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.


1 August 1991

Hermione studied the woman that Pippa had escorted in with a careful eye. While there was nothing about the woman's demeanour or dress that stood out, little things added up to tell her that she wasn't imagining that quiver in the air of someone else who was different.

Her hair, pulled into a tight bun, was slightly mussed at the top as if she had removed a hat that was nowhere to be seen. The jacket and skirt had an old-fashioned air to them and were far too heavy for the summer weather outside. The bag she carried seemed much too large for what a woman would normally carry with her. She almost looked like a character out of an older book, someone's governess during wartime.

She certainly looked taken aback at the way Dr Aymler spoke to her.

"I beg your pardon? Three? I'm here to talk with Hermione Granger." Her eyes fell on Hermione, who sat up a little straighter. "Who are the others?" As she looked down the row to the boys, she paused and stared as if seeing a ghost. She gasped, "Harry Potter? What are you doing here?"

Dr Greene stood with the three letters in her hand and walked around the table to thrust them at the woman. "Explain yourself first. These arrived on the same day last week. While my patients see them as the answer to everything they've been able to do in the last several years, I find it criminally negligent that they weren't informed sooner."

The Grangers and Thomases were nodding as the woman examined the envelopes, finding Harry's name and his address as Room 6 and Dean's as Room 4. She looked up again, utterly lost.

"Harry, you didn't know? Your aunt and uncle didn't tell you?"

Dr Greene let the acid drip from her voice. "Harry's aunt and uncle left him with us when he was five. They gave us false names and an incorrect address and the authorities could never find them. We have done our best to help him through all kinds of odd happenings. Hermione has been here a little over a year showing the same symptoms and Dean arrived in November for the same treatment."

The woman's thoughts seemed to come into focus. She stood up straighter. "Symptoms? Treatment? These children aren't diseased! They're magical! They're supposed to be able to do these things! They'll learn to control it at Hogwarts!"

Harry opened his mouth and Hermione kicked him. He looked at her and she shook her head slightly at him.

Mr Granger broke in before tempers could escalate further. "Please, let's all sit down and discuss this. Let's start with this 'Hogwarts'. I've been researching all week and there is no mention of any school of any kind with such a name in Britain."

Dr Greene returned to her seat and the woman took the remaining seat at the end of the table, next to Hermione. The woman looked around. "I'm only supposed to deal with the children and their families. How many people here know of these letters?"

Dr Aymler frowned. "The kids and their parents, of course. Dr Greene and myself and a couple of staff members who work closely with us."

"I'll have to deal with them later."

Hermione exchanged glances with Harry and Dean. Something about her words made them uneasy.

The woman continued, "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is the premier school for magical children in the United Kingdom. We keep our world separate and secret to prevent conflict. I'm sure you'll remember a time when those suspected of being witches were burned at the stake or otherwise tortured and killed.

"Children whose parents are magical grow up knowing about us and knowing that they will attend Hogwarts starting at age eleven. There are a few children who are born magical from Muggle parents. We have a way at Hogwarts to identify these children at birth and then send their acceptance letters when they are eligible. After they get their letters, I visit to explain things and prepare them for an orientation provided by the Ministry of Magic."

"'Scuse me, but what d'you mean by 'muggle'?" Dean asked.

"Non-magical people are called Muggles in our world."

Dean sniffed. "Rather rude-sounding, don't you think? Are we just mugs to you, then?"

Mrs Thomas headed that off. "Ms McGonagall, where is this school located?"

"Professor McGonagall," she corrected. "And I'd rather not give out more information than necessary to outsiders. I can contact the Dursleys and have them here very quickly, if we can meet again with just the families."

"Who are the Dursleys?" Viola Granger snapped.

"Harry's family, of course. Petunia Dursley is Lily Potter's sister. Now if you please-"

Dr Aymler slammed one hand down on the table, making everyone jump except for Dr Greene, who was jotting down the name on her hand. "If you please, we will have some answers from you or we will start contacting every person of authority we can think of!"

"You can't do that!" The professor's hand dove into her purse and came out with a wand. Seeing it point at the doctors, all three children jumped to their feet.

"Oblivi-" Before she even finished the word McGonagall was shoved against the wall by an invisible force and her wand was ripped from her hand. The half-spell that had left her wand hit an invisible barrier and was absorbed.

All the adults in the room stared at the children, who now had their hands linked. Harry spoke into the heavy silence.

"Don't. Just…don't do anything. We're ready to listen, but only if you tell us the truth and don't do anything to us. We can stop you if we have to."

Minerva McGonagall got to her feet, still staring at the three untrained children whose raw power had disarmed her and shielded the others. She could feel their magic fairly radiating around them as they waited to see what she would do next.

She raised her empty hands. "Perhaps we should start again."


Professor McGonagall was out of control and out of ideas at this point. The male doctor had asked the red-haired woman to fetch a tea service for them all and rearranged the seating. She was now at the centre of a long side of the table. She had Harry Potter on her right, Hermione Granger on her left, and Dean Thomas directly across from her. The parents were on either side of him and a doctor sat at each end of the table. She realized that they had done this to try and have the children contain her if she tried something else.

Not that she could, really. The male doctor had examined her wand and laid it on a table behind him, out of her reach.

Once the tea had arrived and everyone had cups in front of them, the doctor began, "Let's try this again. I am Dr Patrick Aymler, one of the medical directors of Esperança House. To my left are Dr Viola Granger and Dr Robert Granger, who are dentists in Nottingham. Then you have Dean Thomas, our patient since November. Then his parents, Geoffrey and Andrea Thomas. Then Dr Emily Greene, another medical director here. And you seem to know Harry Potter, who has been here five-and-a-half years. Finally, Hermione Granger, who arrived in June a year ago.

"Now, if you would, please start over with your name and connection to this school and then tell us about it."

She straightened and tried to assume her best teacher persona. "My name is Minerva McGonagall. I am the deputy headmistress and professor of Transfiguration at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." She paused to sort her next statement and noticed that Miss Granger had raised her hand. "Yes?"

"Your pardon, ma'am, but what's Transfiguration?"

"It is the art of changing one thing into another. For example, the first lesson for your class would be to try and change a matchstick into a needle."

She didn't notice, formulating the next part of her speech, but the doctors watched as the children gave each other eagerly speculative looks.

"Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago by four very powerful and influential people: the wizards Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin and the witches Helga Hufflepuff and Rowena Ravenclaw. They worked together to build a castle, far away from any Mug-er, non-magical settlements of the time, and created wards that would hide it from anyone who was not magical. Each of them chose magical children that had the qualities that particularly attracted them and began to teach them. Over time this became a house system, with students sorted into one of the four houses when they arrive at Hogwarts. Each house has a section of the castle reserved for the students' rooms and the students have classes with other members of their house."

Robert Granger held up a hand to stop her. "Is yours the only magical school in Britain?"

"There are a couple of very small schools, one in Ireland and one to the south. Their main purpose is to educate those who reject Hogwarts for personal reasons or those who cannot afford the tuition at all. Hogwarts sends a letter to every single magical child born in the British Isles and every child of a former Hogwarts student, no matter where they live."

Robert nodded at her answer. "Do other countries have schools?"

"Many do, but very few are the size of Hogwarts. There is Beauxbatons Academy in France and the Durmstrang Institute somewhere in Scandinavia. North America has at least four large schools. There is one in Australia. I don't have reliable information on other areas."

"And you mentioned tuition. What are the fees for attending Hogwarts?"

"The supplies vary, but the cost for first-year students is around 100 Galleons. Tuition per year is 5,000 Galleons. We do have an instalment plan and some scholarships-"

"Excuse me, five thousand what?" Mr Thomas interrupted. "How much does that translate to in pounds?"

McGonagall frowned, concentrating a moment. "I'm not sure what the current exchange rate is, but if I remember correctly one Galleon is around five of your pounds."

Mrs Thomas threw up her hands. "Twenty-five thousand pounds a year? For how many years?"

"Hogwarts is a seven-year program-"

"So we're talking approaching 200,000 pounds when you include that supply list and the things that will need to be replaced and transportation. Lady, if we had that kind of money we'd've bought a house by now instead of managing in a council estate!"

"We do have options!"

Dr Greene leaned forward. "And are those options enough to cover someone like Harry? If it weren't for us, he'd be on the streets!"

McGonagall looked at Harry, floored. "But he has a large inheritance from his parents. James Potter came from a very wealthy family."

Harry's eyes widened at that. "Very wealthy? How much is that?"

"You'd have to ask at Gringotts, that's our bank, but I remember Magnus Potter boasting about James never having to work a day in his life. And wizards tend to live very long lives."

Harry's eyes narrowed. "Then if we all go to Hogwarts, I'm paying for it."

Hermione's mouth dropped open. A huge grin burst across Dean's face. The adults all clamoured to speak at once. Harry shouted to be heard above them all.

"I mean it! We all go or none of us go!" That statement cut off the growing debate.

McGonagall stared at The Boy Who Lived, who had just declared that he might not attend Hogwarts. Perhaps now was the time to call in Albus.

"If I may, I would like to contact our headmaster and have him join this discussion."

Dr Aymler shook his head. "Not yet, if you please. Now, if we presume that tuition is taken care of one way or another, please describe what happens next."

"A representative from the Muggle Liaison Office in the Ministry of Magic will guide you all to Kings Cross in London and demonstrate how the children would access the magical gate to platform nine and three quarters. That is where the Hogwarts Express takes the students to the station near the school. Then they would show you the entrance to Diagon Alley. That is our main shopping district in London and where you can convert money at Gringotts and buy all the supplies.

"The train departs on the first of September from Kings Cross at eleven in the morning. Muggleborn students are given their tickets during orientation, after they agree to attend. Children in magical families would normally receive their tickets by owl after sending their acceptance. Term ends on the twentieth of June and the train arrives in London around seven in the evening. The train is available for students to go home for Christmas and Easter holidays."

"You said that this schooling is for seven years. What happens after that? What are the university options?" Viola Granger asked.

McGonagall appeared nonplussed at that question. "Well, there are opportunities for students to pursue a mastery in a specific subject, usually working individually with a Master. If a Muggleborn student chooses to go to a Muggle university, we can arrange records that will satisfy their requirements. But most witches and wizards who graduate from Hogwarts go straight into their chosen profession."

When no one else asked a question, Dr Greene spoke up. "To go back to the beginning, why do you wait so long to contact these families? Do you really not understand how much worry you could have saved them if you'd come sooner? If you really get their names when they are born, you have a record to start with."

"My honest answer is I don't know because we're always done it this way. And I've never been in today's situation, with children who were actually institutionalized because of accidental magic and parents actively hostile to me. Usually the family is very happy to learn the truth about their child."

"There's a first time for everything." Dr Greene's voice was dry.

Dr Aymler looked around the table. "Are we agreed to at least go forward with the orientation? Then we can make a fully informed decision on what to do next. And that includes Harry and Dean, Professor."

McGonagall nodded and Mr Thomas asked, "Would a Saturday work? I had to pull all kinds of strings just to be off work today. I'd rather not ask for another day so soon."

"I believe it can be arranged. I'll send an owl right away to try and arrange it for this Saturday or next and let you know."

"An owl? You mean a real, live owl?" Hermione's eyes were round.

"Yes, and we'll need to set up a place where it can arrive unseen. The Statute of Secrecy must be maintained."

Harry asked, "What about the tree fort? Since Toby's gone home, no one else really uses it right now but us."

"I think that will work, if you'll show it to me on my way out." McGonagall stood. "Now, if that is all I have five more visits to try and make today." She turned to Dr Aymler. "May I have my wand back, please?"

The kids all looked at one another, poised for action. Dr Aymler stood and picked up the slim and polished wand, looking it over. "I want your word that you will not use it or any kind of magic against the children, their families, or any of the staff of Esperança House. We understand that you want to keep the existence of magic a secret. We are willing to follow that. But you have to trust us with enough information to support our patients."

Professor McGonagall looked around the room. She saw the children, almost on their toes and ready to react, with their parents and doctors backing them.

She was not a stupid witch and she realized when she was outnumbered. "I promise never to perform magic on anyone in this room or anyone in Esperança House without permission, excepting a life-threatening emergency."

She took the wand when it was offered to her and looked at the children. "Would you three please show me this tree fort?"

They looked at the adults, who nodded at them, and escorted the witch out of the room. When the door closed behind her, Patrick fell back into his chair with a huge sigh. "I suppose that went as well as could be expected."


Author's Note: Thanks as always for reading!