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.

Happy Holidays! Here's your gift from me: finally getting another chapter out. I apologize for the delays that continue to plague me, but work provides the income and must be priority #1. Trust that this story is not abandoned and more chapters will arrive as I manage to get them written. Thank you to everyone who continues to read, fave/follow, recommend and review.

Reminder: I'm on Twitter under "avidbeader" if you are reading this on a guest account and would prefer to get your notifications of a new chapter that way. I promise I won't be spamming. I'm also on Tumblr under the same name; it's mostly for my own fannish glee but I have begun posting there with the tag "perils of innocence by avidbeader".


Chapter 29

29 October 1991

Harry and Justin were in the library after Potions, wanting to check on something Snape had said in class about mistletoe that sounded odd compared to their knowledge of the plant. Hermione and Dean had left them in favour of the Owlery to respond to a letter from Dean's parents. The Grangers had convinced the Thomases to look for a new house in Nottingham, along with steering Geoff Thomas to a position with a small transport company that still used the Trent River as a route to Nottingham. Geoff's years on the docks of the Thames would serve him well there. Dean was grumbling at having to choose whether to support Notts County or Nottingham Forest behind his beloved West Ham.

Harry brought a large index of potion ingredients to a table while Justin continued to search the shelves. He had just found a nice long entry on mistletoe when a scornful voice interrupted him.

"So, you're the great Harry Potter."

Harry looked up, his eyes narrowing as he recognized the blond boy from Diagon Alley, whose father had unknowingly warned the group of the consequences if they had tried to stick to being educated in the normal world and study magic on the side. He deliberately raised his voice to alert Justin, as the other boy had reinforcements in the shape of two quite large fellows behind him.

"I wouldn't say 'great', but yes I am Harry Potter. Who wants to know?"

"My name's Malfoy. Draco Malfoy. This is Crabbe and Goyle. Our fathers are very well placed in wizarding society. You might want to think about the company you've been keeping. Someone from a pureblood family like your father's shouldn't be hanging around mu-muggleborn riffraff."

"Oh, you think I should network elsewhere?" Harry bit the inside of his cheek to hold the smile in, enjoying the confusion on Malfoy's face. He continued, "Be friends with your sort?"

Malfoy stiffened, hearing the implied insult.

"You know, people that don't even know we've visited the moon?"

Malfoy scowled, realizing that Harry must have been part of the large group that day. The two boys behind him looked completely lost. Goyle, the larger of the two, even looked toward a sunny window, as if to verify whether the moon was still there after being visited by muggles.

While Malfoy searched for a way to respond, Harry concentrated on sticking the shoes of all three boys in place on the floor. He picked up the index, intending to ask the librarian about checking it out, but Justin rounded the corner.

"So, we meet again. Malfoy, wasn't it? Found some manners yet?"

"I don't have to stand here and take insults from the likes of you!" Malfoy attempted to stalk off, only to fall into Goyle as his shoes refused to budge. Goyle tried to catch him, but as his shoes were also stuck, he fell back as Malfoy's weight sent him to the floor. Crabbe stared at the two stupidly, then found himself also sprawled as he tried to bend and help them up.

Harry and Justin snickered and Harry jeered, "No, you don't have to stand. You can fall over and take the insults that way. You really should look for coordination, too, while you're searching for those manners."

Malfoy had managed to pull his feet free from his shoes and clamber to his feet. "Wait until my father hears about this!"

Justin shrugged. "And I'll gladly inform my father what sort of people attend this school. Perhaps Downing Street ought to be informed that the supposed premier magical institution of the nation is allowing just anyone with delusions of grandeur to bully others."

Harry smiled, hearing his friend assume what the others called his 'nob act'.

"I'll have you know my father is a confidant of the Minister of Magic!"

"Can your father or this minister request audience with the queen? I would imagine that as British wizards are still British first, that she's a wee bit higher on the scale that a minister. But you wouldn't know anything about that, would you? I've been talking to some of the other students, and you magical people are shockingly ignorant of the world you live in. Do you even know where Buckingham Palace is? Would you even know where to begin to seek out an invitation?"

"Why would I want to set foot in some muggle palace?"

"I didn't ask you if you wanted to walk into Buckingham Palace. I asked you if you could. Would you have the first clue how to dress, how to behave, how to address Her Majesty if given an audience? I don't believe you would." Justin picked up his satchel. "Come on, Harry, we've got better things to do with our time than try to educate those who refuse to learn."

Harry picked up his satchel and the book and followed Justin, leaving Malfoy sputtering and his cronies trying to work their feet free of their shoes.


31 October 1991

Hermione ground her teeth as the red-haired boy tried and failed again. Professor Flitwick's voice could be heard over the voices of students as they attempted the Levitation Charm.

"…saying the magic words properly is very important, too…"

She ducked as Weasley nearly poked her in the face with his wand. At that point her patience ran out. He had been ignoring the professor's instructions for the entire class and she was tired of being partnered with him.

Putting a hand out, she ordered, "Stop, stop. You're going to put someone's eye out like that. You're saying it wrong. It's 'win-GAR-dium le-vi-O-sa'. Make the 'gar' good and long and put the stress on the 'o' in 'leviosa', not the 'a'."

Weasley all but threw his wand down on the table. "If you're so bloody smart for someone who didn't even know about magic until this year, you do it!"

Hermione rolled up her sleeves, took a deep breath, and began to focus her energy into the wand as she and the rest of their group had practiced since discovering the trick a fortnight ago. It was still tremendously easier to simply manipulate the magic directly as they had learned at Esperança House, but they were starting to get the hang of the thing.

When she had the energy flowing through the wand, she waved it in imitation of Professor Flitwick and spoke very clearly and decisively. "Wingardium Leviosa!"

As the feather rose into the air, the tiny professor clapped. "Well done, Miss Granger!"

She continued poking the air with her wand, but now had the feather floating through her will alone. Harry and Dean gave her a thumbs-up sign and she smiled. Next to her, Weasley slumped in his chair and glared at her.


After Charms, the students filed out of the classroom and began going their separate ways, some to put their satchels away for the day, others on a quick run to the library. Harry, Dean, and Terry charged ahead, poking good-natured fun at Seamus Finnegan for setting his feather on fire. Sally-Anne was chatting with Padma Patil. Hermione had taken a moment to put her things away neatly in her bag and emerged to see Ronald Weasley talking to Michael Corner.

"She's a nightmare! So high and mighty with her 'win-GAR-dium levi-O-sa'! She ought to know she's got no business telling real witches and wizards what to do!"

Hermione paused at that. Anger flared at hearing a variation of the prejudices spouted by Malfoy's father from someone who was supposed to be part of her own house. Her family, according to what Professor McGonagall had said before the Opening Feast. For the first time in ages, that feeling of a balloon swelling in her head surged. It was so quick and fast that she nearly sent Weasley into a nearby suit of armour. Sucking in a breath, she spun and made for the nearest girls' toilet, hoping to get herself under control before she caused a problem.


Harry and Dean entered the Great Hall, taking in the giant pumpkins and live bats marking Hallowe'en. They looked around as they headed to their usual seats. Dean addressed Neville as he sat beside him.

"Neville, have you seen Hermione?"

"Not since Charms. She wasn't in the common-room, was she?"

"She wasn't in the library that we saw," Lavender Brown interjected, showing her impressive ability to follow many conversations at once as she was watching Fred Weasley and Angelina Johnson discuss the next Hogsmeade weekend. "But Parvati and I only went to turn in books."

Most of the students had entered and sat down, and food suddenly appeared down the centre of each table as usual. Harry and Dean looked at each other, indecisive about waiting for Hermione, when a familiar turbaned figure raced into the hall. He ran to the front where the other professors were seated and cried out, "Troll! In the dungeon! Thought you ought to know-"

As Quirrell dropped to the floor, out cold, pandemonium broke out among the students. Dumbledore produced a series of loud bangs from his wand to try and regain control. A red-haired girl from the Hufflepuff table made her way over to the Gryffindors.

"Potter! Thomas! It's about Granger, she's in the girls' toilets. She chased Hannah and me out earlier after Charms."

Harry felt the blood drain from his face. "She won't know about the troll! We've got to find her and warn her!"

"I'll let a prefect know," Neville volunteered. Harry nodded his thanks and he and Dean slipped into the line of Hufflepuffs following their prefects, away from Gryffindor Tower.


Hermione paced the length of the toilet, trying to channel her anger away from her magic. Her face was wet with tears and she scrubbed at them. She was furious at Weasley for his bigotry, furious at Corner for not arguing with Weasley, and furious with herself for not standing up to them right then and there. But she had been caught by surprise at the swiftness and strength of the upsurge in her magic and had run for the nearest place to try and get control again.

She counted the steps from one wall to the other, spun, and counted again. Twenty-four steps across. She remembered the surprised faces of the two Hufflepuff girls, almost shouting at them to leave, and felt ashamed. Then the surprise on the girls' faces morphed in her mind to the fright on her mother's the day she had wrecked the kitchen.

The cracking of glass made her jump, and Hermione sidestepped away from the broken mirror. She took a few panicked breaths, but only made things worse as the stained-glass window above her shattered and rained down trumpery gems.

"Stop it, stop it, STOP IT!"

She flung herself to the floor, back to the wall. She squeezed her eyes shut and fought to get control. "The owl and the pussycat went to sea, in a beautiful pea-green boat! They brought some honey and plenty of money, wrapped up in a five-pound note…" She could feel the floor beneath her tremble and pressed her hands to her head, trying harder. "The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar, o lovely Pussy, o Pussy, my love, what a beautiful Pussy you are…"

The hoarse breathing registered just before a guttural growl sounded above her and Hermione looked up.

A lumpish grey figure towered over her, with a menacing leer on its face. It tilted its head to one side, as if trying to decide whether she was a threat. Hermione tried to slide away from it, under the dubious shelter of a sink, and her movement seemed to decide things. The creature raised an enormous club to smash into her.

She flung her arms up instinctively and instantly thought of the experiments with Harry's protective wall at Esperança House. SHIELD! I need a shield!

The club descended, but bounced while still a half-metre from her head. It nearly recoiled into the creature's face, and that seemed to enrage it. It swung again, harder, and Hermione balled her fists, pouring more energy into the now-visible protective barrier. She was in a bubble of swirling lilac-coloured light and she tried to expand it and give herself more room to move around the beast.

The thing was watching her path, striking the shield repeatedly as if sensing that its prey was escaping. It changed its swing from overhand to sideways, trying to knock her back into the corner. In a burst of panic, Hermione moved to meet it and reinforced the shield yet again. A sudden sharp pain in her chest made her gasp and the shield's light flared and dimmed. The creature's next blow made the shield dip inward and Hermione tried yet again to bring more energy into herself.

This time the pain spread up from her chest into her head and she fell to her knees. The light began flickering and she screamed in pain and despair as the troll wound up for another swing.


Harry and Dean raced down the corridor until they found an intersection. Harry hesitated, glancing from left to right in indecision. He knew the boys' toilet was to the left, but had no recollection of a girls' toilet nearby. He pointed to the left. "Dean, you go that way, I'll go this way. Shout as soon as one of us finds her."

Harry moved swiftly down the right-hand hallway, checking every door. He had just found the third broom closet in a row and was seriously questioning the logic of the castle when he heard a terrified scream. He spotted the door to the girls' loo and charged through.

An enormous, repulsive figure was standing over Hermione, who was surrounded by a light purple bubble. As Harry ran toward them, shouting Dean's name, the troll brought a large club down on the bubble, shattering it into a splash of tiny shimmering sparks.

Hermione collapsed and Harry pushed at the troll with all the raw energy he could channel. It began sliding backwards across the stone floor until it was pressed to the far wall. Harry turned toward Hermione and tried to lift her. Her wand slipped out of a pocket in her robe and clattered to the floor.

Dean burst in and Harry looked up to see the troll roar and work one arm loose. "Get the professors!"

Dean hesitated for one brief second to argue, then turned and sprinted away. Harry was about to try and drag Hermione out of the toilet when the troll wrenched itself free and raised the club in both hands.

Harry dropped to his knees and wrapped his arms around Hermione to shield her and his panicked mind wished to be far away from this place, somewhere safe.

His chest, his entire body felt constricted, as if being squeezed through a tiny tube, and the toilet disappeared.


Sirius Black was at the table in the conference room. Dr Greene and Dr Aymler had talked with him about the strategy of writing things down as a way of getting them out of one's head and in a form where they could be examined and organized. He didn't see the harm in it and was currently pouring out his hatred of Peter Pettigrew and his betrayal. The fact that he was using a muggle biro and that strange white paper that Lily had sometimes had made the experience a bit of a novelty, enough to keep him concentrating on the act of writing without losing himself in his anger.

A sudden boomthat shook the entire room had him on his feet and grabbing for his wand. He could hear the shouts of children in the distance, and the voices of staff rising as they tried to calm everyone.

And then, through the open door, he heard a cry and realized he was not alone.

Sirius moved across the hall and cautiously looked in his bedroom. He stopped in shock at the sight of the two children on the floor before him.

Or better put, the two half-children on the floor.


Harry gasped as the squeezing feeling let up and fell forward on Hermione. He tried to scramble up, but fell again as his knees wouldn't move. He managed to prop himself up, letting out a soft wail as he registered the pain in his knees.

He stayed on all fours, trying to sort out what was happening. His head snapped up when he heard a voice full of astonishment.


Harry recognized the man from the pictures in the newspaper that many of the students read. This was Sirius Black, the man who was supposed to have raised him. He strode over and crouched next to them.

"Mr. Bl-Mr. Black, it hurts. My legs hurt so much!"

"It's no wonder, Harry. You've managed to splinch both yourself and Miss Granger. I presume that this is Miss Granger?"

"Hermione, the troll was about to attack her and she fainted…"

Sirius raised his wand and concentrated. Harry saw a bright silver light form and streak out of the room. "Help will be here soon. Let me take a look at you two."

Harry watched as he ran his wand over Hermione's body and for the first time realized that she…wasn't all there. Her left arm and leg were missing.

He tried and failed again to move from his knees and realized that both his legs were gone from the knee down.


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