(A/N: I started writing this over ten years ago, back before we knew much about magical schools outside of Europe or the American magical government. I hope that by posting what I do have, several chapters worth going to the second task of the tri-wizard, I'll get my inspiration back to finish it. As always thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy.)
Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Harry Potter. But I do own all the mistakes, those are purely mine.
Chapter 1: A New Start
"Damn it, James. This isn't right and you know it!" Sirius shouted at his friend.
Both men would have loved to enjoy the giant celebration that had started days ago with the defeat of the Dark Lord at the hands of Daniel Potter, one of James' sons. Instead, they huddled in the lounge at Potter manor. A bottle of fire whisky sat untouched between them.
James ran a hand through his hair. "Of course, it isn't. You think I don't know that? But what else can we do? Whatever happened damaged Harry's core. By Christmas he'll be a squib."
"So, you're just going to throw him away."
"Of course not! But Lily has seen the jealousy between siblings when one can use magic and the other can't. We can't do that to Harry. It's better that he grows up as a muggle, never knowing of magic. Never to know what he lost." James wouldn't admit it but he was also worried he'd come to loath Harry, not because he had no magic but because Harry would be a constant reminder that he'd failed as a husband, and father, to protect his family.
"That's bull! You don't even know for sure yet that Harry will be a squib!"
"The healers and Dumbledore said-" James began.
"The healers admitted they weren't sure what happened or was going to happen and Dumbledore isn't a healer." Sirius shot back.
"What would you have us do Sirius? Keep Harry so he can grow up unhappy and resentful that in a magical household where he can't do anything. Watch the disappointment when he doesn't get a letter to Hogwarts?" James asked.
"Damn it," Sirius jumped to his feet. The whole thing left a bad taste in his mouth. The only way James and Lily could act more like his parents was if they tried to kill off Harry when his magic was gone. "If you're so set on getting rid of him then give him to me! I'm his godfather, it's my responsibility to watch after him if you and Lily can't, or don't want to."
"You, raise Harry?" James said in disbelief. Sure, he thought Sirius was a great guy but he wasn't sure if he'd trust him with a pet rock.
"Why not, you clearly don't care about him."
James had his wand trained on Sirius and snarled. "Don't you ever say that!"
"You're giving him to strangers, who we all know hate Lily." Sirius drove the nail home.
"Fine, I'll talk to Lilly when she gets home." James finally agreed.
Lily took a deep breath and knocked on the door of the painfully boring house. Really it fit her sister. Inside she could hear a child wailing. The door cracked open. "Yes? You! Begone, leave me alone!"
"Just a minute. I need to ask you a favor." Lily stuck her foot in the door to prevent her sister from closing it. She'd charmed her shoe just to make sure Petunia wouldn't crush her toes.
"A favor? Ha! Freak of a husband kick you out? I told you he was no good. Well, you'll get no help from me." Petunia kicked Lily's foot out of the way and slammed the door.
Lily appeared in the living room next to Petunia. Was it rude to apparate into another house uninvited? yes. Did she care? Not at the moment.
Petunias screamed in shock; the fat child's laughter made it worth it. She was not in the mood to deal with her sister's normal attitude, actually she never was. "As I was saying James and I are fine. That mad man trying to kill us is gone. However, our eldest son, Harry, isn't a wizard. He has no magic and I've seen what magic can do to siblings. I can't stand for that to happen to him. I, we, were hoping you and your husband would take him in. Harry is as normal as either of you."
"Oh, Poor silly Lily." Petunia spat. "Blessed with a normal child instead of a freak and she wants to give him away. And you call yourself a mother."
"At least Harry is healthy, your child looks like an over inflate beachball. I've seen giants his age that were smaller." Lily knew this had been a mistake when Dumbledore had suggested it. She agreed Harry couldn't stay with them but the headmaster had to be insane to think the Dursleys were suitable guardians.
With a loud pop Lily left, maybe James would have another idea.
When James told her about Sirius, she almost hexed him. Sirius might be a good friend but he had no business raising a child. Still, they didn't have many options. Dumbledore suggested an orphanage in the muggle world. Unfortunately, Sirius had been in the room at the time and actually throw the headmaster into the floo. Then spent an hour berating them for even considering it. Finally, they relented and agreed to pass guardianship of Harry to him.
Dumbledore was not pleased. He knew that Voldemort wasn't gone, after his body had been destroyed, they had a reprieve and nothing more. With a little luck the peace would last until Daniel was old enough to finish him for good. But to do that Daniel needed the full focus of his parents. Harry becoming a squib was fortunate, sad but fortunate. It was the perfect reason to push the child into the muggle world and forget about him.
He had tried to convince them that Lily's sister or an orphanage would be best, somewhere without a strong connection to them. Petunia would have made sure the Potters had no contact with Harry after he was given to them.
But no, Sirius just had to act like an adult for the first time in his life. While he would have preferred Sirius focus his attention on Daniel as well, it was the fact that through Sirius the Potters could remain connected to Harry that worried him.
Perhaps, perhaps he could fix that in a few years if it came down to it. Loath through he was to sacrifice anymore innocents.
The small apartment above the Scared for Life tattoo parlor was hardly what anyone could or would call lavish. In its single bedroom Sirius woke up. Laying on the bed next to him was little Harry, curled around the stuffed grim Sirius had gotten him just after he had been born.
The night before Lilly and James had finished the paperwork and turned Harry over to him. They'd packed most of his things including his crib but Sirius hadn't bother to put it together. Seemed a waste when he planned to move soon.
Britain wasn't kind to squibs; he'd look for a place where Harry wouldn't be looked down upon. Just because he planned to live as a muggle, mostly, didn't mean he wouldn't teach Harry about his heritage. Of course, they had to speak English too, which narrowed down his choices a lot. That would also give James and Lily some time to come to their senses.
A growl escaped Sirius's lips as he remembered the night before, they'd invited him over for Christmas, but asked that he not bring Harry. That it would be too painful.
After checking to make sure Harry was still asleep Sirius opened the hidden safe under his bed. He'd known years before his mother had disowned him that he wasn't going to be allowed to stay in the Black family. So, he'd begun to squirl away valuable things, gems, silver, gold, his mother's ventage collection of play wizard. Anything that could be sold for a good deal.
He'd take the money, which he figured would be a hefty amount, the Blacks only had the best after all, and find a new home for himself and Harry. As he pulled out the ventage collection of play wizard he laughed as he remembered how his mother had blamed Bella for their theft.
To say that the Potters were shocked when they learned Sirius had skipped the country with Harry would be an understatement. Dumbledore could hardly have been happier and convinced them and Remus it was the right then to do. They couldn't argue with that as they all knew how poorly squibs were treated. It was one reason they wanted Harry to live as a muggle. But if Sirius was determined to let him know of magic than another country where he wouldn't be at such a disadvantage was a reasonable solution.
Every few months Sirius would write to them to see if they had changed their minds. Their answer was always the same. Over the years it became easier for them as they were wrapped up in caring for Daniel and managing everything that came with being the Boy-Who-Lived.
The money from selling the liberated Black family items was more than Sirius had expected. With it he'd found a moderate home in a quiet little town on the north west coast of America. Quiet that is except for his motorbike.
A year after they had moved in Sirius and Harry were out back playing in the snow. A set of wards allowed Sirius to fly a broom low to the ground around the yard. A squealing Harry positioned in front of him. There had been more than enough money left over after the house to let Sirius play the stay-at-home father. Something he found that he loved. Harry was curious and a quick learner, a perfect little child. At least according to several of the parenting books he had purchased. Those same books also proved the James and Lilly had played a prank on him with several of their rules for children, most notable not to feed a child after midnight.
Harry also seemed to have skipped the terrible twos, or Sirius was so used to trouble as a marauder that he just hadn't noticed. Either way Sirius couldn't have been prouder of the small boy bundled up in an orange jacket, so Sirius didn't need to worry about losing him in the snow, again.
After their seventh lap around the yard Sirius set the broom down to Harry's immense disappointment. "One sec, I just need to repair these gloves. My fingers are about to freeze off."
Sirius stepped inside and grabbed his wand from the counter, a quick mending charm set them right for the time being. As he turned to go back outside, he saw Harry squatting on the broom, a look of concentration on his face. Sirius sighed, it wouldn't do any good, without magic a broom just wouldn't work. They were designed to need a source of magic incase a muggle ever got ahold of a magic broom, or a flying carpet, or washtub.
Suddenly the broom rose with Harry on it, it surged forward a few feet before crashing into a snow drift along the fence. Sirius ran outside to find a giggling Harry half buried in the snow.
A trip to St. Bishop's and an exam confirmed that Harry had a magical core and wasn't a squib.
That night Sirius was half way through a letter to James and Lily telling them the good news when he stopped. Would they want Harry back now? They'd already abandoned him once. Sirius spent a long night watching Harry sleep before he tore up the letter. He'd let them make the first move, or Harry when he was old enough to ask.
One day Harry came home from kindergarten and finally asked a question that Sirius had been dreading. "Do I have a mommy?"
How to begin to explain things to him. Of course, Harry knew of magic. Sirius had used a simple charm to make sure he wouldn't reveal it though, and if the charm slipped up every now and then, well people didn't pay much attention to kids anyways.
Finally, Sirius decided to just get it over with. He explained to Harry about his parents, softening the blow of being abandoned as best he could. Harry grew more confused as Sirius talked. "But I am a wizard. You said so."
"Yes, you are, but James and Lily thought you weren't. If, if you wanted, we could write a letter to them and let them know." Sirius offered.
"Would they want me back then?" Harry asked.
"I don't know, probably."
"No, you're my dad and I'm staying here." To prove his point Harry attached his little arms around Sirius's neck.
The following year Sirius learned that his mother had passed away. Drowned in the bathtub, he didn't inquire further. He and Harry took a short vacation to England to let Sirius deal with the business of taking over the Black family. He promptly kicked out Bellatrix and Narcissa while inviting his other cousin Andromeda and her family back in.
While they were in England Sirius used the opportunity to show Harry around London and Diagon Alley. Unfortunately, because Harry looked just like Daniel they had to go in disguise. Harry was amazed when Sirius showed him the potions that would change his hair color, he had all but demanded the potion that would turn his hair blue for twenty-four hours. Sirius suspected it had something to do with Harry's new favorite cousin Nymphadora.
Raising a child provided challenges that Sirius had never even considered and question he had never asked.
A seven-year-old Harry stood over the toilet looking in. "How come on windy days the water gets lower?"
"I have no idea, Harry." Sirius said shaking his head at the things Harry asked, and also wondered if he needed someone to check their plumping.
Albus Dumbledore smiled as he returned to Hogwarts, he had spent a good portion of the summer assisting with young Daniel Potter's training. The boy was no prodigy but he was a hard worker and had made good progress. He was a bit disappointed that Lilly had insisted he attend a muggle school until he went to Hogwarts but thankfully, he barely needed to devote any time to his muggle education to receive passing marks.
He had just passed a second-floor corridor when a most peculiar noise reached his ears, wood being scrapped across a stone floor. Albus backtracked and found his divination professor attempting to drag a large wooden crat down the hall. the words 'Cooking Sherry' were printed on the side. "Good afternoon, Sybill."
She jumped and spun around. "Albus? What, what are you doing back so soon? I had thought you'd be gone until tomorrow." She attempted to use her shawl to cover the crat.
"No, I was to return today." Dumbledore said with amusement. Sybill liked to think no one knew of her little, hobby. "My that is quite a bit of cooking sherry you have there."
"Eh, um… yes, yes, it is. I've, taken up cooking this summer! The house elves do what they can but I feel my inner eye needs a, better diet. So, I will be cooking some of my own meals this year."
"What a wonderful idea. Would you like any assistance bringing your, ingredients, to your room?" Albus offered.
"No, I…" Sybill's face froze mid-sentence, it was not a pretty sight. One eye was almost closed behind her thick glasses and her tongue stuck out to the side.
"My dear are you-"
"Twins separated in deceit. Raised by white and black, raised in dark and light. One cast out and one raised up, shall hold their fate. Twins separated in deceit." Sybill's voice trailed off.
Dumbledore hurried to his office ignoring Sybill's confused calls for him. The first twins that came to mind were the Potter children. Raised by white and black supported his reasoning. His own name, Albus, meant white. Black was clearly Sirius.
Raised in light and dark worried him. Daniel was raised in light; of that he had no doubt. But dark? Harry was a squib; how dark could his childhood be. Then again Sirius was a Black and knew a great deal of dark magic. Now that he was lord Black the family's magic was behind him.
His mind turned back to his attempts to convince Sirius to turn over his family library, or at least allow him to check through it and remove the darkest books. It was infuriating that Sirius had refused and then sealed Black manor.
The line about deceit suddenly took a chilling turn. Had Sirius lied when he said that he didn't care the Harry was a squib? How far would he go to see that Harry could use magic. Certainly, there were dark rituals that supposedly gave such results. But only the worst families had ever gone that far and even then, there were no confirmed successes. The Black family would certainly be on the list of those that would have knowledge of such things.
A squib Harry was not a concern. A magical Harry fueled by dark magic was a great concern. The line about 'their fate' was also of concern because it did not state the fate of whom. Of Daniel and Harry? Of the world? Daniel's destiny was not yet complete. He still had to permanently defeat Voldemort. He couldn't afford any distraction from his brother.
Perhaps it was time to try and get the Potters to reclaim their wayward son.
Sybill chuckled as she finished dragging her cooking sherry up to her tower. She was proud of her little performance; it took months of practice to get it just right and several more to prepare a number of fake prophecies to distract Dumbledore should the need ever arise.
She knew he would become consumed with unraveling it, and it would pay back those Weasley twins for replacing all her crystal balls with bowling balls, ah as if that had never been done before. After all they were the only twins at Hogwarts.
Harry returned home from school and found his father sitting at the kitchen table, a letter clasped in his hands. "Something wrong dad?"
"The Potters sent a letter; they say their sorry and that they were wrong to try and separate you from your family. They want us to come back for a visit." Sirius said. Personally, he didn't want to go anywhere near Great Britain but he had promised that the choice would always be up to Harry.
"What do you think?" Harry asked him.
"Well, you could meet your parents and brother. We could stay there and you could go to Hogwarts. If you wanted even live with-"
Harry grabbed the letter and ripped it up. "You're my dad. They gave that up."
"Are you sure?" Sirius asked.
"Definitely." Harry said. While having a mother and brother sounded fun, he was sure Sirius would find someone someday, then he could get a new brother. Or maybe a sister. His dad did seem to have a crush on the woman, Violet.
Dumbledore sighed in frustration. In less than a week the students would arrive for the new school year. This was the year that Daniel Potter finally arrived. Yet they had not managed to bring Sirius and Harry back. As far as the headmaster was concerned this was more confirmation that something was wrong. And then, just days ago, one of his contacts had forwarded him the list of students to attend Wandwood, an American magical school, listed among the students was a Harry Black.
There was no way a squib would be accepted to a magical school, and he himself had diagnosed Harry. His magical core was collapsing, there was no alternative for him but to become a squib. To better understand how Sirius may have restored Harry's magic Dumbledore had done an investigation into the rituals that were supposed to accomplish the gifting of magic to a squib. They were all of the darkest type, requiring sacrifices that twisted the caster and the one receiving the magic.
He had no choice but to classify Sirius and Harry as possible Dark Lords, something that he could not afforded. But they would need to wait, Voldemort was the immediate concern. With a bit of luck this year they would have the opportunity to delay his return by another decade or more.
Then he could focus on the problem of Harry and Sirius, though his options were limited. When he had tried to make inroads with the Tonks, they had withdrawn their daughter and left. He had yet to track them back down.
Harry walked toward the Deans office; he'd only been back from Christmas break for an hour before he'd received the summons. He couldn't think of what he had done to earn her irritation already, unless she'd finally found a way to pin those enchanted ribbons on him.
He knocked and was ushered into the Deans office. The Dean was a stern woman with graying hair and always wore purple dress robes. "You arrived quicker than I had expected. I would like you to act as a student mentor for a new transfer."
Sitting in front of the Deans desk was the new student, she turned to face Harry and froze. Before he could react, she had stood and slapped him. "You!"
Harry staggered back confused, sure most of his dad's stories ended like this but Harry hadn't thought girls actually acted like that. The girl with wild bushy hair raised her hand for another strike before she was frozen in place by the Dean. "Miss Granger! You will halt this attack against Mr. Black this instant!
"Black?" The girl asked weakly as she was released.
"Harry Black, I think you dislocated my jaw." Harry said as he worked his jar a few times.
"I'm so sorry! I thought you were, I mean to look just like, I'm really sorry I didn't mean to hurt you." The girl began to babble.
"If that's your idea of not hurting someone I don't want to meet you when you're angry." Harry said, Sirius wasn't going to let him live this down. Then again, he might be proud Harry had broken his record for getting slapped, he'd always seemed proud of thirty seconds. And Harry had cut it in half at least.
The Dean cleared her throat. "I will ignore this incident considering the circumstances that brought you here Miss Granger, but I will not do so again. As you are now aware this is Mr. Black, he will provide you with the information you need, locations of the buildings, where classes meet, other useful things. Mr. Black when you are finished with the tour, please show Miss Granger to the oak building so she may take her placement tests."
"Placement tests?" The girl asked.
"Yes, unfortunately we have found students transferring from Hogwarts are normally behind what is deemed acceptable. Considering the short time, you actually attended I doubt you will be very far behind, if at all. Still, it is a requirement that all transfer students take these tests." The Dean explained.
"Of course." The girl said, she seemed almost excited and Harry had no idea why.
"Very well, you have your packet?" She continued after the girl nodded. "Both of you be on your way and welcome to Wandwood."
When they left the office, the girl stopped and turned to face Harry. "I really am sorry about slapping you."
"Don't worry about it, seems like a waste though, getting slapped without doing something first. But oh well." Harry said to try and put the tense girl at ease.
"Eh, yes. Well, I am Hermione Granger, it's a pleasure to meet you Mr. Black." Hermione said formally.
"Harry is fine, don't want to get confused with my dad. Come on." As they walked Harry explained all of the buildings were named after types of wood used in wands. As the school had an abundance of wand trees. When they reached the main doors of the building Harry saw that it had begun to rain again. The cold slushy rain that threatened to turn into wet snow at any moment. "Don't suppose you know the warming charm, do you?"
"No." Hermione shook her head.
"Alright, hold still." Harry cast the charm on her. "You'll pick that up fast, along with the drying charm and umbrella charm."
Harry cast the umbrella charm and an invisible shield formed over him keeping the rain away. He held his wand up like an umbrella handle to maintain the charm. "Come on."
Hermione complied and stepped under the charm, as the damp wind and rain swirled around them, she was glad for the warming charm.
While Harry hadn't noticed it inside, as they walked, he realized Hermione had a limp. He adjusted his stride so he wasn't rushing her and began to point out the buildings she would need to know, some of which were half hidden among the large trees.
Wandwood amazed Hermione, while Hogwarts was inside a giant castle Wandwood was made up of dozens of buildings spread among the trees. Stone pathways curved among the buildings and trees; small creeks crisscrossed the paths. It was what she had always imagined a university would be like. As they walked, they passed other students strolling through the rain, some used the charm like Harry, others had actual umbrellas. But on more than one occasion she had to remind herself while they looked alike, Harry wasn't Potter. When that began to not help, she decided to distract herself with questions. "What about exams?"
Harry stopped. "Exams?"
"Yes, at Hogwarts they mentioned O.W.L's and N.E.W.T's." Hermione said.
"Well, each teacher gives their own tests. Besides those at the end of first, second, fourth and sixth year are B.A.T's. Basic Aptitude Tests. End of third year we have T.O.A.D's, Traditional Organization and Assessment of Development. Fifth is O.W.L's and seventh is N.W.E.T's. Are you alright?" The look of excitement on Hermione's face was disturbing.
"Just excited." Hermione admitted as she schooled her features, reprimanding herself for acting weird again.
"Well to each their own I suppose. But I think you'll be in the minority of actually looking forward to tests." Harry said as they continued on.
Hermione was excited to learn the school offered more electives than Hogwarts including a basic wand crafting class after a student had taken their O.W.L.s. Though most students started much earlier and made their own wands to use on the exam. Harry also showed her the dorm buildings. Unlike Hogwarts where there were four houses, at Wandwood there were a dozen 'dens' each named after a type of the original dozen wand woods from England.
Each den occupied its own building along the eastern side of the school, hidden in the thick forest. Hermione was less than thrilled when she learned that Harry and she shared the same den, Ash. Yes, he seemed perfectly nice but he looked exactly like Potter. Honestly Hermione wasn't sure how she'd be able to handle seeing him every day.
They ended at the Oak building, by then Hermione was aware that whoever had started the school had taken things a bit far with tree names. It seemed every building was named after a type of tree. They tested in the Oak building; they ate in the Apple building. She shook her head. Hermione knew she needed to focus. She would do well with the placement tests and show everyone they were wrong about her.
"Thank you for showing me around, Harry." To her surprise calling him Harry did seem to help her separate him from Potter, if only a little.
"No problem. Word of advice though, don't greet any of the teachers by slapping them." Harry said with a grin before he left the building.
Hermione stretched as she finished the last placement test. They had been different than what she had expected. Instead of a few pages worth of questions she'd been handed a large booklet and instructed to answer as many as she could in the time limit. Blank answers would not affect her score but wrong answers would. She had managed several pages in the first booklet before she came to a question, she was disappointed to discover she lacked the answer to. Though as she scanned further in, she found more she did know.
First was charms, then transfiguration, potions, herbology and defense. Since she had had little to do over the last two months but study, she also felt she had done well on the history exam, though she knew quite a bit less about American history than she would like, magical or otherwise. However, she was surprised and horrified to learn runes was also a core class and she'd barely known two pages of answers.
It was on that low note she left the testing room, to find Harry waiting in the hall. "How did it go?"
Hermione glared at him. She wasn't in the mood to deal with a Potter look alike. "Not that it's any of your business but I am sure I have completely failed runes. It's not even taught at Hogwarts until third year. And what are you even doing here, come to mock me?"
"What? No. Wendy asked me to wait for you." Harry was taken aback by her attitude.
"And who's Wendy?" Hermione snapped at him.
"Ok, first…" Harry almost told her to calm down before Sirius's warnings flashed through his mind. Telling a girl to calm down was always a bad idea. "Take a deep breath. Wendy is the, well I guess she's, our mentor. Every den has a former student who is involved in one of the apprentice programs at the school to watch after the students during their free time. Help with homework, make sure we don't burn anything down. Stuff like that. She asked me to wait for you and escort you to dinner so you don't drown in the storm."
Hermione looked out the window and saw that night had settled around them. Lights she hadn't noticed earlier had come on and illuminated the walkways, as well as the heavy rain. "Fine, let's go."
A quick cast of the warming charm as well as a charm to keep them dry and they stepped out into the storm. Harry raised his arm and used the umbrella charm to keep the worst off them. Even with the charm to keep them dry walking through a downpour wasn't comfortable. "So how do you think you did on the rest of the tests?"
"Fine." Hermione said curtly.
"So, it's just runes that has you worried?" Harry asked.
"Yes." Hermione snapped back.
"Well, what's the worst that could happen? We're just a few months into the first year. They'll probably just assign you a tutor or something if you need it." Harry tried to reason with her.
"But I've never needed a tutor before!"
"Well, it's not your fault your last school sucked." Harry pointed out.
"What?" Hermione stopped so quickly Harry almost walked past her.
"Well, you said Hogwarts doesn't teach runes till third year, right? So, it's not your fault you don't know them. Relax, even if you bombed the test, it'll only take a few weeks to catch up. Heck if you're that worried ask Wendy for help. She's supposed to be good with runes." Harry said.
Hermione grabbed Harry's hand and dragged the surprised boy the rest of the way to the Apple building. At that moment Harry decided that Hermione was very, very serious about school work, as well as frightening.
Since it was the first day back after break, most of the students had already finished an early dinner and retired to their den buildings. The Apple building was fairly empty with only the odd pocket of students left at one of the several dozen small tables. Harry cast another drying charm on them before he led her towards one of the pockets of older students. "Hey Wendy, I found our newest student. Wendy Hermione, Hermione Wendy."
"Welcome to Wandwood, if you need anything just left me know." Wendy said warmly.
"I need help with runes." Hermione said without hesitation.
"Yes, Hogwarts doesn't teach them until third year but here they are a core class and I am sure I completely failed the test on them and I don't want to fall behind, well further behind and Harry said you were good with runes so I was hoping that you would be able to help me catch up with the-"
Wendy held up a hand to stop Hermione before she passed out. "No problem, how are you at potions?"
"I think I did fine." Hermione said.
"Well, we'll review just to be sure. Runes and potions are the two big problems we get from Hogwarts. Well history too but that's easier to fix. But first get something to eat." Wendy instructed.
"Flying?" Hermione asked nervously. Her first week at Wandwood had been wonderful. She had placed well ahead for most classes and Wendy assured her she'd be the same in runes soon enough. The students had been friendly enough for dealing with someone they didn't know.
Her roommates were nice. Each den tried to maintain a roughly equal ratio between boys and girls. Commonly with three of each gender in each den per year group. Before she arrived, there were only two first year girls in Ash but three boys. While Hermione didn't understand how her presence had helped Lisa assured her it somehow made all the difference. While neither Lisa or Katt were bookworms they were still a massive step up from her former roommates at Hogwarts and were happy to include her in their nightly discussions. Hermione felt completely out of her depth with them.
There had been the occasional odd look at her limp and a few awkward questions but the other students were still polite about it. The only down side was Harry. Despite her best efforts nearly every time she saw him, she saw Daniel Potter instead. The other students in Ash had noticed her odd behavior but she'd managed to keep from answering yet.
And now flying, she had hated flying during their single lesson at Hogwarts.
Wendy didn't seem worried though, she seemed amused. "Yes flying, you need to demonstrate you can fly a tub, carpet and broom to pass first year. It's an old carry over from before the floo was invited."
"Oh, no no no. I don't like heights." Hermione told the older girl.
"Well, you really don't have a choice. But don't worry I know just who to teach you. Harry." Wendy said.
"Harry?" Hermione asked weakly. Of course, him. Why couldn't she just stay away from him? Did people find it amusing to keep putting them together? Even the teachers paired them up in class. Judging by the look on Wendy's face yes, they did take some odd pleasure from it.
"Yes Harry, we're pretty sure he doesn't actually need anything to fly and is just humoring us by using a broom." Wendy said happily.
"Wonderful." Hermione had never played sick in her life but suddenly it seemed like a very reasonable thing to do.
Saturday morning Hermione made her way towards a clearing behind Ash den. She would have preferred to be studying. Runes were fascinating, especially with Wendy, and even potions had taken on a new life without Professor Snape harassing her. Instead, she had to meet with Harry for a flying lesson. Apparently, there was a monthly class for flying for all first years and Harry had been assigned to help her catch up with them.
She found Harry standing next to an old metal washtub. He smiled politely. "Good morning."
"Good morning." Hermione replied neutrally.
"Let's get started, shall we? Normally you'd start out with this." Harry kicked the washtub. "But I have a quicker way. After this everything else will be easy."
Hermione watched in mounting horror as Harry pulled out what looked like a wheelless skateboard. "No, I am not getting on that flimsy little piece of wood."
"Well not right away no, well go up in the washtub, use a sticking charm to keep your feet on the board and then I'll push you out. Just like birds learn to fly." Harry said with a smile.
"If you think for even a moment that I would do that then you are insane! I will not set foot inside that death trap and I will report you to the school for trying to do harm to another student again!" Hermione shouted at Harry, her face red. Wand gripped tightly, ready to curse him.
"Again? Hermione, Wendy told me you were nervous, I was just trying to show you it could be a lot worse. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to, er, well whatever I did alright?" Harry apologized.
Hermione's face was still red but this time with embarrassment as she realized that she had over reacted. "Sorry." She mumbled.
"No problem, I'm guessing you have the written test covered?" Harry asked, at her nodded he continued. It was probably best just to ignore her outburst for now. "Then today well start with the washtub."
Harry stepped in and it rose several feet off the ground. He jumped and braced a foot on either side of the rim, then began to rock back and forth. "It's basically impossible to tip this thing, our first class we actually had a contest to see if anyone could. No one won."
The washtub floated back to the ground. "Ok get in and well give it a go."
Hesitantly Hermione stepped into the washtub and sat down. Her hands gripped the side tightly. Harry sighed and loosened her fingers. "I know you don't like heights, but to pass the test you won't need to go to high, just five feet off the ground. What you will need to do though is relax. Otherwise flying becomes ten time harder."
Harry sat down in front of her and the washtub slowly rose until it was floating a foot off the ground. "See, this isn't bad right?"
Hermione leaned over the side and looked at the ground. She reached out and brushed the top of the tall grass that poked through the snow with her hand. "No, this isn't bad."
The washtub began to drift across the field, pushed by the wind. Harry let them float to the other side of the field before he took control and steered them in a long lazy circle, climbing inch by inch. "Speed is controlled by your magic, more magic means faster. Well up to its maximum speed, which I think is about forty miles on this thing. Height can be controlled the same way or by leaning forward and backwards. Direction is done by leaning towards the side you want to turn on."
A slightly more relaxed Hermione nodded.
"Alright, how do you feel?" Harry asked.
"Fine, if this was all there was to the test, I think I could handle it." Hermione admitted. Sitting behind harry she was able to pretend that he didn't look like Potter. It was almost enjoyable. The washtub also felt much safer than the old brooms they had used at Hogwarts.
Harry began to laugh. "Hermione, this is all there is to it. See? We're five feet up. All you'll need to do is fly this high a couple hundred feet down the beach. There's no time limit. In fact, I think the record is forty-eight minutes."
"That's it?" Hermione asked. She had worked herself up for the test to being some floating obstacle course with horrible things trying to knock her off.
"That's it, they know some people don't like heights. They figure if you can do it at five feet you can do it at fifty, if you have to. So, want to give it a go?" Harry asked. He set the washtub down and switch positions with Hermione. It took her a moment to reposition her leg so that she was comfortable. When Harry saw her hands tighten, he reached forward and loosened them again. "Calm, just start out with a foot up alright?"
Shakily the washtub wobbled up. "Good, easy now."
They stayed still for several minutes as Hermione allowed herself to relax. Then, gently, she pushed forward.
By lunch Hermione was more or less comfortable with the washtub at five feet off the ground and moving at a walking pace. Which Harry assured her was enough to pass. It had almost been enjoyable. She'd even managed to forget that Harry looked like Potter for a while.
Hermione was able to join the next flying class which was working on carpets. Hermione let her own rise a few feet before she leaned back and stretched out in the sun, it was a rare warm and clear day. A book found its way to her hands, though she also watched Harry and several other students have a carpet race. The instructor had even complimented her control.
Sleep eluded Harry. After a few hours of tossing and turning he finally gave up and left the room he shared with his year mates. He quietly made his way downstairs, planning on raiding the bookshelf in their common room. It was well supplied with numerous fiction books left by past students. He was surprised to find someone else also awake.
Hermione sat on one of the window seats staring out at the moonlit landscape. He approached her slowly, the last thing he needed was her screaming, then everyone running down and all sorts of messes. "Hermione?"
She spun around, for a moment he caught a flash of fear in her eyes. Her wand came up, tip glowing, before she caught herself. "Harry, sorry I thought you were… someone else."
"Daniel Potter?" Harry asked.
Hermione drew her legs up to her chest. "What makes you say that?"
"Well, when we first meet you slapped me because you mistook me for him. So, we look alike, and I've caught you giving me weird looks since then. Not the good kind either. The only reason I can think of is if you're angry at him and every time you see me it reminds you of that, so what did he do you piss you off so bad?" Harry asked. The question had been on his mind for a while but he'd never found a good opportunity to bring it up before. After several silent moments he decided that this hadn't been the right time either. "Never mind."
"Do you really want to know?" Hermione asked in a small voice.
"If you're willing to tell me." Harry said. He sat next to her on the window seat.
"I'm sorry if I've been rude to you." Hermione finally said.
"Don't worry about it." Harry replied.
"It, I suppose it began on the Hogwarts express. I was so excited to go and learn magic." A small smile crept across her face. "I thought it would be some wonderful, perfect magical world. But several of the students quickly broke me of that illusion. Among them Daniel Potter and his friend Ronald Weasley. It wasn't bad at first, they just looked at me like I wasn't worth their time. we were all sorted into Gryffindor and Ron kept saying I didn't belong. I was sued to teasing from my muggle school.
"Then during our first flying lesson. While I wasn't afraid of heights then I didn't think the brooms were safe. Just a thin strip of wood? I much prefer the washtub or even carpet. I had only gotten maybe six meters up when Daniel decided to fly behind me and scare me. I lost my grip and fell. I just remember pain. The school's healer said I just landed wrong and had me fixed up by the next day but my hip was still sore."
"Merlin." Harry ran a hand through his hair. "I can't believe you managed to get back on something that flies after that. And I looked just like him, geez, I can't imagen how hard that was."
"Well, I had a good teacher. Halloween was when things got worse. I was trying to help Ronald in charms, we were learning the levitation charm. He didn't like that and started insulting me. It got so bad I ran to the bathroom to cry." Hermione said. even now Harry could see unshed tears in her eyes. "Ronald and Daniel decided to teach me a lesson and locked the door from the outside. That night during the feast a troll got in."
Harry felt a sinking sensation in his stomach. There was no way for this story to end well.
"It found the bathroom. I suppose I am lucky as the last thing I remember is the door being smashed in. I woke up at St. Mungo's three days later. it had hit me with its club before the professors got there. It shattered my hip and leg bone. They fixed me up as best as they could but I still have this limp. They said there was nothing they could do against Ronald and Daniel because no one would believe me. I was just a muggle born and he was the Boy-Who-Lived.
"Well, that was it. I'd been bullied, hurt twice and almost killed. We left Britain as soon as we could and moved here. We took some time to get settled in before I started here after the Christmas holiday." Hermione said.
"I can't believe they even let you out of their sight. If that happened to me my dad would probably be sneaking around the forest trying to keep an eye on me." Harry couldn't believe what his supposed brother and his friend had done, or that they had apparently gotten away with it.
"We really didn't have much of a choice. I had to go to school, and there aren't any day ones. Besides if I didn't, well it would feel like Daniel and Ronald won." Hermione admitted.
Remembering the advice he had gotten from his father Harry leaned to the side and hugged Hermione. She stiffened for a moment before she returned the gesture. "I knew you were smart Hermione but I had no idea you are so brave."
Hermione smacked Harry's arm but blushed deeply all the same. "Prat. Harry, I'm sorry if I've been projecting my issues with Daniel Potter to you because you two look so much alike. It's actually more than a bit disturbing."
"Would it help if I cut my hair?" Harry jokingly offered.
"No, but thank you, I should be getting to bed. Good night." Hermione stood and walked back up the stairs.
Harry couldn't help but watch her limp, how her leg jerked as she walked. He waited several minutes before he returned to his dorm and retrieved a small mirror from his trunk. Then he went to what had once been the attic. It had been converted years before to provide them with a place to practice spells inside.
"Padfoot." Harry quietly called out into the mirror.
It was several minutes, and four more tries before Sirius's face appeared in the mirror. "Damn it pup, do you have any idea what time it is? Now what's the emergency?"
"Sirius, I need your help with something." Harry began to explain what Hermione had told him.