Disclaimer: Don't own Harry Potter or Mass Effect, sadly.
AN: Sometimes a scene doesn't work out and then you sit there, having written ~2-3k words, that nobody but you (and your beta) will ever read. It's not that the piece is bad - if it was then good riddance - just… it doesn't fit, it holds up the narrative needlessly, or some other reason.
In this small repository I'll post those snippets that for one reason or another didn't make it into the main story of Blue Magic. Please be aware that there's a reason why they got cut. They are also mostly unbeta'd. Don't expect them to be on the same level as the main story. That said, unless they directly contradict the main story - or I specify otherwise - they can be considered 'canon'.
This first piece happens during Chapter 15 (Christmas in Harry's first year at Hogwarts). It was initially conceived to give Hermione a couple of clues to figure out what's going on.
Tea at the Grangers'
Sunday, December 22, 1991
When Hermione opened the door for Harry and Liara and welcomed them into her home, she couldn't help but be astonished how graceful both of them looked and moved. She was used to Harry slouching when he was bored or his subdued power he could exude when it suited him, that wasn't quite in tune with an eleven year old boy. And Liara was on a level entirely her own, though Hermione couldn't quite shake the memory when the Asari had entered the bathroom and crushed the Troll's neck.
Her parents stood behind her and soon pleasantries were exchanged and they moved to the sitting room for tea. If Hermione expected something strange to happen, she was soon sorely disappointed. Liara obviously knew how to socialize in a formal setting, even if her mannerisms sometimes betrayed that she hadn't learned in British society. Still, her lapses were minor and Hermione wasn't even sure her parents noticed.
Harry had also obviously received some training, just like Hermione had, but for him it was evident that it was slightly forced. His natural charm and youth excused him however.
"So, Dr. T'Soni, our daughter told us you are a doctor? What's your speciality? General medicine?" Gaius Granger asked Liara after some meaningless small talk.
"Oh no, I'm not that kind of doctor," Liara replied with a small, charming laugh. "I'm an archaeologist, though I hold some other minor degrees as well."
"Really? You must be quite gifted then, multiple degrees at such a young age," Hermione's mother said with some admiration.
"Oh I'm a bit older than I appear, I'm afraid," Liara deflected modestly, but Hermione took notice, especially since Harry snickered silently as if Liara's age was some inside joke. Hadn't he told her Liara was still young? She wanted to ask how old Liara was exactly but it would have been terribly rude of her.
"Archeology you say?" her father perked up and Hermione almost groaned. She knew what was coming. "I dabble a bit myself, though I'm just an interested amateur…"
"Hermione, why don't you show Harry the house," her mother whispered conspiratorially. She too knew the signs. "Didn't you say you wanted to go through the games anyway?"
Hermione's eyes lit up and she smiled in gratitude. She grabbed Harry's hand and with a quick 'come with me' she bodily pulled the slightly struggling boy after her and out of the room.
"What's the rush Hermione?" Harry asked confused as he stumbled after her.
"You wouldn't have liked staying there," Hermione muttered darkly. "My father can go on and on about Great-Uncle Harold's collection. He was an Egyptologist in the 19th century, you know."
"That doesn't sound too bad," Harry protested.
"Trust me, it's dreadfully boring," Hermione stated with authority. "It's not even a particularly good collection."
In the end Harry just shrugged and followed Hermione as she led the way to her bedroom.
"What's that?" Harry asked curiously, pointing at Hermione's computer, as the girl piled various games on her bed.
"That's a computer," she answered. "You know, a machine that…"
"I know what a computer is, Hermione," he interrupted her upcoming lecture. "But isn't it kinda… big?"
"And how small would you make it? The size of a watch? That's just science fiction," she replied with a laugh, but stopped as soon as she noticed Harry fingering his own watch nervously. Interesting, she thought.
Going through the games took almost no time at all. There weren't that many in the first place and about half of them were in French anyway. Hermione explained somewhat embarrassed that the only time she got to play any of them was when her French cousins stayed with them over the summer.
"So what do you want to do now?" Hermione asked after she had noted down the last game to owl Dean and Seamus so they could coordinate who brought which game.
"Dunno," Harry replied with another shrug. Now that it was only them he was his usual laid back self.
"We could watch a movie," she offered, not really used to having a friend over. From what he had told her this was a new situation for Harry as well.
"Sounds good, which ones do you have?" he asked, quickly warming to the idea.
"Let's see. How about this one?" she said, holding up a VHS case depicting a stick figure on a cliff hit by lightning.
"Short Circuit? I haven't seen that one, so why not?" Harry agreed.
After Hermione had inserted the tape, making sure it had been rewinded, she settled down next to Harry, sitting on her legs. Apparently she had chosen right, because Harry was captivated from the start.
"I think I know what this movie is about," he said after about twenty minutes or so. "This AI, Number 5, is trying to gain the help of those kids while the military hunts him down. But in the end he's going to be destroyed."
"That's horrible, Harry!" Hermione exclaimed appalled. "Number 5 is the good guy. He can't die!"
"Sure, he's nice at the moment, which makes this movie actually pretty good, but at some point something is going to happen and he turns on everyone, including the kids," Harry said dismissively. "It's unavoidable."
"Well this one doesn't," Hermione replied defiantly. "Just because he's a machine doesn't mean he has to turn bad."
"Okay, maybe he wouldn't for a couple of years, or even a century, but he's a machine. They can make themselves smarter, they never forget and live forever. At best they become detached and see us as bugs. At worst they hold a grudge and try to kill us all."
Hermione wanted to argue, but the way Harry talked reminded her of their Biotics lessons. Usually Harry was perfectly willing to discuss magic with her - or almost anything else really. They would argue back and forth how a spell might work and how it could be used differently, but this was different. Harry wasn't arguing with her, he was telling her, as if he already knew the truth. But AIs were still hypothetical, right?
"What do you know about AIs?" she challenged. "You know something, right?"
"Nevermind," he mumbled, suddenly not looking at her. Hermione had seen this reaction before whenever she came close to something he didn't want to talk about, something concerning 'The Secret', as Hermione referred to it in her mind - capital letters and quotation marks and all.
She had learned not to press too much or Harry would not talk to her at all for hours, so for now she decided to drop it. It was another piece of information she diligently collected and would try to fit into the puzzle.