Unofficial Portkey Archive

Always and Forever by Lorelover

Always and Forever



Always and Forever


Disclaimer: Harry Potter, and all the characters associated there with belong to JK Rowling, and Scholastic. Also, any similarities to any other work is unintentional. I make no profit from this story. I wrote it, just for fun.


AN: Sorry it took so long, but until now I have been unable to access my authors page to up load. Hopefully, Portkey has fixed the problem for good.

AN: So here is chapter 25. I now have a beta, but any errors are still all mine, and if you'd like to point them out, that would be great. A very special thank you to; Dementor149, for his tireless efforts in helping me with this story.

AN: I got a lot of concerned reviews, dealing with Harry's abuse at the Dursleys and I know it was hard for some to read. Please note that I don't take the subject of child abuse lightly, but this was a subject that never really got addressed in JKR's work. I am only trying to bring it into the light, so it can be dealt with appropriately. In this story, the Dursleys will get what's coming to them.


Chapter 25

To Hell with Dumbledore


As it turned out, Hedwig had been a little more banged up than she thought when she left Little Whinging. Her right wing ached as she flew, and after a while she'd have to stop and rest. She didn't think it was broken, but it still made for a long trip. Stop after stop, she pushed on, nothing was going to keep her from reaching her destination.

It was just after dawn when Hedwig spotted Hermione's house. She circled around to the side where Hermione's room was. Her window was closed also, but unlike Harry's, Hermione's had a small ledge on the outside; perfect for landing on. It was a tight squeeze, especially with an injured wing, but Hedwig was no ordinary owl. She made her approach and landed gently on the ledge. After making sure of her footing, she began tapping on the window, anxious to get inside.


Hermione tossed and turned in a restless sleep. It was her worst night yet since returning home. No sooner would she drift off to sleep, than the dreams would start. Nightmares really, at least that's how they always ended up. Harry being burned to death, or eaten by a dragon. Falling into an abyss, never to return. Fleur coming back from the last task holding his lifeless body. But the worst ones; the ones that woke her in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, were the ones where Harry died in her arms.

He was beaten bloody, broken and barely alive as she held him. She would do what she could, but it was never enough. Slowly, the light would leave his eyes as he stared up at her. His last breath, a mere whisper… "Hermione..." She would tightly clutch his body to her as she screamed to the heavens of the injustice before waking. Exhausted, she would try to go back asleep again, only to have a slightly different version play out.

Hermione didn't know why it was happening now, the Tournament was over and Harry was safe… "Wasn't he?' Maybe it was some form of post-traumatic stress syndrome, she didn't know. The other thing that bothered her, was why she kept having the one nightmare that repeated. What she did know was, she needed to talk to Harry, and soon.

Because it was almost morning after the last nightmare, Hermione would have normally just gotten up and gone downstairs, but she needed her rest. She had a busy day planned for later, and so she rolled over to try and get a bit more sleep. She was finally getting comfortable, and with her head tucked under the covers to block the early-morning light, she thought she could catch another hour of sleep. Everything was finally peaceful and quiet… except for that infernal tapping. Tap tap tap… Hermione's eyes snapped open as she threw the cover off and turned her head towards the sound, towards her window.

"Hedwig!" She yelled. Hermione never thought the snowy white owl looked so beautiful; Harry had finally written her.

Despite the early hour and lack of sleep, Hermione flew out of bed and opened the window. What happened next surprised her a little. Instead of flying over to her perch like always, Hedwig hopped onto Hermione's arm and gave a weak bark. That definitely got Hermione's attention. Able to look at Hedwig up close, Hermione noticed two things right off; first, there was no letter, and second, she looked like she had flown half way around the world and was favoring her right wing.

Hermione moved her to the perch. "Oh Hedwig, you poor thing, are you hurt?"

Hedwig bobbed her head, "Bark."

Hermione raised a brow in surprise, "Did it happen on the way here?" Hedwig stomped her feet in frustration. "At Harry's then?"

"Bark!" Hedwig was starting to get excited.

Hermione stared at Hedwig, wondering what could have possibly happened, `And why would she come here.'

Hedwig started stomping her feet again, as if to say, `Silly girl, you're not asking the right questions.'

Hermione's eye widened as realization set in, "You came here because Harry couldn't help you…"


"He couldn't help you because… Hedwig, is Harry hurt?'

"Bark bark bark!" Hedwig nearly fell off her perch, she got so excited.

"He needs help?"


Hermione jumped up and started dressing, "Okay Hedwig, I'll… well I'm not sure yet…but don't worry, I'll figure something out." It only took a couple of seconds and Hermione knew what she had to do. Turning to Hedwig, she said, "To hell with Dumbledore, I'm going over there." Hedwig seemed to relax somewhat at hearing that. "I'll be right back," she added as she raced out of the room to wake her parents.

As Hermione burst into her parents' bedroom, she crossed her fingers, hoping she wouldn't catch them in some compromising position; the kind known to traumatize children of any age.

Her mother, being the lighter sleeper of the two woke instantly. "Hermione Jane, what have we told you about barging in here without knocking?" Her mother started sternly, but after seeing the look of panic on her daughter's face, her tone softened, "Hermione dear, what's the matter?"

Hermione came to a stop at the edge of the bed, "It's Harry, he's hurt," she rushed.

After sitting up, Emma nudged her husband awake, and then took Hermione's hands and pulled down to sit on the bed. "Now, slow down and tell me what happened. How do you know he's hurt?"

"Hedwig told me," she replied simply.

Dan Granger thought it was way too early for this conversation, but had to ask anyway, "Harry's owl, told you?"

After Hermione's nod yes, Emma's brow inched upwards, "You can speak to owls?"

Hermione took a deep breath, "Well no, not with words of course. She can… Oh, she showed up here just a minute ago hurt… and I asked her…" Hermione stomped her foot, not unlike Hedwig had done earlier. "Oh mum, it's hard to explain, but I know her, and she's very smart. I asked her, and she told me in her own way."

Ordinarily, Mrs. Granger would have been hard-pressed to believe it possible, but after having a few conversations with Hedwig herself, she was inclined to accept the fact that somehow she had communicated with her daughter.

"Right then, finish getting dressed, and we'll meet downstairs in ten minutes."

Relived, Hermione gave her mother a quick hug, "Thanks mum, dad," Then raced back to her room to finish dressing.


From his usual spot across the street from Number Four, Mundungus sat in the shade of an old oak tree and watched the house without even the slightest interest. His friends; who called him Dung, said it was the perfect job for him. He could take a nip of fire whiskey whenever he wanted. He could even lay back and take a kip. There was never anything to do, and no one around to bother him. Smiling at the thought, Dung reached into his coat and pulled out his flask. As he was raising it to his lips, a rather expensive looking automobile pulled into the drive at Number Four. While tipping the flask back to take a sip, Dung watched as a young girl jumped out of the car and ran to the front door. A second later, two adults; her parents he reasoned, got out and chased after her.

Dung now watched with growing interest. A few seconds later, he started coughing as he watched all hell break loose across the street. "Shite…first a dementor, and now this," he mumbled.

"I don't care who you are, you can't come in!" Petunia yelled.

Hermione, having had enough, pulled her wand and pointed it right between the eyes of the horse-faced women blocking her way. "I know enough magic, that it will take the healers at St. Mungo's a month to set you right again." Taking a half-step forward, and raising her head a little to accent her point, she continued, "Now step aside, or I'll prove it."

Petunia stared at the wand as it made tiny little circles in the air just six inches from her face. Judging by the tone of her voice, and the fire in her eyes, Petunia knew this girl meant what she said. She only hesitated a moment before stepping out of the way and letting them all in.

Mundungus finally got his wits together. After jumping up, he ran to Miss Figg's house to use the floo.

McGonagall startled slightly when her foo suddenly roared to life with frantic hollering. Turning, she found Mundungus yelling for her. "Dung! What on earth is going on to warrant all this commotion?"

Dung took a quick breath, "It's Potter…he's… no, ah… someone just showed up, demanding to see him." After another breath he added, "They're inside now."

McGonagall turned serious, "Do you know who it was? Were they wizards or Muggles?"

"Didn't recognize anyone, but the girl at least is a witch, I saw her draw her wand."

"The girl, what'd she look like?" McGonagall asked, though she already had her suspicions.

Dung rubbed his chin, "Ah, short, long brown hair… and feisty, very feisty."

"Alright, I think I know who that is," McGonagall said with relief, "You stay put and continue to keep an eye on things, and I'll get there as soon as I can." Then after thinking a moment, she changed her mind. "On second thought, It's going to take me a few minutes before I can leave. So call Tonks and have her come right over. Tell her, I'll meet her there as soon as possible."


Hermione wasted no time as she took off for the stairs, "Which room is his?" She asked without slowing down.

"First door on the right," came Petunia's weak reply. While the rest of the Grangers followed their daughter at a more reasonable pace, Petunia made her way over to the telephone.

When Hermione reached Harry's door, she hesitated, thinking she must be at the wrong door. The one she was standing in front of, had three locks on it, and there was a cat flap near the bottom, `Harry doesn't even own a cat,' she thought. A quick look around confirmed it was the first door on the right. Hermione shrugged, thinking it all must have been installed before Harry moved into the room. Deciding not to dwell on it, Hermione knocked softly on the door. "Harry… Harry, it's Hermione, can I come in?"

By now, both of her parents were standing right behind her. Hermione gave her mum and dad a worried look after knocking again and getting no answer. Not willing to just walk away, Hermione tried the door. In her hurry, she almost bumped her nose when the door failed to open. Turning back to her mother, "It's locked! Why would it be locked?" Worried more than ever now, Hermione quickly turned the knobs that unlocked the door, and then pushed it open.

That little feeling in the bottom of her stomach, that had started off with a whisper trying to tell her something was wrong right after she got home, was now screaming. Something was terribly wrong. Harry's bedroom window was small and faced west. A large tree just outside blocked most of the sunlight. So even though it was well after sunrise, Harry's room was still fairly dark. The next surprise was the stale stench that assaulted her nose; why hadn't Harry opened a window for some fresh air?

Stepping further into the room, Hermione's eyes immediately sought out Harry. As she scanned the room, it quickly became apparent, there had been a struggle. The desk chair lay broken on its side next to a rickety old desk, and the dresser looked like it had been knocked away from the wall. His bed… `Merlin, is that Harry's bed?' Hermione could barely believe her eyes, let alone imagine sleeping on it, it was in such poor condition. An old thin mattress, with one threadbare blanket and a dirty sheet. Harry had said, that he wasn't treated well by his relatives. He had even alluded to the fact that he had been abused, and she had seen his back… `But that was a long time ago… right?' She asked herself. Her emotions started to run wild as she considered the thought, that maybe it had never stopped. Harry had never said anything, `No… of course not, he wouldn't.' As Hermione moved closer to the bed, she noticed the sheet wasn't just dirty, it was bloody as well. This wasn't a child's room, it was something out of a horror movie… or a nightmare!

Hermione panicked, "Harry!" She yelled franticly. Moving further into the room, an unusual shape in the corner caught her eye. "Harry," she yelled again as she ran over to him.

Harry was lying in the fetal position with his arms tucked tightly to his chest, facing the wall and dressed only in his boxers. Hermione dropped down next to him and gently reached out and touched his shoulder, "Harry?" She called softly. He didn't respond.

Hermione gently rolled him towards her, so she could get a look at his face. Startled by what she saw, her hand flew to her mouth to stifle a scream. It was now obvious, that Harry had been beaten. Hermione desperately wanted to do something to help, but she didn't have a clue as to where to start. Harry was unconscious and needed professional help. Visions of her helplessly holding him in her arms flashed through her mind, and panic threatened to take hold. Her nightmares were becoming real, but this time she refused to yield to them. Hermione shook the thought aside, this time she wasn't alone. Hermione turned desperate eyes up to her parents, "Mum, dad! Help me… please, help him."

Mrs. Granger knew a little about child abuse of course, but she never thought she'd come face to face with it. She also never thought it could be this bad. From where she stood, she could see that Harry was in terrible shape, and the look on her daughter's face told her, she wasn't doing much better, at least from an emotional point. Her anger built as she remembered the conversation she'd had with Dumbledore last summer; he had ensured her that the abuse had stopped. She'd deal with him later, right now the young boy on the floor needed her.

As soon as he'd seen the locks on the door, Mr. Granger had become suspicious. Now seeing this poor boy laying bloody on the floor, he had no doubts about what had happened. Being a dentist, he had taken a course in child abuse and knew what he was looking at. He also knew the boy needed medical attention immediately, and was already moving to help, even before his little girl's plea for help.

Mindless of the mess on the floor, Emma dropped down on her knees next to her husband to help. Being his aid in the office, she was ready to assist him. She almost had to pull Harry away from Hermione as they laid him out flat on his back to get a better look. "Let us have a look honey," she said as she eased Hermione over just a bit. With Dan's help, the three of them managed to move Harry gently away from the wall and into better light.

Hermione moved over to his other side and took hold of his hand, "He's burning up!"

Emma nodded, "He's definitely running a fever."

Hermione had already noticed that the scores on his back had gotten worse again. Now seeing the large black and blue marks on his sides and chest, and his bruised and bloody face; she lost what little control of her emotions she had left. "Oh, Harry, what have they done to you?" She whispered, as tears started rolling down her face.

Dan, after making a quick assessment turned to Hermione and said in a reassuring voice, "Well obviously he been beat up, and we need to get that fever down, but his vitals still look okay." Looking back at Harry, he sighed, "What concerns me is, that he's unconscious, and probably has a few broken bones. It would be dangerous to try and move him by ourselves."

"Honey, didn't you say he was supposed to take some potions, do you think you could find them?" Emma asked.

Hermione was grateful for something to do, "Yes, they'd be in his trunk," she answered as she got up and looked around, "It's not here."

"It's… in a cupboard, under the stairs," came a small, hesitant voice from the doorway.

Hermione turned to face the women, "What, why did you take it away… how long has he gone without it?"

Petunia wrung her hands together and looked away, "Vernon took it, right from the start. He didn't want any funny business in the house."

Hermione, seething with anger, marched up to Petunia so aggressively, the older women took a step back. "He got hurt at school. It was only medical potions." Hermione's eyes flashed with rage promising retribution, "Do you have any idea how much pain you put him through?" Then turning to her father, she went on ignoring anything Petunia might have said, "Dad, I don't know if I'll be able to carry it up by myself, can you help me?"

Dan got up, "Stay here and help your mum, I'll be right back." He gave Hermione's shoulder a gentle squeeze as he passed by. Finding the cupboard, he undid the latch and opened the door. As he was pulling Harry's trunk out, he saw the writing on the wall inside, "Harry's room." Taking a moment to examine the tiny space, it quickly became obvious that someone used to sleep here in the cupboard. Shaking his head in disgust, he closed the door and hurried back upstairs with the trunk.

After setting it down, Dan went through Harry's trunk and pulled out all of the potions. Talking to Hermione he said, "Honey, there aren't any directions, no note or anything. Do you know what to do with these?"

Hermione shook her head, "No. Madam Pomfrey probably just told Harry what to do."

"Well we can't just start giving him potions."

"Can you contact someone?" Emma asked.

"Without Hedwig I'd have to use magic…" Hermione bit her lip as she looked down in thought. "Maybe one of his watchers is around. I could go and look for one of them." Hermione quickly dismissed the idea, it would take too long, she'd rather risk getting in trouble. She was about to pull her wand, but stopped when a young woman with pink hair stepped into the room.


Tonks Apparated directly into the back garden of Number Four. After the frantic floo call from Mundungus, she wasn't about to waste any time. It was time she started acting like an Auror, instead of Dumbledore's puppet. Pulling her wand, she cautiously made her way inside. As she stepped through the back door, she caught sight of a tall man carrying a Hogwarts trunk up the stairs. Not recognizing him, she quickly checked the rest of the downstairs, looking for any others. Tonks wanted to make sure no one snuck up on her from behind. Satisfied everyone was upstairs, she quietly made her way up to Harry's room.

Peeking into the room, Tonks took in the situation. An older woman was kneeling over Harry, and appeared to be cleaning a cut. A young girl was talking to the man she just saw, about getting help while he seemed to be examining some potions. The room itself was a wreck, and she thought she saw some blood on the bed. But most importantly, Harry looked to be hurt. These people appeared to be trying to help Harry, `But who were they, and what the hell happened?'

With her wand still raised, she stepped into the room.

Dan noticed and looked up, setting the potions down, he asked a little more threateningly than he meant too, "Who are you?"

Still trying to understand just what was going on, Tonks just stared back and hesitated a second before answering, "Ah… I'm Tonks. I was watching…" Then quickly regaining her composure, she began again in a more professional voice, "I'm Auror Tonks and who are you lot… And what the bloody hell happened here?"

Before Dan could answer, his daughter stood and pointed her wand at Tonks. "You're one of Dumbledore's watchers, aren't you?" Hermione was getting madder by the second as she slowly walked towards her. "If you were watching, why didn't you do something?" Hermione pointed to Harry, "Look at him; he's been beaten nearly to death!"

Tonks averted her eyes away from the angry young girl in front of her to get a better look at Harry. "Dear God," she whispered. She had seen enough people injured in her line of work, to know that Harry was indeed, hurt much worse than she first thought. Tonks turned and trained her wand on the window, "Expecto Patronum." As the silvery dog leaped from her wand, she gave it a message, "Professor McGonagall, we need you and Madam Pomfrey immediately… it's Harry."

Turning back to Hermione, she shook her head sadly, "I didn't know… I… I had no idea." Tonks holstered her wand and moved a little closer to Harry, "Merlin, I thought he was just sleeping all the time." Tonks couldn't help but notice that the girl still had her wand trained on her. "I'm guessing you are Hermione Granger, Harry's girlfriend. I've heard a fair bit about you.

Hermione nodded, but didn't say anything.

If half the things she'd heard about this girl were true, then she'd probably have her hands full if she decided to send a curse her way. And by the look in her eyes, she looked as though she just might. "Look, a lot of people obviously made mistakes here, including me, and we'll sort that out later. But I'm here to help now, and I'd really appreciate it if you'd put your wand away."

As Hermione lowered her wand, Dan asked, "Do you know how to administer these potions?"

Tonks knelt down by the trunk and examined them. When she looked back up, she found three sets of eyes on her. She wanted to give them some good news, but couldn't. Shaking her head no, she said dejectedly, "Some of these are unusual, I'd only be guessing. Probably end up doing more harm than good. Best we wait for Madam Pomfrey, she should be here soon." Tonks glanced over her shoulder at Emma, and then back to Dan, "Mr. and Mrs. Granger I take it?"

In an effort to ease the tension, Dan stood up and offered his hand, "Dan, and my wife Emma," he said as he ticked his head in his wife's direction.

"Nymphadora Tonks." At Dan's raised brow, she added, "Yeah, I know. So please, just call me Tonks."

Hermione went back to Harry and sat down. As gently as possible she eased his head onto her lap. She wanted to be strong, but she couldn't help it, as a couple of soft sobs escaped her.

A moment later, the sound of two soft pops announced the arrival of McGonagall and Pomfrey. "Up here," Tonks called down.

A few seconds later, both witches walked into the room. Neither seemed too surprised at seeing the whole Granger family there. However, it was obvious the moment they spotted Harry; McGonagall's exclamation of "Oh Dear God," and Pomfrey rushing over to him, made it clear to all, that neither had expected anything like this.

Pomfrey immediately took charge. She started by levitating Harry back onto his bed, then she started running diagnostic spells. While Hermione sat with Harry, and watched anxiously.

Hermione's parents, realizing that the healer was far better prepared to tend to Harry moved out of the way. They went over and stood by Tonks and McGonagall, and watched in fascination as Pomfrey preformed her magic. Having seen very little real magic ever done, they were both paying close attention. The fact that it was medical in nature was an added bonus. It was clear, that Pomfrey was quite concerned about Harry's condition, which caused Dan to turn his attention to McGonagall. "Please tell me, you had no idea any of this was going on?"

Horrified, that anyone would think she would condone someone being treated like this, let alone a child, McGonagall answered in a shocked voice, "Heavens no, absolutely not!"

Satisfied, Dan nodded. Then after a quick glance to make sure Hermione was still preoccupied with Harry, he spoke to the three women standing by him, "When you get a chance, go and look in the cupboard under the stairs."

Emma, McGonagall, and Tonks all looked at him in question. Dan nodded towards Hermione, and then the door.

Tonks seemed to understand immediately and nodded back, before starting out the door. McGonagall turned and looked at Hermione for a second, then went to follow Tonks. Emma just stared at her husband with a raised brow, wondering what he was trying to keep from their daughter. She then decided, the best way to find out, was to go and see for herself.

After reading the diagnostics, Pomfrey frowned. Looking at Hermione, she asked, "Do you know when he stopped taking the potions?"

"I'm not sure, but I doubt he got a chance to start." She turned to her father for more information.

Dan knelt down and examined the potion bottles again, "She's probably right, they all appear to be full."

"Thought as much," Pomfrey sighed, "why is it always you Mr. Potter?" Then she turned her attention to the young girl across from her. Hermione had tears in her eyes again as she held Harry's hand. "Miss Granger…" When Hermione finally looked up, she went on, "I need to wake him in order to administer the first two potions. I wish there was another way, but with these two in particular, he has to be conscious." Pomfrey paused as she looked at Harry, "He'll be in a great deal of pain. Perhaps… Well, I'm not sure you should be here."

Hermione reached down with her free hand and ran her fingers through Harry's matted hair. "This is where I belong…" Hermione whispered. The tenderness in her voice, and the passionate devotion in her eyes, said more than words could ever hope to express. Turning back to Pomfrey she added with determination, "And this is where I'm going to stay."

Unsurprised, Pomfrey nodded, "Figured that as well." She wasn't used to taking orders from a student, but Hermione Granger was no ordinary student. "Very well, if you're going to stay, you might as well help."

Emma had just returned and had heard Hermione's declaration. She couldn't help but be moved by it. It was more than just a statement of loyalty… it was one of love. Whether Hermione realized it or not, she didn't know. But for the moment she couldn't have been happier for, nor prouder of, her daughter.


Downstairs, McGonagall and Tonks were talking quietly about the current situation and what they'd seen, while Petunia stood nervously by the front window looking out.

"I can't believe I was so stupid," Tonks said dejectedly, "Dumbledore never mentioned anything about the Dursleys being like this." Tonks shook her head, "I should have demanded to see him. I just never imagined anyone could be so cruel."

McGonagall nodded sadly, "I don't think anyone did… except maybe Hermione."

"Oi, she's quite the firecracker that one, for a minute there I thought she just might try and curse me." Tonks said warily.

McGonagall raised a brow and nodded, "They've gotten close this last year. Always looking out for one another… with the Tournament and all."

"Yeah, that's about what Sirius said." After a pause, Tonks nodded towards the cupboard, "Do you think Dumbledore knows about any of this?"

McGonagall glanced at the cupboard and then up the stairs, "Some, but the rest, I hope not. I really hope not, but honestly… I really don't know."

Tonks nodded in understanding, "Bit of a sticky wicket isn't it?"

"Aye, that it is," McGonagall said sagely. "With Dumbledore still gone, I'm afraid there will be a lot of questions left unanswered for a while. However, what I do know is, Harry can no longer stay here."

"Are you going to take him back to the castle with you?"

McGonagall shook her head no. Then after staring at the young Auror for a moment said cryptically, "Actually, I think I have a better idea."

Tonks smiled and raised a brow, it sounded like things were going to get interesting. However, before she could ask what the older witch had in mind, the front door flew open.

Vernon Dursley stormed into the living room with all the subtlety of a raging bull. "What did I tell you freaks about barging into my home?"

In one swift motion, McGonagall turned and flicked her wand, rendering Vernon both silent and paralyzed. Petunia shrieked, but after a quick look from McGonagall she went silent also. McGonagall walked up to Vernon slowly, but with a bold confidence and stood in front of him. Tonks followed and took up a flanking position. The look McGonagall gave to the most reprehensible of students, paled in comparison to the one she was now giving Vernon. In a low, contemptuous voice, McGonagall started, "Never in all my years, have I seen such cruelty inflicted on a child. I cannot think of a punishment worthy enough for you." McGonagall tilted her head slightly, "I could report you to the Muggle or magical authorities, I'm quite sure either would have you locked away for a long time. Personally, I'd send you to the Goblins, and let you shovel dragon shite for the next twenty years or so." McGonagall smirked, "Lucky for me, I just happen to have an Auror with me. After she is done filing her report to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, I'm quite sure the Director will want to have a few words with you. Then, if there is anything left of you after she's done, I think the Grangers just might want to file a report with the Muggle authorities. Oh, and if you think Dumbledore might help, will think again, he's out of town at the moment. So for now anyway, your fate is in our hands." McGonagall stood to her full height and pointed her wand right between Vernon's eyes. "And even if Dumbledore does come back, don't get too excited, I'll not let this Atrocity get swept under the rug… mark my words."

At that moment, almost as if to illustrate her point, a blood curdling scream came from upstairs.

Tonks pulled her wand and went to grab Vernon, ready to take him apart. "That's your doing!"

The only thing that saved him, was McGonagall's out-stretched hand, "He'll get his due, but not here, and not now."

Although Vernon couldn't move, McGonagall could see the fear in his eyes. "I'm going to release you now, and you are going to stand here and be quiet," she said threateningly as she released him, "do you understand?"

Vernon wanted to yell, "How dare you?" but he wasn't quite that stupid. He knew he was in trouble, and these freaks standing in front of him looked more than willing to carry out their threats. For now, he'd just bide his time. Vernon finally did something smart; he nodded yes.


Once Pomfrey had finished getting everything ready, she turned her attention to Hermione. "After I wake him, he might get a little wild until he remembers where he is. I want you to hang on to his hand, and talk to him. Try to reassure him. He could be delirious and not recognize anyone. But I'm quite sure it will be the sound of your voice that brings him around the fastest." Pomfrey eyed Hermione, wondering if she was ready, "Miss Granger… Hermione, even if he ignores you, or tries to fight you, remember he's not in his right mind, so don't give up and don't… lose control of your emotions."

"I understand," Hermione said solemnly.

"Good. Are you ready?" Hermione simply nodded yes. Pomfrey gave her parents a quick glance; they looked apprehensive, but ready to help if need be. "Right then…" Pomfrey touched her wand to Harry's chest and whispered a long incantation.

The effect was nearly immediate. His face quickly contorted in pain, and his arms went stiff. The fingers on his free hand flexed before clinching into a tight ball. His other hand started to squeeze Hermione's delicate hand, but stopped short of hurting her. A moment later, Harry arched his back and let out a loud, tortured scream.

Hermione wanted to cry for him, it was obvious that he was in agony. But she told herself she'd do that later; after Harry was better, and she was alone. Right now he needed her help, her strength, not her sympathy. Hermione took his hand in the both of hers and squeezed back. Then she leaned forward, so she was close to his ear and started talking to him softly. "I'm here Harry," she said, "Were going to help you Harry… Hold on, Harry." Hermione kept at it, consoling him the best she could.

Harry relaxed a bit for a couple of seconds, "Hermione?" he asked in a weak voice.

Hermione gave a half smiled, "Yes, Harry, it's me… I'm here," she answered reassuringly. Reaching up, she softly stroked the side of his face. "Madam Pomfrey is here too Harry, she is going to help you."

Harry tried to reach up with his other hand, but it started shaking so bad he had to let it drop back down. After the wave of pain passed, Harry opened his eyes for a few seconds to look at Hermione, as if to make sure she was really there. He managed a weak "Hey…" before the pain forced him to tense up again.

Pomfrey was quite surprised. From what her diagnostics had told her, she had expected him to be hollering and trashing around from the pain until she had managed to get a pain potion in him. She couldn't figure out how he was able to endure it. Then looking at Hermione, she quirked a brow… `It has to be her presence… but how?' Pomfrey filed the thought away for later, right now regardless of the reasons, Harry was stable enough to take the potions, and she didn't want to make him wait any longer than necessary.

Pomfrey waved her wand over Harry and took another reading. Satisfied with the results, she nodded, "Good." Holding a vial she turned to Harry, "Mr. Potter, I need you to take this for me. It will ease the pain a great deal." Eyes still closed, he gave her a quick nod. While Hermione helped him lift his head, Pomfrey tipped the contents of the small bottle into Harry's mouth. A moment later, the tension in Harry's face eased and he visibly relaxed. "Excellent Mr. Potter. We'll give that a minute, and then I have a couple more for you."

A few minutes later after Harry had taken the last of the potion, Pomfrey asked, "Are you feeling better?"

Harry took a second to think and then opened his eyes, "Yes… much, thank you," he answered in a raspy voice.

Pomfrey gave him a rare smile, "Think nothing of it dear." Standing up, she said, "I want you to rest for a few more minutes while I go and talk to the Grangers. Then with a knowing look, added, "It looks like you are in good hands now."

Harry turned and looked at Hermione. She hadn't let go of his hand, nor had she looked away the entire time. Harry could tell she had been extremely worried about him, and bothered by what had happened. With the pain and spasms under control now, Harry reached up and cupped her face. Even tear streaked, he thought she looked beautiful. Using his thumb, he tried to wipe away the last of her tears, "Hey now, don't cry… I'm fine now."

Hermione's voice hitched, "You're not fine Harry, those… monsters almost killed you."

"But they didn't… you came."

Hermione nodded, "Yes," not trusting her voice, it was all could say.

Harry had expected Dumbledore to come and rescue him, but as he thought about it, he found he really wasn't all that surprised. Hermione had always been there for him. Far more than Dumbledore. And as Harry thought more about that, he also found, he preferred it that way.

Harry looked around, then smiled, "I should have known you'd be the one to come."

"How do you know it was me who got here first?"

Harry stared straight into her eyes with an intensity that pinned her in place, "Because you're the only one who really cares."

Even though Hermione was suddenly feeling warm all over, a shiver rippled through her, "Yes…" she whispered. Trying to regain control of the blood that was making its way to her face, Hermione took a deep breath and then let a coy smile slowly form as she asked, "Somebody could have told me."

"Who… McGonagall, Pomfrey?" Harry challenged.

Hermione's smile grew, "No… Actually, it was a brilliant, white owl."

"Oh… still…" Harry stopped, the mirth in his eyes gone, replaced with concern, "Is she alright?"

Hermione squeezed his hand, this was one of the things she loved about him; his concern for others, even his owl. "She's okay Harry, a little banged up, probably trying to get away from here, but she's safe now." As Harry relaxed, she added, "When we get home, we'll make sure."

Harry closed his eyes and smiled, he liked the sound of that, `We…'


Figuring Harry was now awake and through the worst of it, McGonagall was anxious to put her make-shift plan into action. "Keep an eye on these two, I'm going to check on Harry," she said to Tonks, before hurrying up the stairs.

When McGonagall stepped into the room, she couldn't help but smile. Hermione had Harry's head in her lap again as she ran her fingers through his hair, while Pomfrey worked on healing some of his other injuries. The Grangers stood off to the side and watched with both concern for Harry, and with renewed interest in what Pomfrey was doing.

McGonagall moved to stand next to the Grangers. "Healing magic… truly some of the greatest magic there is," she said in a low voice.

Mr. Granger turned and looked at her, "Yes, it is truly amazing."

McGonagall nodded, "And while I know very little about Muggle medicine, I do know there are a lot of things that can be done with it, that we cannot do with magic."

Dan raised a brow, "I suppose you're right." After turning back to watch Pomfrey, "Wouldn't it be something if we could combine them?"

McGonagall had to agree, "Oh yes, that would indeed be something." As she continued to watch, she found herself focusing on Hermione. "You know what else, or I should say, who else, is amazing… your daughter. She probably saved his life. Hermione is an extraordinary young witch; you should be very proud of her."

Both Dan and Emma shifted their gaze to their daughter. Dan just smiled at the compliment; McGonagall hadn't told him anything he didn't already know. Emma however nodded and said thank you, before adding, "She seemed to know long before today, that something wasn't right." At McGonagall's questioning look, she explained, "Kind of the way a mother knows something is wrong, when she wakes in the middle of the night; only to find a sick child out of bed."

McGonagall nodded in understanding and then turned back to Harry and Hermione, "They're very close you know." She smiled, and then repeated the words she had just told Tonks, "They're always looking out for each other."

Dan frowned, "I'm not sure I like that."

It was Emma who asked, "Why is that dear?"

Dan ran a hand through his hair, "I'm just not sure that I like the idea, of my little girl's willingness to do anything for a boy."

McGonagall and Emma shared a look, of course a father would worry about that. The fact that he had referred to Harry as "a boy," and Hermione as a "little girl' was a dead give-away.

McGonagall turned to face him, "Mr. Granger, I understand your concern, I really do. As their Head of House, it's something I keep a close eye on. And while they're emotional relationship is quite mature, I'm certain that neither of them are anywhere near ready for that kind of a physical relationship. Also, bear in mind that willingness you speak of, goes both ways." At his skeptical look, McGonagall smiled, "Oh yes, I'm quite certain he would jump off a cliff without question, if Hermione asked him too."

"Well, let's be glad that Hermione is not prone to making ludicrous requests," Dan quipped.

Emma jumped in, "And there's more to it than that. She is not willing to do anything with just any boy, only him." Emma could see that didn't help and so tried another approach. "It's not because she's infatuated with him; she's too logical for that. It's because she understands him, and trusts him."

"But still…"

Dan, you know our Hermione is more than just smart, she's a good judge of character. I really don't think our daughter would do anything for any boy, if she didn't want to."

Somewhat relieved, Dan smiled, "Yeah, I guess you're right. Lord knows, I've never been able to get one passed her."

McGonagall smiled, "Too right, Mr. Granger." Then turning a little more serious, asked, "Well, with that settled… I was wondering if I could ask you for a favor."

Even before she asked, Emma knew they'd be taking Harry home with them. It was either that, or leave Hermione here with him, and she sure wasn't going to do that. Besides, they barely knew Harry; this would give them a chance to really see the young man their daughter was falling for. Emma also couldn't help but think, that it would be nice for Harry as well. God only knew how bad his home life had been up till now.

A while later as Dan was helping Harry get dressed, Hermione approached Madam Pomfrey with a request. "Ma'am, I assume you'll be coming around every so often to check on Harry."

"Every day for the first week or so, why?"

"I was wondering if you could bring me some books on healing… maybe teach me some as well."

The art of healing was very sacred, and not something to be taken lightly. Pomfrey had to ask, "Why?"

Hermione had her arms crossed defensively as she looked down. Speaking clearly, but softly, she began, "When Harry came back from that wretched graveyard, I was afraid… afraid for him. But I wasn't alone, I knew you were there, and so was Dumbledore, and more. I knew Harry would get the help he needed." Hermione looked up on the verge of tears, "This time, I was alone. My parents don't really have the proper training for this kind of thing, not to mention the magical aspect. Again I was afraid for him, afraid he might die. But I was terrified it would happen because… because I didn't know what to do." Hermione was crying softly now. "I felt so lost… so useless." Hermione wiped angrily at her tears, "I never want to feel that way again."

Pomfrey was moved by her speech. Even though it took years to become a certified healer, there was still a lot she could teach in a short time. Things like basic first aid, triage and some simple healing and diagnostic spells. Furthermore, knowing what might lie ahead for Harry and thus Hermione by association, she didn't consider it an unreasonable request. Pomfrey put a hand on her shoulder, "We'll… take care of Harry, and he'll be right as rain in no time. I'll bring you some books, and I'll teach you as much as I can."

Hermione saw that she understood, "Thank you."

As Pomfrey was walking back to Harry, she said over her shoulder, "And I'll expect your usual work, Miss Granger."

A few minutes later, a small group left Harry's room and started down the stairs. McGonagall and Mrs. Granger lead the way while they talked about arrangements. Harry with the help of Pomfrey on his left, and Hermione on his right, followed behind. Dan, carrying Harry's trunk, was the last to leave.

It was fairly slow going, as Harry really couldn't walk on his own because he was so weak. With one arm over Hermione's shoulder, and the other around Pomfrey's waist, they slowly made their way to the front door. Harry knew his uncle was probably seething with anger and so tried to keep his eyes down to avoid trouble. But as they were about to pass, he couldn't help but to steal a glance at the man who had made the last several days a living hell.

Vernon knew he was in a tight predicament and was trying to stay quiet. He kept telling himself, `Soon they'll be gone, and we'll be rid of the freak for good.' But when Harry looked up at him when they passed, he couldn't hold his tongue any longer. "Should've thrown you in the bin that night the old man left your worthless arse on our doorstep," Vernon spat. He should have stopped there, but he couldn't, "Yeah, that was a mistake, and not finishing the job last night was another..."

Like Harry, Hermione had planned on ignoring Vernon, but after hearing his hateful words, she had to say something. She would have liked to of hexed him; and thought she still might sometime in the future, but she was currently holding Harry. For now, she'd have to settle for just telling him exactly what she thought of him. Stopping in front of him, she let loose a torrent of pent-up anger that she had for the man. "How dare you! You are nothing but a monstrous, evil man. Worse than the most heinous creature that walks the face of the earth. You should…"

She never got to finish, because Vernon had decided he'd heard enough. Forgetting who else was in the room, he backhanded the sassy girl hard enough to knock her to the floor.

Pomfrey would later remark, she didn't know where he had found the strength, but somehow Harry had managed to jerk himself free from her grasp and lunge at Vernon. A half second later, and Harry had both hands around Vernon's throat, intent on chocking him to death.

For the first time in his life, Vernon was seeing the real Harry Potter. A young man with powerful emotions. Who when pushed too far, was a dangerous young man. Vernon was suddenly very grateful that Harry was in a weakened state, for at the moment, he was having trouble breathing. What scared him more though, was the look in his eyes. Gone was the look of a scared little boy, afraid to fight back. Replaced by something he'd never seen in him before; a raging anger, contempt… hate. Vernon finally snapped out of his surprised induced stupor. Reaching up, he grabbed Harry's hands and pulled them away. A jab to the gut, and Harry joined Hermione on the floor.

It had all happened so fast. By the time Pomfrey got her wand out of her bag, Harry was already laying on the floor.

McGonagall and Mrs. Granger had already stepped outside, and by the time they got back in, it was all over.

Mr. Granger had just stepped off the stairs when he saw Mr. Dursley hit his daughter. He dropped Harry's trunk and raced for the man who dared strike a member of his family, only to pull up short as Harry attacked him. A second later after Harry went down, Dan was moving again. This time, it was an angry pink haired witch who beat him to Vernon.

Tonks gave Vernon a stiff upper cut to the jaw which sent him stumbling backwards. At this point, she could have used her wand, but she wanted to give him a taste of his own medicine. After a couple of more punches that left him bleeding, she spun Vernon around and slammed him face-first into the wall.

Emma was helping Hermione up off the floor, while Dan was helping Harry. Vernon watched out of the corner of his eye, and after spitting out some blood, said, "You're nothing without your friends, boy.

Harry looked long and hard at his uncle before answering, "Nobody is uncle." Harry moved over to Hermione and put his arm around her. He carefully examined the bruise on her face, then turned back to Vernon. "If you ever lay a hand on her again, I'll finish you."

"Hmpf," was all Vernon said.

Dan eyed Harry with new-found respect. Then after a nod of appreciation, he ticked his head towards the door, "Go on Harry, I'll bring your trunk."

As the Grangers pulled out of the drive, McGonagall had to laugh. She didn't know who was smiling harder; Harry for getting away from the Dursleys, or Hermione for having him to herself for the summer. Tonks looked nervous though, probably because it was her first car ride and all.

McGonagall had told them, that she would wait for another Auror to show up to watch the Dursleys, and then she had a few errands to run. She said she'd try and stop by around dinner time, but not to wait for her. Pomfrey went back to Hogwarts, but told them before she left, that she'd visit later, and check on Harry. Tonks had been happy to go with the Grangers, and McGonagall promised to get it cleared with her boss, Madam Bones. Tonks only concern, was Remus and Sirius; they'd want to know what was going on, McGonagall promised to talk with them as well.



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