La Blue Wizard
a HP fanfic by canoncansodoff
Disclaimer: Not my characters, no money being made, etc., etc.
Chapter 16: A Game Ended Early
A small-scale battle broke out between broomstick-flying Gryffindor and Slytherin supporters just a few moments after James Potter made his sternly worded demands of the Headmaster. The hexes and jinxes being tossed back and forth necessarily held the Auror Captain's attention (and kept all of the available MLE staff occupied for a good bit of time).
Whether the fighting had been cleverly instigated by the Hogwarts Headmaster in order to divert attention away from his staff was an open question…not that the lack of evidence kept James from reaching his own conclusions. Some good did come of the situation, though…James and Poppy used it to convince Lily that they could care for Harry, and that she should return home with Nia and Morgan. This allowed Harry to escape with only a small bit of embarrassment, generated by a mum that kept rubbing his head and lower back during her hugs, and a seven-year old sister who insisted on asking Daphne if she was now her brother's girlfriend.
James escorted the Hogwarts Matron and her two charges to the front doors of the castle, then returned to the stadium to gather reinforcements for his meeting with the Headmaster. He wanted to take a good-sized force with him, in case Quirrell (and hopefully Snape) resisted arrest. But with all that was happening, the only person available that he trusted enough to watch his back was Sirius. There was a risk in going into a dangerous situation short some wands, but an even greater risk in James's mind if they waited…he knew that he'd shaken up Dumbledore, and didn't want to allow the old wizard time to recover his balance. And both James and Sirius were Gryffindor's right?
So it was just the two of them that rode the climbing staircase that led to the Headmaster's Office. But it was only Dumbledore and Snape who were waiting for them, so at least the Aurors weren't outnumbered.
It took no time at all for the ensuing conversation to become heated.
"So let me make sure I'm hearing you correctly, Snape," James fumed. "You were in the stands, sitting right next to Quirrell. You knew that he was attempting to murder Miss Greengrass by hexing her broom. You knew as well that this required Quirrell to maintain constant eye contact with his target. You could have stunned him, or confounded him….hell, a simple slap in the face would have done the trick. But no, instead…you decide to try to counteract the hex."
"Try to counteract…and fail," added Sirius.
Snape glared at the two Aurors.
"I am a Potions Master…not a law enforcement officer."
"You are also a professor of this school, and have a primary responsibility for ensuring the safety and welfare of your students."
"That is exactly what I was doing, you idiot!"
Dumbledore tried to regain control of the conversation. "Gentleman, please! Auror Captain Potter, I asked Professor Snape to sit next to Professor Quirrell today, just in case of this eventuality."
"You knew that Quirrell was going to attack the girl?"
"Not as such, or I would have certainly notified the MLE. It was a precautionary measure…as we discussed at great length last week after the troll incident, there have been certain quirks in Professor Quirrell's behavior since he returned from his sabbatical."
"Lacking any direct evidence of wrongdoing, and not knowing the reasons for these behavior changes, I instructed my staff to avoid any direct confrontations with Professor Quirrell."
"No lack of evidence of wrongdoing now, though, eh Headmaster?"
"Gentlemen, we still don't know the reasons for this behavior."
"Which is precisely why we need to speak with him straight away," James concluded. "So where is he?"
Dumbledore pursed his lips, not at all liking the Auror's tone of voice. Reluctantly, he called out a house-elf's name. When the diminutive creature appeared, he promptly informed the Headmaster that the defense professor, whom he been tasked with tracking, was presently in a third-floor hallway.
"Right, we'll be off, then," James declared.
The Headmaster glanced towards his Potions Professor.
"Severus, why don't you assist these Aurors in their search?"
"No bloody way," snarled Sirius. "He's done enough damage already today."
"But I must insist…."
"And I must ignore your request," James retorted. "Rest assured there will be a full inquiry into both of your actions. In the meantime, I suggest you focus less on your schemes, and more on the safe evacuation of students and staff."
Dumbledore engaged in a brief stare down with the Auror before nodding his assent.
"Are you certain that you will not need assistance?" he asked.
"I'll send a message if we need your help, Headmaster," James stated curtly, as he strode out the office with Sirius close behind.
The two who remained in the room stared at the door for a moment, before Snape asked, "So what happens when Quirrell confirms their suspicions and nails down their indictments?"
"Ah…you are jumping a few steps ahead of pace, Severus," the Headmaster intoned sagely. "I sincerely doubt that Professor Quirrell and his….companion…will surrender willingly, or provide any incriminating testimony."
Snape pursed his thin lips. "So there will be a duel to the death…and if Potter and Black win?"
"Then I will recommend to their superiors that they be commended for going above and beyond the call of duty."
"And if they lose?"
Dumbledore shrugged. "Then the awards will be given posthumously."
The wizened wizard reached for a lemon drop, and casually added, "I trust that, should the latter be the case, you will be able to wait until after their funerals before you dance on their graves?"
The edges of the Potions Master's lips curled up into a thin grin. "As if you wouldn't be in search of a dance partner, after all of Potter's interference on the Board, or within the Wizengamot?"
The Headmaster snorted, and accepted the charge gracefully.
"We would do well to follow the Auror Captain's instructions," he said. "Although, with all of the…disturbances…outside the castle, perhaps keeping the students to their dormitories would be more prudent?"
"You're not going to…"
"No, but you are," replied the Headmaster. "I leave it to you to oversee the evacuation."
"While I give Potter and Black a sufficient head start."
James and Sirius didn't encounter anything or anyone until they reached the stairs leading up to the third floor, where Peeves was trying to set up a prank involving loosened carpet.
"Who's there?" the poltergeist called out.
"Two Marauders on a mission," James barked.
Peeves almost fell out of the air in shock.
"Nasty-wasty Marauders…back again to torture Old Peeves and trap him inside of a box again?"
"If you don't get out of our way we will," Sirius declared.
"Ought to call Filch, I should, if the Marauders are sneaking around the castle again."
Sirius snorted, and began to sing off-key.
"When a poltergeist…ain't playing nice….who ya goin' to call?"
Peeves squealed in fear, and shot out away from the two wizards like a balloon rapidly losing its air. This allowed James and Sirius to enter the forbidden (but opened) doorway.
Where they came face-to-face-to-face with a sleeping three-headed beast.
"Fluffy?" James whispered to himself.
"This monster has a name?" Sirius asked, pointing his wand towards the snoring cerebus.
Harry's father nodded. "One of Hagrid's pets…music puts him to sleep…so start singing so that he doesn't wake while we pass by!"
"No, you idiot…anything will do!"
"Erm…right…Ooooohhh…..Macho, Macho Man….I want to be a Macho Man…"
"The Village People?" James hissed.
"Said it didn't mat-ter, mat-ter, man," Sirius softly sang back. "I want to be a macho….body, body…want to feel…want to feel your body, body…want to touch, want to touch your body, body…."
"Thought it was 'want to feel my body'?"
"Hey, I love you James, but…not like that."
Harry's father ignored the bad attempt at humor and motioned towards a hatch within the middle of the floor. As he approached the opening, he sniffed, and then snorted out some air.
"Hey, Sirius…smells like somebody is smoking hash down there."
"Really?" the Black scion hissed. He stepped forward, breathed in, and smiled.
"Wow…it just seems like yesterday that I was rolling my own…"
"Probably because it could have well been yesterday, you wanker," James snarked. He then leaned forward and took a cautious glance down the opened hatch. The sight of the charred remains of what had been a mass of dense foliage caused him to chuckle.
"You're out of luck, boyo," he whispered. "Unless you can catch a high off of Devil's Snare."
A break in the cadence of the cerebus's snores kept his best friend from vocalizing a witty retort, and the two Aurors quickly dropped down through the hatch.
"Our boy didn't mess around with this stuff, did he?" Sirius asked.
James shook his head, and motioned towards an opened doorway which led to a high-ceiling room filled with flying keys.
"What in Merlin's name is this?" asked Sirius.
"A minor distraction, apparently," surmised James, nodding towards an opened door on the opposite side of the room.
"I'm surprised that these traps didn't reset themselves after Quirrell passed through."
James swatted at a flying key that was buzzing about his head. "What would be the point in that? It would just slow down those who followed behind to either capture or rescue the fool that decided to run this gauntlet."
The armed challenge of life-sized chess pieces tested James's hypothesis.
"What in Merlin's name?"
"McGonagall's work, from the looks of it," the Auror Captain observed. "We're probably supposed to play our way across the board."
"So why does this test look untouched, then?" asked Sirius.
"Maybe Quirrell found a way around it…or over it…if he needed a broom to capture the right key in that last room…"
Sirius nodded, and pulled a shrunken broomstick out of one of his pockets. His friend followed suit, and a few moments later they found themselves flying over the reach of a very unhappy black queen.
The next test of flames, potions, and a riddle appeared to be just as pristine as the chessboard, leading James to wonder out loud if they'd somehow missed their target along the way. Sirius replied by casting a Flame-Freezing Charm upon himself. James smiled and did the same.
"When did you get so smart, partner?"
"Hey, I've always been the smart one…you just never got past admiring my rugged handsomeness."
"Yeah, right," James retorted, as he passed through the wall of flame and pushed into the next room, where the only challenge they faced was stepping over an unconscious Mountain Troll without nudging him awake.
The sound of voices coming from the opened doorway on the other side of the Troll clued the two Aurors in on the fact that they'd finally caught up with their target. They stepped to either side of the opening, where James cautiously extended a hand mirror out to get a glimpse inside. This provided a reflected view of a bare-headed DADA professor standing with his back to a free-standing full-length mirror, engaged in a dialogue with himself.
"There must be a way..." hissed a disembodied voice. "I know Albus has hidden the Stone within this mirror, but how to retrieve it?"
"Perhaps a blasting spell, Master?"
"Bah…so destructive…so unimaginative…I'd have you do it, though, if I didn't fear that the Stone would be damaged…wait…someone is there!"
Harry's father immediately pulled the mirror back, and yelled, "You're under arrest Quirrell. Throw you wand down and place your hands behind your head!"
The response to this request came in the form of a blasting spell aimed at the stone wall above the opened threshold. Sirius cast a hastily-constructed shield over their heads while James banished some of the debris back through the doorway, and the fight was on.
Had this been a "normal" two-on-one wand fight, James and Sirius would have made quick work of Quirrell. But it was more like two versus one-and-a-half…the DADA professor standing with his back to the Mirror of Erised, so that Voldemort could use its reflection to direct their side of the duel from his perch on the back of Quirrell's head. The months that the pseudo-stutterer had spent possessed by the Dark Lord, and the strength gained by a very recent unicorn feeding had turned the Professor into a very formidable opponent.
Within seconds, that formidable opponent had banished Sirius against a stone wall, rendering him unconscious. James was then caught by a disarming spell that was snuck in between the Unforgivables that he was dodging.
Quirrell quickly bound Harry's father, then faced away from his captive so that his master could do the typical evil-villain expository gloat…a gloat that made no attempt to conceal the spirit's identity as a disembodied Dark Lord.
James might have gained some valuable insights into Voldemort's phantasmal psyche, had the demon within him not decided to cut the speech short with an eruption of tentacles and shredded robes.
What passed for eyes on the back of Quirrell's head went wide, and Voldemort shouted for his host to turn around and start hurling killing curses. The shout, however, only provided a convenient target…as two tentacles shot out to hold the DADA professor's arms in place, a third appendage made straight for the parasite's opened mouth and plugged it full.
There was a sick squishing noise…a sound barely discernible over Quirrell's screams…while demon-James's fourth tentacle snaked around his target's neck and yanked backwards. The tip of the third tentacle popped out the front of the dead man's head (right behind his left eyeball), and the body collapsed.
The naked demi-demon retracted his tentacle from his victim's head, paying no mind to either the splattering of brain matter that erupted when the tip cleared the gaping hole, nor the phantasmal spirit that followed close behind.
Expressions of surprise…and fear…and understanding…passed across the spirit's "face" as it floated in front of his multi-limbed executioner. There was a moment's pause, as the phantasm considered a possession attempt. But James was slowly retrieving his wand with one of his tentacles, and the desire to hurt that which had just hurt him was too strong. So it roared, and attempted some deadly symmetry as it dove straight through James's head.
The demi-demon didn't blink a blood-shot eye…the pass did no physical harm, and he was too busy trying to regain control of his own body to even notice.
Defeated…but not destroyed…the spirit of Lord Voldemort gave a ghostly scowl, and then escaped through a hewn rock wall.
It took a few moments for the rush of James's transformation and the heat of battle to subside, and for the wizard part of his brain to convince the demon part that: a) the battle had ended, and b) there weren't any shagging targets nearby. Once the more rational side of the Auror Captain's psyche seized control, it sent one tentacle out to Sirius, and three more out in search for his inhaler.
Discovering that the fully-charged inhaler had been smashed to pieces during the battle would have been more of a disappointment had there not been a surge of orgasmic energy transferred into the demi-demon when James's tentacle found a pulse on Sirius's neck.
The product of Sirius's pre-Match shags within The Three Broomsticks did much to calm the demon within, to the point where he could rationally consider just how Sirius and he had managed to avoid skin-to-skin contact after all that they'd been through.
Unfortunately, the energy transfer wasn't enough to completely put the demon in its place. James was stuck in his "a little horny" form (that often made for the best sex)…rational, excited but not enraged, and with a full complement of horns and tentacles.
It was at this point that Sirius moaned and regained a painful consciousness.
"Who whacked me with a bludger bat?" he whined, as he slowly reached for the back of his head. When the back of his hand scraped alongside tentacle flesh, he jumped away from the point of contact.
"What the fu…..James? Is that you?"
"Yes, it's me."
"What the hell happened? Why are you naked….and when did your dick get so huge? And…when did you grow extra arms and horns, and your skin turn blue?"
Harry's father chuckled. "Leave it to you, my friend, to make those observations in that order."
"But….what…what the hell are you?"
"Something that I've always been, Sirius," James replied with a sigh. "I was born this way."
"And…but….I've never seen you looking like this…"
"No, you just don't remember seeing me this way."
"So you always are like this?"
"No, just when the adrenaline…or the testosterone…kicks in."
Sirius tried to process James's comments as he cautiously shifted his gaze away from his six-armed naked friend towards the corpse that lay in between them.
"Sweet Merlin!" he exclaimed. "That's Quirrell?"
"Yes it is…or at least was."
"But it was…the possession?"
"It was Voldemort, and it got away, unfortunately."
"Well you gave him a big enough hole to escape through," Sirius snorted. He then turned back to James and asked, "So if this has happened before, but I don't remem…oh, bloody hell…you memory charmed me!"
"Erm, yeah, sorry mate," said James. "But you've insisted I do it…every time."
"Really?" Sirius asked. "And why the hell would I do that?"
"Because you…oh, right…why don't you see for yourself?"
"And how am I supposed to do that?"
"I haven't erased all those memories," explained James. "You and I worked out a way to securely hide them within that thick skull of yours. You can get them back…just need to hold your wand to your temple and say the magic password."
"Something that you came up with….a phrase that you'd never say accidentally."
The Black scion rolled his eyes (then regretted the action, since it made his head hurt all the more).
"Right, then…what's the password?"
James smiled, and replied, "Fluffy-Bunny-Sevvy-Poo."
Harry's godfather resisted the urge to repeat the painful eye roll as he put his wand tip to his temple and repeated the phrase.
There was a pause, as an unfettered flash of memories passed through Sirius's frontal lobes.
And then he swore.
"Un-fucking-believable!" he exclaimed. "You and Lily…and Emmy?" he shouted. "You, Lily, Emmy and Alice….and Meghan…and Rosmerta…all at the same time?"
"Erm, yeah, well….you should have an explanation floating around in there someplace."
"Yeah, like I'd find it hidden within all of the shagging….Bloody Hell…so that's why you've memory charmed me…couldn't live knowing that you've outshagged me all these years…or that your willie makes mine look like a arse pimple…or that I've had to help you change back by…..oh Hell! You need me to wank right now, don't you?"
"Erm….sorry, mate, but yeah…inhaler busted, and I've already nabbed your residual shagasms."
Sirius glanced up at the horns that still protruded from his friend's mess of black hair and shook his head.
"Why don't I just retrieve Lily?"
James shook his head. "Doubt there's time…Dumbledore's probably already on the way, hoping to pick up the pieces and claim the glory with some concocted story."
"So I really have to…"
"Yes, you do," James replied firmly. "You know I need to keep this condition of mine a secret…it's not just about me…it's my entire family! So drop your trousers and get a hold of yourself!"
Sirius stared at his blue-skinned friend for a second.
"Okay, okay, James…but you owe me!" he declared, as he unzipped himself. "Although how you expect me to get hard around here…Well, hello, Emmy!"
"What? Emmy? Where?"
Sirius pointed towards the Mirror of Erisid. "Right there…in that picture frame. She's with Lil…erm…a few of her friends…and I'm there too, except that I'm starkers, and they're starkers…and they're….."
James turned towards the mirror and frowned. "I see Emmy and Lily, alright, but they're with me, and …oh Hell!"
"Read the Bloody inscription, Mate!" James hissed. "This thing shows you what you most desire."
"Really?" asked Sirius. "So why is Emmy in the mirror when you look at it?"
"Never mind," James scowled. "Why is my wife naked in the mirror when you look at it?"
"Well, you gotta admit…." Sirius replied, as he returned his gaze to the mirror. "Sweet Morgana! Now they're….."
"They're what?" growled an increasingly territorial demi-demon.
"Erm…nothing…nothing at all," Sirius quickly replied. "So why don't you go check on that Troll for a few moments?"
"Because…well…I love you, man, but….you don't want to stand there and watch me…do you?"
"What?" James roared. "You're going to grab the griffon in front of the mirror…what do you see in it?"
"Do you want my wanking energy or not?" asked Sirius.
His demonic friend scowled and stomped out of the room, crushing bits of debris with every frustrated footstep.
"Just be quick about it!" he shouted back.
Sirius smiled as he stood in front of the mirror, opened his robes, and dropped his trousers. Unfortunately, it wasn't going to be anything other than a quick rub if Emmy Vance and the hot new female Arithmancy professor were going to keep taking turns deep-throating his reflective alter-ego.
"If only I could figure out a way to remember this scene," he muttered.
James' enhanced hearing picked up this comment from outside of the room. He shook his head, and said to himself, "No way in hell, my friend."
An Auror Captain who was not even a little horny stepped out of the floo later that night, and directly into the arms of both wives. Their children and guests had already retired, allowing the two witches to ask openly for details beyond the brief and cryptic message that had been delivered by Patronus spell. There were just as quick to worry once privacy wards were set up, and a full accounting was provided of what had taken place…both on the third floor of Hogwarts castle, and later, in the Headmaster's Office.
"And you're certain that this spirit was Voldemort's?" Emmy asked.
"It claimed to be," James replied. "And Dumbledore was quick to concur after the fact."
"And you are certain that this spirit saw you in a transformed state?" asked Lily.
James nodded. "No doubt there…and since it escaped…and is out there someplace…"
"Is it capable of revealing the secret?"
"Probably…assuming that it can find somebody else to possess."
Lily gasped. "So…?"
"So we've got to be ready to move on a moment's notice, and to be more proactive in our planning."
Emmy nodded. "And that's why you agreed to help Dumbledore with the cover-up? To get his support for the reform bill on werewolf rights?"
"Yes," James admitted. "As much as I wanted to throw Snivellous's arse in Azkaban, or drive Dumbledore out of the Headmaster's position."
"Do you think he already knows about you and Harry?" asked Emmy.
James shook his head. "The negotiations would have gone far differently if he had. I'd already fed off of Sirius's tug and fully transformed back by the time Dumbledore showed up."
"But maybe he suspects…given the generic language in your bill about those with non-human heritage?"
"I don't know," James replied. "I was quite clear in linking my bill with Remus's condition, though."
"Speaking of friends," said Lily, "what about Sirius?"
"Back to being blissfully ignorant," James snorted. "Though it really killed him to ask to be memory charmed this time…claimed that it was the most memorable wank of his life."
"Eeew," said Emmy. "Rubbing one off with a dead body right there? No doubt memorable, but who would want to remember something like that?"
"This is Sirius we're talking about, right?" snarked Lily.
"Give him a break," asked James. "I'm sure it was what he was perving on within the mirror that had him so revved up."
"And what was he seeing that had him so excited?"
James shook his head as he described the workings of the Mirror of Erised, and what his friend had claimed he had seen.
Neither Emmy nor Lily were happy with their alleged roles in Sirius's pervy fantasies. Their husband was just as unhappy…although he was quick to declare that he had seen them in the mirror as well…and claim that any red-blood heterosexual man (or demon) would have reason to view them as most desirable.
Emmy and Lily were quick to disagree.
A surge of the demon inside James allowed him to prove the point (at least for himself), as he threw a wife over each shoulder, and carried them off to bed.
The Head of Gryffindor House assigned herself the task of traveling to Hogsmeade to facilitate Hermione's return to Hogwarts one week later. When she arrived, Minerva was surprised to discover that the entire Potter family and her young charge had already been in and around the all-magical village for a couple of hours.
She was even more surprised at Hermione Granger's attire, but decided not to press for details as the younger witch made some reluctant good-byes to her adopted "magic" family. It was only after promises were made to get together during the Christmas holidays that the young witch joined her Transfiguration professor in a horseless carriage for the short ride back to Hogwarts.
The barrage of questions that Minerva had anticipated didn't occur, as the First-Year student's host family had been kept her reasonably well informed about issues like the DADA professor who had allegedly taken a "prolonged" leave of absence (and the Auror named Shacklebolt who had since taken his place). The Assistant Headmistress therefore used the privacy provided by the carriage ride to get an explanation about the new Granger family crest, and to caution the young girl on the need to keep confidences.
There was no disagreement on that last point.
When they arrived at the castle, McGonagall escorted her young charge directly to the Infirmary, as Madame Pomfrey had insisted on a medical examination first thing back. The Matron was in the middle of a potions inventory.
"Ah, Miss Granger…good timing, as I'm fresh out of injured students right now."
Minerva looked at a wall clock and nodded.
"There's just a few hours before curfew…"
"This shouldn't take that long," Poppy noted. "But if it does….I'll send along a note, and ensure that Miss Granger is safely returned to the Tower."
The Assistant Headmistress accepted this response with a smile, told Hermione that she looked forward to seeing her in class the next morning, and took her leave.
"Let's have our chat back in my office," Poppy told the younger witch. "Unless you'd rather pop up on a bed?"
Hermione shook her head, and followed the Matron's lead. She sat stiffly in an offered chair (once it had been cleared of a stack of administrative parchments), and politely declined the offer of tea.
The young witch didn't relax until Poppy pulled the curtains on the window that looked back into the larger room and cast a series of silencing charms on the walls, ceiling, and floor.
"There…that should keep the grass from growing where it shouldn't," Poppy declared. "So how did it go, Hermione?….I hope you don't mind if I call you that in private…"
"Oh, not at all, Madame Pomfrey."
"Then you must do the same, and call me Poppy…at least in private," the Matron replied brightly. "We could well be spending a fair bit of time together, keeping Harry out of harm's way."
"Out of harm's way? Do you think that's actually possible?"
"Fair enough…so, I had lunch with Lily yesterday, and she brought me up to speed. Anything significant happen since then?"
Hermione chewed on her lower lip.
"I don't think so…Mr. Potter ran one more check of my Occlumency barriers this morning, and Sirius Black and I finished up our…a…project. But other than that…after we dropped my mum at the train station this afternoon, the Potters took me to Diagon Alley and then to Hogsmeade."
"Bit of shopping, Dear?"
The young witch nodded. "It was really nice of them…took me out to lunch and dinner, and they introduced me to everyone we met along the way."
"With or without a cloak covering up that new crest on your sleeve?"
Hermione smiled. "With…but my new cloak has the same trimmings," she admitted. "Mr. Potter said that it would have been just as easy to place an advert in the newspapers about my family's new status…I don't think he cares for shopping very much."
"Is there a man that does? So you do know, then…that you and I are the only ones inside the castle besides Harry to know of his condition?"
"Would you like some help sorting things out with him, then?"
"I…I think that I need to do that myself," said the young witch. "Don't know how I'll be able to get through some of it without dying from embarrassment, but…Gryffindors Forward, right?"
The Hogwarts Matron nodded. "Is there anything else I can do, then?"
Hermione sighed. "Well…Lily and Emmy were very…erm…pretty frank and…detailed…in their descriptions."
"Oh, really? About what?"
"About what happens when Harry…or their husband…changes. And what they to do to reverse those changes…and what they do to keep from changing out of the blue."
"Or from changing into blue?"
Hermione's lips formed a rueful smile.
"I didn't known at first whether to laugh, cry, or commiserate when Lily and Emmy told me about Harry's and his father's…needs. The only thing worse would have been if my mum had been part of that little chat."
"But neither of your parents know, right…since they can't do Occlumency?"
"That's right. Still…the whole idea sounds voyeuristic, and pervy, and…and surreal."
"It means that I can hardly believe it."
"I know what it means, Hermione…just didn't expect that adjective to be part of a eleven-year old's vocabulary."
"Well, I am twelve, actually…and I do read books."
"Of course, Dear. So what bothered you the most?"
"The part about Harry…knowing," Hermione admitted. "That he knows when his mums have sex, or when they….whenever they…."
The bushy-haired witch's eyes got big when she remembered something.
"He knows when you…too!"
"When anyone does, actually."
"But he was joking with you about it when he brought me here right after the troll."
Poppy shrugged. "Given the situation, better to laugh than cry."
"But Harry's only eleven, and you are….erm…older than eleven."
"True enough," Poppy admitted. "But Harry has always been mature for his age, and given things…he's never acted like a normal school boy when it comes to...sexual matters."
"Still, he's going to know…I mean, really know…." Hermione fretted.
Poppy asked if, looking back over the first two months of term, and knowing what she now knew about Harry's condition, Hermione thought that he'd ever acted inappropriately. The young witch thought for a moment, then shook her head; while Harry was far more comfortable with hugs or other "innocent" forms of physical contact than a normal eleven-year old boy, there hadn't been anything strange or deviant about his actions (or reactions).
At least as far as Hermione knew. She then reluctantly explained that she hadn't yet been in a…position…to offer up any energy to Harry.
This admission brought a smile to the Matron's lips.
"Nothing wrong with that, Dear, given your age."
"But there are some my age who are…so isn't there…can't you…when I do begin to…can't I just block him or shield him from knowing?"
The sympathetic witch thought for a moment, then snorted.
"Well, there is a way to discharge that energy, once it's generated…if that's what you mean?"
"Filling canisters," Poppy replied. "Didn't Emmy or Lily go over that with you?"
Hermione shook her head. "They talked about Harry's inhaler, and what it contains, but not how those canisters are filled…but maybe…"
"The canisters!" Hermione replied. "I hadn't thought of it before, but if I…when I…eventually…rub…I could put what I created in a canister…I wouldn't have that energy clinging to me the next morning…or whenever. And Harry wouldn't be able to tell!"
"That's true, but…"
"And then, I could give the canisters to you, and if he couldn't tell who had filled them….he can't can he?"
"Apparently not, although he likes to joke about different flavors."
"So then that's the way that I could…you know…without Harry knowing!"
The Hogwarts Matron sighed, and placed a sympathetic hand on the younger witch's knee.
"Hermione…that might not be the best path forward, at this point."
"Really?" the bushy-haired witch asked. "Why not?"
"Perhaps when you are older…?"
"So Harry can only use energy from older people?"
"No, Dear…I was saying you might want to wait a few years before you try to charge canisters for Harry."
Madame Pomfrey was unsure just how she could best satisfactorily explain things in an age-appropriate manner…without embarrassing herself too much. The nurse was sympathetic, but worried that the inquisitive witch was going to continue to pester her for a full explanation. Hermione's statement about "Gryffindors Forward!" then rang in her ears, and Poppy reminded herself that she had once resided in the Lion's Tower, too.
So, she opened a locked desk drawer, and pulled out a very thick, flesh-colored twelve-inch long dildo.
"Because that's the charging device, Hermione."
The preteen's eyebrows disappeared under her bushy bangs as she examined the magically modified sex toy.
Poppy snorted as Hermione's gaze flittered…from dildo…to Poppy's face…to Poppy's lap…back to the dildo…then down to her own lap…
"How does it work?" the young witch finally whispered.
"Well, Dear…you find a private place and time, then apply a liberal amount of lubricant…"
"Not that," Hermione squeaked. The blush on her cheeks was turning quite dark when she added, "I meant…how does the charging process work? Where is the canister?"
The nurse turned the dildo sideways, then leaned forward in her chair so that Hermione could be given a close-up view.
"I don't know how Lily did the Charms work," Poppy admitted. "But see here…there's a little door at the bottom that opens up, so that you can pop the canisters in and out…would you like to try it yourself?"
Hermione's voice broke once more as she leaned back into her chair and shook her head.
"No, that's alright, Poppy, I believe you."
The flustered young witch then asked, "Does it come in different sizes?"
The Matron chuckled as she slipped the dildo back inside her locked desk drawer.
"I don't know, Hermione. The canisters have to fit both the charger and Harry's inhaler device. Shall I ask Lily the next time I see her, or can it wait until Holidays when you could ask her yourself?"
The twelve-year old witch shook her head.
"No, thank you," she replied quickly. "I don't think that I'm…ready…rather deal with the embarrassment…"
"I thought as much," the Matron sympathetically replied. She then let out a deep breath and added, "It must be hard for you…much easier for me to compartmentalize the embarrassment because of the age difference, and my position as Harry's Healer…"
"But I do want to help Harry," Hermione declared. "Maybe not that way…not right now, but it's so…maybe it'd be different if we weren't the same age?"
"Ah, yes…I guess that it is easier for me and Harry's mothers because we aren't interested in him romantically."
"But, I'm not interested in him that way," Hermione declared, trying to convince herself that was indeed the case.
"No worries," Poppy replied. "No reason why you should even think about that at your age, just because you know that…and he knows that you know…say, now there's something!"
"Something that might help, Dear," said Poppy. "Harry is always going to know when somebody…anybody…whips up some orgasmic energy. Whether it's you, or me, or the Headmaster…"
"Exactly. The difference between us and the Headmaster…or Professor Snape…or Mister Filch…"
The Matron laughed at the sought-after reaction.
"There, you see?" she asked. "Put yourself in Harry's shoes…not easy for him, either."
"But we know that he knows when we…do it," said Hermione.
"Exactly," Poppy replied. "So you feel vulnerable…but so does Harry, because he knows that you know that he knows."
"It comes down to mutual trust, Dear," the older witch explained. "For all of the joking, I know Harry isn't going to hurt me by speaking out of turn. And you can trust that he won't hurt you that way as well. Because he has to trust that you aren't going to blab his secrets any more than he will blab about yours."
"So, if he sees me that way…some day…and I don't freak out about it?"
"He's going to be reminded of just how vulnerable he is…and how much he trusts you."
"Hmmm…so he's not going to tease me at all?"
"Erm, that might be going a bit too far," Poppy admitted. "Harry is an amazing young man…but he is still a lad, right?"
"I guess….he wasn't shy about teasing you."
"Just trust that if he does, that it'll be in private…and it will only be because he trusts you."
Hermione thought for a moment.
"That makes sense."
"Good," said Poppy. "Just remember that the teasing can go both ways as easily as the trust."
The young witch snorted. "So what am I going to tease him about? The only thing that I can think of are the size of his…but I couldn't…and he'll eventually…they'll eventually grow, right? And it's not like I've fully matured…at least I hope not? And the only reason that I know that he is still…that way…was because he was saving my life, and so…"
"Slow down," Poppy asked. "I agree that there are things that you don't tease your friends about. All men are rather sensitive about those sorts of things. That said…"
The sentence-interrupting thought game to the Matron's mind when she spied the Potter crest embroidered onto the sleeve of Hermione's school robes. She smiled, and declared, "I've got an idea."
A crowded Gryffindor Common Room was waiting for Hermione when she gave the Fat Lady the correct password and crawled through the portal. Harry was there, and was quick to pull her into a welcoming hug. The young witch would have prolonged the embrace, which was far tighter than a "normal" eleven-year old boy might normally provide. But Daphne Greengrass and the Weasley Twins were right behind Harry, and the boys had been quick to notice the new adornments on the sleeves of Hermione's robes.
"What's that?" asked Fred. "A new family crest?"
"That's right," Hermione said with a smile. "For the Granger clan…its Quarterly gules and or, in the first quarter…."
"And in the last quarter, the crest of Clan Potter?" asked Daphne, as she compared Hermione's crest to the one sewn onto Harry's robes.
The demi-demon's eyes went wide as he took hold of the sleeve closest to him.
"I didn't know that you were going to become…"
"Adopted into the Potter family?" Fred asked brightly.
"Oh, no, I couldn't become Harry's sister," Hermione replied with grin. "After all, it's only in certain Pureblood families that brothers and sisters get married."
"Wha…married?" Harry gasped.
Hermione smiled brightly at the befuddled wizard, and grasped the hand that had been tugging on her sleeve with her own.
"Oh, I'm sorry, beloved," she cooed. "I'm getting ahead of myself…your father and mine are still hammering out the details of the marriage contract. So technically, for the next few weeks, instead of being my husband, you are just my…"
Harry waited for Hermione to finish her sentence. And then lost all patience.
"I'm your what?"
The Muggleborn witch waggled her eyebrows, leaned forward, and kissed him on the cheek.
"Why, sweetheart…right now you're my prank victim!"
A roar of laughter erupted, when those who had been following the conversation realized just how well Harry had been punked.
"Oh….Harry….the look on your face!" Hermione exclaimed.
"Ha, ha…very funny," he scowled. "So…if you're not my betrothed…just yet…then your dad's aligned your family with mine?"
The bushy-haired witch nodded, and bowed stiffly from the waist.
"Right. You will stop right now with the Milords."
"Yes, Milord," Hermione teased. She then sat down in one of the comfortable couches and began to pull school books out from her bag.
"Why don't you run up and get your assignments for tomorrow, Harry?" she asked. "We've only a few hours before bed, and we need to level the playing field, and I need to make sure that I have everything covered tonight."
The emphasis on Hermione's last two words should have been sufficient for Harry to cotton on to what she was requesting. But he was too busy wondering what she meant by leveled playing fields, forcing his friend to pull him into a hug and whisper a more plain-spoken request into his ear.
He nodded, then quickly headed up the stairs to retrieve both his homework and his invisibility cloak.
A few hours later, Harry Potter found himself lying in bed, with the lights out and with a lot on his mind. His musings were interrupted by a sliver of faint light that penetrated the darkness as an invisible hand pulled back the bed curtains. He couldn't have seen much of that hand even if it had been visible, since his glasses were sitting on the table next to his bed…but that was remedied just as soon as the curtains fell back and a silencing charm was applied.
Hands reached out to delineate the outline of a blanket-covered body, so that knees didn't land in sensitive places as someone settled into the space between Harry and the far side of the bed.
"Expecting somebody else?"
"No, but…just can't see…"
"Ah, just a second," replied the bushy-haired witch. She placed a hand on Harry's chest, dragged it up towards his head, and, once she identified the location of his face, propped his glasses on the bridge of his nose.
"Thanks, Bach," he quipped. "Now I can clearly see what I can't see in the dark."
"I can help there as well."
When Harry heard the "swoosh" of an unfastened cloak he asked, "You are wearing something under that….right?"
His guest giggled as she cast a wandless spell and produced a small ball of blue flames. Hermione was wearing a scoop-necked cotton nightgown that was just long enough to cover her knees as she sat cross-legged.
"What's the matter, Harry…were you hoping that I'd be starkers when I joined you in bed?"
"Well, no….or…except that you did say we needed to level the playing field…"
"Ah…so since I saw your bits when the troll attacked, you figured that I'd let you see mine?"
"Because if that's what you think, then…"
Harry reached out and took his friend's hands in his own.
"You're having me on, again…right?"
"What…you mean you don't want to see me?" she asked. "I know I don't have much to show yet…especially compared with some of the older years, but that'd be the point…"
"Hermione …I wouldn't want you to show me just because you feel you need to."
"Well that's good, because giving you a pervy show wasn't what I had in mind."
"Oh …good then. Not that I'd have perved on…hey!"
"Does that mean you were perving on me when you saw my bits?"
"Geez, of all the… I'll admit that I'm pretty good at multi-tasking. But honestly, Harry…between the Mountain Troll, and seeing the tentacles and horns pop out, where do you think my eyes were focused?"
"Fair enough. So about that last part… don't know how much my mums or dad have told you…"
"Enough to know why you just said 'mums' plural."
"Really? I was thinking more about how much you know about my…background."
Hermione switched the blue-bell flame to her right hand so that she could lean forward and touch Harry's shoulder with her left.
"Stop right there, Mister. You will not apologize for your heritage…you didn't get to choose your parents, and there's nothing demonic about you. And if you hadn't been born that way then I'd be dead right now, so…"
The little speech that Hermione had been practicing for the past week was interrupted by her realization that she was unknowingly giving Harry a view down her shirt.
She blushed, lifted his chin with a finger so that his eyes once again met hers, and asked, "Have you heard anything that I've just said?"
The black-haired wizard matched Hermione's blush with the realization that he'd been caught out.
"Erm, sorry…yeah, I was listening…but I…I was…"
"Perving on me?"
"Erm, no…I really was listening to you…it's not my fault that I was born this way, and the tentacles do come in handy sometimes, right?"
Hermione snorted. "So was that the Shikima that was just trying to perv on my itty bitty baps, or the eleven year-old boy?"
"Why would you think that it's either or? Or that your baps are itty bitty, for that matter?"
Harry's bushy-haired friend shook her head as she sat up. She would never admit that she was more than a bit pleased by his interest.
"Pushing on…," she said, trying to work out in her mind how to steer the discussion back closer to her plans. "I've had some time to think about this situation…it might be easier if you and I really were engaged…"
"Or even just boyfriend and girlfriend?"
"Yeah, that too," Hermione admitted. "But the thing is…I'm only twelve, and you're only eleven, and…we're just kids still. And I don't know what to make of the fact that at some point you're going to need to have more than one girlfriend…or at least, more than one girl at a time, and…"
"Not now, though…"
"But what happens when your hormones do kick in?" Hermione asked. "Your parents are brilliant…all three of them…and it's obvious they all love each other, but…I'm only…and thinking about sharing you with Daphne…and it's certain you'll need more than two witches warming your bed at first…"
"What's this about Daphne? We're just friends, Hermione…honest."
"Really?" asked Hermione. "Your sisters were certain they saw a bit more than just friends at the match."
"Nah…she might have been a bit clingy after I caught her mid-air…"
"You mean like how I was a bit clingy after the troll?"
"So does that mean that we're just friends as well?"
"Sorry…that was a bit unfair. I guess that I just don't know if I'm interested in joining your harem down the road, whether Daphne is in it or not."
"Even if you were the primary wife?" Harry teased.
"Well, if that were the case….but let's get back on topic."
"Fair enough. So…about you getting naked…"
"Ok, back to you not getting naked…I mean, if you're not joining my harem tonight, then what are your plans for leveling our playing field?"
"Actually, my plans are to point out that I consider the playing fields to already be more than leveled."
Hermione nodded. "Thing is …I've seen your bits, but now…I know that you're always going to know wheneverIplaywithmine."
Harry frowned as he tried to work through the rushed run-on sentence.
"I'll know when you play with your…?"
Hermione was too shy and too embarrassed by her statement to help him along, and her cheeks flushed an even darker shade of red when she saw the proverbial light bulb appear above her friend's head.
"Oh, yeah, well, I guess, but…hasn't been an issue yet…right?"
"The fact that you know enough to make that statement just proves my point!"
"Erm, yeah…guess it does," he sheepishly admitted.
Hermione let out a sigh a relief once she stepped out into the stairway and closed the door to the Harry's dorm room behind her…happy not so much that she'd escaped his bed without being detected, as that she'd escaped from their conversation without too much embarrassment.
That she still needed to focus on stealth was driven home when she tripped on the dragging hem of the adult-sized invisibility cloak and had to brace a hand against the wall to avoid tumbling down the stairwell. The sight of that disembodied hand and forearm dangling beyond the cloak's sleeve caused the bushy-haired witch to gasp, and then to worry about the fact that while she couldn't be seen, she still could be heard. She quickly withdrew her hand, sat down on the stairs, and huddled underneath the cloak.
The First Year witch thought about what had just been said while she waited anxiously to see if she'd been heard. Both Harry and she had been eager to change the subject away from his awareness of her levels of sexual activity. She not only gave Harry a full accounting of her two-week stay with his parents, but gave Harry the real story his father's encounter with Voldemort/Quirrell (something that Harry's parents couldn't, for obvious reasons, provide using owl post).
That the Potter family had shared this story, and many of their secrets with Hermione had provoked all kinds of emotions within the young witch…appreciation that she was being trusted to keep these confidences, fear that her newly gained Occlumency shields wouldn't be strong enough to protect the secrets…but above all, embarrassment over knowing that Harry's demon side would always know when she successfully masturbated.
Or when she didn't, for that matter. If the gossip was to be believed, there were plenty of Gryffindor girls who were rubbing off, or doing things with their boyfriends…so would Harry always think of her as a little girl in comparison?
Poppy's comments earlier that evening about mutual trust were ignored as she considered her present circumstances…in the boys' dormitories, under an invisibility cloak. A girl could easily take advantage of the situation…
The idea was shot down quickly, not just by the potential embarrassment if she were caught, but by the risk of losing Harry's cloak to their Head of House…or worse, the Headmaster. So she did the right thing, and quietly slipped down the stairs towards the Common Room.
Where she discovered that doing the right thing sometimes pays off.
Giggles, moans, and whispered admonishments were coming from a dark corner of the room. Hermione crouched in the stairwell as she watched two late-night lovers in the dim light of a banked fireplace. The girl was straddling her boyfriend, and riding him hard as he leaned back on a coach. Her robes were bunched at her waist…his trousers were dangling from his ankles.
Putting names to faces would have been a futile exercise, since the older girl's bared back was towards the stairs, and the boy's face was mashed up against his girlfriend's baps.
Hermione bit her lip as she watched the scene play out. It would have been completely out of bounds for her to have used the cloak to seek out a voyeuristic opportunity within the boys' dormitory. But here…in the Gryffindor Common Room?
Invisible knees parted, and invisible fingers moved into place as an invisible witch rationalized…rationalized that, given the circumstances, watching wasn't morally wrong…it was instructional.
And inspirational, too.
She didn't look any different in the bathroom mirror.
"C'mon Hermione…we'll miss breakfast."
"I'll be right there, Lavender."
A mass of unmanageable brown hair bounced back and forth as Hermione shook her head and tried to will the blush from appearing on her cheeks. She briefly considered feigning illness…Lily and Emmy had informed Hermione that the energy generated by orgasmic release dissipated after a few days. So all she had to do was stay away from Harry, and he wouldn't be able to tell…until the next time.
But that was the problem. Hermione was certain that there would be a next time…sometime. Not just because she'd be helping Harry, but because it felt so bloody fantastic.
"So I guess that it's time to see if Madame Pomfrey's advice bears out," she told herself. "Time to face Harry with my chin up and my shoulders back!"
And if this meant that she'd have the baps that Harry described as not-so-itty-bitty thrust out, so much the better.
Harry smiled when he heard a distinct laugh echo down the stairs and into the Common Room.
"Finally," he muttered, as he rolled up a partially-finished letter and pushed it into his bag.
Parvati and Lavender emerged from the stairwell arm in arm.
"Good Morning, Harry," they said in unison.
"Geez, you two…are you sure that you're not the twin sister, Lavender?"
The blonde haired witch giggled as she playfully swatted his arm.
"Oh, you…although…that would make things seem naughtier when the two of us have our wicked way with you."
Harry shook his head and snorted. The two friends had been far more flirtier with him over the past week, and Lavender had more than once unknowingly transferred some energy.
"What's gotten into you two?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing," Parvati replied.
"Unfortunately," added Lavender.
"You know what I mean."
Parvati was unapologetic.
"Well, now that Hermione is back in school…with you being both Daphne's and Hermione's Champion, how else are we going to catch your eye?"
"Fall off a broom?" Harry quipped.
"Flirting sounds safer…and more fun," observed Lavender.
"So where are the other two?"
"Should be down…Hermione is running…ah, there they are. Finally!"
A closed-lip smile had already formed on Harry's face as he turned in the direction of Parvati's gaze. This meant that his sharp intake of breath had to loudly travel through his nose when he spotted Hermione coming out of the stairwell.
The bushy-haired witch flashed a bright toothy smile as she walked towards the demi-demon with a cloud of orgasmic energy surrounding a head held high.
"Something wrong, Harry?" she asked.
The young wizard shook his head. "Oh, no…nothing at all. Just surprised."
"Yes, well, sorry…I know that I'm usually the first one down, but it's been a couple of weeks, and…"
"No worries, Bach," Harry replied, using a voice that was in danger of cracking.
Daphne and Hermione had crossed over to the doorway, and were within arm's reach of the other three. The Muggleborn witch was staring at Harry just as intently as he was at her, so neither one really heard Parvati and Lavender giggling.
"So, Harry," Hermione asked, "are you….hungry?"
The demi-demon choked on the double entendre, then managed to answer correctly on both counts.
"Me too," interrupted Lavender. "So can we go, then?"
Harry and Hermione both chuckled, and nodded in agreement. They let the other three go through the portal first, but any plans on a private conversation were thwarted when Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan came down the stairs.
Which was just as well, from Hermione's perspective. She simply smiled, and quietly held out a bare hand.
He stared at that hand for a moment, then looked up and arched an eyebrow.
"Go on, then," Hermione whispered.
He nodded, then turned slightly so that only Hermione could see his eyes flash when we reached out and squeezed her fingers.
"Thanks," he whispered back. "Thanks…for everything."
Hermione smiled as she pulled her hand back, then used it to punch him in the arm.
"C'mon…before Lavender and Parvati start gossiping about us."
"You mean gossip any more than they already are, Bach?"
The bushy-haired witch snorted, and shook her head. They then let the somewhat awkward conversation drop as they rushed to catch up with their other friends.
Hermione Granger continued to hold her head high as they walked into the Great Hall…but now it was to keep from dwelling on what had happened the last time that she had entered that specific part of the castle. The young witch had fully expected that she'd be the center of attention after the pranks, the troll, and her two-week absence, so she was surprised when there was no collective gasp, and all eyes didn't immediately turn towards her. Puzzled, she glanced towards her house table and immediately noticed that many of her classmates were wearing dark sunglasses. Her curiosity was further piqued when Harry touched his wand tip to his glasses and darkened the lenses.
"So…is anyone going to tell me why everyone is wearing sunglasses?"
As they found seats next to Fred and George at the end of the Gryffindor table, the Girl-Who-Lived pulled a spare pair from a pocket, handed them to her friend, and said, "We're wearing them to protect our eyes from the sun."
"And why would you need that kind of protection inside the castle?"
"Because we're facing the Slytherin table, of course."
Hermione's follow-up questions were interrupted by a very loud (and very timely) trumpeting of gas and a blinding flash of light. Harry grinned, and stood halfway up so that he could look over the top of the adjacent table. His chucking added to the peals of laughter that had broken out within the Great Hall.
"Looks like it was Flint," he noted. He turned towards the Weasley Twins, who both shook their heads.
"Good then…better odds for the rest of us."
Hermione turned towards the Slytherin table and stared at the red-faced Quidditch captain. He was easy to spot, since his housemates were grabbing their plates and giving him (and his stink) a wide berth. She then glanced up at the Professor's table, where Severus Snape was fuming and a few of his colleagues were holding back grins.
"Harry…what haven't you told me about what I've missed?" the bushy-haired witch asked, as she turned back towards her friend.
"Oh, not much," he replied brightly. "Just that…for the past week, the Slytherins have been proving just how highly they think of themselves."
A frown crept onto the young witch's face as she considered Harry's response.
"Hey, Hermione," asked Daphne Greengrass. "Do you know what you get when you cross a Lumos spell with a flatulence potion and tie it to mealtimes in the Great Hall?"
The question allowed the brown-haired witch to finally put all of the pieces of the puzzle together. Her frown immediately turned upside-down.
"Prank victims who can prove that the sun really does shine out of their arses?"
"Right in one."
Hermione let out a hearty, therapeutic laugh.
"Oh, Harry…you…you didn't!"
"Not as far as anyone can prove," he replied brightly. "Of course, that didn't stop Snape from giving me detentions four nights in a row last week."
"Us too," added Fred, with mock lament. "Oh, the injustice of it all!"
"Not that we haven't profited from the situation, mind you," his brother added, as he noticed a sixth-year Hufflepuff walking up to the table.
"Hey," he whispered. "Pansy Parkinson is still in the game, right? What kind of odds can I get on her?"
The red-haired wizard smiled and replied, "Well…had been five to one, but know that Flint is out of the running…what do you say, Fred?"
George's brother glanced up at the Head Table, then discretely pulled a parchment scroll from his robe pocket and unrolled it.
"Well…just eight left, but…I reckon we could give you six to one…Marcus was a popular pick."
"Great…put a galleon down on Pansy for me," the boy replied, as he passed a coin into George's hand.
George nodded, wrote the wager down on the parchment, then tipped his imaginary cap.
"Good luck, Guv'nor…pleasure doing business with you."
His brother and he had enough business acumen to wait until the boy was back at his table before they smiled at each other and muttered (in stereo), "Sucker!"
Hermione gave the Twins a fish eye.
"Just having a bit of fun," George said with a shrug of his shoulders.
"Is it too much to ask for details?" she quietly asked.
Daphne chuckled, and took the lead on explaining the Twins' latest business venture.
"Somebody pranked the entire Slytherin house," she began to explain. "Nobody has been able to come up with an antidote, but since it appears to be a one-time occurrence for each person, nobody has been spending a whole lot of time on a cure for blinding farts."
"At least not outside of Slytherin House," Harry chimed in.
"So the wagering?" asked Hermione.
"On who is the last to blast."
Hermione marveled at the scheme. "And the professors haven't stopped the bets?"
"Why would they?" George asked. "Especially if some of them have a financial interest involved?"
"Not that we would ever betray the trust placed in us by our (cough) McGonagall (cough) clients," added Fred.
Hermione thought for a moment while she nibbled on a piece of toast.
"So…you've been having great fun at the Slytherin's expense, then?"
Harry nodded. "Worked out brilliantly…it's all anyone has talked about the past week…instead of the Halloween Party, or the rescue during the match. Worked better than my wildest dreams…or, I should say… beyond the dreams of the unidentified prankster."
"Or pranksters," added the Girl-Wh0-Lived with a smile.
Hermione looked at the witch sitting across from her as if she'd grown a second head.
"You too?" she whispered.
Daphne responded by coyly smiling into her porridge.
"You guys are the…well, all I can say is thank you," said Hermione.
"Thank us?" Harry asked with a smile. "But we didn't do anything."
"Not as far as you know," Fred added with a wink.
"Of course," replied the bushy-haired witch. "So this is payback for Flying Class, and for the pumpkin projections?"
"Dumbledore seems to think so."
"I'm more interested in what you think, Harry."
The messy-haired demi-demon gave his friend an evil grin.
"So…I hear that you spent some time with my Godfather these past two weeks?"
Hermione decided that it was her turn to wink.
"Not as far as you know."
Harry held his friend's gaze for a few moments, then grinned even more widely.
"So what do you have up your sleeve, Miss Granger?"
His bushy-haired friend shook her head.
"Oh, just the normal number of appendages," she innocently replied, as she stood from the table and shouldered her book bag. "Ready for class, then?"
The Potter scion arched an eyebrow, then let out a hearty laugh as he caught up with his closest friend and confidante.