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Stranded (Harry Potter AU)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Starfox5, Jan 3, 2021.

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  1. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters in the Harry Potter books or movies.

    Summary:
    Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. The star Seeker and the swotty muggleborn have been at each other’s throats since their first year at Hogwarts. Their feud has cost Gryffindor more points than the Weasley twins and has now resulted in the two of them being stranded on a deserted island.

    Author’s Note:
    This story is set in an Alternate Universe. Therefore, a number of canon events in the Wizarding World didn't happen.

    I’d like to thank fredfred and InquisitorCOC for beta-reading.

    Cover:
    [​IMG]

    Chapter 1: The Feud

    Diagon Alley, London, July 6th, 1996

    “Ron! There you are!”

    That was Harry’s voice. Ron Weasley turned and smiled at his best friend. “Mate!”

    “You’re late!” Harry complained, but he was smiling as he clapped Ron on the shoulder.

    “Sorry,” Ron said. “Mum was lecturing me about being careful and stuff.” He shrugged. “You know how it goes.” Even though he’d been to Diagon Alley many times before.

    “Oh, yes.” Harry chuckled. “Dad wanted to teach me Apparition, but Mum forbade it.” He frowned. “I’ll have to wait until Hogwarts.”

    “Me too,” Ron told him. Not even his argument that they’d be able to save on Floo powder had swayed Mum. Then again, Dad had gotten a promotion, and with the twins having moved out, money wasn’t tight any more.

    “Well, it’s not much longer until we’ll finally have our freedom!” Harry grinned widely. “No more being stuck to Hogsmeade! All of Britain will be open to us - whenever we want!”

    “Yeah,” Ron agreed with a smile. Hogsmeade was nice, but after three years, he had seen everything there was to be seen. “And, speaking of freedom…”

    “...we have the whole afternoon and money to burn!” His friend chuckled and patted the side of his robes.

    Long practice kept Ron’s smile from slipping. He wasn’t envious of Harry’s money - not really; his family wasn’t rich, but they got by - but… it felt bad to freeload. Harry was generous, and it wasn’t as if he was throwing around a lot of money, but… Ron had his pride. On the other hand, he also had a sweet tooth, and a girlfriend to spend his allowance on. And if he had to choose between paying his way with Harry or with Lavender, well… Harry was his best friend, but Ron wasn’t snogging him.

    He felt a little guilty at the thought. He wasn’t just with Lavender to snog her. He liked spending time with her. She was nice, she thought Ron was great and she was never boring. The snogging didn’t hurt, of course.

    “So, where should we go first?” Harry asked. “Quidditch Supplies?”

    “Of course!” Ron agreed at once. “They should have the new broom models on display now.”

    “Oh, yes!” Harry nodded eagerly. Then he frowned. “I still can’t believe that Mum forbade Sirius from giving me a Firebolt for my birthday!”

    This time, Ron’s smile slipped a little. Harry’s family was well-off. His godfather, though, was amongst the richest wizards in Britain. But a Firebolt as a birthday present? That was crazy, even for a Black. Ron chuckled anyway. “Seems your mum doesn’t want you to run away - no Apparition lessons, no Firebolt… She knows you, mate,” he said as they started walking.

    Harry scoffed in return. “Well, she doesn’t know we’ll go to Muggle London after this!”

    “Right.” Ron thought that Mrs Potter knew - or, at least, suspected - but it wasn’t as if Muggle London was dangerous. Not for two wizards who had passed their O.W.L.s. And had been there before. Hell, muggle teenagers went to London all the time!

    “You did bring your muggle clothes, right?” Harry asked. Ron saw that his friend was glancing at him.

    “Of course I did.” T-shirt and trousers, under his robes. “Did you?” Ron made a point at looking at Harry’s shoes.

    His friend rolled his eyes. “Who’s got a muggleborn mum, hmm?”

    “Who wore dress shoes with jeans?” Ron grinned. He wouldn’t let his friend forget that gaffe anytime soon.

    “That’s perfectly OK for muggles!” Harry protested.

    “Sure, sure. That’s why people snickered at us last time.”

    “They were snickering at us because you were gawking like, like… a first year at Hagrid!” Harry shot back.

    “They were looking at you when they were laughing.”

    “That was because they thought I was cute,” Harry retorted.

    “Keep telling yourself that, mate,” Ron told him. “Who’s got a girlfriend?”

    “I had a girlfriend, too!”

    “Parvati only went out with you once.”

    “She was boring anyway. Oh, look, the new Nimbus!”

    Well, that was an obvious change of subject, if Ron had ever seen one, but Harry was right - there was the new Nimbus 2002 in the display window. And it was beautiful. Sleek, with an improved footrest, double-bound bristles and a shaft that was enchanted to provide the perfect grip. “Bloody hell, I hope Malfoy buys one,” Ron said.

    “What? Are you crazy?” Harry gaped at him.

    “If Malfoy has one, Sirius will buy a set for the entire Gryffindor team.” That had happened before, after all.

    Harry blinked, then laughed. “Right! And Mum can’t do anything if it’s for school!” He looked at the display again. “Too bad Malfoy’s not here - we could tell him I’m getting one, then he’d get one for sure, and we could truthfully tell Sirius that Malfoy got one.”

    That sounded a little underhanded. But if it meant that Gryffindor won the Cup for the fifth time in a row, Ron wouldn’t complain.

    “So, what’s next?” Ron asked after they had spent a few minutes looking at the Nimbus and the rest of the shop’s stock. “Muggle London?”

    “No, let’s visit the twins’ shop, first.” Harry grinned. “I need to check out their new inventions. See if there’s something that I can use against a certain witch...”

    Ron sighed. Not again. “Mate, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

    “What?” His friend was frowning at him. “You don’t even know what Fred and George have invented, do you? Wait, did they tell you?”

    “No, no, they didn’t tell me.” They never did - they preferred to ‘surprise’ Ron with their pranks. “But… Harry, I’d really like to win the House Cup once while we’re at Hogwarts.”

    “And we will! Now that Fred and Goerge aren’t at Hogwarts any more…”

    “Harry!” Ron interrupted his friend. “You and Granger lost us more points than Fred and George.”

    “And we almost got the Cup anyway! So, now that the twins are gone, we’ll win the Cup.”

    Ron closed his eyes and sighed again. “We won’t win the Cup if you keep up this feud.”

    “That’s Granger’s fault. If she weren’t such a tattletale...” Harry scoffed. “Besides, she keeps hexing me!”

    Ron shook his head. His friend was great - brave, smart, a superb Seeker - but he just couldn’t let go of his feud with Granger. “Look, someone has to take the first step. Otherwise, this will never end.”

    “Yes, and it’s Granger who has to stop being such an insufferable swot!”

    “That’s what she says about you,” Ron said.

    “What? You talked to her?”

    “Lavender told me,” Ron explained.

    Harry scoffed once more. “Of course she would take Granger’s side - she’s her friend.”

    Her best friend, actually. Which put Ron in a rather unenviable position, as Granger would put it. “Look, how about you just try to, I don’t know… not do anything, no matter what she does? Say for a week? See how it works out?”

    “It won’t work. If I don’t take her down a peg, she’ll think she can order us around! She isn’t even a prefect!”

    Of course she wasn’t. Granger was the top student of their year - probably all the years; Percy had mentioned something once - but she also had had almost as many detentions as Fred and George. Or Harry.

    “Look, just give it a try, OK?”

    “Why should I? She should!”

    “She will. Probably - Lavender is asking her, too.” Ron smiled. “So, how about we skip the shop and head to the cinema? I think there’s a new movie out now, and I would prefer to see it in the cinema instead of at Dudley’s.” Harry’s cousin had all the toys and was alright, but his parents were… well, they made the Malfoys look friendly.

    “Good point. We still have a bunch to watch that we missed in spring,” Harry agreed. “So, let’s… oh, no!” He glared at something or someone behind Ron.

    “What?” Ron turned and smiled. “Lavender!”

    “Ron!” She beamed at him.

    “Potter.”

    And she was with Granger. Great.

    *****​

    Hermione Granger gripped her wand tightly, but didn’t take it out of the pocket of her robes. If that git Potter tried anything, she’d be ready. And she’d show him that she had learned a few new hexes since they last fought.

    “Granger.” Potter sneered at her, then nodded at Lavender. “Brown.”

    “Potter.” Lavender returned the nod, then went to hug her boyfriend. “Ron! I didn’t know you were going to Diagon Alley today!”

    “Well, it’s just a short visit,” Weasley replied before they kissed.

    Hermione still didn’t understand why a decent boy like Weasley - he was a good boyfriend to Lavender, and he was a good prefect - was best friends with such an arrogant jerk. Potter was always insulting her and trying to bully her just because she was better than him.

    “And what are you doing here? Trying to empty out Flourish and Blotts?” Potter laughed in his stupid way at his own stupid joke. He was flaunting his wealth, too, with his expensive robes.

    “As a matter of fact,” she told him through clenched teeth, “we haven’t visited any bookshops today. Not that that’s any of your business.”

    “All the books in the world won’t change that you’re just not quick enough with your wand or on your feet,” Potter replied.

    She scoffed. “What good is a quick wand if you don’t know the right spells?” She tapped her index finger against her forehead. “Duelling is as much a contest of minds as it is of reflexes.”

    “That’s why I keep beating you.”

    “Keep telling yourself that,” she shot back. “Once we’re finished with school, you’ll find that being able to hex someone in the hallways won’t impress an employer.”

    “But being the best at Defence in our year will impress people.”

    Oh, he didn’t just go there! The only subject where the git beat her! She glared at him. “We’ll see who beat whom once the O.W.L. results arrive!” She took a step closer to Potter - she wouldn’t let him intimidate her - but then had to crane her neck slightly to keep staring into his eyes.

    “Yes, we will!” He bared his teeth at her.

    “Harry!”

    “Hermione!”

    Scoffing, she took a step back. “Yes, we will.”

    She kept glaring at Potter while Lavender snogged Weasley again. As much as Hermione hated to admit it, the git was right - he was better than her in Defence. Just because of the practicals. And the duels. The only chance she had to beat him there was to out-think him. Learn more spells than Potter. But he was from a pureblood family, and he had access to the Black family library - Hermione had heard him boast about it more than once. And she had seen the ‘exotic spells’ he used. And felt some of them.

    She couldn’t compete with that kind of advantage. Not without acquiring an advantage of her own. She glanced at the entrance to Knockturn Alley. It wasn’t a place for young witches. But it was also a place where you could buy books that Flourish and Blotts didn’t sell. Not illegal books, of course. Just restricted ones. She shouldn’t, but… it was afternoon. And a bright, sunny day. And the shop that she had heard about when she had listened - by accident! - to those Slytherins talking in the library was close to the entrance, anyway.

    Yes, she thought. She would have to risk it to show the git that you didn’t need to have rich parents and godfathers to succeed in Wizarding Britain!

    Though as long as she was with Lavender, she wouldn’t be able to sneak away. And dragging Lavender into Knockturn Alley… No, Lavender was her best friend, but she wouldn’t understand why Hermione had to do this. Several rows over Hermione sneaking into Hogwarts’ restricted section proved that.

    Fortunately, Hermione had a plan. Sort of. An approximation of a plan. She could improvise, anyway. Despite the git’s claims to the contrary, she wasn’t useless at thinking on her feet just because she didn’t have a Seeker’s reflexes. “Hey, Lavender!” She smiled at her best friend. “Let’s go to Fortescue’s! I want ice-cream.”

    Lavender nodded. “Of course, ah…” She glanced at Weasley.

    “Oh, want to come along?” Hermione asked. “We don’t mind.” Perfect! Lavender could have fun with her boyfriend, Hermione would be free to leave after a bowl or two without either noticing and Potter would have his afternoon plans upended. Unless the git wanted to drag his supposed best friend away from an afternoon with his girlfriend.

    “Ah…” Weasley looked at Lavender, then at Potter. And the git…

    ...was smiling? “Excellent idea,” Potter said. “I’m in the mood for ice-cream myself.”

    Hermione managed to keep smiling even though she wanted to hex the git.

    “Uh… good,” Weasley said. “Let’s go?”

    Lavender nodded, but with evident apprehension. Of course Hermione’s friend would know that Potter would ruin their outing.

    *****​

    Harry Potter dug his spoon into the dwindling remains of his serving of Fortescue’s Yummy Yule Delight and smirked at Granger. Really, the girl was hopeless at this. As if Harry would ever try to ruin Ron’s time with his girlfriend! Sirius had taught him better - you never ruined a mate’s chances with a bird. Unless the bird was a Slytherin and ugly. Then you checked for love potions. Or if the bird was Granger. Then you got the poor bloke some help since he was obviously trying to commit suicide by witch.

    He caught Granger’s scowl and made a little show out of enjoying the next spoonful of the superb ice-cream. “Mhhh!”

    “Gross,” the girl muttered under her breath.

    “No, it’s actually excellent,” Harry told her with a wide smile.

    “Ha ha ha.” Granger rolled her eyes. “Don’t give up your day job.”

    “I don’t have a day job,” Harry shot back.

    “Pity. Working for your money builds character. Of course, in your case, there’d be no point. Any character would be crushed by your giant ego as soon as it tried to claw its way out of the basement.” Granger bared her teeth at him like a wild animal.

    Ha, her hair would fit an animal - it was already escaping her messy ponytail. Perhaps he could cast a Medusa Jinx on her; seeing her own hair attack her would be amusing. On the other hand, they weren’t at Hogwarts, and Dad had been quite clear about the consequences of hexing people in the street. Or even Granger.

    He swallowed his next spoonful of ice-cream.

    “Well, I think I ate a little too much ice-cream,” Granger suddenly said. “My stomach’s a little queasy - I’m sorry, Lavender, but I think I should head home.”

    Harry snorted. He recognised a lie when he heard one. Usually. “Bit too much for you to handle, huh?” he asked with a grin.

    Granger scoffed. “Funny. Not.”

    “I think I might have a potion…” Lavender started to say.

    “No, no, it’s just a little queasiness,” Granger protested at once. “No need to waste a potion on it, but thank you for the offer.” The girl awkwardly smiled at Ron’s girlfriend, nodded at Ron and then left after dropping some coins on the table.

    “Don’t get lost!” Harry yelled after her.

    “Harry!”

    “Potter!”

    “What?” He frowned at them. “It was just a joke. She did get lost in the dungeons, remember?”

    “That was five years ago,” Lavender said with a glare.

    “Five years ago? Wow, time flies! Not that you’d be able to tell by looking at Granger; she only got taller. And meaner.”

    “Mate…”

    Harry held up his hands. “Sorry, sorry. But you heard her.” He shook his head. “Anyway, I’ll leave you two lovebirds alone and head over to the twins’ shop. The ice-cream’s on me!”

    He stood, dropping a few more coins on the table.

    “Thanks, mate,” Ron said.

    “Thank you,” Lavender added. She looked more annoyed than grateful, though.

    Harry sighed as he left the parlour. Ron was his best friend, but did he have to get involved with Granger’s best friend? Couldn’t he have picked a girl whose best friend wasn’t such a shrew? And was hot and single?

    He chuckled. Well, Ron was happy with her, which was what was important. He’d find a girlfriend of his own. Dad had told him that he should never give up.

    He was halfway to the shop, pondering what to buy - apart from everything new in the shop - when he spotted Granger. Heading into Knockturn Alley.

    Harry grinned. That was perfect! With a little luck, he’d be able to catch her in the act of buying something illegal!

    He was about to follow the witch when she suddenly turned. Harry managed to hide behind an elderly couple complaining about the prices of enchanted hats before she could spot him, though - Granger was just too slow.

    But when he peered around the wizard in front of him, she had already disappeared. Into Knockturn Alley.

    He cursed under his breath and quickly rushed across the street. He hid behind the corner and peered down Knockturn Alley. Where was the stupid witch? There! Her hair was unmistakable. And she was already past the houses lining the entrance - the safer part of Knockturn Alley.

    Where was she going, anyway? She didn’t actually have… ‘business’ in there, as Uncle Peter would say when he told stories?

    For a moment, Harry hesitated. Dad would freak if he went deeper into Knockturn Alley. Mum would freak if he went into the alley, period. Rose… didn’t matter.

    Then he went inside anyway. If Granger could do it, he could do it better! He was a Gryffindor! And the son of war heroes, not dentists!

    Not that Granger could do it, anyway - the witch was pants at Defence. Easy prey for everyone in the alley. Hell, he’d better hurry before a hag grabbed her as a snack. She had probably heard about some bookshop and gotten lost. He’d save her from her own stupidity as his good deed for the day. That would settle once and for all who was better.

    But where was Granger? She couldn’t be too far ahead, but Knockturn Alley was as crooked as the creatures who dwelled there, as Dad often said, twisted where Diagon Alley was straight, so he couldn’t see further than about fifteen yards.

    Granger wouldn’t actually go so far down the alley, would she? She wasn’t that stupid. And she was always on Harry’s case about ‘dangerous stunts’ or whatever - it wasn’t his problem if others who weren’t as good as he was tried to imitate him.

    He cursed under his breath, then dashed forward to the next turn. No Granger in sight. Just some… was that a hag, or a witch who had hit every branch of the ugly tree coming down, as Dudley would put it?

    The witch suddenly smiled, revealing crooked but very sharp teeth. Harry dashed back around the corner. Damn. It was a hag. Had she seen him? He had to move. But what if Granger…? No. Granger was useless at Defence, but she would’ve called for help, at least. Or used some weird spell to make a scene. So… she must be in one of the dozen shops he had passed on the way here.

    None were bookshops, alas, or he would know exactly where to find her. But he needed to move, just in case the hag had seen him. If only he had the Cloak of Invisibility, but Mum had confiscated it after her last talk with McGonagall, and Dad hadn’t yet managed to convince her that Harry should have it back.

    Bah, he was a Gryffindor. And the best duellist in his own year and the year above. Which, now, meant the best in all of Hogwarts. He scoffed and entered the closest shop.

    And left again, fighting the urge to retch. Who wanted to buy decomposing cadavers of various animals? He sniffed his robes - he could still smell the stench.

    He shook his head. This was all Granger’s fault!

    *****​

    Knockturn Alley, London, July 6th, 1996

    This was great! Coming here had been the best idea she’d had in quite some time! Hermione Granger smiled widely as she went through the stack of used books in ‘Leopold’s Slightly-Used Goods’, as the shop called itself. A first edition of ‘Spells for all Situations’! Granted, it lacked a considerable number of modern spells, and about half the spells in it had been refined and improved since the first printing, but she had already found half a dozen spells which had been removed from subsequent editions. She was definitely buying this one!

    She put it aside and looked at the next book in the stack. Oh! Hogwarts: A History! No. She shook her head. She didn’t have an unlimited budget, unlike an arrogant rich git she could name, so she had to prioritise. She already had two editions of her favourite book; she had to focus on books that would help her get one over on Potter the next time the jerk tried to hex her.

    Sighing, she put the book back. On to the next one. ‘Once Around Africa on a Broom’? She took a glance at the first few pages, then sniffed and closed it. She had no need for a ‘captivating tale about braving the countless dangers of the African wilderness before the Great Intervention’, as the preface described the work. She would bet that the author didn’t portray the African magical civilisations that the ICW had wiped out in the ‘Great Intervention’ objectively. She snorted - she doubted that the author had actually been to Africa at all; his style reminded her of Lockhart’s, and that author made Rita Skeeter look like a paragon of honest reporting!

    Shaking her head, she dropped the book back into the box.

    Priorities.

    But this one looked promising. ‘Exotic Jinxes, Hexes and Curses: A Collection’. She checked the printing date. 1853. Hm. Most of the spells would be outdated, but that wouldn’t matter too much if she found one that had fallen out of use - Potter wouldn’t be prepared for it.

    She started skimming it, suppressing her slight guilt at reading a book she hadn’t - yet! - bought while repeatedly glancing at the wizard at the counter to check if he had noticed. But the saleswizard didn’t seem to be paying attention to her at all. Or was he the shop owner? Most wizarding shops seemed to be operated by their owners and families. The closest to store chains she had seen in Wizarding Britain were Gladrags Wizardwear and Zonko’s, and they only had three shops and two shops respectively.

    There were no corporations at all, actually - Wizarding Britain didn’t recognise the concept of corporate bodies. Apparently, it was based on the view that you needed to be able to wield a wand to be considered a person. She clenched her teeth at the reminder that no matter how much Dumbledore and his allies had done to reform Wizarding Britain into the most progressive wizarding country with regard to muggle and muggleborn rights, that was actually a very low bar to clear. Barely higher than three matchboxes.

    She chuckled under her breath - she could name a few of her fellow students who’d have a good chance of winning the Upper Class Twit of the Year. Unfortunately, Wizarding Britain’s upper class was, by and large, not quite as inbred as that. With some notable exceptions, even the old pureblood families were not averse to having their scions marry talented half-bloods. Some families even had no problem with their heirs marrying exceptional muggleborns. Such as the Potters.

    She scoffed. To think that a witch like Lily Potter - Hermione had read up on the other witch after Professor Slughorn had compared her, favourably, to Mrs Potter in second year - had raised such an entitled git as her eldest child! It was probably the fault of the father. By all accounts, Mr Potter had been as bad as the Weasley twins during his time at Hogwarts, only worse since he was from an old and rich pureblood family.

    Not an Old Family, though. The Potters didn’t have a seat in the Wizengamot. At least Hermione didn’t have to look forward to seeing her personal nemesis lord it over her all her life, even after they both had their N.E.W.T.s.

    She drew a hissing breath through clenched teeth. It was so unfair! Potter had all the advantages: money, family connections, lots of friends - most students were crazy Quidditch fans who worshipped anyone who did well in that stupid game. He was even famous, sort of - even though all he had done to defeat Voldemort was to cry in his crib while Dumbledore and the entire Order of the Phoenix ambushed the Dark Lord in Godric’s Hollow. The Bait Who Lived.

    She grinned. Potter hated being called that. And while it was Malfoy who kept calling him that, Hermione had thought of the insult first! That would teach the git to call her a nightmare just for correcting his pronunciation!

    Oh. She was gripping the book a little too hard… the page now had a tear in it. Well, she was buying it anyway. At the price she had been told, it was a steal! She put it aside and picked up the next book. ‘Vampires, Werewolves and Veela.’ Oh. She had heard of this one. A bigoted bundle of lies written by a jealous witch.

    She dropped it back into the box with a sniff. She was after knowledge, not propaganda. Specifically, useful knowledge. As much as it was good to pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake, sometimes - especially in her current situation - you needed to focus on what benefitted you the most.

    ‘Potions & Poisons’? That sounded, well… dangerous. But also interesting. She hadn’t used potions much - not because she couldn’t brew them; quite the contrary - but because the ingredients were generally too expensive for just putting one over on Potter. Unless he really needed to be taken down a peg. But if the book contained something useful and cheap to brew… Not all poisons were really harmful, anyway. Something that temporarily discomforted Potter would be perfect.

    After all, the git liked to use potions on her - or whatever cursed confectionery the Weasley twins had thought of this week. Potter still owed her for the box of Honeydukes Finest Chocolates he had ruined. Or rather, she owed him retaliation.

    *****​

    “No, I don’t want a ‘perfectly safe cursed item’!” Harry Potter yelled over his shoulder as he left another shady shop. If only these shops had big display windows so he could tell from the outside if Granger was inside! Of course, people wouldn’t shop in Knockturn Alley if that was the case. The things he had seen in the handful of shops he had visited… He shuddered.

    But he couldn’t feel sorry for himself - he had to find Granger. And for her own sake, too. Dad had told him and Rose what kind of things happened to kids who entered Knockturn Alley on a dare or for a lark. In great detail. Rose had had nightmares for a few days afterwards. Granger had no idea of the risks she was taking - she wouldn’t be the first witch to disappear in the alley. Especially if it was obvious that they were a muggleborn.

    He shook his head and entered the next shop. ‘Leopold’s Slightly-Used Goods’ - a fence, then. Probably. He nodded at the wizard behind the counter, but the man barely looked up.

    Harry refrained from commenting on the quality of the customer service. There was a time and place for quips, and this wasn’t either. Besides, the less attention the wizard paid to him, the better - he was here to look for Granger, not to buy stolen goods.

    Even, he reminded himself, when they would be a steal, such as the Nimbus 2000 there. Harry knew exactly what the going rate was for such a broom, used, and this was half of it! On the other hand, the broom might be broken or cursed. This was Knockturn Alley, after all; few shops cared about the safety of their customers. Although Mum could probably straighten out any spells on the broom… but she’d ask where he’d bought it.

    No, he wasn’t here to buy stolen goods. He nodded firmly and left the basket full of brooms to check the rest of the aisles. Of which there were a lot - Extension Charms on the room, of course.

    Now where would Granger be? He snorted. Stupid question. She’d be going after books. He still wasn’t ruling out that she was a mutated vampire who needed books rather than blood to live, even if Luna claimed she had checked for that last year.

    He snorted at the memory - Granger had blown up spectacularly when Luna had told her that she wasn’t a book vampire, but might still be affected by garlic if it was spread on paper.

    Books, he reminded himself, looking around. Ah! In the back, there were shelves with books. And boxes. And he could hear someone muttering to themselves about abused covers… Granger!

    Smiling, he silently closed in. There she was, bent over a box of books. Oblivious to the world. This would be the perfect opportunity to cast a jinx on her - to teach her situational awareness just like Sirius and Peter had taught him.

    Nah. He’d done that before. Instead, he stepped up to her, then cleared his throat. “Fancy meeting you here, Granger!”

    She jumped and straightened up with a startled gasp, whipping her wand out as she whirled, but he had expected that and grabbed her wrist before she could react. “Nuh-uh! You wouldn’t want to violate the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery, would you?”

    “Potter!” she spat. “What are you doing here? And let go!”

    He released her hand - but kept his wand ready, of course. The Trace didn’t work in Knockturn Alley, and if Granger was aware of that, she might try something. “I saw you enter this disreputable location and thought I better keep an eye on you before some hag turns you into dinner.” He grinned at her. “And what are you doing here? Trying to buy stolen goods, hm?”

    “This is a second-hand shop!” she retorted.

    “Exactly!”

    “Oh, you…!” She shook her head. “Whatever. Go away!”

    He rolled his eyes. “You’re in Knockturn Alley, you idiot. If I had been a kidnapper, you’d already be stunned.”

    She had the audacity to scoff at that. “I don’t need anyone to keep an eye on me - certainly not you! If anything, you’re the greatest threat here. You and your irresponsible spell-casting!”

    “Irresponsible? You have no idea how dangerous this place is!” he told her, clenching his teeth.

    “And you do? Are you a regular here? Or are you going to tell me how you know all about this thanks to your father?” She scoffed again. “You and Malfoy are more alike than either of you wants to admit.”

    Oh, she did not just go there! “I’m nothing like that bigot!” he snapped, glaring at her.

    She sneered in return. “Really? Both of you are far too arrogant for your own good. And both of you flaunt your family’s wealth and fame.”

    “You take that back! And the Malfoys aren’t famous!” More like infamous!

    She smirked. “Oh, did I hit a nerve? Don’t like facing the truth about yourself?”

    “Hah! Says the most arrogant witch in the whole school!” He imitated her nasal voice: “Oh, I’m so smart, so much smarter than anyone else. Muggles have so many books you’ve never read, you know? They can do so many things without magic that you have no idea about! And you should work on your pronunciation blah blah bah...”

    Hah! She was glaring at him. “Your jealousy is talking, I see. Your mother must be so disappointed that you have no idea about her culture!”

    “I visit my muggle relatives often!” Pretty often, at least. “I know about muggle England!”

    “Like a tourist, I guess.” She sniffed. “Now go away - I need to sort through more books.” She made a shooing motion at him.

    “You wish.” He shook his head. “I am not joking or lying - this is dangerous. There could be curses on those books. Leave them - we’re going!”

    “I’m not going anywhere. Least of all with you!”

    He had tried being nice. But if the stupid witch wouldn’t listen… He reached for her wrist again. He could just drag her out - she was a bookworm while he had gone through Ollie Wood’s crazed training regimen. And Sirius’s duelling training.

    She tried to evade his lunge, but he managed to grab her robes - and avoided her attempts to kick him in return. “Stop being stupid!”

    “Let go!”

    “Come on!”

    He managed to grab both her wrists, but she kicked him in the shin, hard, and he released her with a yelp.

    She stumbled back, her eyes widening, and fell into the shelf behind her. Stuck to the floor, it didn’t budge - but her flailing arm got entangled into some coiled rope, and when she fell to the floor, the rope came with her, uncoiling like a whip.

    Harry grabbed the end lashing out towards him out of reflex - and suddenly felt as if a hook behind his navel was yanking him away.

    Portkey, he realised as the shop disappeared. The stupid witch had managed to activate a Portkey!

    *****​

    Unknown Location, July 6th, 1996

    Hermione Granger felt nauseous when she finally stopped spinning and fell down into… sand? Wet sand, she realised while she was still shaking her head and fighting the urge to retch. Portkey, she thought. We’ve been transported by a Por... “Potter!” she snarled and looked around as she pushed herself up to a kneeling position. She was on a beach - at the sea.

    The stupid boy had fallen into the sand next to her and was rolling on his stomach, then rose. “You idiot! You activated a Portkey!”

    “Me?” She scoffed. “You grabbed me!” This was his fault!

    “I let you go!”

    “After I kicked you!”

    “Yes. And then you grabbed the Portkey!” He was sitting in the sand and glaring at her.

    He was blaming her for this? “I didn’t grab anything - I fell into a shelf because of your actions!” Potter had grabbed her, trying to manhandle her out of the shop.

    “I wouldn’t even have been there if you hadn’t been stupid enough to enter Knockturn Alley!”

    “What? Do you really think there are monsters waiting to ambush people as soon as they take a step into Knockturn Alley? During the day?” She scoffed again. “Do you also think that you’ll get mugged as soon as you take the subway in New York?” She had heard those stories too, after all. Exaggerated, no doubt.

    “What? What does New York have to do with this? We’re talking about Knockturn Alley! The most dangerous area in Wizarding Britain!” He shook his head as if he couldn’t follow her.

    “Really? Let me guess: Your father told you that.” Typical.

    She saw him clench his teeth. “As a matter of fact, yes, he did,” he spat. “And he’s the Head Auror - he knows best about such things!” He sneered at her. “Or are you an expert in wizarding crime statistics?”

    She snorted in return. “No, but I know you. I bet you wanted to visit the alley, and so he had to scare you off with tall tales!” She grinned and cut him off when he opened his mouth to protest. “And he would do it, too - I’ve heard the stories about him.” And they weren’t half as funny as Potter thought they were.

    That shut him up, and he narrowed his eyes at her some more. “That doesn’t change the fact that it’s your fault!”

    “Don’t blame me for your mistakes! I was perfectly fine!” She told him. Really! She stood, swaying for a moment before she found her balance in the soft sand.

    He stood as well. “And now we’re perfectly lost! And it’s your fault.”

    “Stop blaming me for your own mistakes!” she snapped. “And we’re not completely lost - we’re on a beach by the sea.”

    “On a beach that could be anywhere,” he told her.

    “Not anywhere,” she replied, pointing at the palm trees behind them. “We’re obviously in the tropics or subtropics.”

    “Obviously.” He sneered at her. “You’re thinking like a muggle, Granger. We’re wizards. We could be anywhere.”

    That stung. “Occam’s razor,” she shot back. Not that he would know what that meant. “The simplest explanation is usually the right one.”

    “Not when magic is involved!”

    Oh, the stupid boy! “In any case, whether we’re in the tropics or subtropics, or in the Arctic, the climate is clearly tropical. Humid and hot. And if we track the shadow cast by the sun over the course of a day, we’ll be able to determine, roughly at least, the latitude of our location.”

    He stared at her. He should know that as well - they had, unfortunately, spent five years in Astronomy together! After a moment, he shook his head. “Do you really want to spend a day on this beach tracking a shadow?”

    Hermione huffed in return. “Of course I don’t want to.” She wasn’t stupid! “But we need to find shelter, and, if possible, food, until we’re found.” For fresh water, there was a spell.

    He shrugged. “It won’t take long for Mum and Dad to find us. And they can send us food and a wizarding tent with Hedwig. And a Portkey home.”

    She frowned, then nodded. He was right. It wasn’t as if they had been shipwrecked in the middle of the ocean, with rescue weeks away. “We should still prepare for the worst,” she said. “Just in case.” It was the sensible thing to do.

    Which, of course, didn’t mean that Potter would see sense - the boy was far too arrogant for his own good.

    But, to her surprise, he nodded. “I guess we don’t have anything better to do, anyway.”

    She rolled her eyes. Potter just couldn’t admit that she was right. Typical! “So, we should… Oh! I’m stupid!” She exclaimed.

    “Yes?”

    Hermione glared at him, then drew her wand, grinning when he suddenly tensed. “Avis!”

    A flock of birds appeared and circled her. One of them went over to peck at Potter’s hair.

    “Hey! What are you doing?”

    “Saving us,” she told him. “We’re underage - and I just did magic. The Trace will alert the Ministry.” And, as she had found out in the summer before second year, the Ministry was very quick to respond to such incidents.

    “Ah.” He nodded, but with obvious reluctance. “That might work.”

    “It should work,” she corrected him. “And it will work faster than waiting until someone notices that we’re missing.” She looked around - last time, the owl had appeared almost at once.

    “Unless you’re breaking the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery in London, the Ministry owl will take some time to reach you,” Potter said, smirking.

    She clenched her teeth. “You said we could be anywhere, didn’t you?” She snorted. “In any case, let’s see if we can find shelter or some fruit or something.”

    She was feeling a little hungry, after all, and they’d probably have to wait for a few hours, at least.

    *****​
     
  2. Zeelthor

    Zeelthor Know what you're doing yet?

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    The concept, though cliche, is definitely one of those that’s cliche for a good reason. It’s a lot of fun to have to characters who dislike/distrust one another forced to rely on another and then snark their way through the story with rising sexual tension.

    The problem is often, as is the case here, that neither of your protagonists are likeable. They both come off as absolute wankers, and so it’s difficult to get invested. They both need to be likeable for this to work, and whatever is the cause of their mutual animosity, it needs to be shown early and explained throughout the story, sorta of getting unwound as they get to know each other.

    By likeable, I don’t mean good people, though it’s Harry and Hermione, so they should be. Hannibal in the TV show is very likeable. He’s a cannibal serial killer, yes. But he’s also polite, cultured, handsome. He makes art. He quotes poetry. He has friends, of a sort. More than anything, he’s proactive. I think Brandon Sanderson has a whole class on the subject of making characters relatable on YouTube. If my explanation makes no sense, I warmly recommend it.

    If you want a good example of two people who are deeply antagonistic, but also have great chemistry and sexual tension, and who over the course of the novel get over things, I suggest Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. The two main characters start off hating each other’s guts, with good reason, but learn why over the course of the story.
     
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  3. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Well, the idea is to have them grow up as well, not just grow fond of each other. I see both as basically good people - Harry does want to save Hermione, for example - but also stupid teenagers caught up in a stupid rivalry. They aren't experienced adults, they haven't gone through all the canon adventures braving death and dangers. The plan is to work through their animosity (and explain it).

    Although, I think, based on another reader's feedback, their perception by the reader is also influenced by the fact that they are seen through a very biased POV half the time. Harry and Hermione pretty much assume the worst of each other.
     
  4. preier

    preier Not too sore, are you?

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    That came across quite clearly, I feel.

    On the other hand, we have to take it on faith that there's more to them than what the other sees, that they're good people worth getting invested into... Outside our extradiegetic expectations.

    As an example, harry's refusal to spoil Ron& lavender's dating? Good point for Harry, lessened by his own pov revealing that it's at least partially to spite 'Granger' by not being the bad guy.

    It's not just that they see each other under a bad light, they actively make each other worse. I'm not sure that any Hermione pov was not about being negative toward Harry in some way, from what I read.

    Edit: thanks for sharing another of your stories, which seems the main point I was forgetting ;)
     
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  5. Threadmarks: Chapter 2: The Beach
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 2: The Beach

    Diagon Alley, London, July 6th, 1996

    “...and then I told her: ‘Yes, Parvati, that’s very good, but we need to write a Defence essay. Not a Herbology essay.’” Lavender Brown smiled and joined in when Ron started laughing.

    “You really let her write an entire essay without telling her that it was for the wrong subject?”

    She sniffed. “She was copying my notes without asking. She just smiled at me and said I wasn’t using them.”

    He snorted. “Well, that was rather rude.”

    “Yes, it was. We’re friends, but she should’ve asked.” She smiled. “So, instead of listening to the debut of Celestina’s latest song on the wireless, she had to write a Defence essay on Sunday evening.” And it had served Parvati right - really, you didn’t just borrow your friend’s stuff without asking! Not to mention that she only wanted Lavender’s notes because Lavender had studied with Hermione.

    “That was ‘At Wand Point’, right?” he asked.

    “Yes.” She beamed at him for remembering that.

    He nodded. “It’s a decent song. Mum’s a fan of ‘A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love’. Whenever it plays on the wireless, everyone has to be quiet and listen. Drives me spare.”

    “Ah.” Lavender nodded in sympathy. She liked that song, but if you heard it all the time… “Well, it’s not going to be played too often, is it?”

    “I hope not.” He pushed his empty ice-cream bowl to the side. “That was great.”

    She pushed her own, still half-full, to the centre. “Want to help me finish this?”

    “Of course!” He beamed at her and stuck his spoon into her banana split, making appreciative noises.

    “So, how long do you have?” she asked after they had finished her ice-cream.

    He frowned. “How long?”

    “Until Potter returns. You’ve got plans for the afternoon, right?” Or so he’d told her when she’d asked him out yesterday.

    “Ah, right.” He winced a little. “We had plans, but…” He checked his watch. “He should’ve been back by now. Checking out my brothers’ new products doesn’t take that long.”

    She sniffed. Ron was almost the perfect boyfriend. Funny, cute, nice - he never made her feel stupid or talked down to her - and humble. But he was Potter’s best friend. With all that entailed, as Hermione would say. Misplaced loyalty, Lavender called it. “He really should stop annoying Hermione,” she said. She knew who Potter would target with whatever he bought today.

    “They both drive each other crazy,” Ron said, shrugging. “She’s not exactly innocent.”

    She frowned. “If he didn’t keep at it, she’d stop.” Probably. Hermione was a little obsessed with getting even. Still, she hadn’t made any elaborate revenge plans since their third year.

    “That’s what Harry says.”

    “Really?”

    He grinned. “Well, that’s what he means. She is rather abrasive towards him, isn’t she?”

    She rolled her eyes. “Hermione’s a nice girl if you get to know her.”

    “Well, I’ll have to take your word for it,” he said. “She only started to be nice to me when we started dating.” He snorted. “How did you become friends, anyway? For our entire first year, Harry was sure that she’d slipped you a potion.”

    “What?” She stared at him. He couldn’t be serious!

    “Well, we were little kids, and Harry couldn’t understand how anyone could like her when he hated her.”

    “Really.” She shook her head. “It was perfectly natural. We bonded over hairstyling charms.”

    “What?” He leaned forward. “She’s had the same hairstyle for years. I didn’t think she used any charms.”

    Lavender nodded. Potter had teased Hermione about her hair often enough. “She doesn’t use them. But she knows every hairstyling charm that has ever been mentioned in any book in the library at Hogwarts.” She narrowed her eyes at him, and he winced a little. “That doesn’t get back to Potter, understood?”

    “My lips are sealed,” he replied, making a zipping motion.

    “Good. It was actually my fault. I asked her why she wasn’t using any charms. She said they didn’t work on her hair. I told her that was rubbish; that she must not be casting them correctly.” Lavender still remembered the row that had started. Hermione had reacted as if Lavender had accused her of ritually sacrificing animals or something. And then she had accused her of not knowing anything about hair! Lavender wasn’t a genius like Hermione, but she wasn’t dumb! And she was an expert in hairstyling charms - and a few others! “Anyway, she dared me to try, so I did - and it didn’t work. So I tried other charms. Wrote to Mum and asked for more advanced ones. She started researching in the library. We worked together, and well, started to do homework together as well.” Hermione had complained that Lavender was taking too long, actually, and decided to help her, but that was neither here nor there. Merlin’s beard, both of them had been so stubborn about proving they were right! They had become friends without realising it.

    “And no charm worked?”

    “We later found out that there was a curse on her hair.”

    “That wasn’t Harry. He would’ve told me if he had done it.”

    “Of course it wasn’t him! We think it was accidental magic since she’d had her hair like that ever since she could remember.” Probably a reaction to a hairstyle she didn’t like as a toddler, but that was a secret Lavender wouldn’t tell Ron.

    “Ah.” He frowned. “But why didn’t she get the curse broken?”

    “She did. But she’s used to it, she said.” What Lavender’s friend had said was that she wouldn’t give Potter the satisfaction of seeing her using a hairstyling charm after all his teasing, but that was close enough.

    Ron shook his head again but didn’t comment. Good.

    “Anyway, enough of that,” she told him, putting her hand on his. “Let’s take advantage of our time together before Potter returns.”

    He grinned - he knew what she meant. And she knew the perfect place for a little snogging.

    And if Potter grew impatient after being late and didn’t wait in Fortescue’s for them, well, that would be his own fault.

    *****​

    Unknown Location, July 6th, 1996

    “The Ministry’s let us down. Typical. When you make a tiny mistake, they immediately jump down your throat, but when you need them, they’re nowhere to be found.”

    Harry Potter clenched his teeth. Granger just couldn’t keep her mouth shut. “They’ll find us,” he told her. “You’ll see.” It hadn’t even been an hour yet!

    “You also said that about the Portkey taking us back.” She pursed her lips.

    “I said that it might be possible that the Portkey would take us back if we reactivated it,” he corrected the insufferable swot. “I didn’t say it would take us back.”

    She sniffed. “Well, it didn’t. At least we can use the rope if we need to build a shelter.”

    That again. “Why do you want a shelter? It’s not cold here. Quite the opposite, actually.” It was so hot, he had shed his robes already. Granger, of course, hadn’t. Even though he could see sweat running down her face. Crazy. He was still sweating in his shirt and trousers. Even in the scant shadow provided by the rock next to him.

    “What if it starts raining? You want to sit here and get wet?” She shook her head, seemingly not noticing that half her hair had escaped her ponytail.

    “As a matter of fact, yes,” he told her, showing his teeth. “I would like that. It would be a relief from this heat.”

    “Only until the temperature falls during the night. Then you’d be wet and cold.”

    “Not if my clothes dried by nightfall,” he retorted. Couldn’t the stupid witch stop trying to lecture him?

    “We’ve been here for an hour,” she told him after a moment as if he didn’t have a watch. “We should look for a cave or something. And edible fruits.”

    He scoffed. “We’re lost. And if you’re lost, you should stay put.” Mum had taught him that after that trip to Chessington World of Adventures with Dudley. “If we start wandering around, people searching for us might miss us,” he explained. He also sneered at her a little. He knew what he was doing.

    She pressed her lips together and glared at him. Couldn’t admit to being wrong, huh? She shook her head again. “That’s different! It’s like we’re shipwrecked. We’re not supposed to stay on the beach and starve.”

    “You won’t starve if you don’t eat anything for a few hours.” He chuckled. “Certainly not after all the ice-cream you ate at Fortescue’s!”

    Her glare intensified. “I had a normal serving!”

    “It should still keep you fed for hours,” he replied. He made a point of looking at her robes. “Become a little pudgy, have we? My cousin had a weight problem as well.”

    “I’m not overweight!” she spat. “Not that it would be any business of yours! Oh, you’re such a git! We’ve been stranded on an unknown island, and you think it’s just like being a child who’s gotten lost at the zoo? That, any second now, Mum and Dad will save you?”

    “Or the Ministry,” he shot back. “That was your idea, wasn’t it?”

    “I didn’t say we needed to stay on the beach and do nothing while we’re waiting!”

    “We’re conserving our energy.” He laid back down on the robes he had spread out in the sand as a makeshift blanket. “We can look for food later.”

    “Then it might be too late. We might be hungry and tired, prone to making mistakes, and, here, a mistake might prove fatal!”

    He rolled his eyes. Did she have to be so dramatic? “I’m sure the palm trees have coconuts. Just go and cut one down if you’re hungry.” She probably was - hungry people were insufferable and easy to set off. Dudley and Uncle Vernon had been like that, at least, when they had been on a diet. Huh, if Granger was on a diet all the time, that would explain her attitude.

    He blinked. There was another possible explanation. “Hey, you’re not on your period, are you?” That would be the worst - stuck on a beach with a girl at that time of the month.

    “What?” She gasped. “That’s none of your business!”

    She was. Great.

    He closed his eyes and sighed. Mum and Dad were taking their time.

    “You… Of all the stupid things… To think that the only reason I’m not going along with your asinine plan of doing nothing is that I am…” She scoffed and he heard her take a deep breath.

    “It was just a question!” he said quickly.

    “A stupid and sexist question!”

    He groaned. Perhaps he should cast a Silencing Charm on himself?

    But fortunately, Granger calmed down. “In any case, we won’t be missed for a few hours yet,” she told him. “I had plans for the whole afternoon.”

    “I bet you did.” She probably had plans for the rest of her life, all marked down in her precious schedule.

    “Not everyone is as disorganised as you are.”

    “At least I don’t freak out if a lesson is rescheduled,” he shot back.

    She glared at him again, lips pressed together. “You’re impossible! I’m going to get a coconut!”

    “Fine.”

    *****​

    Hermione Granger scowled, deeply, as she walked away from the git. Honestly! They were stranded on a tropical island - which, as even Potter had realised, could be anywhere but probably was in the tropics - and he thought the best course of action was to stay where they’d arrived and wait for his parents?

    She knew better. If stranded or shipwrecked, you needed to find water, food and shelter. Water wasn’t a problem - the Water-Making Spell provided them with all the clean, fresh water they’d ever need, although some containers might be useful. But food and shelter? You couldn’t conjure food; everyone who had read up on Conjuration knew that. You could enlarge or multiply it - if you had some food and knew the charms. She knew the Engorgement Charm, but not the Duplication Charm. Either would work, but she didn’t have any food to use it on. Not yet, at least. More concerning was that she didn’t have a magical way to keep food from spoiling. Enlarging spoilt fruit wouldn’t help anyone. Well, they might be able to use it as bait, but… First, though, she had to find some food. Although the palm trees here did look like...

    She grinned as she eyed the trees lining the beach. Yes, there were coconuts. At least they looked like coconuts. She narrowed her eyes and hesitated. This was - probably - a magical island, so they could actually be anything. Even dangerous plants or creatures using that form to lure in prey.

    But she didn’t remember reading about magical coconuts, not in Herbology nor in Care of Magical Creatures. And, damn it, she wouldn’t let Potter mock her for being afraid of a few coconuts. She told him she’d get a coconut, and she would. She’d show him!

    Once she figured out how to get the coconut without risking life and limb. Those palm trees didn’t look easy to climb. Certainly not in her robes. She scoffed. She was a witch - she didn’t need to climb a tree.

    Pointing her wand at the closest coconut, she cast a Cutting Charm, then stepped back - she didn’t want to catch a coconut with her head.

    But the coconut didn’t drop. Had she missed? She aimed her wand again - it was too bad that she couldn’t see where the coconuts connected to the tree - and recast the charm. Something fell - or floated down; she had cut off some foliage. But no coconut.

    Perhaps a Cutting Curse? But if she hit the coconut, she’d cut it open and waste the coconut water inside. On the other hand, she could create water. And she was getting hungry.

    She checked if Potter was watching - the git would tattle on her if he caught her casting a curse. But he hadn’t moved; he was probably asleep. Good.

    She aimed at the coconut that was the farthest from the others and cast the curse.

    Most of the coconut fell, but she caught it with a Levitation Charm before it hit the sand. The coconut water splashed on to the sandy ground, though, before she’d managed to catch the coconut.

    She had managed to get about two-thirds or three-quarters of a coconut. And it looked ripe, too! Pearly white coconut flesh! Perfect!

    She grinned as she walked back to Potter. This would show him!

    He didn’t react to her return. He was pretending to be asleep. “You shouldn’t sleep in the sun,” she told him - his head wasn’t in the shade any more.

    “It’s called sunbathing,” he replied without opening his eyes. “You might try it sometime.”

    “It’s called asking for sunburn,” she corrected him. “We’re not in England any more. The sun’s much stronger here. You might even risk sunstroke.”

    “Tell me something I don’t know.”

    She knew he was rolling his eyes without having to check. He was such an immature git! “Well, if you get your skin burnt, we might find out if coconuts have healing properties.”

    “You don’t know the Sunshade Charm?”

    What was that? Probably some form of magical sunblock. Not that she’d admit that she hadn’t heard of that particular charm. “Why would I care about a charm I can’t legally use when I’m not in school and won’t ever need at Hogwarts?” She sniffed.

    “And after Hogwarts?” He grinned at her. “I thought you would be prepared for life after school.”

    He went there? “It’s not exactly a priority. Not when I can buy sunblock in any supermarket.”

    “Do you see a supermarket here?” He even got up and looked around, shading his eyes with his hand.

    I’m not the one lying in the sun,” she retorted.

    “You don’t know how to cast the spell.” He grinned.

    “And you do?” She raised her eyebrows.

    “Of course! Learned it when Ron and I visited Bill. Ron’s big brother. He works as a Curse-Breaker in Egypt.”

    “I know.” She smiled. Lavender’s habit of gushing about her boyfriend had come in handy for once.

    He frowned for a moment. “Why would… Ah! Your friend’s a blabbermouth!”

    “What?” She stared at him. “People talk about their dates. That’s perfectly normal.”

    He grunted in return and lay down again. “Whatever.”

    She rolled her eyes and pushed some stray strands of hair back - she would have to redo her ponytail again. He was such a git. He didn’t deserve to share her coconut. But she was better than that. Better than him. And he had to be hungry as well by now.

    Shaking her head, she sat down - in the shade of the rock. She wasn’t stupid enough to sit in the sun. Especially not wearing her dark robes. It was hot enough already. But she didn’t fancy getting sunburnt. And she wasn’t exactly dressed to remove the robes. Which was all Lavender’s fault, of course.

    Well, that didn’t matter now. She had a meal to prepare. She put the coconut down in front of her - shell down, of course. Then she cast an Enlargement Charm on it. The coconut fragment grew to the size of a pumpkin in an instant. A normal pumpkin, not one of Hagrid’s monsters.

    She cut off a small slice with a Cutting Charm - it worked perfectly for that - and started to chew it. She closed her eyes and sighed. It tasted perfect. Fresh, slightly sweet… she swallowed, then cut off another slice and looked at Potter. “Want some as well?” He stared at her with narrowed eyes, so she added: “It’s safe.”

    He didn’t look convinced, so she rolled her eyes. “Honestly!” She chewed and swallowed the slice she was holding. “See? It’s safe. And there’s enough for both of us.”

    He huffed, then cut his own slice. And cast a spell of some sort on it before eating it.

    “Thanks,” he muttered.

    Hah! She grinned at the acknowledgement.

    *****​

    Harry Potter rolled his eyes. Damn, Granger was insufferable - she was grinning at him as if she had defeated him in a duel. Which she would never, ever manage, of course. But he was sure that she had been banned from board games as a kid since she could neither win nor lose gracefully.

    At least the coconut she had brought was tasty. He had been getting a little hungry - ice-cream was great, but it didn’t keep you fed for long. Unless you kept eating it, of course.

    “We should be able to support ourselves for a while with coconuts,” Granger told him. “There are several coconut trees, and one nut can be enlarged to feed us for a day. It would be ideal if we had a way to keep them from spoiling - we’ll run out otherwise.”

    “Dad will find us before that,” he told her. Or Mum. But Dad was the Auror.

    “They haven’t found us yet,” she retorted with a sniff.

    It wasn’t his fault that her parents were muggles and couldn’t help her. “They won’t have missed me yet,” he said. He was almost sixteen - his parents knew he could take care of himself.

    “What a surprise,” she replied with the worst attempt at faking surprise that he had seen since Dudley’s role as a miller in that kindergarten production of ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ Mum had dragged him to.

    He narrowed his eyes at her. “Wow, how witty. How long did it take you to come up with that quip? Or did you read it in a book? In kindergarten?”

    She flushed. Probably - it was hard to tell since she was already flushed from the heat. “What would you know about books? Aren’t books ‘booooring’?

    “Not the Defence books. Or books about Quidditch,” he replied, showing his teeth. And grinned when she pursed her lips. She hated that he was better than her at Defence.

    “In any case,” she told him through clenched teeth, “we can’t just assume that we will be saved in a few hours. We need to make plans for the worst.”

    Being stuck with this witch was already the worst case, in Harry’s opinion. He sighed. “We’re not muggles, Miss Crusoe. We won’t starve for a long time, looking at how many palm trees I can see from here. I bet the sea’s full of fish, too. And we can make water as we please.”

    “And I guess we’ll simply enlarge our robes and some driftwood to make a tent?” she snapped.

    He laughed. “Hey, you’re getting it!” He waved his wand around. “We’re wizards. Well, you’re a witch. Getting stranded on an island isn’t the end of the world. It’s just… a vacation!”

    “A vacation?” She glared at him. “What if your parents don’t find us? We could be stuck here for days! Weeks! Perhaps months! We might miss Hogwarts!”

    “Merlin’s beard, Granger, get a grip! Your priorities are completely...”

    “We might miss Quidditch,” she interrupted him.

    He shut his mouth. “We won’t. We’ll be found long before September.”

    “And what if we aren’t? Why do you think it’ll be easy to find us? The Ministry obviously has no way of detecting our underage magic!” She shook her head, and her ponytail disintegrated completely. Huffing, she redid it.

    “You either got cursed hair or a cursed scrunchie,” Harry told her.

    “My hair’s not cursed, thank you very much!” she spat.

    “Are you sure? Did you check?” He chuckled.

    “Yes.”

    Harry blinked. “You actually checked if your hair was cursed?” Laughing, he shook his head. “Oh, that’s…”

    “It was cursed,” she told him with a growl.

    “It wasn’t me!” he said without thinking. Uncle Sirius would be proud of his reflexes. “Really.”

    “I know,” she told him. “If you had done it, I’d have cursed you bald!”

    “Sure, sure,” he said with a little more bravado than he felt. Granger was pants at duelling - at least against a competent duellist like himself - but she probably knew more spells than anyone else other than the teachers at Hogwarts.

    “You’re asking for a demonstration.”

    He pointed his wand at her. “You want to have a go? No teachers here to save you.”

    For a moment, it looked as if she’d go for it. Then she scoffed. “We’re stranded on a deserted - possibly deserted - island, and you want to duel? How old are you?”

    “You started it!” he retorted.

    “I wasn’t serious.”

    “Sure, sure.”

    “Oh, you…” She shook her head and sat down in the shade of the rock again. “I wish I were here with someone who wasn’t such an immature git.”

    “I wish I wasn’t here with you,” he told her.

    “The feeling’s mutual, I assure you.”

    “Whatever.” He closed his eyes and ignored her.

    *****​

    Hermione Granger had to resist the urge to hex Potter. Here she had tried to be nice to the git, offered him some of her coconut meal, and what did he do? Mocked and insulted her! Typical - the idiot had no sense of priority. Yes, it was possible that his oh-so-famous-and-rich parents would arrive quickly and take them home to Britain before they had to fend for themselves, but they couldn’t count on that. Even a git like Potter should realise that they had to assume the worst and prepare accordingly. And it wasn’t as if they had anything else to do - Potter was literally just lying on the ground.

    She pursed her lips. She should let the git be. Once he was hungry, wet and cold, he’d realise how stupid he had been. But Potter was so stubborn, he’d probably starve rather than admit that she was correct.

    And if they were saved after a few days - a nice, conservative estimate - he would probably lie and complain to his parents that she was at fault for whatever had befallen him.

    She sighed. This was like the worst group project in primary school. She was the only one trying to actually do the assignment, and everyone else was doing nothing at best, or actively sabotaging her at worst. Potter would’ve fit right in with Smith, Popovski and Gruber in her class. At least mentally. If only she had been stranded here with Neville. That boy would have listened to her. Even Weasley would’ve been a clear improvement.

    In any case, she knew what she had to do. Unlike a certain other person. She’d secured food and water for the time being, now she needed to find shelter. Just because the weather was nice right now didn’t mean they could count on it staying nice. Tropical storms were dangerous. Depending on where they were, they might even have to face a hurricane.

    Two enlarged robes turned into tents wouldn’t cut it. They needed something far more solid. A cave would be best - not too close to the shore, though. But, looking around, she didn’t think there were many, if any, suitable caves on this island. Not close to the shore, anyway. Perhaps she could enlarge a coconut shell and turn it into a shelter? Or… a mollusc shell? Hermit crabs used empty shells to protect themselves. But she didn’t think she could enlarge a shell enough to work. Not to mention all the jokes Potter would make about her being ‘crabby’.

    She pointed her wand at a piece of driftwood and cast the spell as perfectly as she could. The wood grew to an impressive size - but she could easily tell that it wouldn’t be enough if cast on a coconut to create a shelter. Unless it was meant for Crookshanks.

    Oh, poor Crookshanks! He had to be missing her dearly! Her parents would feed him and clean his litter box, of course, but they weren’t her. The poor cat might think she had abandoned him!

    “Did you just realise you forgot your homework?”

    She rolled her eyes. “Ha ha.”

    “You ‘accidentally’ forgot to return a book to the Hogwarts library?”

    She rubbed the bridge of her nose. She had done that once, and learned her lesson. In first year. “Not everyone’s stuck in first year, Potter. Some of us actually learn from our mistakes and grow up. You should try it one of these days.”

    “I’d have to make mistakes first.”

    She blinked, then snorted. “I guess you meant to get stuck to the ceiling for an hour due to stumbling while carrying a potion you meant to use on me, right?” She shook her head. “You’re hopeless. Although I guess it’s not entirely your fault that you’ve been spoilt rotten.”

    “Says Miss ‘I won’t admit I was wrong, ever!’ Granger.” He scoffed at her. “I bet you’re still trying to prove that the Easter Bunny exists because you thought so as a toddler.”

    She clenched her teeth. She was perfectly capable of admitting when she was wrong! “Since you’re unable to recognise your own mistakes, I don’t think you’re qualified to judge anyone else’s.”

    “Ha ha,” he imitated her. “You sound like Percy.”

    “And that’s supposed to be an insult?” She raised her eyebrows and scowled at him. “He was Head Boy and has already been promoted twice at the Ministry!” And he had worked hard for his achievements. Unlike some people. Like Potter.

    “And that’s all that counts, right?” He scoffed again. “You should try to live a little, Granger. Have some fun. Life’s more than work work nag nag.”

    “And you should realise that not everyone was born with a silver spoon in their mouth!” she spat. “And I have fun when you’re not annoying me!”

    He glared at her. “I’m not like Malfoy!”

    She grinned - comparisons to Malfoy always made him mad. He just couldn’t stand the truth. “Could have fooled me with the way you keep talking about your parents.”

    “I don’t talk about my parents like… like Malfoy does!”

    “Oh, no - you just use their names to impress people. And tell everyone about what they and their friends did at Hogwarts.”

    “I don’t hide behind them!” he spat.

    “Really? What are you doing now, then? You’re waiting for them to come and save you.” She sniffed. “You’re not even doing the minimum amount of work to prepare for the worst case. Pathetic!”

    “Oh, you...!” He jumped up and levelled his wand at her.

    But she was looking at him down the length of her own wand. She might not be as quick or athletic as he was - though she was in decent shape! - but she had been prepared for this.

    She took a deep breath, tensing up. If the git actually tried to hex her… She wouldn’t start it. Because she was better than that. She wasn’t some spoilt rich boy. She wouldn’t jeopardise their survival because of an overblown ego. But she would defend herself. And here, on the beach, he wouldn’t be as quick as in the duelling ring. The sand would slow him down.

    But he shook his head, then pointed his wand at the trees behind them. His patronising sneer, as if she wasn’t even worthy of caution, made her want to hex him. Really hex him.

    “Accio coconut!”

    “What are you doing?” she snapped.

    “Preparing for the worst,” he replied as half a dozen coconuts landed in the sand in front of him. “See? You don’t need to cut them up; you can just summon them whole - if you can competently cast a Summoning Charm.”

    She hadn’t thought of that. In hindsight that had been an oversight. Then again, she didn’t know how much force you needed to rip a coconut from its tree. But it didn’t matter, anyway. “Preparing? Are you stupid? I already got a coconut for us! With one Engorgement Charm, we have enough for a whole day and leftovers. Six coconuts? We don’t need six! It’s a waste! And you just cut down our potential food supply by at least a week!” The damn fool! Typical - always showing off without caring about the consequences or displaying even a smidgen of common sense!

    Of course he wouldn’t admit his mistake. “Who’s stupid? They’ll keep! How do you think they get to England from the tropics if they spoil as soon as they get cut from the tree?”

    She clenched her teeth. That was actually a good point - coconuts weren’t kept refrigerated in the shops, at least as far as she knew. Though they might be shipped that way. In any case, she didn’t know how long they would last. “That doesn’t change the fact that it was unnecessary to get six of them!”

    “Six whole coconuts. They’ll last much longer than one coconut that has been cut open. And with a single Duplication Charm, we can make them last even longer.”

    He knew the Duplication Charm? Typical. She huffed. He probably got special lessons for it over the holidays while she wasn’t allowed to touch her wand! On the other hand, that opened up a lot of possibilities. She pointed her wand at a piece of driftwood in the surf. “Accio wood!”

    She let the wood hit the ground in front of her and ignored the sand it splattered over her robes and trainers.

    “And what are you doing?”

    She rolled her eyes and ignored him. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. And she needed to focus when casting her Cutting Charm. “Isn’t it obvious?” she asked after cutting the wood lengthwise twice, creating a plank. A small one, but it was much easier to evenly - mostly - cut a small piece than an enlarged one.

    “No?” He shook his head. “Is this supposed to be a fishing rod? Or a tent pole?”

    “Tent pole?” She scoffed. “This is a plank. After you duplicate it, I’ll enlarge them. That will give us enough material for a sturdy shelter.” A Sticking Charm would keep it all together.

    “You want me to cast the Duplication Charm? Can’t you cast it yourself?”

    She clenched her teeth. “Would I be asking you if I could cast it myself? Huh?” She hated admitting that she didn’t know a spell Potter knew. “Now please duplicate them.”

    “What, you haven’t learned the Duplication Charm already?”

    He was staring at her. Damn it. “No, I haven’t!” she spat. He just had to rub it in! “Now please…” She trailed off. She knew that stupid grin. She closed her eyes, rubbing the bridge of her nose. “You don’t know how to cast the charm either, do you?”

    “I’m not the one living in the library,” he replied with a mulish expression.

    Was he blaming her for not studying far enough ahead? “No, you live on the Quidditch pitch. Or would, if that were allowed.”

    “Wood actually wanted us to camp on the pitch on the day before a match, to ‘acclimate us’, as he called it.”

    She couldn’t help it - she chuckled at that. “I can see that.”

    Potter chuckled as well. “McGonnagal shut that down, fortunately.”

    She nodded. “But we do need a shelter.”

    “I told you - we can enlarge our robes. They’re protected against rain, at least. And they can form a teepee,” he told her. With a toothy smile, he added: “And we’ll each have a tent for ourselves.”

    “That is a very good point,” she agreed. “But we need poles for that.”

    He pointed at the driftwood at her feet. “Just cut it a few more times lengthwise.”

    She nodded and went to work.

    *****​

    Harry Potter shook his head when the girl was focused on cutting wood. Damn, Granger was a piece of work. Getting worked up over everything. At least she had now finally admitted that his ideas were better.

    He snorted - silently. What had she wanted to do? Build an entire cabin out of driftwood? And then a waterwheel to power a grindstone or whatever? Or to water a field for growing crops? As if they would be here long enough for that. Ha, they’d probably be found before they needed to turn their robes into tents. Ron should start to miss him, soon, and if his friend asked Mum and Dad if Harry had returned without telling him, then they’d realise something was up and send a Patronus Messenger to find him. They had done so before, after all.

    No, they really had no reason to panic. Granger was just working herself up into a frenzy because she couldn’t run to a teacher right now and ask what she should do. Or she was honestly afraid of being stranded. As if they couldn’t handle this - they were wizards, well, a wizard and a witch, after all.

    And, he smiled at the thought, he had found a spell she didn’t know! Of course, she would learn it first thing once they were back, but he could tease her about not knowing the perfect spell when she desperately needed it.

    Once they were back home, at least. And this would be a great story to tell - a real adventure. Actually, Granger was right - securing water, food and shelter was a good idea. The chance that they would need it was low, but it made for a better story. ‘We had already settled in and gotten comfortable for a stay of a few weeks when my parents arrived’ sounded better than ‘we waited until we were saved’. More impressive, too.

    He stood. “I’ll see if I can get some grass or something that we can use to, ah, cover the ground inside a tent,” he told Granger. As Sirius had told him: ‘Don’t sleep in sand; it gets everywhere.’

    “Good idea,” she said - frowning and sounding like she’d rather get hexed than admit that.

    Chuckling, he made his way over to the treeline. Perhaps a few big leaves would do - enlarge them and you wouldn’t need many of them to form a sort of carpet. Though they would have to replace them often - Harry didn’t want to sleep on dry leaves.

    He looked at the palm trees. Those leaves, if properly enlarged, could actually serve as covers, too. He raised his wand. “Accio leaf!”

    It tore apart, half landing on his head, half staying up. He quickly checked if Granger had noticed, but she was still busy making poles. Probably trying to make identical poles because anything else wasn’t good enough.

    Well, summoning didn’t work, but there were other options. Like a Cutting Charm. Although…

    He looked around. Perhaps there was a tree that wasn’t quite as high?

    There was. There was a smaller tree a little further into what passed as a forest here. Next to a few toppled trees.

    He blinked. Toppled trees? That happened, of course. But a group of them bunched together like that?

    That looked odd.

    Harry gripped his wand a bit more tightly and walked over to the not so clear clearing. Up close, it looked even weirder. The trees hadn’t been toppled, roots and all - they had been broken off. Could a storm do that? Break some trees, close together, and leave the rest standing?

    And the trees were fresh - the leaves were still green. Greenish. If a storm strong enough to do that had hit the island a short time ago, shouldn’t there be more stuff on the ground?

    And what was with the tree that had been shredded? He cocked his head and then froze for a moment.

    This looked familiar. Where had he seen it before?

    He gasped when he remembered where he had seen similarly shredded trees:

    In the Romanian Dragon Sanctuary where Ron’s brother Charlie worked.

    *****​
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2021
  6. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Well, they'll be able to show their good and heroic sides soon. They'll lapse, of course, but overall, petty feuding takes a backseat to dealing with threats to life and limb.
     
  7. preier

    preier Not too sore, are you?

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    ooh, nice idea. That would encourage some proper caution :D
     
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  8. space turtle

    space turtle Making the rounds.

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    So I just found this, and I have to be honest, normally either I love your stories, or can't get into them at all.

    This one is a middle ground so far? I love the idea of half trained (magic)schoolyard rivals forced to come together in the mutual goal of not becoming an entree to whatever evil / monsters have befallen africa. Lord of the flies + Tomb Raider + HP, all seems magical to me!

    Maybe my issue is because you've gone straight into the action while we've mostly seen the bad sides of our heroes.
    As the other commenter said, we know H+H, so these seem like less likeable versions of themselves, particularity compared to some of the more affable version you've written before.

    I'm sure given another couple chapters they'll grow on us as we see their softer (bad choice of words for a survival situation :p) sides, but we could maybe have done with some more ?character building? given this rivalry is quite the departure from their normal characterisations.

    Either way, watched and awaiting more.

    This would probably only add fuel to the fire, but I want to see who blinks first and tries to bury the hatchet.
    Because from what I'm feeling now, that would only lead to an escalation as it gets thrown back in their face leading to some truly juicy drama! It seems like such a fun avenue of character exploration I almost don't want them to become buddy buddy!
    Hate-snuggles for warmth in a corner of a spike trap room while pretending not to appreciate being held is a mood.

    The struggle of simultaneously wanting to see characters suffer and be treasured/nurtured >.<
     
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  9. Threadmarks: Chapter 3: The Monster
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 3: The Monster

    Little Whinging, Surrey, Britain, July 6th, 1996

    “Auntie Lily!”

    “Hi, Dudley.”

    Lily Potter winced as her nephew turned around and yelled loud enough to wake the dead: “Mum! Auntie Lily’s here!”

    Petunia’s head appeared in the doorway to the kitchen. “Lily?” She sounded surprised.

    “I was in the neighbourhood and decided to visit,” Lily told her. A lie, of course - but then again, for a witch who had mastered Apparition and didn’t depend on the Floo Network or even brooms, all of England was ‘in the neighbourhood’.

    “Come in, come in! I’ve just put on the kettle.”

    “Thank you.” Lily knew that Petunia hadn’t just put on the kettle, of course. It was a Saturday, so she would receive her friends for tea in an hour. But as Petunia didn’t call her out about her lie, Lily didn’t do so either. They knew each other. Just as Lily knew that Vernon would be golfing right now. And Petunia wouldn’t ask about Lily’s work as a spellcrafter.

    “Harry isn’t with you?” Dudley asked as she sat down in Petunia’s living room. “I’ve got a new game I wanted to show him.” He pouted.

    “No, he was meeting Ron in Diagon Alley. They were buying school supplies, I think.” Another lie. Unless one counted prank items as school supplies. Lily kept smiling deven though she really wanted to sigh - if only Harry would grow up! He could do so much better if he didn’t waste his time and energy on that pointless feud.

    “Oh.” Dudley frowned. “Boring then.”

    “Yes,” Petunia agreed as she set down the tea service. “Though I’m sure they’ll visit later.”

    “Today?” Dudley perked up again.

    “Probably not,” Petunia said, pouring tea into their cups. “It takes a long time to buy all the things needed for Hogwarts.”

    Lily nodded. In an hour, Petunia’s friends would arrive, and then Vernon would return. And that would be a bad time for Harry to visit - especially if Ron was with him.

    “Can they apparate already?” Dudley asked.

    Both Lily and Petunia tensed. “No, that takes a lot of lessons,” Lily replied. “It’s dangerous until you’ve got your licence.”

    “Like driving?”

    “More dangerous,” Petunia said. “You don’t tend to leave your head behind when driving.”

    “Unless you hit a metal beam at the right height!” Dudley grinned. Of course, he wouldn’t be impressed by gruesome tales of splinched body parts. Unlike his mother.

    “Dudley! That’s not a joking matter!” Petunia scolded him.

    He frowned for a moment, then shrugged and started to devour the scones.

    “Don’t ruin your appetite,” Petunia told him. “Dinner’s at seven.”

    Dudley mumbled something unintelligible with his mouth full. He swallowed, then stood. “I’m going to play for a bit, Mum, Auntie. Tell Harry I’ve got a new game - a new shooter - OK?”

    “I will,” Lily said. And she would - Dudley would check with Harry. But as soon as she heard the door to Dudley’s room close, she sighed and looked at Petunia.

    “They’re just games,” her sister told her. “No one’s getting a face full of boils from computer games.”

    So news of Harry’s greatest misdeed this year had spread already. He must have told Dudley. “I’ve taken his Cloak away,” Lily said.

    “About time,” Petunia replied. “The way you let him run wild like that…”

    This was an old argument. But Lily refrained from bringing up Dudley’s misdeeds. Perhaps computer games were good for her nephew. “I do what I can. But I can’t do much when he’s at Hogwarts.”

    Petunia nodded. “What about James’s friend? Isn’t he a teacher there?”

    Lily sighed. “Remus can’t be everywhere.” She suspected her friend could do more, but then, Remus had been far too lenient with James and the others when he was a prefect - and they had done worse on occasion.

    “I’m so glad Smeltings doesn’t tolerate such tomfoolery.”

    Lily smiled. “Dudley told me about the ‘fencing matches’.”

    Petunia hid her frown behind her cup. “That’s not the same as cursing someone.”

    “No one’s cursing anyone,” Lily corrected her. Her sister knew the differences between hexes, jinxes and curses perfectly well - she had quizzed Lily on them when she had been doing her homework for Hogwarts. “And the matron is very good at removing hexes and jinxes. It’s not the same as being sent to the hospital.”

    “Ah.” Petunia nodded. “So, how’s Rose doing?” she asked with a smile.

    Lily returned the smile. Honestly, this time. “She’s doing well. Very good marks in her exams, so we’re looking forward to her O.W.L.s. And she’s grown again, so we’ve had to adjust her clothes.”

    “Ah. Convenient.”

    Lily shrugged and took a sip from her tea. “She’s got a new pet, too. A Pygmy Puff.”

    “The same creature that Dudley wanted so badly a few years ago?”

    “Smaller,” Lily said.

    Petunia nodded, and they both sipped from their cups.

    “So, what did Harry do this time?” Petunia asked. “You wouldn’t have been in the neighbourhood if you didn’t want to talk about something.”

    Lily chuckled humourlessly. Petunia knew her well indeed. “He made Gryffindor lose the House Cup and is already buying prank items for next year. I swear, he never learns.”

    Her sister shook her head. “And James is still insisting that he’ll grow out of it?”

    “James says he was the same at his age.”

    “I pity the girl, then.” Petunia refilled her cup.

    “Don’t,” Lily told her. “She’s as guilty as Harry.” Minerva had been clear about that.

    Petunia shrugged. “A boy shouldn’t attack a girl.”

    “Things are different at Hogwarts,” Lily replied. The Wizarding World wasn’t perfect - far from it! Lily was very much aware of how many faults Wizarding Britain had. But sexism wasn’t amongst them. Petunia, though, had been raised that way: Boys didn’t hit girls. And she had raised Dudley that way. “Besides, half the time, she attacks Harry.” And both thought they had to get even, if Lily’s impression was correct.

    Petunia shook her head. “Perhaps they should settle their difference with a game.”

    They’d hex each other before the game even started. And again once one of them lost. But Lily nodded. Petunia was trying to help, in her own way. And, speaking of helping… “So, how is your garden doing?”

    “Oh, great!” Petunia smiled brightly. “The flower beds are perfect this year. I might win the competition - as long as the herbs grow nicely and the tomatoes ripen at the right time.”

    Lily didn’t offer magical help. Her sister had her pride. And, Lily had to admit, Petunia was good at gardening.

    *****​

    Godric’s Hollow, Devon, Britain, July 6th, 1996

    “So, how was your visit to my dear sister-in-law?” James asked as soon as Lily entered their home.

    “The same as usual,” she replied.

    “You two verbally fenced, you vented, she made snide remarks about our friends and me and you ended up talking plants?”

    “More or less.” She smiled as she took a seat on the couch, kicked off her low-heeled shoes and lay down.

    He shook his head. He was wearing his Auror robes, she noted. “Was there an emergency at work and they called you in?”

    “No, no. I just couldn’t find my apron. And since my robes are charmed against fire…” He grinned.

    She sighed. “Rose must have taken it. Potions homework.”

    “Ah.” He nodded, lifted her feet and sat down on the couch. Dropping her feet on his lap, he added: “I’ll have to buy a new one, then.”

    She nodded in agreement. Rose was far more mature than Harry. She was also as talented. And hard-working. But she tended to be a little hard on her tools when working with potions. The girl was, in her own way, as stubborn as her brother - she continued to attempt new recipes despite regular setbacks. “I should never have told her about Severus,” Lily muttered.

    “Yes,” James agreed.

    She glared at him. “You know how I meant it.”

    “I still hope you’ll come to your senses.”

    She huffed. And this was where her children’s stubbornness came from. “Really, it’s been almost twenty years. Not even I hold a grudge that long. It’s time…” She trailed off when the flames in the fireplace turned green, but no one stepped out of it.

    “Harry? Lily? James? Rose?”

    That was Ron. She sat up and flicked her wand, unsealing the fireplace. “Come through, Ron!” she said. She didn’t lower her wand, of course. And neither did James. Old habits died hard. Very hard.

    A moment later, Ron stepped into their living room. “Hi, Lily. Hi, James. Is Harry here?”

    After resealing the fireplace, Lily frowned. “He’s supposed to be with you.”

    “Oh.” Ron grimaced. “Well, he left to visit my brothers’ shop. We were supposed to meet afterwards, but he never showed up.”

    “How long ago was that?” James asked.

    “Uh…” Ron glanced at the clock on the wall. “Two hours since he left? One and a half until he should’ve been back?”

    “You waited one and a half hours for him?” Lily asked. That wasn’t normal.

    “Ah… I met Lavender.”

    That explained it. But it didn’t explain where Harry was. The boy had some explaining to do. Lily waved her wand and conjured a Patronus Messenger. “Harry! Where are you? Ron’s waiting for you in our living room!” She flicked her wand, sending the translucent doe on her way.

    Only the doe didn’t leave. It looked confused - as much as a spell could look confused - as it walked in a circle.

    Lily froze. Her spell couldn’t find her son? No… That was impossible.

    *****​

    Unknown Location, Britain, July 6th, 1996

    “Granger! Granger!”

    Hermione Granger rolled her eyes as she turned to look over her shoulder. She was just about finished with the poles for the tents. What was Potter’s problem? He was running full tilt towards her.

    “We’ve got problems! Big problems!”

    “You’ve just realised that?” Typical! She’d been telling the git that they had to prepare for the worst.

    “No! I mean, yes - but it’s not what you’re thinking!”

    “And how would you know what I’m thinking?” He wasn’t a Legilimens.

    “Because you keep telling everyone what you think, all the time?”

    “I only have to repeat myself to those who don’t listen,” she replied. Such as Potter.

    The git clenched his teeth. “Really…” He took a deep breath. “Look, we’ve got trouble - trouble the size of a dragon!”

    “What?” She stared at him. He couldn’t be implying what she thought he was implying. “You saw a dragon?”

    “Something the size of an adult dragon,” he replied. “Well, traces of it.”

    “Really.” She narrowed her eyes at him. “Like when you saw a dragon in the Forbidden Forest?”

    “No!” He glared at her. “Come, take a look if you don’t believe me!”

    “Oh, I will!” she told him. And she’d be ready for any of his stupid pranks.

    “Follow me, then!” He grabbed his robes and folded them.

    “Gladly.” As if she’d let him walk behind her.

    He led her across the beach, into the forest - a little way away from where she’d picked her coconut.

    And then she stared at the small clearing. The way the trees had been scratched - clawed - and ripped out...

    “See? I wasn’t making things up.”

    “Quiet!” she snapped. He didn’t have to rub it in - as if anyone would expect her to trust him after everything he’d said and done.

    She knelt down at the base of a fallen palm tree and looked at the roots. Uprooted. And the claw marks… this had to have been a huge, ferocious monster. She swallowed and fought the urge to run away. She was better than that. She was a Gryffindor. And she also knew that hasty, panicked actions weren’t the answer to any problem. “You think this was the work of a dragon?” she asked after a few deep breaths.

    “No, of course not. I said ‘something the size of a dragon,” he told her, rolling his eyes before looking at the sky again. “There’s no trace of fire here. Nothing was burnt.”

    He was right - dragons loved to set things on fire. “That’s indeed unusual behaviour for a dragon. But the claw marks…” She pointed at a shredded tree. “There aren’t many creatures with claws large enough to do this.”

    “And there’s this,” he said, pointing at the ground.

    There was half a track there. Of a big three-toed foot with claws. She pointed her wand at it and cast a spell. “It weighed a great deal, relatively speaking.”

    “It was flying, though,” he told her. “The trees outside the clearing aren’t damaged.”

    “That doesn’t mean that it was flying - we don’t know how big it is. It could’ve fit perfectly fine between the trees,” she pointed out. “Or it could’ve apparated.”

    “But the canopies are damaged here,” he said, pointing upwards. “Like from wing strokes.”

    “That’s true. Which means we can estimate the wingspan.” She did a quick mental estimate. And didn’t like what she came up with.”If we take the lack of burnt soil and vegetation at face value and so exclude dragons, then that leaves precious few other creatures which can reach this sort of size. Wyverns. Rocs. Feathered Serpents, but they don’t have claws..”

    “And all of them are known to attack and eat humans,” he said. “We don’t need to know exactly what did this - we need to find a cave or something to hide in.”

    “Without knowing what sort of creature we’re dealing with, we can’t choose the correct response;” she retorted.

    “Granger!” he snapped. “This isn’t some stupid test! We don’t need to find the perfect answer - we need to hide first, so we don’t get eaten!”

    “And we can’t hide if we don’t know what senses the creature has and where it lairs - and how much it can contort its body! If it is as agile as some animals it might be able to slither through very narrow cracks - or into narrow caves!”

    “Well, I don’t see any feathers here - and it would’ve left some from striking the trees with its wings!” he retorted.

    She nodded. All the known feathered magical creatures were constantly replacing their feathered. Hippogriffs shed so many, Luna had a pillow filled with them. “See? We’re making progress.”

    “Oh, damn it, Granger, we’re…”

    A roar interrupted him, and both of them froze. “That was…” she trailed off.

    “It came from the mountain,” he said.

    They looked at each other.

    “We need to hide,” he said.

    He was right, damn it. They needed to hide. Quickly.

    *****​

    “Come on!” Harry Potter said through clenched teeth. “We need to hide!” If Granger didn’t move, he’d drag her with him - or he’d float her. They’d leave no tracks that way. He pulled his shirt off, then stuck his folded robes to the back of it and put it on again. Instant backpack!

    “We’re under the trees already,” she repeated - but she was moving, at last.

    “Those won’t be enough,” he retorted. Not against a flying predator - Hedwig could spot a mouse in thick grass without problems. And could snap it up in a heartbeat.

    “Alright,” Granger replied, waving her wand. What was she casting?

    “Such flying creatures usually hunt by sight. Cast a Disillusionment Charm on us! I’ll be able to follow you with my Human-presence-revealing Charm, so we won’t get separated.”

    Oh. He grimaced. “I don’t know that spell.”

    “What?” She gasped. “But… you’re always sneaking around! No prefect’s ever caught you! I learned to cast this charm just to finally be able to spot you!”

    Good luck trying that charm against his Cloak! Well, technically Dad’s. Which Mum had taken away. “I don’t use a Disillusionment Charm.”

    She clenched her teeth. “Well, whatever method you use, do it now, before we get noticed!”

    “I don’t have it on me,” he said.

    “What?” She shook her head. “Typical! Always relying on your money!”

    Oh, for… “There was no need to learn that spell, so I learned other spells instead!” He checked the sky. “And this isn’t the time to have a row! We need to hide!”

    “That’s what I was saying. We need to hide from an aerial predator. A cave would be best, but we might have to settle for an overhang.”

    Did she ever stop talking like she was lecturing someone? “I doubt we’ll find either on a sandy beach,” he told her. “We’ll have a better chance if we go further inland, where the jungle starts.”

    “That’s the direction of the monster,” she said.

    “Yes.” He swallowed the insult on his tongue. “But it’s also the best spot to hide. If we go looking for a cave or overhang on the beach, it’ll be easy to spot us from the air.”

    “Let’s go, then,” she said. “But if we get eaten by a monster, my last words will be ‘I told you so’.”

    He snorted despite himself, even though he couldn’t tell whether or not Granger was joking. That would be so very… her, to say such a thing.

    They made their way through the palm forest - if you could call the scattered trees that - until they reached the actual jungle. Harry stumbled several times, trying to keep an eye on the sky. If a flying monster appeared… well, most of his duelling spells would be useless. A creature that size needed spells that were banned from duelling. Or useless in duelling. A Shield Charm might protect them against the first attack but wouldn’t last long. But… well, at least his Shield Charm would hold. Granger’s was worse. And she wasn’t as good a duellist as he was. And… He clenched his teeth. Between the two of them, he had the better chance of surviving an attack. Which meant he would have to ensure the monster attacked him. Dad would do the same. Even for Granger.

    “If we get spotted, I’ll attract its attention. You look for a spot to hide.” He didn’t look at her as he spoke.

    “What?” she hissed, panting. “Are you planning to sacrifice yourself?”

    “No.” Not really. Depending on what exactly they were dealing with, he had a chance of defeating it. And not having to worry about Granger would help.

    “Of course you are, you idiot!” She scoffed, then gasped when she slipped on a particularly large root. “All you’d do was give it a taste for human flesh.”

    “And what would you do? Try to lecture it to death?” He spat. They were now in the jungle, and walking was difficult with all the underbrush getting in their way.

    “Ha ha ha.” She huffed and panted a little more. “No, I’d attempt to distract it without getting killed in the process.”

    “You said it - ‘attempt’.” And she’d fail. He used a Cutting Charm to remove a low-hanging branch that resisted being pushed away. Something skittered under the next tree.

    “It’s still a better idea than feeding yourself to it! Really…”

    He turned to look at her.

    “Oh! I’ve got the solution!” She beamed at him. Without sweat running down her face, she would probably have looked smug. “We’ll distract it - should it spot us - with fish! Enlarged fish! Unless this island is much larger than it appears, a creature of that size wouldn’t find enough prey inland - not in the long run - so it’ll likely hunt maritime creatures, too.”

    That was… actually not a bad idea. “And where will we get the fish?”

    And now she was frowning at him again, as if that flaw in her plan was his fault!

    *****​

    Where would they get fish? That was a good question, Hermione Granger had to admit. Even if Potter was the one asking it. Fortunately, she had an answer. Of sorts. “We can summon fish.”

    “You’ve seen a fish?” Potter asked. “Because you can’t just raise your wand and summon something you haven’t seen even once.”

    She rolled her eyes. The git was quoting theory? To her? “I didn’t mean that we could summon fish here. We’ll have to find some, first.”

    “And where would we do that? If we head to the beach to look for fish in the shallows, we’ll be exposed to the monster.”

    She looked up at the sky to check that the monster wasn’t already out hunting. “Of course not,” she retorted. “But this is a sizable island with a lot of vegetation; there should be some streams or ponds somewhere, which should contain fish.”

    “That’s a lot of ‘shoulds’,” he commented.

    “It’s two, actually,” she corrected him.

    “Two rather crucial ‘shoulds’, then,” he shot back with a frown.

    “So? Do you have a better idea? Except for playing bait and hoping your body will feed it enough so it won’t hunt until help arrives?” Really, did Potter have a death wish? ‘Bait Who Lived’ wasn’t supposed to be taken seriously.

    He didn’t have an answer for that, of course. He tried anyway. “We could burrow. Use the Vanishing Spell to dig a hole and hide in it. Use foliage and branches to cover the top.”

    “And hope that the creature doesn’t smell or hear us.” She shook her head. “Let’s call that plan B.”

    “And with your plan, we need to hope that the creature eats fish.” He stared at her for a moment, then looked up.

    She followed his example. The sky was still clear. “Most predators can and will eat fish.”

    “Muggle animals, maybe. Magical creatures can have much more restricted diets.”

    “Can you name examples that aren’t small, specialised species such as the Frog-Eating Ghostsnake?”

    “We don’t know what we’re dealing with.”

    “Exactly. So it’s logical to go with what we know generally applies to large airborne predators: that they eat all kinds of meat and fish.”

    “Fish we haven’t yet found.”

    “Fish we might’ve found if you’d stop questioning everything.” Really!

    “Says the witch whose right arm is paler than her left because she’s always raising it to ask questions.”

    She clenched her teeth. “As you were so fond of reminding me earlier: We aren’t at school. Now let’s go look for some water!”

    “Not without some leaves we can use as cover!” Without waiting for her reply, he turned and cut a few palm fronds.

    “Is that everything, or do you want to take some sand and earth with us into which we can burrow, just in case that we should end up on a rock?”

    He frowned as if he was actually considering it. Honestly! “Let’s go!” she said. “If there are streams, they’ll likely run down the hillside.”

    “It might actually be a mountain,” he said. “It looks tall enough.”

    She glanced at him. He was smirking. The damn git had no sense of priorities!

    Shaking her head, she started walking towards the hill. And tried to keep an eye on the sky as much as possible. She didn’t want to end up as food for a monster.

    “Let me take the lead,” he said. “There could be snakes and other venomous animals.”

    “I’m quite proficient with all sorts of anti-venom and anti-poison spells,” she told him. Which he should know since she had learned them to deal with his pranks.

    “Well, then I should go first so you can heal me if anything happens!” He grinned at her.

    “If you insist on playing bait, be my guest.” She sketched a bow and gestured towards the hill.

    “Thank you.”

    His smile looked as insincere as hers. She was about to comment on that, but another roar interrupted her.

    “Uh…” He looked over his shoulder.

    “Let’s go!” she told him.

    *****​

    Another roar. Harry Potter froze - some predators could only see you if you moved; at least that’s what Hagrid had taught them, and Jurassic Park agreed. But the sky was still clear. Well, except for a few birds. What was the monster doing? Why did animals roar? As a threat display, mostly, if he remembered correctly. And for communication. Was there another monster around? Were they hearing two creatures trying to intimidate each other? Or was that a mating call?

    Ugh. Either way, it was bad news. Unless this was some harmless small animal that could use an Amplification Charm-like power, it was a very big, very angry creature. And they were walking towards it because Granger had a plan.

    Well, it wasn’t a bad plan. But it wasn’t a good plan, either. Though as Remus had taught them in Defence: In an emergency, it was usually better to do something than nothing. Harry hoped that this wasn’t an exception. How long did it take for his parents to notice that he was missing, anyway? Usually, they sent a Patronus Messenger - which would then arrive at the worst possible moment.

    Damn. He really hoped that the monster wouldn’t end up being led to them by a glowing flying stag or doe - especially one which was shouting at him...

    He shook his head. He couldn’t dwell on that. If they found fish before that, then they could feed the monster as a distraction. Not many creatures would go after prey if they had food already. Too much of a risk of getting hurt for nothing.

    There were creatures, though, which would do such a thing. Those which didn’t expect to be hurt by anything. The ones which were too dumb to realise humans - wizards - were dangerous. And those which had killed wizards before. Like dragons.

    But this creature wasn’t a dragon. No trace of any fire breathing. Charlie had been very clear about dragons and fire. Not much that could burn was left around their lairs. Which was, now that he came to think of it, kind of self-destructive - it meant their lairs would be easy to find.

    Then again, a dragon would probably encourage its meals to come to it, instead of having to hunt them down.

    He brushed another branch away, then gasped and jumped back when something hissed at him - a snake!

    “Snake!” he yelled, staring at the animal. It was brown. Wrapped around the branch, it looked just like a part of the tree. And it was hissing, baring its fangs at him.

    “What? Did it bite you?” Granger was there, pointing her wand at him. “I don’t detect any poison.”

    “It didn’t bite me,” he told her. As if he’d let a snake bite him - he had Seeker’s reflexes!

    “Ah.” She nodded and took a step back. “That’s a threat display.”

    “I know.”

    “I don’t recognise the species, though,” she went on.

    “Are you a snake expert?” he asked.

    “No.” She sounded as if she was embarrassed that she wasn’t. “But I’ve read up on them.”

    “Not enough, then. Let’s go.” The monster, whatever it was, wouldn’t stay in its lair forever.

    She huffed but - for once - didn’t answer back, and they gave the snake a wide berth as they continued their trek towards the hill.

    About twenty minutes later, they arrived at the foot of the hill, where the hillside started to become steeper, and the trees became scarcer. “I don’t see any water,” Harry said.

    “We’ll circle it.”

    “Clockwise,” he said. That would, unless his ears were deceiving him, take them away from the monster - or, at least, not as close towards it as the alternative. “And let’s get back into the denser forest.”

    She groaned in response.

    He glanced at her. She was quite flushed - and sweaty. Of course, she wasn’t in good shape, so she’d tire faster than Harry. But wearing her robes didn’t help. “Perhaps you should ditch the robes,” he told her.

    “I’m fine.”

    “You don’t look fine,” he pointed out - she looked like she’d suffer heatstroke if she didn’t rest.

    “Why, thank you,” she spat.

    “My pleasure,” he retorted. Damn, she couldn’t even accept some helpful advice, could she?

    “Let’s go.”

    *****​

    Hermione Granger took deep breaths as she followed Potter. She was hot - far too hot. But ditching her robes… No. Her robes weren’t enchanted, but the material was still quite tough. Snakes and other animals would have trouble biting her through it. And that was worth a little heat.

    Although she should still take a few precautions anyway. If she succumbed to heatstroke, that would be a calamity. She pointed her wand at her head. “Aguamenti!”

    Ah. The stream of cool water hitting her felt like heaven. She closed her eyes for a moment and drenched her face. Washed the sweat away. Damn. She’d forgotten about that. Salt. They needed salt as well.

    “What are you doing?”

    Wasn’t it obvious? “Cooling off,” she replied. Then she took a few sips - mouthfuls - of water.

    “Watch out that you don’t chafe,” he said. “Wet clothes aren’t ideal for sports.”

    “I know.” She let the water hit her face again and sighed. “Ah.” That felt good. When she opened her eyes, she found Potter staring at her. “What?”

    “Nothing.”

    She rolled her eyes. Whatever.

    “I just thought… we could make a stream,” he went on, chuckling.

    She laughed, even though it wasn’t that funny. “We’ll need seawater, too,” she told him. “So we can get the salt we’re sweating out here.”

    He blinked. “Right. That’ll be…”

    “...easy. We just need a vessel and drying charm.”

    “Right. Use a coconut shell as a container?”

    “Yes.” She nodded. “And then we enlarge it.”

    “Sounds like a plan.”

    “Plan C. We still need to find fish.” She smiled. He got it.

    “Right.” He turned and continued walking, cutting a branch away with a quick charm, then ducking when it fell.

    “I can take the lead,” she offered.

    “We went over that. You’re better at fixing me up.”

    She pressed her lips together. That didn’t mean he had to take all the risks. Well, it sort of did - it was logical, after all. But it felt wrong. She didn’t want to hide behind him. And if he actually sacrificed himself for her… Well, she wouldn’t let him do that.

    They continued their walk. The underbrush here, at the edge of the jungle, was far denser, though, and her robes kept snagging on branches or even the trunks of the smaller trees. It was getting annoying. And Potter’s raised eyebrows whenever he turned to wait for her weren’t helping.

    Hermione tried her best to ignore both annoyances. But it was hard. As hard as ignoring the nagging fear that she’d be caught by the monster in this underbrush like a fly in a spider’s web.

    “You know, you’re trying too hard.”

    She glared at him. “What?”

    “With your robes. You won’t stop being a witch if you wear something more suitable for the jungle, you know,” Potter said.

    “Right. Give me a moment, and I’ll pull my khakis and pith helmet out of my travelling wardrobe,” she shot back. Before he could say anything, she added: “And no, I don’t have a travelling wardrobe.” Oh, if Potter had some enchanted shrunken extended wardrobe, she’d…

    “Well, if you can’t dress up as Jane you can always dress up as Tarzan.” He chuckled.

    She rolled her eyes at him. “‘King of the Apes’ sounds like your role.” He was certainly acting the part.

    He frowned in return. Didn’t like his stupid ‘joke’ being turned back on him, huh?

    “Jokes aside, if we get discovered by the monster, you won’t be able to run far in those robes,” he said after a moment.

    “I’m aware of that,” she told him.

    “Really? And why are you still wearing your robes, then? Are you planning to play bait?” The way he scoffed at the notion told her that he had taken her earlier remarks personally.

    “No,” she spat. “I wouldn’t want to infringe on your chosen role!”

    “Granger, don’t be stupid! Drop the damn robes! If you’re nude under them, you can have my shirt.”

    “How generous.” She scoffed. “How about we move further into the jungle, where the foliage isn’t as dense,” she retorted. “I was fine until we hit the edge of the forest here.”

    “You have a loose definition of ‘fine’. Really, your behaviour makes no sense.”

    “My robes protect me from stings and bites.”

    “Just cast the spells on yourself.”

    “There aren’t any spells on them. It’s the fabric,” she told him. “It’s sturdier than my other clothes.” And certainly tougher than her skin.

    “So you are in your underwear beneath your robes!”

    “No, I’m not!”

    “Then what’s the problem? If you’re afraid of bugs, I can cast a bug-repelling charm on you.”

    “I can cast that myself.” She clenched her teeth. The git wouldn’t stop, despite the urgency of their situation. Fine! She gripped her robes and pulled them up until she could grab their hem, then pulled them over her head. A quick wave of her wand later, she was protected by an Insect-Repelling Charm.

    That still left her robes themselves to deal with. Folded or bunched up, they were rather unwieldy. How could she…? Ah. She rolled them up and stuck the ends together with a spell, forming a sort of voluminous sash. Like the way that some soldiers used to carry their blankets.

    She’d still get her legs scratched - but she knew that was inevitable. She should never have let Lavender talk her into wearing short shorts and a sleeveless top… Well, she shouldn’t have told her friend about such clothes. Or shown her pictures.

    She’d have to cast dozens of healing charms later.

    *****​

    Harry Potter stared. Granger in short shorts and a flimsy top was the last thing he had expected to see. Well, the second to last thing. And she wasn’t nearly as plump as he had expected from a bookworm. In fact, her legs were... Damn, he was staring. Instead of keeping an eye out for monsters! And it was Granger.

    Damn.

    He turned and checked the sky, then the forest. No sign of a monster. Or any dangerous animals.

    “What are you waiting for? Let’s go on!” Granger complained.

    “Right,” he replied. He glanced over his shoulder. Just to check that she wasn’t carrying her robes in her arms or something. She wasn’t.

    That was actually a clever solution. Perhaps better than what he had done with his own robes, which were folded and stuck to the back of his shirt… No. His clothes granted better freedom of movement. And that was crucial in a fight. Any fight. Especially against monsters.

    Or animals. Couldn’t forget them. This was a jungle on a magical island. They had already seen a snake, but there would be more animals hiding here. Such as… “A frog?”

    Granger was at his side instantly. “A frog? Frogs are amphibians! That means there should be water around for them to breed. Where is it?”

    He pointed at the small animal perched on a leaf.

    “Oh, there it is.” She crouched and peered at it as if they were in a lesson with Hagrid. No - she’d be cautious in that case.

    “We should be close to a body of water - they won’t travel too far from water, I think.”

    “Well, onward then,” Harry said.

    But instead of a stream they discovered a trail a little later. With more tracks.

    “Those aren’t the same tracks we saw before,” Granger stated the obvious. “They’re not only smaller but have one more toe.”

    “And one more claw,” Harry added, pointing at the marks on the trunk nearby.

    “Hard to tell what species they are just from these tracks. But they’re about the size of a cat,” she added.

    “Harmless then,” Harry concluded.

    “They could be venomous. Or travel and hunt in packs. Or they could be magical.”

    He frowned at her. “You’re such a ray of sunshine, Granger. Always lifting our spirits with your optimism.”

    “I’m merely cautious. If they are harmless we won’t be, ah, harmed, but if they aren’t, we’ll be prepared.”

    “Like you were prepared to flee through the underbrush in your robes?”

    He could see her clench her teeth. “At least the robes kept my legs from getting scratched.”

    He glanced at her legs without meaning to. They looked fine. Slightly scratched. No worse than his arms.

    She cast a healing charm, and most of the scratches vanished.

    “Doesn’t seem like a serious problem,” he commented.

    “It hurts and is distracting,” she replied.

    He snorted. “Don’t let yourself get distracted then.” A good duellist had to be able to ignore pain - to an extent, anyway. And other distractions.

    “I’ll just have to imagine the scratches are you, then.”

    “You think I’m a distraction?” He raised his eyebrows at her for effect.

    “Not in that sense,” she spat.

    “‘That sense’?” He grinned. “What are you thinking about?”

    She rolled her eyes. “About finding water and summoning fish so we won’t get eaten by a giant flying monster. What are you thinking about?”

    How much longer his parents’ Patronus Messengers would take. But he didn’t say that. “How to reach that water without getting lost in the jungle.”

    “Then kindly get on with it,” she snapped.

    He sighed and started walking again.

    They reached a small stream a few minutes later. Granger had been right about the frog not being far from water.

    And there was even a small pond with a waterfall at the foot of the hill. Not large, but tall enough to serve as a shower. And… “Is that a cave behind the water?”

    She squinted at the waterfall. “It looks like it.”

    Harry grinned. Just like in some of Dudley’s games. “Let’s explore it!”

    “Wait!” Granger protested. “It’s probably occupied!”

    That was a good point. Although…

    The familiar roar interrupted his thoughts. It sounded closer than before - much closer.

    No… He looked up and saw wide wings flap in the sky above. “It’s hunting!” he snapped. And they were out of cover.

    “Into the cave!” Granger yelled. “Quickly!”

    Above them, the monster - it looked like a sort of dragon - circled round.

    It had seen them.

    “Run!”

    *****​
     
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  10. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2015
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    And some heroics.

    Indeed, they'll backslide and do and say stupid things out of pride a lot - though their hearts are in the right place, as today's and the next chapters should show.
     
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