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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 in Rowling's sandbox.


4 August 1990

After a pleasant dinner, the Grangers found themselves at loose ends. A quick look at the BBC produced no programmes that captured their interest. With Harry as company, the adults were adamant that they weren't going to divide up and stick noses into books. It was Viola who had an inspiration, remembering the stack of board games that she and Robert had amassed and played with other couples before their practice took off and Hermione arrived.

Harry followed her up the stairs, curious to see what a real attic looked like. As Viola began pushing boxes aside, searching for the one she wanted, Harry looked around in mild disappointment. There were no intriguing piles of junk from decades past: no shapely dress forms for sewing looming in corners, no piles of old dolls with glassy stares, no open trunks of ancient tools glinting wickedly. This attic was neat and organized with stacks of labelled boxes. His eyes ran down, reading random ones.

Toddler clothes - Hermione 1980

Rose-and-vine drapes/loose covers - old sitting room

School records - Robert, uni

He paused at one that was written in a different hand from the bold block-letter strokes of the others: For Hermione, from Grandma Miranda.

"Mrs Granger, what's this?"

Viola stood up, a Scrabble set in her hand. "What have you found?"

"Something for Hermione from her grandmother."

Viola came over to him and read the label. She smiled, touching the thin, spidery writing. "When my mother was dying, she put together boxes like this one for each grandchild. Hermione was only three at the time, so the box just got pushed up here."

"What's in it?"

"I think it's her crafting supplies. She was a lifelong knitter and crocheter, never without yarn in her hands when she had the time to sit down. I only learned the basics. I think she hoped that Hermione might take up where she left off."

Harry brightened as an idea occurred to him. "Her birthday's next month, isn't it?"

"Yes, on the nineteenth."

"Maybe we can make this a part of it? Put together everything that's still good and add to it, like some new yarn if what's in there is too old and an instruction book. Mary at Esperança House knits, I think. She could help me get what we need. It would be so much better than just getting her another book to read!"

Viola paused, surprised at her own sudden and strong joy. Hermione's birthdays had been peppered with attempts to invite neighbourhood children and schoolmates and had never quite come off. It was obvious each year that most of the children were attending because their parents had insisted, and only wanted to have the cake and leave. Seeing a child not only think of Hermione's birthday at all, but spout off plans with his eyes shining made her want to hug the boy in front of her.

"I think that's a perfect idea. I'll bring the box down this week and go through it, then send you a note of what needs replacing and let you and your friend work it out. Will you need money?"

Harry shook his head. "I have a little saved up. There's usually a bit of pocket change coming from a few of the regular donors two or three times a year. And Mary and Pippa can go in with me."

Viola was trying to express her thanks to this remarkable child when Hermione's voice echoed up the stairs, "Did you get lost up there?"


19 September 1990

Hermione was in heaven. She could smell the rich chocolate fondant covering the cake on the table in front of her. She could feel the bright sunshine that made the day unexpectedly perfect for the outdoor party. Her eyes were almost dazzled with the bright colours from the pile of presents in front of her. She clutched Sir Woof to her to keep from squealing with glee. She'd debated whether eleven was too old for carrying one's stuffed dog to a party, but Harry had automatically scooped him up when he came to bring her out to the garden.

Her parents were chatting with Dr Aymler and Miss Fishman. Whatever the teacher was saying, her parents were looking extremely pleased. Hermione thought they ought to be; she had sailed through every placement test with ease and was already set to begin preliminary GCSE work. Harry was just a step behind her and they were both in classes with the handful of students set in Years Six through Eight. That suited Hermione perfectly, as it separated them from the odious Moffat several times a week.

Pippa sat with her notepad and nodded at Hermione. She drew the first package toward her as Harry began a chant of "Presents! Presents!" with the other children. It proved to be a book, naturally, from Dr Aymler and Harry's mates Toby and Caleb. She smiled at the boys and glanced inside the copy of The Hobbit appreciatively.

"Read later, darling," Viola reminded her. Harry tried to help Hermione cover her blushes and pushed another package to her.

The knitting book happened to surface first. Hermione was slightly puzzled as she looked inside at the inscription: Something new to keep your brain cells firing! Love from Harry, Mary, and Pippa. She could understand Mary giving her something like this, having seen the aide teach a few of the children some simple stitches or take advantage of her desk time to work on her latest project. But she hadn't been expecting something like this from Harry.

Viola leaned forward and pushed the largest box toward her. "This one next."

Hermione pulled the paper off and opened the box. Her mouth dropped open at the riot of colours piled in the box. As she began moving skeins of yarn to uncover an envelope that had been partially buried, she paused to pet it, appreciating the softness.

The card was signed, from your loving Grandma Miranda, your Mum and Dad, and Harry. Hermione looked over at Harry in surprise.

"Your mum and I found the box in your attic when we were looking for board games. I wondered if you'd like trying something new."

Hermione frowned slightly. "But spending for all this? What if I'm no good at it?"

Harry actually rolled his eyes. "Hermione, you could never be bad at anything once you decided to learn it. But the only new thing is the book; your Grandma Miranda packed the yarn and stuff up really well."

Hermione stroked one of the skeins again, a pretty blue that called to her. "Mary, will you be able to show me sometime?"

Mary beamed. "Of course, dear. We can give it a try at the end of my shift, if you like."

Hermione smiled back and reached for another package.


Harry's prediction proved true, as Hermione had mastered the basic knit stitch after just a half-hour with Mary. With the knitting book by her side, Hermione was sitting under the strongest lamp in the lounge and working on a narrow scarf intended for Sir Woof. Harry was sprawled on the couch across from her with a book in front of him, but was actually watching her. Seeing the way her mouth twisted up in concentration as she tried to keep the stitches even made him want to laugh.

Hermione paused and held up her work, scanning the last few rows and counting the stitches. "Oh, bother!"

"What is it?"

"I dropped a stitch almost five rows ago and didn't see it until now. Now I have to undo all this back to the mistake and redo it!" She glared at the offending tiny gap in the scarf, frustrated.

Harry leaned forward and looked closely, unable to find the mistake at first. Then he gasped, seeing the yarn actually rearrange itself, a strand passing through another to create a perfect stitch. "Wicked!"

Hermione stared for a moment at what she had done, then dropped her work into her lap and stared at Harry. "But…but I hardly felt the pressure starting! I didn't even have time to fully think before it happened!"

"So, you're getting faster. And controlling it better. Remember getting Sir Woof back from Moffat?"

Hermione's expression puzzled him. She looked half angry and half frightened, with the first hint of tears in her eyes. "But how am I controlling it? I'm not like you, I can't just nod and be okay with it happening. I need to understand it."

Harry hesitated, feeling out of his depth, then tentatively reached out and covered her hands with his. He had a flash of sitting with Dr Greene with plates of cake in their laps and brightened. "How about you ask to talk to Dr Greene again? I think she feels a lot like you do, needing to explain everything about these incidents. And then maybe we can talk to her and Dr Aymler together. There's got to be a middle point between you needing to know and me just wanting control. If we can find that and go from there, maybe it'll help."

Hermione smiled, the threatening tears retreating as he offered his compromise. "I know everyone thinks I'm the smart one, but you're not so bad, yourself."

Harry sat back and returned to his book. Hermione picked up her knitting again. When Sushila walked by on the way to her station, she paused, smiling at the scene of content domesticity that the two children presented.


20 September 1990

Emily looked up from her work at the light tap on the door. She smiled at Hermione as the child hovered, not entering the room. "Am I interrupting you?"

Emily closed the file she had been working on and slid it to the side to emphasize her answer. "Not at all. What's on your mind?"

Hermione came in, almost tiptoeing, and sat gingerly on the edge of a chair in front of the desk. Emily had a vivid flash of memory, recalling her first session with this precocious child that worried so about doing the correct thing.

The trick was to get her to let go of rules a little and worry more about doing the right thing.

Emily filed that sudden little insight away for the moment and leaned forward on her elbows. When Hermione still hadn't worked up the nerve to say anything, she asked, "You and Harry didn't fight, did you?" It was the only thing she could think of that might have the girl so tongue-tied.

Hermione shook her head, still looking toward the floor. "No'm. Harry's the one who said I should talk to you again."

Emily raised her eyebrows at that. "All right. What are we talking about?"

"Harry said…" Hermione took a deep breath and tried again. "Harry said that you and I see our…incidents…in the same way. That we're both afraid of them, of what it means not being able to understand them or why they happen."

It took every last bit of her ability to control her expression, but Emily managed to hide the sudden rush of reacting emotions. The fear, because she still did fear this extraordinary power the two children showed. The pride and marvel over Harry's gift of insight. The fierce irritation that a child had read her own mental state so accurately and then shared it with another child. She managed to reply, "There is some truth to that."

"Is that why you and Dr Aymler switched?"

This time Emily couldn't keep from blinking at just how fast Hermione's mind worked. "We switched for several reasons, trying to do what was best for you two."

Hermione took the hint, but came back to her original topic. "I guess what I wanted to know is if you found any answers yet."

Emily got up and crossed to her door, closing it firmly. She then led Hermione by the hand to the bench seat under the window so they could sit together. Turning to the child, she said, "Tell me this first. What would you do if we never found a name for this?"

She felt Hermione jump in momentary panic at the thought. She also noticed several things on her desk slide a few millimetres, as if the desk had also jumped. She took Hermione's hands to distract the girl.

"That scares you, doesn't it? Now, what if we didn't find a name, but you and Harry learned to control it completely?"

"But if we don't know what it is, how can we ever know that we've fully controlled it?"

Emily considered that a moment. "Well, how is that different from other situations? Once you've learned how to drive a car, you may think you're completely in control of it. But one blown tire, the brakes failing at just the wrong moment-"

"Skidding on wet pavement," Hermione supplied absently, her eyes briefly turned inward at a memory.

"Exactly. Just because you've gained control, there's no guarantee that other factors won't interfere and cause you problems. Now, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't keep looking to identify what goes on with you and Harry. But Dr Aymler helped me to not obsess about it so much. You two have made quite a bit of progress so far and we can keep making progress until you're at a point where you've got reasonable control and we know you won't cause incidents because someone upset you or because a door slammed and scared you. And once you're there, you and Harry will be able to go on with your lives and just keep in touch with us whenever you need us." Feeling that it was the right time, she pulled Hermione into a one-armed hug.

Hermione relaxed, smiling, but suddenly sat up with a look of horror on her face. This time the desk clearly jumped several inches, scattering everything on it and knocking the small lamp over.

Emily grabbed her by the shoulders. "What is it?"

The child's face crumpled as tears filled her eyes and spilled over. "Where would Harry go?"

She had forgotten. Emily mentally kicked herself for that lapse. "He can stay here for as long as he wants, never fear that. We filed custody papers years ago when his family failed to get back in touch. They never came forward to challenge it and the investigation showed that they gave us a false name and address. There wasn't even an official record of Harry's birth to start from, just what those relatives told us. That was enough for the court to let us take care of Harry."

She rubbed a soothing hand on Hermione's back. "Why did that scare you so much?"

Hermione scrubbed at her tears. "Because…because I think they hurt him."

This time the hug was for herself as well as her patient, as Emily now had corroboration for what she had long suspected. Harry had let hints slip, but had managed to give the impression that it wasn't that serious and that he'd recovered from it. If Hermione saw it differently, then they needed to revisit the issue.

She guided Hermione to the washroom to tidy her face, then went in search of Patrick. It was time for some consultation.


Author's Note: Thank you for continuing to read and review!