Completed: (4/23/05) 8:50 PM
Posted: (4/30/05) 10:00 PM
Title: Deception & Concealment
Rating: PG-13/T language, partial nudity, "adult themes/humor"
Disclaimer: I own nothing Harry Potter related, but this totally-awesomely original plot is all mine.
Pairing: Be warned this is a tripairing of Hermione x James x Sirius. It is not a triangle, where both boys are trying to woo Hermione, but a "tripairing" with love going all around. Mmk?
A/N: I'm SO excited for this story, let me tell you. We've actually got some bonafide humor coming out, though there was some necessary angst in this first chapter. Enjoy! This shall be my new project since TR is on its way down…
A young, Harry Potter stood with his hand shielding the late evening sun from his perspiring brow – the rolled up sleeves of his school shirt a testament to the Indian summer heat. His companion, a vibrant red-head looking non-too perky himself in the abysmal heat, was sprawled out on the itchy grass beside him attempting to fan cool air onto his face by the power of his flapping tie alone.
"What's this sudden interest in Quidditch, anyhow?" he asked the young witch flying above his head, Quaffle in hand – though she was still shaking from the anxiety she'd had first mounting the broomstick, and her hands clutched the smooth wood with strangling grip had the broom been anything but inanimate.
"Oh..." she stammered; clearly not welcoming the diversion of her attention on not falling off. "Well, you know. Ought to try everything at least once..."
She shot for the center hoop of the pitch, and though she was only a dozen or so feet away, it ricocheted off the rim and fell to the ground. "Oh drats..." she swore, and began gradually circling down to retrieve the pitifully immobile ball. She'd made it the past two times, honest!
"You're, uh, doing better?" Harry called up placatingly.
Ron snorted with laughter on the grass and Harry kicked him in the side with a pointed look.
"Really?" She asked, hopefully. Feet planted firmly on the ground and Harry's broom held securely between her knees, she cradled the Quaffle to her chest with both arms.
Harry looked uncomfortable and as he scratched the back of his head he sent her a sheepish glance. "Well, at least you're flying, right?"
The witch's face crumbled and she groaned. "I'm really that awful?"
"Why don't you field that question, Ron," Harry suggested genially before kicking him in her general direction.
Rubbing ruefully at his quite unnecessarily abused rump, Ron clapped his hands together and took a deep breath – the two qualifying signs that for the next minute and a half whatever sentence, whatever syllable that escaped his mouth would be complete and utter rubbish. It was good that he gave them a warning system.
"You see, Hermione," he began with exaggerated solemnity, addressing the witch. "Harry here...is like an acorn."
Harry slapped his forehead with a groan and Hermione muttered something along her usual lines of "honestly, Ronald". But like a Hufflepuff set on the trail of cake, he kept going. He always kept going.
"Do you know how far you can chuck a bloody acorn?"
The worst was when they actually had to participate in his obviously drug induced lectures. Hermione elbowed Harry roughly and the face he made looked like something one would find in a Horse & Hound magazine. No offense to Harry, obviously.
"No...Ron..." he monotoned with a roll of his eyes. It wasn't like the blind wanker could see him anyway. "How far?"
Looking quite pleased with himself for "involving the audience", an annoyingly beaming – and, oh yeah, drugged – Ron waggled a finger knowingly at the pair who were ritualistically counting down the minute and a half.
"Let's just say, mate, that if you were standing on top of the blooming Ministry and have me chuck an acorn right for ya scar...I would not bet against me." Completely oblivious to the embarrassed looks being sent to his deranged self, Ron continued quickly so as to make his completely nonsensical analogy make sense – if that made sense. "You, 'Mione...are a watermelon."
Hermione's jaw dropped straight open like a watermelon was actually about to be crammed down her throat and Harry stared bug-eyed at his soon-to-be-brutally-bludgeoned best mate in horror.
"You cannot be chucked." Ron liked to make sure he had a plenty deep hole so Hermione wouldn't have to dirty her hands digging his grave herself. "In fact you're just big and clumsy and...well, un-acorn like."
Using the mathematical equation that involved the number of veins throbbing in Hermione's face, plus the additional factor of the hot day, and multiplied by the number of seconds it took for fear to dawn on Ron's face, Harry determined that the redhead's minute and a half was definitely up.
"Did you...just call me a watermelon?" She seethed.
Ron scooched back a couple of feet on the pitch turf, but Hermione regained the distance by a few angry strides. "I was just, uh, saying...you might not be built for Quidditch, tha's all. Really, Hermione..." He awkwardly patted her shoulder. "Don't you mind it..."
Very slowly – in that creepy ax-murderer sort of slow-motion action – Hermione looked down at the offending hand touching her shoulder as if she were memorizing each line of his fingers for when she'd hex them off one by one with slow, painful, agonizing curses. Ron gulped.
"You're dead," she hissed.
Ron took off running with Hermione in hot pursuit, swinging Harry's firebolt over her head. "RONALD BILIUS WEASLEY! YOU HAD BETTER RUN!"
Harry gagged like some perfectly innocent woman who'd just been taking a leisurely, if rather sweltering, walk through some unnamed park when a GIANT medusa, complete with hissing hair and poorly dental-worked teeth, had leapt out of the bushes with the grace of a paparazzi and snatched his baby right out of its carriage.
"NOT MY BROOM!" He yelled, chasing down the cat and dog duo, praying that Ron could outrun the blustering witch before she caught up with him and tried to use the firebolt like a nightstick.
Hermione Granger came rocketing back to the present world as her bedroom door was nearly slammed off his hinges by the violent banging occurring on the other side of it. Scrounging her grimy wand up off the disorganized bedside table, she quickly snatched the memory back up out of the pensieve and let it slither back into her temple. The stone basin she shoved roughly across the bedspread, sloshing some of the smoking liquid onto her bedspread, staining the floral pattern.
Holding her dressing gown shut tighter up around her neck she hurried to the door and quickly undid each locking charm she'd placed upon it, knowing with each counter-spell and continuing pounds that she was about to pay the consequences for the precautions. At the last mumbled word, the door was flung open into her face and she stumbled back into the wall, eyes tearing from the sharp sting.
Painfully gripping fingers encircled her upper arms, dragging her further into the room with a kicking shut of the door. Clutching to her robe still, Hermione tipped her head back slightly and blinked the reflexive tears back into her eyes.
"Why was the door locked?"
Hermione bravely met the eyes of Harry James Potter. Most weren't allowed, and of those that were able, only a few could do it. It was always when she stared into his empty poison-colored eyes that she marveled at how the wizarding world could have been led so astray. They had thought Voldemort was the problem. If Riddle had been the dark shadow in the nighttime that frightened children as they looked out their windows, then Harry was the snake lying coiled beneath their beds.
His angry face invaded her vision and his hold on her arm tightened to muscle bruising pain. He may have the entire school under his thumb, but what he probably hadn't bargained on was Hermione. She still loved him.
"I didn't want to be disturbed, Harry," she answered softly, holding to the truth of the statement in the forefront of her mind as she felt his legilimency take hold of her and begin riffling through her mind. Whether or not he caught sight of her recent use of the pensieve, he made no comment on it.
"I was watching your defeat of the Dark Lord again," she recited, in as earnest a tone as she'd practiced.
His lips curled back into a smirk and he let go of her arm to flop back on her bed, sloshing more of the staining syrup onto her bedspread. Hermione left it, no longer even cringing at the reckless carelessness for her possession – to do so would only result in more yelling from Harry. Instead, she hovered just off to the side of the bed as he folded his arms behind his head and crossed his muddy feet over her poor, abused comforter.
"Wonderful wasn't it?"
Hermione nodded to mollify him, though past experience told him he was hardly aware of her presence when reliving the "final battle" as it had been dubbed.
"Little Harry Potter can't stop the big bad Snake Man," Harry mocked. He made a sound of disgust. "I fucking ruined him before I could even walk. No thanks to my weak parents..."
Hermione forced her eyes to remained open, but her pain and pity for the arrogant boy before her clenched around her tired heart like a vice. The Harry she had known as a child would never have talked so bitterly about his parents. To Hermione, that was the worse part of her dearest friend's post-war transformation. Lily and James had given their lives to save his; never was that weakness.
"Well no one's going to forget that I'm the bloody hero now, are they?" He kicked his legs off the bed and stood up with a new bounce to his step. Her comforter was beyond repair. "I never had a happy moment as a child, but I've done my citizenly duty for the next millennium..." He flung his arms out wide, and the laughter that came next was twisted, and almost that of a madman. "I saved the sodding world. Now I'm just collecting on seventeen years of hell..."
Hermione watched him laugh with sad eyes. Perhaps everything he'd gone through had irrevocably altered him; the death of his parents, the death of Sirius, being set up by a prophecy to kill the most evil wizard alive. But Hermione had always, always believed that he'd been born with the innate ability to persevere; for never through all his trials and tribulations did he once lose sight of himself or of the path his life would take. Finally killing Voldemort had just been the climax of it all.
With the combined power of Lily and James flowing through his veins and the bitterness that came from being forced into having Voldemort's blood on his hands...Harry, her Harry, had become an arrogant soul, obsessed with getting retribution for all his suffering. And poor Dumbledore still felt the guilt from the decision to leave him in the Dursley's care all those years ago.
Still, Hermione loved him. Loved him to the point where she would do anything to return her friend to his former self.
"Let's not be locking the door again, alright?"
Hermione whirled around to find him standing back in the doorway. His expression still carried the jovial lilt of a not quite whole mind, but the anger was brimming just beneath the surface in the threatening words he gave her.
"I won't," she murmured, daring to meet his eyes again. "I promise."
Conflict raged inside of her, causing her to bit her tongue so hard it bled in her anxiety. He was halfway out the door when she finally let it out. "Goodbye, Harry."
He paused, giving her an odd, appraising look, and then closed the door. Hermione sighed. She hadn't really been expecting him to reciprocate the parting, but she wondered if he had subconsciously realized that those would be the last words ever passed between them.
She began to strip down, throwing her dressing gown on the soiled bed – it was tattered and badly in need of repair anyway. Left in just her skivvies she peeled off her brassier and dropped that on the floor as well. She wouldn't need it. Now in only a pair of lumpy woolen socks and white cotton underwear, she summoned with her wand the teapot that had been lying, disused on its side, for the part month. From inside it she pulled the shrunken suitcases that held whatever she was able to bring with her. She stuffed them into her socks.
With one last cursory look at the now-disreputable Head Girl rooms she'd occupied for the past three months, Hermione flicked off the lights and scrambled on all fours into her spacious closest – its floor now covered with cobwebs and worse. The door left open a hairline crack so as not to be caught unawares, should anyone try to barge in, she crawled as far back into the empty clothes racks as she could. Hermione conjured a tiny lumos spell and shielded it from the door with her body.
Propped up against the far wall was a dusty mirror, disturbed around the edges by her fingerprints. She went up on her knees and pulled from behind it the roll of medical bandages she'd nicked from the infirmary two weeks ago when she'd gone in for a head cold. Her breasts had always been small, and though the other girls had called it poor genetics, she'd never been gladder of them than at this moment. Holding the end of the bandage down at her side, Hermione sucked in as much as she could and both quickly and efficiently began tightly wrapping the cloth around her chest. Securing the constricting bandage with a tap of her wand, Hermione turned to few her profile in the mirror. She was completely flat-chested.
Still trying to adjust to breathing shallowly, she crawled with shielded wand in hand to the rack that held her less commonly used shoes. Inside her rain boots was a pair of muggle scissors. Taking up a deep breath to gather her courage, Hermione fisted her mass of hair into a ponytail behind her and began to brutally chop through it. The thick bundles of hair fell down onto her feet and down around her knees, and though she'd always considered the bushy hair a hassle, seeing it in a growing pile on the floor made her think it hadn't been that bad after all.
Not 'til the deed was done, did she dare to look into the warped mirror. While it looked as though she'd taken a razor blade to her hair, it was now hewn up to her chin for the longer strands, while the smaller curls twisted close to her scalp. Of course, there was no use bellyaching – she'd get used to it eventually. Reaching up, she jostled a precariously suspended hanger from the bar and snapped it in half near the bend. Pulling at the string that fell free from the break, she yanked out a tightly packed and shrunken bundle of clothes. She dressed quickly, fearing that any minute Harry would return and find her as she was.
The final piece of the puzzle was hidden within the outside knob of the closet door. Working at a frantic pace, Hermione removed said knob and instantly slowed her actions to a crawl as she pulled the chained hourglass from inside the gears' hollow space. Cradling her most prized possession against her chest, she resealed the knob with one hand, re-closed the door and hurried back to her mirror.
As she hung the heavy chain around her neck, Hermione caught sight of herself in the mirror and the thought that struck her was a sorrowing one. If Ginny had still been alive she would have had a fit at what Hermione had done to herself. After years of "acting like one of the boys", she finally looked the part.
She cupped the tiny hourglass in her hand and stayed her rush a moment. The time turner itself had been in the works for two long months of sleepness nights and tense mornings sneaking out of range of the Marauders Map to work on the device in Hogsmeade. This tiny trinket was the only one of its kind – the only one designed to send the user back years not hours.
The letters she'd written burned holes in her hands, so great was her anxiety to lay them down and go, but doubt was now eating away at her conscience.
Would it be better to simply...disappear? Or could she cope with herself having left the friend she loved more than life itself a letter telling him that she was going back in time to fix his life – or, if she had to, stop it from existing completely? But who knew how time worked anyhow...the minute she left, everything she would be about to do in the past could've already occurred to her present Harry and Ron...he might not even be alive any longer to read her letter.
One by one, she uncurled the stiff fingers that had now changed their minds and were insistent on keeping the cursed letters in their grasp. The wrinkled envelopes and their parchments fluttered to the dirty carpet beside her shorn hair and the broken clothes hanger.
She jumped and quickly turned the separate dials on the time turner before sending it spinning. The last thing she saw was one angry emerald eye trying to peer through the crack in the door.
Hermione hit her landing in less than perfect-ten style. Her bum collided into a stiff wooden chair with such force that her teeth rattled in her jaw and she swore her eyes were about ready to pinball their way out. She gripped the seat of the chair to ensure she didn't go toppling off and tried to focus on whose desk it was she was sitting before.
"Never traveled by portkey before, have you Mr. Granger?"
Hermione quickly reassessed what she knew. Unlike the careless time travelers one read about in the history books that got killed by the good guys in the confusion, or maybe even made a tasty, barbecued snack for a fearsome dragon or whatnot they happened to appear in the company of, Hermione had set the complete groundwork for her arrival. The first test she'd made of her modified time turner had been to go back and send a letter to the past Dumbledore explaining her boy-self's "lamentable situation" and an official ministry document of the era, made for her in secret by Shacklebolt, to confirm she was who she was pretending to be: Harry Christopher Granger.
Hermione didn't hold it against her usually quick-minded Transfiguartion Mistress – for it was her desk she'd fallen in front of – to confuse her time travel with the similar effects of a portkey. After all, time turners hadn't even been invented yet. Taking a deep breath, Hermione began the constructed part she was to play for whoever knew how long.
"No, Professor McGonagall, but it has been awhile," she answered politely. Thankfully, her voice had always been the low tone of an alto, so it wasn't that much of a stress to lower it the few notes to a low tenor. There were voice altercation spells of course, but they ran out after only a few hours and she was certain someone would decipher the spell eventually if she had to keep casting it. It was just easier to fake it.
"Hmm," McGonagall looked shrewdly down her spectacles at her in a way that had rarely ever been directed at her. Hermione felt as though she'd lost a good friend, having believed that she and the elderly witch had formed a sort of connection after her instating into the order. She was just going to have to regain her trust that was all.
"Supper is soon to begin," McGonagall informed her. "We shall sort you into your house then, and after the dinner hour is over you will meet with the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore." She gave her a sharp look. "I pray you've already looked over your books?"
"I've actually already done all the homework I've missed this term, Professor," Hermione answered simply. It had, in fact, been quite easy. This era hadn't had to teach its students advanced magic to keep them alive, and so most of what the seventh years were covering was review from her fifth and sixth year.
McGonagall's reaction was disappointing, as she merely raised an eyebrow beneath the wide brimmed hat, and Hermione hoped she hadn't come across as some sort of brownnoser. "Such scholarly habits are a good trait to hold on to, Mr. Granger. Some believe the school is merely a social gathering and do not take it as seriously as you ought to."
Hermione's thoughts instantly drifted to Sirius, who had been known to still have a few pranks up his sleeve during his confinement at Grimmauld, and nodded her head in perfect understanding. Seeing the sour look on the older woman's face, Hermione briefly entertained the thought that she was thinking of Sirius and the other Marauders as well.
"Even if you are not sorted into Gryffindor, I suggest seeking out the seventh year prefect Remus Lupin."
"Thank you, Professor."
McGonagall glanced at the clock, nodded, stood up, and gestured towards the doorway. It was time to be sorted.