"Happy Birthday dear HarryandDavid, Happy Birthday to you!"
I was five, and, from what I remember, quite a ways taller than my counterparts. I was, in any case, taller than any other five-year old
girl in Godric's Hollow, as well as Neville, and for me this was something of a personal accomplishment.
At the time, at least, being tall was fun. I got to pick the more complicated books off the shelf when my tutor wasn't looking and it was usually me guys picked for chaser on their kidditch team (a term Neville used for Quidditch that was not played on broom. Also, a term to indicate quidditch that was played by children. Neville was quite the sports enthusiast.)Most other girls got, at very best, to be keeper or score-tallier. Since Harry and David were always seeker there wasn't much availability for smaller players - especially ones with cooties. But, despite my supposed girl 'illness', I had longer arms then most, which was ideal for throwing, and thanks to my gangly limbs, I was quite fast on foot, as well. So I was allowed to play chaser nearly every time we played; and nearly every time we played I won.
I didn't get out much with the other children, though. I suspect none of us really did, what with the muggles and the post-war horrors that still haunted our parents. Sue, there were birthdays and Victory day, which were usually public, joyous affairs, but mostly we were kept indoors, sheltered and safe.
Most magical kids, however, got to attend the Academy down the road, in which Mrs. Potter taught and of Mrs. Longbottom was the director and founder.
I would see kids being walked to school in the morning, usually by one parent, but sometimes by both. I watched in awe as they would disappear behind the magical enchantments protecting the building, and stare as their parents waved goodbye. Remus would then arrive shortly after, at 9, and we'd begin our tutoring for the day, and I would forget, for the most part, about the kids across the street.
Remus was my father's friend, as well as my tutor. Father said it was hard for Remus to get work, so he came to practice teaching with me. He one day dreamed of teaching at Hogwarts, and father said I was helping him by being his first ever tutee. I didn't mind learning. I especially loved Remus when he spoke of other times, stories of evil men and brave heroes and above all my mother, so I listened to anything he would say hoping to get another glimpse into the past. That rarely happened.
Sometimes we did maths, sometimes spelling, most often we would do at least a little grammar and reading, and sometimes, if I was very very good in the lesson Remus would let me practice spells. Wandless, of course. The spells never did work, but they were fun nonetheless.
We had to be careful though, because once Papa caught us and he'd gotten so angry Remus hadn't been allowed back for a week.
Anyways, my days usually consisted of Remus, and Papa for lunch and dinner, and sometimes we had Remus over for dinner too, and it was all quite boring until the Potters began to visit weekly when I turned five. I remember this because we had David and Harry's birthday dinner at ours, on a warm summer's evening that seems, somehow, to have been a lifetime ago.
"Hulloh, Hermione," Mrs. Potter said, smiling. I shyly returned the favor, before offering to take her coat. She shook her head. "Why don't you and the boys run along out back. We'll call you in for dinner."
I nodded and glanced at the two boys standing on either end of their mother.
When Papa had told me they were twins I had looked up the term in a dictionary in the library. There were two different kinds, I had learned: those who were identical, and those who were not. And the Potter boys, though very similar to one another, were not identical.
David had black hair, just like Harry, but he had freckles scattered across his nose and his eyes were a light brown. He was also slightly softer-looking, with more rounded shoulders and a more circular face. He resembled more his mother, whilst Harry, whose eyes were green, looked a a great deal more like his father. His build was ever-so-slightly more angular, with sharper shoulders and lither body. He had no freckles to mar his face - instead, behind his fringe of hair, he had a large, lightning-bolt shaped scar. It was perhaps for this reason he chose to grow it longer than his brother's, which only served to highlight their differences. But they had the same nose, and hands, and were the same height as so, from a distance, it was hard to tell them apart.
I smiled. "This way," I said, because Remus had said it was always best to be polite, and lead them through the back kitchen door to the garden.
Once we were outside, a safe distance from the house, David stopped, and looked around expectantly. "Well?" he asked.
I frowned. "Well what? This is the garden."
He looked at me, eyebrows furrowed. "Where's your quidditch pitch?" The Potters, everyone knew, had a real quidditch pitch in their back yard. This was said to be because Mr. Potter loved flying and would have become a real quidditch player if it hadn't been for the war. He wanted his sons, just like him, to know the real joys of flying. Papa, on the other hand would never have let me touch a broom, nevertheless let me fly at such heights and speeds. Kidditch was fine - so long as my feet never left the ground.
"We don't have one," I said, and then grinned. "But we've chaser balls and bats if you'd like?"
Harry shook his head. "Nah," he said, "that's boring. Don't you have anything exciting we could do?"
I tried to think of the most exciting thing I could think of. "Well," I said, and then stopped. Papa would have my head if I suggested it.
"Well?" they asked, and I found myself with an inexplicable need to impress them. I had never really had friends, I suppose, and at the time being cool seemed much more important that obeying Papa. It wasn't like he'd ever even know, I rationalized.
"Well there's a river down in the forest," I said, tentative. "Only it's not really part of the garden so Papa doesn't like me going down there..."
Harry's ears perked up. "It's forbidden?"
"Well, not really..." I blushed. I wasn't sure what forbidden meant. "But sort of."
"Wicked," he breathed, and turned to David. "It's like the Forbidden Forest at Hogwarts Dad's always telling us about!"
David looked unsure. "I dunno...If it's forbidden is must be because it's dangerous and scary, right? If we aren't allowed..."
Harry shook his head. "I bet you it isn't dangerous." He turned to me, and furthered, "Am I right?"
I had never been down there myself. I only knew of it from Remus' stories. "Er, I dunno..."
He frowned. "Haven't you ever been down there yourself, then?" His indignant, dismissive tone was probably what sparked me to react as I did.
"Sure I have," I said. "It's not dangerous, only a tad scary cuz its darker. And," I said, wanting to impress them more, "the neighbors say they sometimes here howling! I've never seen the wolf myself but they say it must be there."
"Wicked," Harry said, turning to his brother. "See? It's not dangerous!" He was clearly unfazed by the howling.
David looked unsure, but he eventually agreed to 'see what was down there and then come right back'. So I showed them down to the fence that separated the forest from our garden and helped them hop it (honestly, for two boys who flew seeker I'd never known anyone to be as afraid of climbing heights). We found the river, splashed around a little in it, and when David insisted it was time to go home we turned around and began to retrace our steps.
It was only ten minutes into our walk back that I realized we were going the wrong way. The birch trees, which were the only trees that grew on our side of the property, had been replaced with pine trees. I had the feeling we were moving away from the house - not towards it. David was the one leading us, and I called out to him.
"David, we're going the wrong way." He barely glanced back but Harry, who had been steadily walking at my side, frowned.
"What?" he asked.
I nodded to the trees. "Well these are the wrong trees," I said. "They're usually birch..." he looked confused "...white trees. They're usually white with red-green leaves. These are pine trees. And there's usually this big boulder..."
Harry's frown deepened. "David, wait!" he called up, and his brother stopped, and exasperated expression sewn into his features.
"What? We need to get back before dinner!"
"Hermione thinks we're going the wrong way," his twin said. "Something about the trees, but she would know best."
David scoffed. "She just wants to stay down here longer! I know which way we're going. Dad said I'm the best at directions."
Harry didn't say anything, just frowned.
"I say we continue on the way we're going. I remember exactly how we came down!"
I stomped my foot angrily down to the ground. "You obviously don't!" I said, my voice shrill. "The way home is this way - " here I pointed to the opposite direction " - and since it's my home I think I would know best."
David wasn't moved. "No," he said, "since I'm the leader I say we go this way - and that's final."
I didn't move. "Who made you leader?" I asked, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Harry shaking his head. David drew himself up, until his chin was nearly touching the sky and puffed his chest out.
"I'm the chosen one - of course I'm going to be leader."
Harry scowled, and I frowned. I had no idea who the Chosen One was. At the time, I didn't really care.
"Alright, then," I said bitingly, "Leader, you're going the wrong way."
David was about to retort when I heard a loud voice booming over the forest, coming from behind us. "David, Hermione," it called, "Harry! Dinner in 15!"
I quirked a brow. "Now do you believe me?"
David didn't say anything, and Harry muttered to me, "We've got to hurry back before dinner starts."
I nodded and, with a grip on Harry's arm, spun around and began marching the other way.
When I glanced back a couple minutes later, I saw David trudging silently along, glaring at the ground and kicking leaves as he went.
"I don't like your brother," I said primly to Harry, and he snorted.
"Neither do I, sometimes," he said, and we laughed.
My distaste for David, however, was only fully actualized when we reached the back of the house some ten minutes later.
Brushing some leaves off I opened the back door, and was greeted with the familiar sight of my father standing in the kitchen cooking. He smiled as I came into the room.
"And what have you kids been up too?" he asked. I opened my mouth to answer but found, before I could say anything, that David had beaten me to it.
"We saw the wood outback, Mr. Black," he said, to my horror, and I could feel Harry stiffening beside me. My father froze, his back to us, his one hand wielding a stirring spoon and immobilized in mid-air. "I didn't want to but she said it would be good fun. I thought it was a little scary though. Then we heard a wolf cry and -" He stopped and clutched his leg, letting out a low cry.
Harry, who had swiftly kicked David in the shins, shook his head and said, "He's lying, Mr. Black sir, I promise he is. We played with the kidditch quaffle and then a round of Tag, is all. She only told us about the woods to spook us - we didn't actually go in."
But Papa wasn't listening. "Hermione Granger Black," he started in a voice I hated, "you took them where?"
I couldn't lie to him. Meekly I said, "Well, I only showed them the creek in the woods, Papa, a five minutes walk..."
"You did WHAT?" he thundered, and David began sniffling.
"I didn't want to, Mr. Black, but see they forced me too -"
"I did no such thing!" I cried, whirling to face David. "You rotten, filthy little liar!"
"Hermione!" My dad cried. "APOLOGIZE. Where on earth have you learnt to speak like that?"
My cheeks burned in embarrassment and I chocked back a cry. Harry tried to diffuse the situation.
"Mr. Black, sir, I swear -" Sirius whirled on him, and he stuttered. "I - I swear it wasn't Hermione's fault -"
He was interrupted by the appearance of his father.
Mr. James Potter was, I had learnt, senior Auror to the Ministry and chairman of Firebolt Wizarding Brooms. He was tall, lean, had an angular jaw and deep, jet-black hair. Tall in height, he had a frightening tendency to loom over one until he got the answers he wanted. "What is all this yelling about?" he asked, somewhat good-naturedly, but with a decidedly concerned expression marring his brow. I noted he had begun to loom, ever-so-slightly, over Harry.
Papa bristled. "Your sons," he began, "and my daughter, decided to go exploring today." When James' puzzled expression didn't leave his face he added, in something resembling more of a growl than actual words, "In the forest."
James laughed, and his brow rose in surprise. "Ah, Sirius. It's just a little harmless exploring is all. I'm sure Hermione knew what she was doing."
David began to sniffle in ernest. "It was so scary, dad! The woods are so dark and we got lost and Hermione started yelling at me - I didn't even want to go in the first place! Harry made me!"
James frowned and turned to the youngest twin. "Harry? Is this true?"
Harry shook his head. "It wasn't scary at all! David's just a big weenie -"
"Don't speak that way of your brother," Mr. Potter snapped. "He is the bravest child I know, and you'd do well to remember that." He glanced over towards his sniffling son. "Besides, I thought I told you David was to be protected, not encouraged to partake dangerous adventures!"
"It wasn't even dangerous, though!" I cried. "The forest is empty!"
Papa's expression darkened. "It's not empty," he said, and turned to James. "It's Moony's forest."
Mr. Potter's expression grew weary. "Sirius - it isn't even the full moon," he said, exasperated. "You need to stop being so..." he sighed, ran a finger through his hair, and turned towards us. "You promise never to set foot in that forest ever again, do you hear?"
We all nodded. Papa frowned but turned back to his cooking, clearly content to let the matter drop for now. I knew there would be punishment later, though. There always was.
"You promise to ask for permission next time you decide to go off adventuring?"
We all nodded again.
"And you," Mr Potter said, pointing to his youngest, "you need to stop forcing your brother into situations where he could be in danger. If it had been the right day, at the right time, David could have been seriously injured - or killed. Do you understand?" Harry nodded his head, looking slightly abashed. But this wasn't enough for James.
I couldn't help but note the deepening of his voice. In the corner, David was still sniffling. I was ready to march over and punch him, but the look on Harry's face stopped me.
"I promise, father," he whispered, and James nodded.
"Then let's forget the entire matter and have some of this marvelous birthday dinner Sirius has prepared," James said, and we spoke no more of the incident in the woods. Even Papa never mentioned it, and I was happy to forget all about it.
There was only one thought I could not rid myself of, though, and that night, after the Potters had left and the dishes had been cleaned, I lay in bed, contemplating it.
Why had Harry's father only been concerned about David dying?
It was a thought that would haunt me for years to come. And Harry's face, marred by distraught and guilty lines, was the only thing I dreamed of that night. I couldn't shake the feeling there had been something else too it.
in response to a review, i just wanted to clarify that this Harry does not simply help the wizarding world once they realize their mistake, Super-Hero style. His revenge, however, is much more sweet than letting them rot in the hands of Voldemort. And besides, who said he was the one to kill Voldemort? ;) He gets a sweeter prize...What that is, well...You'll have to read to find out.