Chapter 2 - Gandalf and the Grouch
Harry was still lying with his head on Hermione's lap, ignoring everything and everyone else around him except the girl who was currently his only anchor to reality. "Hermione, where are we?"
"We're in Hogwarts..."
"Mister Potter, are you injured?"
"Hermione, who is that?"
"That's Professor McGonagall, our head of house. Harry was banged about pretty badly, Professor. It seems to have affected his memory."
"Oh please, that's the most feeble excuse I've ever heard. Potter is clearly just trying to avoid being punished for this fiasco tonight."
Ignoring the sneering man in black, Harry had yet another question for Hermione. "Who's the grouch?"
Snape didn't give her time to answer. "That will be fifty points from Gryffindor for disrespecting a professor."
"He's a professor? You've got to be joking me. Who's this Gryffindor and why should I care if the grouch punishes him?"
The Snape sneer was now on full power. "Another fifty points from Gryffindor!"
Minerva wasn't about to stand for that. "Severus, the boy is clearly confused..."
"Ma'am, I'm way beyond confused. I'm in a place I don't recognise, surrounded by people I don't know and being grouched to about who knows what. Hermione being here is the only reason I'm not screaming for the police."
"You recognise Miss Granger?"
"She's my girlfriend, ma'am. Of course I recognise her."
"When did she become your girlfriend? Mister Potter, I'm not prying. I only ask to try and discover what you can actually remember."
"Last night. I remember sitting holding Hermione's hand and asking if she would be my girlfriend, I was so happy when she said yes."
"Where did this happen?"
"It was in some room I don't really recognise, but I remember the important bit."
The Head of Gryffindor then switched her attention to Hermione, looking for an answer. History once more repeated itself as a twelve year old Hermione Granger lied to her head of house in the same girl's bathroom. Hermione would like to think that this time around she was a little more convincing.
"We sat in the Gryffindor common room late last night. Neither of us could sleep so we got to talking. Both of us were feeling lonely and realising how much we had in common, Harry then asked me to be his girlfriend. Of course I said yes."
"She's lying! Harry went to bed at the same time as the rest of us…"
That argument was quickly shot down by Hermione, using something she knew Ron couldn't refute. "…and we could still hear you snoring all the way down in the common room."
Harry now sat up from Hermione's lap, focusing on Ron. "Look ginger, I don't know what your problem is but it stops now. You've shouted at my girlfriend and then called her a liar. Whoever you are, that was your last warning."
"Mister Potter, You and Mister Weasley have been friends since you both got here."
"As I just told you, Ma'am, I have no memory of where here even is. I just watched my girlfriend wave a little stick in the air to save me from whatever this beast happens to be, I'm pretty freaked out at the moment."
This saw all but Snape gasp in astonishment, though Minerva found her voice first. "Mister Potter, You don't remember about magic? You don't know you're a wizard?"
He looked to Hermione for how to play this, she of course didn't disappoint. "You're a wizard, Harry, and a powerful one." Just like last night, her hand was on his cheek as she told him that. Also like last night, Harry leaned into her touch.
Hermione was ecstatic that she had managed to throw them both back in time. That his scar was the same as older Harry's also gave her hope the horcrux had been eliminated when they impressed on their younger selves. That his memories hadn't restored was not a surprise, at best it had been a fifty-fifty shot. This set-back was compensated for by the date of their arrival, it really could have been anytime in their first year of Hogwarts. That they had arrived on Halloween of their first year was the best she could have hoped for. Harry only had two months of lessons to catch up on and nothing too major had happened yet. Hermione would reconsider that last thought in the morning.
"That troll had me trapped, Harry. You tried to distract it and then jumped on its back to save me. Your wand is actually still stuck up its nose. Do you think you can stand up now?"
Hermione helped her shaky boyfriend to his feet, a harsh glance from Harry in Ron's direction indicated he needed no help from there.
As Hermione tried to pull Harry's wand out of the troll's left nostril, the creature gave a low moan. As she jerked the wand clear, McGonagall and Snape both hit the troll with stunners to ensure it wasn't getting back up anytime soon.
Since Severus now had his wand in his hand, he decided to end this farce once and for all. A low powered legillimens would tell him exactly what Potter was up to.
Hermione cast a cleaning charm on the piece of holly, with a feather from Fawkes encased in it, before handing the wand over to Harry. The wand bonding with its master provided a light show like none of them had ever seen before as Harry's body was instantly bathed in magical energy. That this was the same instant Snape chose to launch his attack was unfortunate - unfortunate for the potions master that is.
As magic flooded through his body, Harry's head tilted back as he let a loud roar out - and so much more. Snape was blasted back into the bathroom wall, sliding down to the floor only to find a golden stag standing there waiting on him. Prongs lowered his noble head and pushed forward with those magnificent antlers, a glowing tip spearing into Snape's arm - directly on his dark mark.
His scream of intense pain rang throughout the castle, and this time Quirrell really did pass out.
As Harry's light show and glow faded, so did Prongs. He opened his eyes to see even more casualties on the bathroom floor. "That was some headrush, what happened to them?"
Hermione took his arm, to offer reassurance and keep Harry from swaying on his feet. "You remember I said you were a powerful wizard, do you believe me now?"
"I'll never doubt you again."
Minerva was standing in a wrecked girls' bathroom. Two professors and a troll were on the floor injured or unconscious while Ronald Weasley was trying to melt into a wall so as not to be noticed - and those weren't even the worst of her problems. She was saved from having to act by Albus and Filius racing into the bathroom, though Harry's comment left her not knowing what to say.
"Hermione, I think Gandalf and Bilbo just stole it from the Hulk. Why do I get the feeling they're not dressed up for Halloween?"
Hermione was trying not to snigger, she was also amazed at how well Harry was keeping his cool. Giving his arm a slight squeeze in appreciation, she fed him the information he needed. "The purple Gandalf is Professor Dumbledore while the tiny footed hobbit is Professor Flitwick."
"Albus, Potter here suffered a bang to the head and it's apparently affected his memory. He couldn't remember he was a wizard, far less coming to Hogwarts. The only person he recognises is Miss Granger, his girlfriend."
Hermione, under the auspices of checking Harry was indeed fine, had cleverly placed herself between her boyfriend and Dumbledore. She now stood defiantly facing the headmaster, ready for the gentle mental probe she knew was coming.
Something about tonight smelled worse than this troll, Albus needed to get to the bottom of it. Ronald Weasley was practically broadcasting what he'd seen here in the bathroom like some low wattage television station. It was the girl though who caught and held Albus' attention. He had picked up on her move to protect Harry, placing herself as a physical shield. Taking a peep inside her head rocked the old wizard back on his heels. A raised eyebrow produced the slightest of nods from Miss Granger before they were interrupted.
Severus staggered to his feet, a hateful sneer plastered all over his face. "Potter, you attacked a professor. I'll see you expelled for that..."
As he staggered toward Harry, Albus casually plucked Snape's wand out his still shaky hand. A quick prior incantato told the headmaster everything he needed to know.
A shocked Severus then demanded the return of his property. "Headmaster, my wand..."
"Ah Severus, that of course depends on you. If you wish to proceed with these claims against Mister Potter, then I'll need to hold on to this until an investigation can take place. Evidence, you understand."
Minerva also recognised the last spell Severus' wand had cast, and it wasn't too difficult to deduce who it would have been cast at. "Mister Potter rebonding with his wand produced quite the reaction. His magic would also react to protect himself."
Hermione was still standing in front of Harry, ready to go head to head with Snape if necessary. She didn't spot the result of the prior incantato but also didn't need to, Snape was the one person she was sure would look into their minds. There hadn't been time to coach Harry on the basic steps he could take to avoid it yet, far less begin the process of constructing mental shields.
Spotting the girl's attitude toward her potions professor forced Albus to react, now he was glad he had. Severus was forced to withdraw his complaint, and then found his wand being returned to him. "Could I impose on you Severus to ensure Quirinus gets back to his quarters? It would appear he's had quite the night too." The defence professor was groaning in pain as he regained consciousness.
Turning to his deputy, Albus continued taking control of the situation. "Minerva, would you and Filius deal with the troll and repair in here? I'm assuming Mister Weasley can make his own way back to Gryffindor Tower, I'll take Mister Potter and Miss Granger to the infirmary."
"I wasn't aware Miss Granger had been injured?"
"Mister Potter can't remember anything about Hogwarts, other than Miss Granger. To separate them at the moment would be rather harsh, don't you think so, Minerva?"
A pair of 'thank you's' coming from the young couple was all Albus needed to hear, he led them out of there.
Albus was more worried now than at any other time he could remember. That Miss Granger had a full set of occlumency shields was an impossibility. That she'd clearly been taught the art by a master was beyond refute, especially since Albus could easily recognise who her instructor had been - himself. Albus must also have passed on the instructions on how to accomplish what she had clearly pulled off here tonight, this was what terrified him the most. Had things become so bad he'd been forced to resort to the tactics of utter desperation.
"I'm assuming I told you not to pass any information onto me?"
"You made me take an oath, Professor, an oath worded in such a way this version of you can't release me from it. That same oath also prevents me from telling Harry certain things too, at least until he can keep others out. It's the one thing you were insistent upon, Sir."
He nodded his head in understanding. "I'm also going to assume that Poppy won't be able to help Harry with his memory problem so I'm excusing both of you classes tomorrow. I want you sticking close to Harry and have him somewhat prepared for his classes on Monday. Well, at least knowing where the classrooms are and who teaches the subject. I imagine you will have a lot of other things to talk about too."
They entered the infirmary and, after Poppy's scans were all coming back clear, Albus explained what he wanted to happen. This was how Harry and Hermione found themselves sitting on adjoining beds and eating a late supper. Hermione had a charm raised so they could talk freely.
"Gandalf knows what we did?" Harry just needed his guess confirmed, he was pretty sure he was right.
"Yeah, I think it really scared him. I've never seen Dumbledore slap Snape down before."
"The Grouch? What's his problem anyway?"
"He hated your father, and you're the spitting image of James Potter."
"What? And someone as petty as that is allowed to work with children? Hermione, I think you know I never expected us to be here. Now that we are, this whole place seems like a nuthouse. That thing in the bathroom, talking portraits, ghosts floating about, staircases that move whenever they feel like it - to wherever they want to go. I'm trying to make sense of this but there just doesn't seem to be any. I wasn't joking back there, you are the only thing currently keeping me sane."
"I was the same when I first got here. With everyone else walking about just accepting this as 'normal', you soon find yourself with a new normal too."
Harry was prevented from saying anything more by the arrival of Yoda, he just appeared between their beds. "Miss Hermione..."
"Dobby, how do you know my name?"
"This is Dobby?" Hermione's nod saw Harry continue. "I saw this little guy throw those three who attacked us right out of Stonehenge, just before we left."
"Dobby, were you inside the stone circle when we left?"
"Yes, Miss Hermione. Dobby has come back in time with you."
"Oh Dobby, does this mean you're back under the control of your old family?"
"Harry Potter freed Dobby, Dobby is still a free elf. Dobby changed some kitchen waste to look like his body, they will look and find it when Dobby doesn't answer their call. They will vanish the body and then try to find another elf. Dobby is never going back there."
Hermione was now down on her knees, hugging the little guy. "That's wonderful news, Dobby. I promise getting you away from them was top of my list. Harry, this is our good friend Dobby."
"I'm sorry I don't remember you, Dobby, but Hermione has told me how special you are. I know we're going to be great friends." Harry held his hand out for Dobby to shake but the emotional elf sprang at Harry and hugged him.
Hermione was wiping a tear from her eye at their reunion when a thought struck her. "Harry, I used to employ Dobby but I don't think my pocket money would cover it. You have a vault at Gringotts and I know Dobby would rather work for you."
"You must be getting fed up with me asking all these questions but a vault at Gringotts means nothing to me."
While the three sat and chatted, trying to fill in the blanks for Harry, Poppy would just glance over from her station. She couldn't see the elf, just the two first years sitting talking instead of resting. The headmaster himself had stopped her administering a dose of dreamless sleep potion. After she said there was nothing to be done for Mister Potter's memory problem, Dumbledore decided these two needed the time together. The healer couldn't see the benefit of this lack of treatment but then the headmaster had his own ways.
Albus had asked the four heads of house to meet in his office, tonight's events needed to be dealt with. "The troll incident, while being serious in its own right, has left us with a most unusual problem. Mister Potter was injured in his attempts to save Miss Granger, leaving him with no memories of Hogwarts or even magic..."
"Have we discovered why the three of them were in that bathroom, or can Harry Potter just do whatever he likes?"
Looking over his glasses, Albus pinned his potions master with a steely stare. He then passed on information he had learned from a slight scan of the Weasley lad. "Miss Granger had been upset by something said to her during the day, she was in that bathroom crying. Realising that she knew nothing about a troll being in the school, Harry raced there to warn her. None of them were looking for the troll, it was just their bad luck it found them."
Severus though was not for giving an inch. He had been made to look a fool earlier and wanted someone punished for it, someone called Potter. "Why didn't he inform a member of staff or a prefect? The school has systems in place for events such as this. Not Potter though, he's too busy trying to play the hero..."
There was steel now in Albus' voice too as he cut the legs from under Snape, much to the surprise and delight of the other three heads of house. "Yes the school has systems in place, all of them failed. No troll should be able to get past the school's defences, it did. That a first year was missing from the feast should have been noticed by prefects or staff, it wasn't. Those same prefects and staff then didn't see another two first years breaking away to go and help the missing girl. There were multiple failures tonight, yet you, Severus, seem determined to blame Harry Potter for everything. It hasn't escaped my notice either that you tried to take a hundred points from a boy who didn't know who you were, far less he was a student at Hogwarts."
This had Severus on his feet. "You can dress it up any way you like but Potter will be receiving no special treatment from me when he enters my class..."
"...which is why Harry won't be entering your class again." Albus' declaration shocked the potions master. Dumbledore wanted there to be no misunderstandings here though, so spelt out exactly why he was doing this.
"In the two months that Harry has been at Hogwarts, you have demonstrated your inability to treat him with the same respect as say Mister Malfoy. Harry's memory loss is forcing me to make decisions, and this is one of them. Mister Potter and Miss Granger are no longer your students."
Still on his feet, Severus weighed up his options. "Since he is no longer my student, there really is no reason then for me to be here. If you will excuse me, I can think of better ways to spend what's left of my evening than sitting here listening to the special treatment that's sure to be arranged for the Potter brat." With as much dignity as possible, Severus left the headmaster's office.
Albus' glasses were now lying on his desk as he massaged the bridge of his nose. Minerva recognised how hard that had been for her friend and boss, she thought he'd made the right decision.
"Thank you for that, Albus. Severus looks at Harry and sees James, and we all know how much those two hated one another."
"Minerva, I'm beginning to think we've been failing that lad since his parents were murdered. Well it's time for that to change. Both he and Miss Granger are excused classes tomorrow while she reacquaints Harry with Hogwarts. Starting Monday, they will attend classes as normal but not take part in the lessons. Miss Granger will be giving him one to one tuition in each class until Mister Potter is at the same level as the rest of the first years. I propose we review this on a weekly basis, though I would expect Harry to be up to speed before December is upon us. Miss Granger is quite the driven individual."
All three heads of house agreed with that though Filius had a couple of questions. "Miss Granger is certainly driven but won't spending all her time working with Mister Potter affect her own studies? I also noticed you didn't mention who you were going to have teach them potions."
Since Albus knew he was dealing with a couple of time travellers, he was already certain Miss Granger could currently pass her N.E.W.T.s. Whatever procedure they used to achieve that most difficult of feats would have needed skill sets way beyond those taught at Hogwarts. "Miss Granger assures me her own studies won't be affected and I shall teach both of them potions."
While two of his heads of house could only stare at the headmaster, Pomona Sprout let go with a deep belly laugh. "Oh I love it. I can almost hear Severus' mutterings about special treatment from here. You're setting a dangerous precedent however. When this news gets out, you'll have three quarters of first year wanting to transfer to your class."
The twinkle was back in Albus' eyes. "Then Severus will need to behave himself, otherwise we four might be inundated with requests from first year potions students."
Rather than have the rumour mill working overtime, Dumbledore stood at breakfast and announced what had happened to Harry Potter last night. The headmaster had barely sat back down when Hermione led Harry into the great hall. The fact that everyone was staring at them was soon blocked out by the six older Gryffindors that quickly had the young couple surrounded.
"Harry, please tell us this is a prank. We play Slytherin on Saturday."
Hermione was holding his left hand, leaving his right free to be offered. "Hi, I don't know who you are, or what you just said. I'm Harry Potter, pleased to meet you."
Oliver shook the offered hand but his mind was clearly elsewhere. "We can get the pitch tonight, all weekend and most nights next week. It's gonna take a lot of hard work but we might still be able to pull this off..."
Hermione squeezed Harry's hand in their prearranged signal that she would handle this. She had actually forgotten all about quidditch. "Whoa there, Oliver. I hope you weren't expecting Harry to be available for all these extra practices..."
"Of course I was. Why else do you think I was holding them?"
"To train a different seeker? Harry has no memories of Hogwarts or even magic. He can't afford to waste all that time practicing quidditch."
The group increased in size as Ron suddenly pushed his way to the front. "Practicing quidditch is not a waste of time, spending all his time with you is. Harry mate, you need to get away from the bookworm. Granger will ruin you..."
Ron suddenly had a face full of an angry Harry Potter. "Back right off, ginger. I've had about all I can take of you." He then turned his attention and anger onto the bigger boy. "I don't know who you are, since you were too busy trying to arrange my life to introduce yourself. Whatever you need me for, so not happening. You clearly don't give a shit what happened to me, you're far too busy figuring out how my situation will affect you. To bad, you seem like a nice guy too. Hermione, where do we sit. I'm starving."
Knowing how much Harry enjoyed flying, and remembering an incident from their second year, Hermione threw Wood a bone. "Oliver, your seeker is clearly unable to play. There are procedures that exist to change the schedule, moving Gryffindor's first game to later in the season."
On hearing that, Oliver shot toward McGonagall while Alicia, Angelina and Katie all reintroduced themselves to Harry. The twins were busy dragging their young brother away, trying to explain that since Harry couldn't remember him, Ron wasn't exactly making a very good first or second impression on the boy who was his friend.
The three chasers sat with the couple for breakfast, telling Harry all about quiddich and their fanatical captain. A relieved Oliver actually came over to apologise to Harry, and reintroduce himself.
"Three heads of house agree this is an unusual situation, and that Harry certainly isn't fit to play on Saturday. He'll actually need to take flying lessons again with Madam Hooch before he's signed off to play quidditch. Our first game isn't until January now. You still want to give the position of seeker a try, Harry?"
Harry looked toward Hermione for advice, knowing she'd given their strongest no signal just a moment ago. "We're gonna need a couple of weeks to see how catching up with lessons go. Then we could arrange those flying lessons. After that, it would be up to you to decide if this is something you think you would enjoy."
That sounded good enough for Oliver. "I'm certainly prepared to wait a couple of weeks to see if we still have a seeker. It will also still give me time if I need to find someone else."
With that settled, Gryffindor house could relax and enjoy breakfast. Hermione introduced Harry to the rest of their Gryffindor yearmates. Only Neville was close enough for Harry to shake his hand, the rest got a 'hi'.
As breakfast finished, Hermione led Harry away to meet someone very important. Noticing it was quiet here, Harry asked the question that had been puzzling him. "Quidditch sounds like a lot of fun, why did you warn me off it?"
"I had actually forgotten about quidditch, and Hogwarts obsession with the game. You loved playing, and were very good at it. In your first game though, next Saturday, someone tried to kill you by jinxing your broom."
"What? Are you serious? What happened?"
"Oh, I spotted who I thought was doing it. I snuck over there and set their robes on fire. The jinx was broken and you went on to win the match."
"You saved me?"
"Don't sound so surprised, Harry. We've actually saved each other on quite a few occasions."
"Hermione, the more you tell me, the more I keep thinking Hogwarts isn't for me and I should go straight home. You could never be a saleswomen."
She gave a little smirk and kissed his cheek. "I got you here, didn't I?"
Harry had no answer to that, he had no answer to where she was leading him either. When commanded to hold his arm out, the most beautiful owl he'd ever seen flew down and gently landed on it.
"Harry, this is Hedwig. She's a post owl but she's also your familiar."
"She's beautiful, that's what she is. Hello girl, I'm sorry I don't remember you. That just means we're going to get to know one another all over again. Hermione, why do I feel as if Hedwig understood every word I just said?"
She handed Harry an owl treat for Hedwig as she answered. "Probably because she did, our girl here is the smartest owl I've ever known. Sorry about the 'our' bit, force of habit. When you went away, Hedwig stayed with me for the next three and a half years. I left her in France to come and find you."
"In this world, I seem to have a thing for beautiful and smart girls. Hermione and Hedwig."
Both his girls took that as a compliment.
A morning of sightseeing and orientating Harry to the castle was followed by showing him inside Gryfindor and his dorm. "I fancy a shower before lunch, would Miss Granger care to join me?"
A blushing Hermione was left bumbling for words. "No, not in the boys' showers. Oh Harry, I don't know how to deal with this. Inside I'm still nineteen. I look at you and feel such a perv for wanting to do things with an eleven year old boy."
Taking his girlfriend in his arms, Harry offered his solution. "I look in your eyes and just see Hermione. Not a twelve or nineteen year old, I just see you." He then kissed her not as an eleven year old, but as Harry. "I was joking about sharing the shower. I fear I would be back to disappointing my girlfriend again. This is one of those conversations we're going to sit down and have but I'm happy just knowing you're in my life."
Hermione then returned his kiss. "I don't think I can give this up, though we'll have to find a nice quiet place to keep ourselves in practice. McGonagall would have a fit if she spotted us doing more than holding hands and the occasional peck on the cheek. I love your idea about the shower but think I need to stick to the one in the girls dorm for the moment. Oh, and the stairs are spelled not to let any boys into our side of the tower. An alarm will sound and you will be magically flung out."
"Again, Hermione, you're not selling Hogwarts to me…"
She kissed him once more and then left to take her own shower.
Lunch was spent surrounded by their fellow Gryffindor first years, sans Ronald Weasley. He sat at the other end of the table and scowled.
Hermione wanted to give Harry a few days to make his own mind up about things before she started filling him in on the background of those around him. Harry was a different person now to the eleven year old version everyone had known before they came back in time. It simply wasn't possible for Harry to act like someone he not only didn't know but had never actually met. Allowing him to form his own opinions of people let them see Harry was indeed different, and then put that difference down to the accident he had with the troll. So far it was working, though a major test just presented itself.
"So Potter, you can't remember the weasel but still end up with a mudblood. You just can't seem to catch a break."
Harry dealt with this approach the same way he had with everyone else, he stood and offered the blond boy his hand.
"Hi, I'm Harry Potter."
Caught flat footed, Draco suddenly realised what an opportunity he was being presented with here. "I'm Malfoy, Draco Malfoy. I don't know what they've been telling you, but Harry Potter is an important person in our world. You shouldn't be hanging about with mudbloods and riffraff. I know all the right people and can help you there…"
As they shook hands, Harry's grip tightened. "You're right about one thing, I know nothing of this world you talk about. Would you care to explain the terms weasel and mudblood to me?"
This time Hermione helped Harry out. "The word mudblood is a term used by the worst sort of pureblood for people like me and your mother, people born with magic of non magical parents. Draco thinks people like us have no place here…"
"Neither you do. I'm proud of my heritage, it shouldn't be sullied by having trash like you inside Hogwarts. Give me my hand back, Potter."
"What are my options, Hermione?"
"Well, Draco already challenged you to a wizard's duel - which he didn't turn up for."
"So, an arrogant coward who thinks he can say what he likes with impunity. Hermione, can you say ding-ding?"
Harry let Draco's hand go, just as his left caught the blond prick on the chin. This was immediately followed by a right to the nose and Malfoy began his journey to the floor. His two bruiser buddies had already been stepping forward before Harry plugged Draco, they pushed past their swaying leader to find they were expected.
Changing tactics, Harry stepped into the first one and had landed two blows to his gut before the big guy even registered it. A third blow was aimed up and under his ribs, knocking all the breath out the bigger boy. Harry was about to take on the other one, Crabbe he though someone called him, when the headmaster intervened.
Dumbledore's wand had both of them frozen in position as he made his way toward the fight, their two heads of house right behind him. Draco decided this was too good an opportunity to pass up, Potter had his back to him and was frozen in place.
Hermione could easily have non verbally batted the spell away, not something she wanted to do. Instead she made a production of shouting 'Protego' to shield Harry's back. She also made sure that Draco's spell was reflected straight back at him. Hearing the little shite scream as his flawless alabaster skin sprouted painful boils, boils that then burst and covered him in puss, was delightful. it was clear Snape wanted to start deducting points and dishing out detentions, the headmaster and his deputy standing there denied him that option.
Releasing both boys before casting a spell that put Malfoy into an enchanted sleep, Dumbledore then wanted answers. "Mister Potter, could you explain what happened here…"
"Draco can't answer for himself…"
McGonagall jumped all over Snape before he could say another word. "The reason your student can't say anything is because he tried to curse a fellow student in the back. Twenty points for that shield, Miss Granger. Very well done."
Dumbledore hadn't moved his attention from Harry, noticing the boy had his head down. Miss Granger had obviously already coached him to avoid eye contact with certain people. It was Miss Granger Albus was watching however, using his peripheral vision. She was the one who knew what the future held, not Harry. Her animosity to Severus and now the young Malfoy heir was pointing out where the future trouble would come from. It would appear his hope both his potions master and Draco could be brought to the light were in vain.
Albus hoped he could gain both Harry and Hermione's trust during their time spent learning to brew potions, he knew that trust would be vital against the hard times ahead.
Thinking Dumbledore was waiting on his answer, Harry gave it. "Sir, I don't know any of these three, so there was no animosity from me. Malfoy came over and made a derogatory mark concerning my girlfriend and mother. I had to ask what a mudblood was before I punched him in the face. His two bodyguards were just doing their jobs, though not very well. This is a whole new world to me and I don't know how things work or even what certain words mean yet. In my world, coming up to someone and insulting their mother and girlfriend will always result in a punch to the face."
Snape tried to turn the situation around. "We only have Potter's word this is what happened."
"Sir, I didn't even know the word until Malfoy said it. I would also like to apologise for calling you a grouch. In my world it just means grumpy. If it has different meanings here then I apologise."
The headmaster's eyes were twinkling with mirth as he then made his decision. "Since Mister Malfoy tried to curse Mister Potter in the back, while I had him immobilised too, I'm inclined to believe this version of events. Mister Potter will receive one detention with his head of house for fighting. Mister Malfoy would have received the exact same punishment, if he hadn't cast that curse. He will now serve two detentions with his head of house. His two friends were merely drawn into a situation not of their making, I see no need to hand them any punishments - this time."
Nodding his acceptance, Harry agreed that was fair. "In my old school, I would have been punished for fighting too. Ma'am, when would you like me to serve my detention?"
"Two o'clock, Sunday afternoon. Miss Granger may accompany you if she wishes, we will be working on transfiguration until dinner time."
Severus didn't say anything, he just levitated Draco out of the hall - presumably to the infirmary.
With the excitement over, Harry heard a voice he was coming to know. "Harry, that was bloody brilliant mate. You too, Hermione. Malfoy covered in boils is my new happy thought."
"Still think she's ruining me?" When Ron could only blush by way of answer, Harry offered his hand. "Hi, I'm Harry Potter."
Ron gladly took the offered hand, sorry that the class warning bell meant he had to leave before he could say much more.
Hermione led Harry out into the clocktower courtyard, she had a feeling they would need privacy for this. "Where did you learn to box like that?"
"Oh, sparring with my cousin. Dudley said I had the fastest hands of anyone he'd ever seen. After sparring with me, he said it was like his opponents were telegraphing their moves. Uncle Vernon converted the garage into a gym. I used it mainly to keep fit but Dudley's been heavily into boxing for years. He represented the school and even made county level. What's wrong, Hermione? It's like you don't believe me..."
"How well do you get on with the Dursleys?"
"Like all families, we're not perfect but do our best. Dud and me are more like brothers, and my aunt and uncle are the only parents I've ever known. Hermione, you're scaring me here..."
"Shite Harry, I'm so sorry. When the ministry altered your memories, they obviously would need to do the same to the Dursleys. The family you just described bear no resemblance to the people you told us about, the people in this timeline. Your aunt and uncle hate magic, they knew you were magical so passed that hatred onto you. Rather in the same way Snape does, only you don't have to live with him. They send you fifty pence for Christmas, knowing you can't spend it here. This coming summer, after a magical accident in their home, you end up with bars on your bedroom window and being passed food through a cat flap they cut in your locked door."
She couldn't look at Harry as Hermione continued with what she knew. "When you were smaller they would palm you off to some kookie neighbour while they took Dudley on outings. At school, Dudley used to beat up anyone who tried to befriend you..."
"Well that's just fucking peachy! My entire life, one big fucking lie from start to finish. My mum and dad were taken from me as a baby, now I've just lost the only family I've ever known. My Aunt Petunia held me in her arms, kissed my cheek and wished me luck as I headed off to uni. Uncle Vernon ruffled my hair and said he was so proud of me. Dudley joked I'd come running home first time I had my arm up a cow's backside to the elbow, Aunt Petunia laughed and said I'd better wash my hands. Are you saying they had to be magically spelled to act like that?"
Harry was now in tears so Hermione tried to sugar coat it as best she could. "The ministry would need to build an entire past where there was no magic involved. Take away the magic, the Dursleys would have treated you normally."
"Then why the fuck would I want magic? What has it ever done for me? I need to go and think about this, I'll see you later."
With that, Harry left. Sitting there alone, Hermione's own tears started to fall. She couldn't stop them and was soon sobbing into her hands. Hermione then felt a familiar pair of arms circle around her.
"I'm an idiot. A selfish fucking idiot, who's quite possibly the worst boyfriend in the entire world. I never even thought about what it's cost you to come back, what you left behind. I was too busy thinking about poor me. Your reaction to that Malfoy boy also speaks of a history. This can't be fun for you either, then I go and unload all my shite on you."
Hermione started giving Harry some of the background he needed to understand her reaction. "At the end of our third year, I smacked Malfoy on the jaw - in front of some of his friends too. He's not the type to forgive and forget, and then when you didn't come back for fifth year there was no one to stand up to him. His father has the minister in his very deep and well-lined pockets, Lucius Malfoy was probably behind getting you kicked out the magical world."
She needed a few steadying breaths before Hermione could continue with the next bit, seeing the little bastard this morning just brought it all back. "Draco threatened that he and his friends would rape me before the year was out, only Dobby kept me one step ahead of them. He would keep watch and popped me to safety a couple of times before they could spring their trap. Dumbledore made me a portkey to France so I wouldn't have to take the express at the end of term, I never came back."
Harry kissed away her tears. "Yes you did, you came back for me. Now I know why you were terrified of being caught. You wouldn't have made that Azkaban place, would you?"
A shudder past through Hermione as she held him close and shook her head.
Harry asked the obvious follow on question. "What about your mum and dad?"
"Dad knew my intentions and tried to support them. Mum just kept trying to set me up with other boys in the hope I would forget all about you. It wasn't that she didn't like you, my parents only met you a couple of times - and then only for a minute or two. It was more she understood how dangerous Hermione Granger coming back to Britain would be, and didn't want me to come."
Both now needed the contact of their arms around each other, Harry's thoughts had drifted in a different direction however. "We came back to change things, make things better. Hermione, do you think we can change my aunt, uncle and cousin? I was thinking of writing to them, tell them I was in an accident that affected my memory, see what they write back. Will you help me?"
"Of course I will, just don't expect too much from them. My Harry used to consider Hogwarts his home..."
"This just gets crazier and crazier..."
Hermione managed a giggle at that, wiping away her tears before offering a suggestion. "Like I said, your aunt and uncle hate magic. Having Hedwig turn up with a letter for them would be a very bad idea. How about I write home, explain a little of the situation to my parents and have them send some normal stationary. You write your letter, stick it in an envelope and we'll send it to my mum for posting. Your aunt can post any reply back to my house, Hedwig would then bring it here."
"Beautiful and smart, that's my Hermione."
"Harry, I didn't think I was beautiful at nineteen - and certainly not now."
"My Hermione is beautiful, brilliant, brunet, bookish, bashful and I've run out of B's. Thankfully there are another twenty five letters in the alphabet to come to my rescue."
They kissed and held each other, both recognising a crisis had just been averted. "We should have realised that going all 'back to the future' wouldn't be easy."
"If it was easy, Harry, those would have been some incredibly short movies."
"Yeah, we're here for the long haul. With me being eleven and you twelve, we don't have any other options. You're stuck with me now, Granger, and there's no getting away."
"I'll start writing home today. I'll wait until you're invited to spend Christmas with us before telling them you're my boyfriend though. I have no intention of spending Christmas anywhere but with you."
Harry at least had the thought of spending Christmas with Hermione to cling to. It was hard though to think all those memories of Christmases past were either magically induced or just plain lies. Someone was going to pay for all the shite they'd heaped on him. At the moment the only thing Harry could be certain of was that the wonderful witch in his arms loved him. That was going to be the foundation he built a new life on - their new future.
"You know something, you really are my density."
This earned Harry a kiss, and a quip from his girlfriend. "First time I've ever felt happy at being considered dense."