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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 with what-ifs in the Potterverse.


20 June 1990

Hermione hesitated in the doorway, looking around Dr Greene's therapy room. It was perfectly pleasant, looking like a slightly smaller version of one of the playrooms: table and chairs, squashy chairs and a couch, a toy box with stuffed animals, dolls, and manipulatives that the doctor found useful when working with the children. Dr Greene sat at the table, glancing through a file. She looked up and smiled.

"Good morning, Hermione. How are you feeling?"

"Okay, I guess." She came to sit on the other side of the table, arranging her hands and feet as if she were about to be asked to recite. Dr Greene picked up her tension immediately.

"Where would you be most comfortable? We can sit in the chairs, on the floor. We can even go outside and walk around while we talk, if you prefer."

Hermione blushed. "I'm sorry, I…er…"

Dr Greene reached over and patted her hands. "I'll let you in on a little secret." She leaned forward and whispered with intensity, "There are no wrong answers in this room." As Hermione burst into a nervous giggle, she leaned back again. "Seriously, Hermione. You aren't being tested. I simply want to get to know you a little and talk a little about your problem."

"But, I thought I was just like Harry?"

Dr Greene raised an eyebrow. "So you two have talked? Compared notes?"

"Well, sort of…"

"I agree that the two of you seem to have the same issue, but that doesn't mean you're exactly alike. I need to know about what happens to you so I can compare it with what I have on Harry and see if some of the things we've learned with him can help you. Think you can handle that?"

"I suppose."

"Brava, my girl. So, first I need to get to know Hermione Granger. Let's start by telling me about a typical school day in the Granger home."

"Well, Mum and Dad are both dentists. They open the surgery early and take turns going in so one of them can see me off to school…"


After three-quarters of an hour, Dr Greene looked over her notes. Despite her earlier assertion, it looked as if Harry and Hermione did indeed have the exact same problem. They would have accidents, where something might move, break or change. Those accidents almost always happened due to strong emotions: fear, anger, surprise and very occasionally joy.

What Dr Greene hadn't expected was for the two to have something else in common. Harry had suffered neglect and physical abuse at the hands of his family. The doctor suspected that Hermione was dealing with a different type of abuse from her parents, that of impossible expectations. She was precociously smart and had an incredible thirst for knowledge. Her parents had seen this and mapped out her life to be a well-rounded student who would be invited to the best universities.

But Hermione was also a natural introvert. She preferred being alone with her books to socializing with other children who weren't as bright or quick. And as her parents pushed her to broaden her interests, Hermione had resisted. And the accidents had begun. The fight over dance lessons that had precipitated enrolling in Esperança House was simply the most dramatic and destructive incident.

Her parents wanted the problem solved, quickly and quietly, in order to put their daughter back on her path of glory to Oxford or Cambridge. In their own way, they were just as offensive as Harry's family had been in their furtiveness, looking for the first opportunity to jettison an unwanted and problematic child.

But Emily Greene had a strong feeling that these two children needed each other as much as they needed the care that she could provide.

She looked over at Hermione. As she had relaxed, the child had begun to wander around the room and was currently sprawled on the couch, fingering a stray book she'd found in the pile of games. "What do you think about asking Harry to join us?"

She brightened and sat up. Dr Greene pulled out her radio and asked the staff to find Harry and send him in.

Harry arrived in less than a minute, almost running into the room. A dry "Hello, Harry" from Dr Greene let him know that she knew he'd been hovering nearby. She had thought long and hard about the almost scary connection these children had made and decided that instant mutual support now was worth the potential for unhealthy co-dependency later. If she stayed on the lookout, she could head that situation off before it became a serious problem.

She stood and waved Harry toward the couch and chairs. "I've gotten some of what I need from Hermione, and now I think it's time you share your experience with her."

Hermione moved to one end of the couch and Harry went to sit beside her, ignoring the chairs. Dr Greene sat in one, noting their body language. While Harry had certainly blossomed into an outgoing and generous boy since Pippa's breakthrough that long-ago winter day, he was still generally polite and wary around strangers. And what little she'd observed of Hermione had not pointed to her making such a close friend so fast.

She dragged her mind back to the moment as the two children looked at her expectantly. "Harry, can you describe for Hermione the physical feelings you have when an incident is building? Just like you've done with me."

Harry obliged, going into great detail of the pressure he would feel in his head. He compared it to the feeling of a balloon expanding inside his skull. He mentioned strategies that he had created with the doctors' help to ease that pressure, which would usually lessen the severity of an accident or occasionally prevent it. Hermione nodded a great deal, interjecting with "Exactly!" or "Me, too!" enough to convince the doctor that she did indeed have two identical cases of…whatever this was. By now the two children were focused completely on one another, talking freely as if she weren't in the room.

Dr Greene smiled and kept taking notes.


6 July 1990

Harry was at his window, watching the drive. Every few minutes he glanced over at Hermione, who had taken the squashy chair and was holding Sir Woof, her dog. Her smaller suitcase was next to the chair. She was staring into space and rocking slightly as she concentrated.

He knew what she was doing. After their first joint session, Dr Greene had quickly paired them up for sessions twice a week and Harry had shared more of his experience. One of his tricks was to distract himself by concentrating on something unrelated, such as mentally reciting the statistics of some of his favourite motorcycles. Hermione had chosen to memorize "The Owl and the Pussycat". So far there had been at least one time that she'd been able to delay an incident; the tree branch had still come down, but at least Moffat was no longer under it by that point.

He spotted the car as it wound its way up to the house. "They're here."

Hermione bolted to her feet, automatically squeezing Sir Woof. Harry picked up the suitcase. "It'll be all right. It's just a visit and you'll be back on Sunday."

"I know. I just wish they'd waited a little longer. I don't feel ready to leave."

He reached out and patted her shoulder. "Remember you can telephone. Mary put a nice big note at the nurses' desk phone for someone to get me if you ring."

She took a deep breath and nodded. "I know. It's just…I know I'm going to really miss you."

"Me, too."

At that moment, Mary came into view, leading the Grangers. Their smiles at seeing Hermione were huge and she responded, briefly losing her nervousness and launching herself at them. "Mum! Dad!"

They embraced, then Mr Granger held out a hand. "Harry, wasn't it?"

"Yes, sir." Harry shook hands and returned Mrs Granger's nod.

Hermione launched into slightly nervous chatter. "Harry's been wonderful showing me around. He knows everything about Esperança House!"

Mrs Granger said, "That's nice, dear. I must say you look a bit bronzed. Has our little bookworm actually been outside?"

"Harry and I built a tree fort! Dr Aymler helped us. We take our books or a game up there or pretend we're castaways or Robin Hood's men. It's great fun."

"Really? That's wonderful." Her mother responded to Hermione's enthusiasm with pleased surprise. "Oh, here's the doctor."

Dr Greene came up with a clipboard. "Here's the release form for the weekend. Please do ring us if you need, otherwise we'll see you Sunday afternoon."

Mr Granger signed and looked around, pausing when he realized Hermione's suitcase was in Harry's hand. "Well, concierge service and everything?" Harry smiled and followed them out.

At the car, he and Hermione hesitated a moment, then she took the plunge and hugged him. He hugged her back briefly. "See you Sunday."

He stood and watched the car until it was out of sight, suddenly feeling forlorn.


7 July 1990

Hermione came down to breakfast Saturday morning feeling depressed. She had had a nice dinner out with her parents, talking about all the ordinary things to do with Esperança House: the doctors, the nurses and aides, a little about the other children in residence, but mostly about Harry. But now she felt that she had shared everything with them and she was ready to go back. The day stretched out before her, long and empty.

Her mother began assembling toast and fruit for her, chattering cheerfully about how Hermione had made a real breakthrough being so happy about something and how yesterday had been completely uneventful.

Viola picked up Hermione's glass and began to pour juice into it. "In fact, you've made such progress that we'll probably be able to bring you home in time for school in September-"

The glass shattered in Viola's hand, spattering juice everywhere. Viola looked at Hermione, shocked at her daughter's white, stricken face.

After one frozen second, Hermione jumped up and ran for a towel. "You aren't cut, are you?"

She examined her hand. "No, just covered in apple juice. I thought you said you were learning how to handle yourself."

"I was…I am. I just…Mum, it's only been three weeks! I've only just started!" She scrubbed frantically at the table.

"But you said you were learning to control these impulses, that this Harry had helped."

"He has! But there's so much more to learn…" Hermione trailed off and closed her eyes, concentrating on her verses to try and beat back the pressure still roiling in her head: They sailed away, for a year and a day/To the land where the Bong-tree grows/And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood/With a ring at the end of his nose…

"But you have to return to school, darling."

"They have teachers there! Harry said they teach everything just like in comprehensive."

Viola's expression hardened. "And what do you think it will look like on your records if you have 'Esperança House' as one of your schools?"

"Harry's planning on going to uni!"

"Harry is an orphan and living in a care facility for children will not look odd on his record! Think, Hermione! Think about your future!"

The pressure got out and Hermione and her mother had to duck as the cabinet doors flew open and dishes shot out, smashing against the walls and table. Hermione heard her mother scream and fought harder to stem the tide that seemed to be pouring from her mind. In the background she could hear her father running downstairs.

"Bloody hell! Viola, Hermione? Are you all right?"

Switching tactics, Hermione began concentrating on Harry's trick of motorcycles. She couldn't recite specs and speeds the way he could, but she pictured each of his models on his shelf, one after another, remembering who had given him each one. The storm subsided and Robert stepped carefully into the room, looking aghast at the disaster.

Hermione burst into tears. "I need to go back, I'm not ready, I need their help…"

Robert pulled Hermione to her feet, checking for injuries. "Of course you're going back, poppet. We know you need time to get this…this thing under control. Who said you're not going back?"

"Mum said I should be ready for school in the fall…"

Robert shot his wife a look, then helped her stand. "I don't know why you said that, Vi. We knew we'd have to be flexible when we enrolled Hermione into their program."

"But Robert, her education! What if-"

"Stop it! If we don't get this sorted there won't be any education to worry about!"

Feeling the pressure rising again, Hermione turned and ran. She pounded up the stairs to her room and flung herself on her bed, grabbing Sir Woof as the tears began.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'd fix it if I could! Why can't I fix things that are wrong?" She let herself cry out the feeling in her head, wishing desperately that she hadn't essentially exploded the kitchen.

She was sobbing too hard to hear the cries from her parents, watching in fearful astonishment as every broken dish and glass reassembled itself and floated back into its place in the cupboards, finishing with the restored glass of juice on the table.


Author's Note: Thanks so much for the nice response to this story! Reviews, especially Brit-picking ones, are very welcome.