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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.

Reminder: I'm on Twitter under "avidbeader" if you prefer to get your notifications of a new chapter that way. I promise I won't be spamming.


5 August 1991

This time Minerva McGonagall was prepared. In a show of fairness that she hoped did not backfire, she had brochures from the other magical schools in England for the children to consider. She had also looked through her photographs and collected a handful showing Lily and James Potter to give to Harry. This time her tweed suit was navy; even though she had been given permission to Apparate directly into the same conference room that had been used before, she felt better for trying to blend in just in case she were spotted by someone at the institute.

Knowing that she might be heard arriving, Minerva took a moment to compose herself and remember the three D's-deliberation, determination, destination-before vanishing from outside the Hogwarts gate. Her arrival was heralded by a softer pop than usual.

The room was empty, but as soon as she appeared the door opened and the same woman who had guided her before entered. Minerva was impressed; the Muggles certainly seemed to be doing their part to maintain the Statute of Secrecy within the institute.

"If you'll follow me, Professor, we've moved the children to upstairs rooms nearby for extra privacy, so they can have access to the owls. There's a conference room next to Hermione's room that is set up." Minerva followed her down the hall, impressed again. If these were the steps taken by the staff in their first weeks of awareness of the wizarding world, then she would be able to work with them very easily. She had not had this experience since working with Ted Tonks and his parents. The Tonks family had been very sensible people.

They found Patrick and Emily sitting at the table with a pile of books sporting bookmarks. It would seem that they had bought more than just the required textbooks. Now Minerva saw what had prompted Harry's note. She joined them at the table, reaching into her bag for what she had brought.

"I have here information from the other schools I mentioned. I would truly love for Harry and his friends to come to Hogwarts, but I will understand and support you if decide that a smaller school is best."

Patrick took the pamphlets, a bit surprised at the professor's helpful attitude. "Thank you. We'll look these over. Did you include anything from Hogwarts?"

"No, we've never had any kind of material to hand out, but there is a book, Hogwarts, A History, if you didn't find a copy already when you visited Diagon Alley. Now, I understand from Harry's letter that he wanted to know more about his parents. Will he be joining us?"

"Today was the usual pool-and-pizza outing for the children. We knew when we pushed them to take part that they might be late back, but if they're about to leave for school, wherever said school is, they won't have many more opportunities to swim and play with their friends."

"That is true. There is a lake on the grounds at Hogwarts, but we are so far to the north that it never gets warm enough for swimming without Warming Charms. And besides, there's the giant squid and merpeople-"

"Giant squid? Merpeople? As in mermaids?" Emily interrupted. "You mean to say that mermaids are real?"

Minerva nodded. "Naturally they keep to themselves, but our colony has been quite open to working with the occasional student or visitor who wishes to make a study of them. The headmaster has been able to maintain excellent relations with them."

"Any other unusual beings we should be aware of?" Patrick asked, trying to relax the situation with a joke.

Minerva began counting on her fingers. "There are the goblins, of course, who run Gringotts. There are werewolves, though they stay mostly in the muggle world. It's rather hard for them to find work, though I've heard rumours of a breakthrough in a potion that helps them keep their minds when they transform at the full moon so they won't attack anyone. Vampires and giants aren't anything to worry about since there are no colonies of them in Britain, but we do have a herd of centaurs that live in the forest next to Hogwarts."

Patrick and Emily traded wide-eyed looks, feeling very out of their depth again.

Minerva tried to reassure them. "Truly, there is very little to fear from the magical races. There's more danger in running across a stray dragon or manticore, but we have a department in the Ministry focused on regulating and controlling such creatures."

Not very comforted, Patrick tried to steer the conversation back to the intended topic. "We were reading through some of the books Hermione bought, trying to get a better picture of your society, and we found these stories of what happened to Harry's parents. He knew nothing of this; he'd been told by his aunt and uncle that his parents died in a car crash. It wasn't until the wand person recognized him that we realized there was more to tell. It turns out that Harry is hugely famous in your world for something that he doesn't even remember happening."

Emily flapped a hand at the books. "You do understand why we're worried, don't you?"

Minerva nodded as she eyed Modern Magical History, grimacing. To her mind, a better title would have been Modern Magical Myths, given its penchant for focusing on the most sensational aspects of the events it recounted. It was the only one to put in print Albus' idea that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named might still be around in some form.

"I've been more and more worried myself as the time for Harry to come to Hogwarts has drawn near. It hasn't been long enough for our world to lose their view of him as some kind of saviour or the second coming of Merlin. Children in our world grow up on the idea of the Boy Who Lived. There are whole series of books about him having the most ridiculous adventures. Toymakers have 'Harry Potter' dolls, wands and brooms. And they haven't had any hint of the reality of Harry himself, thanks to the headmaster hiding him away." She shook her head, a hint of tears gathering in her eyes. "I think my biggest regret in life will be not standing up to Albus that night when he said he was going to leave Harry with those people. I told him they were the worst sort of Muggles around, but he insisted that they were the only family he had left and that Harry needed to grow up away from such fame."

"Not a completely unsound idea," Patrick observed.

"But to leave him with those awful people! And now you tell me that Harry was completely in the dark about his parents. To not know that they were murdered, to not know about You-Know-Who or Sirius Black or any of it…it's inexcusable!"

Emily frowned. "Who's Sirius Black"?

Minerva blinked, focusing on her. "He's Harry's godfather. He's the one who betrayed James and Lily to You-Know-Who. Here," Minerva suddenly remembered the packet of photographs and pulled them out. "These are for Harry to keep. I found what pictures I could of his parents." She shuffled through them and found one. It was a group photo showing the same couple from the picture the doctors had found with four other boys and another girl. They all looked to be around eighteen years old and waved merrily, mugging for the camera.

"The boy with the long dark hair is Sirius Black. He and James Potter were best friends, along with Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew. The other couple is the Longbottoms. When Harry was born, Black and Alice Longbottom were named godparents. Naturally when the Potters had to go into hiding, they entrusted Black with the secret of where they were. But he must have already gone over to Voldemort's side and because of him the Potters died on that Halloween. He was captured by Aurors and sent to Azkaban Prison after being tracked down by Pettigrew. He caused an explosion that killed Pettigrew and a dozen innocent bystanders."

Patrick frowned. "That sounds like something that should have been in one of these books. The aftermath of their deaths. The arrest and trial. Do you know of another book that would have that information?"

Minerva opened her mouth, then paused as she considered. "There should have been…but…I'm not sure he had a trial, now you've said that."

"Lovely," Patrick growled. "Your communications system with new magic users is non-existent until they turn an arbitrary age, you assume far too much when dealing with non-magical people, and now you throw people in prison without proof?"

"No, not at all!" Minerva snapped back. "We have trials! We collect evidence; we can detect what spells a wand has cast and verify the identity of a body. We also have ways to view a person's memory and a potion that forces a person to speak the truth!"

"But you don't remember this being done for this Sirius Black," Emily said in a gentler tone.

"No. And that's not right. It should have been done, even for an open and shut case such as his. Even Bellatrix Lestrange got a trial after her attack on the Longbottoms." A sudden sense of urgency took hold and Minerva stood. "If I may, I really feel I should talk to someone about this immediately, at least verify whether the trial happened or not."

"This headmaster of yours?" Patrick stood as well.

"No, he's dreadfully busy with the coming school year. I'll get a quicker answer if I check with our Ministry's DMLE-sorry, Department of Magical Law Enforcement. I know the head there rather well, Amelia Bones. Her niece is entering Hogwarts this year as well as Harry. I can contact her tonight and at least set up an appointment within the next few days."

Patrick held out a hand and they shook. As Minerva also shook with Emily, she said, "Please do let us know what you find out. Any information we can get will help us make a decision and better prepare the children for September."

"I will." Minerva vanished with a sharp crack.

Hearing a few cries of children in the distance, Patrick frowned and turned to Emily. "Have you any idea how much it costs to soundproof a room?"


6 August 1991

As she entered her new bedroom, Hermione allowed herself a brief moment to revel in it. The new rooms for all three of them were much larger than those on the ground floor and she now had an extra bookcase ready and waiting to be filled. She also had a table to spread out the handful of paper she carried. The doctors had finally let her have the information about schools that the professor had brought, and she wanted to go over it closely. She knew Harry and Dean had planned to play some footie, so she would have solitude for a short while.

She opened the first brochure, for Wenlock Academy. The cover had a moving illustration of a witch with quite a bit of black hair. She would make notes with a quill on a parchment, then pause and look out over her pince-nez glasses. According to the caption below, she was Bridget Wenlock, famed Arithmancer and discoverer of the magical properties of the number seven.

Inside, the brochure explained that Wenlock had started the academy in the thirteenth century after going through Hogwarts and being highly dissatisfied with the quality of Arithmancy instruction to be found. As such, Arithmancy was a subject taught for seven years, in contrast to it being an elective for third years and above at Hogwarts. It boasted of having students score consistently higher on the O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exams in the subject when compared to Hogwarts.

At this point Hermione seized a sheet of paper and began making a chart.

After going through the brochures, she felt she had as reasonable a picture she could get of the three schools with what she had. Going by the books they had purchased, it appeared that first year students at Hogwarts had eight subjects. She looked down the list, where she had tried to match book to subject:

- Transfiguration, Beginner's Guide to (taught by Professor McGonagall)

- Potions, Magical Drafts and Potions

- History, A History of Magic

- Defence, The Dark Forces

- Herbology, One Thousand Magical Herbs

- Charms, Standard Book of Spells or Magical Theory?

- Astronomy, book unknown but telescope on list

- Zoology or "Care of Magical Creatures"?, Fantastic Beasts

Other topics mentioned in the brochures for the Wenlock Academy and the Cliodna Conservatory were Ancient Runes, Apparition, Arithmancy, Deportment, Divination, Healing Magic, Flight, Muggle Studies, Political Studies, Scrying, and Warding. It appeared that such subjects were electives at Hogwarts, if they were taught at all. The Wenlock Academy made much of its instruction in Arithmancy as well as boasting of being the only school in the United Kingdom to give serious attention to Warding. The Cliodna Conservatory, located in Ireland, seemed to have an emphasis on Herbology, Potions, and Scrying. It appeared that Hogwarts might have a wider range of topics, but no particular expertise in any of them.

As she looked at the lists, Hermione frowned. She stuffed the brochures in a drawer so the boys could have a look later, then folded her notes so no writing showed. She went downstairs, careful to listen before magically unlocking the door to the ground floor and slipping out to relock it and take the stairs down.

Of the three adults she was looking for, she found Dr Greene first. "Could you help me with something?"

The doctor willingly led her to her therapy room and Hermione spread out her charts on the table. "I've been going over those school brochures to try and compare them. Now, I've written down every single course or subject mentioned anywhere in what I had. Do you see what's missing?"

She studied Hermione's notes. "Well, I see no maths, unless this Arithmancy counts for it. I see no sciences other than this Herbology presumably having some botany and the Astronomy. There's a single history course and it doesn't seem to go over any world history or British history, just magic history. No arts, no music. And I don't see a single language or literature course in the lot."

Hermione wilted in relief. "So I'm not blind. They really don't teach what you need to know to do your GSCEs, much less A Levels."

Dr Greene shook her head. "Not from what I can see. Add that to the things to ask Ms McGonagall when she comes back."

"Or at the offices of these other schools when we go back to get our trunks. But, what will we do if they don't teach us what we need to know? How can I possibly get into a top university without my A Levels?"

"Hermione, stop! That's your mother talking. If I remember correctly, Ms McGonagall said something about arrangements for students who want to go on to uni, though she made it sound like it's rarely done."

"What'll we do? Harry definitely wants to go on to uni and now that he has money, Dean could as well. I have to go to uni if I'm going to do any of the things that I might want to do."

Dr Greene took Hermione's face in her hands and looked in her eyes. "I said to stop. We are not going to worry about this yet, not until we know there's something to worry about. If it turns out to be necessary, we can help put together a tutoring program or support your parents in home education so you can get the necessary instruction. And consider, from what we've seen there's a whole other society out there with its own professions and careers. You might find something on the other side that just captures you heart and soul, in which case you might not need those A Levels or that university."

Hermione scowled. "And never study Shakespeare? Never learn another language? Never try chemistry or algebra? Never have the chance to be a scientist or an M.P. or an author?"

Dr Greene snickered. "You're right. What was I thinking?"

Hermione huffed in indignation.


Author's Note: Thanks as always for reading!