A/N: Welcome to the sequel to "The Power of Love." This story picks up immediately where the last one left off, covering the summer after fourth year and all of fifth year (which has elements of canon sixth year thrown in). If you haven't first read "Yule Ball Panic" and then "The Power of Love," you should do so — this won't make much sense otherwise. Also, be aware of the fact that Voldemort is back now. This means that the story will get a bit darker and a bit more violent, at least compared to the previous two. Not every character is going to survive to the end. You have been warned.
Thanks to Bonnie and Mainsail for their time and effort in helping me make so many improvements to this!
A/N 2: To start, this will only be published once a week. That's because in a week or two, I'll start publishing the first of two other stories alongside this one. One will be the long-awaited third installment to the Witches of SHIELD series. The first is a surprise - you'll have to wait to see, but I think a lot of people will enjoy it. Once they are done, this may shift to two installments a week.
Fanart! One regular reader was kind enough to create fanart that was inspired by this story. You can see her vision of Jasmine here (remove the spaces and dashes or just paste it all into Google): nightcoreowl. deviantart. -com- /art/Jasmine-Potter-584888931
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, that's owned by J.K. Rowling.
Recommendation: This chapter's recommended fic is "Nothing to Lose" by Writing Warriors. When Dumbledore completely isolated Harry after his fifth year, Harry came to the conclusion that he had nothing — and therefore, nothing left to lose. That changes everything. H/Hr.
Italics: people's thoughts.
Chapter 01 - Summertime Blues
Sunday, July 4, 1995. Early Morning.
Jasmine Potter woke up slowly, slowly enough that when she opened her eyes she wasn't sure at first where she was. Oh, yeah, she finally realized, Privet Drive. It took another few seconds for her to remember that this meant she wouldn't be meeting Hermione, Ginny, Neville, Ron, or anyone else for breakfast. Hermione especially. This elicited a groan of bitter disappointment, though only a small one because in truth it could have been much worse.
In the past, it had been much worse, in fact.
Vernon had been his usual, angry self for the whole ride home the previous evening and proceeded to berate Jasmine as soon as they were through the front door. "You, girl, are going to have to work hard this summer to make up for everything that you cost us," he had declared. "Don't think that we're going to let you laze about like your good-for-nothing parents did. This is a working household, and you're going to work! In fact, you might as well just put all of your freaky things in the cupboard, because you're not going to have time to look at any of them." This was said with a self-satisfied look that made Jasmine even more upset than she already was.
He then handed her a list of daily chores that would have required a fit adult male at least several hours of labor to complete. "Given how much you cost us in food and how much extra work you create for us, these chores are the least you can do to make it up to us normal people."
Jasmine had spent the ride home getting herself ready for the confrontation she knew was coming. Indeed, she'd known it was coming ever since she'd accepted Dumbledore's arguments that she would probably be safer behind the blood wards than anywhere else. Even Sirius had agreed that having a safe house with blood wards might be handy in the future.
She had only recently made the decision never to be a victim again, but years of negative conditioning at the hands of the Dursleys could not be swept away in an instant. Nevertheless, Jasmine was determined. She didn't realize how her regular occlumency and legilimency lessons with Hermione had improved her ability to focus and stick with a plan, especially in adverse conditions. Without that, she probably would have caved the first time Vernon shouted.
Focusing on her newfound resolve not to be victimized, she announced with an edge of steel in her voice, "No, Vernon, I will not be treated like your slave. Not anymore. I know I don't cost you that much in food because I never get to eat much of it — despite being forced to cook it — and I certainly don't consider being stuck in a cupboard to be a shining example of your generosity. A closet is where you keep tools — things, not people."
Jasmine was surprised when he quickly backed down, having no idea that her eyes were glowing with repressed anger or that her hair was softly undulating as if in a breeze.
"I'll consent to do the same amount of chores as Dudley," she declared, "provided that I also get the same amount of food as he does. Otherwise, forget about it and don't bother me." She then took her things up to her room, hoping that that would be the end of it.
It wouldn't be, of course. Vernon Dursley was a bully, and while bullies tend to back down in the face of superior force, they rarely stay down unless absolutely convinced that they cannot win. Vernon was afraid of magic, but once magical threats were removed from his sight, he tended to forget that they were, in fact, a threat.
Jasmine Potter wasn't aware of this shift, however, as she got up and got herself ready for her first full day of her exile in Little Whinging.
Hermione Granger also woke up slowly, and she was equally disappointed when she remembered that she wouldn't be with any of her friends that day, especially Jasmine. She was far less disappointed in her surroundings, though. She liked her bedroom and the house it was in. She also liked her parents, despite not having felt close to them for quite some time — and even that seemed like it might soon change for the better.
Jasmine had told her to give them a chance, and she intended to do just that, though she had no idea how to go about it. Luckily, her mum had taken the first step by sitting in the back seat with her for the ride home and comforting her in the wake of her separation from Jasmine. Her mum had no idea why she was so upset, and Hermione couldn't explain it — she just wasn't prepared to tell her parents the truth about that yet.
At first, her mum and dad seemed to conclude that her emotional funk was due to being separated from the boyfriend they'd assumed she had. It had taken some very careful phrasing on her part to disabuse them of that without using any gendered pronouns, so naturally they concluded that she'd broken up with said boyfriend. She really didn't know how to convince them that she wasn't at all upset about breaking up with a boyfriend she'd never had, and eventually she just changed the subject before she said something incriminating.
Despite clearly suspecting that there was more going on, her mother hadn't pressed the matter. Instead, she asked other questions and tried to learn more about Jasmine's home life — another subject that Hermione had to stay silent about, though she could at least say that she was told things in confidence and wouldn't betray that. Neither of her parents seemed happy about it, but once Hermione assured them that as far as she knew, Jasmine wasn't in any immediate danger from her relatives, they let it go.
She also found herself telling her parents the truth about what had happened over the past year. Well, some of it, at any rate. After having already informed them about Jasmine being entered into a dangerous tournament, she couldn't very well pretend that everything had been peaceful and happy the way she usually did. She didn't explain all of the things the headmaster had done, because she was sure tales about a headmaster who dug through students' minds and ignored parents' wishes would get her pulled from Hogwarts faster than she could say Lumos.
She also didn't go into the return of Voldemort because that seemed to her to not only be too terrifying to deal with, but also a bit too unbelievable for a couple of middle-class muggles. Instead, she went with the official story given to Fudge: former followers of Voldemort entered Jasmine into the tournament in order to get a chance at kidnapping her and using her in a dark ritual. She had been potioned, beaten, molested, tortured, and nearly killed before she finally got away. Her parents were suitably horrified and sympathetic without being burdened with the full truth, which Hermione counted as a win.
Still, she hadn't missed the looks her parents gave each other after that, and since this was a weekend she expected that she'd be interrogated some more. She would need to be prepared with answers — the right answers, which in her mind didn't necessarily mean the whole truth. She hated lying to her parents, and it seemed that she was having to do that more and more each year, but she simply couldn't take the chance that they'd withdraw her from Hogwarts — not before and certainly not now.
With a sigh, she got up and headed for the shower so she could get ready for church. It was automatic for her, despite having spent most of the past four years far from any church, and she gave no thought to whether church services meant anything to her anymore. Nor would she while actually at the service, because she'd be too focused on thinking up possible answers to the inevitable questions she would face.
Little did she know that events would conspire to render all that planning moot.
Sunday, July 4, 1995. Late Morning.
As Susan Bones revelled in the last bite of pancakes, she struggled to figure out how to start the conversation with her aunt that she so needed to have. Every summer when she returned home from Hogwarts, her Aunt Amelia made a point of taking off the next day so they could catch up and enjoy one another's company. The day always started with their favorite breakfast, and Susan hadn't wanted to interrupt that with unpleasant topics; however, the shadows under her aunt's eyes told her just how stressful work must have been lately, and now she was reluctant to introduce her concerns at all.
"OK, breakfast is done — you can tell me what's on your mind, Suze," Amelia said, jerking her niece out of her silent debate with herself.
"Huh?" she answered intelligently.
"You don't get to be head of the DMLE without being able to read people," Amelia explained with a wry smile, "and even without that, I know you far too well. I could tell you had something troubling you even before you sat down, but I figured you wanted to deal with breakfast first. Well, that's done now, so what is it?"
Torn between embarrassment and regret, Susan just sighed. "I hate the idea of adding to your stress, auntie, because I can see that work's been hard for you…."
Amelia dismissed that with a wave of her hand. "Work isn't as important to me as you are."
Now Susan felt even worse. "Well, it's kind of about me, and it's kind of about work, too," she said, shrinking back in her seat a little.
Amelia's eyebrows rose a bit at that, evidently having expected to be regaled with typical teen drama, such as oblivious wizards or backstabbing witches. "Perhaps you should start at the beginning, then," she said, slipping slightly into her auror tone of voice.
So Susan talked, and despite her aunt's well-honed perceptiveness, she was able to hold back some key bits of information that she simply wasn't prepared to share. She told Amelia about Jasmine's fight with Malfoy and how so many at the school supported her, but without mentioning the books which Hermione's mother had sent in. She told about the study group that became the core of a practical defense group, but without mentioning either S.P.E.W. or the magical rituals.
If Amelia suspected that Susan had left out some important details, she didn't say anything.
"That's… very interesting, Suze," she finally said after her niece's tale was done. "I'm very proud of you for apologizing to Miss Potter and standing by her when she needed it. That showed a lot of maturity. I'm also impressed that so many others stood by her, even to the point of being willing to defy the Hogwarts staff if they failed to be fair." She paused to take a sip of tea before finally saying, "I'm not sure, though, why you were so hesitant to tell me, or why it would involve my work."
"It's because of the defense group," Susan explained. "Jasmine told us that You-Know-Who is back."
Amelia winced, apparently not sure if she was relieved or upset that her niece had that bit of information.
"I know that I'll be a target, too," Susan continued. "There's no way to avoid that, and that's one reason why the defense group was started: so we can defend ourselves."
"Susan," Amelia began, "you're too young to get involved in something like this, and I'm very disappointed in Miss Potter for trying to drag you in…."
"No," Susan interrupted firmly, surprising her aunt. "I'm already involved simply because of who I am — your niece, for one thing. Surely you know that you'll be one of his primary targets, which means I will be, too."
Amelia's expression hardened at that — whether in anger or tightly controlled fear, Susan couldn't be sure. Yet her voice was still calm as she said, "That doesn't mean that I want you anywhere near any actual fighting."
"And will Death Eaters be polite enough to give me a choice?" Susan asked, sarcasm creeping into her own tone. "You know, like they gave Jasmine a choice before kidnapping and molesting her?" When her aunt didn't answer immediately, she continued more softly, "I'm sorry for putting it that way, but it's true. They attacked and killed children last time, and they'll do it again. I may not have a choice about whether I'm attacked in the future, but right now I can choose to prepare myself so I can stand a chance if an attack does come."
Amelia just looked at her niece for a long moment as if she'd never seen her before. "That's a surprisingly mature attitude," she said at last, "and one that I'd hoped you wouldn't need to adopt for a few years yet. I'd rather you enjoyed your last years before adulthood, shopping and lounging by the pool with your friends."
Smiling sadly, Susan reached out and gave her aunt's hand a quick squeeze. "I wish I could, too, but the two attacks on Jasmine — one by Death Eaters who kidnapped her, and the second by the son of Death Eaters right in the castle — showed me that I no longer have that option. And I can't take all the credit for that attitude. Hermione Granger told us that she and Jasmine studied some dangerous spells to help them defend themselves. She also said that she didn't want to at first because she didn't like the idea of hurting people, but she eventually realized that she liked the thought of evil people hurting her and her loved ones even less. She knew she'd be a target no matter what, so she decided to prepare herself so she could fight."
"Granger?" Amelia asked. "Ah, I remember now — she visited Miss Potter in the hospital wing."
"She and Jasmine are best friends," Susan said. "Anyway, her words really struck home for a lot of us, even Hannah, who's pretty scared."
Amelia nodded. "OK, you want to be able to fight, and you've already started learning with your friends. What do you want from me?"
"Not just fight, but also help protect my friends — and, well, everyone else," Susan responded. "I want to resume self-defense lessons for me and Hannah. I want whatever books or teaching materials you can get me for our group to use once Hogwarts starts again. I want to know how Death Eaters operated the last time — we can use that information to better defend ourselves. And I want to know about emergency portkeys. Ideally, I'd like to be able to distribute them to students whose families are in danger — muggleborn first, then half-bloods, so-called blood traitors, etc."
Amelia's eyebrows kept rising throughout that detailed list. "You don't want much, do you?" Amelia asked.
Susan shrugged. "I volunteered for more because I thought you would be able to help. Everyone volunteered for different things, though."
"Everyone?" Amelia echoed, her curiosity piqued. "Like who?"
Susan shrugged again, not seeing anything wrong with the question. "Everyone in our study group. Daphne Greengrass, Tracey Davis, Padma Patil, Blaise Zabini, Neville Longbottom, Hannah, and Hermione. And Jasmine, of course."
Amelia blinked in surprise. Susan didn't realize it, but she had essentially just admitted to conspiring against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named with representatives from some of magical Britain's most influential families. Underage or not, her own activities would eventually put her on the Dark Lord's list of targets, regardless of who her aunt was — a fact that was not lost on the head of the DMLE.
Amelia looked thoughtful for a long moment, then said slowly, "Private lessons are doable, but not right away. I'll ask Mad-Eye to do it — I trust him, and he'll need a way to get back on his feet without too much pressure. Teaching you will do nicely, plus he'll like the idea that he'll be helping Potter and Granger indirectly. I'll also tell him to pick out some books for your group to work from. That, however, won't be possible for another couple of weeks. In the meantime, I'll give you and Hannah permission to go through the Ministry's non-classified files on Death Eater attacks." She fixed her niece with a serious expression. "This will be a job, and a very important one, too — one that you'll actually be paid for."
Susan's eyes lit up at that. "What do you want from us?" she asked.
"I'll want you and Hannah to create a report explaining their most common tactics and then provide recommendations for how to counter them." At Susan's doubtful look, she continued, "Oh, I know you two don't have training for that, and while I'll give you some books to help, I don't expect you to become experts. Actual experts digging through the archives might attract Minister Fudge's attention, and I can't risk that. No, we'll call you two summer interns, since no one pays attention to interns. People will assume you're doing pointless busy work and not give you a second glance."
Amelia paused and tapped her chin in thought for a moment before continuing, "A new and independent perspective might be helpful to us, even if it is from two students, and we can combine your ideas with our older reports to create something new for the coming conflict. And, when it comes to your own project, I think you'll do better if you are forced to really think about the problems involved instead of having pat answers simply spoonfed to you."
Susan's back straightened a bit at the trust she was being shown. "And the portkeys?" she asked hopefully.
Amelia sighed. "That's another story altogether. They are heavily regulated by the Ministry, so we can't just hand them out like chocolate frogs. On top of that, they won't work for muggles by themselves — they are powered by the magic of the users, so you'll need at least one magical person anytime a portkey is activated. What's more, a child trying to power a portkey that's transporting an entire family might end up with severe magical exhaustion at the other end."
Susan slumped in her seat, not having expected such bad news.
"I'll look into it," Amelia promised her, "but you need to be prepared to be disappointed on that one, so start looking into alternatives." Susan nodded in understanding.
"For now, though, let's just forget about all of the problems out there and have some fun," Amelia said brightly, standing up and pulling Susan out of her chair. "First some shopping, I think, including new swimsuits; then we'll spend the afternoon by the pool while you tell me about all the cute boys you've been ogling this year."
"Tell me about school, Blaise," Alessandra Zabini said as she helped her son and only child unpack. "Your letters are always so terse — it never feels like you're really telling me anything," she added with a bit of a pout. When he appeared to be at a loss for how to respond to such an open-ended question, she prompted, "Are you still friends with those two young witches?"
"Tracey and Daphne? Yes, I am," Blaise replied.
"Good, good — they seem like such nice girls," Alessandra said. "I'm sure they're good for you. But haven't you become friends with anyone else?" She prepared herself for the inevitable disappointment — she asked this question every Christmas and every summer, and every time, she always got the same answer.
"Well, yes, actually," Blaise said.
Morgana's knickers! Will wonders never cease? she thought as her eyebrows shot into her perfectly coiffed hair. Aloud, she gushed, "Really? I'm so glad to hear that, gattino mio! Tell me all about them!"
Blaise explained how Daphne had gotten the idea for the three of them to apologize to Jasmine Potter for thinking that she'd cheated to get into the Triwizard Tournament and thus become part of a growing inter-house study group. He told her about how a simple attempt to make contacts and allies in other houses had evolved into the development of real friendships, and then about how those friendships ended up playing an important role in the near-rebellion of the school in anticipation of Potter being punished for defending herself against Malfoy.
As Blaise told his tale, Alessandra grew increasingly amazed at what had been going on in Hogwarts, and that her taciturn son had been so close to the center of so much of it. "Oh, my," she said as he ended his story. She'd long since given up on unpacking his trunk and was sitting beside him on his bed, trying to process it all.
"And you're sure that Miss Potter is stronger than the average student her age?" she eventually asked.
"Quite," he said. "So is her best friend, Hermione Granger, a muggleborn."
"And is this new?" she asked.
"I... I don't know. Maybe," he answered. "I never saw any sign of such power before, but I wasn't close enough to them to tell. Malfoy always derided them as weak, but I never believed him. If even half of what they said about their actions in past years is true — and frankly, I think it's all true — then they have always been reasonably strong. Perhaps they are a bit stronger now, or perhaps they are just more willing to show it now."
"Thank you, Blaise," Alessandra said as she laid long, manicured fingers lightly on his arm. Her voice still held its customary warmth, but there was a distracted look in her eyes. "I'm thrilled that you've made new friends, and even more thrilled that they are in other houses as well. But those two Gryffindor witches really intrigue me. I'm going to have to do some research…. If you think of anything else important, you will tell me, won't you?"
"Yes, Mother," he said, though she scarcely seemed to be listening as she left him to finish unpacking alone. Blaise sat there for a moment, then sighed and shook his head, not the least bit surprised that his mother had been drawn away, sidetracked by something shiny and new. He'd try to tell her more another day.
Sunday, July 4, 1995. Early Afternoon.
Hermione was dragging her feet as she got out of the car after her family returned from church. She knew that an uncomfortable conversation was coming up, and she wasn't looking forward to it. It was only a scream from her mother inside the house that got Hermione moving quickly — it took her mere seconds to get through the door and enter the living room with her wand in her hand and a spell on her lips.
She gasped and pointed her wand upwards when she realized that the intruders who had caused her mother to scream were Albus Dumbledore, Remus Lupin and a short woman with pink hair whom she'd never seen before. "Professors!" Hermione said in confusion.
"Take care with your wand, Miss Granger," Dumbledore said mildly. "The Ministry takes a very dim view of underage magic being performed over the summer, especially by muggleborn. Self-defense is a valid excuse, of course, but it can be difficult to prove to Ministry employees, who aren't known for their tolerance or fairness." Hermione nodded and her wand shot back into her holster, eliciting a slight look of surprise from her headmaster.
"Do you know these people?" her mother asked angrily as her father came into the room with a cricket bat held high.
"Dad, stop, they aren't here to hurt us!" Hermione said quickly, putting up her hands and trying to get between her father and the three magicals who had made themselves at home while the Grangers were at church. As unhappy as she was with her headmaster, she didn't want him and her father to come to blows.
"What are they doing in our home?" her father demanded, not putting the cricket bat down.
"Please," Dumbledore said as he stood, holding his hands out in a non-threatening manner. "We seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot. My name is Albus Dumbledore, and I'm the Headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. I'm here to talk to your daughter, though you are of course free to join us, as you may have questions." He ignored the muttered "told him we should wait outside" from the woman, though none of the Grangers missed it.
"Coming uninvited into someone's home is quite rude," Emma said frostily. "Especially when the owners aren't even home."
"My apologies," Dumbledore said in his best grandfatherly voice, "but I didn't think it prudent for the three of us to stand on your front porch, given that we aren't dressed like muggles."
"Very well," Lindsey said, and Dumbledore took that as an acceptance of his apology. Hermione, though, could tell that her parents accepted neither his apology nor his excuse. They may have allowed that he had no ill intent, but clearly he'd had alternatives which he had chosen not to go with.
Once everyone was seated, which only happened after Emma had served tea — they may have been uninvited intruders who scared several years off of her life, but that wouldn't have justified being uncivilized herself — Lindsey asked them, "So what's all this about, then? She just came home yesterday — what could be so sudden and important that you'd have to come here today with three people to talk to her about it?"
Dumbledore nodded, seeming to understand that he was dealing with intelligent parents who wouldn't easily miss anything. "I'll admit that we could have discussed this before she left, but the end of the year is always incredibly busy, and it would not have been appropriate to have this conversation in a public setting. In the end, I thought that coming today would be most convenient. It also gave me an opportunity to introduce my two companions here to you and to her."
Turning to them, he gestured first to one and said, "This is Remus Lupin — he was your daughter's Defense Against the Dark Arts professor during her third year." Both Grangers thawed noticeably at the name and nodded to him, remembering that Hermione had praised him several times in her letters. He then gestured to the woman, saying, "And this is Nymphadora Tonks—"
"It's just Tonks," Tonks interrupted firmly. "I don't like my first name and would prefer that it not be used." She shot Dumbledore an annoyed look which seemed to surprise him.
"Ah, yes," he said, "my apologies. I seem to have forgotten." After clearing his throat, he turned back to Hermione and said, "Remus and Tonks may stop by from time to time to check on you and make sure everything is fine. The primary reason I came today, though, is that I wanted to tell you that you must not contact Jasmine Potter in any way this summer — especially with owls."
"What?" Hermione half shouted as she jumped out of her seat, surprising the older magicals with the vehemence of her reaction. Neither of her parents looked pleased with her outburst, but they didn't immediately move to correct her, either. "How can you do such a horrible thing to her? She needs her friends! The Dursleys are cruel to her, and it's cruel of you to keep her isolated with them!"
"I can assure you, Miss Granger," Dumbledore said confidently, "that Miss Potter is just fine with her family. I'm sure she'll appreciate having the time to reconnect with them."
"And what right do you have to decide such a thing?" Hermione demanded. "You have no authority over us during the summer!"
"I'm afraid you're going to simply have to trust me on this," Dumbledore said with a weary sigh. "The situation is simply too dangerous. We can't take any chances because we don't know who might be watching or who might be able to intercept any messages. It's an unfortunate but necessary security precaution."
"That's… that's… that's absurd!" Hermione sputtered. "You can't really expect me to believe that there's no way to send secure messages in and out of a single house in Surrey? Not even magically?"
"Honey, please," Emma said as she put her hand on Hermione's arm and tried to get her to sit back down. "Let's at least hear what he has to say."
"How much danger is there?" Lindsey asked, trying to shift the topic to something that he personally thought was rather more important.
Dumbledore shrugged. "With Voldemort's return, it's tough to say. The danger for us all has increased greatly by that alone, but until he starts moving, there won't be much practical difference for most people."
Both Emma and Lindsey looked at Hermione, who buried her face in her hands. "Oops," Tonks said softly, immediately recognizing that they'd just opened up a big sack of flobberworms for the young witch.
"Voldemort?" Lindsey asked "Back? How? I thought he died back in the 1980s?"
"He was defeated on October 31, 1981," Lupin explained, "but his body was never found, and Dumbledore never believed that he was completely dead. Back in March, he was returned to a body in a vile, dark ritual that I will not describe here. Right now he is mostly moving in the shadows, trying to rebuild his forces. Eventually, though, he will move in the open again and start attacking our world more directly, just as he was doing in the 1970s. At times, that will include attacks on the muggle world as well, because he hates muggles."
"We were told last night that Jasmine had been kidnapped and then escaped," Lindsey said, "but we didn't realize that it was all part of a plot to return their old leader to life. We simply thought that Jasmine, and perhaps by extension our daughter, were in some danger because of that guy's old followers."
"I'm afraid the situation is a bit more serious than that," Dumbledore said diplomatically. "His followers are a threat, but with Voldemort back they will become more organized and thus more dangerous and active than they ever would have been before."
"So, sooner or later, we may be in danger, too?" Emma asked. When Dumbledore nodded, she continued, "Would it help if we pulled Hermione out of Hogwarts? Would they leave her and us alone, then?"
Hermione gasped in shock while Dumbledore shook his head. "I'm afraid not, Mrs. Granger. Your daughter is an extremely intelligent and accomplished muggleborn who is now well known to those in our world who hate the very existence of muggleborn. Such a powerful muggleborn witch flies in the face of everything they believe, so they will come after her, no matter what."
"Mum, Dad, you wouldn't!" Hermione choked out, but her parents simply ignored her.
"And besides," Lupin added, "she'd still need to go to a magical school somewhere. She's not a fully trained witch yet. Even if you went so far as to leave the country and enroll her in a school abroad, you could be found that way."
"What's more," Dumbledore said, "if Voldemort is victorious here in Britain, he will set his sights on other countries, and you would eventually be discovered."
"Is she put in more danger by associating with Jasmine Potter?" Lindsey asked, eliciting an even louder gasp and an incredibly hurt expression from his daughter, who was now practically shaking in distress.
"No, I wouldn't think so," Dumbledore said. "Quite the opposite might arguably be the case. Both are targets, but both are strong witches, and I know that Miss Potter would do anything to protect your daughter." Hermione was tempted to breathe a sigh of relief at the fact that their headmaster didn't seem to want to separate her from Jasmine anymore, but that goal was now apparently being pursued by her parents, while Dumbledore seemed prepared to separate Jasmine from everyone.
Both of the elder Grangers were obviously unhappy — from the moment they first thought their home had been invaded, it had been one shock after another, and this latest revelation about the threat to their daughter clearly wasn't sitting any better with them. An awkward silence fell on the room until finally Dumbledore said tentatively, "Perhaps we should leave you to discuss this, in light of the new information…."
"Yes," Emma said quickly, seizing upon the suggestion like a lifeline. "We have a lot to talk about as a family."
"Just remember, Miss Granger," the headmaster said as he followed the other two out of the room, "do not contact Miss Potter under any circumstances." Mr. Granger rose to escort them to the front door, but before he could even leave the room, they heard three cracks of apparition from the front hallway.
Hermione looked everywhere but at her parents. I knew I'd be in for an unpleasant conversation, she thought, but this just keeps getting worse and worse. And how dare he tell me that I can't contact Jasmine? He has no authority over either of us during the summer! The Dursleys are awful to her, and she needs some sort of contact with the rest of the world! I'm going to….
"Hermione!" her mother said sharply. "Are you even listening?"
"Sorry," Hermione said distractedly, trying to extricate herself from the whirlwind in her head. "I was just thinking about why he wanted to forbid me from contacting Jasmine. She's counting on me to write, call, and even visit a couple of times."
Emma's face softened a bit as she said, "I'll agree that that doesn't sound right to me, and we should talk about it; but we have other things to discuss first."
"Right," her father said, "And let's start with: why didn't you tell us all this last night?"
"Tell you what, exactly?" Hermione asked scornfully. "That some evil terrorist has risen from the dead? Would you really have believed me?"
Emma and Lindsey looked at each other with uncomfortable expressions.
"And besides, it hardly matters. It's not like he's going to come strolling down the street and then knock on our door before personally killing me. If he targets me, he'll send his minions — the wizards I did tell you about. So for all intents and purposes, I told you about the actual threat, if it even becomes a threat any time soon. What would be the point of scaring you even more about something that won't affect you?"
Lindsey shook his head. "Be that as it may, we still expect you to tell us the truth. This affects both us and you — and as your parents, we care about your wellbeing. We need and deserve to know what is going on, for both your sake and ours."
"Yes, Hermione," Emma said. "Why would you hide such dangers from us? Why wouldn't you tell us about what you're going through?"
"Why? You can't understand!" Hermione insisted. "You can't understand what's happening in the magical world! It's not your world. You don't have to live in it." Why do they keep pushing me like this? she wondered. They have to know that they can't understand what I'm going through. They don't know what magic is like. They don't know what Jasmine's life is like, or how stressful it is to have to constantly hide our relationship...
"So tell us," Lindsey said with the air of a man whose death grip on his patience was slipping. "Don't keep holding things back. Trust us to be able to learn and to have your best interests at heart."
"We're not stupid, you know," Emma chided her. "We don't deserve to be kept in ignorance."
"But there's nothing you can do about any of it!" Hermione said desperately. "You're just muggles, you can't do anything!"
"'Just muggles'?" her father asked slowly, real anger coming into his voice now. "'Just muggles'? That sounds an awful lot like what that Voldemort person preaches, doesn't it? That muggles don't count and aren't worth anything?"
Hermione just stared at her parents, stricken by the reproachful looks on their faces. Then she collapsed on the sofa and started sobbing, horrified at her own words and unsure about where that attitude might have come from. When did I start looking down on muggles? she thought despairingly. When did I start looking down on my own parents?
To their credit, Emma and Lindsey moved to either side of her and pulled her into a three-way hug. They were hurt by her words, but they knew that deep down, she couldn't really have meant what she said. They wanted to believe that she was still the little girl they'd tried to raise, even if perhaps she'd gotten lost somewhere along the way. If they were mad at anyone, it was at the wizards and witches who had changed their daughter, disrupting her moral values to the point where she would treat her parents like children.
As she cried, she remembered Jasmine's words: "Try to trust and believe in them, and maybe they'll surprise you." Slowly and haltingly, she began telling them the truth about what had been happening to her over the past four years. It was an extremely difficult conversation for all of them. Hermione found it hard to share things she'd worked hard to keep hidden for so long; her parents were appalled at just how often she'd been in danger and how much she'd been concealing from them.
There was only one thing she still held back on, but she just wasn't ready to share that particular secret yet. Maybe later, when she had a better feel for how they'd react.
Sunday, July 4, 1995. Evening.
Jasmine sighed as she lay down for bed. She missed Hermione terribly. She would have missed Hermione regardless, but the emotional and psychological stresses of her first full day back at Privet Drive made her long for her bushy-haired girlfriend all the more. Starting early in first year, Hermione had quickly grown into the most important person in her life; she'd also become Jasmine's anchor, providing stability and helping her weather the never-ending storms that buffeted her.
Now her anchor was missing, and Jasmine felt the gale winds threatening to overwhelm her already. I am not weak, she repeated in her mind like a mantra. I am not a victim. I do, however, need some help to deal with all of this...
She'd certainly had worse days at Privet Drive, but this day hadn't gone nearly as well as she hoped. Overnight, Vernon seemed to have forgotten their discussion and berated Jasmine for not being in the kitchen early enough to cook them breakfast. He then laid into her about developing lazy habits at that freak school of hers and informed her that she'd need to straighten up if she was going to complete all of the work he'd been saving up for her to do.
I suppose I should have expected it, sooner or later, Jasmine realized. Vernon has never taken 'no' for an answer — certainly not from me.
After she coldly reminded the whale of a man that she wouldn't be doing any more work than Dudley, Vernon proceeded to rant, complain, and bluster — he even looked like he might threaten violence before Petunia finally stepped in. Dudley was already backing away, and it hadn't been out of fear of Vernon, either.
Like the night before, Jasmine's magical power had begun gathering in preparation for defending her, and Dudley hadn't wanted to get caught in any resulting explosion. Vernon had tried to ignore it, hoping that if he pretended it didn't exist, it would simply go away — then he could go back to being the master of his domain, and freakish little brats like her would be kept in their rightful place.
Only Petunia had both the courage and the good sense to step in before something dire happened, pulling Vernon away while telling Jasmine to find things to do outside the house. "Gladly," she had said in a voice that resonated with power and promised a world of pain.
Spending most of the day in the local park had been only mildly irritating — it was out of the house, which was nice, but the place had a lot of bad memories from times when Dudley and his friends would bully and chase her.
Back in her room — or prison cell, as she tended to call it in acknowledgment of the bars that used to be on the window and the current multitude of locks on the door — she closed her eyes and tried to get to sleep. I'll write Hermione tomorrow, she promised herself. If I can't have her here with me, I can at least start exchanging letters.
Daphne Greengrass took a deep breath to calm her nerves before entering her father's study. Telling them things via owl post was one thing, but being interrogated personally always made her nervous. When she entered the room, she was slightly surprised to see her mother there as well, but she managed to hide it before taking her seat.
"Daphne," her father began, "I'm sorry that I wasn't able to sit down with you before this, but I had several other commitments that I needed to get out of the way first."
"Just so you know," her mother interjected, "we were both very pleased to see that you took the first step to get to know Miss Potter. We were even happier to learn that you managed to take it beyond a simple affiliation and started to become friends with her." Daphne's smile at hearing that was returned by both her parents.
"I am concerned, though, about some of the things you wrote in your more recent letters," her father continued. "One of the things I was doing today was checking with my Ministry contacts once again. All of them continue to tell me that the Ministry is not looking for You-Know-Who and does not believe that he has returned. Yet you wrote more than once that he is, that we in fact have to take extra care with our security, and that Miss Potter is involved. Can you explain?"
Daphne sat a bit straighter as she began her recitation. "I wanted to give you more details, but I wasn't sure how secure owl post would be, so I stuck to the absolute minimum so I could at least warn you. Especially in the most recent letter after Malfoy made his threats."
Her father nodded. "That's perfectly reasonable. So, what's the full story, then?"
Daphne proceeded to give them all the details of what had happened to Jasmine, from Hermione's frantic questioning in the library through Jasmine's recounting of her experiences to her friends, and finally how she herself organized school-wide support for Jasmine in the wake of the Gryffindor witch's altercation with Draco Malfoy. Both her parents were left in stunned silence, and neither seemed sure what to respond to first.
"Well… you've certainly had an interesting fourth year," her mother finally said.
"Indeed," her father agreed. "We'll leave aside your political activities at the school for the moment, as impressive as they are. The return of You-Know-Who is what we need to focus on right now." He leaned forward and fixed her with a stern look. "Are you absolutely sure that what Miss Potter told you is true?"
"Yes," Daphne said confidently. "She's an honest person — too honest for her own good, I think — and she had nothing to gain by lying to all her friends. She said she only misled the Minister because she feared that he'd sweep everything under the rug otherwise."
"Unfortunately, I think he's trying to do that anyway," her father said. "The investigation into her abduction has stalled, and my sources tell me that he wants to shut it down." He sighed as he leaned back in his chair. "Very well, if you are convinced that her story is genuine, then we'll trust your judgment and act accordingly. We'll increase security here while moving gold and other resources out of Britain." He turned to his wife and continued, "We'll also need to look at transferring the girls to another school, at least until—"
"No! You can't do that!" Daphne quite uncharacteristically blurted out.
Both of her parents looked at her in surprise. "Sorry," she said, more than a little surprised herself at her outburst because she had been trained to have more self-control than that. "It's just… it's just that I can't abandon everyone else. They're counting on me."
"Oh?" her father asked. "Counting on you for what? What exactly have you gotten yourself involved in?"
Daphne wasn't prepared to tell them all about S.P.E.W. — her parents were, after all, part of the culture that she intended to make fundamental changes to, and she didn't know how they'd react. Instead, she told them about the DA, her leadership position in it, and how all the founding members had agreed to split up research into things that would help not only them, but everyone at Hogwarts defend themselves.
When she was done, she could tell that her parents were both impressed and concerned. They liked the fact that she was making so many significant connections at such an early age, but they worried that she was placing herself in danger rather than keeping her head down.
"Perhaps that discussion about your political activities can't wait," her father said slowly. And so the three of them proceeded to talk about her intentions for the summer, what her long-term goals were, and the advisability of trying to remain neutral in the face of a resurrected Lord Voldemort.
It was a discussion that lasted until quite late, but in the end Daphne at least managed to convince her parents that she hadn't been acting recklessly.
A/N 3: Mainsail recommended that I include here a brief listing of the main OCs in the story, just in case anyone has trouble remembering who is doing what.
Mr. Lindsey & Mrs. Emma Granger: Hermione's parents. It's common in Harry/Hermione stories to name her parents "Dan and Emma" after the actors who played Harry and Hermione in the movies, but that wouldn't work here. So I chose the name of a redheaded actress who might have done well playing Jasmine and who happened to have a name that is often used for men - especially in England, and especially with this spelling variation.
Theledrion: Ruling council for the veela.
Amazzi: Veela warriors whose existence has passed into legend among muggles under the name "Amazons." Tasked with the defense of veela enclaves, they are rarely seen by outsiders.
Adrienne Durand: Member of the Theledrion and a close friend of Apolline Delacour; helped train Fleur and Gabrielle.
Sybine Delacour: Mother of Apolline Delacour, grandmother of Fleur and Gabrielle.
Phoebe Lablanc & Areto Lagrand: Members of the Amazzi, elite veela warriors; assigned to train Fleur and Gabrielle.
Bet Bel: Ruling council for the goblin nation, made up of mostly female representatives from various sectors of goblin society.
Hellraiser II: Queen of the goblin nation.
Lufestre Gydenna: High Priestess for the goblin nation; occasional unwilling diplomatic envoy to the veela.
Sharpaxe: Representative for the military and security forces and the lone male goblin on the Bet Bel; recently named War Chief.
Gatekeeper: The goblin who decides what the Bet Bel has to deal with personally.
Earchewer: Senior Branch Supervisor for Gringotts, London.
Knobshaft: Senior Account Manager in Gringotts, London; handles the accounts for the Potter family.