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: So, that part about regularly updating once the school year started? Yeah.

Life - 1, Eternal Optimist - 0.

All I can promise is that I will keep writing and I will keep posting, but it'll be a matter of whenever I can manage a chapter. This year has been all kinds of hell so far and I don't see that changing much for the next few months. I will continue to reply to reviews, though it may be several days before I get around to yours. But I continue to be very, very glad of everyone who is reading and enjoying and thinking constructively about my story.


Chapter 24

1 September 1991

The Ravenclaw prefect looked down at a bound and unconscious man and a group of firsties. The girl was trying to calm down Percy Weasley's little brother. One boy had found two wands on the man and was holding them, staring at the man's arm where he had pushed the sleeve up. Penelope saw the Dark Mark and clapped both hands to her mouth in fear.

The dark-haired boy with glasses stepped forward and addressed her. "Miss, if something happens on the train, how do we signal that we need help?"

His straightforward question helped her to focus. Before she answered, she pulled out her wand and pointed it at the man. "Incarcerous!" Thick, black ropes shot from her wand to wrap around the man, binding him more securely. "I never thought I'd really have to use a spell like that. Now, the only adults on the train are the sweets lady and the driver. I only hope one of them can summon someone from Hogwarts or the Ministry." She knelt beside the girl and the Weasley boy. "Don, no…Ron, is it?" He nodded. "Do you know where Percy is?"

"He left me and Fred and George in a compartment. Said he had to attend the prefects' meeting."

"Right. But he didn't come back?"


Penelope looked frustrated for a moment and stood. "Do you think you will be all right long enough for me to go to the driver?"

The girl spoke up. "We sent one of our friends in that direction…" She trailed off as they all sensed the train slowing down.

Penelope sighed in relief. "Good, looks like he managed to get someone's attention. Ron, can you please look for your brother and bring him here? If you see any other prefects, tell them to please stay in the corridors and keep the students inside."

As Ron took off, she turned to the others. "Can you explain what happened?"

The tall black boy spoke. "We were just talking about things and had gotten to our pets. Ron was showing us his rat and tried to make it change colour. It didn't work and he got angry. The rest of us tried to guess what the spell might be and I gave it a go and turned him yellow. Then Ron got angrier and told me to fix it. When I tried to change it back, the rat turned into a man."

The girl spoke up. "The man seemed to recognize Harry here-"

"Harry? As in Harry Potter?" Penelope interrupted. When the boy with glasses nodded, she swallowed hard and turned her attention back to the girl.

"And he tried to grab Harry. I was next to Harry and got hold of one of the man's arms and bit his hand to make him let go. Then he hit me, but he stood up too far and hit his head on the baggage rack, knocking himself out."

Penelope raised an eyebrow at that, but didn't question it. The man was deeply unconscious and the girl did have a darkening bruise on one side of her face. As she was trying to decide what to do, another boy and a man entered from the other end of the car.

"Justin!" The girl cried in relief.

The boy named Justin smiled. "I found the driver-would you believe the train runs magically? No crew riding along, not even a blinking conductor. Anyway, I got him to stop. See in here, sir? That's the man who changed from a rat."

Penelope pointed. "Sir, look, he carries the mark of You-Know-Who."

The driver studied the man, frowned and tugged on his goatee. "And that's not all. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that was a student a few years behind me when I was at Hogwarts. But he's dead, murdered by that dark wizard Black."

Harry Potter, the girl, and the black boy paid fast attention and Harry asked, "Wait, d'you mean Peter Pettigrew?"

The girl gasped and cried, "Harry, the pictures of your parents and their friends! The ones from Professor McGonagall! That's why he looks familiar! It is him!"

Penelope felt her head begin to spin. "But, if he was murdered, how can it be that he's here now?"


Back in her youth, Minerva McGonagall had enjoyed playing Quidditch. She had left off in her early twenties once the group of friends that liked to put a match together now and then dispersed. After that there had been little reason to be on a broomstick.

Her bum was reminding her that she was no longer young.

In front of her, Madame Hooch began to descend and McGonagall spotted the stopped train. She hovered long enough to concentrate fiercely on the last time Gryffindor had won the Quidditch Cup and sent a silvery Patronus message to Dumbledore. He had gone south with the other team after flashing into Upper Flagley with his phoenix.

The group descended quickly, taking advantage of the empty moors around the train. McGonagall dismounted with a groan and Flitwick gave her a commiserating look.

They boarded near the front of the train, gathering curious looks from some of the prefects looking out through doors into the corridor. McGonagall called out sternly, "Mr Dobbins! Miss Langley!" The Head Boy and Girl emerged from compartments, looking nervous. "Do you have any idea what has happened? The security alarm sounded at the school!"

"No, professor, we were just-"

Rapid footsteps interrupted and a red-haired boy burst in from the other end of the car. "Percy! Percy!"

Making a quick guess, McGonagall stepped forward to stop him. "Mr Weasley? What is it?"

The child panted out, "Rat…changed…man…attacked…us…"

"Show us! Filius and Pomona, come with me. Rolanda, organise the prefects and have them stand guard in every car."


It heartened McGonagall that most of the Muggleborns charged at her like frightened kittens to a mother cat, looking for reassurance. She had earned some of their trust, and by Merlin, she intended to keep it. She hugged each of them, including the Longbottom boy, who shoved two wands into her hand. She passed the children to Pomona for more hugs, and listened as they took turns summarizing what had happened. The Clearwater girl was very pale but stood guard, pointing her wand into the open compartment.

McGonagall looked into the compartment at the bound figure on the floor. "Miss Clearwater, remind me to award you twenty-five points for an excellent Incarcerous conjuration. That should serve you well on your O.W.L."

"Thank you, professor. Is…is he really one of them?"

McGonagall looked more closely at the bared arm and back at her new prefect. "Yes, my dear, he is."

"And is he really Peter Pettigrew?"

"What?" McGonagall spun back so fast that her hat slid perilously close to one side. She looked more closely at the face with its sharpish nose and prominent teeth. "Merlin's great ghost…I think it is!"

"But Pettigrew died, killed by Sirius Black!" Flitwick protested.

Sally-Anne was standing in the door to the next compartment. "And how do you know that, sir?"

"Black blew up a Muggle street! Killed a dozen people and Pettigrew! All they found of Pettigrew was a finger," Flitwick responded.

Hermione's eyes narrowed. "Hang on, wasn't the rat missing a toe?"

McGonagall moved into the compartment and used her wand to loosen the prisoner's wrists just enough. She found the hand missing its pinkie finger. "Filius, would you send for the DMLE?"

Her colleague did not immediately respond and McGonagall re-bound Pettigrew and stepped back into the corridor. There she saw her Muggleborns looking uneasy: Sally-Anne and Hermione had drawn behind Flitwick while Sprout had an arm around Justin and Terry on either side of her. McGonagall turned to find that Dumbledore had arrived with Snape, Vector, Quirrell, and Burbage. He stood tall in silver-gray robes that complemented his beard and hair, peering over his glasses at the scene.

Dean Thomas broke the sudden silence. "Well, if it isn't Merlin!"


Albus Dumbledore was dying for a sherbet lemon.

He had a Hogwarts Express, stopped for an emergency situation for the first time since the year some of Gellert's minions had taken it upon themselves to attack the train. He had a supposedly dead Order of Merlin winner, somewhat worse for wear but very clearly alive and throwing a giant spanner into a situation that everyone had thought settled a decade ago. He had a deputy headmistress who was showing an alarming streak of independence; snapping at him in front of half the senior staff was very unlike her.

And he had the Boy Who Lived clinging like a burr to her side.

He looked at Harry Potter, who stared back at him warily with fistfuls of Minerva's robes in his hands. He then cast his eyes over the large number of first-year students, all of whom seemed to be huddled defensively with each other or one of the teachers with Minerva's group. She cleared her throat and broke the silence that had grown after Dean's exclamation.

"Filius, send for the DMLE, please."

Albus tried to head her off. "Now, wait, Minerva. This is Hogwarts' jurisdiction-"

"And we have a man who was thought killed in a heroic battle that earned him a posthumous Order of Merlin, hiding out in an animagus form, and attacking our students! How can you possibly justify not calling in the authorities?" Without waiting for his answer, she raised her wand and concentrated. The children looked on with varying degrees of intensity and admiration as her Patronus message took off in a silver streak.

Flitwick spoke up. "Shall we get the students settled and the train going again?"

"Won't we need to stay here? The police will need to examine the scene," Hermione protested.

"I shouldn't think so. Everything they need to investigate happened in this car, did it not? We just need to find room for you elsewhere, perhaps in the prefects' car. They usually have a compartment or two to spare."

"Actually, Filius, we should stay long enough for Director Bones to arrive as I asked her to follow my message back to me. Trying to Apparate onto a moving target is not recommended for one's health, after all. Otherwise we wouldn't have had to take brooms here."

"So you really do fly on brooms?" The Hopkins boy looked at her with round eyes.

"Some people do. Some of us prefer other means of transportation." Minerva decided to take advantage of the situation and introduced all the Muggleborns and young Longbottom to the professors, noting the other heads of houses as well as the headmaster. She didn't miss the speculative look Miss Granger gave him. She could practically see the wheels spinning furiously in the child's mind as she began making connections.

Several loud pops and cracks sounded from outside the train, much like a spate of fireworks. The Aurors had arrived.


Amelia Bones was dying for a generous nip of Minerva's single malt.

She had a murder victim very much alive and sporting a Dark Mark on his arm. She had a pair of Aurors who were being almost ridiculously yin and yang: Proudfoot was ready to hit Pettigrew with everything short of an Unforgiveable while Dawlish refused to believe his eyes. The excuses he produced to deny the evidence would have given a contortionist a run for the money.

And she could feel Susan's eyes boring into her back from the other end of the car, probably willing her aunt to ask for an autograph from the Boy Who Lived.

Even if she hadn't heard from Minerva directly about Dumbledore's mishandling of Harry Potter, Amelia would have picked up immediately that all was not well from the body language displayed. The children had arranged themselves behind Minerva and were wary of Dumbledore. She wasn't surprised to see Minerva ready to challenge him, but she was surprised that little Flitwick and the normally jolly Sprout had their eyes narrowed at the headmaster. Severus Snape looked bored to tears with the entire situation, but there was the slightest tic under one eye. Snape was holding in some strong emotion with all his might.

Similarly, Dumbledore was exuding his strongest grandfather aura. "Really, Director, this is a Hogwarts matter. Let us get to the bottom of it and then turn the man over to you."

And Amelia placed what was wrong. Dumbledore wasn't twinkling.

"Headmaster, Hogwarts may be self-governing when it comes to education. But I have a previously unknown marked Death Eater, one who is an unregistered animagus, whose very existence proves that Sirius Black is innocent of at least one crime that put him in prison, and who attacked children!" By now Amelia was roaring. "You will get out and let me and my Aurors do our job or I will gladly shove you into a cell for interfering in an investigation!"

She didn't know whether she had got through his thick skull on her own or if it was three heads of house moving to stand behind her in clear support. Whatever it was, Dumbledore backed down. Dawlish was charged with guarding Pettigrew in the next compartment as she and Proudfoot began investigating.

After the initial once-over, Amelia's reluctant conclusion was that something wasn't quite right with the stories being told. She had the physical proof that Pettigrew had choked Harry, that Hermione had bitten him and that he in turn had hit her. But there was no trace of Pettigrew hitting his head on the luggage rack hard enough to knock himself senseless, even if he had been tall enough to do so - if she had to make a guess, she would have thought Pettigrew to be in a bewitched sleep.

She decided to investigate the discrepancies later. For now there was a marked Death Eater in custody with a great deal of explaining to do. She levitated him out of the train and wrapped a studded leather band around one wrist. Each stud was a portkey to a specific cell in the Ministry's holding area and could only be activated by the wand of a DMLE member. She tapped a gold stud for the highest-security cell available and Pettigrew vanished.

"Gentlemen, go report to Scrimgeour and tell him I'll be there in a few minutes to supervise questioning under Veritaserum." Both men stood to attention, then Disapparated with loud cracks.

Amelia turned to Minerva, who stepped forward to hand her the wands that the Longbottom child had given her. "Thank you very much for responding personally. Children, may I present Amelia Bones, director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement." She named each child and Amelia solemnly shook hands all around, noting that Harry Potter, one of the girls, and the black boy seemed particularly anxious.

The girl drew a deep breath and spoke. "Director, what will happen to Sirius Black?"

Amelia didn't miss Dumbledore jerk as if he had been jabbed with a pin.

"Well, I now have an undisputable reason to recall him from Azkaban Prison. I promise I will get the full story from both of them."

The girl nodded and took young Potter's hand and squeezed it. Amelia looked around at the small crowd, gave Dumbledore a deliberate stare, then addressed Minerva. "I'll contact you as soon as I have any information worth sharing." She Disapparated, feeling a certain glee at obviously snubbing the Chief Warlock.


As they moved to a pair of empty compartments in the first car, Harry looked over the other professors carefully. At this point he felt McGonagall was firmly in their camp, and the woman named Sprout had a good hug: warm but not smothering. The little man named Flitwick also seemed a good sort. Hooch reminded him of Fishman back at the institute with her not unkindly no-nonsense attitude.

He wasn't completely sure about the headmaster and his attempts to undermine the director's authority. He also didn't like how the man with greasy black hair and a hook nose kept glaring at him.

Harry glanced at the man, who was still staring at him with glittering black eyes even as he worked with the man in a turban to load their trunks and owls into the new compartments. A sharp, burning pain seared into his forehead briefly and Harry put a hand to his scar. Hermione noticed and moved to his side, taking his free hand.

"All right there, Harry?"

He turned to her and the pain vanished. "I think so. Let's go get seated."

The Express began to move again and they could dimly hear the cheers of other students. Harry and Hermione sat together on one seat, with Dean on the other side of Hermione and McGonagall across from them with Neville Longbottom. The others were sitting with Professor Sprout in the next compartment. Most of the teachers had decided to ride with the train and help soothe any worried students, although the headmaster and the unpleasant hook-nosed man had elected to return to the school. Harry absently rubbed at his scar, remembering the jolt of pain and trying to shake off a feeling of foreboding about what Hogwarts might bring.


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