Disclaimer: Harry Potter and associated characters and the universes in which they exist are wholly owned by JKR, her estate, survivors, etc. Any original characters, situations, spells, etc. not specifically mentioned in the existing published works of JKR are the property of their respective owners. I derive no monetary reward from the writing of stories in the Harry Potter genre. I do derive monetary compensation from telling people and companies just how bloody stupid they're being.

Author's Notes with regard to Secret Loves Year 2:
My own attempts at broadening the Harry Potter genre pale in comparison to some of the fine authors you will find on this site. Should you care to read some decent authors on this site, I turn your attention to Robst, KB0, Chem Prof, Aealket, nonjon, kyaru-chan, vvc, Clell65619, Canoncansodoff and Rorschach's Blot just to name a few.

This chapter was last updated 10 June 2014 to correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors; paragraphs were reduced in size, and some content which had previously been removed was re-introduced.

Thanks to Texan-muggle for the grammatical and spelling correction suggestions.

Secret Loves Year 2 Chapter 1

Platform 9 ¾ London, June 6, 1992

Harry and Hermione had just finished escaping the Weasley matriarch's farewell hug and had exited platform nine and three quarters. They were smiling shyly at one another when they heard a man's voice.

Harry and Hermione looked up as "Kitten!" was shouted by a tall, well-built man with brown hair standing next to a woman who was so clearly an older version of Hermione; an older version that had learned to tame her hair though.

Dan and Emma Granger were both thirty years old and they clearly loved their daughter, based on the way she was greeted. Dan picked her up in a gentle but engulfing hug and kissed her on the cheek then set her down again, only for Hermione to be engulfed in a hug by her mother. Dan looked at the boy standing next to his little girl.

The boy was dressed rather poorly in clothes that were clearly three or four sizes too big for him, his glasses looked to be two sizes too small and he appeared to be rather thin for a normal boy of eleven years old. From the way Hermione had been acting around him, this must be the Harry Potter boy she mentioned in every letter she had written home. Emma, too, had noticed the boy and his condition and schooled an inviting smile on her face.

"Mum, Daddy. I want you to meet my very best friend," Hermione was saying. "This is Harry Potter. Harry, this is my Mum and Dad, Emma and Dan," she said, smiling at Harry.

Dan put his hand out for Harry to shake. Harry wiped his hand and shook hands with Dan. Harry then went to shake hands with Emma but was instead pulled into a hug.

Emma noticed Harry stiffen and released him almost immediately. Dan also noticed Harry's behaviour. "Nice to meet you, Harry. Hermione has told us so much about you," Emma said.

Harry was about to respond when a heavy hand gripped his shoulder and spun him around.

"Boy! Where have you been? You've kept me waiting around these freaks long enough!" Harry's purple-faced Uncle Vernon shouted four inches from Harry's face.

Vernon looked at Dan and Emma standing with Hermione. He then turned back to Harry. "More freaks! Let's go, Boy!" Vernon shouted, grabbing Harry's upper arm and frog-marched him to the car park.

Dan picked up Hermione's trunk and looked at Emma. Emma took Hermione's hand. Handing the car keys to Emma, Dan said, "I will catch up to you at the car, Love," then strode off, carrying Hermione's trunk on one shoulder and following Vernon and Harry while staying in Vernon's blind spot.

Vernon led Harry to the car park, put Harry's trunk in the boot and roughly shoved Harry into the passenger-side back seat. Already in the car was a thin, almost emaciated, woman in the front passenger seat and a rather large boy taking up more than half of the back seat.

Dan quickly wrote down the license plate number, make and model of the car. He then walked to where he had parked his BMW. Emma and Hermione were already sitting in the car waiting on Dan. Emma popped the boot, Dan put the trunk in the boot and hopped into the driver's seat.

"Belts on?" Dan asked. He got a two-voice chorus of "Yes!" and started the car. He manoeuvred through the car park and waited in line at the pay gate. He noted he was five cars behind Harry's uncle.

"Kitten," Dan began, looking in his mirror at Hermione, "what can you tell me about Harry's home life? I need you to be completely honest."

Hermione thought for a moment and decided her parents needed to know the real truth. "Daddy, Harry's home life is abysmal. He stays with his mother's sister and her husband. They aren't very nice to him and, up until last year, his room was a cupboard under the stairs."

Dan had watched Hermione's face while she spoke and knew she was neither exaggerating nor fabricating what she had said.

Emma turned around in her seat and looked at Hermione. "A cupboard under the stairs? Is it safe to presume Harry has been abused, Honey?" she asked Hermione.

Hermione nodded sadly. "They withhold food and make him do most of the chores. You should see the scars on his arms and hands, Mum. They're awful!" she said, trying not to cry for her friend.

Dan paid for the parking and navigated to the motorway.

-oOoOo-

"You ungrateful little bastard!" Vernon yelled once they were in the car. "Forcing me to rub elbows with all those freaks!" His face purpling even further as he practically threw his money at the pay gate attendant.

He drove out and got to the motorway and began driving towards Little Whining. Once he was on the motorway his shouting began again.

"We provide you with everything! EVERYTHING! You thankless little snot!" he shouted, spit flying out of his mouth and hitting the dash.

Harry sat in the back seat, trying to make himself as small as possible.

"Then you make me come all the bloody way out to come get you and you have the stones to make me wait! What in the hell were you thinking, Boy?"

"I..." Harry began but was cut off.

"None of your lip, you ungrateful little shit! How dare you? And who was that little whore you were with anyway? Another one of those freaks!" he yelled.

Harry had always been accepting of the abuse he received. He would, however, not broach ANYONE insulting Hermione.

"Don't you EVER call her that again!" Harry shouted back, rising out of his slouch.

"How DARE you raise your voice to me, you ungrateful little bastard!" Vernon shouted, turning in his seat. "When we get home you will learn to fear me even more! I am going to..." he was cut off mid-rant by Petunia's scream.

Vernon looked back towards the road just as the front of the car impacted the oncoming lorry, as Harry tightly gripped Hedwig's cage.

-oOoOo-

Dan had been following Vernon and stayed half a mile back to prevent being seen by Vernon, a completely unfounded concern. Emma was still turned in her seat talking with Hermione when Dan's surprised shout of "Hold on!" and his slamming on the brakes caused Emma and Hermione both to brace into their seats.

Dan had watched as Harry's uncle's car veered into the oncoming lane of traffic on the turn. Fortunately for the Grangers, the three drivers following them were all paying attention this morning. The two drivers behind Vernon had not been so diligent. When Vernon's car struck the oncoming lorry, several things happened very quickly.

The engine compartment and the front seat of the car merged into a single, collapsed mass of crushed iron, steel, foam, plastic, flesh, bone and blood. Vernon and Petunia were killed instantly.

Two hundredths of a second later, Dudley, for whom seat belts had never been made large enough, slid from his seat and splattered, literally, into the crushing mass of the front of the lorry.

Three tenths of a second after this, the petrol lorry driver immediately behind Vernon recognized, far too late, that he was going to hit the car in front of him and began moving his foot to the brake pedal, never to make it.

The impact with the rear of Vernon's car pulled the petrol lorry into the oncoming lane when the right front wheel of the petrol lorry crushed the rear left corner of Vernon's car, resulting in the car being crushed between the two lorries and the rear petrol trailer to slide into the oncoming lane.

Half a second later, the car following the petrol lorry struck the rear of the first petrol trailer doing in excess of eighty miles per hour, the driver having been shouting at his girlfriend in a heated exchange over another woman.

He would never be talking to either woman again as the passenger compartment of the car no longer existed due to the impact, which also tore open the rear two-thousand-gallon petrol vessel of the lead trailer, releasing the liquid petrol onto the hot engine block and exhaust system, causing a large cloud of vapour.

An errant spark from debris ignited the cloud, rupturing the second petrol trailer, resulting in an enormous explosion, scattering burning wreckage across all six lanes of the motorway.

Hermione screamed, "Harry!" as the heat wave from the petrol explosion reached their car and Hermione could feel the thermal pulse through the windscreen.

Dan pulled Emma and Hermione down and covered them with his body as wreckage struck the BMW from a quarter mile away, shattering the windscreen and tearing the driver's mirror off.

Once the sound of the blast and falling debris had subsided, Dan let the girls up and looked at the piece of jagged metal embedded in the seat where moments before Emma's head would have been.

He then looked at the disaster in front of him through the hole in his side of the windscreen and knew, without a doubt, no one would have survived that cataclysm.

-oOoOo-

Harry heard Aunt Petunia scream.

He looked up and saw the front of the lorry filling the windscreen.

He grabbed Hedwig's cage and tightly closed his eyes.

Suddenly it was very quiet but Harry felt the need to keep his eyes tightly shut. He could hear Hedwig's distress but knew she was not hurt.

He could, however, feel something pressing in on him from all sides. His magic was straining against something, holding it off, pushing it back. And whatever was fighting with his magic was losing.

Badly.

He felt his magic stabilise and opened his eyes. He saw a yellow field of energy, like the static displaying on the television when it wasn't properly connected, in a ball around him.

Most of Hedwig's cage was in the ball. The part that had not been in the ball was gone. The entire top of the cage was missing. The ends of the bars looked as if they had been cut and polished.

He could see and hear nothing beyond the yellow radiance.

He then realized the seat he was sitting in was similarly cut off at the edge of the field. This was most pronounced by the seat belt which had been cut both at the shoulder and at the retractor. The buckle was still intact but the seat beyond it was, if it was still there, on the outside of the field.

"Well, girl, I've no idea what happened," Harry said, attempting to calm Hedwig. He opened the remaining portion of the cage's door and reached in to pet Hedwig. Although the owl was clearly distressed, the moment Harry touched her she calmed down.

She nibbled gently at his hands as if he'd been away from her for ages.

He scratched the feathers on her head, which she enjoyed. He thought very carefully about what had happened and asked himself, "If I were Hermione, what would I do?" He considered all of his possible options.

The one thing he was missing was something upon which to write and something with which to write. "If I had my wand..." he thought but stopped mid thought at the realization his wand, his father's cloak and all of his Hogwarts belongings were in his trunk in the boot. "Shit," he said aloud.

-oOoOo-

Emma was hugging Dan and Hermione for all she was worth.

Had Dan not stopped and hadn't pulled her down as the explosion-launched wreckage ripped into their car, she would have been killed, Dan would likely have been seriously injured and Hermione...

Hermione would have been without anyone to hold her as she lost not only her mother but her best friend, too. She thought that Hermione was in denial at the moment as she only seemed mildly upset. "Is she in shock or does she know something?"

"Honey, Can you tell me why you're not more upset with your friend being in that," Emma gestured towards the burning wreckage the emergency services were currently dousing with foam and water.

"Harry's safe. In fact, I imagine he isn't even injured," Hermione said.

Emma looked up at Dan, who also had a concerned look on his face.

"Kitten, are you trying to tell us Harry is in a better place now?" Dan asked calmly, thinking perhaps Hermione was working from a completely different frame of reference.

Hermione looked at her father in disbelief. "No, Daddy. Harry isn't dead. I've read all about this sort of thing. It has happened many times in the past when a magical child is in a life-threatening situation, their magic will save them. Don't you remember when I was eight and I walked into the street in front of Mrs. Laurel's car and I bounced off the bumper and landed halfway down the block and started crying? Remember how they didn't even find a bruise?" she looked back and forth between her mother and father.

Dan and Emma were looking at each other with expressions of horror on their face as Hermione reminding them of the incident undid the obliviators' work.

-oooOOOooo-

Emma could see it in her mind's eye as if the day was happening all over again.

When the white Volvo sedan had struck Hermione and she flew through the air, Emma's life ended. Her little girl. Everything she and Dan had been working for.

Her precious little baby.

Was standing up.

Was pointing at the car.

Looked at Emma.

And started crying.

Dan had heard the squeal of tires and ran to the street and watched as Hermione was surrounded by a golden halo and how she and the halo had bounced, like a beach ball and came to rest with Hermione standing in the middle of the road and pointing at the car.

Both Dan and Emma had run to her and picked her up. They were both hysterical and overwhelmingly happy.

Then the strange men had come and had waved their sticks in their faces.

"Great Aunt Minerva," the man told her, "is babysitting your little girl and she will be coming home shortly. You should go put fresh sheets on her bed for her," the man had said, swirling his stick in front of her face.

-oooOOOooo-

They were standing next to the car, looking at the destruction in front of them.

"Those bastards!" Emma screamed in rage.

"Em!" Dan said pointedly, "Ermione-hay is-ay ight-ray ere-hay."

"Mum!" Hermione looked at Emma with wide eyes, having never ever heard her mother swear before.

Emma looked at Hermione and covered her mouth in embarrassment the mumbled "I'm sorry, Honey," through her hand.

Dan looked at Emma with a raised eyebrow then turned to Hermione. "So, Kitten, where would they take Harry if he..." he stopped as he noticed the tightness around Hermione's eyes and the minor quivering of her chin. These were tell-tale signs she was about to begin crying hysterically. "Um...sorry...since he is okay, do you think the emergency services people will take him to the hospital?"

"Yes, Daddy. St. Mungo's! We should go there as soon as we can!" Hermione said excitedly, trying to push the growing sliver of doubt about Harry's safety out of her mind.

Just then, several men appeared, literally out of no where, dressed in robes. They saw Dan, Emma and Hermione and were in the process of waving their wands when Hermione yelled.

"Wait! I am a Hogwarts student!" she yelled at the closest man in the yellow and blue robes of the Obliviation Squad uniform.

The man paused for a moment and then cast a different spell only at Hermione. He then rushed up to their car.

"Right. I am going to tag the three of you so no one else gets a tricky wand hand. There are signs of massive amounts of accidental magic in that mess," he said, pointing to the now foam-covered, wet wreckage. "Do you know who it might have been?" he asked.

"It was my best friend, Harry Potter. He was in his Uncle's car with his aunt and cousin," Hermione said, realizing that, at the very least, three possibly not-so-nice people were dead, but they didn't deserve THAT! Dan saw the signs and scooped his precious little girl up just as the water works got turned on to the "wet jacket, wet shirt and wet undershirt" setting.

Hermione was crying for all she was worth.

The obliviator tried comforting Hermione. "There, there now, little one. Your friend is going to be okay. Tell you what," the man looked at Dan and loudly whispered, "Do you know where St Mungo's is, sir?"

Dan nodded.

"Right. Well let me repair your car and get you out of here. Since this little cutie," he said, his attention turning to Hermione for a moment, "is a good friend..."

"My BEST friend!" Hermione interrupted tearfully.

"Yes, well, is his best friend, we're going to take him to St Mungo's to get him checked out, magical exhaustion and all that, and he's likely going to need a place to stay for the summer if his family were in that," he said, again gesturing at the wreckage,

"That would be a good idea, wouldn't it, Kitten?" Dan asked Hermione, rubbing noses with her.

The obliviator looked around and saw his team members working their way towards the wreckage, altering the memories of the people they passed as they moved forward. He then began quietly repairing Dan's BMW. He may have overpowered the spells a bit much because the car looked like it had just come off the showroom lot when he was done.

"Okay, sir. If you and the family would step back into your car and get turned around and take the next bypass, you'll be straight into London," the obliviator said.

"The next bypass goes to Paddington," Dan said, looking at the obliviator with a quizzical expression on his face.

"No wonder I always get lost bicycling," the obliviator mumbled. "Well, lets just get you turned around and back towards London," he said.

Considering the oncoming traffic was completely blocked by emergency services, it was trivial to get turned around and the time it took them to get to St Mungos was relatively short.

-oOoOo-

When Petunia died, the wards at Number Four Privet Drive began decaying at an accelerated rate, collapsing completely within an hour of Petunia's death.

By the time they fell and the sensitive silver and platinum instruments in the headmaster's office, which were tied to the blood wards, were sounding their alarm, the headmaster had already left for a well-deserved week off.

Three days after the wards collapsed, the magic in the instruments was exhausted. They remained silent when the headmaster returned and it was another week before he checked them. Harry Potter was missing.

-oOoOo-

Harry sat in his bubble of yellow light for fifty two minutes before he could hear a voice which seemed to be directed specifically at him.

By this time, Harry had taken Hedwig out of her cage, removed the small container of owl treats from the drawer at the bottom of the cage and was generally trying to ponder the results of the limited experimentation he had done.

When Harry had attempted to push against the shield bubble, as he now referred to it, his hand had met firm resistance and the shield bubble was slightly warm to the touch.

When he had attempted to shove the remains of Hedwig's cage through the shield bubble, at first there had been a slight resistance, but as he applied more pressure, the cage pushed through and the shield bubble seemed to brighten where the cage pushed through. As he was pushing the cage with his arm, he had felt a slight increase on the force pushing against his magic.

When he pulled the cage back from the shield, the force seemingly pushing on his magic lessened, however, the bit of the cage he had pushed through was now gone. It was almost as if the shield had been consuming the cage.

"You're safe now, Lad. Unclench your magic so we can get done with this and get you to safety," Harry heard in a muffled voice. He waited a few moments and he could hear the voice talking to him again.

"There's a cute, little, brown-haired girl waiting for you at St. Mungo's but we need you to unclench your magic so we can get you out of there and get you to St Mungo's." the voice said.

Harry looked at Hedwig. "What do you think I should do, girl?" he asked the bird half-seriously.

Hedwig looked at Harry and hooted then spread her wings a bit as if to indicate she wanted to fly.

"Come on, Lad. We're holding up the muggles and I know that little girl said you were her best friend. Come on. Be a good lad and unclench your magic," the muffled voice said, sounding frustrated.

Harry closed his eyes and searched for the pressure in his magic he now felt only slightly. He spent a minute or two looking for it until he seemed to sense it. The image that popped into his head was that of a garden hose with a trickle of water flowing out of it. He imagined turning the valve to turn it off.

At the sudden, significant increase in noise, he opened his eyes to see Hedwig take off in flight. He was sitting in the remains of the car seat which now seemed to be partially embedded in a block of badly twisted metal.

"Oh thank Merlin!" a man in a yellow and blue robe exclaimed, looking at Harry. There were three men and one woman standing there as well in blue and yellow robes and two men in red robes.

The man who had spoken looked at Harry. "Let's get you out of there and off to St Mungo's," he said with a smile and reached a hand in to Harry.

Harry looked around the area he was now standing. There was bits and pieces of metal scattered all around. All of it was blackened and charred. The road itself had melted away in places. There was no sign of his aunt, uncle or cousin.

"Where's Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia, and Dudley?" he asked of the man in the blue and yellow robe.

"Don't you worry about them, Lad. My name is Malcolm. Come on out of there now. We just need to get you to St. Mungo's to get you checked. Have you ever apparated before?" the man asked.

"I don't think so, sir," Harry said nervously.

"Well, not a problem. Just close your eyes and we'll be there in a wink," the man said.

"Wait sir. My wand and my father's cloak, all of my Hogwarts belongings were in my trunk," Harry said, looking back at the wreckage he had stepped from.

The obliviator looked back at the wreckage and then at his team. "Can you lot see if anything of the boy's trunk made it through? I am going to go ahead and take him to St. Mungo's," he said.

The woman in the yellow and blue robes looked at Harry. "I'll see if I can find anything, Malcolm. Get going before you have to carry him," she said.

Malcolm looked down at Harry. "Shall we go then? Tanya will look after your trunk for you and bring it to St Mungo's when she finds it," he said.

Harry just nodded. "Right. Hold on tightly to my arm and close your eyes," Malcolm said with a smile.

Harry did as he was asked. He felt pressure against his magic again, but this time it was different. This seemed to be embracing his magic as opposed to attacking it. The noise level became considerably quieter, the smell of ozone, petrol and smoke was gone and the light level changed. Harry opened his eyes.

"See. That wasn't so bad," Malcolm said, a bit of surprise in his voice.

"Where are we?" Harry asked, looking around. The room was brightly lit, the walls were a subdued but bright pastel blue. There were various people behind a counter dressed in white or blue robes. On the other side of the room there were what appeared to be comfortable chairs with a few people sitting in them.

"We're at St Mungo's to get you looked after, Lad. We want to make sure you're not hurt," Malcolm said, looking down at Harry with a friendly smile.

Malcolm led him up to the counter where a young woman dressed in white greeted them. "Obliviator Jacobs, how are you doing today?" she asked then looked down at Harry. "And who is this handsome young boy?"

"I'm doing well, Miss Martins," he said then leaned in to whisper to the mediwitch. "This is..." Malcolm was about to say when everyone turned at a shout.

"HARRY!" Harry heard and turned just in time to be impacted by a brown-haired missile. He tensed until he realised who it was.

"Hermione!" he exclaimed as the air was about crushed out of his lungs, his arms pinned to his sides.

Hermione had tears freely running down her face. "I was so worried about you! Are you okay? Are you hurt at all?" she said in one breath, overwhelmed that her friend was safe and alive.

Dan and Emma had followed Hermione at a more sedate pace and were now standing behind her with enough distance so Harry wouldn't feel trapped by them.

"Give him some air, Kitten, so he can answer you," Dan said gently with a reassuring smile.

Hermione released Harry from the hug and wiped the tears from her face. "Look at me. I must be a right mess," she said.

Harry smiled. "No, you're very pretty, Hermione," he said. She beamed at him and hugged him once more. "It feels so nice when she does that. I feel safe with her arms around me. I wonder if she'd want me to put my arms around her?"

Hermione had her eyes closed as she hugged Harry. "I so wish he would hug me back. Maybe I can be the one to teach him how to hug! Yes! Now all I need to do is talk Mum and Daddy into Harry staying with us this summer. Daddy's going to be the tough one," she thought.

Harry suddenly felt something rushing towards him from all sides. It felt enormous, as if all of the air in the surrounding city was coming at him as if he were a giant vacuum cleaner. And then he felt as if he was full but whatever it was still came at him.

More and more.

Even though Hermione's arms were wrapped around him, he felt as if he was vibrating with the inrush. After a few moments, he felt as if he was about to burst with all of this whatever it was. He knew he couldn't take much more.

"Don't let it hurt Hermione or her parents," was his last thought as everything went black.

Malcolm was about to interrupt to see if Harry wanted his friends to join him in the examination room when Harry suddenly collapsed with a pulse of white light coming from him, momentarily blinding anyone looking at him.

The wards at Privet Drive had fallen.

-oOoOo-

A gong sounded loudly in Elector Ironclaw's office. He looked at the wall of gongs and noted with surprise and anticipation the name engraved on the one which had just sounded.

The Potter heir was finally locatable using Goblin magic!

Ironclaw was very familiar with the account but followed procedure and opened a drawer to review the file on House Potter. The previous Lord of the House had been killed in 1981 and the heir apparent had disappeared within an hour of the Lord's passing.

Since his disappearance, Gringott's had been unable to find young Harry because he had been hidden from foreign magics.

When Harry had come to Gringott's the prior year, the teller failed to notify his superior immediately as per policy, so the Most Valued Client account manager had missed the opportunity to meet with Harry to execute the Late Lord's will and carry out the rites of succession.

The teller's disciplinary action had been carried out in front of a gathering of all tellers in the London branch to ensure there would never be a mistake of this magnitude made again.

Ironclaw began composing the instructions to the MVC account manager and others within Gringott's who were responsible or had interest in House Potter, communicating to them that Harry Potter had appeared on their locators showing him at St Mungo's in the children's ward.

-oOoOo-

Hermione blinked several times to try to clear the spots before her eyes. Although her eyes had been closed, her vision was still a bit dazzled. She was still holding on to Harry but his falling had pulled her to the floor as well. She moved to a sitting position and cradled Harry's head in her lap.

Dan had been five metres from Hermione and Harry and had watched the boy's closed eye indecision while Hermione had hugged him. Then suddenly everything was white and then black. His vision slowly returned to normal so he was not panicking. Yet.

Emma had been about to give Dan a hug when Dan's eyes, face, hair and the wall behind him suddenly became very brightly lit. His pupils contracted to pinpoints.

She turned around just in time to see Harry bonelessly fall to the floor, pulling Hermione with him. She looked around the room and noticed several people appeared to be crouching with their wands drawn.

Interestingly, five of these were wearing the red robes of the magical policemen and two of them wore the yellow and blue robes of the man who had fixed Dan's car. She noted Harry was the only one in the entire room to have collapsed.

"Gentlemen," Emma said in a normal tone of voice. All seven crouching men pointed their wands at her. "If you will close your eyes, but not tightly, and count to one hundred, your vision should improve," she explained, realising the likely cause of Dan's rapidly contracting pupils.

Dan had, of course, already closed his eyes, knowing that rubbing them would only exacerbate the issue. All seven of the men closed their eyes, two of them counting aloud.

Eventually all seven stood up and put their wands away. Malcolm being one of the last as he had been looking directly at Harry as well. Once his vision returned to normal he looked about and saw that Harry had collapsed.

"BONNIE!" Malcolm shouted.

The mediwitch ran over to where Hermione sat on the floor cradling Harry's head. Bonnie was already casting diagnostic spells on Harry, Hermione watching her and listening to the incantations. Hermione noticed Bonnie casting the same spell twice and then a third time.

"Excuse me, Miss," Hermione said, "what does casting that spell multiple times do?" she asked.

Bonnie looked at Hermione and smiled. "You're a bright girl. I had never seen the results of that spell indicate what it was indicating, so I cast it a second time and a third time to make certain I had cast it correctly," she said.

She stood and looked at Malcolm. "Malcolm, could you pick the boy up and carry him. I don't want any stray magic around him while he's recuperating." She then looked down at Hermione as Malcolm gently wrapped Harry in his arms and lifted him.

Bonnie offered her hand to Hermione, who accepted the assistance in standing. "Now, would you and your parents," she said turning her attention to Dan and Emma, "like to stay with him for a bit?"

Hermione, too, looked to her parents. "Oh please! Please! PLEASE!" her look said to Dan.

"Why don't we let them get him situated in his bed, Kitten, and then we can go in and see him," Dan said.

Hermione hugged Dan. "Daddy! You're the best!" she said.

Bonnie smiled at the interchange. "He should be resting comfortably in a few minutes. I need to look after getting some potions ordered for him but once that is done I shall come straight back here to take you to see him," she said earnestly to Hermione.

Hermione nodded and a quiet, "Thank you, Miss," could be heard.

Bonnie went back to the desk and wrote down the potions she felt Harry needed as well as her findings on the parchment she had started. A house elf appeared and Bonnie gave him a copy of the list of potions she wanted for Harry.

"Patient shows signs of malnourishment, physical abuse and other signs of parental magical suppression. Unusual readings when measuring core strength; core appears to be significantly under-developed but is growing at an unusually fast rate: greater than one percent per hour; core recharging at more than eight times normal rate for child of this presumed age," she wrote.

She then wrote something that was certain to get the Department of Magical Law Enforcement involved even if the abuse didn't.

"Child appears to have suffered significant, long-term drain of magical core not associated with hysterical magical response. Child appears to be maintaining a leeching curse of significant magnitude originating from beneath curse scar on the right forehead; recommend follow-up with Unspeakables to determine counter curse and removal strategy."

Bonnie then walked over to the senior auror and asked him to read her last notation. The auror read her preliminary report.

Anyone looking at the auror could see the anger apparent on his face. He looked at the name of the patient and his face contorted even further, turning red.

"I'm contacting Director Bones," he said, looking at Bonnie, handing the report back to her. She nodded and then turned to Hermione and her parents, who had followed this interaction with curiosity. The auror headed to the floo.

"Shall I take you to look in on your friend?" she asked with a smile.

Hermione smiled. "Yes, please!"

Bonnie led Hermione, Dan and Emma down a corridor with rooms on either side. She came to a closed door and entered. Harry was laying on the bed in the room with a sheet covering him. Malcolm was sitting in the only chair in the room reading the Daily Prophet. He stood as the four entered the room.

"Thank you, Malcolm," Bonnie said with a smile as she hung the parchment board on the hook attached to the foot board of the bed. "Let's get your report finished up at the desk." She and Malcolm left the room.

Dan sat in the chair and watched the interaction between Hermione and the unconscious boy in the bed.

Emma waited until the door closed and looked at the parchment board Bonnie had left behind.

Hermione stood at the bed and held Harry's hand in her hands. She began quietly talking to him, telling him how she had worried about him and how much his friendship meant to her. Dan's ears particularly perked up when he heard "troll" and "nearly killed me."

Emma removed the parchment board from the hook and handed it to Dan. She had also been listening to Hermione's quiet, one-sided conversation.

Dan read the report then read it again. He then handed it back to Emma, a grim look on his face.

Emma placed the board back on the hook and moved to stand behind Hermione, who was still chatting softly with Harry, telling him about various instances of accidental magic she had performed before getting the letter from Hogwarts.

Although Dan had picked up on Hermione's emotional state because he had been focusing primarily on her, Emma was somewhat surprised when she put her hands gently on Hermione's shoulder, Hermione had looked up with tears streaks down her face and was still crying.

"What ever is the matter, Honey?" Emma asked. Hermione turned and desperately held onto her mother.

"Is he going to be better? Please tell me he'll wake up soon. He's...he...I don't know what I'll do without Harry!" she said, but buried her face into Emma.

Emma could feel the sobs Hermione was experiencing. Dan stood and then knelt down next to his little girl. "Kitten, Harry's..." his thought was interrupted by Hermione moving like lightning, grabbing his neck and crying into his shoulder.

"Daddy!" Hermione cried out.

Whether it was a character flaw or simply something in his emotional construction, Dan never could say no to Hermione when she was crying. He understood about every third word she was saying.

"Harry...wake...up? Harry...get...better?" was about as coherent as he could understand.

"Oh Kitten. Who was it that killed a troll to protect you?" he asked and gave her a little squeeze.

She continued to cry but the shoulder-shaking sobs ended.

"Who was it that kept going when you couldn't go with him?" he gently prodded.

Her crying lessened again and her arms relaxed the hug but didn't release it.

"Who was it that lived through staying with those awful, awful people?" he asked.

Hermione pushed away from the hug but kept her hands on Dan's shoulders and looked into his eyes. Her crying had stopped and she had a slightly betrayed look on her face.

"Daddy! That was a private conversation between Harry and I," she said, a little indignantly.

"That may be, Kitten, but I won't forget the answers to those questions. Who is it that, in your words, 'constantly beats the odds' and always makes it back?" Dan asked gently.

Hermione got a shy, embarrassed look on her face. "Harrrrrry," she said, drawing it out.

"That's right, Kitten. I am not going to lie to you and tell you he is going to be just fine when he wakes up," he said, pausing to look her in the eye, "What I will tell you is that Harry is clearly a fighter. A survivor. No matter what, I have my very highest hopes that he will wake up and want his best friend here when he does.

Hermione now wore an ear-to-ear smile as she wiped the remaining, unshed tears from her eyes, just as the mediwitch walked back into the room with five goblins, four of whom were carrying swords in scabbards on their belts. All of them wore goblin-sized plate mail sans helmets.

The one without a sword looked at the three occupants of the room who were not in the bed. "Who are you and what business do you have here?" he demanded.

Dan was about to speak when the goblin cut him off.

"Not you, Muggle. He stood within arms reach of Hermione and looked at her. "What is your business with our client?" he asked Hermione.

"Harry is my best friend and when we saw what happened..." she began but was cut off by the goblin.

"You witnessed this accident which befell our client?" he asked, reaching into a pouch dangling from his armour and removing what appeared to be a cricket-ball sized ruby.

He tapped on it twice with his finger and it floated up into the center of the room and began glowing with a warm, inviting light which illuminated the walls from all of its surfaces.

Hermione looked at the now-floating gem with some trepidation but could not take her eyes from the gem.

"Yes, I witnessed some of the accident. My Daddy saw the whole thing!" she said.

"I was scared that something had happened to My...to Harry and then there was an explosion and Daddy pushed us all down and then the rescue people came and put out the fire and then the ministry people came and almost erased my parents' memory and then they found Harry and the obliviator, Malcolm, fixed Daddy's car and then we came here and I saw Harry out front and hugged him and then he fell down and now we're in here," Hermione finished, and was able to look down at the image the gem had been projecting.

Emma had been watching the, for lack of a better word, movie playing beneath the gem as Hermione spoke. While Hermione had left out various things likely she had not seen, what she had just watched was a nearly perfect motion picture of what had happened, including a few things that she knew neither Hermione nor her had seen. The device must, she thought, be gathering the information from Dan and me as well.

"And Harry Potter is your best friend?" the goblin asked.

Hermione once more felt compelled to look up at the gem.

"Harry Potter is my best friend," she began and continued to tell of nearly every interaction she had with Harry from the first moment on the Express when she had been looking for Trevor, Neville Longbottom's toad, until a few moments ago when she had spoken with her father about Harry recovering.

The picture had jumped from time to time, and it did take her some time to talk, but Emma and Dan had their eyes watching the projection the gem created, taking special note of Harry killing the troll, the detention in the forbidden forest, Harry and Hermione's interactions with Draco Malfoy, Hermione's frustration with Ron on many occasions and many other interactions.

"...and then Harry fainted and the mediwitch was kind enough to let us stay with Harry in this room and I told Harry all the things I hadn't told him before about me," Hermione said.

Although the expression on the goblin's face was frightening Emma and was making Dan think he was going to pull Hermione behind him to protect her from this goblin who looked about to eat her, Bonnie the mediwitch had a small smile on her face.

It was clear, when he spoke next, the goblin was pleased. He spoke now to Dan and Emma.

"It is a pleasant experience we so rarely have to speak with a wizard or witch who is completely honest in their dealings with The People. This speaks well to your child rearing skills and your character. It is unfortunate you do not have magic of your own," the goblin said, his expression returning to the normal goblin sneer.

He then looked down and towards the guards standing on his left.

"Gutripper, Skullstomper, you two are to remain with our client at all times. Should anyone attempt to harm him in any way, you are to take appropriate action in accordance with our treaty with the wizards to see our client remains safe," he ordered.

The two goblins crossed their chest with one arm in acknowledgement.

"These three," the goblin said, gesturing towards Dan, Emma and Hermione, "are allowed to come and go as they please after they have been tested for polyjuice and magical coersion. The same is true of this mediwitch and Healer Simmons and Healer Jones. No one else is permitted in this room without my express permission per our current treaty," the goblin finished.

He then looked back at Hermione and gave her a slight bow, which Hermione returned, not knowing any better. While the goblin had the same expression on his face now that Dan had been concerned with earlier, he now believed it was the goblin equivalent of a smile.

"I will be leaving Firmgrip and Fleshrend outside the door," the other two crossed their chest with one arm, "to ensure our client isn't unnecessarily disturbed," the goblin said.

Dan looked at the goblin. "Thank you for protecting Harry with your warriors," he said formally.

The goblin had that look again and shook his head slightly, then laughed for a moment before composing himself once more. "Sir, the Goblin Nation has no military. These four are merely security guards from Gringott's," the goblin said.

"That's right, Daddy. The treaty of seventeen forty-two specifically prevents the Goblin Nation from having a standing militia. The amendment to that treaty signed in seventeen forty three specifically allows the Goblin Nation to..." Hermione thought for a moment to get the precise wording, "...train and employ sufficient security guards to protect wizarding deposits, materials and persons to ensure no harm or foul happens to the same or the rightful owners thereof," she said with a small smile.

She then turned to the goblin who had been doing all of the speaking. "Excuse me, Sir, but if it isn't considered rude, may I ask your name?" Hermione asked.

"Goblins do not consider such questions rude," he said, meaning questions of honest, friendly curiosity. "My name is Steelfist," he said.

"And you're a security guard?" Emma asked. This question brought another goblin smile to Steelfist's face.

"No, Miss. I am actually an account manager for Gringott's Most Valuable Clients," he answered proudly. "Now, I really must be going. I do believe it has been many years since I have had an enjoyable meeting of equals. Thank you," Steelfist said then once more gave Hermione a slight bow which she returned in kind.

Steelfist snapped his fingers and the large ruby floated down to his hand. He placed it in the pouch he had removed it from and left the room. The two guards remaining in the room saluted him as he left then stood once more at parade rest when the door closed.

"Well, that was interesting," Emma said.

"And informative," Dan said, looking at Hermione. "Tell me, Kitten, why didn't you ever tell your Mum or me about this troll business? Or this Draco boy?"

Hermione had the good grace to blush.

-oOoOo-

Harry was running through the corridors of Hogwarts. Instead of being illuminated brightly by torches along the walls, the corridor was dimly lit by the faces of people in alcoves.

Many of the faces he did not recognize. He slowed and looked at the faces.

There was Gregory Goyle from Slytherin, one of Draco's henchmen. The next was Vincent Crabbe, Draco's other henchman. The next was Draco Malfoy himself, Harry's nemesis.

Draco had a haughty expression on his face and was the first to speak to him.

"Where's your little muggleborn now, Potter? Your filthy little whore gotten herself lost?"

Draco's words faded out as he continued down the hall.

He then ran past Dudley who seemed to be normal until he slid into the corridor as a splash of blood and bone, lighting the corridor red, then reforming as the fat boy only to melt into a puddle of gore again.

Harry turned and ran down the corridor.

He passed Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. Aunt Petunia would fade to black while Uncle Vernon was yelling silently at him, turning purple until he exploded into a cloud of red mist.

Harry dived down the hallway as a lorry came out of the alcove Uncle Vernon had been in, only to crash through the alcove Aunt Petunia was standing in. Harry picked himself up and continued running down the hall.

Professor Quarrel was standing in the middle of the corridor, slowly spinning in place, alternating between being a stuttering coward to being Voldemort's slit-nosed face yelling curses.

As Harry ran past it his hands reached out on their own and he dragged the burning, pleading body of Professor Quarrel until he disintegrated into a trail of ash.

Harry ran on.

The hallway seemed to be getting brighter as he turned a corner. The first person he saw was Professor Snape who yelled, "Fifty points from Gryffindor for running in the halls, Potter!" but his voice, too, faded as he continued running.

All of the other teachers were there as well, the last being Headmaster Dumbledore, who offered him a lemon drop.

He knew he was nearing the end of the hall because his parents were waiting for him, smiling and standing proudly. He began walking towards them. "We're so proud of you, Harry," his father said as his mother knelt down and hugged him. He returned the hug with a fierceness to rival Hermione.

"I wish you could stay here, Harry. But you have to keep going. We'll wait for you when it is your time, but your life has just started. Your life is still yet ahead of you. Know we both love you," His mother said, releasing her hug and standing again.

Harry found he could not talk. "I want to stay here with you! There's nothing for me there!" he thought as loudly as he could.

"Harry, there is so much for you in the living world. It's all in front of you," his father said. His parents were now standing in the middle of the corridor. They stepped aside and he saw a bright light glowing down the hall.

"Go to your future, Son. Know we are both prouder than we can say," his mother said.

He walked numbly between them, not wanting to leave them behind.

"We'll always be there for you, Harry," he heard his father voice say, fading into the background.

He shielded his eyes from the light ahead of him. It was so bright. And yet it was welcoming. As he approached, the light became warm and the glaring quality of it faded to soft illumination.

In front of him was a man, a woman and, standing between them with her arms out, Hermione with Hedwig perched upon her shoulder. Seeming to stand in front of Hermione was a shorter, blonde girl who he had never seen before.

He ran to get to Hermione's arms.

To be hugged by her.

But she and her parents seemed to slide away as he ran.

He could hear a whisper but it faded with the rushing of the air past his ears. He slowed but still could not make out the words. Finally, he stopped and closed his eyes and waited until the pounding of his chest and the rapid breathing slowed to a rest.

"Harry, call out my name and you will be with me," he heard. "Call to me, Harry. There is so much I need to tell you. There's so much I want you to know. Call out my name."

"Hermione?" he asked quietly but a fierce wind blew down the corridor as he spoke.

"Harry! Call out my name!" she shouted, but it sounded as if she was very far away. Harry opened his eyes and he could see she was much further away and the light was dimming. He could see her reaching for him, her parents trying to help hold her in place so she wouldn't drift further away.

"HERMIONE!" he shouted for all he was worth.

-oOoOo-

"HERMIONE!" Harry shouted and sat up in bed.

It was dark.

Harry suddenly had a sleepy, hysterical witch holding on to him for dear life. He wrapped his arms around her and bodily pulled her into the bed with him and held her. "I thought that I had lost you, Hermione," he whispered, his voice filled with emotion, tears running down his cheeks.

The door to the room opened and they heard "Lumos" and the light in the room became brighter. A woman Harry had never seen walked into the room. She looked at Harry and Hermione holding one another and, instead of the shouting he expected, the woman's face grew a smile. Harry took a moment to look around the room and noticed Hermione's parents were also here. Her mother had a smile to match this new woman and Dan smiled as well, but it had a quality of tightness to it.

There were also two armor-clad goblins in the room who were in the process of sheathing their swords.

"Well, young man, welcome back. You gave us a bit of a scare, I can tell you," the woman said as she sat down on the bed and rubbed circles in Hermione's back just above where Harry's arms were wrapped around her.

Feeling a bit self-conscious, he began to take his arms from around Hermione, but she was having none of that. "Hold me, Harry," Hermione said in a frightened soft voice. Harry wrapped his arms around her again and Hermione snuggled into him tighter. "I was so worried about you, Harry," she whispered into his ear, relishing in the feel of his arms wrapped around her.

"There there, Hermione. He's back with us now," the woman soothed, then turned her attention to Harry. "You may not remember me, Mr. Potter, but you may call me Bonnie and I am here to check on you now that you've awoken," she explained before she turned her attention back to Hermione and softened her voice, "and I can't do that while Miss Granger is wrapped around you."

Hermione relaxed her hug and looked up at Bonnie with a guilty look. "I'm sorry, it's just..." she said.

"I know, Dear. Now why don't you go wait on your father's lap while I check on Harry," Bonnie suggested.

Hermione nodded and wiped her eyes. She then realised where she was laying.

In bed.

With Harry.

She looked at her Mum, who was smiling at her, a tear leaking down her face here and there and then looked over at her father.

When she looked at him, he raised his eyebrow at her then smiled and opened his arms.

She climbed down from the bed and walked over and sat on Dan's knee. He wrapped his arms around her and whispered, "it's okay, Kitten. I am not upset with you. I am happy your friend has woken up."

He then kissed her on her cheek as she reclined against him and rested her head against his.

Emma sat down on Dan's other knee and kissed her then kissed Dan and watched as the mediwitch cast diagnostic spells on Harry.

"Now let's see what we have," Bonnie said and waved her wand over and around Harry, who was now sitting up in bed again. She cast a few more spells and then looked thoughtfully at Harry.

"May I call you Harry?" Bonnie asked. Harry simply nodded.

"Harry, do you know where you are?" she asked.

Harry thought for a moment. "I remember a man in yellow and blue robes..." he paused, then looked over at Hermione, sitting with her mum and dad. When she saw he was looking, her smile lit his world.

"I remember a hallway and running and my mum and dad telling me to keep going and then I ran to Hermione," he said, tears flowing once more. He looked over at the three of them just to make sure they were still there.

"But you don't remember where you are at or what happened?" she asked, her smile just a bit smaller, Harry noticed.

He shook his head then remembered, "Wait. Malcolm...Malcolm told me he was taking me to St Mungo's," Harry said with uncertainty.

Bonnie nodded at him.

"I remember someone named Tanya," Harry looked out the window, trying to remember. He looked back with a smile suddenly. "She was going to bring me my trunk with my wand and my Dad's cloak!" he exclaimed happily.

Bonnie turned her head and looked at the goblins standing at the door.

One of them nodded to her and she turned back to Harry.

"Well, it seems she brought them to some friends of yours for safe keeping until you are well enough to leave here," she said, her smile returning in full force, putting Harry's mind more at ease. "Do you remember anything else, Harry?"

Harry looked out the window once more. Bonnie looked at him with some concern.

Suddenly there was a soft chime that sounded in the room. Harry looked at Bonnie and Bonnie looked at the goblins.

"Please have him wait outside until I ask him to come in. I need to ensure our patient is well," she said in a tone that indicated she would broach no argument.

One of the goblins opened the door and left.

Bonnie turned back to Harry who was looking at her, tears running down his face. "What's wrong, Harry?"

"I had to grab Hedwig! It was too quick!" He had remembered seeing the lorry and thinking of his owl.

"It's not your fault, Harry," Bonnie said soothingly.

Harry was hysterical. "But it was! He called Hermione a...and I yelled at him. He turned his head and then the headlights and I grabbed Hedwig and...!" his words became incoherent. Bonnie reached over and held him. He wrapped his arms around her and desperately held her.

"Harry. It wasn't your fault. None of it was your fault. It was an accident," Bonnie said to him and looked at Hermione, Dan and Emma. To Emma, she gave an additional look and gestured ever so slightly with her head indicating Emma should trade places with her.

Emma walked over to the bed, followed by Hermione and Dan. Emma sat on the other side of Harry and pulled him to her. Harry let go of Bonnie and wrapped his arms around Emma and continued to cry.

Bonnie stood and looked at the desperate embrace as Harry held Emma.

Emma's heart was breaking for this boy who had been through so much.

"Harry, shhhhhh. Harry, it isn't your fault. No matter what you think. No matter what you remember. Their passing wasn't caused by what you did." She held him as Hermione sat where Bonnie had been sitting and hugged Harry as well. Dan motioned for Bonnie to follow him out of the room.

As the door closed, Dan wheeled on Bonnie and looked at her questioningly. "Miss Martins..."

"Please, Mr. Granger. Call me Bonnie," she said.

Dan nodded. "Please call me Dan." Bonnie nodded.

"What is going to happen to him now? From everything Hermione has told us, his home life before the accident was not a good one and it would seem he has no other living family," Dan said, his anxiety about Harry's future clear in his voice.

Bonnie was about to speak when another voice intruded.

"That, Mr. Granger, is my responsibility," Dan heard.

He turned around and was surprised at what he saw. Looking at Dan from five metres away was a goblin dressed in what appeared to be an extremely fine seventeenth century suit, complete with monocle.

The goblin closed the distance and offered his hand to shake. Dan reached out to shake the goblin's hand and instead found his wrist being gripped, which he likewise did to the goblin.

"I am Elector Ironclaw and the heir to House Potter is now my responsibility by treaty with the Crown." Ironclaw looked to Bonnie. "I see you are the mediwitch Steelfist trusts with the care of our charge. How is the Potter heir doing, Miss Martins?"

Bonnie looked a bit frightened. "Sir, I am not... That is... I would think someone of your stature would rather be speaking with the Director of the Hospital," she said, clearly unsure of herself.

"Miss Martins, let me assure you that I have already spoken with Director Wilkins and explained to him his responsibilities as outlined by the treaty," Ironclaw's face twisted into a feral grin.

"Needless to say, the Director saw fit to provide me any resource I need to ensure the Potter heir is properly taken care of, up to and including burning this building to the ground with everyone in it, if it would ensure the safety of our charge."

He then leaned in and whispered loudly enough for Bonnie and Dan to hear him, "Not that we would do that. Bad for business, you know, but your Director was being a bit thick," Ironclaw laughed for a moment.

"Now that we've set expectations, how is your patient, Miss Martins," Ironclaw asked again.

Bonnie looked at him and smiled.

She hadn't liked Wilkins since he pinched her on the bum during her interview.

She spoke in conversational tones. "Harry is awake. Previously his magical core had been unusually small for a boy his age but was growing rather rapidly. It is now nearly the size it should be but is still not slowed in its growth."

"His core has nearly fully recharged and it looks as if his core is going to remain full, unless he casts hysterical magic again, until his core stops growing."

"He is malnourished but now that he is awake, I am planning to give him some potions to help offset some of the conditions caused by the malnourishment."

"He has a curse scar on his forehead which has a leeching curse behind it which draws magic from him. I suspect this is the reason his core is so small. It leeches more than half his magic from him."

"There also seemed to be some other curse or spell which is no longer affecting him, but has been affecting him for some time. Based on the events from four days ago, when he came in, whatever curse or spell it was seems to have been tied to one or more members of his now-deceased guardians," she said clinically.

"He also has several old injuries which were never healed correctly, including an incorrectly set broken right femur, all three bones in his left arm. His right arm being forcibly removed from its socket and forcibly restored to its proper place."

"His teeth will need extensive work as it appears no one has ever examined or restored them. He was not provided with a restorative drought to repair his eyes. It is not clear if he is allergic to the ingredients or if it was never given."

"We also need to set up a dietary regimen for him so that he is getting enough calories for his body to begin building itself properly."

"Is my client aware of any of this information?" Ironclaw asked.

"Not as such. I am certain he is aware of the causes of some of his injuries, but not that we know about all of them. We wanted to make certain he has recovered from his magical drain and any physical injuries caused by the accident," she said.

"And what are the results of those tests?" Ironclaw asked.

"I have not had the time to complete those tests yet as our mutual charge is somewhat emotional at the moment and is being reassured the tragic event which caused his current situation is not his fault," Bonnie said with the force of a lioness.

Ironclaw held his hands in front of him in a remarkably human gesture. "Now, now Miss Martins. The boy's emotional health is just as, if not more important than, his physical and magical health. The more powerful an individual is, the more truth there is to this and I suspect our charge will be powerful in realms outside of the financial holdings we manage for him," Ironclaw said.

"I will give you a few more minutes with him, Miss Martins. If, Mr. Granger, I could take some of your time to discuss the topic you originally raised?" Ironclaw looked at Dan and raised his eyebrow in a very un-goblin fashion. Dan nodded.

"Thank you, Bonnie, for taking such good care of Harry," Dan said sincerely to Bonnie. As she opened the door she nodded and closed the door behind her.

"Now then, Mr Granger, I have the authority to negotiate and approve business contracts for my clients," Ironclaw said with a goblin smile.

-oOoOo-

Harry had stopped crying and was just sitting between Emma and Hermione as Bonnie walked back into the room. "Excuse me, Hermione, could you go sit in the chair while I check on Harry? Your magic would throw off my readings," Bonnie said nicely to Hermione with a smile.

"Harry, I will be right over there," she said, looking at Harry and pointing to the chair. She then gave Harry a quick kiss on the cheek and backed over to the chair, never taking her eyes from Harry.

Harry looked up at Bonnie. "Now Harry, I am going to be checking some things we found were different than they normally are and I need to check you to be certain of those things? Okay?" Bonnie asked.

Harry smiled and nodded at her.

"Okay. Here goes," she said and began waving her wand around and chanting. Every time her wand neared Emma, the readings would get thrown off. After the fourth time of this happening, she ran her wand over Emma and when it got in proximity of her lower abdomen, Bonnie smiled. "Mrs Granger, could you please go sit with Hermione? Is that okay, Harry?"

Emma looked at Bonnie quizzically, seeing her little smile. When she sat down in the chair and held Hermione on her lap, the two chatted softly, but neither of them let their eyes leave Harry.

Harry nodded and looked at Hermione happily sitting on her mum's lap. Bonnie continued to run her wand over Harry, and she still had a small smile on her face. Harry glanced up at Bonnie and saw her smile was different somehow. He asked her quietly, "Bonnie, why are you smiling? Is it because I am doing better?"

She looked down at Harry then her smile bloomed as she leaned down and whispered something into Harry's ear. Harry listened and could not believe it. "Really?" he asked loudly.

Smile still in place, Bonnie nodded, "For real and for true!" she exclaimed right back.

"That's...that's...that's...Amazing!" Harry said. Then he looked at Bonnie conspiratorially, "Can I be the one who tells them? Please?" Harry whispered loudly.

"That sounds like the right way to do it, Harry," Bonnie said then got a sombre look on her face for a moment. "This boy has been through the worst barbs, thorns and thistles this world can throw at him and he is happily excited to be allowed to give happy news. It feels as if I have just handed him the world and all he wants to do with it is good," she thought.

"How are you feeling, Harry?" she asked the now smiling boy.

"I'm feeling well!" he said excitedly. Then his face fell and he looked on the verge of tears again.

Bonnie knelt down in front of him. "Harry, what's wrong?"

"I was going to say I felt well enough to go home, but now I have nowhere to go and no one who wants me," he said and began crying again. Emma knew her role clearly and walked over and held Harry while he cried.

Because he was crying, he did not notice Dan, Ironclaw and a woman wearing a monocle enter the room.

Dan noticed the room seemed to get larger as even with two goblin 'security guards', Emma, Hermione, the two beds the hospital had provided for Hermione, Dan and Emma, the large couch, the reading chair, Bonnie, Ironclaw and the woman he had been introduced outside as Amelia Bones, the room was still comfortable and not at all cramped.

He also noted the goblin 'security guards' had their hands on the hilts of their swords. Finally, he noticed something which had nagged at his mind earlier. Harry was hugging Emma. Harry had hugged Hermione. Harry was initiating contact.

Amelia slowly removed her wand and handed it to Elector Ironclaw.

The two goblins seemed to ease the grip on their swords.

"Ladies and gentlemen, some of you I met in the hallway, let me introduce myself to you. I am Amelia Bones, Director of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement," she said, looking around the room until her eyes set on Harry in close proximity to Hermione.

Harry had fear in his eyes. "She's here to take me away for killing them. I'll never see Hermione again!" he thought, his eyes filling with tears and his chin beginning to quiver.

"Harry, don't be upset. I am here to let you know that the DMLE is not filing any charges against you or the Grangers," Amelia said. The relief on his face was clearly evident.

"I do have some things to discuss which I, without your permission I'm sorry to say, discussed with Mr Granger here and Elector Ironclaw," Amelia said, indicating both men.

Dan had a smile for Harry. Harry had seen a goblin smile before so he was not afraid of a goblin looking like he was going to eat someone whole.

"Were you talking about Harry's best interest?" Hermione asked, standing defiantly, her wand appearing in her hand but still pointed at the floor. "Because it seems to me too many people make decisions about My...that is Harry without talking to him about it first, if ever!" she said in anger.

Amelia took no offence at either the words nor the tone. "I do have Harry's best interest at heart and the reason I apologised was because I had not consulted with him but intend to do so now. I will have no say where he goes."

"I am here, by treaty, to simply offer advice and counselling as an individual of high regard with The People and to ensure anyone who has violated any of our laws broken not specifically covered by treaty is punished appropriately."

"Let me say that, from the evidence I have at present, none of the occupants of this room at this time are suspected of having committed any such criminal act," then she got a bit of a smile on her face as she turned to Harry, "including killing a troll or a teacher possessed by a dark lord."

Harry stood up from the bed and paused to ensure he was stable. Hermione had her hand on his shoulder to give him some stability. Once he knew he was able to stand, he grabbed a hold of Hermione and gave her a hug.

"Harry is hugging me!" was all Hermione could think while she wrapped her arms around him, her wand disappearing up her sleeve.

All of the adults looked at the two children hugging. Emma happened to look up at Dan, who had a smile indicating he was the cat that caught the canary and Emma was waiting any minute now for him to start spitting little yellow feathers out of his mouth.

"Be that as it may, Mr Potter, we need your assistance in a decision which will have an impact on our world. We will give you the best information we have and will ask you to decide what to do. There is one caveat to this," Amelia said, "you must first agree to a ceremony called 'The Rites of Succession' after which you shall be given a ring to wear. If the rites are completed and you place the ring on your finger and you are not the heir to House Potter, you will die."

Amelia paused for a moment as Hermione put her fist in her mouth and bit down, even though a gasp escaped her. "If the ring accepts you, you become Lord Harry James Potter and all of the responsibilities that position entails. If you wish to abdicate your responsibilities, you will be given the contents of your trust vault and not another knut, sickle or galleon of yours may be taken to Gringott's."

Harry turned to the goblin who had entered the room. "Do I know you, Sir?" Harry asked.

Ironclaw looked at Harry and gave Harry a slight bow. Harry returned the bow deeper and upon standing said, "May your gold multiply."

Ironclaw was shocked but said the other half of the honorific of The People, "and may the gold of your enemies line your vaults." Ironclaw gathered himself then said, "I am Elector Ironclaw of the European vaults and branches of Gringott's. I speak with the voice of London Manager Ragnok and Guilder Gringott himself," Ironclaw stated formally.

"What is your role, Mr Ironclaw? Are you here to help me or are you here to 'protect' me?" Harry said, looking at the security guards who were clearly under Ironclaw's orders.

Ironclaw laughed. "Well played, Heir Potter. I am here to tell you that you will not die after the Rites of Succession and that the ring will recognize you and name you Lord Potter. I am here to discuss your accounts, your expanding businesses, your investments and your responsibilities, two of which have a higher priority," he said.

"I am also here to discuss your parents arrangements with Gringott's with regard to your person and your future and how your becoming Lord Potter modifies those arrangements. I am also here as a representative of Gringott's to provide you any services you may wish which are within the laws of the Ministry or the treaty between the Crown and The People."

"What do I need to do for the Rites of Succession?" Harry asked as he pictured all sorts of dangerous and lethal tasks he would have to complete in the jungle with dragons or worse harassing him

Ironclaw open the satchel he was carrying and withdrew a short knife, a silver bowl, a quill and a stack of parchment. He set these on the bedside table.

"The parchment is used to record the names of any others in the family who have claim as well as any other family line for which you have a claim. The quill has been spelled to write the names. The bowl will collect your blood. You will allow your blood to drip into the bowl until the blood in the bowl turns black. The knife is spelled to cut open the ball of your thumb without pain, Your thumb will heal, again painlessly, once the blood turns black," he explained, handing Harry the bowl, which Harry set on the bed and then Ironclaw handed Harry the knife.

"Um, sir. That is may I call you Ironclaw?" Harry asked and Ironclaw nodded. "How much blood will it take?"

"I have never seen the Rites of Succession require more than an inkwell full of blood," he said with a laugh. Then he turned to look up at Harry. "That one took four pieces of parchment and was a real mess. By the time the ring was ready to be used, most of the names on the list had died. Tragic. I suppose, since a shallow, fawning boot licker who felt the need to rise above his station was the person the ring finally accepted," Ironclaw said and just about spit on the floor.

Harry looked at Hermione and said, "Sounds like Malfoy."

"Oh? Do you know him? Complete boot licker, terribly sensitive to his place and putting others in theirs," Ironclaw said.

"We know Draco Malfoy," Harry said.

"Ah yes, the heir apparent to the Malfoy family purse," Ironclaw said then looked at Harry. "Do you want to do this, Sir?" he asked.

Harry answered by slicing the ball of his thumb unintentionally to the bone.

The knife was quite sharp. All he felt was the pressure and a bit of tingling.

The blood poured into the bowl. When the bowl was mostly full, the blood in it turned black and Harry could feel the wound seal from the bone up, as if something was knitting the wound back together.

He looked at the process and watched as the thumb healed. Once his thumb was healed, Harry carefully transferred the bowl to the bedside table.

"Now, Mr. Potter, please place the quill in the bowl and release it," Ironclaw said then whispered something to Gutripper, who left the room.

Gutripper returned when the parchment was half covered with writing. Gutripper handed Ironclaw more parchment.

Ironclaw walked up to the table where the quill was busily writing and set the stack of parchment down next to the parchment being written on. When the quill finished the first parchment, the quill rose up above the parchment, released a wave of hot air to dry and fix the blood ink.

The parchment then turned over onto a stack to the right, a blank piece of parchment came off the stack of blanks on the left and settled beneath the quill and the quill began writing again. This process continued for forty seven pages.

The quill finished dotting an 'I' before drying the last page of blood ink, flipping the parchment onto the stack and settling to lay down on the table on top of the completed stack of parchment. There was a small puff of acrid smoke which came from the bowl and the bowl was once more clean, with no trace of blood ink remaining.

"Well, that was not entirely unexpected," Ironclaw said, "although some of the names of families I read as they were being written you are not likely to achieve the head of since there are many potential heirs before you, some of the families have been without heads since before the death of Gellert Grindelwald."

Ironclaw paused for a moment in thought. He then looked up at Harry and took on a countenance which screamed formality, "Do you, Harry James Potter, of your own free will, wish to make the attempt to wear the Ring of Lordship for House Potter, knowing that if the Ring and Magic deny your bid you will be slain and knowing that if the Ring and Magic accept your bid, you freely accept the rights and responsibilities of this stations?"

Harry looked a bit confused as he stood in front of Ironclaw. Hermione leaned over and whispered, "If you want to do this, Harry, a simple 'I accept the risks of my own free will' is all you need to say. If you don't want to do it, all you need to say is 'I decline this opportunity now and for all time' but it is your decision and yours alone, Harry. You'll still be my best friend no matter how you choose," and then she kissed him on the cheek.

Harry looked at Hermione and smiled. He then looked back at Ironclaw, straightened his shoulders and said, "I accept the risks of my own free will."

Ironclaw removed the Ring of Lordship for House Potter from his satchel and placed it in Harry's left hand. Harry took the ring and looked at it, and thought of his father and his mother as he placed the overly-large ring on the ring finger of his right hand.

He could feel a pressure pushing on him, similar to the pressure during the accident, but different in that it wasn't attacking him. There was a flash of light centred on the ring as it shrank to fit Harry's finger.

"Gringott's and The People recognise Lord Harry James Potter as the rightful Lord of House Potter," Ironclaw said formally and bowed low to Harry, which Harry returned, remembering something from History of Magic and as he bowed, he splayed the fingers of his hands open to indicate he intended no harm or threat to The People and closed his eyes, indicating he trusted Elector Ironclaw to bring no harm or foul to him. Ironclaw hid his surprise well.

"The Ministry of Magic and the Crown recognise Lord Harry James Potter as the rightful Lord of House Potter," Amelia Bones said formally.

Hermione once more came to Harry's rescue as he looked lost to respond. She whispered to him, "You need to say," she paused a moment and looked at Director Bones.

"Harry, the formal response is 'I, Lord Harry James Potter, do accept the rights and responsibilities of my station with honour, strength, wisdom and courage'," Amelia said.

Harry squared his shoulders once more, feeling the weight of the words as he spoke them, " I, Lord Harry James Potter, do accept the rights and responsibilities of my station with honour, strength, wisdom and courage."

He then looked at Hermione, who was smiling at him with barely-contained excitement. The adults in the room could see that Harry's energy level was flagging and was on the verge of falling asleep again.

"Lord Potter, the remainder of the business before us," Ironclaw said, indicating the stack of parchment, "can be dealt with another day, if you so desire."

"I can be available to represent the Ministry and the Crown with reasonable advance notice," Amelia said, looking at Harry with a smile.

Harry felt a bit unsteady on his feet and yawned. "Thank you. For some reason all this sleeping has made me tired," he said with a wan smile. He looked once more at Hermione, whose smile was beaming at him when his vision went grey, hearing Dan's voice in the distance saying, "I've got him!"

-oOoOo-

Harry opened his eyes and automatically reached for his glasses on the bedside table, only to have someone hand them to him. Emma was sitting at his bedside and placed a bookmark in the book she was reading.

"Good morning, Harry," she whispered, pointing to the other side of the room. Harry looked where she was pointing and smiled as he saw a pyjama-wearing Hermione asleep in a bed not far away from his own.

There was a somewhat larger bed on the other side in which Dan lay asleep. He turned on his side so he could more easily look at Hermione. "I don't know why, but I could happily watch you sleep for hours, Hermione," he thought.

He was surprised a moment later as Emma whispered again, "It is nice to watch them sleep so peacefully. There are times when I wake up in the middle of the night for no reason and sneak into her room just to watch her sleep. When she was at Hogwarts, I would watch Dan sleep. It is amazing how it helps to pull your thoughts back down to the here and now."

Harry slowly rolled back over and looked at Emma. A tear was slowly trickling down her cheek as she watched Hermione and Dan sleep and then she looked at Harry.

She wiped her eyes and smiled an embarrassed smile. Harry was about to ask Emma a question when Bonnie quietly entered the room. The fact that she made almost no sound at all was disquieting for Harry until he realised there must be a silencing spell on the door and on her shoes.

"Good morning, Harry. How are you feeling this morning?" Bonnie asked quietly.

"I'm feeling better," he said. His stomach chose that moment to announce it believed his throat had been failing to do its job and send food down.

"Let's see about getting you some food. Would you like that?" Bonnie asked.

"I don't mean to be any trouble," Harry said, flinching at the memory of what happened in the past when he asked for food from Aunt Petunia.

The only outward sign that Bonnie was less than pleased with this was a slight narrowing of her eyes. "Harry. I am going to go bring you and Mrs Granger some breakfast. We need you to get better and eating is one of the ways you'll get better," Bonnie whispered, her smile back in full force.

Harry simply nodded with a grateful smile.

"Mrs. Granger, would you be so kind as to help me with breakfast?" Bonnie asked.

Emma nodded to Bonnie then whispered to Bonnie, "I would be happy to," then she looked at Harry and whispered to him with a smile and a wink, "Harry, you keep an eye on those two and keep them out of trouble while I am gone, okay?"

Harry smiled and nodded. Emma stood and set her book on the chair, ruffled Harry's hair gently and walked out of the room with Bonnie, allowing the door to close behind her silently.

Harry once more rolled over and watched as Hermione continued to sleep. He didn't realise it as it happened, but he dozed off with a smile gracing his face.

-oOoOo-

Emma walked out of the room, following Bonnie and the tears began flowing once more. This time it was tears of rage and anger. "How anyone could treat a child in such a fashion! And one as sweet, as courageous as Harry," she thought.

Bonnie stopped suddenly, turned around and pulled Emma into a hug. In the week they had been staying at the hospital so Hermione could stay with her friend, this was the first time Emma had seen Bonnie break down and cry. Emma held her for some minutes until Bonnie's shoulders stopped heaving with the worst of her tears.

Bonnie pulled back in embarrassment. She wiped her eyes and said, "I'm so sorry, Mrs. Granger. Look at me. A fully-qualified mediwitch a year away from becoming a healer and I lose my composure over a patient."

Emma held Bonnie by her shoulders and forced Bonnie to look into her eyes. "As a doctor, nurse, healer or mediwitch, we are not required to leave our humanity at home. I know you have come in after your shift to look in on him. You've probably seen me watching him while he was asleep."

Bonnie nodded.

"Compassion is one of the strengths a successful doctor or healer has. With a patient like Harry, compassion is a three-edged sword. It helps the patient heal faster by demonstrating there are those who care about their well-being, but it can also cut us to the bone with the pain we feel for the children who are not cared for as they should be, and it can cut you so deeply that you bury the compassion with detachment, harming your ability to be in touch with your patient's needs."

"But, finally, it can prevent you from being objective with your patients when all you have is compassion," Emma said thoughtfully, then turned to look at the closed door then back again at Bonnie. "I think, though, that Harry is one of those cases where the compassion is well-placed. He needs good, loving people around him who genuinely care for him as a person. That has been something lacking, even when he was away at school."

Bonnie nodded mutely, wiping the tears from her eyes. Then she looked at Emma and laughed a moment, "Well, we should probably bring him back a good, hearty breakfast then!" Emma smiled and took Bonnie's hand.

"Lead on to breakfast," Emma said.

Bonnie lead her to the ward desk and called for a house elf to bring breakfast for four. Before the diminutive little creature could disappear, Emma said "Five," and before Bonnie could protest, Emma continued her thought, "We also need Harry surrounded by positive role models during breakfast and I am guessing you didn't have breakfast before you started your shift."

Bonnie smiled then looked at the elf. "Breakfast for five, then, Twinkle." The elf popped away and Emma and Bonnie walked back to the room.

-oOoOo-

Harry awoke again to the aroma of tea, bacon, ham, pastries and scrambled eggs. He opened his eyes and saw a short person zooming around a table setting plates, utensils and napkins before covering the plates in the most mouth-watering food Harry had ever seen which he himself had not prepared.

He saw that Dan was already awake and dressed and Emma was coaxing Hermione to wake up. Hermione groused for a few moments before rolling over and seeing Harry. Her frown transformed into an embarrassed smile.

"Good morning, Harry," Hermione said with a mixture of happiness and embarrassment.

"Good morning, Hermione," Harry said, then tried to remember the sorts of things Uncle Vernon had said to Aunt Petunia first thing in the morning. "You look lovely," he said.

Hermione blushed brightly then sat up in bed and looked in the mirror on the wall. She then looked over at Harry. "I think we need to get you to an optometrist, Harry. If you think I look lovely this morning, your glasses must be horribly out of date!" Hermione said with a smile.

Dan watched the interplay between the two of them. "Hermione, I think his eyesight is just fine. Even with your hair looking as if you got zapped by the mains, you're still a pretty girl," Dan said with a smile.

"Daddy! You're just biased," Hermione said, mortified that even her dad thought she was pretty when one could hide an elephant in her hair when she first awoke in the morning.

The five sat down for breakfast, but before Harry could eat, he had several potions to consume. "They'll help your body along with getting better and staying healthy," Bonnie had said as she watched Harry to make sure he drank all four potions down. Once he had, with a twisted, 'how-can-they-make-potions-taste-THAT-yucky!' look on his face, she said, "Now that wasn't so bad. Tuck in and we'll see if you can leave here today," Bonnie finished with a smile.

Harry began eating with enthusiasm. The food was wonderful and he was sitting with people who seemed to genuinely like him for who he was and not some 'boy-who-lived' person that he really wasn't.

He had almost finished with his second plate of food when the words Bonnie said hit him. "...leave here today..." echoed in his mind. Bonnie, Dan and Emma immediately noted the change in his demeanour and Hermione was a few seconds behind as she had been chatting about her grandparents to Bonnie.

"Harry, what ever is the matter?" Emma asked as fear gripped Harry.

"Where will I go when I leave here? Uncle Vernon always said that if anything happened to them I would be out on the street or in prison for freaks. Why do I have to leave today?" Harry was now in a complete panic, his food sitting in his stomach like a lead ball.

Emma got up and went around Hermione to embrace Harry, who was shaking in fear. "Harry, you will not be out on the street and you are not going to any prison. At the very least, we have a guest bedroom you can sleep in and you could stay with us this summer. Would you like that?" she asked.

"I don't want to ruin your nice house by me being there, Mrs. Granger," Harry said, his voice quivering on the verge of hysteria.

Emma looked at Dan, who looked at Harry from across the table. "Harry, please look at me," Dan said with iron in his voice.

Harry immediately looked at Dan, his eyes filled with fear.

In a much softer tone, Dan continued. "Harry, son, regardless of how your aunt and uncle treated you, you deserve to have a safe place to sleep, good food to make you strong and healthy and role models to help you develop socially and morally. I am concerned that you would think your presence in our home would ruin it, when my perspective is that your presence will enrich our lives and give Emma and me an opportunity to get to know you at least as well as Hermione does now."

Harry had stopped shivering and was looking at Dan in bewilderment. "You want me to stay with you?" Harry asked incredulously, looking between Emma and Dan. Hermione looked fit to burst.

"The three of us would be very happy if you would stay with us, Harry," Emma said with a smile at Harry.

"I can cook and clean and do the weeding and I don't eat too much and..." Harry was mid-rant when Dan cut him off.

"Harry, there might be chores to do, but all four of us will take part in them. I expect you've learned some behaviour from your aunt and uncle which we will gently remind you to modify. While I am sure you are an accomplished cook, for the most part, Emma and I do the cooking."

"We can figure out anything else as it comes up, but Emma and I, and I am sure Hermione as well," to which Hermione was animatedly nodding vehemently, "are inviting you, not compelling you, to live with us. I think you have some additional business with Gringotts today or tomorrow which may provide you with other options. Neither Emma nor I are willing to see you released from here with no where to go," Dan said with a kindly smile.

Harry looked up at Emma as if for confirmation.

She looked down at him and smiled with unshed tears in her eyes. Hermione was wound up tightly but didn't want to say anything because it might make Harry feel like it was forced on him. Harry wrapped his arms around Emma and hugged her while he cried.

"No one has ever wanted me before. What did I do to make them like me so much? Am I hurting Hermione's feelings?" he thought. He pushed away from Emma and looked at Hermione, who had her fist in her mouth to keep from screaming or saying anything.

"Hermione, do you want me to stay with you and your parents?" Harry asked nervously. He wasn't sure how Hermione could get up from the table and hug him so quickly but here she was, engulfing him in a bone-cracking hug.

"Please say 'yes', Harry. I would be so happy if you could stay with us this summer!" she said, pulling back and looking at him, her eyes glistening.

"Okay, Hermione..." he began.

Harry didn't get the rest of his sentence out as Hermione kissed him on the cheek and excitedly said, "Oh thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Harry! This summer is going to be so much fun!" Hermione exclaimed before giving Harry a hug and then Emma and running around the table so she could hug Dan and finally she hugged Bonnie then she sat down next to Harry again, an ear-to-ear smile adorning her face.

"Now Kitten, clean your plate. You, too, Harry. You both will likely need your energy today," Emma softly chided them both.

Harry also had a huge smile on his face as he finished his second helping, only to have Bonnie put another scoop of eggs and two more pieces of bacon on his plate.

He turned to look at her with a smile and she pulled him into a hug, which he returned with enthusiasm. She then pointed to his plate and said, "if you finish that, you can get your business with Gringott's done today."

Harry began eating his third helping and wondered how his life had changed so rapidly for the better.

-oOoOo-

Author's note:

The original Chapter 1 for this story had so many cliches and plot holes in it, I felt it necessary to rewrite it from scratch. This is going to require later modifications to the previously posted chapters 3 and 4 and a complete scrapping and rewrite of chapter 2.

Year 1 is also going through major revisions, but I wanted to get Year 2, chapters 1 and 2 completed, chapters 3 and 4 revised and then see if the readers want Year 2 completed or Year 1 rewritten before I choose a direction; not that lack of direction is going to stop me from writing one or the other - it will just let me know what people are more interested in reading.