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.

News: This should bring me back to my usual schedule of updating around the 15th and 30th each month, as long as life behaves itself and my betas respond in a timely manner.


17 August 1991

Andrea Thomas had grown up in a large family and was raising a large family of her own. She had a lifetime of experience in being loud to gain attention and it served her now. Her voice rose above the clamour of people reacting to Hermione's question.

"What do you mean, wipe memories? That's an inexcusable violation of privacy!"

"We don't-we only-please, will you listen?"

Dr Aymler saw the professor helplessly trying to respond. He stuck his thumb and forefinger into his mouth and let out a shrill whistle. Startled, the others began to quiet down.

"Let's give her the chance to explain."

McGonagall nodded in gratitude and drew a breath to compose her thoughts. Honesty. Total honesty or I lose them all at this point.

"One of our most important laws is called the Statute of Secrecy. It was enacted in 1692 by an international confederation of wizards, in response to centuries of either persecution by Muggles or demands from heads of state for assistance in keeping their power. It was used to permanently separate the two societies, to hide magic from the rest of the world. In Britain, it gradually evolved into a section of law enforcement known as Obliviators, experts in memory charms, who usually work to contain large incidents that happen from time to time, such as a dragon escaping.

"As part of this separation, should a Muggleborn child choose not to attend one of our schools, we carefully erase all memories of doing magic and our world-only those things-from that child and anyone in the family who was told. They are then free to continue their lives without our interference."

After a moment of silence, as everyone digested McGonagall's words, Hermione spoke. "But, professor, that child can still do magic."

"Yes, that's true. There are potions that can suppress magical ability for short periods, but nothing short of catastrophic injury can permanently remove one's magic."

"So if Harry, Dean, or I were to choose not to attend a magic school, what would happen to us? We'd still be here, trying to fix our problem of having accidents, and never able to leave!"

The professor frowned slightly as she considered this. "That…that is true."

"And is the only thing you do the Obliviation Charm? What if a child was keeping a diary, writing about their accidents, and then wrote about getting a letter from Hogwarts? Do the Obliviators go through a house looking for anything like that? If they don't, what happens if a child goes back and reads about the things they've been made to forget?"

Now the colour drained from McGonagall's face. "Sweet Merlin…I don't know if anyone's ever thought of that! Re-introduction of erased memories takes very skilled and prolonged Mind Healer, or it can lead to complications."

Voicing the frustration that most of the parents were feeling, Viola Granger spoke up. "We're getting off track here. You've told us what's usually done when students don't go to your schools and we find that unacceptable. No one is touching our memories or our children's memories. That is non-negotiable. So we need to find a better way. Now, you have said you're willing to help our children learn the skills they need to survive in our world. My question is this: in our system, a student may leave school at age sixteen, which tends to be after finishing their GCSEs. Do you have a similar situation there? Would Hermione or any of the children wanting to attend university be able to finish a certain level of magic education and then move to private tutoring to prepare for university? Even if we resort to Open University for Hermione, she would still be expected to take a certain set of courses at the start to fill in missing qualifications and that would put her behind."

"Our students are permitted to leave school after they complete their O.W.L.s, Ordinary Wizarding Levels, in their fifth year. But most students who qualify continue for two more years as a great many professions require certain marks on the N.E.W.T.s, or the Nastily Exhaustive Wizarding Tests."

A few people cracked smiles at the name for the tests. Robert Granger replied, "So, in theory, these children could attend your school for five years, perhaps working on regular coursework in the summers, and take that first set of tests. Then they would be free to choose to continue with you or leave without any sort of penalty."

"That is correct. The only stipulation in that situation is to honour the Statute of Secrecy. And I promise to do what I can to assist them along the way. We have plenty of spare classrooms; one could be reserved for any of these students to use to work on the Mu- the regular side of their education. We could include shelves for any books they need and so forth."

"Ooh, how about a few computers?" Dean's eyes lit up at the possibility.

"A few what?" McGonagall was completely at sea.

"Computers are an invention, an electronic machine that can perform calculations, store information, and communicate with other computers through telephones," Dr Aymler replied.

"Ah, if it is electric, then no. The amount of magical energy in the air around Hogwarts disrupts such devices. We discourage students from bringing wireless sets or television sets or the like."

"Is that just Hogwarts or would a place like Diagon Alley have the same problem?" Hermione asked.

McGonagall beamed at her. Already making such connections at her age! She felt a surge of eagerness to teach such a keen mind. "Quite right. Any location with a concentration of magic being performed would do, even just a house with a large family of wizards. Basic security wards are often enough to muddle electricity."

Dr Greene, who had been taking notes as usual, looked around. "Does anyone have other questions at this time?"

Harry sat up. "I do!" He pulled out the photo album that Hermione and Dean had given him. "I was looking at the pictures you sent, and thank you again for them, and saw that the uniforms have badges on them. The robes we bought don't have them. Why is that?"

McGonagall held out a hand and Harry brought the album to show her. She looked fondly at the photograph of the group of seventh years. "Hogwarts has a house system. Every new student is sorted into one of the houses and takes classes with their house year group. Each house also has a Quidditch team and the four houses compete for the Quidditch Cup every year. Our discipline system includes house points toward a House Cup that can be given for good work or good behaviour and taken away when a student breaks a rule. Severe misbehaviour results in detentions. Anyway, when a student is sorted, the insignia for their house appears on their robes."

"Who is in charge of these houses?" Addison Finch-Fletchley asked, remembering his own school days and the regular issues with supervision.

"Each house is led by a faculty member. I am head of Gryffindor, for example. We have a Head Boy and Head Girl and a group of students in fifth through seventh year that serve as prefects. Harry, you can see here that your parents were Head Boy and Head Girl their seventh year from these badges, and Remus Lupin was a prefect."

McGonagall continued to identify people in the photographs as the other children gathered around her to look. The adults seized the distraction to pull together. Aymler began a quick discussion.

"I believe it's decision time. Now, we are only legally responsible for Harry, but we have been working with Hermione and Dean as well. Given the information from the professor, we would support the children attending this school for at least the minimum requirement. If we were made to forget what we know, and I don't know that we could stop them, we'd be condemning them to years of their lives being institutionalized while we try and help them with what they can do, afraid the entire time that they might lose control of it."

"I agree with him," Dr Greene said. "Without knowing what it was, we've been able to help our three get a reasonable amount of control over magic, at least to the point that accidents are quite rare, but it was still extremely frustrating for all of us not to be able to identify what was happening or fully predict it."

"As for the other schools," Aymler continued, "The druid one is right out. None of us liked how we were approached there, right? And both it and the Wenlock one seem to specialize in certain areas rather than a general magic education."

"And Harry was quite unhappy at the toadying reaction of that abacus fellow to him," Dr Greene added. "Given the notoriety attached to him in their world, the bigger the school population, the easier it will be for him to blend in after the initial sensation dies down."

The Grangers exchanged looks, and Robert spoke. "I think our questions have been answered. As long as Hermione isn't going to lose the option for further education if she wants it, we can manage."

Mrs Boot held up a hand. "I'd like to know if there's a way to make the professor our contact person even if our children aren't in her house. She's been very frank with us so far. I'd certainly rather deal with her than that fellow in the brass buttons."

Most of the other parents were nodding. Mr Perks added, "The only thing we need is more details about options in the States, since it's possible I'll be taking a job there."

Dr Greene looked over to see that the professor had stopped speaking and was content to watch the children flip through the album and marvel at the moving figures in the photographs. She motioned at McGonagall, who joined them.

The doctor began, "We would like to know if it is possible for you to be our official contact at the school, regardless of houses."

McGonagall thought about that a moment. Professors Sprout and Flitwick were very easy to work with and would likely not mind. Snape, however, would see it as a mortal insult. Although, how likely is it that any Muggleborn child would be sorted into Slytherin? It certainly hasn't happened in my memory! This would not be a hardship, especially since it would be a reason to keep a close eye on Harry if Dumbledore began meddling again. "I believe it can be done. It hasn't before, but as Deputy Headmistress I am responsible for meeting families in your situation for the first time. It's a logical request."

Aymler held out a hand. "Then I believe we are agreed. We'll see you in September."

McGonagall took his hand and shook warmly. "I am very glad to hear it. Please don't hesitate to send an owl if there is anything more I can do."


1 September 1991

Harry pushed his trolley with his trunk and Hedwig in her cage while Pippa kept a lookout. Hermione and Dean had gone home for a short holiday before leaving for school and they had agreed to meet at nine-thirty at the pastry shop. Harry eyed the bookstore next to it. "We'll have to keep Hermione from going in there for just one more thing to read."

Pippa laughed at that, then spotted the Thomases and waved. Geoffrey and Dean were lugging Dean's trunk between them while Andrea carried Picasso in his cage. They stopped long enough to fetch a trolley, then joined Harry and Pippa. They began pushing tables together in anticipation of the Grangers.

The waitress distracted them, admiring the owls, which enabled Hermione to slip up behind the boys and throw an arm around each of their necks. "We're here! It's almost time!"

They chatted happily through a round of tea and croissants, filling each other in on things that had happened since they had spoken on the telephone. Hermione moaned about having to choose certain books to pack while the Thomases talked about their house-hunting and the Grangers tried to convince them to pull up stakes and come to Nottingham.

With forty minutes to spare, the group gathered things up and began moving to the entrance to platform nine and three quarters. As they got closer they could see a small crowd milling about as if waiting for a train on either side. Watching closely, they could see the occasional teenager slip into the wall while the accompanying adults drifted away. Harry noticed that the clothes some of the people wore were a bit odd: one woman was in a sundress and a padded anorak and an older man was in an Indian sarong with a deerstalker on his head.

They joined the crowd and shifted with the people around them, steadily moving up. Harry itched to pull his ball cap down more firmly, but resisted.

And then it was their turn. Pippa gave Harry a tight hug and whispered, "You write often, you hear? Let us know everything."

He swallowed hard against a sudden lump in his throat. "I promise. Every week."

Hermione and Dean finished hugging their parents and there were handshakes all around. Then Harry steered his trolley toward the portal, checked that he was reasonably hidden by the others, and strode into the wall.

The contrast from his previous visit to the platform was stark. The train was parked on the track, a few men going over the engine and couplings. It was a bright, shiny scarlet with gold trim. Parents and students were everywhere, checking trunks one more time and hugging goodbye. Harry moved forward carefully, trying to steer through to a car down the line without getting too far ahead of Hermione and Dean.

The three of them were almost to the car Harry had chosen when someone shouted, "Oi, Harry, guys!" They looked up to see Wayne Hopkins dragging his trolley toward them. Harry also realized that a lot of people around them were suddenly paying closer attention at hearing his name. He waved at Wayne to join them.

"Let's get our stuff into a compartment and then keep an eye out for the others."

They discovered compartments that looked to hold six people and decided to claim two and keep an eye out for the others. Hermione agreed to stand guard and hold them while the others got the trunks in. Sally-Anne found them as they loaded the owls and instantly ran off again as she and Justin had arrived together and split up to search for the rest.

As the time moved toward eleven without a sign of Terry, the others began to get worried. Finally Harry shooed them in. "He could have arrived before us. I'll stay at the steps until we leave and after we've started we can check the rest of the train."

Reluctantly, Hermione and Dean went into their compartment, with the other three in the next one. Harry leaned out, watching as the last groups began to board and the train whistle blew.

Harry suddenly spied Terry, pushing his trolley through the portal and looking quite grumpy. He waved frantically. "Terry! Oi, Terry!" He noticed a large group of red-headed people filing in behind his friend.

Terry spotted him and Harry jumped down to meet him, taking the owl's cage and handing it up to Justin, who had heard the shout. They quickly shoved Terry's trunk into the car as the conductor began shouting "All aboard!"

Terry joined Justin and Wayne, complaining about some pushy red-haired woman who had insisted on explaining the entrance to the platform to him, while Sally-Anne moved to sit with Hermione. They all looked eagerly out the windows as the train began to move, exiting the station and chuffing through London.

Hermione squealed and bounced on her seat. "We're going!"

Harry grinned. "We're off to see some wizards!"


After the first hour of watching London shift into suburbs, swapping seats, and trying to fit all seven of them in one compartment, Justin gave a frustrated sigh. "I wish we could just make a door between the two, like that one to the shopping from the pub."

Hermione traded looks with Harry, who was next to her. "You think we could?"

Harry thought for a moment. "Guess it couldn't hurt to try. And we've been able to put things right after changing them for a while now. D'you want to give it a go?"

"All right." Hermione stood and braced herself against the rocking of the train with a hand on his shoulder. Harry put a hand to her back to help.

Hermione concentrated on the doorway to Diagon Alley. We need one of those doors here, just for the train ride. She put a hand against the wall between the compartments. For several minutes nothing happened. Hermione's face twisted up as she focused even more. Then a golden light appeared under her hand. As the others watched in growing pride or awe, it grew, and as it spread below the luggage racks they could see through the expanding hole to the other compartment. It stopped and the light faded, leaving a wide, open space from the compartment doors to the two seats next to the windows. Hermione looked at the seats fixedly and they melded together into one bench.

"Bloody brilliant!" Terry cried, leaping through. They quickly rearranged the owl cages and spread out, everyone beaming that they could sit comfortably as one large group.

Sally-Anne was the first to ask. "I know you said before that you'd learned a bit about controlling it when weird things happened to you, but that was incredible!"

Hermione blushed and looked at her feet. "I don't know about incredible, but really all it took was observation and practice. The doctors at Esperança House were ever so helpful in getting us to notice and feel what was happening when there was a problem and finding ways to redirect it."

Justin asked, "Can you show us?"

"I think so. Maybe if Professor McGonagall really is able to get us a room for our own use, we can also practice. And of course we can write to the doctors if you have questions."

They continued to chat, sharing some of the accidents they had experienced and asking questions about one another. The subject of wands cropped up and everyone dug theirs out of trunks, passing them around and comparing the resulting feelings of "right" and "a little bit off" and "utterly wrong".

They grew bored of it and stowed their wands in pockets and sleeves. Dean was about to suggest some poker when there was a knock. One of the compartment doors slid open and a voice began, "I don't suppose there's room to sit in here? Only my brothers told me to shove off for a bit…" The red-haired boy trailed off and his eyes widened as he realized that there was much more room in here than there should be.

Oblivious to the slightly guilty expressions of the group, he breathed, "Wicked!"


Author's Note: Thank you as always for reading!