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.

Also, a word in advance - due to stresses both work- and holiday-related, I may need to hold off on the next update until after Christmas. Don't want to, but may need to in order to make sure I meet all my obligations.


3 November 1990

It was quiet…too quiet. Robert Granger realized that there had been no noise from the children for some time. They had gone upstairs after lunch and he and Viola had got involved in preparing a pair of garden flowerbeds for the coming winter. Hermione was certainly capable of entertaining herself for hours at a time with her books and Harry had so far been a good guest other than the nightmares, which had decreased over the last couple of visits. But it worried Robert that he had not heard a single sound from them in ages.

As he climbed the stairs, quiet giggles floated down to him. He cautiously moved down the hall, listening as he approached Hermione's room. He could hear the children moving around. As he neared the door he heard Harry call out, "Keep it going!" followed by a loud thump, as if something had fallen, and then identical groans from the children.

Robert moved into the doorway to see Hermione scrambling to her feet. "Let's try it again! That last time had to have been at least five minutes!"

Harry held out a hand and Sir Woof flew toward him. But instead of catching the stuffed dog, it seemed to rebound from his hands and toward Hermione, who held her hands out then up, sending it back. They fell into a rhythm, moving the toy back and forth without actually touching it.

Robert watched, entranced at their joyous play, until Hermione noticed him and lost her concentration. Sir Woof flew into her face and she caught it clumsily. "Dad! Did you see?"

He stepped into the room, smiling at his daughter. "I did! How are you doing it?"

Harry replied, "We knew we could ask something to come to us-Hermione did that when one of the boys tried to take Sir Woof away from her-and we wondered if we could try sending something as well. We've been able to keep it going for ages now."

Robert ruffled Harry's hair. "Well done. Why don't you try it in the back garden so you have room to move? The fence is high enough that you shouldn't be seen."

He followed the eager children downstairs and joined Viola in the kitchen as she scrubbed earth from her hands. They watched as Hermione and Harry began their game again. He noticed her biting her lip and put an arm around his wife's shoulders. "All right there?"

She reached up and squeezed his hand. "Approaching it."


23 November 1990

Patrick enjoyed conferences. He liked the chance to see friends and acquaintances, hear new information, and to be catered to by the salesmen in the vendors' hall. For him, such events were justifiable little vacations from routine.

Emily felt the opposite. She thought reading the latest journals was good enough for keeping abreast of things. She found conferences a nuisance and interruption, taking her away from her young patients. But faced with Harry and Hermione's situation as well as obstacles with a few other children, they agreed that it was time to seek fresh perspectives.

The conference might have been in the gaudy playground of Blackpool, but the hotel was sleek and soothing. Patrick and Emily were taking advantage of the previous session ending a few minutes early to stop by the hotel café.

The two doctors found a small table and set their folders and tea down. Emily shrugged off her jacket. "Why must they always heat these buildings so? I didn't pack for a tropical vacation."

Patrick rolled his eyes. It amused him that Emily was never a hundred per cent comfortable. "Shall I go fetch you some ice water instead?"

She shook her head. "No. We only have a few minutes before the next presentation and I don't want to miss it."

"We won't. The word is that Ericsson is half-barmy and half-sensationalist. I doubt his session will have more than a dozen attendees."

"Even so, if there's any chance at all that his research will help us with our two, we need to hear what he has to say."

They gulped their tea and gathered their things. In their haste, neither of them noticed the woman who rose to follow them.


"I knew it would be a waste of time," Patrick groused.

Emily nodded gloomily. "It was always a longshot, but I hoped he'd have at least some hints or suggestions. Your description of half-barmy needs to be adjusted to completely mental."

"What did you think of that one woman's question?"

"The Indian woman?" At Patrick's nod, Emily shrugged. "Grasping at straws, really. I'm certainly not going to put Harry or Hermione through a battery of MRIs and compare their brains to see if there's a difference. They're getting better at controlling their ability, and that's the important thing."

"How do they do it?"

Emily gave a little shriek as she and Patrick jumped. They turned to find the woman in question behind them. Her eyes flickered from one to the other, examining them closely.

Patrick spoke first. "I beg your pardon?"

"Your children. How do they control their…ability?"

Emily and Patrick looked at one another uneasily. "If you don't mind my asking, you are…?"

The woman held out a hand, her body still rigid with tension. "Doctor Chandra Misra. I have a family practice in Newham, London East End."

Patrick took her hand and shook. "Patrick Aymler. This is Emily Greene. We work at Esperança House up in Coventry."

"I've heard of it. You're doing wonderful work up there." She paused, uncertain, then took a deep breath. "Did I hear you say you have two of them?"

Emily jumped in before Patrick could answer, eager to keep Harry and Hermione out of the conversation. "Two of what, Dr Misra?"

"Children who can…do things." When neither of them answered her, the woman's face crumpled. "I simply don't know what to do! The poor boy's mother brings him to me nearly every fortnight! She's pulled him out of football, she won't let him play videogames…he's practically a prisoner in his home because she's terrified that the next time he does something it'll be more than a trinket falling off a shelf or a table tipping over. And she won't stop asking for more and more invasive tests…"

Patrick and Emily shared a look. Then Patrick asked, "Has he described how he feels when this happens? Physically or emotionally?"

"I…I'm not sure. He's mentioned arguing with his siblings - he's the oldest of five - or his parents before it happens."

The two colleagues looked at one another again. This time Emily spoke. "Do you think his parents would consent to a stay in our facility?"

The hope in the woman's eyes almost shamed their caution. "Certainly they would! Mrs Thomas is pressing me to put him in a psychiatric ward at home, but he's as sane as sane can be. He just has these…"

"Incidents?" Patrick and Emily had spoken as one. They looked at one another again and laughed.

Dr Misra repeated wonderingly, "Incidents." She began to laugh as well.


Emily almost regretted the invitation to the Thomases when a single call from Dr Misra had the Thomas family asking to bring their son that very evening. They arranged for him to come the next day. Patrick drove them back to Coventry. They parked and went inside, looking for Harry and Hermione.

It was dinnertime and most of the residents were in the canteen. Emily spotted Harry's black hair first - he was sitting next to Toby and across from Hermione. She paused for a moment, feeling regretful. Harry and Hermione had made an effort to include Toby more since Caleb had gone home, but now they would have young Dean Thomas joining them. It was all too easy to predict how the dynamic would shift again and leave Toby on the outside looking in. She made a mental note to give Toby some extra attention and perhaps see if he might find a few of the other children acceptable playmates.

As she approached, Hermione spotted her first and immediately tugged on Harry's arm. They excused themselves to Toby and ran to her.

"How was it?" Hermione's eyes were shining with eagerness at the thought of great minds communing together.

"The conference was a conference. Some good stuff, some useless stuff. But we need to talk to you two for a minute."

Both children were instantly alert and followed her to Patrick's therapy room. Patrick shut the door as the others settled around the table.

He began, "We have a new resident arriving tomorrow. We happened to meet his doctor at the conference when we attended the same session about extranormal abilities-"

"Which was a load of tosh," Emily put in.

"-and she overheard us talking. Her patient is a boy, about your age, with the exact same pattern of incidents, as far as we can tell from this first discussion."

Harry and Hermione exchanged glances before looking back to the adults. Hermione said, "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action."

Emily looked lost, as did Harry. Patrick chuckled, recognizing the quote, and replied, "I'm not sure about enemy action, but yes, we have a definite pattern going on here. We're going to need your help. Harry, you made things a thousand times easier for Hermione by sharing your experiences. The both of you can make all the difference in the world for this boy. From what little we know, his parents are even more frantic than yours, Hermione. They've been trying to punish it out of him and of course it hasn't worked."

Intent on the impending new resident, neither of the doctors noticed how Harry paled at his last statement, nor the swift glance that Hermione gave him.

Emily continued, "We expect them to be here pretty early. If we could ask you to get up and be done with breakfast as soon as the canteen opens, you can hang out in the lounge and be lookouts."

Harry had recovered quickly and was looking slightly grumpy at the thought of rising early on a Sunday, but Hermione nodded briskly. "We can read or play cards while we wait."

As they all stood again, Emily put an arm around each child and hugged them. "I knew we could count on you two."


24 November 1990

Harry and Hermione sat in the lounge near the picture window. Hermione had a ball of yarn and her needles, attempting her first hat. Harry had his copy of A Wind in the Door from the library. Every so often one of them would glance out of the window, looking for the new arrival.

Hermione happened to spot the car first and set her knitting aside. "They're here, Harry."

He marked his place in his book and headed for the main doors while Hermione ran to fetch Dr Greene. He sat on the nearest bench and remembered how Hermione had arrived months ago.

He watched as the black woman and boy entered, showing the usual attitudes. The mother looked both worried sick and painfully hopeful while the son looked around warily. The same frisson that he felt when he had seen Hermione for the first time ran through Harry, telling him that he and this boy shared something different. He stood and approached them with a hand out. The boy saw him coming and narrowed his eyes for a moment.

"Hi, I'm Harry. Welcome to Esperança House."

The woman ignored him as she looked for an adult in charge. The boy relaxed slightly and shook. "I'm Dean. You been here long?"

That got the woman's attention. "Dean! Don't be rude!"

Harry smiled to show he wasn't bothered. "I live here, actually. I'm an orphan, been here since I was five." He looked over the two large suitcases and the holdall. "Want a hand? They put you next door to me."

Dr Greene and Hermione approached the group. As the doctor smoothly took over Dean's mother, Hermione bounced over to them. "Hallo, I'm Hermione Granger."

The boy smiled and shook hands with her. "Dean, Dean Thomas. Nice to meet you."

"Hermione, give us a hand with the bags? We can show Dean around while Dr Greene goes over things with his mum."

Hermione nodded at Harry's suggestion and took the holdall while each boy grabbed a suitcase. Hermione steadied the bag on her shoulder and frowned. "What on earth have you got in here that's so big and round? Feels like a globe!"

"It's my football. I never travel without it. Can't count on having a ball if you have enough people for some footie, you know."

"I can imagine. Do you read much?"

"A bit. I'd rather play videogames, though."

Harry sensed Hermione faltering slightly at the lack of common ground and stepped in. "We'll have plenty of chances for some footie. The oldest kids like to play and they almost never have enough for decent-sized teams. They'll actually be glad of us hanging around for a change."

As they left the main hall, chatting easily, Emily spared them a glance and smiled while Mrs Thomas continued to pour out her desperation over her child's strange illness.


Dean looked around his room, cautiously optimistic. The room was bright and tidy and all his own. Not being crammed in with his two younger brothers was a definite plus against the fact of being institutionalized away from his family and friends for the foreseeable future. He put his suitcase on the bed and opened it, oblivious to the others as he began to sort his clothes into drawers. Having seven people in a not-big-enough flat instilled neatness by necessity.

Dean was an easygoing lad when away from his siblings and made friends easily. He liked Harry immediately and thought Hermione might be all right as well once she settled down. At least she seemed a sensible sort, passionate about books instead of dollies like his youngest sister or poncy boy singers like his oldest sister.

He opened his holdall, tossing the football onto the bed. He stacked the few books he had brought beside it and then set a framed family photograph on the desk. Harry looked at the group of smiling faces curiously while Hermione moved to the books and began reading the titles.

Dean took out the case that held his colored pencils and watercolors, then set the new empty sketchpad beside it, a gift from his grandparents. Hermione noticed them and immediately perked up. "Ooh, you draw?"

Dean shrugged. "I suppose. Been doing it for years."

"Very cool. I never really got the hang of drawing," Harry offered. Dean passed him the case and sketchpad, nodding to the desk and Harry set them down.

A voice broke in. "New kid, you better be careful. You don't want to hang around with Potty and the Shakespeare girl."

All three children looked to the door, where Piers Moffat was standing. Hermione glanced at Harry with a glint in her eye. He smiled and nodded.

Hermione gave a clear wave of her hand and the door closed in Moffat's face. They could hear Moffat's yell of surprise and the pounding of his footsteps down the hall.

Dean stared, open-mouthed. Harry smiled again. "Did your mum tell you that you'd have a couple of friends just like you here?"


Author's Note: Thanks as always for reading and reviewing!