A/N some of my readers have sussed that Scotland's schools start their summer holidays this weekend. They were hoping this might see me returning to a weekly posting schedule. Alas, that's not going to happen. I'm not actually on holiday and my department is still a man down - therefore I'm just as busy. I've also noted my chapters have been getting progressively longer. I used to aim for my chapters to be around the 5k words length, but I'm averaging 7.5k words a chapter with 'Density'.

You're My Density

Chapter 13

It was three red faced teens who were certainly enjoying the refreshingly cool spring Scottish Highland air as they slowly made their way back to the castle. Their flushed appearance wasn't all due to the oppressive dragon-egg-hatching heat of the house they'd just left. An astonished and angry Neville summed it up best.

"I can't decide which is crazier. That Hagrid is trying to hatch a Norwegian Ridgeback egg in his hut, or he named the three-headed monster that I still have nightmares over 'Fluffy'. What the hell is Hagrid playing at? He could end up in Azkaban for either of those stunts."

It was one thing to hear stories of events that had happened, quite another to witness them for yourself. That Harry had just seen a real dragon's egg, and Hagrid promised to send word when it began to hatch, left the former veterinarian student in a state of bewildered bliss. It was down to Hermione to try and steady Neville's nerves - before he ran off to a professor and blurbed about everything.

"You heard Hagrid, it was Professor Dumbledore who asked to borrow 'Fluffy'..."

"I also heard Hagrid say music puts that three-headed monster right to sleep - something I'm quite prepared to take his word about. If I never see that thing again it will still be too soon. Do you know who this Flamel character is that Hagrid mentioned? He seems important, Hagrid certainly didn't mean to mention his name."

Pleased that Neville had picked up on that, Hermione gave him the information that proved so troublesome to unearth the last time around. She even cited one of the sources.

"Nicolas Flamel is a world famous alchemist, and a good friend of Professor Dumbledore. It mentions on the professor's chocolate frog card that they worked on discovering the twelve uses of dragon blood together. The reason he's so famous is because Flamel created the only known Philosopher's Stone in existence. By using it, he and his wife are reported to be over six hundred years old…"

It was almost funny for Hermione as she watched Neville join up the dots to reach a conclusion. "The Philosopher's Stone - that's what the three headed monster is guarding. Dumbledore must be looking after it for his friend. Who would be trying to steal it though?"

Instead of answering, Hermione just raised her eyebrow. This had Neville thinking of an answer for himself - and he didn't like where those thoughts were taking him.

It was into this pause in their conversation Harry suddenly declared, "I love Magic!"

That had both Hermione and Neville staring at him but Harry didn't care - he was far too excited. "Hey you two - we're going to get to witness a dragon being born. How cool is that?"

"Harry, that was the total opposite of cool. I was boiling in there."

"Muggle expression, Neville. It means really, really good. Hermione, my shoulder injury would have taken months to heal, followed by even more months of physiotherapy - and it would never have been the same again. One night in the infirmary and I'm healed, within a week it's as good as new. Think about it - they must have similar treatments for all these wonderful animals too…"

Neville couldn't help but chuckle at his best friend's enthusiasm. "One of the top students in our year and he wants to be Hagrid's apprentice…"

This gave Hermione the opening she was looking for to broach a rather delicate subject. "That's something I want to ask your Gran a few questions about on Sunday. I hope you don't mind, Neville?"

His chuckle just deepened. "Hermione, my Gran is a member of the Wizengamot. Trust me, she won't be bothered by a few questions from a first year. I'm gonna be there tomorrow morning too, just to see my Gran though."


Minerva entered Dumbledore's office to see her friend nursing a glass of firewhisky. She had no way of knowing this was Augusta's second, the first one Albus supplied having already been downed.

"Surely your lesson couldn't have gone that badly?"

"I would like to think my lesson went well. As we had discussed, Minerva, I started with the Ministry and Wizengamot. Explaining the roles they played in our lives. As I mentioned, things were going well - until I asked if anyone had any questions…"

There was an audible groan from Minerva, she had a good idea what would have happened next. "Miss Granger?"

"Oh she was very polite. I doubt I've ever been taken apart so cordially. Neville had of course told me that she and Harry were his best friends. He also mentioned they were very smart, that was no overestimation. Miss Granger asked me about the blood status of departmental heads within the ministry. I of course told the truth, that every one of them was a pureblood. She then asked the same question about the Wizengamot. As you both know, the answer was again all pureblood. She then asked how that could be, since the percentage of purebloods in the British magical population was reckoned to be at best twenty percent. What could I say?"

Taking a sip of her drink, the shocked witch continued to relay how her carefully prepared lesson had crumbled to dust under this line of questioning. "Miss Granger then explained that she and her parents had met the ministry's expert on muggles. While they all thought Arthur Weasley was a very nice man, they assessed his knowledge of the subject to be comparable to that of a four year old muggle child. That was their top estimate too."

"That is rather unfortunate…"

"What was unfortunate, Albus, is that Miss Granger was just getting into her stride. Hogwarts didn't escape unscathed either, that girl had really done her homework. She knew Muggle Studies in Hogwarts is taught by a pureblood. Having checked the text books allocated for that course, Miss Granger claims they are all about a century out of date. She also claimed that a century in muggle time would see far greater changes than the same period in the wizarding world. The girl then rhymed off important items and events that the course ignored. The only two people in that classroom who didn't know what she was talking about was me and my grandson."

Minerva and Albus were getting ready to join Augusta in a tipple, this could be bad. Madam Longbottom then proved it was much worse than they thought.

"I was then asked why it was felt necessary they learn wizarding culture, when that very same culture ignored or looked down on theirs. Why should they support a system where an elite class they could never hope to join would basically rule over all of them? Why should they stay in a country where their circumstances of birth, rather than their abilities, predetermined what they would be able to achieve?"

With a deep felt sadness, Augusta told them what had really hurt. "My Neville was desperately looking toward me to refute those arguments, I could see the disappointment in his eyes. There simply wasn't anything I could say to defend the status quo. Miss Granger was almost apologetic while asking if I now understood why she and her intended were looking at other options. Harry then chipped in and said he hoped today wouldn't see me stopping Neville accompanying them, if they decided on another option than Hogwarts, since he was their best friend."

Uttering a sigh of frustration, Augusta sat her glass down. The answers they needed weren't going to be found in the bottom of a glass. "They really are a lovely couple yet I can't help but think we're failing them. Miss Granger's question just highlighted a problem we all knew existed. Our society just passes the situation off as normal, because that is the way things have always been. It would seem though that the times are changing, with new witches and wizards questioning the system they are basically forced into accepting. If this continues and we don't react, our country could end up losing some of its brightest witches and wizards. Make no mistake, those two leaving Britain would be merely the beginning. It may start off as a trickle but that could soon turn into a flood, a flood I feel powerless to prevent."

It was now Albus' turn to sigh. "It took a lot of persuading to get those two returning to Hogwarts for this term. Since then, Miss Granger's home has been magically attacked by suspected death eaters while Mister Potter was deliberately seriously assaulted at the last quidditch match. They've just spent the morning hearing how much the Ministry of Magic will impact on their lives, only to figure out the top echelons is an exclusive club their heritage bars them from ever joining. To be honest, I've got nothing left to persuade them to return here come September."

"I remember having the customary fifth year careers talk with Lily Evans. She too was a brilliant witch who'd figured out her status as a muggle born would severely limit her opportunities should she choose to work in the ministry. In one sense, Lily was in a more fortunate position. Both Filius and Horace were trying to woo her to apprentice under them, with a view to eventually becoming a Hogwarts professor. I remember at the end of that meeting feeling I'd failed her, and we're still failing those very same children."

Knowing it would soon be time to have those same customary career talk with her current fifth year charges, and this news would spread to every student in the school, a still reminiscing Minerva was left shaking her head in disappointment. "We have children of pureblood descent who know they need do no better than acceptable on their exams, because their futures are already assured. How can we push our students to excel when it doesn't matter how many N.E.W.T.s some of them achieve, certain positions will always be out of their reach."

Silence reigned in the headmaster's office as all three of them thought about the situation. Minerva then had an idea on how to present Hogwarts in a better light to the young couple currently at the centre of this. "Albus, we now have a showcase final to decide the Quidditch Cup at the end of the year. Perhaps inviting the parents of those playing along to the match again might be a good idea?"

Knowing what Minerva was really suggesting, Albus thought that was an excellent idea. He really didn't have anything else to offer. He knew Harry and Hermione had their own agenda, and both were easily smart enough to be using him to push that agenda in the direction they wanted. Since Halloween though, this was something Albus had no other option but to blindly accept.

That blind acceptance however was tempered by two things. Miss Granger was someone he had obviously implicitly trusted in the past, otherwise she simply wouldn't be here now. The fact that she was here at all also told Albus all hope must have been lost in the future, there was no other way he would have even considered such a desperate measure. The second piece of information that helped Albus with these decisions was that they were undoubtably all on the same side - the side that wanted to see Voldemort fall.

He therefore had to take what Hermione was saying very seriously. The message here was crystal clear. A war had been fought, a war that brought heavy losses to their side, yet nothing had really changed. They were no better equipped to deal with the rise of a Dark Lord today than they were over a decade ago. That the conditions allowing a Dark lord to draw support from certain sections of their community still existed was actually shameful, and all three of them currently in his office knew that.


The twins were invited to sit by their friends, that Hermione then produced butterbeers for all of them raised a few eyebrows - impressed at how she'd gotten her hands on these.

"Okay, we'll bite."

"What do you need us for?"

Sampling his butterbeer, and liking it, Harry didn't keep them waiting any longer. "We're planning a prank that my father and his fellow Marauders could only dream of - and wondered if you wanted in. Actually, you two being in from the start is an essential part of the prank."

Hermione wanted to make something clear right from the beginning though. "The thing that's different about this prank however is, even although it's spectacular, only the five of us in this room can ever know about it. There is one other, but I don't want to mention his name just yet. You'll both know exactly who I'm talking about the second you hear what's actually involved."

"Mmm, we normally like people to know who pranked them."

"Yeah, just not be able to prove it was us. You're gonna have to define 'spectacular' before we commit to this."

Cutting straight to the chase, Harry laid it out for them. "Is smuggling a live dragon out of Hogwarts spectacular enough for you?"

Both twins looked around for the joke, seeing three serious faces staring back at them had Fred and George in fits of laughter.

"Oh Harrikins, you don't mess about."

"A bloody dragon?"

"Yes. You see we have this friend who's about to hatch a dragon's egg in his house. Never mind that house's construction contains a lot of flammable materials, he's determined to proceed. If something isn't done, we just can't see any way this will end in anything other than disaster."

Nodding in confirmation, Hermione was in full agreement with Harry. "We know you have a brother who works on a dragon reserve. Could you write and ask them if they would be interested in acquiring a baby Norwegian Ridgeback - free of charge of course. If they are, then we need to see about getting it out of Hogwarts without our friend ending up paying Azkaban a visit."

"Shit, Hagrid has really gone too far this time. He would certainly end up in Azkaban if the Ministry found out."

"Aw, you guessed!"

Fred smiled at the young witch's light sarcasm. "Just the word 'dragon' was enough to give the game away, we didn't need any of the other clues. We'll write to Charlie tonight."

"He and Hagrid are great friends. If Charlie can help, I'm sure he will."

The twins actually borrowed the map and Harry's invisibility cloak, intending to head up to the owlery with their yet to be written letter - regardless of curfew.

They had hardly left to begin their mission when Harry asked Neville a question. "You were very quiet tonight, mate. Are you angry about what was said to your Gran today?"

"No Harry. I'm more embarrassed than angry - embarrassed that everything said today was true. Hermione is smarter than both of us, it's not right that she's judged on the fact her parents are not magical."

Hermione came over and hugged Neville in thanks, before then nestling on Harry's lap. "You have nothing to be embarrassed about, Neville - and neither does your Gran. It's easy to see she's a good person and I felt terrible about today. She was giving up her time to teach us things we need to know yet I practically ambushed her. We needed to get that information out there however, information everyone else just conveniently ignores. What do you think my parents would have said to McGonagall if she'd told us about that part of wizarding society the day my family discovered I was a witch?"

"She lied?"

"She didn't lie, Neville, McGonagall just didn't tell us the whole truth. Saying to my mum and dad that, in the British magical community, I would be considered a second class citizen would have seen McGonagall swiftly chucked out of our house on her ear."

Having met Hermione's parents, Neville couldn't disagree with that. Harry explained their predicament in more detail.

"This is not about 'our society is better than yours' - far from it. Hogwarts was built over a thousand years ago to teach all the young witches and wizards of Britain about magic. In our society, it only became law that all children must attend school about a hundred and twenty years ago. We looked at Hogwarts' Muggle Studies course and reckoned it's about a century out of date. The real problem is how far our society has progressed in that time. In technological terms, we've progressed from steam engines to rockets that can and have landed men on the moon. In cultural terms, our society has moved just as far. You will now have muggle born witches and wizards arriving at Hogwarts who won't stand for the bigotry they find here. The Ministry and Hogwarts has to realise that ignoring this problem is not the answer. It's not going to go away, rather the new witches and wizards will. We certainly don't expect things to change overnight, but there has to be some signs that they are at least willing to consider changes."

While agreeing with everything Harry had just said, Hermione then looked at the other side of the coin. "There are people at the Ministry though who think that most of the muggle borns leaving Britain is a good thing. They don't want to see their culture 'tainted' by our dirty blood. The more extreme amongst them actually think I stole my magic from a pureblood, and that's their bigoted explanation for how squibs are produced."

This shocked Neville so much he was up on his feet. "That's bloody ridiculous…"

A big smile from Hermione told Neville they shared his view. "They have no scientific basis for that belief, no facts to supported it, but that doesn't stop them spouting it. The trouble starts when no one challenges that belief. Then people start assuming it's fact. We hope your Gran's back here next week, today was stuff we needed to know. We may have some more questions for her but she is also welcome to ask us questions too. If it's something we don't know, we can certainly find the information for her. We didn't realise your Gran was making a political statement with her ball, holding it the same night as the Malfoys. If she's holding one next year, and we're lucky enough to be invited, Harry and I will certainly be there."

Hearing that really cheered Neville up. He would need to write and let his Gran know most of this. Harry then came at the matter from another angle.

"What happened today will be all over the school by now. Fifth year muggle borns need to sit with their Heads of House and seriously discuss their career options. For some, they might actually be better leaving after their O.W.L.s and returning to muggle education. There's not much point spending another two years at Hogwarts sitting N.E.W.T.s if the career you want to pursue is already denied you. Yes you might gain a position as an auror. The truth is though that you would then spend the rest of your career watching people getting promoted over you, and not because of their ability. That would simply be unacceptable to most of us, which is why they needed that information now."

Hermione found herself snuggling into Harry as she raised the last point of the evening, it was almost time for bed. "Your Gran is spending her time helping us learn about your culture and society. How would you like to spend some of the summer staying with us? We can then spend time showing you some of our culture."

All three knew this was something else that would need to be added to the long letter Neville was going to be writing home. All three of them also understood Neville was really keen to spend some of the summer with his friends.


Minerva was anxiously awaiting to hear from her friend about how Augusta's second lesson had gone. When the clock confirmed Augusta's lesson should have finished fifteen minutes ago, Minerva could wait no longer. Quietly slipping into the back of the class, she found a lively yet polite discussion going on.

The Hogwarts Deputy couldn't help but notice there were actually more students at this week's lesson than there were for the first. That these extra numbers had come from those of different blood status originally surprised Minerva, until she listened into the discussion. Here was a forum where their differences could be aired in a non judgmental format, everyone - including Augusta - was learning here.

That the only first year from her own house who hadn't attended was Ronald Wesley didn't surprise Minerva. Extra lessons was not something that would ever appeal to the youngest Weasley. Both Miss Patel and Miss Brown obviously thought they were missing out on something. Knowing those girls, that would never do.

Augusta was so engrossed in what she was doing, it took her a while before she noticed Minerva had entered the classroom. A quick check of her watch told her why Minerva was here. "Oh dear, we seem to have run way over time. Thank you so much for coming along and I hope to see you next week. Mister Potter, Miss Granger and Mister Longbottom, could you remain behind for a moment?"

It was a happy class who headed out, today had been fun.

Augusta immediately put her grandson and his friends at ease. "I wanted to talk with you concerning Neville spending some time with his friends over the summer. This is something I'm certainly in favour of. Some of the very interesting discussions we had in class today just reinforced that decision. It's a great big world out there and this can only help Neville prepare to face it. One thing I would like though was for you two to spend some time at Longbottom Manor with Neville and I."

With a wide smile, Harry and Hermione instantly agreed with that. "My mum and dad are coming to see the final quidditch match, we could get everything sorted out then. It should be just a matter of settling on dates that suit everyone."

Seeing her friend appeared a lot happier than she did this time last week, Minerva decided to help out here. "Augusta, as a member of the School Board, you will of course be receiving an invitation to the match too. That would give you a chance to sit down with everyone involved and talk over any arrangements needing to be made."

Seeing how happy that suggestion made the trio standing in front of her, Augusta quickly agreed. She was shocked when Neville actually hugged her, before the three friends left. Both Minerva and Augusta could hear summer plans being discussed as they left the classroom on their way to a late Sunday lunch.

"I don't need to ask how it went this week, I saw for myself…"

"No you didn't. You only caught the end, Minerva - the lesson turned out to be a revelation for all of us. I was covering formal courtships, betrothals, and the need for them. Did you know Mister Potter publicly claimed Miss Granger was his intended before asking her parents - or even the girl herself?"

"Augusta, I was there when he did it. At Severus' trial, his litigator was casting aspersions on Miss Granger's suitability to be Mister Potter's girlfriend - based solely on her blood status. Harry was on his feet and ready to attack the fool, I thought Albus or I were going to be forced to intervene. He then cut the legs from under the litigator by claiming Hermione was his intended. An angry Harry next took the stand and said something that terrified Severus - forcing him to plead guilty when he clearly didn't want to."

Anticipating her friend's next question, Minerva just gave Augusta the only answer she had. "Only Albus knows what Harry was referring to, and he's not in the habit of spilling secrets. He did say though that, had Severus not changed his plea and Harry carried out his threat, our former potions professor could have had a date with a dementor. Not one person in the chamber, including Severus, doubted Harry's willingness to carry out his threat. He'd already attacked a troll with his bare hands to protect that girl, he wasn't going to back down that day either."

"Harry said he was really nervous asking Hermione's parents' permission before placing the Potter ring on her finger. Albus apparently took both of them to Diagon Alley and allowed them to buy a few books explaining the procedure. I must say, it is the only time I've saw Harry acting his age. Both he and Hermione appear more mature than their years. I thought it was their muggle upbringing, my Neville is certainly benefiting from being in their company as much. I see signs of him growing into the wizard I always knew was in there."

"It really is a shame. Those two don't really want to leave Hogwarts - and we certainly would like them to stay. The Grangers are lovely people who've already spent a weekend in Hogwarts, and are looking forward to returning. It's only circumstances that are forcing their hands to look for alternatives."

This had Augusta sighing in frustration. "We both know Cornelius and Albus certainly don't want to see them going elsewhere. Have things really gotten so bad when all of us combined can't provide the conditions necessary for them to stay? After seeing how well my Neville gets on with both of them, I really couldn't object if he wanted to attend another school with his friends. That would really send out a powerful message, and also mean I would need to resign my position from the Hogwarts School Board. We must be able to do something to help?"

With that, Harry and Hermione were assured of another powerful player to their cause of changes in magical Britain.


The short note the owl had delivered from Hagrid saw the three of them quickly making their way to their large friend's hut. The difference in attitude between the two boys was so startling as to almost be funny. Neville seemed to be flitting between anxiety and trepidation. He was a Gryffindor though and determined to be there for his friends. Harry on the other hand was pure excitement. Watching him sitting there staring at the cracking egg reminded Hermione of a scene from Jurassic Park. Harry however didn't need to act, watching a real life dragon being born was almost a religious experience for her betrothed. Knowing that movie was at least a year away from hitting the cinemas, she made a mental note to take both Harry and Neville to see it.

As the newly hatched and named 'Norbert' singed his 'mummy's' beard, Hermione felt her arm being gripped tightly.

"We need to get that thing out of here as quickly as possible. At least before Harry becomes as attached to it as Hagrid already is."

This had Hermione giggling, until she noticed something out of the corner of her eye. She'd forgotten about that little shit Malfoy looking through the window. He took great delight in getting them into trouble the last time, before McGonagall wiped the smile of his pasty face. Hermione would like to launch him off Hogwarts tallest tower, without Draco having a broom under him. This was just something else she would have to factor into their plans.

"Relax Neville. Let them enjoy the little time they have with the dragon. Until we get word from the twins there is not much we can do. Trust me, if things get out of hand I'll be heading straight for Dumbledore's office."

This calmed Neville somewhat, though both he and Hermione thought they would need crowbars to get Harry away from the dragon and back into the castle.

Even in bed that night, he seemed far to excited to sleep. A now tired and exasperated Hermione was getting ready to snap at him when Harry inadvertently saved the situation.

"We witnessed a dragon being born, I still can't get over it. Won't that be something to tell our children?"

This led to a kiss from Hermione, and a gentle warning. "Harry, if you don't get to sleep soon, our children might never see their father. I'm likely to strangle him."

A smiling Harry snuggled in. "I can't help it, love. Next to meeting you, that's probably the most exiting thing that I've ever seen."

After a quiet giggle that Harry felt rather than heard, Hermione had one last quip for him. "Nice to know I'm in there somewhere. Now, let's get to sleep."


Just like last time, Hagrid would have Norbert for about two weeks before Charlie and his friends would be arriving to take the baby dragon away. Harry spent as much time as possible down at the hut but even he could see Hagrid's baby was becoming very dangerous to be around. Hermione had explained how devastated Hagrid had been the last time and they had come up with a plan to help prevent that. A weeping half giant was no fun to be around.

They were sitting out front of Hagrid's hut when Harry made his opening gambit. "I'm really going to miss him, Hagrid, but we always have to do what's best for Norbert."

An emotionally choked Hagrid couldn't really answer Harry, other than to nod in agreement. It was easy to see the tears escaping from the corner of his eyes, now was the time to put there plan into operation.

"I've grown fond of Norbert, and I don't know this Charlie Weasley..."

Hagrid was about to sing Charlie's praises but Harry held his hand up. "I do know you, and if you tell me Norbert is happy and being looked after then I know we'll have done the right thing. Could you do this for me, Hagrid?"

It was clear he didn't have a clue what he was being asked, which was exactly what they had planned. "What are yeh talkin' about, 'Arry?"

Deliberately drawing this out, Harry started to ramble. "Hermione and I are going to be busy all summer, otherwise I wouldn't be asking. I know it's a bit much, but there really isn't anyone else we could ask to do this. Will you help us?"

"'Arry, I can' help if I don' know what yer asking..."

"Oh, sorry Hagrid. We want you to visit Norbert over the summer. If you say he's fine, we'll know he's really okay. It would certainly put our minds at rest."

Hermione then joined in to double team Hagrid. "Please say you will. We've already received permission from the dragon reserve for you to visit, and arranged a portkey to Romania..."

After hearing that, the tears that had been threatening made an appearance. Hagrid had both of them engulfed in a hug as those fat tears flowed into his vast beard.

While he still had some breath left, Harry managed to squeak out a question. "So, does that mean you'll go?"

"Course I will, an' thank yeh so much fer thinkin' o' me. Wait until I tell Norbert!" With that, Hagrid released them and shot back into his hut to waken the sleeping dragon. Harry and Hermione got out of there fast. A half giant's hugs were almost as dangerous as a grumpy baby dragon - almost.


Minerva securely tied the dressing gown around her before answering the incessant knocking at her door. Seeing their excited caretaker standing there with a stupid grin on his face pre-warned the Deputy Headmistress that this was not good news.

"Yes, Argus. How can I help you?"

He was actually hopping from foot to foot, unable to contain his excitement. "Student out of bed, Professor."

Raising her right eyebrow, Minerva pinned the man with her gaze. "You got me out of my bed for that?"

"Begging your pardon, Professor. I was unable to do anything to or with the student. The situation requires another member of staff."

Knowing what Argus was implying, she nodded for him to lead the way. The man would never actually say that the situation he found needed someone who could perform magic to resolve it. He led her unerringly to a sight that had Minerva wishing she was still tucked up in bed.

"Argus. Surely you could have done something to help this poor child?"

"To even reach him I would have needed to fetch a ladder. I thought he would get down quicker if I came for you. He may be silenced but it wasn't difficult to work out what he was trying to say, and it wasn't good evening Mister Filtch."

She couldn't argue with Argus on that matter. The boy was trying to shout while gesticulating wildly that they should help him. Minerva took out her wand and conjured a pair of shorts. Draco Malfoy hanging upside down in a corridor was bad enough, a naked Draco Malfoy was not something Minerva wished to look upon a moment longer than she had to.

With the boy at least now decent, she used her wand to release Draco from the spell that kept him suspended before controlling his descent. "Mister Malfoy, I am about to lift the silencing charm. I would remind you what time it is and strongly advise you not to shout. Do you understand?"

A livid Draco appeared as if he wanted to shout his lungs out about the latest injustices heaped upon his person, but knew he needed McGonagall to lift the charm. He nodded his understanding and compliance.

After lifting the charm, Minerva issued precise instructions to the Slytherin. "Now, I would like you to calmly tell me exactly what happened here."

Taking a deep, calming breath, Draco began his tale. "I was following Potter, his mudblood and their squib when I was attacked from behind..."

Noting the boy's language for later, Minerva was more interested in establishing some details at the moment. "Can you tell me approximately what time this attack took place?"

"Oh, between eleven fifteen and eleven thirty. They were making their way down to the gamekeeper's hut. That imbecilic oaf, Hagrid, has hatched a dragon in his hovel. You just know Saint Potter would try and help..."

Interrupting his rant, Minerva again wanted facts. "Did you see who attacked you?"

Unhappy at being interrupted while he was venting his spleen on Potter, Draco was rather abrupt with his answer. "No. I told you, the cowards attacked me from behind. I woke up like you found me. How long was I left dangling there? You need to be quick or they'll get away with it - again. Instead of asking me all these stupid questions you should be checking up on them. Is that why you're still here? You don't want to catch your perfect Potter breaking the rules..."

"Ah yes, breaking the rules. The guilty really should be punished..."

"About bloody time..."

With Draco's last remark, Minerva's final remaining thread of patience with the boy snapped. "That will be thirty points from Slytherin for your disgusting use of language. Another twenty points for disrespecting a professor, namely me. I'm also taking fifty points for being out in the corridors past curfew..."

It had taken a moment for what was happening here to sink in, Draco finally got it though. "I was the one attacked yet your punishing me? Are you mental?"

"I can assure you, Mister Malfoy, I am in full control of my faculties. You yourself admitted you were out well past curfew..."

"I was following Potter and his..." The look from McGonagall meant the word mudbllood didn't pass his lips.

"So you claim, Mister Malfoy. I am just about to investigate those claims but it still doesn't excuse your own rule breaking. Mister Filtch, could you please take this student to my office? We shall discuss this situation further when I get there." Without looking back, Minerva strode away. She was trying to ignore Filtch's taunting of the boy regarding how he would like to punish him.

It was Harry who answered the door to their Head of House, supposedly rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. "Professor McGonagall? What's the...Dan and Emma? Has something happened?"

"My mum and dad..."

As Minerva entered, she soon caught sight of a now worried Hermione bursting into their common room while trying to pull her housecoat over her pyjamas.

"Your parents are fine. Every one is fine, and I'm really sorry for disturbing you." They were then joined by a sleepy Neville as Minerva was forced to tell them why she was here.

"I just found Mister Malfoy, dangling naked from a corridor ceiling..."

Hermione couldn't help it, she just burst out laughing at hearing that. Neville and Harry soon joined her. "Oh Professor, you could have made a fortune if you'd taken a picture of that."

"I'm glad you think it's funny, Mister Potter. Mister Malfoy claims you were involved."

"Naw, I would have had photographs of that all over the castle by breakfast time. It would almost have been worth whatever punishment you would give me. Professor, Draco blamed me for his father getting kicked off the Hogwarts School Board. You know I wasn't involved in that either. In Draco's world, Harry Potter is to blame for everything that goes wrong in his life."

Wiping the tears of laughter from her eyes, Hermione tried to be serious. "Professor, you must have noticed Draco isn't exactly one of out friends. I couldn't say for certain when the last time we saw him was. What I can swear to is that I have never, and have no wish to ever, see him naked. You have our sympathies for having to suffer that."

"Yuk! Professor, you must know that goes doubly for Neville and I."

All three once more broke into giggles, with even McGonagall's severe expression softening somewhat.

"I didn't think you three would be involved, but I had to check. I'm left wondering if the boy was also hit with a confundus spell too. You three, Hagrid and a dragon - you couldn't make a story like that up."

When Hermione again started giggling, the two boys laughed along too. McGonagall was soon bidding the happy trio a goodnight. She still had another student to deal with.

As McGonagall closed the door behind her, Harry held his finger in front of his lips for silence. Pulling out the map, it wasn't until they saw the footsteps with McGonagall's name beside them leave Gryffindor that they all relaxed.

"I can't believe we pulled it off..."

"Hey Nev, Hermione planned it. I have to say though slipping Norbert that meat soaked in sleeping potion was sheer genius - certainly more effective than Hagrid putting a teddy bear in. That crate would have been a bloody nightmare to deal with otherwise. Norbert was getting to be a right handful."

"If that was genius, what was asking the twins to head off Malfoy?" Neville didn't even try to hide the admiration in his voice. "Hermione, that was inspired. Did you know what they would do to him?"

Hermione could only shake her head, opening her mouth just released the laughter she was trying to hold back. All three sat there giggling. Just a glance at each other was enough to set them off again.

This had been one of the worse nights of first year for Hermione in the original timeline. McGonagall had ripped into them, then removed so many house points that the rest of Gryffindor wouldn't speak to them. Sitting here snuggling into Harry while all three of them kept getting attacks of the giggles was a vast improvement on the first time around.


With the Slytherin quiditch team disbanded, they were obviously out of this year's Quidditch Cup. That Draco had thrown a tantrum in McGonagall's office, after hearing all three of the people he'd accused were safely tucked up in bed, saw him exceed the Hogwarts 'most points docked in a single incident' record.

That the one hundred and eighty points he'd lost took Slytherin out of the running for the House Cup too meant the Malfoy heir became the lowest of the low in the house of the snakes.

That Malfoy shot across the Great Hall, intercepting a certain three Gryffindors before they could even sit down to breakfast, surprised no one. Certainly not the two heads of house who were closely monitoring the situation.

"Potter, I know you were involved in last night..."

"Malfoy, my intended was ready to swear to Professor McGonagall that she'd never even wished to see you naked, far less was involved in you being found dangling from a corridor ceiling in your birthday suit. Unlike the two boys who follow you everywhere, Neville and I have absolutely no interest in seeing you dangling naked either."

This started off waves of laughter that spread through the hall. There were even people sitting at the Slytherin table who were having a good laugh at Malfoy's expense.

"Now, little dragon, some of us would like to eat breakfast. The mere thought of you dangling there though means none of us will be eating sausages today..."

The laughter this time was even louder and an impotent Draco was helpless to stop the three who just basically ignored him and sat down to breakfast. With returning to the Slytherin table not an attractive option, Draco left.

Fred and George Weasley making a point to shake all three of their hands had the rest of Gryffindor practically cheering. They may not believe an actual dragon was involved but they could guess who was behind Malfoy's humiliation. Ron Weasley just sat and starred daggers at the trio.

Sitting eating his breakfast, Albus couldn't miss overhearing the news that Hagrid was telling everyone. He was going to be holidaying at a dragon reserve this summer, and Harry had arranged it.

Also putting together the clues, Albus was able to construct some idea of what had happened last night. He knew his large friend would jump at the chance of owning a dragon's egg. Albus was actually delighted Harry and Hermione not only cared enough about Hagrid to help him out of a bind, to then arrange this holiday was really thoughtful.

Seeing Harry looking toward the staff table, Albus raised his cup of tea in a salute to a job well done. He saw Hermione lean in and whisper something to her intended. Albus had no way of knowing it was about him. Hermione was saying to Harry she hoped Dumbledore reacted as well to their next plan.

Also sitting at the staff table, Quirrell/Voldemort thought it was about time he initiated a plan of their own.


Harry and Hermione were sitting on their sofa, intently studying the marauder's map. Neville had been spending more and more of his time with Lavender and Parvati lately so was currently down in the common room while they secretly kept watch for Dumbledore leaving the castle.

With a sigh, Hermione knew it was now showtime. "Dumbledore's right on schedule, exactly the same as last time. This time though I think we have a much better plan."

Kissing a nervous Hermione, Harry rose to put that plan into action. "Relax love, it's a good plan. I especially like the part where we don't have to leave our rooms. Well girl, you up for a flight to London?"

Proudly pushing out her chest, Hedwig indicated she was ready for anything.

"Take this to Madam Bones, no one else..." Harry found himself being hit with a wing for even suggesting Hedwig would give a letter to the wrong person.

"I know girl, just be quick - and safe." A playful nip of his finger and the magnificent snowy owl was heading out the open window on her way to London.

Hermione had been adamant that going to McGonagall wouldn't help them any. Harry Potter sending a letter to Madam Bones, Hedwig delivering it adding authenticity to the sender's identity, should get some action. Since the letter basically said that Voldemort was in the castle, placing all of the students in deadly danger, Amelia Bones should come running. That she would undoubtably bring every auror she could get her hands on should take care of the Quirrell/Voldemort problem.

Hermione's plan had their only involvement being using the map to monitor the situation from the safety of their rooms. Both though had underestimated the tension involved in sitting there and just waiting for things to happen. They barely noticed Neville as he came in and wished them good night. They certainly didn't miss their target making his way to the forbidden third floor corridor.

It was something else they saw on the map about ten minutes later that had them really worried. "That stupid fucking arse! I swear what happened to Malfoy will seem like a picnic compared to what I'll do to them if they bollox this up."

When the last shred of doubt about their intended destination disappeared, Harry let go with a string of expletives that was so loud and long, Neville reappeared to see if there was anything wrong.

"Nev, we have an emergency here. Come with us and we'll explain everything." At that, Harry and Hermione shot out the door. Knowing Harry would never use the word 'emergency' unless it really was one, Neville was hot on their heels.

The three of them reached the common room and found a body-bound Parvati lying on the floor. Hermione soon had her released from the spell and Parvati couldn't wait to tell them what happened. In her own conversational style though.

"Oh thanks, Hermione. That bloody Dean cursed me in the back. I tried to talk them out of it, threatened to go to McGonagall - that's when I was cursed..."

"Parvati, we just need the facts - but we need them now."

"Okay, Harry. Ron thinks the thing on the third floor is a test of a student's bravery. He's convinced the rest of them they need to do this to get back into Gryffindor. When Neville let slip he knew how to get past this giant three-headed dog, Lavender couldn't wait to tell Ron that bit of gossip. The minute he heard about music putting it to sleep, there was no stopping him - or the rest of them."

Harry so wanted to curse up a storm but they didn't have time at the moment. "Neville, you take Parvati and get to McGonagall..."

"Not Dumbledore?"

"He's not in the castle, Nev. Voldemort is though, and he's just gone after the stone. Ron has no idea what he's leading the rest of them into. Tell McGonagall we've already contacted the D.M.L.E. - and they're hopefully on their way. Ron's a fucking idiot, but we can't let him blunder into this. Hermione and I are going after them. With a bit of luck, we should be able to drag them out of there without any of us having to face Voldemort."

Looking to Hermione for agreement, his intended just nodded. The Harry Potter she knew could never sit back and let people blunder into danger. Knowing what they would have to face down there, Harry then needfully kissed Hermione for luck before both of them raced out of Gryffindor.

Neville thought that exit looked so bloody 'cool'. The very idea that Voldemort might be in the castle terrified Neville too. He then took a page out of Harry Potter's book, Neville kissed a startled Parvati before dragging her in the direction of McGonagall's office. For once, Parvati was left with nothing to say. What she was thinking though as Neville held her hand while running through the corridors was that her best friend had chosen to follow the wrong wizard - again.