A/N: Hello! Welcome to chapter twelve! We're shopping for Hogwarts! I'm aware I've skipped... well, all of 1970-1971, but I couldn't justify writing out every month to myself. It would get awkward and repetitive. We'll just assume they're playing happy families, won't we? Here's a little slice of Potter family life for you, all ready to go. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own the works herein, all characters from the Harry Potter Universe belong to JK Rowling, and all characters, storylines, situations, plots and the like do not belong to me. I make no money from this work.
Warnings: Rated M for situations, swearing, violence, sexual scenes... The whole lot, basically. Dumbledore Bashing, too. Severus doesn't have the best time, bless him.
The Ghost of Grimmauld Place
Saturday 31st July 1971
Potter Manor, Entrance Hall
"Are you two ready yet?" Dorea called from where she stood at the base of the stairs, adjusting her husband's cravat. Smoothing it into place, she continued her movements until her hands rested on his broad shoulders, using the leverage to push herself onto her tiptoes and press a gentle kiss to his lips. He pouted exaggeratedly when she pulled back, chasing her forward until she laughed and submitted to another.
"Ew!" James's voice rang out. "'Mi, they're doing it again!"
Hermione rounded the bannister to start down the stairs after her brother, her focus fixed on the complex button sequence attached to her cloak, so very fiddly to do-up with her tiny hands. "Doing what?"
"That thing!" Below her, James turned to shoot her a massively disgusted look, waving his hands as his parents. "Look! It's just wrong."
"I think it's nice," Hermione smiled as she passed him, glancing up from her buttons to the scene. "Everybody deserves romance."
"Blech," James gagged. "You're such a girl."
Hermione grinned as Dorea and Charlus separated. Dorea's cheeks were a touch pink, and Charlus wore a supremely satisfied grin. "I am, rather," she replied happily, "but if it means I can appreciate the good things in life, then I'll not complain."
"Just you wait until you fall in love, son," Charlus rumbled, ruffling James's hair with one hand while the other kept Dorea tucked close to his side. James ducked out from under the hand, nose still wrinkled with confused horror. "You'll find yourself doing all sorts of odd things just to get her attention – and that's even before you get to the kissing."
"I will never kiss a girl!" James declared. He liked to do that – make loud, sweeping statements in his theatrical style. Now, he had one foot on the floor, the other bent up on the first step of the staircase, his hands extended in the air like a seasoned thespian, milking the drama for all that he could get.
It fell rather flat when Charlus just shrugged. "A boy then. Whichever. It will happen, that's the Potter curse."
"I thought the Potter curse was the hair?" Hermione pondered aloud, growling a little as she continued to struggle with her buttons.
Dorea kneeled down in front of her, a secret smile on her face as she threaded the last ones through their holes. "I thought it was the arrogance," she said wryly, sending a wink at Charlus.
"No, no." Charlus refuted, gathering the same drama his son made use of into his face, puffing up his chest and linking his fingers into the belt-loops at his waist. Amusement sparkled in Dorea's eyes as they met Hermione's. "It's the women. All Potter men, son, are cursed to fall in love with veritable harpies." James nodded solemnly, both men maintaining composure even as Dorea drew back from her daughter, rising to her full height with one brow raised in challenge. "They make you fight for their attentions, possibly even for years before they'll deign to give you the time of day – your mother led me a merry chase for five years before she even let me hold her hand." He shot her a warm look which completely bounced off of her, obviously still holding a grudge from the 'harpy' comment. "It's hard, because they're always beautiful, and all the other men will be after them, too, isn't that right, dear?"
Dorea sniffed haughtily. "Perhaps I should have married Abraxas if you find me such a bother."
Charlus ignored this, continuing on with his loud, slow words of questionable wisdom. "Of course, you'll barely notice the stress of it all in the end, because you'll have landed yourself a treasure beyond measure." He nodded firmly. "You do have to work past that other famous Potter curse, first, however."
He kept up his stance, but his eyes drifted to his wife, who clipped out; "and what would that be?"
"Why," he replied, a sparkle of mischief in his eyes, "the Potter foot-in-mouth curse, obviously."
Dorea let out a titter, and Charlus gathered her into his arms again. From against his neck, Hermione could just hear Dorea say, "if you ever refer to me as an inanimate object again, you're in the guest room for a week." Charlus wrinkled his nose but pressed a kiss to her crown in agreement.
James tapped one foot impatiently. "That doesn't actually help me at all," he frowned.
Charlus tweaked his chin. "You'll understand when the time comes. Now, are we all ready?"
Hermione tumbled out of the public floo onto the stone floor of the Leaky Cauldron, her arms and legs akimbo. She'd not used a floo since arriving in the past, and as such wasn't used to controlling her new body. She found herself looking up at a much younger Tom from her landing spot just to the left of the booths, who gawked down at her from behind the bar. "You alright, missy?"
"Quite well, thank-you," Hermione replied with an embarrassed smile. "It was my first time."
"Ah." He nodded sagely then, seeing that she was fine, moved on. Charlus appeared through the floo, followed closely by James and then Dorea. Hermione patted down her hair, checking that the bun Dorea had wrestled it into that morning was intact, and joined her family at the bar.
"Right, we'll go to Ollivander's first, I think," Dorea hummed, checking the list she held. "It'll be quiet around this time, so it'll be a quick-in, quick-out situation. Charlus, you and Hermione can then visit Flourish and Blotts – and Hermione, remember, three book limit; you, too, Charlus, you needn't spoil her -" Charlus stuck his tongue out at his wife and sent Hermione a conspiratorial wink. Since discovering her love of books he'd made a habit of bring one or two rare or new tomes home each time he returned from his travels, presenting them to Hermione with excitement. They'd then spend an evening in his study going over the themes of the book, and rip them to shreds. She'd learned more during these sessions than she ever had simply by reading a book, and had been amazed to find that sometimes – and this had shocked her to her core – the books could be wrong.
"- while James and I visit the apothecary."
"Mum," James hummed, his eyes wide and bright. "Can I get a new broom?"
Dorea fixed him with her soft grey eyes. "No, dear, I'm afraid not. First years aren't permitted brooms."
James shuffled his feet, his act still up. "What if I promise not to bring it to Hogwarts?"
"Well then you needn't have one at all." Dorea responded quickly. "What's wrong with the one you have at home?"
He shrugged languidly. "Nothing, really. I just thought, if Hermione is getting new books, then…"
Charlus smiled, nodding in understanding. "Yes, but, lad – you're getting a wand. Don't you think Hermione would rather have a wand than books?"
Hermione nodded her head violently, a pang in her chest as there always was when someone mentioned her wand. She knew she'd had one, but it was lost, and being without a wand was like having part of your soul ripped away. James, however, turned a calculating eye on her. "I'm not convinced. She loves books."
"I do love books," she responded quickly, the words tripping over one another in their haste to leave her mouth, "but I'd really, really rather have a wand. I'd give up most of my books for just a day with my wand." Then, rethinking that, she added: "well, maybe not most of my books, but definitely the ones I'd buy today."
"You see?" Charlus prodded. "Now, would you rather have a broomstick than a wand? Because if you would, we can just pop to the Quidditch shop and then mosey right on home. There's still time to retract your acceptance, isn't there, Dorea?"
"No!" James shouted, flinging his hands up as if to physically stop them from moving. "I'll get the wand! I don't need a broom, anyway. Not yet." He nodded. "Next year, though, I plan to be the best Chaser Hogwarts has ever seen!"
"That's a wonderful goal, James," Dorea smiled as she steered the rest of them out of the pub and down the street, heading unerringly for Ollivander's. "I'll tell you what. If you get good marks this year, and I don't get too many letters from teachers, then I'll buy you a new broom in time for school next year."
James considered this for a long moment. "How many letters are too many?" he asked.
Charlus smothered a laugh, his eyes twinkling with fatherly pride even as Dorea scoffed. "That you feel the need to clarify worries me, James," she said sternly, but she'd lost his attention now that they'd arrived at their destination.
Ollivander's loomed above them, its rickety sign swaying gently in the breeze. An unseen bell chimed lightly as they crossed the threshold, light filtering through to shimmer over the dust-covered shelves, lined with boxed upon boxes of hand-crafted wands. Ollivander was nowhere to be seen, but a rustling in the back called their attention.
"Garrick?" Charlus called, remaining by the door with Hermione, his arm slung lightly across her shoulders.
"Charlus?" A voice croaked, and a man loomed out of the gloom. His eyes, large and blue and unnervingly intelligent, grazed across the group to come to a stop on Hermione's father, his mouth splitting into a smile. "I was wondering when your young would come in. Is it that time already?"
"Indeed," Charlus replied. "James is due to start Hogwarts this year, and Hermione the year after."
"How exciting for you," his eyes slid back to rest on James. "Ah, the wands are always so peculiar with Potters. Come here, child." James shot his mother a nervous look and she pressed him forward with a smile. He sauntered closer, eyeing the older man warily. "Just some measurements, nothing to flinch from, boy," Ollivander told him, using his wand to direct a tape measure across his shoulders, his legs, his palms, his arms, around the top of his head and his hips, mapping each section of his body. Hermione leaned closer to watch, the procedure ringing bells in her head that she couldn't access. It was completely fascinating, the way the tape moved seemingly of its own accord, how Ollivander nodded and muttered under his breath as though the numbers meant something. His eyes would light up every now and again as though it was particularly informative that his wrists were four inches in circumference, or his chest was twenty-eight centimetres across.
Finally he stopped, the tape curling up on the floor, flicking its end contentedly. He stared at James for a moment with an expression of the utmost concentration, before he shot off into the stacks. Within seconds he was back, brandishing a thin, rectangular box. Placing it delicately on the counter and slipping off the lid, he made eye contact with James and motioned towards it.
"Vinewood, Unicorn hair core, 11 ¾ inches," Ollivander murmured as James stepped up to the counter and reached for the wand. The second he touched it, however, Ollivander was there, yanking it back. "I didn't think so, no, but it was worth a try…"
He slipped off again, James turning to give his family a wide-eyed look. Hermione smothered a giggle at his confusion. Ollivander was so very odd, really.
"Ah! Here we are," the man in question announced, pushing another wand at James. "Hawthorn, Phoenix Feather core, 10 inches, reasonably springy. Try that."
James frowned, curling his fingers around the carved handle. He managed to lift it, this time, staring at the wand like it was the strangest thing he'd ever seen in his life. "How does it feel?" Dorea asked, a glimmer of excitement in her eyes despite her ongoing depression.
The bell clattered behind Hermione and she spared the newcomer a passing glance. Two children of about her age, accompanied by a redheaded woman with awe splashed across perfectly formed features. She was a muggle, Hermione could tell from her clothes – she had her hair curled up around her face, a bright copper held in place by massive amounts of hairspray, and wore a maroon wool suit with heels. The girl she stood with had the same hair, a sweet face smattered with freckles, and an anticipatory grin.
The other child was different, though he rang a bell in her mind. Taller than her though not by much, he had sallow skin that denoted a terrible diet, wore fraying muggle clothes that hadn't been in style for twenty years, and the darkest eyes she'd ever seen on a person.
And then James was yelping in pain and her attention was drew back to him, causing her to laugh aloud. "Maybe not that one," Ollivander was saying, looking entirely serene, while James hopped up and down clutching his wrist, his face purple from holding back what she was sure would have been some impressive swear words. The handle's pattern had been burnt into his skin. "It's the phoenix feather. So very picky."
Dorea was holding back a smile as she held up James's hand to heal it. "I understand, Garrick, no harm done." She glanced up, taking in the newcomers with a welcoming smile. Hermione knew she'd given them the same assessment as Hermione had, because her smile quickly morphed into her 'I get to help the muggles!' smile she'd enjoyed deploying often in their conversations about pureblood culture and history. It wasn't that she meant to be condescending, only that it had been bred into her, and she didn't know any better. Certainly, a little condescension was better than genocidal tendencies.
Hermione wasn't sure where that last thought came from, but she kept hold of it for future reference.
"Hello, there!" Dorea beamed, striding over with her hand outstretched. "I'm Dorea Potter. What lovely children! Hogwarts First years?"
The woman shifted on her feet a little, her cheeks flushing as she gazed up at Dorea. She looked a little out of her element, which Hermione didn't blame her for at all – her mother was an intimidating woman at the best of times, and she'd turned all of that terrifying attention on her. "Rose Evans," she replied mildly, her shoulders straightening out as she prepared to stand her ground. Brave of her, it made Hermione more fond of the three of them. "Yes, my daughter Lily and her friend Severus will be attending H-Hogwarts-" she stumbled a little over the name but recovered quickly, "this year. We're here to buy their wands."
Dorea's smile got, if possible, even brighter. "Oh, wonderful! As are we – my son James is going to be in the same year." She turned her warmth on James, who was ignorant to the goings-on, now fiddling with a shorter yew wand. "Oh, excuse my rudeness; this is my husband Charlus and our daughter Hermione. She'll be joining them next year."
Lily flashed her a small smile, which Hermione returned. Severus simply let his dark eyes rest on her for a moment before they returned to her mother, completely expressionless. Hermione let out a little huff of offense. To dismiss her out of hand – how extremely rude.
"This is it, mum!" James shouted suddenly, as a rain of gold sparks began to fall from the ceiling. He danced excitedly around, grinning from ear to ear. Next to Hermione, Charlus clapped enthusiastically.
"Well done, son."
Ollivander nodded. "A very good wand. Mahogany, Unicorn tail core, 11 inches. Pliable. Excellent for transfiguration," he added on the end, as Dorea plucked coins from a pouch and laid them on the table.
"Thank you, Garrick," Charlus boomed. "Perfection as always."
"It was lovely to meet you," Dorea informed Rose as she deposited James's wand into her bag, expertly evading his attempts to pickpocket it back from her. "I'm sure we'll see you in September. Come along, James. Say thank-you to Mr. Ollivander."
"Thank-you Garrick!" James called cheekily, waving as he was swept from the store. Charlus chuckled, leading Hermione out. "Until the next time," he told his friend before the door swung shut behind them and Ollivander had moved on to the next customer.
"Books," he announced then, sharing a secret smile with Hermione as they joined the others. "To Flourish and Blotts!"
Diagon Alley, Flourish and Blotts
Hermione ran a finger down the spine of the book closest to her, a contented smile on her face. She was surrounded by the smell of ink and parchment, ensconced in the warmth of a place she knew so very well. Though she'd not visited this shop in this life, automatically upon entering she'd been transported to a world of familiarity. She could map it out, if pressed, though she'd prefer to explore it, given how it had changed between now and when she would first visit it.
Time was so very confusing.
Still, she was humming happily as she wandered the aisles. Charlus had found something else to occupy him upstairs, no doubt hunting down some rare tome or the other with Mister Flourish himself, leaving Hermione to manoeuvre the place alone – exactly as she liked it. The words and plots on these pages would occupy her long after James was gone; perhaps, if she found a good enough book, she'd not even notice the time passing.
Opening a volume of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them in order to trace the differences in her knowledge, she perched on a forgotten footstool and threw herself into Mr. Scamander's odd narrative.
She blinked, frowned, and tried to refocus on the page.
Swish, whoosh, scratch, scuff.
Biting her lip, she peered more intensely at the writing, but the odd sounds wouldn't stop. With a groan, she snapped the book shut and lurched to her feet, shoving aside books in the shelves until she had a clear view through to the other side.
"And just what do you think you're doing?" she snapped, stamping her foot in agitation. "This is a book shop, you know. Some of us are trying to read."
A boy peered back at her, grey eyes wide, shock read in them. She arched an eyebrow, trying to imitate the move her mother used to make the boys spill their secrets. "Well?"
"I'm sorry," he said, his voice lilting. He sounded very posh, like the people Hermione had grown up with in her other life, the one she could hardly remember and forgot more every-day. From London, but a higher class of Londoner. "I was just trying to reach a book." He pointed upwards, but his eyes stayed fixed on Hermione, like she was a particularly terrifying predator. Hermione huffed again, looking him over. He was only about her age, her height, very skinny with velvet black robes tailored to his tiny frame. He wore grey gloves adorned with tiny crests, neither of which she could read from her position, but proclaimed him as a pureblood as surely as did his hair and eyes.
She scrambled back down and smoothed off her own robes before staring at the stool and book she'd been reading. She'd liked to have gotten straight back to it, but he looked so lost, and anyway, he would no doubt just start that irritating noise again. Scooping it up, she marched around the shelves and dropped it at his feet. "There," she said, hands on her hips, lips pursed in another of the expressions she'd borrowed from her mother. "I should like it back when you're done."
He looked from her to the stool and then back again. "Thank… you?" he frowned now, but shook his head and dragged it over to the shelves. In no time at all he'd jumped up, grabbed his book and was back down again. Hermione nodded, smiled, and said goodbye before dragging the stool back to her spot.
Sitting down, she opened her book.
A shadow fell over her.
"Yes?" she asked in a clipped voice, looking up to see that the same boy was there again, now looking rather sheepish.
He thrust a hand out, his cheeks tinting pink. "Regulus Black," he blurted out, he couldn't stop himself.
Hermione eyed the hand, and then the offerer, with some trepidation. "Hermione Potter," she replied finally, placing her own gloved hand in his. He afforded her the smallest of smiles, his eyes warming infinitesimally.
"Thank you – for the book, I mean. Not… shaking my hand, though, obviously, thank you for that, too." He blushed even brighter, making Hermione fight back a smile.
"You're welcome. For both." There was a breath of silence, in which he shuffled on his feet, glancing up at her and away again. She grinned, settling her book in her lap, giving him her full attention. "Are you a first year this year?"
Shaking his head, he seemed to decide he wanted to stay, because he sat down on the floor in front of her, curling his legs beneath him. "No, that's my brother, Sirius. He's gone to get his wand with Mother." He waved an arm towards the entrance, covering up for how he seemed to shrink when he spoke about them. "You?"
"My brother, too." They both nodded, watching each other for a minute, half-warily, half with interest. Hermione knew she used to have friends, but in this new reality the only people she spoke to were her parents and James, and there was an awkward part of her that found conversation with a new person excruciating, despite her genuine interest in him and his life. He was sweet looking, and she felt like they could be friends, but he wasn't pushing for conversation any more than she was and so they just sort-of sat… staring.
"He's called James," she blurted out, then blushed a little herself when he blinked up at her owlishly. "My brother, I mean. He's so very excited for Hogwarts, he hasn't stopped talking about it for weeks. Dad got him a Gryffindor scarf for his birthday, which is a bit ridiculous, when you think about it, because we don't know that he'll be a Gryffindor." She stopped, panting a little from rushing the words out. He didn't seem to mind her babbling though; on the contrary, he was obviously listening closely, leaning in.
"He'll be a Gryffindor," Regulus said with confidence, more confidence than he'd shown so far. "Potters are always Gryffindors. Like us Blacks, we're always Slytherins." Then he shrunk a little again. "Of course, my brother wants to be a Gryffindor…"
Hermione huffed, flicking hair out of her face in exasperation. "Oh, so because I'm a Potter, I can't be cunning and ambitious, and because you're a Black you can't be brave and noble? Ridiculous. I thought they used a Sorting Hat, not a DNA test!"
He tipped his head to one side, brows crumpled in confusion. "What's a DNA test?"
She stopped, frowning. "Do you know, I'm not sure. It just came out." Batting at the air as if to ward the thought off, she continued; "Anyway, the point is, you should be able to be in whatever House your personality fits, not wherever your family wants you! What if I were a Hufflepuff at heart, but I was thrown into Gryffindor because I'm a Potter? They'd rip me to shreds!"
"Are you a Hufflepuff?" Regulus asked.
"Well, no. But you see my point."
"Not really," Regulus shot her a little smirk that jerked at her heart – he was nice-looking when he smirked, as though his features actually fit his face rather than looking out-of-place like they did when he was despondent, which had been his base expression the whole time they'd been talking. "I'm a Slytherin at heart, so I don't worry about it."
Hermione opened her mouth to reply but was beaten to it by a tall, slender woman with a severe face and thick black eyebrows. She marched into the aisle and grabbed Regulus by the sleeve without any real introduction. "Sitting on the floor?" She barked, aggression radiating off of her. "Disgraceful! Just you wait until I tell your father, young man! And who are you?!"
Manners overtaking indignance, Hermione hopped to her feet to perform a little curtsey. "Hermione Potter, ma'am."
The woman sneered down at her, the expression on that face ringing that familiar bell in Hermione's mind. She shook off the feeling, keeping her eyes on the danger. "A Potter?" She scoffed. "You're socialising with a Potter, Regulus?" She gave the boy a shake, his entire body rattling with the force of it. Hermione made a movement forward before she could stop herself, catching the woman's cool grey eyes. "Blood-traitor filth," she spat, saliva flecking Hermione's face with the violence of it. "You stay away from my sons, you understand? They don't need the likes of you."
One hand still clutching Regulus to her side, she turned around to sweep off, revealing another boy behind her skirts. This one, Regulus's double, had supressed fury written across his face, so fierce that when he looked at Hermione she flinched. "Sorry about her," he drawled, gesturing to his retreating mother with his thumb. "She's…" Smirking, he lifted his other hand to his head and twisted his finger at his temple.
"Sirius Orion Black!" His mother screeched from the front.
Sirius winked at her. "You see? Coming, mother!" he shouted, and loped off into the milling crowds, leaving Hermione alone in her corner, still clutching her book.
"Mental," she said to herself, watching the door swing open as the Black Matriarch ushered her progeny into the streets. "Absolutely mental."
"Hermione?" Charlus's voice sounded. She looked up to see him leaning over the bannister, his eyes on her, filled with concern. "Alright, love?"
Shooting him a sweet smile, she hurried around to meet him. "I'm fine. Have we got everything?"
He patted the packages he carried under one arm fondly. "Aye, we have. Did you find anything you wanted?"
She linked her arm through her father's, shaking her head. "Nothing new today. Have I ever told you how much I love you, papa?"
He sent her a pleasantly surprised look as they reached the street. "It's always nice to hear."
"Well, I do." She informed him, matter-of-factly. "I love you, and I'm so glad I'm not a Black."
"Don't let your mother hear you say that," he warned, but chuckled softly anyway, holding her tighter as they navigated the crowds.
A/N: Regulus is just... my favourite. I don't know if I'll ever be able to write a fic that doesn't include Reg.