, it's getting harder to keep the healing a secret. When Toby brought me that rabbit that had been hurt, it took everything I had to keep from yelling for you to make it better right then and there."

"And things are going to get harder overall," Dean said. "I heard Dr Aymler and Dr Takenaka talking. They're going to install security cameras in the whole building."

The other two sat up. "Everywhere?" Hermione asked.

"Hallways, playrooms, the canteen, the playground. Not in the doctors' offices, bedrooms or toilets. It sounded like they wanted to be able to have proof if a kid is behaving badly enough to the others that he needs chucking out, like Moffat."

Harry let out a frustrated sigh. "We'll just have to be more careful. We've gotten really good at feeling when we're doing something and how to stop it."

Hermione leaned over and put a hand on his knee. "We can do this."

Harry put his hand over hers. "I know. I just wonder how we'll manage when they think we're good enough that you two can go home."

"Doesn't matter. We're friends and we're going to stay friends no matter what. I promise."

"Me, too." Dean added his hand to theirs. "Friends forever."

Harry and Hermione repeated him with smiles. "Friends forever."

All three of them gasped when a golden light covered their hands, then swiftly expanded to envelop them. They all felt a brief but powerful sense of balance and rightness. For that one moment, their world was perfect.

Then the glow receded and left a chill that was both physical and mental. Hermione warmed their bodies up again, but could do nothing for the feeling that something hugely important had happened.

"This one isn't going into the journal," Hermione declared.


23 June 1991

Harry's nose was pressed to the glass as he stared at the traffic on the A41, drinking in the sights of a bustling London. It was his first time coming this far away that he could remember clearly and certainly it was the first time he'd seen such a huge city.

Hermione sat beside him, her book closed in her lap now that they were near their destination. She smiled at Harry's obvious curiosity. Across the aisle, Dean was talking to Toby, pointing out landmarks that he knew. The atmosphere on the bus was growing more excited by the minute as the children knew they were close.

Dr Aymler stood and took a microphone to address them. "All right, you cretins, we're almost to the Zoo. Remember the rules: stay with your group and the adult assigned to you, follow the park regulations, and don't spend your pocket money too fast. We'll meet at the restaurant at eleven-thirty for lunch and then at the main entrance at three o'clock to depart. Any questions?"

Harry, Hermione and Dean mingled with the other children near their age, waiting for Pippa to lead them on. The outing, a gift from a bank director that Dean's family doctor knew, had been the sole topic of conversation since it had been announced a fortnight ago.

Pippa counted noses and nodded. "All right, we stick together. If anyone wants to see something particular, let me know. Otherwise we'll start with the big outdoor exhibits now and check out the indoor ones after lunch, when it gets hotter."

They followed her plan and enjoyed the morning. The trio had gained quite a lot of control of their abilities lately, careful of what they showed the staff. It had worked so well that Dr Greene and Dr Aymler were thinking that Hermione and Dean could return home in time for the next school year. They had spoken to the Grangers about the possibility of fostering Harry. However the dentists, fond as they were of Harry, hesitated to commit, seeing a return to their former normalcy so tantalizingly close. The doctors had not let a breath of their thoughts to the staff yet, lest the kids get wind of it and worry.

After lunch they began with the reptile house, enjoying the cool darkness compared to the sunny day outside. It wasn't nearly as exciting as the great cats or the elephants or apes as the lizards and snakes were generally hiding or sleeping. Harry noticed a fat blond boy who looked a bit like Moffat standing in front of one glass, knocking on it rather hard before stomping off and muttering, "Boring!"

Harry stepped forward and looked at the large snake curled up on the floor of its case. The sign to the side labelled it a boa constrictor from Brazil. He sighed, "Guess you have to put up with that a lot."

To his surprise, the snake opened its eyes and lifted its head. You have no idea.

Harry's eyes widened. "Did you say something?"

The snake uncoiled, moving forward and rising to meet Harry's eye level. I did. But you're the first of your kind who ever replied in a sensible manner.

Harry tried to gather his scattered wits, wanting to preserve the good impression he'd made. "Pleased to meet you. What was Brazil like?"

The snake looked significantly at the side of the glass and Harry saw the notation that it had been bred in the zoo. "Oh, so you've lived here all your life. At least it's safe here? And you don't have to worry about hunting your food." Even as he said the words, he felt they were wrong. He knew. He was cared for at Esperança House, even loved by some of the staff, but it wasn't like growing up with a real family.

It's safe here, but it's not freedom. The snake echoed his thoughts.

Before Harry could answer, Dean was at his side. "Wicked! He's looking right at you!"

We're conversing, you rude thing.

Dean gave no sign of hearing the snake's comment. He turned his attention to the sign identifying the snake. "A boa constrictor! That's the kind that squeezes its prey to death before swallowing it whole. D'you think they'll be feeding it soon?"

The snake visibly shook its head. They always want to see me eat. I prefer to dine in privacy.

Dean had caught the movement from the corner of his eye. "It just…it just answered, didn't it?"

Harry nodded. "I can hear him speak in full sentences. He's not too impressed with you acting the same as everyone else."

Dean glanced uncertainly at Harry and then at the snake. "Oh, er…I'm sorry?"

The snake bowed politely and both boys smiled. Dean began, "Does it-"

"Dad! Look at this!" The blond boy shoved them apart, sending Harry down hard on the concrete floor. Dean kept his feet but bumped into the wall. He shoved back, getting the attention of a large beefy man in the process.

"Watch what you're doing, you great lump!"

"Don't you dare touch my son, you little hooligan!"

The escalating argument was cut short when the blond boy screamed and jumped away from the now glass-free enclosure. The snake slithered down to the floor and snapped at him. Want to pound on the window now? Dean retreated to the wall, keeping his eyes glued to it.

Harry, his face ashen, was staring at the man as he pulled his son to him. Instinctively Harry backed away, throwing up an arm to shield himself. The snake looked at him.

I owe you one. Why are you afraid of the big one?

Harry whispered, "He…hurt me. He locked me up like you were locked up."

The snake looked back at the man in clear contempt. He's too big to eat, but I'll give him a good fright on my way out. Thanks, amigo. With that the snake headed straight for the man and boy, who broke away and ran for the exit.

As the snake followed them, looking for the best escape route, Dean moved to help Harry to his feet, noticing how pale he was. "All right there?"

Harry nodded, still staring in the direction the man and boy had gone. "Yeah, the snake didn't hurt me."

"Come on, Hermione's probably outside going spare."


As it turned out, Hermione was calming down Toby, who was a bit frightened of snakes in the first place and very displeased to hear the cries of people running out of the reptile house that a huge snake was loose. Pippa was nearby, gathering the rest of her group as they exited the building.

"Harry! Dean! Over here!" They ran over to her and let her look them over. "You two all right?"

Harry nodded and Dean replied, "We're fine other than some big pillock trying to knock us down. That's when the glass vanished and the snake went after him and his da. It was wicked!"

Pippa looked from Harry to Dean sharply. "The glass vanished? Just disappeared into thin air?"

Dean realized that he had no idea which of them had done it and traded uncertain looks with Harry. "I'm not sure how it happened."

Pippa looked at Harry again, who managed to shrug innocently. He looked around and spotted the man and the boy. His uncle and his cousin. His uncle was yelling at a zoo attendant, driving her to tears as she failed to explain how the snake had gotten out. For the first time in months, Harry could feel that sensation of pressure surging uncontrollably inside his head and tried frantically to divert it. The Vincent Black Shadow series "C", introduced in 1949, had a 998cc 50degree OHV V-twin engine running a 7.3:1 compression ratio… Only when a trash bin down the path from them turned over on its own did the feeling begin to fade.

Seeing the attendant flinch as his uncle threw up a frustrated hand in her direction decided Harry. It was more important to never be anywhere near them again than to identify them and risk being returned to that house.

He moved over to Hermione and sat down beside her, taking her hand and squeezing it hard. She left off soothing Toby and looked at him in concern, squeezing back. Dean gave him a curious glance but kept silent as Pippa counted them and began to shepherd them away.


24 July 1991

Mary peeked through the open door and saw Hermione on her bed, lost in a book. She tapped on the jamb to get the child's attention. "And why aren't you out with your two gents, milady?"

Hermione marked her place and sat up. "They wanted to spend the day with Toby since he's going home Friday and Toby wanted to play pirates in the tree fort without girls."

Mary tsked. "That was rude of him."

Hermione shrugged. "I don't mind. It's far too hot out anyway."

"Well, here. You can read this in peace." Mary fished an envelope out of her mail basket. "Your parents or Dean's must have sent something as there's one for each of you three."

Hermione took the overlarge envelope, frowning at it. It was a beige colour and had a texture of threads in it, like old-fashioned parchment rather than proper paper. The address was written in a neat scrolling hand with bright green ink:

Miss H. Granger

Room 18

Esperança House


She turned it over, looking for a return notice or postmark. Instead there was a large seal in purple wax: an ornate letter H in the centre surrounded by four animals. Puzzled, she carefully opened the letter to avoid damaging it. She inhaled sharply as she absorbed the contents, rereading in disbelief.


Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,

Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)

Dear Miss Granger,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins on 1 September. I will be in touch with you on 1 August with more information.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress

Hermione vaulted off her bed and raced down the hall to the playground entrance. She burst through the door and screamed, "HARRY! DEAN!"

Dean poked his head out a window of the tree fort. "Blimey, Hermione, where's the fire?"

"Look at this!" she cried and the parchment in her hand sailed up to him. As he caught it and scanned the page, his eyes widening, she shouted, "Mary said we've all got one! Don't you see? It explains everything!"

"Bloody…Harry! Read this!"

She could hear the boys' voices getting louder and more excited, then they began scrambling along the branch to the ladder. A hand landed on her shoulder.

"You were in quite a hurry there, Hermione." Dr Aymler looked to be in between interested and irritated, depending on her explanation.

"Harry, Dean and I got letters! Mary has theirs. Just read it!"

The boys had reached the ground, Toby trailing behind and pouting slightly that they'd been interrupted. Dean thrust the parchment at Dr Aymler to read. The psychiatrist's large moustache and bushy eyebrows twitched as he read.

"Well, this is…interesting."


Author's Note: Thanks as always for reading!