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.


30 September 1990

Patrick waited in his therapy room, fretfully playing with a Newton's Cradle that had been a gift several years ago from one of his first patients. He started the rhythmic clacking with a different number of balls each time: one, two, four, three, four, one, two. He had just gotten into dropping a ball from each side simultaneously when Emily came in, leading the Grangers.

"Harry and Hermione are putting their things away and Mary will provide a diversion with a few knitting books to show Hermione." She invited Robert and Viola to sit. They chose to sit together on Patrick's classic Freudian divan. He took his comfy recliner, which left the wing chair for Emily.

Patrick leaned forward. "How did this weekend go?"

Robert and Viola looked at one another, and she nodded to him. He drew a breath and began. "We didn't have the automatic move to go into the under-stairs cupboard this time, but then this was Harry's second time there and he knew the ropes. He did have nightmares both nights. We set up the baby monitors we bought with one in our bedroom and the other in the guest room behind a set of books. We could hear him moving around and crying out, mostly along the lines of "don't, please" and "I didn't mean to". I went in the first night to soothe him and before he was quite awake he shied away from me. Once he was awake he was quick to shrug it off. He tried to joke that someone must have died in the room once and perhaps he should sleep on the couch. He clearly didn't want to talk about it."

Viola nodded, holding back tears. "I went to wake him last night. He instinctively jerked away from me before he woke. When he started to wake up, he didn't seem quite so physically afraid, like I was going to hit him, but it was almost terrifying how quiet he was being. It was as if he was desperate not to cause any disturbance-"

"And then I stuck my head in the door to ask if I could help-"

"That's when the whole house shook to its foundations."

Both doctors sat up at that. Emily automatically asked, "Was anyone hurt?"

Both the Grangers shook their heads. Robert continued, "I was in Chile once years ago, doing some volunteer work during my uni. They have earth tremors and quakes on a regular basis. This felt like a moderate quake, but it only lasted a few seconds. Things slid around on tables and shelves, but very few things actually fell over. And it stopped the second Harry realized it was us."

Emily and Patrick exchanged looks. Patrick scrubbed hid fingers through his moustache before speaking. "The question is, why now? We had issues back when Harry arrived. He didn't speak for six weeks until Pippa made her breakthrough. When he began therapy he was very closemouthed about his aunt and uncle, though he would talk about how his cousin bullied him."

Emily nodded. "I got him to the point where he would agree that his uncle hit him, but he'd never offer the accusation. And around that time the incidents stepped up and thoroughly distracted us. Since Harry showed no obvious signs of trauma, it fell off our radar."

Viola suddenly straightened as a thought occurred to her. "When was the last time Harry stayed somewhere out of the clinic before visiting Hermione?"

Patrick looked at Emily. She replied, "Never. He's never been invited on a home visit with any of his other friends."

Viola charged forward, sensing a solution. "So the two visits to our house are the only times he's been away from a hospital since he arrived here." She noted how both Emily and Patrick bristled slightly at that. "Forgive me, both of you. I know you work hard to make this a pleasant setting for the children, but it's still an institution. It's not a family home. If August was the first time Harry has been in a house since he left the one where he was abused, that may be the answer for 'why now?' It explains why he went straight to the cupboard, if that's where those horrible people kept him. It explains why he only has nightmares there and not here. He knows 'here' is safe."

Now both doctors were nodding. Emily was taking notes to add to Harry's file. Patrick looked at Robert. "It might also explain why Harry reacted so strongly to you but not as much to Viola. Perhaps his uncle was the one to strike him while the aunt went for isolating him. Either way there was obviously a cardinal rule about not making noise or fuss, with Harry trying so hard to stay quiet."

Emily nodded. "It fits with the physical evidence. Harry arrived here badly malnourished and extremely pale, as if his outdoor exposure was limited. He spoke of backaches for a while once he began talking, which made me think that the uncle went for his kidneys. But the man was careful-the only scar Harry has is that one on his forehead. He was careful not to whip or tie him or strike his face, which would have left more evidence.

"And for months Harry was very contained in his movements. There was very little running full-tilt or flopping around or just spreading out on a couch. That lends itself to the idea of being imprisoned under the stairs."

Viola burst out, "Didn't you file charges?"

"We were planning to, but we sued for delinquent payments first when their deposit ran out. And that's when we learned that James and Lily Jones of Croydon don't exist. Harry wasn't speaking yet and all the police had were our descriptions of the couple, and all told, it wasn't enough for them to get anywhere. Harry was now in a safe environment, it was obvious that his aunt and uncle weren't coming back, and that's all that mattered to the court. They awarded us custody when we requested it."

Robert asked, "So what happens now? Obviously you need to help Harry work through these issues once and for all if he's ever going to rejoin society fully."

Patrick looked over at Emily. "I think a little divide-and-conquer is called for. I'll keep working with both kids together on the incidents issue. You start working with them separately, making it look very casual at first, and we'll get Harry back into regular therapy with you without making it look like therapy. You were the one to work with him initially."

Emily nodded. "I like it. I'd also like to ask if the home visits can continue on a regular basis. That way we have openings to bring this back into discussion with Harry and it will help him acclimate to the idea that not every home is dangerous."

Both Grangers smiled at the thought of more regular visits home for their daughter. Harry would be an easy enough guest and they would be helping him finally heal from the experiences of his childhood.


18 October 1990

Harry glanced around the classroom, feeling the eyes of someone on him. Sure enough, Hermione had been looking at him rather than at her maths. She reddened slightly and returned to her work. He returned to his own, but the feeling of being watched persisted-he almost expected to see Dr Greene in the doorway when he looked up again. He ground his teeth against it and tried to focus on the numbers in front of him.

He knew he'd failed when the large framed conversion chart between the imperial and metric systems slid down the wall and crashed onto the floor, splintering the wooden frame.

Everyone else in the room jumped and Miss Fishman turned her large blue eyes away from the student she had been helping. She zeroed in on Harry's guilty expression.

"Mr Potter, what is the matter?"

A couple of the older students sniggered behind their hands and Hermione reached across the aisle to grip Harry's arm. This made more of the boys laugh harder, while the two girls in the class softened and one actually let out a quiet "aww".

Harry shoved Hermione's hand away brusquely and stood. He was desperate to get away from the audience and even more desperate to get away from Hermione for a moment. He could sense her confusion and pain at being rejected. "I'm sorry, ma'am. I need to be excused." He left the room and walked swiftly down the hall to the playground exit. He fought the twin urges in his head and chest to break into a run-running would get him noticed faster than anything else.

Once outside, he took off, running across the empty playground to the tree fort. He climbed up and crawled inside, huddling in one corner for warmth on the chilly day. He drew his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around them as he concentrated on his litany of motorcycle statistics to try and ease the pressure in his head. He felt the tree sway under him and redoubled his efforts, switching to try and remember Hermione's poem instead. The tree stilled, but now the pressure in his chest, the urge to cry, was nearly unbearable.

He'd been snappish and rude to Hermione for days now, ever since she had woken him up from a nightmare during their last visit to her home. The look on her face had been so sad and her pity had stung him fiercely. Her laying a hand on him in the classroom was the last straw. She was his best friend, she relied on him to show her the way to manage their problems. He couldn't take it if she found him pitiful.

He felt the pressure building in his head again and the tree responded by swaying once more. Frantic to get it out, he moved to the window and tried to thrust the feeling into the cloudy sky.

He felt the pressure leave and sighed in relief. Then the ache in his heart turned to fear as he saw a shining golden explosion of stars burst from nowhere like a firework. It was easily as big as a lorry, lighting up the sky briefly.

Below him, silhouetted in the golden light, was Hermione.


Hermione put Harry's coat on over her own so she could climb safely, then scaled the ladder to the tree fort. Harry had retreated to his corner again with his knees drawn up and his head on his arms. She crawled to him and took his coat off to wrap around him.


His only response was sniffling and she knew he was crying.

"Harry, I want to help. Please let me help."

"Leave me alone!" His jumper-clad arms robbed his words of their force.

"No. That's the last thing you need. If I leave you alone, next time you might hit a plane and hurt people."

That froze Harry. He had come outside to try and keep from hurting anyone, but the power he'd expended could have hurt others, people with no connection to him at all. He looked up in terror, and Hermione moved in and put her arms around his shoulders.

"Harry, what did your aunt and uncle do to you?"

He jerked in her arms, but she held on firmly. "You need to talk about it. Really talk about it, not just shrug and say it's over, you survived. Ever since you first came home with me, you've been having trouble controlling your incidents. You've had a bad dream every night you stayed in my house and you've started having them here as well, haven't you?"

"I can handle it!" Harry tried again to pull away. "I can do it! I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me! It's over and nothing will change it!"

Hermione sat back on her heels, gaping at him. "Feel sorry for you?" Her voice rose shrilly. "Feel sorry for you? Why in the world would you think I feel sorry for you?"

It was Harry's turn to gape as Hermione built up steam. Neither child noticed the sounds of something falling nearby.

"Just because I'm sorry that it happened and want to help you get over it does not mean that I feel sorry for you. It means I'm your friend and I love you and I want you to be happy and not haunted by what happened when you were little. Dr Greene doesn't feel sorry for you, she wants to help. Dr Aymler wants to help. Pippa and Mary want to help. My parents want to help. We don't think it was your fault and we don't think you're weak or pitiful. We think those monsters are pitiful, since they thought it was all right to hurt a child, but we love you. It wasn't your fault-"

"Yes, it was!" Harry interrupted, glaring at her. "It was my fault! I'd make things fall or break, I couldn't keep it under control-"

Hermione leaned forward again, seizing his jumper and pulling him to her. "Don't you dare! Don't you dare say it was you! What did my parents do when I started making things happen? Did they hit me? Did they shut me up under the stairs? Did they?"

Harry whispered in shock, "How did you-" but Hermione barrelled on.

"No, they didn't! They tried to find an answer! They went to our doctor and then a counsellor and then brought me here because they wanted to help me! They didn't dump me here like some nasty rubbish that needed to be got out of the house! It's your aunt and uncle who were wrong, Harry, not you. Never you."

As she ran out of breath, Hermione saw the fresh tears spilling out of Harry's eyes and flung herself on him. This time she held him as he cried, murmuring soothing nonsense and rocking him back and forth.

"Harry? Hermione?"

Hermione moved to the window and Harry seized the chance to wipe his face and glasses with the sleeve of his jumper.

"Hi, Dr Aymler, we're up here!" she called down.

"Think you've got each other calmed down now? We had quite the jolt a few minutes ago."

"Oh, no! Did we hurt anything?"

"Knocked a few things over. Nothing important. The important question is…" he made a show of looking up and down the tree, "…how are you two going to get down? You've shaken off the ladder rungs."

Harry looked out the door and saw the scattered pile of slats that had been nailed up the trunk. It wasn't terribly far to the ground, but still high enough that just jumping wasn't a good idea.

Or was it? He looked over at Hermione. "Do you trust me?"

She looked back. "Of course. Why?"

"Remember when we bounced your mum's car away from the lorry?"

She followed his gaze down to the ground. "Are you sure?"

"I am if you help me."

She took a deep breath. "How do we do it?"

"Take my hand and just think about safe landing. Then we'll jump down."

She gulped, but took his hand and they moved to the door. They paused for a minute, eyes closed in fierce concentration.

Patrick had moved around when Hermione disappeared from the window of the fort. He saw them poised at the door and realized what they were about to do. Just as he shouted, "NO!" they jumped.

He froze in mid-stride as the two children appeared to bounce on an invisible cushion, just like stuntmen, then land on their feet, giggling breathlessly. And for the first time, Patrick had a taste of the fear Emily had experienced, with the unexplainable directly in his face.

Harry and Hermione looked at each other, still laughing. "That was fun!" Hermione exclaimed.

Patrick had got over his initial shock and ran to them, gathering them together in a relieved embrace. "That was astounding. Never, ever do it again!


Author's Note: As always, thank you for reading!