– CHAPTER FORTY-ONE –
Home Invasions and Wand-Making
The summer days passed slowly, Harry teaching his friends the basics of magical combat and duelling. They all groused, moaned and complained about the physical exertion, but each of them recognised the value of the training. It was just easier to cope with the rigorous physical demands by complaining loudly. Harry knew this and allowed them to do so.
Snape had attempted twice more to breach the wards at the Granger house, and had shuffled away each time, clutching onto his jaw. It seemed that Helen's inventively-cruel suggestion was not as much of a deterrent as they'd hoped, but at least it was entertaining to the residents.
Of course, the protections on the Box were more than sufficient against a greasy-haired Death Eater. Even Voldemort himself at his full power would be incapable of penetrating the security. After all, a century of magical research with a nearly-unlimited budget had produced a wide array of magical innovations. Most of which were centred in that little silver box.
Even though Hermione's 'Seamstress-Who-Lived' comments had been in extremely poor taste, they had been accurate, to a degree. Harry had been working extremely diligently on what he was coming to think of as the team's uniforms. He'd completed all but one of the tunics for himself and his six school-friends, and there were only two pairs of the trousers left.
"Hermione?" He asked, sticking his head round the living room door. Hermione, love of his life twice over, was sitting on the floor, engrossed in a textbook.
"Yeah, Harry?" She looked up, smiling adorably at him.
"Can you come and try this on for me?" He asked, trying his best at his own adorable grin. Even though he couldn't see it, Hermione's stomach went all wibbly at the grin.
Damn him... She mused silently as she stood up. "Try what on?"
Taking her hand, Harry led her inside the Portkey Box, and handed her two of the green pieces. "These are yours. Can you check to make sure it fits for me?"
Suitably intrigued, Hermione took the items and headed into Harry's bedroom, locking the door behind her. It wasn't that she didn't trust him; she just didn't want her parents to get the wrong idea. She shucked her jeans and pulled on the trousers, noting that they were a perfect fit, before she pulled on the tunic.
"Harry?" She called out.
"Is this tunic supposed to have anything worn underneath it?"
"Er... I don't know. If it's comfortable, yeah. If not, no."
Grumbling, Hermione removed the tunic, pulled off her vest top and put the tunic back on. Swearing, she again pulled off the tunic, removed her bra and put the tunic back on. She yelped as she felt something surrounding her breasts, moving them round slightly until they fit inside the top.
"Did you put support charms in these?" She shouted.
"And how do you know how to cast them?"
"Ask me again when we're older." His voice came back, and she could almost hear the cheeky grin on his face. Damn him... With a soft sigh, she fastened the clasps on the tunic, letting out a small gasp as the hem of the tunic almost wriggled into place on the waistband of the trousers, locking into place.
"It fits." She called out.
"Let me see."
Hermione glanced at her reflection in the mirror and let out another gasp. The outfit was not skin-tight, but was clearly custom-tailored to her. The legs on the trousers were a tad too long, as were the wrists on the tunic, but other than that, it was a very good fit. Oh, that looks good...
Opening the door, she stepped back into the corridor, and headed into the console room. Harry was just finishing another row of stitches, quickly tossing the hide back into the trunk at his feet when he heard her coming. He looked up and let out a strangled moan.
Hermione could feel him look her up and down and unconsciously crossed her arms over her chest. It felt like she was on display!
"H-How..." Harry's voice trailed off, until he cleared his throat. "How's it feel?"
"It's... well..." Hermione was now a beautiful shade of red. How could she tell him that it felt good? "It's quite comfortable." She said in a small voice. "It's also very well-fitting."
Harry nodded. It sure as hell was well fitting. He'd need a cold shower... very soon. Thank Merlin, Buddha and the Tooth Fairy that he was sitting down! "Yes..."
"But, if I'm going to get bigger, shouldn't it be looser?" She asked, again in that small voice.
"It'll stretch a bit." Harry said, tearing his eyes away from her rather appealing outfit, and stared into her eyes. "There's still boots and gauntlets to add, but this'll do underneath your school robes."
Hermione glanced down at the outfit. "It feels like there's something missing..."
Harry shrugged. "There's probably some form of decoration that could be added, and I've got a few ideas for equipment and additional protection, but they're all still in the planning stages. I think we've still got a little time for the gear to be made."
It was Hermione's turn to shrug. She didn't have a clue what kind of 'equipment' could be made... after all, most witches and wizards made do with their wands. She'd heard rumours that Dumbledore had some kind darkness device which looked like a cigar lighter, but they were just rumours. She glanced down at herself, a little embarrassed by the missing body parts from her costume.
"I'm gonna go and get changed." She said, bolting from the room to get into something a little more decent. She could almost feel Harry's eyes firmly plastered onto her backside as she ran.
She was right.
Tuesday morning. Does anything interesting ever happen on a Tuesday morning? Harry didn't know and, if he was honest, he didn't really care. He'd taken the Box into Diagon Alley, materialising just outside of the Leaky Cauldron. He stepped out, firmly closing the door behind him, and entered the Cauldron, heading straight for the bar, his nose locked on the tantalising scent of bacon.
Behind the bar, Tom the barman was working at pouring hot, strong coffee into an urn.
"Morning, Tom." Harry called out.
Looking up, the near-toothless man nodded amiably. "Mr. Potter. How're you doing today?"
"Hungry." Harry replied simply.
"Not seen much of you this summer."
Harry nodded. "Been staying with the missus."
Resisting the urge to gossip, Tom just smiled. "Can't blame you for that, lad. What can I do for you?"
"None of us could be bothered cooking this morning." Harry explained. "I was hoping you could do me four greasy fry-ups..." He thought for a moment, "and an extra side-order of bacon."
Tom nodded knowingly. "Ah, how is your owl?"
"Still terrorising pigs." Harry said with a grin. "I swear she eats more bacon than the rest of the planet combined."
With a nod, Tom got to work in the back, throwing bacon, sausages and bread into spitting fat.
The mid-1990's. A time when militant nutritionists were up in arm about saturated fats. And like most Brits, Harry didn't care. There was a good reason why a full English breakfast was a British institution.
Harry watched at Tom placed four plates onto the bar, and began filling them. Two slices of cheese-on-toast were set in the middle, with dripping-with-butter potato cakes placed on top, followed by a generous portion of bacon, sausages, hash browns, baked beans and scrambled eggs (1). All things a healthy, growing body should flee in abject terror from.
"Hash browns, Tom?" Harry asked.
The barman looked up. "Yeah... one of the Muggleborns... I forget who, now, told me about this golden arch restaurant. Said they do good breakfasts. Me and the missus went there a couple of years ago, and they do a bacon-filled bread roll, one of these hash browns and a cup of tea for less than two sickles! They're really quite popular."
Quickly realising that the 'golden arch restaurant' was actually the local McDonalds, a whopping two doors down from the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron, Harry just kept silent. A small, paper-wrapped packet was placed next to the plates.
"Your extra bacon." Tom said, patting the packet. He waved his wand, wrapping up the platters and shrinking them down, before placing them inside a cardboard carry-tray. "This do you?"
Harry snorted. "If it doesn't, I don't know what will, Tom." He reached into his pocket. "What do I owe you?"
"Four sickles, twenty-four knuts." Tom replied.
Handing over five sickles, Harry waved off his change and picked up the carry-tray. He turned to the door... and came face-to-bowler-hat with the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge.
Of course, this wasn't the first time that Harry had met the man. Hell, it wasn't even the first time he'd met the man in this version of the timeline. His previous encounter was inside Hagrid's hut, when the useless fool decided that arresting Hagrid would look good for his career during the Chamber of Secret debacle. Harry remembered his quote of 'got to be seen to be doing something' from both timelines, and even now, it made him sick to his stomach and furious right down to the soles of his feet.
Bollocks... Harry thought to himself, taking a step back so he could manoeuvre around the irritant. He had no desire to speak to the man... or even have his air polluted with the essence of bullshit the Minister exuded. Please, just leave me alone...
"Ah, Harry, my boy!" Fudge said lightly. "So good to see you."
Fate hates me. I know it. "Minister Fudge." Harry said neutrally. "Excuse me." He made to step round the man, aiming to get back to his ship and get back to people who he could tolerate. It wasn't to be, though.
"Just a moment." Fudge said sharply, glancing round the Leaky Cauldron, presumably looking for a bit of positive publicity. "I'd like to speak to you, my boy."
Harry resisted the urge to sigh. "About what, Minister?"
"Well... about Sirius Black."
"Oh? Has he been captured, Minister?" Harry asked, hoping that the answer was no. Then again, Sirius was a canny man and Harry didn't think the Minister could catch him even if Sirius was tied up, asleep and had a neon flashing sign above his head. Although, the opportunities for mocking the Marauder if that happened would almost be worth it.
"No..." The Minister sighed whiningly. "The guards at Azkaban have never lost a prisoner before, and they're angrier than I've ever seen them." He turned to Harry and gave a blatantly false smile. "They'll catch him, Harry. Don't you fear."
I'm more afraid of you catching him, dickless. Harry thought. "Well... that's, er... that's good to know, Minister. Well, if that's all?"
Fudge held up his hand. "No, not quite."
"I'm late getting breakfast back to my family, Minister." Harry said, hefting the cardboard tray. "They don't like it when I'm late to the table."
The look of confusion on Fudge's face was entirely unforced and, Harry thought truthfully, completely at home there. "Your family? I thought you lived in Surrey?"
Resisting the urge to point out that the Minister was incapable of independent thought, Harry just shrugged. "Anything else?"
"Yes." Fudge leaned in close. "I think it would be better if you stayed here, in Diagon Alley for the remainder of the summer."
Harry looked politely confused. "Why's that, sir?"
"Well... with Sirius Black on the loose, it's not really safe in the Muggle world."
"The place I'm staying at has a multitude of protective wards and defences." Harry said. "There's no danger of me being caught by a dark wizard there, sir."
"No, there isn't." Fudge said. "I checked the files and there's no record of there being wards at your family's house."
"I don't know what your records state, sir, but I can assure you, the place I'm living has more than enough protection against Sirius Black." It has a door, and he's too polite to just barge in. "I'm sure I'll be fine, sir, but thank you for your concern."
Harry nodded amiably before taking a step away.
"I must insist you remain here, Harry." Fudge said obstinately. "I can't have you gallivanting about the countryside with a hardened killer like Black on the loose." He looked at the barman. "Tom, do you have a room free for Mr. Potter for the rest of the summer?"
Tom looked up, spotting the barely-concealed murderous look on the young Lord's face. "Room 11 isn't occupied at the moment, Minister."
"Excellent. Mr. Potter, you will be remaining here until your return to Hogwarts, where our Auror force can keep an eye on you to keep you safe."
"No." Harry said, taking a step back. "I am more than protected where I am, sir, and I do not wish to remain here for the rest of the summer. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to return to my family." Without waiting for Fudge to respond, Harry was out of the door and pressing his free hand against the magi-lock on the door of his ship.
Fudge erupted from the back door of the Leaky Cauldron, stopping to see Harry stepping into some kind of silver box. He strode forwards as the door slammed shut, intent on hammering on the door until the boy did as he was told. Before he could touch it, the box emitted a 'thud', before a wheezing/groaning sound filled the air, and the box faded away.
The box rematerialised in a back garden in Crawley. Hermione's face appeared in the kitchen window as Harry stepped outside, hefting the box of food. She opened the door and glomped him, feeling an urge to hug her sweet, irresistible boyfriend who brought her greasy, fatty foods.
"Hi." Harry said as he hugged her with one arm, keeping the food separate from the hug. Together, they entered the house, heading straight into the kitchen, where Dan and Emma were waiting, each clutching onto a knife and fork and looking ravenous. As the food was served up and a pot of tea brewed, Harry explained what had happened inside the Cauldron, leaving out the reason for his anger with Fudge.
"Things are never plain and simple with you, are they?" Dan asked, chuckling gently.
"No." Harry deadpanned.
Hermione poured the tea into four mugs, adding sugar to Harry's and a sly half-spoonful to herself. Dan spotted the move, but remembered what Harry said inside the ship during his medical exam about Hermione's energy levels. It wasn't as though she was fat... and as long as it was in moderation... He resolved to talk to Emma about it, though.
"There's one thing I don't understand, though." Emma said thoughtfully, as she allowed her tea to cool. "I know you're a great young man, Harry..." She trailed off at his blush, "but what's the great urge to have you confined to Diagon Alley?"
"Makes me dependant on Fudge." Harry said as he unwrapped the extra pack of bacon. Predictably, the group could hear the fluttering of wings as Harry's familiar and all-round bacon muncher, the mighty Hedwig, ghosted into the kitchen, drawn to the fatty goodness. While feeding Hedwig her treats, he continued his explanation. "Just think about it; what would John Major get if there was a terrorist after... say, Princes William and Harry and he was directly responsible for providing their protection?"
"Well... the Royal Family's more symbolic than anything these days," Emma said slowly, "but it would be great for his popularity ratings to be seen protecting young princes."
"Exactly. Now, we both know that in the situation I described, the PM wouldn't be doing the actual protection. He'd assign it to soldiers or police officers. But, with the right spin, he's the one who'd get the credit. All he's done is sent a few people to babysit a couple of kids. It's the same principle."
"So... he confines you to the Alley, where everyone can see you and assume that you're under round-the-clock protection under the direct authority of the Minister, and he's the one who's seen to be protecting you from Black." Emma concluded. "It's all bloody show with these people, isn't it?"
"Yes." Harry said simply. "Most of the people in the government only care about their own comfort. They live lives of wealth, privilege and luxury. Anything that disrupts that is a threat and must be removed. Sirius Black is a threat and, to a minor and very different degree, so am I."
Dan blinked. "Explain that to me."
"If I was to be harmed or, God forbid, killed by Sirius Black, it would reflect badly on the Wizarding government, because they failed to protect me. So, in order to make certain that I remain out of harm's way, they'll happily confine me to Diagon Alley and spend their days patting their own damned backs for keeping me safe."
"And they won't care about how you feel about it." Hermione said softly. "Your rights and freedoms will be trampled for the good of the rich, inbred elite."
"That about sums it up." Harry agreed. "Now, I have no desire to keep that fool in favour. His actions towards Hagrid..." And me, and Hermione, and... well, I suppose I should include Dumbledore, even though the silly old fart doesn't deserve it... "Well, it's criminal and he got away with it, simply because he's the Minister."
"That's a very cynical view for a twelve year old." Emma said, peering intently at Harry.
"There are days when I get out of bed and I feel like I'm a hundred." Harry said, grinning internally. "I swear I'm getting wrinkles."
Hermione reached up and gently took a hold of his chin, pulling his head to face her. She stared into his eyes intently, her own eyes full of tenderness, concern and affection. Harry smiled at her. "No." She whispered. "No wrinkles there."
He leaned forward and pecked a kiss onto the tip of her nose, before reaching down and squeezing her hand. "Thanks, My Only."
Emma glanced at Dan, expecting him to have a frown on his face at the intimate moment, but he was clearly lost in thought.
Tearing his gaze away from Hermione, Harry looked at his future-in-law. "Yes, Dan?"
"Tell me the brutal, honest truth; how safe will Hogwarts be this year?"
Taking a moment to ponder, Harry took a deep slug of his tea. He set the mug down silently. "I don't believe that Hermione will be in any danger this year, despite all the rumours flying about."
"We don't have definitive information about what happened during the run up to my parents' deaths. What's 'known' is idle speculation and gossip. Everyone assumes that Sirius Black was the Potters' Secret-Keeper, but I want to know more. There has to be more to the story. What information is available is just not up to snuff. There are exactly two people who were present and are still alive on that Halloween; myself and Voldemort. Neither of us have been interviewed about what we remember... so where the hell did all these books come from that state the 'official' record?"
"Harry?" Hermione leaned closer, squeezing Harry's hand. "Do you remember that night?"
Harry's head slumped into his free hand, pinching the bridge of his nose tightly. When he spoke, his voice was a dreadful, ominous monotone, but his eyes glowed with green light from behind closed lids. "'Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off...'"
Hermione gasped as she realised that Harry did indeed remember the night his parents were brutally murdered, and could even quote it verbatim. What other horrors lurked inside Harry's mind?
Emma's eyes had tears in them as she pictured the scene; a baby Harry, barely aware of the world around him, yet watching the end of his life as he knew it. Just how much could one twelve year old boy take?
Dan's face was stoic as he watched his son-in-all-but-blood relive a truly traumatic event and recite it, word for word, eleven years later. He could see Emma's tears and Hermione's horror, but he could see them gathering their tattered courage to help the boy.
"Mum carried me upstairs, straight into my nursery. She shut and sealed the door, but she knew it wouldn't be enough. There came a thud from downstairs, followed by some high-pitched laughter... and then it was all quiet. Mum was sobbing. I think she knew that Dad had died." Harry's eyes were haunted as he relayed the tale.
"She kissed me on my forehead, just here," he tapped his scar, "then put me in my crib. The door... the door just exploded inwards... and he was stood there." He looked up at Hermione. "He had red eyes... did you know that?"
"I don't just mean bloodshot... I mean red, like mine are green."
"I've seen a photo." Hermione whispered.
"Yeah..." Harry sighed and slumped his head back into his hand. "Mum tried begging. 'Not Harry, not Harry, please not Harry!'
"Voldemort just said, 'Stand aside, you silly girl... stand aside now...'"
"Why?" Dan asked. "Why would he save your Mum after he killed your Dad?"
"I have... speculations." Harry said, his voice far more chilling than human. "I'd rather keep those to myself."
Dan was shocked by the vehemence in the boy's voice and nodded shakily.
"'Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead...'" Harry's voice was back to the monotone as he repeated his mother's last words. "A flash of green and a laugh... and the end of Lily Potter."
He sighed heavily. "I remember that he looked at me... his face... he looked revolted by the very sight of me... and he raised his wand. 'Avada Kedavra'... and I don't remember much after that. I remember... burning? Freezing? There was... something... I was cold... and then someone picked me up and wrapped me in a blanket. I was flying... then I fell asleep." He looked up at his adopted family. "To be blunt, that's something that I keep buried in my mind." He tapped his temple. "Right at the bottom of the computer core, Hermione."
She stared at him for a moment, then glanced at her parents. "Sorry, Daddy." She stood, straddled Harry's lap and sat down again, wrapping as much of herself around him as she could.
Dan couldn't have protested, even if he wanted to... and he didn't. Both of his parents were dead; his father had been killed instantly in a car crash when Dan was 26 and his mother of a sudden, fatal heart attack four years ago. They'd both gone quickly and fairly quietly and Dan hadn't witnessed it. But to have seen it at such a young age... Hell, if Hermione hadn't glomped the boy, he'd have scolded her for it.
Hermione pulled Harry's head into the crook of her neck and squeezed him as tightly as he could. "He lost that night, Harry..." She crooned softly, "he hurt you, yes... but you tore him out of his body and sent him fleeing... he's spent that decade fighting just to exist... you're the strong one, Harry, not that waste of blood and organs... you'll beat him."
Harry was using all his Occlumency to force the memory back to the depths of his consciousness. On the bridge of a ship that didn't exist, metaphorical crew members ran with a purpose to get Harry's mental state back into trim. After all, he'd always been a little Defiant of Voldemort...
"And you won't be alone..." Hermione whispered, "I'll be with you all the way, Harry..."
"Promise?" He whispered into her neck.
Dan and Emma had left the breakfast table to grab their smocks from the bedroom, before climbing into their car and heading into rush-hour traffic to get to the surgery. As they sat there, Emma leaned forward and clicked off the radio. "So..."
She clutched the steering wheel tightly. "He watched them die."
"We should be there for him."
Dan looked at her as though she'd just told him that rain was wet. "Of course."
"And not pressure him about his relationship with Hermione."
"Wasn't planning on it."
He paused for a moment. "If he gets her pregnant, I will kill him, saviour of the Wizarding world or no."
"Well... no. But, I'd probably give him a stiff talking to. Maybe a dental exam."
"You're such a... such a man!"
He placed and hand gently on her thigh. "Absolutely."
She snorted and rested her hand on top of his. "We'll be there for him."
Dan smiled. "Absolutely."
Said wizard looked up at his girl. "Yes, hun?"
He looked confused. "What for?"
Hermione glanced down at her hands, then back at the brilliantly knicker-wetting pools of emerald that he called 'eyes'. "For making you go through that."
Harry just waved her off. "You're my girl, Hermione. I don't have anything to..." He trailed off. "Well, I do have stuff to hide... for the moment. But you can ask me any question and I'll do my best to answer it. Maybe not straight away, but in time, I'll answer any and all questions you can think of."
She sat in his lap again, wrapping her arms around his neck. "I'll hold you to that, but still... I shouldn't have pushed you to talk about your... well..."
"Relax, Hermione." Harry said, leaning forward and inhaling the scent of her hair. Ah, vanilla... "Like I said, I'll answer your questions. You have a right to know."
"Why?" She asked, before gasping and pulling one of her hands free to cover her mouth. I can't believe I just blurted that out!
Harry intercepted her hand on it's way to her mouth. "Hermione, if we're going to work as a couple, we can't go around hiding huge chunks of who we are. Our joys and triumphs... our pains and failures. They're part of what makes us who we are. Take them away and who's left? My trials and tribulations have shaped me into who I am now... just as yours have shaped you. I like the person that you are, Hermione."
She melted in his lap and kissed him chastely on the lips. "I like you, too." She whispered. "But if I ever push you too far, let me know?"
"You know I will." Harry was about to schmooze his girlfriend with a smooth line that would have sent her knickers crashing to the floor when his face contorted into a rictus of pain as the wards around the Granger house flared again.
Jesus, I hope Dan and Emma didn't have a drill in someone's mouth... Harry thought absently as he climbed to his feet, drawing his wand and gesturing to Hermione to wait. Naturally, she rolled her eyes, drew her own wand and fell into step besides him.
The phone began to ring, but both Harry and Hermione ignored it; they had an intruder or intruders attempting to gain access to the property, and the pair firmly believed there was only one person who was stupid enough to try it again... okay, two, two people who were stupid enough to try it. Dumbledore and the Greasy One.
The two slipped out of the front door, heading around the front garden and into the passageway at the side of the house. Sure enough, Snape was there, firing spells at the handle of the back gate. Harry's wards flared every time that a spell hit them, but thanks to the conversation with the Grangers the last time Snape had attempted to intrude, they weren't killing him.
Hermione resisted the urge to snigger; she knew that the war-wards Harry had erected had to be causing the greasy man a serious amount of pain in his teeth. It was the one compromise Harry had been allowed.
Holding up a hand, Harry bade her to stay behind him. Knowing that the 'Reasonable' Restriction of Underage Sorcery still applied to her and not to him, she huffed silently before standing still.
Using his free hand, Harry sent a powerful stinging hex at the man's backside. By fortunate happenstance, his aim was a little too low, resulting in the spell not hitting Snape's butt cheeks... but a dangly bit of flesh a few inches lower.
Instantly, all strength fled from Snape's body and he collapsed down to his knees, wheezing like an asthmatic smoker. Harry tucked his wand into his pocket, knowing that Snape was out of the fight for a good few minutes. He stalked forward, plucking Snape's wand from nearly-nerveless fingers.
"P-Potter..." Snape gasped.
Harry stared down, and Hermione felt a double frisson run through her: Fear. Harry's look could only be described as terrifying. His eyes were hard as stone and his face, although practically expressionless, conveyed a hatred powerful enough to burn out the sun. She also couldn't deny the second frisson; desire. Harry was a bully... to bullies. He was a bigot... to bigots. His only prejudice was prejudiced people. He would never attack first, but he'd put down any silly fool who attacked him.
Hermione couldn't deny that he was her drug. He was brave, powerful, charismatic and, to her at least, completely gorgeous. She knew that she was entering the later stages of puberty, where her body was producing massive amounts of chemical explosives, otherwise called 'hormones'. She was beginning to feel heat rushing to places and desires she never knew she had... she was confused, but she had many chats with her mother about her development and knew that this was normal...
Then again, feeling this kind of desire when Harry was about to beat the crap out of a man was wrong... wasn't it?
Completely oblivious to Hermione's introspection, Harry glared down at the quivering form of his hated potions professor. "Why are you here, you greasy shit?" He asked, sounding casual but with an undercurrent of malice.
Snape's glare was far feebler than normal, thanks to the considerable amount of pain that he was in. His crotch was burning, as was his jaw. And now, the son of his most hated enemy, and a boy who was rapidly heading into the top five on his own merits, was stood over him. He tried to climb to his feet. "You shall pay-"
He was cut off by two factors; As he put his foot onto the floor, in preparation for standing, Harry's leg kicked out quickly, slamming into his shin and sending his foot sliding backwards on the slightly slimy cement of the passageway. The second factor was Harry waving his hand, creating a wave of pressure on his shoulders, stopping him from standing.
"Stay down." Harry said. "You'll live longer."
"You will pay-" Snape was cut off again as Harry's foot impacted into his crotch, sending the greasy intruder into a foetal position as his already abused manhood was abused again.
"No, I won't." Harry said. Calm and controlled. More terrifying to Snape than the Dark Lord. "You don't seem to understand that you are not in control here, Snivellus. You live, for the moment, simply because I allow it. I know what you've done. You seem to think that you've got away scot-free for your crimes. I'm here to tell you that you haven't."
Snape wheezed something completely unintelligible. Harry ignored it.
"You do not have any right to the remains of my basilisk. Just because you work for the school where the beast lived doesn't give you the right to break into my girlfriend's house as though you own the damned place."
"You..." Snape coughed harshly, "you will pay for this!"
"No, I won't." Harry said again.
"You will be..." Snape wheezed for a moment, "in detention all year!"
"For this?" Harry chuckled mirthlessly. "If I chose to, Snivelly, I could have you arrested and sent to Azkaban like," he snapped his fingers, "that. One quick call and you're up to your arse in Dementors." He snorted. "Hell, I could probably have you Kissed. And believe me, I'd feel no guilt or remorse about that." He kneeled down, grabbing Snape's throat and digging his fingers into the soft flesh cruelly. "You know I'm untouchable, you greasy twat, but if you even think about harming Hermione or my friends..." He squeezed, just enough to make Snape gasp, "I will end you." He pushed back, pulling his hand away and scraping Snape's throat. "Do you understand me?"
Snape managed to tear one of his hands away from his crotch to rub his bruised throat. He was in a good and proper snit over the lack of respect the little shit had shown him. He would pay...
Harry kicked out, slamming his boot into Snape's ribs, feeling gratified as he heard a wet 'pop'. "Now, get out of here before I say something... unkind." With a final flourish, Harry raised his other hand, still holding Snape's wand, and snapped it casually, before tossing the pieces on the ground. "Leave, Snivellus."
Somehow, the man managed to get the mental capacity together to apparate away, the wards being mentally thinned for a moment by Harry so he could get out. The instant the smoke trail cleared, Harry reinforced the wards surrounding the property.
Looking up, Harry spotted Hermione staring at him. "Damn..." He muttered. "I know what you're going to say, Hermione-"
"I doubt that." Hermione said, holding out her hand. "Come with me."
Hermione had led him through the front door and out of the back, placing her hand against the magi-lock on the door of the Box. Once inside, she moved to the console, still dragging him, and slammed the lever that shut the doors. "Take me somewhere, Harry." She commanded gently.
Suitably intrigued (and somewhat grateful that she wasn't shunning him for his rather violent display), Harry sent the Box hurtling through the Vortex to Paris. It was far enough away that it would take time to get there, letting them enjoy their conversation, and, if necessary, would let him buy some stupidly expensive presents to mollify her... just in case.
Once the ship was in flight, Hermione pulled him into the squishy chairs that surrounded one side of the console, and sat down next to him. "I want to talk about what just happened." Hermione said firmly.
"Okay." Harry said softly.
"You just cruelly beat a man, Harry." She said, just as softly. "You threatened him with death and pain."
Harry nodded slowly. "I did."
"Why doesn't this concern me more?"
For a moment, Harry realised that this version of Hermione was more different from the original than he'd guessed. Knowing it was bad form, he asked, "Why do you think it doesn't concern you more?"
Hermione looked lost in thought for a moment. "Conventional morality states that that sort of behaviour is wrong. Wilfully hurting someone is wrong. Threatening to kill them is wrong and is a crime against the laws of the land."
"Yes." Harry replied simply.
"But why don't I feel that way?" Hermione asked, more to herself than her boyfriend. "I watched what you just did, and all I could think was 'it won't work'." She looked up at him. "Am I a bad person?"
"No." He replied instantly. "Not at all." He sighed, running his hand through his hair. "Hermione, I don't like the fact that I have to be that way..." He shrugged sheepishly. "I... to be honest, I enjoyed doing that to him. But only because it's him. You... Hermione, I've killed a man before."
Hermione nodded slowly. "Yes... You know, when you told me that originally, I was horrified; not because you'd ended Quirrell's life, but because you'd been forced into that situation."
"Am I wrong, Hermione?" He asked, confident in his beliefs, but wanting to know what she thought. Even though it had been over a year since that particular incident, it wasn't something they talked about.
"You mean because you killed a man and you can say it without a gut-wrenching bout of guilt?" She asked for clarification. "I don't think so. You didn't decide to go out and kill him. It was remarkably simple situation; man wants to kill you for reasons that only the killer knows and he won't stop until he's dead. It's a kill or be killed situation." She shuddered lightly. "I just don't like you being in them."
"I'm not tremendously fond of it myself." Harry said quietly. "But there will be more in the future. I don't want to kill people... well... mostly."
"Snape and Voldemort." Hermione said.
"Yes. Voldemort because he's a stain on the planet that needs to be removed for the Greater Good of mankind." Harry knew the irony and the danger of that statement, but it was true by anyone's justification. At least, anyone who wasn't a pureblood supremacist or a Death Eater. "But Snape... it's personal, Hermione. I-"
"Can't tell me yet." She interrupted gently. "But you will one day."
"And when that happens... what will I feel, Harry?"
He sighed heavily. "Honestly?"
She rolled her eyes. "No, I want you to lie to me." She said sarcastically.
"You'd want him dead as much as I do."
Pausing for a moment, she nodded. "Okay."
Harry blinked, before he grinned. "You're such a great girlfriend." He cooed, making her roll her eyes again.
"Your prat." He said sincerely, staring at her.
"Which leads me into my second point." She said after a few long seconds of gazing into his emerald orbs. "When I was watching you take him apart, Harry... I..."
"You were scared." Harry stated. "You were wondering how I could be so cruel."
"No." She reached out and took his hand. "Not that. Not at all."
"I was scared, but not of you... I'm scared for you."
"Because you've had to go through so many things already... you're almost a year younger than I am and you've faced enough to break a dozen people. And yet... I can't deny that you were so... powerful and commanding..."
Harry grinned as he glanced away, not wanting to let her see his amusement. He tried to sober up his face when he felt her finger on his chin, gently moving his face back towards looking at her. "What?" She asked.
"You're confused because you liked it." Harry said, swallowing the grin. "Am I right?"
"Yes." Hermione replied bluntly. "Frankly... you looked hot."
His grin returned full force. "I'm shocked, Hermione. Who would have thought that the quiet, timid little Miss Granger liked the bad boys."
She blew a raspberry at him. "I don't like the bad boys. If I did, I'd like..." She took a deep breath to control the nausea, "I'd like Malfoy."
"Bleugh." Harry groaned. "That's an image that would ruin any mood."
"I know." She sighed. "I like that you're so protective of my family." She looked away. "Of me."
It was Harry's turn to gently pull her face back towards him. "I will always be protective of you, Hermione. You're My Only, remember?"
She smiled and snuggled into him. "I hope to always be so." She said.
You have been for over a century. You will be for eternity. Harry thought to himself. "Forever." He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "So, you get happies when I pummel Snape. It's good to know."
Hermione levered herself up, swatted his chest and dropped back down into his embrace. "You're still a prat, Harry. But as long as you only hit bad people, we're good."
"Deal." Harry was about to say something else when his eye twitched again. Without thinking, he was on his feet and reversing course, sending the Box straight back to the Grangers' house. He tweaked a few controls as the ship rocked slightly, levelling out the flight.
"Snape again?" Hermione asked, feeling her own eyes twitch.
"Doubtful." Harry said. "He'll be having trouble walking for a while, especially since I popped a rib." He sighed. "Personally, I think it's Dumbledore, coming to berate me for not handing over the basilisk and beating the crap out of Snape."
Hermione nodded as she stood, stretched and made her way over to the panel next to Harry's. Idly, she tweaked a dial, altering one of the many random settings.
How can she do that? Harry asked himself. After all, the ship had been blood-bonded to him and him alone; Hermione shouldn't have been able to make any changes to the console. The only change he'd made had been to allow the door control to be operated by everyone, and that had taken over a day of work, enchanting and programming to allow. Later...
The Portkey Box materialised inside the garden, the wheezing/groaning sound culminating with a loud 'thud'. Instantly, the door opened, Harry stepping out with his wand in his right hand and a ball of red energy cupped in his left.
He waved his wand at the back gate, opening onto the rear passage, spotting two people stood outside. Well, bugger me... He thought to himself as he spotted the intruders. As he'd guessed while inside the Box, it was indeed Albus Dumbledore who had been attempting to gain access to the property... but the man who was with him, Harry hadn't been expecting at all.
"Headmaster Dumbledore." Harry said coldly. "Minister Fudge. Why are you here?"
Both men began speaking, before trailing off and glaring at the other. Harry could almost read their thoughts from the expressions on their faces. 'You should let me go first because I'm more important'. It was unbelievably sad that two of the most powerful men in the Wizarding world were, in fact, petty arseholes.
"In your own time." Harry said casually, not looking at all bothered that he had the Minister of Magic of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards and the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry glaring at him.
"Mr. Potter," Dumbledore began, sending a warning look at Fudge to keep silent, "I have just seen Professor Snape arrive in Hogsmeade, badly injured. He told me that you attacked him without provocation, simply because he was coming to collect the remains of the basilisk, remains that he is entitled to as the Potions Master at Hogwarts."
"Incorrect." Harry said simply. "They're mine and he was attempting to break into this house. According to the Ward Breach Law of 1743, I am entitled to kill anyone who attempts to breach the wards on a residence for the purpose of harming the inhabitants. That law is still valid and enforceable. So, if Snape attempts to break in, I can do anything to him, up to killing him."
Fudge cleared his throat importantly. "Mr. Potter, you cannot simply attack teachers of your school, regardless of what laws you think are there. I'm the Minister of Magic and I-"
"Are wrong." Harry interrupted. "I have complete copies of all laws that have been enacted, including their commentaries and sponsors. The Ward Breach Law is still on the books and valid." He raised a single eyebrow delicately. "I would be more than willing to have the Department of Magical Law Enforcement come here and confirm both the law and my actions."
Dumbledore shook his head. "Mr. Potter, you cannot attack Professor Snape, simply because you don't like him."
"I didn't." Harry replied firmly. "I attacked him because he was intent on breaking into my summer home to steal and would have no compunctions against harming the inhabitants."
Hermione cleared her throat, stepping up besides Harry and taking his hand. "Headmaster, I'm curious as to why you've made no comment about Professor Snape attempting to breach the defences on my house."
Dumbledore smiled patronisingly at Hermione. "Miss Granger, I can assure you that Professor Snape's only actions are to reclaim the remains of the basilisk which, despite Mr. Potter's incorrect protestations, are the property of Hogwarts. He would not hurt anyone."
"How do you know that, Professor?" Hermione asked innocently. "I've seen plenty of evidence that Snape-"
"Professor Snape." Dumbledore interrupted.
"That Snape would gleefully harm any person that isn't a Slytherin or a Death Eater."
"Miss Granger, you're too young and immature to understand." Dumbledore said, condescension running rampant through his tone. "Professor Snape has my complete trust and support."
"That's marvellous, Headmaster," Harry said, "but what relevance is that to this situation? Why are you bothering me about legally protecting my friends when you should be rebuking Professor Snape for attempting to breach my defensive wards and steal from me?"
"Mr. Potter, the remains-"
"Are mine." Harry interrupted. "And again, I'm getting sick of telling you this. I also remember telling you that I would have no more dealings with you. Be gone." He turned to Fudge. "Now that I've proven that my actions against Professor Snape were both justified and legal, is there anything else, Minister?"
Fudge cleared his throat. "Yes... It's about Sirius Black."
"And?" Harry made a 'get on with it!' gesture with his hand.
"As I said earlier, I believe it would be prudent for you to remain in Diagon Alley until Black has been captured and Kissed. It simply isn't safe for you here."
"And I've proven that it is. Since Snivellus and Black were contemporaries at Hogwarts, they should, in theory, have roughly equal skill and power levels. I managed to wipe the floor with Snivellus and I don't think I'd have any problems with Black."
"Nonetheless, as the Minister, I'm ordering that you remove yourself from this Muggle neighbourhood and book a room at the Leaky Cauldron until this mess is cleared up."
Harry stared for a moment, before saying, "No."
Fudge puffed up importantly. "I'm the Minister, boy, and you will-"
"Do nothing that he doesn't want to do." Hermione interrupted firmly. "You don't have the authority to make Harry stay in the Leaky Cauldron. You don't have the authority to remove him from my house simply because you want to be seen to be doing something. And you have no right to come to my house to throw your weight around."
Fudge exploded angrily. "How dare you! I am the Minister and what I say goes!"
"Then say 'away' and go away!" Harry roared back. "Both of you, get off the Grangers' property and do not return!"
Hermione turned and fled, heading back into the house. Harry blinked as she vanished, before deciding that she must have had a good reason for doing so. "I've had enough of the both of you. Leave now."
Dumbledore and Fudge both drew their wands, each determined to put the little shit back in his place. Dumbledore, of course, forgot about his Unbreakable Vow and dropped his wand as his chest erupted into fire.
Fudge glanced down at the now-gasping, kneeling Headmaster, before turning to glare back at Harry. "What have you done to him, boy?"
"Nothing." Harry said. "And don't call me 'boy'." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "You know, I've been pretty lax about enforcing the social niceties, but that ends now. From now on, you will refer to me as-"
"Lord Potter?" A new voice asked. Harry glanced over his shoulder, spotting Amelia Bones and a young woman in an Auror cadet uniform stood just behind him.
"Madam Bones!" Harry said joyfully. "What a delight to see you. And... Nym? Is that you?"
The woman looked up, her face morphing slightly into the 'normal' heart-shaped face of Nymphadora Tonks. "Hey, Harry!" She said happily. "Good to see you!"
"You, too." Harry returned. "Looking good, Nym. Are you a second year already?"
"Yep." She said proudly. "Of course, you'd know that if you ever wrote. You never call, you never write..."
"And you're just as bad as I am." Harry pointed out unnecessarily.
"I am stood right here!" Fudge roared. "I will not be ignored by the likes of you, boy!"
"Cornelius!" Amelia scolded. "Remember yourself! You are speaking to the Lord of an Ancient and Noble House!"
"He's just a child!"
"And still a Lord." Amelia said. "Why are you here bothering Lord Potter?"
"I have ordered that he move himself to the Leaky Cauldron so that he may be protected against Sirius Black and he has refused that order."
Bones looked confused. "Why would you want him in the Leaky Cauldron?"
"Where he can be kept safe, of course!"
"The Leaky Cauldron is not a secure location, Cornelius. Surely, if you wanted to place him in protective custody, an Auror safe-house would be the proper place, not a public house that is pretty much the centre of travel in London."
"I think it's because if I'm in the Leaky Cauldron," Harry said, spotting Hermione returning from her self-imposed mission, although, if he was honest, he guessed that she'd used the Box's Floo connection to call for his protectors, "I can say how grateful I am of the Minister's 'care and protection'."
Amelia glared at Fudge so hotly, Harry was amazed the man hadn't burst into flame. After all, with witches and wizards, that was always a possibility due to accidental magic outbursts. "Is that it, Cornelius? You don't actually care about protecting Lord Potter, just making sure that you can get some support from the young man?"
Fudge looked uncomfortable at the questions. "If the boy would just do as he is told, we wouldn't be having these problems."
"Leave this place." Amelia said. "Miss Granger?"
"Director?" Hermione asked politely.
"As the only permanent resident of this property present, I would like to know if Minister Fudge, or Professor Dumbledore, for that matter, is welcome here."
"I can assure you they are not, Director. I've asked them several times to leave and to not bother us again, but neither has had the decency to listen to me."
Amelia nodded. "I see. Minister Fudge, Professor Dumbledore, I must ask you to leave this place immediately, or I will have no choice but to place you both under arrest for trespassing on private property."
Dumbledore looked up, glared, grabbed his wand and disapparated away. Fudge stared at Amelia, before pulling something from his pocket, squeezing it and disappearing in a rainbow of colour.
"Thank you." Hermione said to Madam Bones. "I appreciate you coming so quickly."
Amelia sighed as she pinched the bridge of her nose. "I don't understand why they're both being so... pig-headed. Not to mention Snape."
Hermione glanced at Harry, who nodded his head wearily. "Madam Bones, I-"
"Amelia." Bones interrupted. "Call me Amelia."
"Amelia, then." Hermione said. "I think it's because of Harry's fame, fortune and general abilities."
"Yes..." Amelia said with another sigh. "I've had several letters recently about the events at Hogwarts. Since you told everyone in the Great Hall what happened, those children have told their parents and friends. It's created quite a few questions that, frankly, I don't have the answers to."
"You will have them." Harry said. "Just not yet, Madam Bones."
"And why not?"
"Because it is not yet time. Soon, but we're not quite there yet. There are still things to come."
"I'm not a patient person." Amelia protested gently.
"Who is?" Harry asked with a grim chuckle. "The future is all around us, Madam Bones. Waiting, in moments of transition to be born in moments of revelation. No-one knows that shape of that future, or where it will take us. (2) What we do now is wait for those moments of revelation."
Amelia sighed. "Very philosophical, Harry."
Tonks looked intrigued. "So... you're working on building the future?"
"It's what everyone does, Tonks." Harry said casually. "I'm trying to work on building the best future that I can. When I do explain... you will understand."
A couple of hours later, Harry had just finished making dinner as the front door opened, revealing Dan and Emma. As they took off their coats and shoe, they immediately headed to the dinner table.
"So... what did we miss?"
Harry and Hermione quickly began recounting the events of the day. Both Dan and Emma looked angry at the situation, but pleased that Harry had once again stood up for Hermione against the fools of the magical world.
"I just don't get it." Emma said. "Why aren't any of them listening to you?"
"I've been wondering that myself. It seems as though each and every one of them is planning on hounding me until I acquiesce to their demands. It's getting bloody tiresome, to be honest. It's like the same thing keeps happening again and again and again."
"Is there any way to stop them?" Dan asked. "Some kind of magic where they can't see you or something?"
"I can't think of any." Harry admitted. "I think I'll just blank them... much as I can, anyway. Dumbledore just won't take the blasted hint, and Fudge... well, he's an idiot." He shook his head. "Anyway, let's ignore the fools for now. Got plans for this summer... oh, yes..."
After dinner, Harry headed inside his Portkey Box, intent on getting some real work done during the summer, instead of the same old, tired battles against Dumbledore and the rest of the fools. He headed into the storage room where the remains of Blink the basilisk were kept. Inside the room was a workbench, with a gnarled piece of oak sitting on top.
Conjuring a barstool and sitting down, Harry began to wave his wand over the wood, looking for impurities that would ruin the wand he was planning to make for Hagrid.
The door opened with the faintest hint of a creak as a bushy-haired brunette poked her head round. "What ya doin'?" She asked.
Harry glanced up. "I was about to start making Hagrid's wand. Wanna watch?"
Hermione was inside and stood beside him before he'd finished speaking. With a flick of his wand, Harry conjured her an identical stool next to his own. She sat down and leaned forward intently. "So, where do we start?"
Resisting the urge to chuckle and add a sarcastic 'we?', Harry just gestured to the branch. "First of all, I need to make certain this branch is suitable. The tree it was attached to was absolutely infested with bowtruckles, which is usually a very good sign that the wood is wand quality, but the last thing we need is to have the wood be infected with anything."
He completed his scan before turning back to Hermione. "It's good. There's no lice or other impurities in the wood."
Hermione was on the edge of her stool. "How do you determine the length?" She asked breathlessly, eagerly anticipating some new knowledge. "I mean... my wand is 10¾ inches. Why is that the length that works, instead of 10½ or 11?"
"For the most part, the magic that's imbued into the wand will determine it's shape and length." Harry said knowledgeably. "It's part of the same 'wand chooses the wizard' routine that Ollivander quotes. While I'm making this, I'll be imbuing it with magic..." He trailed off as he looked at Hermione. "And you can help, too."
"I don't know anything about this." Hermione protested gently. "What if I mess it up?"
"What makes you think you can?" Harry shot back. "Hermione, we're not talking about a test. It's woodwork and magic. I'll be doing the woodwork and supplying some of the magic and you can help."
"Shouldn't Hagrid be involved, through?" Hermione asked. "I mean, if the wand is for him, maybe he should be here."
Harry was on his feet and heading into the console room, setting co-ordinates and dematerialising the ship as Hermione trailed after him. He quickly jabbed a few runes on the console, activating his communication mirror to the Grangers, so they wouldn't worry.
Hagrid was sitting in front of his fireplace, knitting something. With Hagrid, you could never tell what it was he was knitting. Half the time, not even when he'd finished it. He heard the distinctive wheezing/groaning sound he'd come to learn was his Head of House/Patron. He placed the knitting on the table, making certain the ball of wool wouldn't head into the fireplace, before standing and heading to the door. After a moment of deliberation, he reached down and plucked his crossbow from the floor. He was finally beginning to realise that you could never be too careful.
Opening the door, he spotting the silver box stood just a few feet from his cabin. The door opened, revealing Harry's grinning face. "Hi, Hagrid!"
The child-in-a-giant's-body reached behind the door, putting his crossbow back, before heading outside. "Harry!" He slammed a meaty hand onto the boy's shoulder affectionately. Fortunately (for Harry), he'd managed to brace his knees and kept to his feet. It was close, though.
"Come on in, my friend." Harry said, stepping back and opening the other half of the door. It looked to be a struggle until Hagrid turned sideways and almost folded himself in half. He managed to get inside, standing straight up once he was through the too-small doors.
Hagrid blinked as he found himself inside the console room of the most advanced machine on the planet. The flickering lights on the console caught his attention. "Harry... what is this place?"
Harry just smiled. "The place where I'm making you a new wand, my friend. Come with me." Harry headed to a small doorway near the back of the room, before stopping at the console and jabbing a few controls. The doorframe expanded to be nine feet tall and four feet wide; enough for Hagrid to pass through without having to give himself a backache.
Once inside the small lab, Harry conjured a steel chair, reinforced to handle Hagrid's weight. He quickly explained what was going on and began to work. Both Hermione and Hagrid were quiet as they watched Harry remove the bulk of the excess wood, before handing the three-foot branch to Hermione.
"I want you to infuse this with your magic, Hermione."
Taking the branch, Hermione looked blankly at him. "How do I do that?"
"Just focus on your magic." Harry said soothingly, before glancing up at Hagrid. "Pay attention. You'll be doing this in a moment."
Hagrid just nodded silently.
"Your magic, Hermione. It's a living, breathing thing inside of you. It's part of who you are. Part of who and what defines you. Focus on the feeling you get before casting a spell. That ball of energy in the bottom of your stomach that rises up and travels along your right arm into the wand. It's your magic."
Hermione had closed her eyes as she listened to her boyfriend. Hagrid blinked in shock as the brunette began to glow faintly. Although he'd never passed school, he'd been around long enough to watch many great witches and wizards pass through the halls of Hogwarts... and he'd seen some amazing things. He knew that this was the precursor to learning wandless magic. He'd seen Dumbledore himself (great man, Dumbledore!) learning wandless magic for a lark... and he'd begun the same way.
"You can feel it." Harry stated. "You can feel the magic inside of you."
"Push it into the wood, Hermione. There's a wand in there somewhere. It's for your friend. You know him and you know what sort of person he is. You can feel the wand inside. It's just waiting to be carved. The wand knows what it looks like. All you need to do is help clear away the sawdust from around it."
Hagrid took a chance and placed his hand on the other end of the branch, closing his eyes and looking inwards. He began to glow, much brighter than Hermione, although that wasn't unexpected. Hermione was about to turn fourteen while Hagrid was sixty-four, in the prime of his magic for a wizard. It also helped that Hagrid had been using a broken wand for almost five decades, resulting in him pushing far more of his internal magic into the pieces to get even a few sparks.
Harry had to suppress a grin as he could almost see the outline of the wand being formed inside the branch. It looked to be almost two feet long and about as thick as Hagrid's thumb. More of a baton than a wand, but certainly big enough to use the unicorn hair he'd been gifted with. Maybe a couple of other items, too...
Using his wand, Harry began to shave the branch. It had long been established that you couldn't using metal tools when shaping wands. The old legends of cold iron interfering with magic were based on reality and a steel drill bit would render the wood unusable.
While shaving, Harry conjured a small fan that sent the sawdust away from the three. Nothing would be worse than the whole thing being botched up because somebody sneezed.
"Keep going." Harry whispered softly. "You're doing it."
Neither Hagrid nor Hermione opened their eyes or acknowledged him in any way, but Harry could see Hermione's glow become a little brighter.
The Force is strong in this one... He thought to himself as Hermione enhanced her connection to her magic through a form of meditation. It had taken her years to get to this point in the original timeline, shortly after her nineteenth birthday. But comparisons like that would have to wait until he was finished.
By now, the three foot branch he'd handed to Hermione was a good eight inches shorter. Neither Hermione nor Hagrid had noticed that their hands had moved closer together as the branch had shrunk, but they were still highlighting the shape of the wand and crafting it's powers.
Standing up, Harry discretely placed his hand on Hagrid's shoulder. "I'm going to pluck out one of your hairs, Hagrid. Don't stop what you're doing."
Hagrid nodded minutely, not even flinching when Harry pulled out one of his long hairs. Looking at the hair intently, Harry was glad that the follicle was still intact. He moved behind Hermione and leaned down to whisper. "Hermione, can I have a hair?"
The girl nodded slightly, her face grimacing for a moment as the hair was plucked.
Reaching up to his own head, Harry pulled out a hair, almost sniggering as he noticed his was about two inches long, while Hagrid and Hermione's were at least ten inches long each.
Harry conjured a small, shallow tray and place the three hairs inside it. He raced back into the console room, where a vacuum-sealed bottle sat underneath the console, containing the unicorn hair he'd gotten earlier in the summer.
Returning to the lab, he placed the four hairs into the shallow tray before tapping the glowing pair on their shoulders.
As the two opened their eyes, the glow faded away. They both looked at Harry expectantly, before glancing down at the branch... or where the branch had been. Now, there was a rough wand sitting on the table in front of them. It needed sanding, shaping and polishing... but it was undoubtedly the beginning of a wand.
"Hagrid, I need you to do something for me." Harry said, passing over the tray. "These hairs need to soak in your blood for at least seven days."
Hagrid flinched. "Harry, my blood's not exactly... well, it's not normal."
Harry just snorted. "Who the hell wants to be normal? I want you to make certain there's enough blood to cover all four hairs."
Taking the tray, Hagrid stared at the hairs for a moment. "You're giving this to me?"
"Yeah." Harry replied casually. "You're going to keep it while they're soaking. I know that quite a lot of damage can be done to a witch or wizard if you have their blood, so you're going to keep hold of them while they soak. Don't keep it in the coldbox; you'll kill the blood. Just above your fireplace would be best with a cooling charm. It needs to stay at body temperature."
Hermione stood and made her way out of the room, heading into the small potions lab to grab a knife, before heading back into the other room. She passed the knife to Harry so he could Scourgify it before Hagrid placed a rough cut across his palm. The blood began to pool before he allowed it to drip into the tray.
Once the hairs were covered, Hermione grabbed her wand and glanced at Harry. "It's undetectable in here, right?" She asked for confirmation.
"Yeah. And the fact we're at Hogwarts just makes it doubly so."
Hermione cast a sealing charm on Hagrid's wound. Watching as his flesh began to close slowly, she glanced up. "Why's it taking so long?"
"I..." Hagrid swallowed roughly. "I... er..."
"Hermione, the spell works differently on different people." Harry said smoothly. "Just be patient."
The wound closed, leaving no trace of a scar. Hermione cast an Evanesco and a Scourgify, leaving the room blood-free. "All done." She said softly.
Harry placed a lid on the tray before vacuum-sealing it. "Okay, Hagrid. That's everything for tonight. Remember; at least seven days. The longer the better. Hermione and I will be going on holiday shortly, so it's probably best that we do this when we come back."
Hagrid reached into his pocket and pulled out his watch. "Great Merlin, it's almost 11pm! Shouldn't you kids be heading home to bed?"
"Trying to get rid of us, Hagrid?" Harry teased as he stood up. "You're right, though. I'm tired, and I imagine Hermione is, too."
The brunette yawned in confirmation. Pouring that much magic into the wand had left her feeling a little drained. A good night's sleep would be quite welcome. She ambled into the console room as Harry let Hagrid out, then settled into one of the chairs for the short ride home.
(1) Officially, the best breakfast ever. Especially good after a night on the sauce and you're as pale as a boiled shite in the morning, your stomach is growling and you feel like sucking on the garden hose, you're that dehydrated. That breakfast, and six mugs of tea, gets you ready for a full day of work. I speak from experience here, people...
(2) For this speech, watch Babylon 5's end-of-season episode for season 3: "Z'ha'dum". Any speech by the late Andreas Katsulas is worth watching.