Author's Note: this "story" is actually a collection of "flashes" set in the months and years following the main events of Following the Phoenix. If you have not yet read the main story, this will not make much sense. Following the Phoenix can be found under my pen name (hezzel), then go to My Stories. Or directly skip to s/10636246/1/
Please note: I am not actively developing this story anymore, just writing the occasional chapter because I enjoy writing and some of these ideas stuck in my mind. Flashes has no true plot, and some of the flashes are likely to be less interesting than others. I guess what I'm saying is: please don't feel obliged to read this even if you did enjoy FtP. :) Also, please do not expect regular updates; I will probably keep posting now and then, but there will be large hiatuses.
For those who have spent the past few months reading many HPMOR-sequel-fanfics: remember that FtP is not a sequel, it's a spinoff, which does not include the final arc of HPMOR. In FtP, souls exist, Harry Potter is just Harry Potter, and his pet rock simply died due to negligence. At the end of the story, Hermione has a phoenix, the statute of secrecy has fallen and Harry has gained a new mentor.
Hermione loved her parents. That much was really beyond question. And she was thrilled that, after all the changes the last months had brought, she could finally involve them in her world, showing them all the wonders of magic and the culture surrounding it. However, she had to admit that certain things had been significantly more practical when magic was secret, the Hogwarts staff operated on a need-to-know basis with respect to Muggle parens, and she was able to carefully refrain from telling them anything that would particularly worry them.
The permission form lay on the table between them. She was a minor, after all, and needed parental permission for a summer job, especially a potentially hazardous one, no matter what she may have been up to in the previous months.
"Hermione is twelve," her father said in a strained voice. "Don't you have adults who can do this work?"
"Frankly, no," the man from the British Space Agency said calmly. "There aren't that many people with a phoenix in the world, and most of them are too old, too busy, or don't understand the first thing about technology. What's more, none of them are ours – British citizens – except for one old man who has neither the time nor the inclination."
"It's not safe," her mother protested.
"Actually, there's no reason to expect any danger," the man contradicted her. "We're aware of her youth, and won't lightly assign her any hazardous missions. Her tasks will be primarily research-related – for example, we'd like to test the speed of a phoenix, and whether it's subject to relativity. If we send her into space – and rest assured that you'll have to agree on every individual mission of such a nature – it'll be done with all possible precautions. For example, before even thinking of allowing Hermione to go to the moon, we'd send an older witch or wizard there in the usual way to verify that the conditions are no problem to magic users. We'd also confirm beforehand that magical creatures can survive, and have a rocket with trained astronauts near the place where she would arrive, just in case. She could be returned the normal way if the phoenix should fail her."
"Or you could take her to a satellite first?" Her father brought up.
"Right," the man nodded calmly. "Although that might actually be less safe, since magic is apparently known to disturb electrical devices. That's actually another test we'd like to perform soon – how much and what kind of magic our devices can handle, and whether the conditions of outer space affect this."
Hermione looked from her father to her mother. "Pleeeeaaaase?"
Mother frowned deeply. "Herm, dear, do you know how many space missions have gone wrong? Real life isn't like the movies, quite a few astronauts have died!"
"It's not the same!" She argued. "I'll have Xare with me, and people protecting me and magical shielding and everything. Plus, you heard Mr. Town, it'll mostly be about research, all on earth."
"In the beginning, perhaps," her mother said sharply. "But I expect we'll be seeing quite a few more forms before the year is over!"
"Mum," she begged. "Please? I really want to do this, and I think it needs to be done. It could mean so much for everyone... there's so much we could learn! And it honestly doesn't seem all that dangerous." Xare rubbed her beak against Hermione's cheek in support, and agreed with a loud "Caw!".
Her parents just gave each other a long look.
"Mr. Town," her father asked. "Do you mind if my wife and I discuss in private for a few moments?"
"Not at all. I can return later, if you prefer."
"Just a few minutes." The two disappeared into the kitchen.
Hermione bit her lip. Unfortunately, this really was her parents' decision, and aside from putting on her most convincing pleading, there wasn't all that much she could do about it. And yes, in all fairness, even with the BSA being very careful, there probably would be a little bit more danger than a twelve-year-old child was generally exposed to in the Muggle world. It was just that, after everything that had been going on for the past year, her sense of danger had been recalibrated a bit. Anything the adults in the British Space Agency were likely to allow a girl her age to do was probably not much more dangerous than the average flying lesson in Hogwarts. After facing the Wizengamot twice, all her escapades in Azkaban, hopping over the world destroying Dementors, being lethally shot and evacuating people in the middle of a battle to the death, she just couldn't be afraid of merely doing magical research in outer space. Besides, with Xare by her side, she was doomed to get into hazardous situations anyway.
The door opened and her parents returned. There was a tense silence, before her father broke it.
"Hermione," he began, in a grave tone. Her heart sank. Of the two, he had been the one who seemed more positive about the possible adventure. "I hope you understand our concerns. Just a few weeks ago we learned that, despite everything your Professor McGonagall told us about Hogwarts being safe, you ended up being framed for murder, judged as an adult, and thrown into a rather horrifying prison – which we had to learn about from the television."
Hermione squirmed. There had been words about that, although her parents had at last accepted that at the time she had had good reasons to postpone the inevitable confrontation.
"We would never go behind your back, sir," Mr. Town assured him.
"I know, I know," father sighed. "It's just that... after that, and then the sudden war, you can probably see why we're a little worried about assurances of safety. Really, we want nothing more than to keep our little girl close to us, wrap her up in cotton wool and keep her away from anything dangerous for the rest of her life."
"But you can't, Dad," Hermione argued. "There's always going to be some dangers. And it doesn't seem like it would be that bad in this case, while there's a lot of good that I could do with the space program."
"We know, honey," her mother agreed quietly, glancing at Xare. "And we know that you're never going to have a normal childhood no matter what we say." She grimaced sadly.
Her father cleared his throat. "All things considered, you're probably right. In comparison to some of the things you've been up to this year, going to the moon seems positively mundane. And that's not even what your main work will be for the time being." He looked at the BSA man, who nodded calmly.
"So... you'll let me go?" Hermione hardly dared to ask it.
"Let's get this straight: we want good reassurances, we want to be kept fully into the loop, we will look over everything that requires our permission, we want to be able to end or suspend your contract at any time, and we'd like some words with the magical government about additional protections they can give you. But conditional on that... yes, we'll allow it."
As Hermione squealed and jumped to hug her parents, the phoenix cawed a rousing battle cry.