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.

Sorry to be a bit late on this chapter - was waiting on my beta people, all of whom seem to be on vacation right now.


7 August 1991

Harry was stretched out on his bed, flipping through The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts. Of the three history texts, it gave the most information about what happened to his parents without the drama of Modern Magical History. Even then, the information was scant. There was no explanation of why his parents had been targeted, other than being members of some organization fighting this Voldemort. There were no details about how the protections they'd used had fallen. And as Dr Aymler had pointed out, once the authors stopped gushing over how Harry-Potter-the-Boy-Who-Lived had defeated the evil wizard, there was absolutely no follow-up of any kind. The "Death Eaters" were by and large not named except for a few arrests and trials, such as the Lestranges in the Longbottom case.

Hedwig flew into his open window and landed next to him, dropping a note. Harry sat up. "What's this, girl?" He opened the folded sheet of notebook paper.

Come to my room. We have a surprise for you. -Hermione

Harry grinned and stroked the owl. "Thanks!"

He crossed the hall, waving at the pair of men using a stepladder to install the security camera at one end. He stuck his head into Hermione's open door to find both her and Dean sitting at her table, a wrapped present between them.

"What is it?"

"Happy birthday!" they chorused.

"Not that I'm complaining, but why now?" Harry came forward and Hermione pushed the package at him.

"Because now we knew what to get you, of course," she replied, rocking in anticipation as Harry began pulling the bow off.

He unwrapped a large book with a satin cover. He flipped through it, finding thick, slightly sticky blank pages covered in thin sheets of plastic, before it dawned on him. "A photo album! Thank you!"

"Now you have someplace to put all those pictures the professor brought, and we can put in some of us and the staff as well," Hermione replied.

"And here's something to help get it started," Dean took out a piece of artist's paper that he had been hiding behind his back. Harry took it and turned it over, finding a sketch showing the three of them, standing in a row with Hermione holding Sir Woof.

"Wow!" Harry had seen plenty of Dean's drawings, but they had mostly been animals or footballers in action, not anyone they knew. He had captured a good likeness of them. "This is wonderful." Harry promptly opened the album, peeled back the plastic, and carefully mounted the drawing in the centre of the first page.

He noticed through the corner of his eye that Hermione was nearly bouncing in her chair and looking eagerly at Dean. When he had the sketch in place, he looked at them both. "What's going on?"

"Show him!" Hermione demanded.

Dean ducked and blushed a little, but reached out and touched the paper. As Harry watched, colours began seeping into the page and spreading, tinting the page until their features and clothes showed a picture that looked exactly as if Dean had gone over it with pencils and paint.

"Wicked! When did you learn that?"

Dean touched the paper and reversed the process, draining the colours until the sketch was its original black-and-white. "I was playing with my art pencils, shading them when they weren't quite right, and I just decided to try making the drawing of Picasso turn brown. I've done one that the colour lasted from teatime to bedtime, but it was back to just pen by morning."

Harry laid the plastic over the drawing and flipped through the rest of the album's empty pages. Hermione asked, "D'you want to bring your photographs in here, spread them out and sort them?"

Harry shook his head. "Maybe later. Right now I want to make plans for Saturday. We know we need trunks and we need to go to the bookstore again for a copy of Hogwarts, a History and any better history books. Anything else?"

"How about the bank? We can ask who'd have a copy of your parents' will since there wasn't one in the papers they gave you."

"Good idea. I want to set up some money in an account on this side, just so it's there."

Dean shot him a thumbs-up signal. "That will be easy if you have an account ready for them."

"And we should stop by the offices for the Wenlock Academy and the Cliodna Conservatory, just to check everything out fully," Hermione added.

The bell for afternoon tea chimed and they halted their conversation in favour of making their way downstairs.


8 August 1991

Minerva McGonagall was working her way steadily through the class lists for the new sixth years, now that OWL results were in. She was also expecting other professors to check in and ask for the lists, so the sudden rush of green in her fireplace did not startle her. She did not even look up from her desk.

"I'll have the lists in half an hour or so. Check back then."

"Min, it's Amelia."

Now she jerked, surprised at the voice. "Oh, forgive me. I was expecting…never mind. Did you find out what happened?"

"Not exactly. May I come through?"

"Of course, of course." Minerva Transfigured one of her infamous straight-back wooden chairs into something more comfortable.

Amelia Bones appeared, dusting herself off and removing her monocle to wipe the ash from it. She replaced the monocle and sat in the now-welcoming plush armchair.

"Tea? Biscuits? I can have an elf bring something."

"Actually, I'll take a few fingers of whisky."

Minerva's eyebrows rose at that, but she moved to her cabinet and poured out. Handing the glass to her friend, she asked, "What happened?"

"I started by sending my assistant to the Hall of Records, asking for anything on Black because with Harry Potter about to start school, I wanted to be familiar with the details on the case. She returned empty-handed, saying she couldn't find any files under Black's name. So I gave her a time frame of up to three months after the attack and also suggested she look against it being misfiled, checking all the Bs, the Ss, the Ps and so forth. This time, not only did she not find anything, but the clerk who was there at the time ran her out for 'larking about' and disturbing the records." Amelia took her first swallow of whisky, savouring the flavour.

When she didn't go on, Minerva burst out, "Well?"

Amelia gave a sardonic smile. "I went down there myself. I was met at the door by Pennick, the lead Record Keeper. He claimed that Minister Fudge himself had closed access to the records except by request."

Minerva stood and poured a drink for herself, trying to give herself time to rein in her anger. "And?"

"I made the request. It's currently 'being considered' by the undersecretary Fudge assigned." Amelia gave her friend a significant look over her glass.

"Umbridge," Minerva declared flatly.

"Who else? I also went around to ask Barty Crouch, since he was head of the DMLE at the time. He is in Anatolia trying to hammer out some new agreement or other and has no scheduled return date."

They drained their glasses together.

Minerva banged her empty glass on her desk. "So we have Fudge deliberately withholding information, which suggests that my memory is correct and Black never had a trial. Crouch is out of reach and can't confirm one way or another."

"What about Dumbledore? He was Supreme Mugwump by then, wasn't he?"

Minerva sighed. "I'd hoped to leave him out of it for as long as possible. I've been trying very hard to keep him distant from the people who have been taking care of Harry because they are certain to question him most severely for putting the boy with his aunt and uncle."

Amelia sat up at that. "Wait, what? What's going on, Min?"

Minerva refilled the glasses. "It's quite a story. Best be ready."


10 August 1991

On the presumption that if the children ended up at Hogwarts they would be taking a train to it, the doctors and parents made arrangements for everyone to travel in to London by rail, then meet at the Leicester Square tube station. While none of the parents knew exactly where the Leaky Cauldron was, Terry Boot's mother remembered the mention of a bookshop and had made a list of the ones on Charing Cross Road from the telephone directory.

The Hopkins and Perks families were on holiday. Terry's father and Justin's mother had commitments they could not break. It was a slightly more manageable twelve people who found one another in the underground and moved out to the street. Harry was wearing a baseball cap to help keep his scar covered.

As they made their way north, the children chattered about riding the train, Harry for the first time, and drank in the sights of a bustling London. They had passed Cranbourn and Great Newport Streets when Dean pointed and called out, "Look, there it is!"

The group stopped and, with a comical symmetry, the children began moving toward the shabby little door tucked between a bookshop and a record shop while the adults looked about them, befuddled. Hermione moved between her parents and seized them by the hand. "This way." Once she touched them, the Grangers had no trouble seeing the entrance and followed her. The rest of the group followed her example.

Once inside, the children again led the way toward the back entrance. Dr Greene glanced around at the various people in hats and robes, mostly wearing their hair longer than the current fashion. She caught sight of one rather hideous old woman with a veil pulled to the side, eating what seemed to be a pile of raw meat. She moved closer to the Grangers, wishing profoundly that she hadn't agreed to accompany the group instead of Dr Aymler.

Remembering that they were not to use their wands, Harry went to the bald man behind the bar. "Excuse me, sir? Could someone let us through the gate to the shops?"

The man grinned, showing a mouth with very few teeth. "No need. Use your wand. It's the gate recognizing your wand, not you casting with it."

Harry thanked him and re-joined the waiting group. "It's all right to use our wands to get through the arch."

They crowded into the courtyard as before and the children looked at each other hesitantly. "Who wants to do the honours?" Mr Thomas asked.

Justin stepped forward. "I'll do it. Which brick was it again?"

"This one," Hermione pointed.

Justin tapped the brick three times and Dr Greene jumped slightly as the wall melted back into its archway. Hermione gave a knowing smile and took her hand. "Amazing, isn't it?"

Once through, the adults took a look around and Mr Granger asked, "Does anyone remember the name of the shop that sold trunks?"

"No, Dad, but we can probably ask in Flourish & Blotts or Madam Malkin's."

"Actually," Mrs Boot spoke up, "This is probably it." She pointed to a large storefront on the other side of the cauldron shop with a Gothic script on its windows announcing "Portman's Portmanteaus".

They entered to find a bright room full of trunks, old-fashioned Gladstone bags, and satchels. Several trunks were set on small stages and opened wide, each with a placard on an easel describing the features. Harry noticed one near the front prominently labelled "Hogwarts" and moved toward it.

A tall, thin wizard with mutton-chop sideburns and very little hair on his head appeared from a back room. "Welcome, welcome to Portman's. I am Phileas Portman. How may I assist you?"

Robert spoke for the group. "We have a group heading to school next month and were advised to consider trunks."

The man glanced over the group, counting the five children, and clasped his hands together enthusiastically. "Absolutely we can help you! I see you've already found the standard Hogwarts trunk." He moved to it, adjusting the angle of the sign. "The basic trunk as is runs twelve galleons. We suggest the casting of a Cushioning Charm to protect any fragile items inside for another five sickles. From there we have other features involving everything from security to space alteration. And purchasing any three charms includes having a nameplate installed and engraved."

They took turns looking into the trunk and playing with the removable shelf or experimentally opening and closing it. While she waited on the others, Hermione spotted another trunk, an upright model with a line of three locks on it. She wandered over to read the placard and homed in on the line that read, "Perfect for library storage".

Portman noticed her interest and came over. "This is a marvellous model, triple the storage!"

"How does it work?"

The shopkeeper pulled out an enormous chatelaine from a cloak pocket that must have been quite deep. He hunted through the ribbons of various colour and design, each with one or more keys on the end. He found the correct one and separated the three keys on it. "The first chamber is a basic upright, hang robes on one side and other items in drawers. This is the second chamber." He used a key in the middle lock and opened it.

Hermione peered in, astonished to see that the space appeared to be the size of a removal van. Portman smiled at her reaction. "It is such a pleasure to show these to someone new. This is designed for any large items that would be damaged by Reducing Charms. My third cousin, who is a bit mad for Muggle things, likes to keep something he calls a golf buggy in a trunk like this." He closed it and locked it, then opened the third space with another key. This time the space below was about half as deep as the second room, but was lined with empty shelves to well above her head and had two more freestanding shelves in the centre. Hermione let out an eager little sigh, imagining loading every single one of her books at home into such a space.

"How much does one of these cost?"

"Well, of course they are dearer given their capacity. A basic three-chamber trunk starts at fifty-four galleons."

Hermione did the math in her head and swallowed. "Maybe in a couple of years."

To her surprise, Portman patted her shoulder kindly. "It's rare that a student begins with such a trunk, unless they have a hand-me-down from their parents or have more money than sense. I do have a different model over here with two chambers, the standard and the library. It begins at thirty-eight galleons."

Hermione realized that most of the group had followed her over and heard the last part of Portman's pitch. Her father shook his head. "Not yet, Hermione. We'll keep it in mind for later if your book collection gets out of control." Hermione did her best to hide her disappointment, not noticing Harry get Dean's attention for a whispered consultation.

All the students opted for a standard student trunk, though they chose different alterations and Mrs Boot kept throwing the same longing glances at the library trunk as Hermione did. Portman took down names and made lists of what each student wanted. When Harry gave his name, he paused and looked again. Reluctantly Harry lifted his cap.

"My word. It's a genuine pleasure to meet you, Mr Potter, a genuine pleasure. Do let me offer you a discount and our entire range of alterations free of charge."

"No, no need to do that, sir. I'd prefer to pay my way. But I heard our guide last week say something about blood locks. How do those work?"

"Well, it's an extra layer of security. The owner gives a drop of blood to spell the lock, and thereafter he or she is the only person who can open it. I don't know that you would prefer one or not; you'll be sharing quarters and might find it bothersome that your roommates can't get you something you need."

Harry thought about that for a moment, but decided that privacy would be more important. Then another idea occurred to him. "Can you have more than one person's blood on a lock?"

"Why, yes. It's a sensible precaution. The spell can usually handle up to five different people."

"I'd like that, then, and add Dean Thomas and Hermione Granger to it."

Dean and Hermione echoed him, and Portman looked around. "Getting the blood for three trunks and spelling all five of them will take a little time. Could you give me two hours?"

The adults glanced at one another and Robert replied, "I think we have enough errands to run that it won't be a problem. Viola, why don't you all start for Gringotts? I'll stay with Hermione, Harry, and Dean, and we'll meet you there."

Viola nodded, and led the others out. Portman had taken advantage of their planning to fetch three small glass vials. He pulled out his wand. "I'll need to make a small cut on your palm and I'll be able to heal it right away." Harry held out his hand and Portman took several drops of blood. He repeated the process with Hermione and Dean, then went back over his lists with each of the children, verifying that he had all the charms correct.

Robert led them out toward Gringotts. They paused when they saw Justin and his father waving from where they stood outside Eeylops. Justin explained, "Terry's mum had a question about getting something for their owl to sleep on. Seems he's clawed up a pair of chairs."

As he spoke, a man and a boy in robes were passing. The boy glanced at them, taking in their street clothes, and looked up at his father to comment loudly, "Father, what kind of person would purchase an owl and not have a place for it to roost?"

The father answered in a drawl, swinging his cane carelessly. "That would be a Muggleborn, Draco."

The boy looked over at them, a sneer on his face. But even as Harry, Dean, and Terry straightened and scowled, Justin spoke up in his most aristocratic tone, "And just who are you?"


Author's Note: Just for fun, can you identify the two little allusions to other authors that I included in this chapter?

As always, thank you for reading!