The opening paragraph is taken from my favourite Harry Potter novel, the wonderful 'Prisoner of Azkaban'. AU and all my own work after that.
It was nine years ago that I began writing 'Knowledge is Power' and that story is now really showing its age. A couple of years back I tried to do a rewrite but it just didn't work for me. I write differently now and I wasn't happy with the rewrite so stopped, but the story still calls at me to do something about it. 'Proud Parents' will follow a similar theme, rather than being a rewrite, and you will see significant changes between the stories from the very first chapter - a fan fiction of a fan fiction...?
Chapter 1 - Meet the Parents
"Listen to me, Harry. It is too late, you understand me? You must see that Professor Snape's version of events is far more convincing than yours."
"He hates Sirius," Hermione said desperately. "All because of some "stupid trick Sirius played on him —"
"Sirius has not acted like an innocent man. The attack on the Fat Lady — entering Gryffindor Tower with a knife — without Pettigrew, alive or dead, we have no chance of overturning Sirius's sentence."
"But you believe us."
"Yes, I do," said Dumbledore quietly. "But I have no power to make other men see the truth, or to overrule the Minister of Magic. …"
Harry stared up into the grave face and felt as though the ground beneath him were falling sharply away. He had grown used to the idea that Dumbledore could solve anything. He had expected Dumbledore to pull some amazing solution out of the air. But no … their last hope was gone.
"What we need," said Dumbledore slowly, and his light blue eyes moved from Harry to Hermione, "is more time."
"But —" Hermione began. And then her eyes became very round. "OH!"
"Now, pay attention," said Dumbledore, speaking very low, and very clearly. "Sirius is locked in Professor Flitwick's office on the seventh floor. Thirteenth window from the right of the West Tower. If all goes well, you will be able to save more than one innocent life tonight. But remember this, both of you: you must not be seen. Miss Granger, you know the law — you know what is at stake. … You — must — not — be — seen."
Harry didn't have a clue what was going on. Dumbledore had turned on his heel and looked back as he reached the door. "I am going to lock you in. It is —" he consulted his watch, "five minutes to midnight. Miss Granger, three turns should do it. Good luck."
(Excerpt From Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
Thus had begun what was without doubt the strangest night of Harry Potter's life. With some of the weird shit he'd been involved in the last few years, that was really saying something. He and Hermione had managed to rescue Buckbeak, after traveling three hours back in time. Harry shook his head, even thinking about time travel hurt his brain. What was the point of knowing what was about to happen if you couldn't do anything to change it? Hermione was adamant though, they couldn't interfere with something they knew had already happened, and she was usually right about these kind of things.
His time travelling partner was currently in Hagrid's hut, staying out of sight while keeping an eye on a certain hippogriff. Harry had used the excuse of them needing to know what was going on, in order to organise and coordinate Sirius' rescue properly, to leave the hut and head for the lake.
He needed to know who had cast that patronus, especially if there was the slightest chance it could have been his father. Watching from behind a bush as the dementors overwhelmed Sirius, Hermione and the other him across the lake was hard to take. As a dementor lowered its hood in preparation of administering a soul sucking kiss to that version of himself, Harry thought this mystery caster was cutting it really fine.
Harry actually staggered back a few steps as it felt like something had snapped inside his head. A safe pair of arms were soon comforting him, though also urging her son to take action.
"You have to cast your patronus charm now, Harry. I know you can do it, you already have, I'm so proud of my boy."
That was a voice he knew well. His mother's physical contact and encouragement saw such a surge of positive energy coursing through his body, Harry was certain he would get it this time. Casting the charm resulting in a massive silver stag shooting across the lake and scattering dementors like they were no more than dry leaves in a strong wind.
Turning, Harry then returned the embrace of the one woman he truly and unconditionally loved. "I know it seems impossible but I thought I would meet my dad tonight. How is it possible for you to be here?"
They were interrupted by the sound of hooves, as Hermione appeared - dragging a reluctant Buckbeak behind her.
"What did you do? You were only supposed to keep a lookout..." Hermione's anger dried up, along with her words, as she took in the preposterous sight that greeted her.
"Hermione, I'd like you to meet my mum. Mum, this is one of my best friends, Hermione Granger. No, I don't know how this happened, Hermione, but I'm glad you're here to share it with me - and can hopefully convince me I'm not going mad."
"Hello Hermione. I know everything Harry knows about you dear, including you'll have dozens of questions running through your mind right now. I'll have to beg you to hold off asking them as we're very short of time - and using your time turner can't help us here. You both have about forty-five minutes to rescue Sirius and get back inside the infirmary. I have a lot less time than that, and so much to tell you."
Hermione's nod of acceptance saw Lily begin her explanation, though her arms remained wrapped around her son. "When Voldemort came to our cottage that night, he wasn't there to murder me or your dad. A prophecy foretold of a child being born with the power to defeat the Dark Lord. You are that child, Harry, and he didn't want you growing up to be a threat."
While running her fingers through her son's unruly black hair, Lily opened her other arm to Hermione. "Tie up Buckbeak and come over here. He needs his best friend too right now."
Hermione didn't need a second invitation. The rope she had been leading the hippogriff with was quickly wound around a branch of the bush and Hermione was soon hugging Harry for all she was worth. Only by being so close did she hear Harry's whispered question.
"Does Dumbledore know!"
Harry and Hermione then got to see the other side of the fiery redhead as only hugging both teens allowed Lily to contain her temper. It was close though.
"Yes that old bugger knew, and I wish I had time to call him out on it. Dumbledore is not your friend, Harry. He wants Voldemort defeated and will use anything or anyone to get the job done. Sending you two out here tonight was only his latest of a long list of escapades in stupidity I'd like to hit him for. He lied to you tonight, and then left children to deal with a problem of his making…"
Taking a deep breath, Lily offered some examples for her anti Dumbledore views. "I have no power to make other men see the truth, or to overrule the Minister of Magic. Remember he said that? Severus Snape escaped Azkaban purely on the word of Albus bloody Dumbledore, yet Sirius never even merited a trial. He wanted you placed with Petunia and knew Sirius would never stand for that, so he kept quiet. He also knew Voldemort wasn't really gone, and even bloody why, yet has done nothing about it. That old goat really makes my blood boil!"
Lily could see the questions piling up with both teens and knew she didn't have time to answer them all so cut straight to the chase. "Voldemort delved deep into the dark arts and discovered a procedure where he could split his soul, storing part of it in a container. All of those pieces would have to be traced and destroyed just to make him mortal again. The night he attacked you, your father and I had already undergone a ritual that saved your life, and should have ended Voldemort's. We didn't know about the horcruxes though, that's what you call a soul container. A part of his soul split off that night too and attached itself to the nearest host, my poor baby. Dumbledore knows this happened, yet his answer was to place you with that sister of mine in the hope living with my family would extend the protection on you. The old fool didn't know I was always with you, and you could have stayed anywhere. You are never going back to that…place."
From all the bad news he'd been hearing, here was something positive for Harry to latch onto - and he did. His mother was by no means finished however.
"The reason I'm able to be here with you tonight is I'm no longer needed to protect you, the ritual is finally complete. That dementor sucked out the part of Voldemort's soul that had attached itself to you, just before you chased them all away. I have always protected you from his influence and was able to help finally push him out tonight. What he left behind though were memories and knowledge, these will give you the knowledge needed to defeat him."
Looking into his mother's green eyes, Harry asked the question he already kinda knew the answer to. "Can I tell Dumbledore about this? I don't think I can do this on my own."
Moving his fringe, Lily kissed the rapidly disappearing lightning scar. She was about to reassure her son when Hermione beat her to it.
"You're not alone, Harry, and never will be."
It was a smiling Lily who spoke directly to the girl. "Hermione, Harry's had a very difficult life while living at Privet Drive. That sister of mine never showed him one scrap of kindness, far less any sort of love. If you want something to happen, you're going to have to be the instigator."
Having her suspicions confirmed saw Hermione give a thoughtful nod. Harry needed her, now more than ever, and Hermione was determined to let him know she wasn't going to be moved from his side. Her arms shifted from around him until she had her hands either side of his face. Turning him gently, Hermione gathered up all her courage and closed the gap between them to meet his lips with her own.
To say Harry was surprised would be an understatement, shocked didn't even begin to cover it. He was far from being an idiot though and did what came naturally when a pretty girl kissed you - Harry kissed Hermione back.
As their arms wound around each other, a delighted Lily couldn't have been happier. She didn't have any time to waste though. Her slight cough stopped the kiss, however both still clung to one another while trying to make sense of what just happened.
A bemused Harry uttered the first thing that came into his head. "What about Ron?"
An amused Hermione answered with a question of her own. "You'd rather be kissing Ron?"
"No, of course not. I just thought, you know, you and Ron?"
"The same Ron who argues with me all the time? That Ron? I would much rather be kissing you, but if you don't want me too…"
Harry ended that line of though by kissing any doubts Hermione had away.
It took a louder cough from Lily this time to get their attention back on her. "To answer your original question, that would be a no. Dumbledore certainly wants Voldemort dead, it's the almost nonchalant way he uses people to try and achieve his aim that worries me the most. Harry, we need a team of people around you to help with this task. It needs to be people you can trust implicitly though. Needless to say, your main supporter is right beside you. Your little elven friend would be a great addition too. He's desperate to help and would love nothing more than to be part of your family. It doesn't need saying that Sirius and Remus will have to be involved too. After tonight Remus will need a job, and Sirius a place to hide. Claim your head of house and you can easily do both."
The blank looks coming from both teens had Lily almost kicking herself. "Sorry, I forgot no one told you about that. Something you need to ask Remus about later. Raise your wand and repeat after me…"
One oath and flash of light later and Harry was wearing the ring signifying he was head of House Potter, much to the surprise of Hermione and the ring's new owner. Lily hated having to rush things like this but she could feel herself beginning to lose solidity, and was well aware her time here was growing shorter by the minute.
"Harry, you may have to leave Hogwarts…" That certainly got both their attention as Lily pushed on. "You're not learning what you need to here, and I'm beginning to think this is deliberate on Dumbledore's part. Just look at the two defence teachers you had before Remus, and don't even mention Severus!" The panic in Hermione's eyes at hearing this was clear for both Potters to see so Lily gave her a way she could leave too.
"Hermione, if you agree to be betrothed to Harry then you could leave with him. It gives you legal protection in the magical world while the only commitment demanded on your part is not to be with anyone else while betrothed to my son. Taking the ring off and returning it to Harry is all that's needed to end the betrothal, though you both know it could eventually lead to so much more."
They were clinging to each other once again as Hermione instantly reached her decision. "I said I wouldn't be parted from you, Harry, and I meant it. If this is what it takes then so be it. If you ask me I will say yes."
Lily's heart was breaking as she tried to hug both of them but couldn't, her arms passed right through them. This refocused both teens' attentions back on her. Harry was in floods of tears, and Hermione wasn't much better because of the pain her friend/boyfriend/betrothed was going through.
"Harry, I got to stay with my wonderful boy for many more years than we thought possible. This has to happen so don't cry, your father is waiting for me. Last bit of advice, before I need to leave. There's a special set of Potter betrothal rings that will not only let Hermione share the information Voldemort left in your head, they will protect you both from Dumbledore and Severus trying to read your thoughts. You will also see everything the other knows. You are both so young but have old souls, this is the best I can do for you, my wonderful son. Your father and I both love you so much, and never regretted our decision. Be the man we know you can be, and hold onto that girl at your side. Kiss him for me, Hermione…"
Those words had barely left Lily's now ghostly lips when the spirit of James Potter appeared at her side. Harry then got to hear his father speak, other than shouting at his mum to grab baby Harry and get away.
"Call for your little friend Dobby. He can get those rings for you tonight. You also have a god brother and god sister at Hogwarts, Nevile Longbottom and Luna Lovegood. Both are struggling in the castle so please try and help them too. Tell Sirius and Remus they better take care of my boy, or I'll set Lily on them. Great to meet you, Hermione, and love you always son." With that he took his wife's hand as they both faded away.
Hermione thought her arms wrapped around him were the only things holding Harry up as he sobbed into her chest. She slowly felt him gain control before he lifted his head and gazed into her eyes from mere inches away. Hermione was amazed to see a smile on his face until Harry spoke.
"I got to meet my mum and dad, Hermione - and they said they loved me. No one has ever said that to me before."
There was no holding back now, Hermione had to tell him. "I love you too, Harry."
Harry's grin widened. "I got to kiss you too, what a night. As my mum said, Privet Drive was not a good place for me. I'm not even sure what love is, but what I am sure of is that I don't want to learn about it with anyone but you. Hermione Granger, will you become my betrothed?"
Hermione's yes was somewhat garbled as they kissed again, before her practical side took over once more. "We have people to see, and a godfather to save. Call for Dobby."
The little elf appeared, quivering in anticipation. "Dobby has been listening, just in case his friend Harry Potter be needing Dobby. Nothing would make Dobby happier than being Harry Potter's elf."
"What do I need to do…" Harry had a tearful elf wrapped around him before feeling their magic interact.
A smiling Hermione could only shake her head. "It would appear Dobby wasn't taking any chances of you changing your mind. Dobby, can you go to Gringotts…"
Harry actually cut her off there. "Dobby, we need those rings but we also need Gringotts to keep the change in our status quiet. We only have a week of school left and want to get through it without anyone knowing things have changed."
As Dobby popped away, Harry untied Buckbeak. He noticed a change in Hermione and didn't think it was because of her fear of flying. "Hermione, I intend to tell the entire world you are my girlfriend. I think we should keep other matters to ourselves, especially that we're even considering leaving Hogwarts. I also don't want Dumbledore looking at my summer arrangements, arrangements we've yet to make."
Climbing onto Buckbeak's back, Harry held his hand out for Hermione to join him. She took his hand without hesitation and was soon cuddling into his back.
"Harry, what do we do about Ron?"
"Anything we tell him, Dumbledore will soon know about. He will either pull it from Ron's thoughts or Molly will have it out of him two minutes after he returns to the Burrow. We both know Molly thinks Dumbledore farts rainbows so would instantly be flooing the old man with anything she learned. I know we have to make plans, but that's as far as my planning has gotten."
"If we leave Hogwarts, I got the distinct feeling your dad wanted us to take Neville and Luna with us."
"We know Neville, and that Snape and his Slytherins bully him mercilessly, but I've never heard of this Luna."
"She's the year below us, in Ravenclaw, and rather strange…" Hermione was surprised they were now actually outside the right window. Holding onto Harry and chatting had her almost forgetting they were sitting on a creature that could fly - and currently seven stories up.
Sirius was sure he'd been in worse situations than this, he just couldn't remember any of them at the moment. He had a broken wooden leg in his hand, all that was left of the chair he'd tried to smash the window with. The window though had powerful charms protecting it, charms that proved to be a lot stronger than the now wrecked chair. Jumping to your death from whatever height they were holding him at was certainly a lot more preferable than sitting here waiting on a dementor to finish you off. Sirius Black's last kiss should be with a beautiful woman, not some tall, dark and ugly Azkaban guard.
He was debating with himself whether it would be better to attack whoever opened the door with the chair leg, or turn into Padfoot and try to bite the bastards. He was picturing sticking that broken chair leg up Dumbledore's crooked nose when the window shimmered with magic before opening.
Sirius was thinking those dementors had really done a number on him, otherwise he would have to believe his godson and his godson's friend were hovering outside his window on a hippogriff. Harry's "Hippogriff for Black" soon brought him back to reality. The Marauder was immensely proud that he was still able to joke at a time like this.
"Why a hippogriff, Harry? Didn't you like the Firebolt I got you?"
Hermione had to release her death grip on Harry to cast the charms that opened the window, and this also saw her vertigo return with a vengeance. "Sirius Black, get your arse on this hippogriff now! We're on a tight schedule here."
Grinning like a madman, Sirius squeezed himself out the window before leaping from the ledge and landing squarely behind Hermione. Her squeal of alarm had Harry joking too.
"Hey godfather, find your own girl. That's my betrothed."
Hermione had the window closed and charmed locked again before she could once more hold onto Harry the way she needed to. Sirius was laughing like a maniac behind her but she wasn't letting go of Harry to hit the fool with a silencing charm. "You are both nuts. Harry, if you ever want me to kiss you again, get my feet back on soil ground as quickly as possible"
This stopped Sirius laughing, though not shouting questions. "Kissing? Betrothed? What did I miss?"
It was Harry's turn to laugh as he answered his godfather. "Quite a lot, Sirius, quite a lot. Because of some prophecy, I've got to face Voldemort - and my mum says you and Professor Lupin are to train us. My dad said if you don't look after me, he'll set mum on both of you."
Hearing that left Sirius lost for words as Buckbeak landed on top of the astronomy tower. Hermione shot off the hippogriff's back and pulled Harry off too. He wasn't complaining though as Hermione was thanking him for her no longer being in mid air with only a hippogriff between her and certain death.
The couple were quickly interrupted by Sirius. "I really need to know what's going on here…"
Calling for Dobby, Harry asked his little friend a quick question. "Dobby, would you be able to find Sirius if we needed you to?"
"He is our family, Dobby will always be able to find our family."
That certainly helped Harry make a decision. "Sirius, you need to leave and go into hiding. Trust only the people you see here, and Lupin. After we talk to Professor Lupin tomorrow we will have more of an idea of what we're doing next. We'll send word with Dobby. Avoid everyone else, even Dumbledore. My mum thought he was playing his own game here, and he didn't have any of our best interests at heart. We'll contact you tomorrow, day after at latest."
Diving off Buckbeak, Sirius pulled both of them into a needy hug. "Harry, I was there that night, after your parents were murdered. Hagrid already had you in his arms, and was under orders from Dumbledore to take you somewhere. You're my godson and my heir, and I let you down that night. I won't let you down again."
Needing to get Sirius on his way, Hermione thought a little humour might be the best way to break up this touching moment. "Harry, dear, you forgot to tell your godfather he needs to find somewhere he can hide and have a wash too."
It was a laughing Sirius who climbed back onto the hippogriff. "Oh I like her, Harry, I'm certainly leaving you in better hands this time. I'll be good doggie and wait on you contacting me."
"Dobby could bring Harry Potter's godfather food, and some clean clothes."
All three looked at the little elf before Harry made his night. "Dobby, that's a wonderful idea. Sirius - go already, and call for Dobby when you're somewhere safe."
Watching as Buckbeak carried Sirius into the night, Harry felt Dobby pulling his trouser leg. The elf then handed over an elaborately carved ring box that focused both teens' attention.
Opening the box, Harry showed the contents to Hermione. "You ready for this?"
A wide smile and a nod of consent was more than enough for Harry. He removed the smaller of the rings and slipped it onto the appropriate finger on Hermione's left hand as she said the required oath. "While I wear this ring, I will consider no other."
Picking the remaining ring out of the box, she repeated the process with Harry. As Harry said the required oath, a spark of magic jumped between both rings. It was such a headrush that the teens had to cling to each other until the magic settled.
Harry could feel Hermione's presence, it wasn't only her arms that were surrounding him with love, and it felt wonderful. Kissing was even better as their emotions appeared to bleed over into the other partner. They were again interrupted by a cough, though this time by a nervous Dobby.
"Dobby is thinking both of you have forgotten time?"
A quick glance at her watch confirmed for Hermione that Dobby was right. "Look at the time. we've no chance of making it back to the infirmary before Dumbledore locks that door."
Holding out Harry's Firebolt, Dobby was once more using his initiative. "Dobby was also thinking you didn't need to enter by the door."
"Dobby, you're the best."
"Harry, will you be able to find the right window?"
"Hermione, I've lain and stared out that window so often I could find it with my eyes closed."
"Not with me on the broom you won't"
Climbing on behind her newly betrothed, Hermione found Harry's love of flying swamping her own terror of the activity. When he pushed off, she just cuddled into his back and tried to enjoy the ride.
Albus stood outside the hospital door for as long as he dared, waiting to let the time travellers back in. When he could delay no longer, Albus reluctantly sealed the door. As the headmaster walked toward the room Sirius was currently being held in, his thoughts were all about what could have happened to the two teens.
Running through his head were the worse case scenarios that could see tonight ending very badly. They could have been seen and set off a paradox, kissed by dementors or bitten by a werewolf. Albus knew it was a risk sending them out there but he really couldn't just sit back and do nothing. The portraits reported that Sybill had made another prophecy, to Harry of all people. Albus needed the lad to trust him above all others. The look of devastation on Harry's face at the mere thought the great Albus Dumbledore couldn't help his godfather forced his hand. He was now regretting that decision.
Approaching the door behind which Sirius waited for death, Albus also couldn't help but examine the motives of the motley crew who were waiting there for his arrival. Walden Macnair couldn't contain his excitement, his eyes were sparkling with anticipation. He may have missed out on murdering an innocent hippogriff tonight but this would more than make up for it for the Ministry's executioner. Albus thought Macnair was as dark as the creature who stood beside him, waiting to administer its deadly kiss to Black.
The Minister's motives were almost innocuous - certainly not personal. Sirius Black was a problem Cornelius wanted to go away. While those motives might not be personal, a dementor would ensure Sirius never bothered anyone again.
Albus could see that for Severus, this was intensely personal. His clearly expressed anticipation was radiating off the potions Professor like some inner glow. It was disturbing for Albus to see someone he trusted so eager to witness the demise of another wizard. Severus was standing, wand ready, poised as if to get one more curse off at his enemy before the dementor did its job.
Even Cornelius noticed Severus' disturbing disposition with some alarm. Here was a wizard the Ministry was hoping to portray as the hero of tonight's fiasco acting more like a pantomime villain. That suggested Order of Merlin was looking more doubtful by the minute. As Albus opened the door, that Order of Merlin went out the window quicker than Sirius had.
Severus dived right into the room, a curse already on his lips. When it became obvious Sirius was no longer there, his scream of frustration rang throughout Hogwarts. It was soon followed by Snape screaming out the name of the person who he was positive had personally denied him his vengeance tonight. "POTTER!"
As the infirmary window was already open it was a piece of cake for Harry to get them there mere seconds after Dumbledore had locked the door. Their feet had barely touched the floor when Dobby appeared to take Harry's Firebolt away. Those actions proved to be not a moment too soon as Madam Pomfrey bustled in to reclaim ownership of her domain.
"Right, now that they have gone, I can get on with my job. Potter, Granger, get up on those beds so I can carry out the scans that should have been done when you first came around."
Even if they had wanted to argue, it would have been physically impossible for the teens. While she had been remonstrating with them, Madam Pomfrey had broken large chunks off what looked like a boulder of chocolate and practically force fed those chunks to the young couple's mouths. All three heads were raised though at the scream reverberating around the castle. As that scream became a cry of "POTTER!", both Harry and Hermione were left wearing wide chocolate smiles.