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.


3 August 1990

Robert Granger treasured his Friday nights. He had a simple routine, established since his youth, that Friday night was for doing as little work as possible. Dinner was often takeaway of some sort, and tonight he brought Chinese. Hermione had observed during her first night home that the canteen at Esperança House did excellent Yorkshire pudding and reasonable curries, but none of her favourite Asian dishes.

After dinner, Robert would putter about in the garden, watch footie on the telly, or disappear into the library with a book. Hermione had learned early on that as long as she didn't pester him with too many questions, she was welcome to read her own book in the next chair.

His ritual included staying up much later than Viola and having a bit of a lie-in on Saturday morning. Tonight he had got lost in a new book and only now at two in the morning was heading for his bedroom.

He passed Hermione's door and Harry's, both pulled close but not shut completely. He wondered if this was the rule in their halls at the institute. As he was about to enter his bedroom, he heard someone stir and moan.

Robert listened for a moment, then moved to Harry's door. At the sound of more thrashing about, he pushed the door open.

In the light from the window, provided by the moon and streetlamps, Robert could see Harry, tangled in his sheets, and shifting about. He moved to the bed and began gently freeing the boy from the covers. As he did, Harry jerked away, crying out softly, "No, I didn't mean to! Don't, please!"

Robert paused, aghast. It wasn't just the words themselves. It was the tone, pleading and fearful. It was how Harry had curled up into a protective ball, shielding his stomach by drawing his knees up and covering his head with his arms. It was how he kept the pleading to a near-whisper, striving to stay quiet.

Robert reached out gently and jostled the boy's shoulder. "Harry, wake up! You're having a bad dream. Come on, son, wake up!"

Harry's eyes flew open and he looked around wildly. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to!"

Robert turned Harry's face to him, not missing how the child's instinct was to duck. "Harry, it's all right! You're not in trouble."

Harry squinted and began feeling for his glasses. Robert picked them up from the nightstand for him. Blinking owlishly as his sight cleared, Harry focused. "Mr Granger?"

"You all right there? That sounded like quite the nightmare."

Harry looked away and began tidying the sheets. "I'm sorry I woke you."

Robert was surprised at feeling hurt when Harry didn't look at him. "You didn't wake me. I stay up late every Friday. I happened to hear you as I was passing." He helped shake out the covers. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Harry was still making a show of adjusting the duvet. "About what?"

"About the nightmare. It usually helps me to talk for a minute, get it out of my system."

"I don't really remember." The response was automatic and again Robert felt rejected. "Thank you, Mr Granger. I think I can sleep now."

He shoved his own feelings aside with an effort. "I think that it's safe to call me Robert, son. If you need to wake me or Viola, please do so."

Harry nodded and let Robert tuck the covers around him. "Thank you, sir."

"You're welcome, Harry. Sleep well."

Robert slipped into his own room and prepared for bed on autopilot, his mind worrying at this revelation, a parallel to his daughter's thoughts earlier.


4 August 1990

The next morning Hermione woke first. She padded down to the kitchen and fished a small carton of yoghurt from the icebox. As she looked in the cupboard for the granola to add to it, Viola came in.

She hesitated, looking around the neat kitchen as she remembered the destruction the last time she and her daughter had been here together. But she plastered a smile on her face as Hermione stood with a bag in her hand.

"What do you think Harry would like for breakfast?"

Hermione smiled, adding granola to her carton. "I've seen him eat everything…except kippers. I think eggs and toast and whatever will be fine."

Viola took a pan from its peg on the wall and set it on the cooker. "I think we have more bacon than anything else. Will you look and see, dear?"

Hermione gave her yoghurt a last stir and obliged. As she dug around, she squealed, "When did you get gooseberry jam?"

"Martha brought it in to the surgery last week. She found it in a little roadside market when she went to Wales on holiday."

Hermione passed the bacon to her mother and took out the gooseberry jam. She added two heaping spoonfuls to her yoghurt and stirred it in. Viola broke into laughter at her daughter's blissful expression with the first bite.

"There's a second jar in the cupboard. You can take it back with you."

"Thanks, Mum." As Hermione ate, she kept an ear out for any more signs of life above. Harry was usually up and around shortly after she was.


"Yes, dear?"

"Last night, did you see what Harry did?"

Viola looked up from whisking eggs to scramble. "What did he do?"

"When I said we should go to our rooms, he…he started for the cupboard under the stairs."

The whisk paused and Viola frowned at Hermione. "Perhaps he was thinking of stowing his bag there?"

"Before unpacking it, Mum?"

"Why are you asking, Hermione?"

"He said something once. I think the uncle and aunt he used to live with treated him badly."

"How badly?"

"He didn't say anything definite. But I think…I think it was bad enough. What if they put him under the stairs to sleep?"

Viola looked down and began whisking again. The movement got faster as she imagined the possibilities.

"Mum?" Hermione's voice, concerned and just a little frightened, broke her concentration.

"I'm sorry, dear." Viola concentrated on preparing breakfast and regaining her calm demeanour.

Until Robert pulled her aside after breakfast to tell her what he'd witnessed in the night.


While her parents compared notes in the kitchen, Hermione was showing Harry around the house and watching him like a hawk. He seemed perfectly normal, going through the books in her room and asking questions about the knickknacks she had from trips with her parents. That led to the library where the photo albums were kept and Hermione showed an increasingly wistful Harry scenes from vacations in France, Italy, Spain, and one particularly exciting trip to the United States. The Grangers had spent three weeks touring New York and Washington, and finished in Florida at Disney World. By the end, Harry was looking quite depressed but trying to hide it. Hermione thought it was time for a distraction.

"Mum? Dad?" When can we go to Waterstone's?"

Viola looked in on them, taking in the albums spread across the floor around the children and the downcast slump of Harry's shoulders. "Anytime, I suppose. Go brush your teeth."

Hermione hopped to her feet and seized Harry's hand to drag him upstairs.

"Brush our teeth?" Harry asked.

"Dentists," Hermione replied blithely. "Live with it."

Half an hour later they had entered Waterstone's. Robert headed for biographies, Viola for the mysteries, and Hermione led Harry to the children's area.

Hermione took charge, setting out books by authors she knew Harry enjoyed. She stacked them by price so he could budget his £20 most easily. As she was about to move on to selecting titles by new authors she thought he might like, Harry finally spoke up.

"Er…Hermione? Can I…can I look around for myself, too?"

She froze and looked at the rather enormous pile of books she'd collected for him. Suddenly her ears rang with the jeers from classmates at her school: Bossy swot! Know-it-all! Teacher's pet!

Her hands flew to her face. "Oh, Harry! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean-"

He spread out his own hands. "I know, I know you didn't. And I'll look at every one, promise! Why don't you look for yourself a minute and let me at the shelves?"

Hermione relaxed at Harry's suggestion and nodded. "All right. I'll be right back. I wanted to check one section anyway."

"Which one?"

"Dr Aymler called it 'esoterica'. I know he was mostly joking about us being telekinetic when he said it in session, but I thought it was at least worth researching a little."

Harry grimaced slightly. "Honestly, I don't care what it's called as long as we get to where we control it."

Hermione nodded in understanding and took off at a brisk trot down the aisle. Left alone, Harry began scanning the shelves with the feel of Christmas come early. He paused to look over Hermione's stacks and see what she'd chosen, then found the As and began reading the spines.

He had pulled out two or three possibilities by the time he was halfway through. He spotted the author Madeleine L'Engle on the very top shelf; he had heard of her, but Esperança House didn't have any of her books in its library. Without a stool or ladder in sight, he strained to reach it.

Come on, he thought.

And yelped as the entire shelf emptied on top of him.

A clerk came running. "What happened?"

He looked up at the tall, thin blond woman, staring at him in horror and fury at the pile of cereal boxes next to him. He honestly had no idea what had happened. He had wanted a bright coloured box to show her, to ask if she would buy it and had hoped that this time, finally, she might say yes. The round blond boy next to her was smiling nastily, almost bouncing in anticipation, waiting to see what punishment would fall this time-

"I didn't mean to!" Harry bent over and began gathering the spilled books hastily.

The clerk, a bespectacled woman with dark hair in plaits, knelt to help him. "Are you all right?"

"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to, I really didn't!"

She smiled at him. "I know you didn't."

"I'll pick them up!"

The clerk faltered, suddenly feeling uneasy. She reached out and took his arm. "Dear, it's all right. It was an accident, that's all."

The word 'accident' snapped Harry out of it. He no longer saw the woman and boy in a market, but the clerk in the bookstore. Just then, Hermione rounded the corner into view. She took in the scene in one glance: the pile of books and the empty top shelf, Harry and the clerk crouched on the floor, the clerk's worried expression and Harry looking as if he'd been caught sneaking sweets from the tuck cupboard. She ran forward.

"Harry, are you all right?"

He nodded, though his eyes still seemed to be focused inward. "Had a little accident."

Hermione joined him on the floor, looking at the clerk. "We'll take care of this. Everything will be in order and ready for the shelf in a minute."

Her tone was so self-assured that the clerk rose and started moving away before she realized it. Rather than return and draw further attention-a few patrons were beginning to watch-she left the children to it.

Harry continued to gather the books and Hermione swiftly sorted them into order by author. As she worked, she asked in an undertone, "What happened?"

"I think I wanted to move one book I couldn't reach and it sort of slipped out a bit too strongly." He set a copy of A Wrinkle in Time aside as he worked.

"I'm sorry." Hermione tried to think of a way to ask him about that momentary haunted look in his eyes, but nothing came. She settled for finishing stacking the books. The same clerk returned almost as soon as she was done and replaced them on the shelf by the handful.

Hermione almost resented her obvious hovering, but the woman smiled at them. "Nice work, there. You two need a job?"

She let the compliment cheer her as she and Harry sorted through possibilities until he'd created a set that would total just under the price of the gift certificate. Harry let Hermione stack them in his arms and lead him toward the front.

"Find anything in your section?"

Hermione made a face. "Not really. The couple that I looked through had all kinds of theories, but nothing in the way of trying to explain exactly how it happens. Just loads of rubbish."

Harry shrugged philosophically. "So we deal with it like we have been. Survive until it's sorted."

Hermione hesitated, the first question on her lips.

"Poppet! Ready to go yet?"

Hermione blew a stray lock of hair from her face in exasperation and followed Harry to the front of the store.


With a large number of residents home on weekend visits, the three doctors for Esperança House were taking advantage of the relative quiet to catch up on paperwork. They had taken over Emily's office and were correlating notes for the children who worked with more than one of them, looking for any gaps in the endless required documentation. They had two pizzas and several bottles of Guinness to ease the burden.

Patrick stopped for a moment and stretched. He glanced at the clock and smiled.

Joshua Takenaka, the third member of the team, noticed. "What is it?"

"What is what?"

"You looked like a cheerful walrus instead of a grumpy one for a minute."

Patrick stuck two good-natured fingers at his colleague and Emily joined in Joshua's laughter. When their snickers had trailed off, Patrick shrugged. "It's been over twenty-four hours and we haven't gotten a ring from the Grangers. I hope that means good news."

Joshua looked puzzled for a moment, then his face cleared as he placed the name. "Ah, your two little spooky ones. Is the transition going well?"

Emily looked down, feeling guilty, but Joshua's attention was on Patrick as he answered. "I think it's been a good thing. It's given them a bit of a new perspective and I'm certainly enjoying getting to know them better as we thrash this out."

"I was thinking about them this week."

It was Patrick's turn to look puzzled. "Why's that?"

Joshua dug into his briefcase and pulled out an advert. "This came in the post. They've updated the offerings at this year's BSA conference." He handed it to Emily, who was closer. "Look at Saturday morning."

She scanned the page. "You mean Tomas Ericsson?"

Patrick rolled his eyes. "That man's a nutter."

Joshua leaned forward. "Possibly. And possibly his research into extrasensory powers may have some connection to your two, or at least suggest a path to try to help them achieve full control."

Patrick shrugged. "I'm already set on going. What do you think, Em?"

She wrinkled her nose and tossed the advert back to Joshua. "I suppose. Nothing ventured, nothing gained."


Author's Note: Thank you so much for the continued interest and your reviews. I read every one and try to respond to them all.