Disclaimer: Not my characters, no money being made, etc., etc.
Chapter 1: Hermione's Visit
The touch of a young witch's fingertips caught Harry Potter by surprise.
"Shhhsh, Harry," the young witch said, as she pulled him into a loose embrace. "It's just a bad dream…everything's going to be alright."
"Hermione?" the young wizard asked. "What are you doing here?"
"Testing defenses," the muggleborn witch replied, as she sat beside him.
"What time is it?" asked Harry, as he reached for his glasses.
Hermione glanced at the analog alarm clock propped on Dudley's old desk.
"You were having a nightmare, so I decided…"
"You could tell I was having a nightmare from your parent's house and decided to come help me?"
"Well, not quite," replied, Hermione, as she reached down into her bag and retrieved a bottle of water.
"Something to drink?"
As Harry sat up in bed and gratefully accepted the water he asked, "So how did you find this house…and how'd you get past whoever is on guard duty tonight?"
"I could hear Dung snoring from half-way down the block," Hermione replied. "As for finding your street address, well…yesterday afternoon I asked mum and dad to follow your Uncle here from King's Cross…I was a little worried about that shade of puce your Uncle was sporting after Mad-Eye had words with him. Did you know we only live about twelve miles apart as the broom flies?"
"No, I didn't." Craning his neck towards the darkened window Harry then asked, "Are your parents outside, then?"
Hermione chuckled as she reached down and pinched his thigh, which was covered only by a threadbare, translucent sheet. "Of course not, silly…they have to go to work in the morning."
"So…do they even know you're here?"
"Not as such," Hermione admitted. "They bought me a motorized scooter to get around this summer… I slipped out once they turned in for the night."
"Aren't they going to be worried if they find out?"
Hermione smiled and shook her head. "I put a mild muggle-repelling charm on both my bedroom door and yours."
"You did what?" Harry asked. "But you're still underaged, aren't you?"
Shrugging her shoulders, Hermione replied, "Did I ever tell you that I've been doing some part-time consulting with Fred and George? I stopped by their shop today and picked up a bag of goodies that included a pad of charmed Post-its. Each notice-me-not note is reusable."
Harry raised his eyebrows. "That's rather creative…not to mention sneaky. What happened to my best friend the prefect?"
"I blame it all on your corrupting influences, Mr. Potter," his best friend replied, punctuating her comment with another thigh squeeze. "That, and my acceptance of the fact that many things can be justified in the name of the greater good."
"Greater good?" asked Harry. "Hmmm…not that I'm complaining about your company, but how are you rationalizing that line of reasoning?"
"Simple," Hermione replied. "I told Professor Dumbledore that you shouldn't be kept isolated this summer, and expressed concern about the level of protection provided here on Privet Drive."
"And he said that you needed some time alone, and that this was the safest place in the world for you right now."
"And I respectfully disagreed," stated Hermione. "Then he said that we couldn't write to you, just like last year, and you remember how well that worked out, right?"
"The Headmaster was talking about owls being tracked, so I suggested that the Order members that are guarding you could pass letters back and forth for us."
"What did he say to that?"
"That the Order has orders not to approach you our your relatives for fear that they'd incite your Aunt and Uncle."
"Well, a bit late for that," Harry grunted. "They might have meant well, but like you said, Uncle Vernon was furious when Mad-Eye and the others tried to intimidate him at King's Cross."
"Are you okay?" Hermione asked. "He seemed to have it under control, at least from the car to your front door."
Harry shook his head. "He's well practiced on keeping up appearances within sight of the neighbors. Once the door was closed he locked my trunk up under the stairs and.sent me straight up here to my room…I've had no food since and only been let out once to use the loo."
Hermione nodded sympathetically as she reached back into her bag and pulled out a Styrofoam container and a piece of crockery. "I was afraid of that, so I brought you some of mum's curry, a bit of fruit, and a magical chamber pot."
"A magical chamber pot? Where did you find that?"
"A second-hand shop in the Alley."
"You bought me aused chamber pot?" asked Harry.
"Well…you could always think of it as 'refurbished'," Hermione said playfully. "Consider it an early birthday present"
"Thanks, just what I always wanted."
"You're welcome, Harry…so where was I?…Oh yes, when I asked why you had to come back at all the Headmaster gave me the standard reply about your mum's protection needing to be recharged, and the strength of the wards around the house. He wasn't too happy when I then asked why guards were needed if the wards were that strong."
"Let me guess…the guards are here to keep me inside more than to keep the bad guys outside."
"Right in one, I'm afraid," agreed Hermione. "But that didn't stop me from insisting that there was wisdom in the phrase 'Trust, but verify."
"Meaning that it's not enough to trust that the wards will keep you safe…we need to verify that fact. It was hard to refute that logic, so the Headmaster and I reached an agreement."
"You two reached an agreement about my staying here?" asked Harry. "And where was I during all this?"
"Erm…holed up in your dormitory, I'm afraid," Hermione said. "Look, Harry, I know I should have asked you before, but….I guess I didn't want to get your hopes up about getting any visitors this summer in case I wasn't able to break through the wards."
Harry nodded, finding it hard to stay mad at Hermione. "So…about this agreement?"
Hermione reached back into her bag (which Harry thought must have had a charmed interior, given its size) and pulled out that morning's edition of The Daily Prophet and a small magical camera. "Professor Dumbledore said that if I could discover your location, sneak past the wards and Order guards, enter your room, and lay hands on you that he'd consider moving you away from your Aunt and Uncle's."
Harry thought that this was the best news that he'd heard since Madame Pomfrey told him that Hermione would make a full recovery from Dolohov's curse, but tried to temper his enthusiasm.
"He only promised to consider it?"
Hermione nodded. "I said that it was a compromise," she explained.
"So what's with the newspaper and camera?"
Hermione brightened up. "Documentation…I'll give Dumbledore a picture of you and me holding up today's newspaper as a kind of date stamp."
"That's right," said Hermione. "Of course, since I've already read it, once the picture is taken I might as well leave it behind, right?"
Harry glanced at the lead story on the newspaper's front page and smiled.
"You are a crafty one, Hermione Granger," he said with admiration. "Except for one detail."
"Need someone to snap the picture."
Hermione smiled as she set the camera on Harry's desk and aimed it towards Harry.
"Delayed exposure button," she explained.
Harry's eyes went wide, not so much from the response, but from the view provided down Hermione's V-neck jumper as she leaned over to look into the camera's viewfinder. A thin white scar started at Hermione's left collarbone and disappeared in between breasts which seemed to be swaying a bit too independently to be constrained by a bra.
"Harry," snarked Hermione, "I'm supposed to be the one checking out the view right now."
"Oh, erm…sorry, Hermione," Harry replied bashfully. "I spotted the scar, and that got me thinking, and worrying…."
"And wondering where the scar ends up?" asked Hermione with a smile. Pleased that her choice of wardrobe had finally been noticed, she added, "Well, I think those bright red cheeks will look lovely in the picture."
Before Harry could reply she set the camera timer and dashed back to the bed. One hand wrapped around Harry's waist as the other held the newspaper's front page in front of them.
"Well that's an easy enough request," Harry replied, as he wrapped an arm around Hermione's shoulder.
Once the camera flashed Hermione dropped the newspaper down onto the bed. Neither dropped the arm that was wrapped around the other.
"So, it's late and you should be getting back," replied Harry.
"Eager to kick me out, after all effort I made to get here?"
"No, of course not," Harry replied. "It's just that….so how did you get inside my room, anyway?"
Hermione stretched her legs so that she could snake her hand into the front pocket of her tight black jeans. After a bit of squirming (of which no small portion involved physical contact with Harry's side) she produced a small pocket knife.
"Another slightly-used birthday present," she explained, placing the object in Harry's hand. "I know it can't replace the one that Sirius gave you, but it works just as well when it comes to picking locks."
A surge of emotion welled up inside Harry as Hermione's comments forced him to think again of Sirius's death and the disastrous night inside the Department of Mysteries. He turned the small red object over in his hand, only to discover that it was engraved:
Harry – My door is always open for you – Hermione
"Oh, Hermione, you really didn't need to…"
"Of course I did," Hermione replied. "It was either that or personalize the chamber pot."
Harry shook his head in disbelief. "So you picked the front door lock?"
Hermione nodded. "I thought that I'd have to pick the lock to your bedroom door, as well, but for some reason all of the locks were on the other side of the door."
"Yes, well, doesn't matter so much this summer…I don't really care to see my relatives either."
"What do you mean, 'this summer'?" Hermione asked. "They've locked you in before?"
Harry nodded, then reached back around Hermione's waist to keep her from jumping off of the bed to hex his Aunt and Uncle.
"Please don't hex them right now," he asked. "That'd only get the underage owls flying."
After a loud and deep sigh, Hermione nodded, and pulled Harry into a hug.
"Oh, Harry, I'm so sorry…I never realized just how horrible they were to you…just how horrible of a friend am I?"
"Sshhh, stop that," Harry said. "You're my best friend, and you're here now making things so much better than I have a right to expect."
"I'll have none of that wallowing self-pity," said Hermione. Catching Harry's failed attempt to stifle a yawn, she then said, "Why don't you lay down and go back to sleep?"
Harry shook his head. "And be even poorer company that I am presently? No thanks, I'll wait until you leave."
Hermione snorted. "Well that might be a while, Harry, because I've got a book to read and plans to make sure those nightmares don't get the better of you tonight."
"You mean you want to spend the night?"
Shrugging her shoulders again, Hermione replied, "I can always sleep during the day when my parents are at work."
"I don't know…I wouldn't want you to get into trouble on account of me."
"No worries, Harry, I've had lots of experience ducking trouble on your account….now sleep." To emphasize her command, Hermione stood, pushed Harry's shoulders down to the mattress, took his glasses from his face, and pulled his thin blanket up over him.
"Don't know if I can fall asleep with you in the room," Harry replied.
Hermione smiled as she leaned over to kiss Harry's forehead.
"Well you're going to have to try, Harry, because I'm going to need to use that chamber pot sometime soon and I'd rather you be asleep at the time."
Harry laughed quietly. "That comment's not going to help, you know."
Pushing Harry's shoulder down with a fake pout, Hermione replied, "Be a good boy, Harry, and maybe I'll let you help me apply Madame Pomfrey's scar-removing salve in the morning.
"That thought is definitely not going to help me sleep."
As she took out her book and sat on Harry's desk chair, Hermione quipped, "But will it give you something nice to dream about?"
Hermione smiled. "Then it's done its job. Good night, Harry."
"Good night, Hermione," Harry replied.
When Harry woke early the next morning he felt far more than Hermione's fingertips pressed against him. As he slowly regained his wits he realized that he felt rested for the first time in days. Remembering the pleasant dreams that he'd experienced, Harry wondered just how much they had been influenced by Hermione's presence (not to mention her body, which was presently spooned tightly against his back). But he didn't wonder too long, as there was a much more pressing issue to address - how to extricate himself from Hermione's grasp without revealing his morning condition (and its tenting effect).
When Harry tried to slip out from Hermione's embrace she murmured a sleepy protest and snuggled more tightly against him. He then tried some self-distraction with thoughts of Umbridge and Neville's socks, only to determine that his physiological response had more to do with a full bladder than female company. As a last resort he turned over onto his stomach and whispered a morning greeting.
"Hermione? You need to wake up, it's almost dawn."
"Too tired," she replied weakly. "Need sleep."
"Hermione…do you realize that you're sharing a bed with me?"
That comment provoked a quick response. Hermione's eyes flashed open and she pushed herself back from Harry's body. Unfortunately, there was enough energy in the effort to dump her onto the floor.
"Ooof!" she cried. "Oh my goodness, Harry, I'm so sorry…I didn't mean to…you must think that…oh my…."
"Relax, Hermione," Harry said with a smile. "Nothing happened…at least from what I remember."
"Oh, of course nothing happened," Hermione replied, as she sat up from the floor and checked her outfit (which was wrinkled, but otherwise in place). "You started into another nightmare soon after you fell asleep, and the only thing that seemed to help was when I held you, and I was only going to do that until you calmed down, but then I must have fallen asleep, and…."
"Relax, Hermione….and thanks…it worked like magic."
"Really?" asked Hermione. "Well…good, I guess."
Harry nodded. "You are such a good friend, you know…too good."
"Stop!" interrupted Hermione. "Had enough of that wallowing last night."
"Alright," said Harry. "So, you really should get going, before my relatives wake up."
"Right," Hermione replied. She began to gather her things into her bag, and then asked, "Will you check and see if Dung is still out there dead to the world? He was propped up inside the hedge out front."
"Erm, sure, no problem…except, I'll need you to turn around and close your eyes."
"Because, well…. I need to test drive that magical chamber pot, and it shows."
"It shows?" asked Hermione. "What do you mean?"
Harry sighed. "My body, Hermione…in the morning…a full bladder..."
"Oh, I see…of course…" Hermione stammered, as her neck and cheeks flushed red. Despite her obvious embarrassment, Harry noticed a thin smile on Hermione's lips as she closed her eyes and turned away from the bed. He quickly did his business, thankful that the magical chamber pot had a built-in silencing charm.
"There's a wizard wipe on the top of the bookshelf," Hermione said, with eyes still shut.
"Thanks," Harry replied, as he put the magical hand cloth to good use.
"Can I open my eyes yet?"
"Almost," replied Harry.
"Guess you have to develop a large bladder when you only get to go once a day," Hermione quipped.
"No, it's not that…just waiting for…well, you know…"
"Oh, right. So does it take long to…erm, deflate?"
Harry chuckled, despite himself. "Deflate?" he asked. "It's not a balloon, you know."
"Well, what verb should I be using then?"
"Erm…'soften' usually works."
"Right….still softening, then?"
"Hermione, the less we talk about the process, the faster it will go."
Hermione giggled. "Didn't know I had that kind of effect on you, Mr. Potter."
Harry's eyebrows lifted up into his hairline. "Would you really want to know if you did?"
"Right, well, I keep that in mind," Harry replied quickly. He then added, "You can turn around now."
Hermione turned to find Harry holding out his invisibility cloak.
"Here, this should help if you need to take a turn."
Smiling, Hermione stepped forward, accepted the cloak, and reached up to plant a kiss on Harry's cheek.
"My gallant knight to the rescue."
As Hermione stepped over the pot and wrapped the cloak around her body Harry decided that he really didn't feel all that comfortable being there (even if he couldn't see or hear anything). Telling Hermione that he was going to check on the guard situation, he left the room, and crept quietly downstairs. When he returned, Hermione had her bag packed and shouldered, and his cloak folded neatly on his desk top.
"Keep the cloak," said Harry. "Dung's gone and I think that Hestia Jones has taken his place."
"How do you know that, Harry?"
"Her perfume smells a lot better than Dung's tobacco," Harry replied. He then stepped over to his chest of drawers and pulled out a pair of running shorts, t-shirt and socks. Too worried about Hermione getting caught to realize he was giving her a good view of his boxers, Harry changed out of his pajamas and grabbed his trainers from under his bed.
"I'm going to go out for a run," he told Hermione. "Or at least try to. You follow under my cloak, and keep going if Hestia stops me."
"Alright," said Hermione. "But what if you need your cloak back?"
Harry smiled as he finished tying his shoes. "You've already demonstrated the ability to make deliveries, right?"
Hermione smiled back and asked, "Are you sure this isn't a sneaky way of ensuring that you have some more late-night company?"
"Does it matter?" asked Harry.
Hermione smiled broadly. "Not really."