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Stranded (Harry Potter AU)

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

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  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 1: The Feud
    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.
     
  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 ;)
     
    Starfox5 likes this.
  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 Getting sticky.

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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 even 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, 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 and 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 flew away - 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 in what sort of place it makes its lair - 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 feathers. 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 the 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 a 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!”

    *****​
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
  10. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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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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  11. Srednax

    Srednax Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    For some reason I've convinced myself they're in some wizard's personal Jurassic Park. Not sure exactly what makes me think "dinosaur", but I'll be happy if it turns out I'm right. It feels like people lost in a hidden world should face dinosaurs, if half-remembered kid's films are anything to go by. (Were there dinosaurs in "journey to the centre of the earth"? I remember dinosaurs, regardless).

    Loving the characterisation - they feel like themselves if they hadn't had to grow up so quickly. Looking forwards to the rest. :)
     
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  12. space turtle

    space turtle Getting sticky.

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    Hmmmmmmm.
    So they're still in Britain?.....
    Very interesting....
    If Lilly's patronus couldn't find them, and we assume they have national range (original books and in this story from Godric's hollow to London), then we have to start assuming unplottable/fidelused/warded/freaky things are going on.

    But most importantly of all they found somewhere warm and sunny in ENGLAND!
    My God, this is a game changer :p
    Alert the Queen!
     
  13. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Time-Travel seems a little excessive for the plot. Especially witha mishap in Knocktrun Alley with a portkey.

    Damn, that was an oversight - I copy-pasted the location line and forgot to delete "Britain". They aren't in Britain, sorry.
     
  14. preier

    preier Not too sore, are you?

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    Quite good chapter, loved that they're putting thoughts into finding good ideas to escape the predator ... and upstage one another ^^.

    seriously, nice progression from the pure antagonism from the first chapters.

    also interesting to note that Harry is not the parselmouth here, rose as GWL seems increasingly likely or it's even further AU than apparent.

    As always, thanks for sharing.
     
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  15. Threadmarks: Chapter 4: The Cave
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 4: The Cave

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

    “What’s wrong?” James Potter asked as he stared at the glowing doe. Lily couldn’t have miscast, could she? No - his wife was brilliant. One of the best spellcrafters in Britain. And she knew how to cast the Patronus Charm. If you could cast the charm in the presence of a horde of Dementors - which he could as well - you could cast it any time, anywhere. So what was…

    “No!” Lily waved her wand, and the doe vanished. “Expecto patronum!” She all but shouted the incantation.

    Once more, the glowing doe appeared. “Harry! Where are you?”

    And once again, the animal-like figure walked in a circle.

    “No!” Lily shook her head. “James - the spell can’t find Harry!”

    No! James drew his wand. “Expecto patronum!”

    His stag appeared - looking like his animagus form. “Harry, where are you?” James spoke, clearly and slowly, thinking of his son.

    And his stag, too, didn’t dash off, but turned, apparently confused.

    “But… Harry can’t be…” Ron said, shaking his head. “If the spell can’t find him, is he…?”

    Oh. “If he were dead,” James told him, forcing himself to smile reassuringly, “then the spell wouldn’t move at all.” During the war, that had been one of the ways to check whether or not someone had been taken prisoner.

    “So he’s alive?”

    “Yes.” James nodded firmly. Harry was alive. His son was alive.

    “But why doesn’t the spell…” Ron gestured vaguely towards the window.

    “Because Harry is magically hidden,” Lily told the boy. She was looking furious now. “Someone’s blocking our spells!”

    “But… how is that possible? Your spells work fine at Hogwarts!” Ron said. “We’ve seen them often enough!”

    “Hogwarts is unplottable, but not magically hidden,” James explained. “It’s just hidden from the muggles.”

    “Ah. But where could Harry be?”

    “We don’t know. When did you see him last?” James asked. He had to treat this like a normal case. A missing kid. Do it by the book. Even if the missing kid was his son.

    “We were eating ice-cream at Fortescue’s,” Ron replied. “In Diagon Alley,” the boy added as if James weren’t familiar with Fortescue’s - his and Lily’s first date outside Hogsmeade had started there! “And he said he wanted to visit the twins’ shop. You know…”

    “We’re familiar with Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, yes,” Lily said in a rather strained voice. “Very familiar. Did he actually visit the shop?”

    “Uh… I didn’t go and ask.” Ron winced. “Sorry, but I forgot. I was with Lavender, and… Fred and George like to surprise us with their new products.”

    Merlin’s beard, teenagers and their hormones! “I’ll check with them,” James snapped. “Lily…”

    “I’ll call the others. And the DMLE?”

    James hesitated a moment before shaking his head. “Not yet. This might just be something the twins whipped up for a laugh.” And as much as they would deserve to have the DMLE descend on them in force, James would rather not mobilise his colleagues for a prank by his son. Not again. He forced himself to smile. “We did worse back in the day, didn’t we?”

    Lily frowned but nodded. “But if he isn’t there…”

    “Then I’ll inform the Department.” James nodded, pressed a quick kiss to her cheek, then stepped outside the house to apparate.

    A moment later, he appeared in front of the shop that had managed to have quite the impact on his and Lily’s lives in the short time it had existed: Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Of course, if you counted the twins’ mail-order business, the shop had been doing business for years.

    He strode inside. A dragon rushed towards him, but a flick of his wand dispelled the charm animating it, and the stuffed toy fell to the ground.

    “You’re not supposed to damage the products!” one of the twins complained.

    “You’re not supposed to attack an Auror,” James retorted. He was wearing his robes, after all - even if he wasn’t, technically, on duty. But as Mad-Eye would say: An Auror was always on duty.

    “Oh. Hello, Mr Potter! Welcome to our humble shop!” The boy flashed him a smile. “What’s Harry done now?”

    The other twin peered round the closest shelf. “Hello, Mr Potter! Whatever he’s done, it wasn’t our fault!”

    James suppressed the urge to snap at them. “Did he visit the shop today?”

    “Well, are you asking as an Auror or a parent? Because, you see, we value the privacy of our customers, and if we told on them to their parents, we would…”

    “He’s missing,” James said. “Ron said he wanted to visit your shop.”

    “Oh.” The twins looked at each other.

    “I didn’t see him today.”

    “Me either.”

    So, Harry never reached the shop. James pressed his lips together. This was now an official case. It was time to inform the office. And then comb the Alley for witnesses - one of the shopkeepers between Fortescue’s and the twins’ shop might’ve noticed Harry. It would be a pain to ask everyone, but that was what rookie Aurors were for. James blinked. The entrance to Knockturn Alley was along that route. Harry wouldn’t have gone there, would he?

    He groaned. Of course his son would’ve done exactly that - James had done the same at his age. Although he had gone with Sirius, not alone.

    He shook his head. Office first, then he could start the search. And once James found his son he’d ground him for the rest of summer for making Lily and himself worry so much!

    *****​

    Unknown Location, July 6th, 1996

    “Run!”

    Potter didn’t have to yell - Hermione Granger was running. Towards the waterfall. The pond in front of it. She knew it was wrong - movement attracted predators - but standing still and hoping the monster didn’t spot her… She had to run.

    “It’s seen us!” Potter yelled.

    “Run!” she told him. “Into the pond!” She jumped, diving into the water head first, at a shallow angle. As if she were at the public pool back home. But she wasn’t. She wasn’t wearing a bathing suit, but clothes. And her robes as a sash. And they slowed her down - she needed to swim for several strokes to reach the other end of the pond, at which point she surfaced. And looked up, despite knowing better.

    The monster was circling - diving! She screamed and scrambled through the waterfall - then turned. Potter! The idiot was standing there, wand raised, casting spells. No!

    She screamed again when she saw the monster dive at Potter - only to veer off when he sent a red spell - a Stunning Spell - at it. But it wasn’t giving up - it was flying overhead, just waiting for Potter to stop casting and move.

    She clenched her teeth, blinking. Potter wouldn’t make it across the pond. The monster was too fast. And too big - it would pluck him out of the pond. It would have plucked them out of the pond, she realised, if Potter hadn’t stayed and cast, holding it off. And now he would…

    No! She took a deep breath and raised her trembling arm, aiming her wand at Potter. “Accio Potter’s clothes!” she yelled, putting everything she had into the spell.

    Potter yelped as he was suddenly yanked off his feet and pulled towards her. The monster dived, claws as long as swords spread, heading straight for him. Hermione saw it swoop in, saw its giant toothy maw open…

    ...and Potter slammed into her, bowling her over, and she was thrown backwards into the cave in a tangled mess of flailing limbs with him.

    She hit the ground hard, with her back and her head, then had the breath driven out of her lungs when Potter landed on top of her.

    Then the entire cave seemed to shake as the giant maw she had seen entered it, screeching and roaring. Hermione froze, staring at the thing, then screamed when it snapped shut, only a foot away from her leg.

    She scrambled back as fast as she could until her back hit the cave’s wall, trembling and panting, pointing her wand at the monster.

    “Stupefy!” A red spell hit the monster’s head; Potter had managed to cast - though he, too, was pressed against the wall, next to her.

    “Stupefy!” Hermione followed his example. Her spell didn’t do anything, either.

    But the monster was now stuck - she could hear its claws scratching the stone outside, its wings beating against the water, its furious roaring...

    And could smell its putrid breath - it stank of rotting meat. She shivered, fighting the urge to retch, and cast again. No effect.

    “Those won’t work on it!” Potter yelled.

    Right. Like dragons. What did you do against dragons? Attack the eyes! Yes! But how? The eyes were barely visible behind the open maw, and the thing kept moving. Oh! Of course! She waved her wand and conjured a flock of birds, sending them to peck at the monster’s eyes.

    The thing roared even louder, shaking its head - and causing dust to fall from the ceiling - but the birds were too small for it, and, being conjured, not afraid at all.

    A stone hit the snout, too - Potter had banished it at the monster, she realised. Then another stone followed. She copied him, grabbing a stone and banishing it at the monster - though hers just bounced off of the thing’s skin. What else could she do? “Fire! We need fire to drive it off!” she blurted out. The monster couldn’t breathe fire, so it would be afraid of it. Had to be. But how could they…?

    “Incendio!” Potter yelled.

    Half her birds burst into flames. She gasped - but before she could berate him, the monster screeched once more, then pulled back.

    Oh.

    She felt relief flood through her and sagged against the wall, panting and trembling. That had been… she had almost died. They had almost died.

    *****​

    Harry Potter’s chest was heaving. He had almost died. He had almost died! He clenched his teeth to keep them from chattering as he sat there on the cave floor and trembled. That had been… Damn. He swallowed, blinking, then wiped his eyes and face.

    What had possessed him to stay and off hold the monster so Granger could escape? Bloody hell, he had almost been eaten alive for that! If Granger hadn’t summoned him into the cave…

    He shivered, hugging his knees. He had almost died.

    Closing his eyes, he took a few deep breaths. He had to calm down. He was alive. And so was Granger. And they were safe - relatively safe - from the monster. It couldn’t get to them in this cave.

    He rubbed his arm with his free hand - there was no way he was letting go of his wand - then ran it through his hair. Damn. “That was close.” He could speak without squeaking. Good.

    Granger made a noise that sounded like she agreed.

    “Did you see the monster? It looked like…” What did it look like? Bat wings, four limbs, reptilian snout - with a huge, toothy maw! He shivered again. “It’s a wyvern,” he said.

    “A wyvern? They aren’t native to the tropics,” Granger replied.

    Harry laughed. That was just like the swot.

    After a moment, Granger laughed as well, though it sounded, well… slightly hysterical. Or something.

    “Thank you,” he told her.

    “Thank you,” she told him.

    They sat in silence for about a minute, staring at the cave’s entrance and the waterfall behind it. The waterfall let in just enough sunlight that they didn’t need magical lighting to look around. Harry mentally marked the point that the monster’s snout had reached. Then he pointed his wand and cast a few Paint-Throwing Hexes at it, creating a line. “Don’t cross that line.”

    “I’ve got no intention of doing so,” Granger replied. “The monster will likely wait outside for a while.”

    “It’s a wyvern,” he told her. “I’ve never seen one in the flesh before, but it matches the pictures.” Though they failed to capture just how utterly terrifying and big the thing was when it was trying to eat you.

    He closed his eyes and took a few more deep breaths. He had the shakes, worse than after that Seeker duel against Cedric, the one that had seen them both narrowly avoiding a crash multiple times.

    “It could be a similar yet rare or unknown species,” Granger insisted.

    She sounded like Luna. Normally, Harry would just nod and smile and change the subject, but this was important. Deadly important - if they misjudged the monster, they would end up killed by it. “It looked like a wyvern, and it acted like one.” He snorted. “It didn’t go after fish.”

    “It might prefer other prey - but I doubt that it can sustain itself entirely on land-based prey here. We haven’t seen any signs of larger herbivores, have we?”

    “Well, no matter what its regular diet might be, it preys on humans. Which means us,” he retorted.

    “It also means the island might be deserted,” she said. “I doubt that a wizarding settlement would tolerate a man-eating monster like that in their vicinity.”

    He nodded. Even Luna would want such a beast to be moved away - although he suspected that the witch would want to protect the wyvern as much as or more than she wanted to protect the humans. Although… “If it’s an island at all.”

    He glanced to the side and saw her press her lips together, frowning, before she nodded. Slowly and with obvious distaste. “Yes. We shouldn’t assume that we’re on an island until we’ve verified that. It could be a peninsula. In the tropics.”

    He rolled his eyes, then froze. Merlin’s beard, he hoped that they weren’t in Australia. Between the magical creatures there and the native wizards’ well-known stance towards intruders, they would be as good as dead. Then again, according to Uncle Peter, they would have died on the beaches already if they were in Australia. To some muggle animals or plants.

    He suddenly blinked, staring down at his chest. His shirt had a huge tear in it, and he hadn’t noticed! He muttered a curse and pointed his wand at it. It took him a few tries to mend it, though. “My shirt almost ripped when you summoned it.” And that would have dropped him into the pond.

    “I summoned your clothes, not just your shirt.”

    “Ah.” He noticed that she was shivering as well. From shock? Or was she cold? She was, after all, soaked to the bone and not wearing much. And it was colder inside the cave than outside in the sun. “So, you wanted to rip off my clothes, huh?” he said to lighten the mood.

    “What? No!” she spat. “I wanted to save you! You were about to get eaten! And I did. Save you.”

    “So did I!” he shot back. “Save you, that is.” Without him, she’d have been eaten in the pond. But… “Oh, damn!” he cursed.

    “What?” she snapped.

    “Life Debts.” Damn.

    “What? What are Life Debts?”

    “You don’t know what Life Debts are?” He stared at her.

    “Would I be asking if I knew what you were talking about?”

    “Ah.”

    *****​

    Hermione Granger glared at the boy. He couldn’t just tell her about this ‘Life Debt’ - no, he had to rub it in and act as if it was inconceivable that someone wouldn’t know what it was! “So? What are Life Debts?”

    “Ah. Well, if someone saves your life, especially if they risk their own life to do so, then you owe them a Life Debt,” Potter said, which explained absolutely nothing.

    “And what does that mean?” It didn’t sound good at all. “Does it affect my credit score?” she joked, if only to rein in the sinking feeling in her stomach.

    “Your what?” He blinked.

    “Don’t worry, it’s just a muggle thing about creditworthiness. Now, what are life debts?”

    “Well, they’re sort of… magical debts. The one you owe them to can ask you for a favour or a service.”

    That sounded even more disconcerting. She knew about magical contracts - which were enforced by curses.

    “How can you tell if you owe someone a Life Debt?” she asked. “Is there a spell to check?”

    “I don’t know of any such spell. But… I probably saved your life when I held back the wyvern, and… well...” He shrugged.

    “And you would have been eaten if I hadn’t saved you,” she retorted. “From that monster.” She hadn’t risked her life, though. Unlike what he had done.

    “Wyvern.”

    “Whatever.” She clenched her teeth. “So, we can’t tell if a Life Debt was actually created. Or two.”

    “No.”

    “Do they cancel each other out? You saved me, I saved you, we’re even? Or do we each owe the other a debt?” That wouldn’t be too bad. Potter wouldn’t dare order her to do something humiliating if she could retaliate. Mutually Assured Destruction worked.

    “I don’t know.” He shrugged again.

    “You don’t know?” she snapped. How could he not know? This was important! Crucial! She wasn’t about to end up in some magically enforced indentured servitude!

    “I was eight when I heard my parents talking about them! I didn’t exactly interrogate them about it - why would I?”

    Typical! When she had been eight years old, Hermione had made lists of questions to ask her parents, usually after dinner! That had also generally moved her bedtime back at least half an hour, but that was beside the point. “I would’ve thought you would be interested in that sort of thing, what with you always risking your life whenever you mount a broom!” she told him.

    “Ha ha.”

    She huffed. He couldn’t take a joke. “So, we could have no debts because none were created, two debts if they didn’t cancel each other out or just one.”

    “Pretty much, yes.”

    “And we can’t tell. Not with magic. So, we have to experiment to find out.” That was how science worked - experiment and examine the results. “Give me a command!”

    “What? That’s not how it works! You can’t tell people to order you around to repay such a debt.”

    Dear Lord! “You said you didn’t know how it worked.”

    “Well, I don’t know how it works. But I know it doesn’t work like that!”

    “You don’t know that!”

    “Magic isn’t that simple!”

    She scoffed. “If you don’t believe it’ll work, then what do you have to lose?” And if Hermione was correct, then she’d discharge her debt through this experiment, too!

    He frowned at her. “Only if you give me a command afterwards as well.”

    “Of course,” she replied. “I have no intention of holding such a thing over anyone’s head.” Even if Potter might deserve it.

    He snorted. Maybe she should order him to never prank her again. That would certainly be a boon for both of them.

    “Now give me an order!”

    “Stand on one leg and jump.”

    She pursed her lips. “I don’t feel any compulsion to do so.”

    “See? I told you it doesn’t work like that.”

    “Perhaps you didn’t really mean the order. Intent is important in many spells,” she told him. “Try again.”

    “Shut up!” he spat.

    “No, that didn’t work either.” She bit her lower lip. Should she order him to never prank her again? No. “Hand me your wand!”

    “What? No!” He gasped.

    “So it doesn’t work on you, either.” She nodded.

    “Merlin’s beard, Granger! You don’t demand someone’s wand! It’s just not done!” He shook his head at her, looking as if... as if she had tried to grope him.

    Well, perhaps that was a wizard and wand thing. Or a pureblood boy thing. “That’s why I used it to check whether you owe me a Life Debt.”

    He shook his head again. “That’s…” He scoffed.

    She had no time for this. “So… now we know we aren’t beholden to each other and can’t accidentally order each other around.” That was important to know. Especially in their current situation.

    “Whatever. Can we now focus on how to deal with the wyvern wanting to eat us?” he said. “It’s probably out there, waiting for us to leave the cave so it can kill us!”

    He was probably right - many creatures behaved like that. Crookshanks did, for example. “We can use your robes to make a decoy and see if it gets attacked.”

    “What? Why my robes? Why not yours?” he protested.

    “Because I need them more than you need yours,” she told him, pointing at her clothes.

    Her wet clothes, she realised.

    *****​

    “Why would you need them more than…” Harry Potter trailed off when Granger suddenly turned away and cast a Drying Charm on her clothes. Ah. “Merlin’s beard, Granger,” he said. “Haven’t you ever gone swimming?” Really, it wasn’t as if she had been naked.

    “It’s not the same,” she replied, without turning around. “Bathing suits are designed to get wet. Jeans aren’t, no matter what stupid advertisements might show.”

    Ah. “Can’t say I’ve seen any,” he told her. But she had a point - his slacks and shirt were getting a little uncomfortable, now that he had the time - and was calm enough - to worry about such things. He cast a Drying Charm himself.

    They sat in silence for a while as the hot air slowly dried their clothes.

    Then Granger broke it, of course. “There should be a charm that simply removes - or evaporates - water from the target. That would be much faster than this.”

    He couldn’t resist. “There is such a spell, actually - the Desiccation Curse. But it’s a dark curse, so I don’t think it’d be a good idea to use it on your clothes.”

    “Ha ha,” she replied. “I see you’ve completely recovered your wits, or what passes for wits in your case.”

    He scoffed at her. “Speaking of recovering - can we now discuss why you want my robes?”

    “I told you: to create a decoy that will let us check if the monster is lying in ambush for us without exposing ourselves.”

    “And why do you need my robes for that?”

    “Because I’m not dressed to go without robes once the temperature starts falling,” she retorted. He could clearly hear the unsaid “duh” - not that Granger would ever use such a simple word, of course. She would probably say something like ‘you simpleton’ or ‘you dullard’.

    “We don’t even know if it’ll get cold here,” he told her.

    “That’s not a good reason to think it won’t, but, instead, a good reason to prepare for the possibility,” she said.

    “In any case, why can’t we just create a decoy wearing conjured robes?” he asked.

    “Can you conjure school robes?”

    “No.” Why would he need to know how to do that, anyway?

    “That answers your question,” she told him in a clipped tone.

    “I see. I guess it really is my fault.” He nodded with a sigh.

    “What? Your fault?”

    “Yes. If I had ever used one of Uncle Peter’s old clothing-dissolving potions, you’d probably have learned the spell.” He smirked at her reaction.

    “Oh, you…!” She shook her head. Her hair, freshly dried, whipped around her head.

    He saw her quickly move her wand, and a moment later, her hair was braided - like the character from Dudley’s games with the huge… Well, Granger’s chest certainly didn’t match her hairstyle. But… “So you do know hairstyling charms.”

    “Of course I do.”

    “You never use them!”

    “Why should I?”

    He blinked. “To look good?”

    “Not everyone thinks appearances are important;” she retorted.

    “But enough people do. You think you’ll ever get a good job if you look like you don’t even know the basic charms for keeping yourself presentable?” He had heard Dad complain about some of the recruits often enough, and those had been the ones accepted by the DMLE.

    “As I said, I know lots of hairstyling charms. I won’t have any trouble impressing a prospective employer,” she told him with a sneer. “I simply don’t see any reason to use them at Hogwarts.”

    “You’re weird.”

    “Figures you’d think so. If you were an animagus, you’d be a peacock.”

    “And you’d be a shrew!” And he wouldn’t be a peacock - he’d be something cool, like Dad. Or Uncle Sirius. Not like Uncle Peter, although if he could transform into something small, he could sneak into places like Uncle Peter. And he would become an animagus - Mum had made everyone promise not to teach him how to become an animagus before he turned sixteen, but that was only a few weeks away!

    “How typical! As soon as a witch doesn’t fawn over you, she’s a shrew!”

    “What? No!” She scoffed. “You’re a shrew because you are…” He pressed his lips together. Some insults went too far.

    “Yes?” She cocked her head at him.

    “Because you act like one!” he finished.

    She huffed in return. “Typical!” Shaking her head, she added: “Now let’s focus on dealing with the imminent threat to our lives which may or may not be waiting outside.”

    “The wyvern.” He nodded. “We’ll have to kill it.”

    “Kill it?” She stared at him.

    “Yes. Unless you want to be on your guard all the time until we’re rescued and hardly stray from this cave.” That would make it all but impossible to gather food. He scoffed. “We can’t survive here if the wyvern is hunting us. It’s us or the wyvern.”

    And as his parents had taught him: When it came down to you or the other guy, the choice was clear.

    “And how do you suggest we achieve that?” she asked with a not so tiny sneer.

    Well, that wasn’t yet clear. But he was working on it.

    *****​

    Hermione Granger rolled her eyes. “You don’t have a plan, do you?”

    Potter frowned at her. “We’ve only just escaped the wyvern and recovered from almost dying. I don’t see you having a plan ready already!”

    “What? I had a plan to check whether the monster is waiting for us!” she protested. He was the one who didn’t have a plan!

    “Yes, yes - but that won’t kill it.” He blinked. “Although we can use that. We take the decoy you suggested and use it as bait. We stuff it full of spikes - with poison - and when the wyvern chomps down on it…” He grinned and made a cutting motion across his throat.

    Could he be any more clichéd? “And where do you suggest we get the poison?” The spikes were easy - they could transfigure some wooden splinters and enlarge them, then use Sticking Charms to form a roughly spherical structure that would ensure that the spikes would penetrate the monster’s mouth from any angle.

    He frowned. “We could gather some ingredients and brew something poisonous.”

    Now he was reaching. She sniffed. “Have you seen any ingredients? We’re on a tropical island, not in the Hogwarts greenhouses!”

    “We can transfigure things into poison. Poisonous substances, at least, like lead,” he replied.

    He was right - they had learned how to transfigure iron into lead in Transfiguration. Mostly so they would understand why you couldn’t transfigure lead into gold unless you had the Philosopher’s Stone, but they could do it. But… “Lead poisoning takes a long time to affect someone - and heavy doses for such a large monster,” she told him. “And if we transfigure the spikes into lead, they are less likely to actually penetrate the monster’s skin deep enough to affect it. And we don’t know if lead will actually harm the monster.”

    He looked at her as if the failure of his plan was her fault. It wasn’t - she was merely pointing out its flaws.

    “That still leaves us with spikes - barbed spikes. If we can get them stuck in its mouth, it’ll be unable to eat.”

    That sounded… very cruel. She winced at the thought of an animal starving like that, with its mouth blocked by barbed steel, bleeding, probably getting the wounds infected… On the other hand, it had tried to eat them. “If it’s a wyvern, as you believe, then it might be able to rip the spikes out and survive the wounds. They are supposed to have very tough skin, like dragons.” Or so she remembered reading.

    “But not quite as tough,” he objected.

    “But if we’re using bait, then we’re limited in how big the spikes can be,” she pointed out. “You aren’t exactly troll-sized.”

    “That’s right.” He narrowed his eyes, but not at her - he was looking at the waterfall. “Perhaps if we manage to lure it into a trap? We could use bigger spikes then. Anchor them in the ground.”

    “We would have to get out of the cave for that, first.” And for that, they needed bait. She blinked. “Oh my God, I have an idea!”

    “Yes?”

    She glared at him. He didn’t have to look so doubtful - it wasn’t as if he’d had any useful ideas. “I can conjure a flock of birds. We can enlarge them and have them serve as bait to check whether the monster is waiting outside.” Simple and easy. And they wouldn’t have to sacrifice their robes for it.

    “Good idea,” he said, then blinked - as if he had been surprised by his own acknowledgement. Typical! “And we can have them carry leaden spikes or something.”

    Again with the lead. She narrowed her eyes at him, and he shrugged. “Even if it won’t be enough to kill it, it might weaken it. We’ll need any advantage we can get if we want to kill it. Which we have to.”

    She couldn’t resist. “Unless your parents come and save us - they would be able to easily deal with a wyvern, wouldn’t they?” She didn’t bother hiding her sarcasm.

    He scoffed. “Of course they would. They can handle dragons!”

    Again with the boasting. Did she go around boasting about how many teeth her parents had fixed? No, she didn’t. “And we need wood for the spikes,” she said, making a point of looking round in the cave. “Unless you can transfigure stone to lead.”

    The way he scowled, he couldn’t. She hadn’t expected him to be able to, of course - that wasn’t on the curriculum.

    “Alright.” He rose and pointed his wand at the waterfall.

    “What are you going to do?” she asked.

    “Shhh. I need to focus,” he snapped.

    She pressed her lips together. The nerve of the boy! As if…

    “Accio branch!” he shouted.

    Accio branch? Did he really… well, if he had a specific branch in mind… but that would still require a lot of concentration. Perhaps he had been correct to tell her to be quiet - but he should’ve explained instead of just trying to order her to shut up!

    And it didn’t seem as if his Summoning Charm was working, anyway. No branch was…

    Something broke through the waterfall, and she gasped and took a few steps back, raising her wand. But it was just a broken - no, a cut branch, she realised as she saw it land on the ground at his feet. He must have cut the branch on the way here. But that meant… “How far away was that branch?”

    He grinned at her, far too smugly. “Quite far.”

    She rolled her eyes. Typical! He just couldn’t be bothered answering a question properly! Always posturing!

    *****​

    Harry Potter shook his head. Merlin’s beard, Granger was oozing envy from head to toe! She just couldn’t stand the fact that he was better than she was at casting the Summoning Charm, could she?

    “Start breaking it up into splinters,” she told him - as if she could order him around! On the other hand, that was what he had been about to do anyway. Probably why she was doing it. He frowned at her while he used a few Severing Charms to split the branch up into smaller slices which he then could easily break into splinters, but she wasn’t even looking at him.

    Instead, she was conjuring birds. And hitting them with Engorgement Charms that enlarged them to the size of Hedwig. A swarm of those would be a pain to deal with… well, a Shield Charm should stop them, easily, but they would obscure his vision, and be ready to attack the moment the shield failed…

    “Do you have the lead spikes ready yet?”

    Couldn’t she see that he was still creating wooden splinters? He looked at her, then at the wood.

    She pursed her lips in return, then turned away rather than admit her mistake and sent her birds flying around herself, showing off.

    Typical.

    A few minutes later, they were ready. Two dozen snowy owl-sized birds were carrying spiky contraptions made of lead. “If the wyvern swallows them whole, which it probably will, that’ll ruin its stomach,” he said, smiling.

    “We don’t know if lead will actually harm a wyvern when ingested,” she replied.

    He grinned at her. “Do you finally admit that it’s a wyvern?”

    “Oh, grow up, Potter. We haven’t confirmed its actual species yet.”

    “Lead tends to have a significant effect if shot at a target with sufficient speed,” he pointed out.

    “Do you have a gun?” She sighed. “Otherwise, that’s just another impractical fantasy.”

    “Do you have to shoot down everything that’s not your idea?” he shot back.

    “No. Only the stupid proposals.” She smiled at him with all the friendliness of a particularly angry and bushy cat. Wait… the expression was remarkably like the one her monster of a cat wore when Harry didn’t open the door to the Gryffindor dorms for it.

    He chuckled at that.

    “What’s so funny?” She narrowed her eyes at him as if that would intimidate him.

    “Nothing,” he told her, snorting.

    “Oh, you…” She shook her head. “Let’s send the birds out and find out if we have a monster lying in ambush for us.”

    “Alright.”

    She waved her wand, and the birds flew towards and then through the waterfall.

    Harry squinted - the waterfall wasn’t completely transparent, but it was clear enough that he would see a huge flying creature if it appeared in front of the falling water. “Keep them flying where we can see them,” he said.

    “Of course,” she replied.

    He wet his lips. The birds were flying around each other, but no wyvern appeared to gobble them up. About a minute passed, and the birds were still untouched. “Either the wyvern doesn’t like to eat birds, or it has fallen asleep while waiting and hasn’t noticed them yet… or it has left.”

    “I would have almost preferred to see it attack the birds. Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. It could also be waiting for us and ignoring the birds because it’s smart enough to realise they aren’t natural. Some predators won’t attack prey with which they aren’t familiar;” Granger said.

    That made sense. Though he didn’t think that a wyvern would be so picky. “Can you conjure tropical birds?”

    “The spell conjures specific birds, presumably ones native to Britain,” she told him.

    “I’ll take that as a ‘no’,” he said with a grin. He wasn’t really amused, though. “So… we still don’t know for sure if the wyvern’s waiting for us.”

    “No, we don’t. Although it’s more likely that it’s left.”

    “‘’More likely’ doesn’t sound like good enough odds to bet your life on it,” he told her.

    “Not unless it involves a Snitch, I presume.”

    He had to chuckle at that. “Careful. People might think you actually knew something about Quidditch.”

    “I know the rules and its history,” she replied. “How would I have realised I didn’t like the game if I didn’t know anything about it?”

    He gaped at her. How could she not like Quidditch if she understood it?

    “Oh, get a grip, Potter!” She sighed. “Not everyone likes Quidditch!”

    “You’re the only person I know who doesn’t like it!”

    “Clearly, you need to re-evaluate your social circle,” she said, flashing her teeth at him.

    “Or you need to re-evaluate your hobbies!” He matched her expression.

    “My hobbies are perfectly fine!”

    “What? Reading and studying?” He scoffed. “Live a little Granger! Try some sports!”

    “I do sports!” she claimed. “Just not Quidditch.”

    “Then it doesn’t count!” he blurted out before he blinked. That was… well...

    She started at him for a second, then started to laugh. “Are we really arguing about Quidditch while we’re hiding from a man-eating monster in a cave on a deserted island?”

    Put like that, it was absurd. After a moment, he started laughing as well.

    Even though there was no argument for not liking Quidditch, anyway!

    *****​

     
  16. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Harry doesn't have the soul piece in his scar, nor does he have a scar, so no Parseltongue for him. The antagonism won't disappear too quickly, but they'll find more common ground - once they are listening to each other, instead of to their preconceptions.
     
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  17. Renko

    Renko Demon Lord of the Sixth Heaven ~☆

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    The entire premise of this story have some serious lewd potential!

    A shame that it is entirely SFW...

    Still, good work on this one!

    :D
     
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  18. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    Yeah, that's the hard part.
     
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  19. Threadmarks: Chapter 5: The Trap
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 5: The Trap

    Diagon Alley, London, July 6th, 1996

    “You should’ve called me at once,” Sirius Black said, frowning at his best friend. At least James should’ve done so before informing the DMLE - that’s what best friends were for. And Sirius was much more competent than the Aurors, anyway.

    “I called you as soon as I realised that Harry was actually missing,” James replied. “I can’t call you every time Harry is late.”

    “Of course you can!” Sirius protested. “He’s my godson! You know I’d drop everything for him!” And even if it was nothing but a kid forgetting the time while out with a girl - Sirius had used that excuse himself more times than he could count - getting dragged home by a Marauder would teach his godson to be sneakier. “It’s not as if I have anything more important to do, anyway,” he added.

    “You’re a member of the Wizengamot,” James said.

    “Exactly.” Sirius grinned.

    His friend sighed. “So… do you think you can do something?” He gestured at the ice-cream parlour. “It’s been hours, but this is the last place that we know Harry visited.”

    Sirius grinned. “Only hours? Don’t worry. I’ll have him tracked down in no time!” And then whoever had kidnapped his godson would pay! They might have warded Harry against magical spells, but Padfoot’s nose was much harder to beat. He had once tracked a unicorn through the Forbidden Forest on a dare, after all! Granted, he had almost been killed by a particularly grumpy centaur, and he had had to run from an enraged herd of unicorns when he had blundered into their glade, but he had won the dare, and that was what counted. “Be right back!” he told James, then stepped into a nearby side alley.

    A quick check if anyone was watching - nope - and he changed.

    Padfoot snorted when he trotted out of the side alley. Diagon Alley had changed - as he had changed. It had lost colour, but gained so many interesting scents… He inhaled, then growled - there was a cat nearby!

    “Did you get his scent?”

    Right. He wasn’t here to teach some stupid cats that they weren’t half as clever as they thought they were and that they should stay away from rats. He was here to save his godson, Harry!

    He shook his head and trotted over to the entrance to the ice-cream place. Mmm… ice-cream! So many delicious scents... he could feel himself drooling.

    No, Harry. Remember Harry! He shook his head to clear it, sending some drops of drool flying, then entered the parlour.

    “Hey! No dogs in here!” some witch yelled.

    “That’s an Auror search dog,” James told the silly witch.

    “Oh, I’m sorry, sir, we’ve had trouble with pets in the shop, and…”

    Padfoot ignored the witch and went to the table James had shown him before. Harry had been sitting here. He sniffed the seats. Ron. Ron’s girlfriend. Harry’s nemesis. And Harry! Yes!

    He barked, then started to follow his godson’s trail. Out the door, taking a right, towards the joke shop - the best joke shop. Yes, yes. The trail was clear. It hadn’t rained, and no one had cleaned the street. Yes, yes!

    Nose down, he followed Harry’s scent. Some silly wizard was too slow to get out of his way, but Padfoot easily shouldered the man aside - he was a big dog. A good dog and best friend, no matter what Lily claimed. And yes, the trace led to the joke shop… no. No?

    The trail took a turn. Towards… Knockturn Alley. He growled.

    And James, behind him, cursed. “Don’t tell me that Harry went there,” he muttered.

    Silly James, Padfoot couldn’t talk. But he could follow a trail through anything. Almost anything - Lily had once used some really nasty concoction to make him lose his sense of smell for a week after he had tracked them down during their honeymoon!

    And Harry’s trail led into Knockturn Alley. A place with even more interesting scents than Diagon Alley. But also a place with far more dangerous residents.

    Well, nothing and no one in there was as dangerous as Padfoot and James!

    “Knockturn Alley… I told him not to go there! What was he thinking?”

    Probably that it was interesting, Padfoot thought. That was why the Marauders had visited the alley, after all. Before the war, at least. During the war, they had visited mainly to kill a Death Eater or sympathiser hiding there - they hadn’t been able to hide from Padfoot’s nose!

    And Harry’s kidnapper wouldn’t be able to hide from him, either!

    He entered the alley, following Harry’s scent.

    Wait… there was another scent he knew. He had smelt it before… recently. He barked. Harry’s nemesis. Both of them went into Knockturn Alley?

    For a moment, Padfoot wondered if they had had a secret rendezvous there. Wouldn’t that be just like James? Actually, no, it wouldn’t. James and Lily hadn’t dated in secret - James had told his friends and everyone else who hadn’t been able to get away when she agreed to go to Hogsmeade with him.

    No, it probably was their rivalry or something.

    “Padfoot?”

    He shook his head and continued tracking Harry, nose on the cobblestones. The girl’s scent diverted after a bit, but Harry’s led him… to a shop.

    “Hey! No pets allowed!”

    “Auror business! Have you seen this boy?”

    Padfoot let his tongue loll out his mouth and barked. ‘Auror business’ - best way to shut someone up! But he had to track Harry. As soon as James was done questioning the clerk. Who, as expected, hadn’t seen anyone in years.

    Back to Harry. The scent left the shop. He was tempted to still check inside, but… they didn’t have the time for that. Back during the war, if anyone went missing… He growled. He didn’t want to remember that time. Few of those who went missing had returned. Some hadn’t been found to this day.

    But all the Death Eaters had been taken care of. Peter and Remus had gotten the Carrows five years ago, in Romania. So who would… He smelt a hag and growled. If that monster had hurt… but Harry’s scent led into the next shop.

    Had his godson really gone to Knockturn Alley to shop? Had his rivalry with his nemesis gone too far and he was looking for dark items? And why wouldn’t he have come to Padfoot about that? His family had the best dark stuff!

    “Padfoot?”

    Right. Focus. He smelt the cobblestones again and followed Harry’s trail. At least the trail didn’t lead further into the alley.

    Another shop. And another clerk who hadn’t seen anything or anyone. And so on. They should’ve set the alley ablaze, back during the war. But James and Lily had shot down his idea. He was vindicated now, though - if the alley had been burned down, Harry wouldn’t have been able to get lost here.

    And another shop. ‘Leopold’s Slightly-Used Goods’. Oh, there was the scent of the girl again! But no trail leading out of the shop. Neither Harry’s nor the girl’s.

    Padfoot growled.

    “What?” James asked.

    Padfoot nodded towards the shop’s entrance.

    “Harry went in and didn’t come out?”

    He barked.

    James raised his wand.

    They entered.

    “Hey! No pets allowed!” a wizard told them. He smelt like firewhiskey - the cheap stuff. And tobacco. And… the man just smelt.

    “Auror business. Have you seen this boy?”

    “What? No…”

    “We know he’s been here!” James snapped. “Are you lying to me?”

    “N-no. I might’ve seen the boy… right… I remember. There was some sort of scuffle. And he left. Yes.”

    Padfoot growled.

    “He didn’t leave,” James said, trembling with anger.

    “But… He did! There was a scuffle, they toppled a few shelves - and when I went to check, they were gone.”

    “They?” James pointed his wand at the scumbag.

    Padfoot sniffed the floor, then followed the scent trail. Both the girl and Harry had gone… there.

    “The girl and the boy. They had a quarrel or something. Lover’s spat? I don’t know; they had sneaked out when I went to check, really!”

    Padfoot barked.

    “Yes, there,” the clerk said. “By the books. Everything was spread over the floor.”

    “Was anything missing?” James asked, still tense.

    “Uh… the Alarm Charm didn’t trigger, so they didn’t take anything with them.”

    “You didn’t check whether anything is missing?”

    “No?”

    Padfoot wanted to bite the idiot.

    “Is there another exit?”

    “Uh, yes. But that’s behind the counter - and I was there.” The clerk nodded with a weak smile. He smelt sweaty now, Padfoot noticed. Guilty.

    But then, most everyone in Knockturn Alley smelt like that when talking to an Auror.

    James was baring his teeth, but he wasn’t growling. He was talking in tight, controlled sentences. “You didn’t see them sneak out even though you were watching the door. So clearly they could’ve sneaked past you.”

    Well, not without the Cloak, Padfoot thought. Although the clerk was so stupid, Harry probably would have managed without his Cloak.

    He went to check. No scent of Harry or the girl near the back door. He returned to James and barked, shaking his head.

    “They didn’t leave through the back door either,” James said. “Where are they?”

    “I don’t know! I’m just a clerk! I swear! I don’t know anything!”

    “We’ll see.”

    Padfoot wondered if the clerk would end up pissing himself.

    *****​

    Unknown Location, July 6th, 1996

    Hermione Granger shook her head. Potter’s Quidditch obsession really was just ridiculous. At least he realised it. Sometimes. Unfortunately, he wasn’t alone - most of Wizarding Britain was obsessed with the silly game. Flying dozens of yards in the air, chased by enchanted iron balls, and most of the time, the match was decided by the Seeker, anyway. That the game was so popular despite this was almost as vexing as Potter thinking she didn’t take part in any sporting activities. She did - just not as obsessively as Potter. She might not run around the Black Lake every day, but she was fit enough to do so if she wanted to. Which she didn’t - there were more important things to do in her limited free time. And walking was a sport as well - there were even walking races at the Olympics.

    And they did have more important things to discuss now as well. Such as finding out whether the monster had actually left or simply didn’t like the taste of birds. She cleared her throat. “So, how do you suggest to find out whether or not it’s safe to leave this cave without putting ourselves in danger?”

    Potter frowned in that manner of his that she knew meant he didn’t have a good idea. “I can go take a peek, with you ready to summon me back to you at my signal.”

    She pinched the bridge of her nose. “If the monster is lying in ambush, then it might be too fast for you to notice and alert me in time to summon you.”

    “You said that it’s probably left.” He grinned, proving that, just as she’d suspected, he didn’t have an alternative and just wanted to be contrarian. “And you’ve proved that you can summon me quickly enough to avoid the wyvern.”

    “As long as I have sufficient advance warning,” she pointed out. “Given that you have to notice it, then alert me, at which point I have to react and cast the spell, that might not be the case. You should use a decoy, anyway.”

    “If the wyvern didn’t fall for your birds, then it won’t fall for a decoy, either.”

    “The monster could be relying on its sense of smell to identify prey,” she said.

    He scoffed. “It spotted us from a high altitude.”

    She pressed her lips together. That was true, but risking your life over it? But she didn’t have a better plan, either. “Make sure your glasses are protected by an Impervious Charm,” she said. “Otherwise, you won’t see anything after sticking your head through the waterfall.” His glasses were probably enchanted with that charm anyway, but if your life might depend on something, it was better to verify any relevant assumptions.

    “They’re already charmed,” he replied - and frowned at her as if she had suggested cancelling the spell instead. What was his problem?

    “Good.”

    He nodded. “Keep your wand ready.”

    Did he think she’d holster it? She hadn’t let go of her wand since before this whole mess started. She nodded. Curtly. “Be careful.”

    “Always.”

    She had to snort at that lie despite herself. Potter was anything but careful, as anyone who had ever had to work with him or had seen him play Quidditch could attest. Well, he wouldn’t die on her watch. Not if she could help it. Someone had to look out for the idiot.

    His grin slipped into something a little more toothy as he turned and started to walk towards the waterfall at the cave’s entrance. He stopped in front of it, but stayed near the wall of the cave, peering through the small gap on this side of the waterfall. Then he took a deep breath - she could see his chest moving - and leaned forward, into the waterfall.

    She held her breath. If the monster was waiting above the entrance, it could swoop down and rip his head off before either Potter or she could react, ‘Seeker reflexes’ be damned.

    But nothing happened. Potter took a step forward, then another, and then he was outside the cave - she could see his blurred form on the other side of the waterfall.

    She slowly released her breath through clenched teeth but kept her wand trained on his form. If the creature was flying overhead…

    Potter turned and stuck his head through the waterfall. “It’s clear. The wyvern’s not around.”

    “Did you check the pond?” she asked.

    “It’s too small to hide inside,” he retorted.

    So he hadn’t checked it. But he was still alive, so it should be safe.

    Taking a deep breath herself, she walked towards him - keeping her wand ready, of course.

    She tensed when she stepped through the waterfall, shivering when she got doused again, and looked around quickly once she was outside in the sun.

    But Potter had been correct - there was no sign of the monster. Not on the ground nor in the air.

    She sighed with relief and turned to address him. “So, what do we do now?”

    He blinked, and she sighed again. As she had feared, he didn’t have a plan.

    *****​

    Harry Potter blinked. Granger was… well, she had been drenched from head to toe by the waterfall. And her top clung to her chest like… He blinked again and forced himself to look away. She probably had done that on purpose, seeing how she had reacted back in the cave.

    “I see. You’ve got no idea.”

    What? He narrowed his eyes at her. First, Granger shot down his ideas, and then she blamed him for not having a plan? Yeah, right. “We still need to kill the wyvern. We won’t be safe until we manage that.” And they had to keep an eye out for it, too - he checked the sky.

    “Or until we get rescued.”

    She was doing this deliberately! “Who argued against just waiting for a rescue, huh?” he snapped.

    “That was before we encountered this monster, back when the environment was our greatest challenge,” she replied, putting her hands on her hips and huffing. “Attacking a man-eating giant flying monster is a lot more dangerous than gathering coconuts.”

    “I wasn’t thinking of attacking it,” he told her with a scoff. “I was thinking of laying a trap for it.” That was much less dangerous - he had heard Charlie’s stories about his work at the dragon reserve, after all.

    “Like preparing poisoned bait?” She inclined her head, making a point of looking at the enlarged birds still flying around above the pond.

    “Since that plan didn’t work, no, not like that.” He refrained from scowling. Better not let her know that she was getting to him.

    She huffed in response and crossed her arms under her chest. Which lifted her… He wouldn’t let her get him like that. Instead of looking away, he maintained eye contact, then deliberately looked at her chest before scoffing.

    She gasped, then turned away. “You…” She trailed off, and he saw her cast the Drying Charm again.

    Point Potter, he thought with a grin. “Anyway,” he went on, after a brief check of the sky, “I was thinking of an iron spike with a barb - place some bait on top of it, the wyvern dives and impales itself on it.”

    “And what if that doesn’t hold it? Or the monster avoids the spike?”

    “Then we say ‘tough shit’ and try another plan, of course,” he replied. “But we don’t have to be near the trap for it to work, so it’s quite safe.”

    “Unless you try to play bait again.” She huffed again.

    That probably meant she didn’t have a better argument against his idea. Good. “I’m not planning to impale myself on a spike.”

    “Good.” She nodded rather sharply.

    “But that means we need bait,” he pointed out.

    “There’s bound to be fish in the pond.” She nodded at the water. “That’s why we came here, after all.”

    “You only wanted to bribe the wyvern, though,” he reminded her.

    “That was before it tried to kill us.” She bared her teeth, then looked up at the sky.

    Right. Granger was vindictive as hell. She’d take even a harmless joke personally, he reminded himself, and didn’t believe in proportional responses. “Anyway, let’s get some fish.”

    “Using fish as bait might also attract other animals. And it’ll spoil quickly in this heat.”

    “Good. That means the wyvern will smell it as well.” He grinned.

    “We still have no indication that the monster hunts by scent.”

    He shrugged. “But odds are it’ll notice, and check it out.”

    “We’ll see.”

    “Well, not directly - we’ll be far away when the trap goes off,” he corrected her.

    “How far? Because if we’re caught outside the cave by the monster, we’ll be in trouble. And if we place the trap close to the pond, it might attract predators that are small enough to fit into the cave.”

    “If they’re small enough to fit into the cave, we can easily deal with them,” he replied.

    “There’s also the stench and the insects it’ll attract.”

    “We’ve got spells for that.” Well, Harry did, anyway. With Rose still stubbornly trying - and failing - to prove that she wasn’t inept at Potions, learning a charm to clear the air had been a necessity. Not even Mum had made much of a fuss about him doing magic over the holidays that time.

    “I guess that’ll have to do,” she conceded with all the grace of a particularly drunk troll.

    “Yes. So, you get the fish, I’ll make the spike.” Harry nodded at her, then turned to eye the closest tree. After checking the sky for the wyvern, of course. He’d need a decently-sized branch, ideally with a fork that could be sharpened into a barb. Although in a pinch, he could use a Sticking Charm to add some barbs.

    *****​

    ‘You get the fish.’ Hermione Granger swallowed her first response. Typical - Potter took any agreement as an acknowledgement of his supposed leadership. Leadership by someone who had made his plan up on the spot!

    But - after some adjustments - the plan did seem workable, and the risks it presented were acceptable. And she knew that they had to work together to survive this, so pointing out Potter’s failures wouldn’t help their situation. Quite the contrary, in fact.

    So she swallowed her second comment as well and walked to the pond - after checking the sky for flying monsters bent on eating her or Potter, of course. Someone had to watch out for them.

    The sky was clear. Unfortunately, so was the pond - or so it seemed. She couldn’t believe that there were no fish in it - it was an almost ideal spot for fish. And she couldn’t see any predators… Oh. Large birds circling over the pond would probably be seen as dangerous by a fish in the pond. Especially after the monster had disturbed the pond by landing in it.

    But the birds also served as a potential distraction for the monster - which, so far, as a quick check confirmed, hadn’t returned. Dismissing them would, therefore, be a waste, and potentially dangerous.

    A flick of her wand sent the birds to circle over the trees to the east of the pond. That should do it. Now she just had to lure the fish out. If only she had some bread… Oh. Insects would do just as well. Turning a button into a beetle required a button, but… She moved her wand and a line of ants appeared and marched straight into the water.

    She watched them float around, waving their legs in a futile attempt to swim, then looked up again. Still clear.

    Looking down, she was just in time to see the first ant vanish - something had snapped it up. A fish! Probably - but what else lived underwater and ate drifting insects?

    Perhaps a snake. Well, a snake would serve as bait as well, if properly enlarged, but… there was the Parseltongue problem. Snakes weren’t sapient, but a Parselmouth could talk to them. And hold a discussion as if the snakes were human. Even if one assumed - which was the generally accepted explanation according to her research - that the Parselmouth’s magic made snakes temporarily sapient, everything she had read about it agreed that the snakes did rely on their memories for the conversation. That made them at least proto-sapient. And if one followed the Lovegood hypothesis, which stated that all snakes were sapient, but cursed not to understand humans except for Parselmouths...

    Hermione couldn’t kill a snake. It would feel like murder.

    Another ant disappeared. She spotted a silvery shadow in the water. Hah! “Accio fish!”

    A small fish rose out of the water, wriggling and thrashing desperately in an attempt to escape the grip of her spell.

    Hemione could kill a fish, though. She gripped it by the tail, then slammed its head against the closest rock a few times. The result was a dead or unconscious fish - and if it was unconscious, then it would painlessly suffocate without water soon enough.

    She waited for a little while to be sure that it was dead - she didn’t want to be hit by a dog-sized fish’s tail fin - then cast the Engorgement Charm on it. It instantly grew to the size of a large dog, and Hermione smiled widely - this had been her best result to date! If Professor Flitwick could see it, she’d get at least five points!

    She cast a Levitation Charm to transport the fish and looked at the sky again. Still clear. Whew.

    Then she walked towards Potter - or where she had last seen the boy. He shouldn’t have gone far - they had agreed to stay close to the cave - but Potter wasn’t exactly good at sticking to the rules. Or at showing any common sense. “Potter?”

    “What?”

    Ah, that sounded close! Just behind the denser underbrush at the edge of the jungle, where the light allowed many more plants to grow than in the shadow below the canopy. “I’ve got the fish.”

    “Ah? Good! I’m almost done with the spike! Start on the pit!”

    The pit? What? “What pit?”

    “For the trap, duh!”

    “You want to dig a pit trap large enough for the monster?” He couldn’t mean it! And, speaking of traps… she looked up. Still clear.

    “No, to anchor the spike.”

    Why didn’t he say so in the first place? “And how wide should it be?”

    He didn’t reply. Just as she was about to repeat her question, the underbrush parted and Potter walked out, followed by a floating iron spike as thick as her thigh and as tall as Potter himself. With a wicked barb.

    And with an open shirt. Potter, that was - not the spike. Damn, Lavender had been right - Quidditch did build nice bodies. At least if a maniac like Wood was responsible for the training regime.

    She blinked. She was staring at Potter? Like some hormone-crazed superficial bint with no sense or class? And why had he opened his shirt anyway? It wasn’t as if he had used his muscles to move the spike.

    Damn - he must have done it on purpose, trying to impress her out of some stupid sense of machismo.

    Well, it wouldn’t work!

    *****​

    Harry Potter wiped some sweat from his neck. Even with his shirt open, he felt hot. And not the good kind of hot. Just the sweaty kind. He didn’t even want to imagine how he would have felt if he’d had to lug the spike around without magic.

    And Granger was frowning at him. He scoffed. She was only wearing shorts and a small top, and she hadn’t had to do anything but summon some fish from the pond; she didn’t get to sneer at him for sweating.

    But he wouldn’t make a scene; he could be the better person. Besides, they had a more urgent problem. “It should be this wide,” he told her, pointing at the base of the spike.

    “Ah.” She looked up before looking around. “And where do we do this? Opposite the entrance to the cave, I presume, so we can keep an eye on it.”

    “Obviously,” he replied, refraining from frowning. Again, she was making it look as if stating the obvious was smart. He glanced at the huge fish she was levitating. “That won’t hide the entire spike.”

    “We can use plants to hide it.”

    “That might not fool the wyvern,” he pointed out. They didn’t know whether the monster had seen the birds or not, but you should never underestimate your enemy, as Remus had taught him.

    “If it recognises a trap, then we won’t catch it anyway,” she retorted. “Let’s go - I don’t feel safe out here.”

    “Well, the lack of books must be disturbing,” he joked, chuckling.

    She rolled her eyes at him. Typical.

    They quickly reached the other side of the pond, opposite the waterfall. “I think that’s visible from the back of the cave,” she said. “But we should check.”

    “Alright. Go check,” he told her. He would have liked walking through the waterfall to cool off a little, but if the wyvern returned, he had a better chance of escaping it.

    She frowned again but nodded - tersely - and dropped the fish on the ground as she walked towards the cave.

    He shook his head behind her back - he couldn’t imagine what had gotten her goat this time. The whole situation was probably getting to her. Granger wasn’t good at dealing with problems when she couldn’t prepare; her performance in the duelling hall - and in the hallways - proved that.

    He watched her step through the waterfall, then checked the sky again. Still clear. Perhaps Granger was correct, and the wyvern was hunting in the sea. Probably large fishes, dolphins and whales and the like - creatures like dragons needed a lot of food.

    “Move a little to your right!”

    Ah - Granger had reappeared and pointed to her left. He took a few steps to the right.

    She went into the cave again, then came back. “That’s it!”

    While he started creating a hole for the spike, she walked towards him, wading through the shallower part of the pond.

    “We’ll have to watch our shoes,” she said when she reached him. “They might rot and fall apart in this humidity without constant care.”

    “That’s what the Mending Charm is for,” he replied without looking at her.

    “That’s what I meant.” She sounded annoyed - he knew that tone; she usually sounded annoyed when she was talking to him.

    “Ah.” He checked the sky again, then dug a little deeper with another Vanishing Spell. “I think that’s deep enough.”

    She knelt down and checked. “Perhaps a foot deeper?”

    “Then there won’t be much of the spike left,” he pointed out.

    “Right.” She nodded and stood. “It’ll have to do.”

    He waved his wand and cast another Levitation Charm before she could find something else to criticise. Manoeuvring such a heavy object with enough precision to get it into a hole was tricky, but Harry managed it easily. “There!” he announced, kicking the spike to show it was set firmly in the ground.

    “Watch out!”

    He ducked to the side, narrowly avoiding the fish she was floating above his head. “Watch it!” he snapped.

    “I do.”

    Oh, damn…

    He bit back a comeback while she lowered the fish on to the spike until the tip and barb were hidden inside it. “That should hold for a while, but as the cadaver starts to rot, it’ll slide down the spike.”

    “We can replace the bait then,” he told her, “though we’ll be saved before that happens.”

    She snorted. “We’ll see.”

    “Yes, we will.” He frowned at her. His parents would notice that he was missing by dinner time at the latest. Then they would send out Patronus Messengers, as usual. And then Mum, Dad and their friends would track them down. They might even call Dumbledore - the Headmaster was the Supreme Mugwump of the ICW, so if they were in some other country, he could probably deal with any issues.

    “The sky’s still clear,” Granger said, interrupting his thoughts. “Let’s cover up the rest of the spike and head back into the cave. We don’t want it coming back and avoiding the spike.”

    “Of course not,” he replied with a fake smile. Then he blinked. “Damn. One more thing.”

    “What?” She sounded concerned as she turned to look at him.

    “We don’t tell Hagrid about this, understand?”

    She gaped at him for a moment before nodding with a grimace. “Of course not! He’d fail us for the rest of our time at Hogwarts if he knew we’d tried to kill such a creature.” After a moment, she added: “We probably shouldn’t tell Luna, either.”

    “Oh, right.” Harry winced. Luna would probably cry at hearing about this.

    *****​

    Hermione Granger shook her head as they walked back to the cave. This was bad. Professor Hagrid was a good teacher and an acknowledged expert on magical creatures, but he liked his subject matter a little too much and tended to underestimate how dangerous magical creatures could be. And he loved dragons. If he ever heard that they had killed a wy... a monster that displayed some similarities to a dragon, he’d probably get angrier than the time Malfoy had deliberately stepped on Neville’s Puffskein.

    And Luna… Dear Lord, Luna would probably think Hermione was the worst witch in the world for killing such a beast. Hermione shivered at the thought. But they had no choice - they couldn’t survive on the island with such a creature hunting them.

    She looked up and checked the sky - still clear.

    They reached the edge of the pond, where the water was shallow, and she waded towards the waterfall. Having to get wet entering and leaving was really inconvenient.

    She recast her Drying Charm as soon as she was inside the cave. She wouldn’t give Potter another show. She caught him staring at her with a frown and huffed. Typical! Huffing, she sat down across the entrance, squinting at the waterfall. She could just make out the blur that would be the fish - the bait - across the pond.

    Potter sat down as well - too close to her for her taste. Didn’t he trust her to keep an eye on the trap? “So now we wait,” he said.

    How eloquent! “Yes, now we wait,” she repeated, rolling her eyes. It was obvious, wasn’t it?

    “Hey, Granger, cheer up - we’re safe here and we managed to prepare our trap.”

    “And we don’t know if it’ll work,” she replied.

    He shrugged as if that wasn’t of any concern at all. “Even if it doesn’t work, we’ll still gain more information about the wyvern.”

    “Information we’ll use to build a better trap?” She raised her eyebrows.

    “Exactly!” He grinned at her. “That’s the spirit, Granger! To boldly experiment and create new things!”

    “Killing a rare magical creature in innovative and increasingly desperate ways until it sticks?” She snorted. “That sounds like A Fish Called Wanda.”

    He blinked, then snorted as well. “Let’s hope we fare better than the animal lover.”

    “Michael Palin,” she told him. “That was the actor.”

    “Ah.” He didn’t sound interested. “It was a very funny movie.”

    “Yes.” She hesitated a moment, then asked: “Where did you see it?” It was eight years old, after all - he couldn’t have seen it at the cinema. And TVs didn’t work in magical homes - the wards interfered with electronics. She suppressed a wince, remembering how she had tested that at home. Getting punished by both the Ministry and her parents… That summer vacation a few years ago really hadn’t been fun.

    “My cousin’s home.”

    “Ah.” He had mentioned his muggle relatives earlier, hadn’t he?

    “I’m not an ignorant pureblood,” he said, sounding more than a little defensive.

    “Well, you act like one often enough,” she said.

    “How so?” He glared at her.

    “Always talking about your new broom, your special library, your special training, your family…” She scoffed.

    “I don’t always talk like that!” he protested. “And talking about your family is normal!”

    “I don’t talk about my family nearly as often as you do. Neither does Lavender. How often does your cousin talk about his family?”

    She saw him press his lips together before answering: “Ron often talks about his family!”

    “Ron’s a pureblood,” she pointed out. “But even he doesn’t brag nearly as often as you do!”

    “He doesn’t brag nearly as often as you do, either!”

    “Pardon me?” He couldn’t mean that she was…

    “You always go on about your tests and exams and books you’ve read!” He shook his head. “Oh, I hope I did the bonus question correctly! I only had fifteen minutes to do it after finishing the rest of the test, and I’m not sure if that seventh year book I read contained the answer!”

    “I’m not like that!” she hissed. She wasn’t!

    “Yes, you are. And it’s annoying!”

    “Not nearly as annoying as you incessantly going on about your family and wealth!” she spat.

    “So, what am I supposed to do, pretend that I’m an orphan?”

    “You could be more humble!” It was certainly impossible for him to be more arrogant!

    “I’m very humble. I don’t brag nearly as much as certain others!”

    It was clear that he meant her. Hah! “Oh, sure you don’t, Mr ‘God’s Gift to Quidditch’!”

    “That was a joke!”

    “Well, it wasn’t funny, so how would anyone be supposed to be able to tell?” She scoffed again. She loathed the sort of ‘jokes’ Potter and his friends made.

    “You wouldn’t know funny if it hit you with a curse!”

    “You would think that was funny, wouldn’t you? Hitting someone with a curse!”

    “A curse? Of course not!” he shook his head. “They’re banned in duelling for a reason!”

    She scoffed once more. “But hexes and jinxes are OK?”

    “They’re easily dealt with - if you know what spell it is. Unlike curses,” he said.

    “Just because they’re easily dealt with doesn’t mean they don’t hurt.”

    “Says Miss ‘Look at the hex I found in some obscure and probably banned book’!”

    He was imitating her now, was he? “I’m only defending myself against you!” she corrected him.

    “Yeah, sure you do when you ambush me at night!”

    “That was justified revenge for your attack the day before! And if you hadn’t broken curfew, you wouldn’t have been outside in a hallway!” she pointed out. It was all his fault, anyway.

    “You broke curfew as well to ambush me!” He huffed. “And I still got you back before McGonagall arrived!”

    That was true - she should’ve withdrawn at once after hitting him with that hex. But the temptation to rub it in a little had been too great. “You started this!” she spat. It was his fault.

    “I started this? You started it! I was just getting even!” he blurted out.

    “Getting even? For what?”

    “The Gastric Garlic Hex!”

    Oh, right - that had been fun. Not for anyone in his room or nearby, of course. But… “That was revenge for the Squeaky Voice Potion in my tea!”

    “That was a harmless prank! And revenge for the Balding Head Jinx!” He blinked. “Wait… are you really going to list every spell I’ve ever cast on you?”

    “Are you?” she shot back. If he was going there, she’d beat him at it!

    “In any case, you started it by claiming that we had stolen Neville’s toad on the train!”

    “You acted like you had, the way you were joking about it!” She knew how bullies acted well enough - and who would joke about the loss of a pet? Only a heartless bully!

    “Everyone jokes about Trevor getting lost. Even Neville!”

    She huffed. “In any case” - she imitated his tone - “I was perfectly justified in suspecting you and informing a prefect!”

    “And I was perfectly justified in hexing your shoes to get back at you!”

    “Showing off that you got special training.” And rubbing it in.

    “What?” He gaped at her. “You learned every damn spell in every first year book before you even got to Hogwarts!”

    “And none of them were hexes that remove all traction from your shoes!” She had slipped, fallen to the ground and slipped out of her shoes as well. That had been so embarrassing!

    He was still staring at her with his mouth slightly open. “Are you honestly angry because you didn’t learn a hex before Hogwarts started?”

    “No,” she lied. “It’s the principle of the thing. Anyone could’ve learned all the spells I did by studying our books. But no one could’ve learned that hex since it’s not in any book that’s been published.” And that was terribly unfair.

    “And why is that a problem? There are hundreds of hexes you can learn that work just as well - and I bet you know most of them!”

    Of course she did - having a wide arsenal of spells was her best chance of beating Potter by using a spell he couldn’t counter. “It’s the principle of the thing,” she repeated herself. “Information shouldn’t be hoarded by individual families! It should be free!”

    “So spellcrafters should work for free?” He sniffed. “I’ll have to tell Mum that.”

    She rolled her eyes. “I didn’t mean that. But spells shouldn’t be secret. The Ministry should make all of them available. All legal spells, at least. They could buy them.” And then place them in the public domain!

    “Good luck with that in the Wizengamot.”

    Of course the Wizengamot wouldn’t do anything - the Old Families must have more secret spells than the rest of Britain combined. She clenched her teeth. It was so frustrating! “Your birth shouldn’t matter so much!”

    “Of course it shouldn’t,” he agreed, to her surprise. “But the world won’t change when you whine about it. You have to change it.”

    That was… “You’re quoting your mother?” She raised her eyebrows at him.

    He blushed a little and pressed his lips together again.

    “Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

    He huffed again, then looked at the waterfall. “Look, I know how you feel. Mum felt the same. It’s not easy for muggleborns. But you can’t blame everyone else for it. Not everyone’s like Malfoy and his cronies.”

    “Enough are like him for this situation to continue,” she pointed out.

    “But you’re not helping things by accusing everyone.”

    She knew that. And she wasn’t - but Potter just… She took a deep breath. “It’s just so frustrating to know that I have to work twice as hard to get as far as some pureblood twit who was born into the right family.”

    “Well, that’s the same as in muggle Britain, isn’t it? You can…”

    A roar outside interrupted him.

    The monster was back!

    Hermione froze for a moment as her stomach dropped.

    *****​
     
  20. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Thanks! And yes, the lewd potential is quite obvious.

    Well, having to work together to survive is helping with that. If it were too easy there wouldn't be much of a story - well, not much of a romance.
     
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  21. space turtle

    space turtle Getting sticky.

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    Damn Fake Dragon interrupt!!

    We were finally getting somewhere with regards to god damned communication!!
    Common ground, agreement, non-jinx based disagreement, politeness even!

    I hope they flambe your scaly hide!

    There is zero chance they pick up where this left off. Something or other will set them off again.

    Also, loving the back and forth hormone hits to the brain, complete with misidentifying cues.

    Boys who think they're hot shit and completely misidentifying real attention.
    Name a more iconic duo!
     
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  22. Threadmarks: Chapter 6: The Siege
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 6: The Siege

    Kingston upon Thames, London, Britain, July 6th, 1996

    “Hello, Lavender.” Ellen Granger smiled at the girl standing in front of their door. “Come in!” She waved the girl inside. Then she frowned. Wasn’t Hermione supposed to have met Lavender for the afternoon? And it was now almost evening. She didn’t think Hermione would have lied to her, but… her darling daughter could stretch the truth a little when it suited her. “Weren’t you with Hermione?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.

    The witch winced, which wasn’t a good sign. “She hasn’t come home, then?”

    “No,” Ellen replied. “Was she supposed to?”

    “She said her stomach felt a little queasy after we ate a little too much ice-cream and that she was going home…” the girl told her.

    “She hasn’t come home.” Ellen shook her head. “When was that?”

    “Oh… three hours ago. About that.”

    That was… it didn’t have to mean anything. Hermione could’ve made a stop at a bookshop on the way home and ended up distracted for hours - it had happened before. Or she could have changed her plans - she was sixteen, after all, and not a little girl any more. And it wasn’t yet dinner time. But… Lavender looked concerned. No, more than concerned.

    They reached the living room. “Please have a seat.” Ellen nodded at the couch. “Do you want a drink?”

    “No, thank you, Ellen,” Lavender replied. The girl fidgeted with her dress - something was wrong.

    “What happened?” Ellen asked, taking a seat in Gabriel’s armchair.

    “Ah… Ron, my boyfriend, told me that Harry was missing,” Lavender said, biting her lower lip like Hermione tended to when she was anxious. “We, Hermione and I, met Ron and Harry in Diagon Alley and went to Fortescue’s, that’s the ice cream parlour, together.”

    Ellen nodded. She was well aware of Fortescue’s, something Lavender should know - the girl wasn’t one of those wizards and witches who thought muggles knew nothing about Wizarding Britain.

    “So… we ate there, then Hermione left, saying she felt queasy. Then Harry left, and I stayed with Ron, you know…” The girl smiled, blushing a little.

    Ellen nodded again. Hermione had told her about that relationship as soon as it had begun. In detail. Fortunately, her assumptions, based on the fact that Ron was Potter’s best friend and, therefore, obviously someone to be concerned about, had proved false. And fueled by Hermione’s obvious jealousy that her best friend was now in a relationship. It had been amusing, at the time.

    But Lavender had fallen silent. That was another bad sign. “So… they both left?”

    “Yes.” The witch nodded. “And then I went home - I still have homework to do, and we talked about it, today, Hermione and I, you know - and I didn’t think…”

    “Lavender.” Ellen cocked her head at the girl. “What’s got you so worked up?”

    “Harry’s missing,” the girl blurted out. “Ron told me. So, I thought… I mean, Hermione said she was going home, but… if she hasn’t come home.”

    Ellen felt her stomach sink. Hermione was a very smart girl, and a very talented witch, according to her grades and several talks with her teachers. But she wasn’t entirely rational when it came to Potter. Ellen and Gabriel had told her countless times to let things go and ignore the boy, but Hermione had been too stubborn to heed their advice.

    Sometimes, she was too much like Ellen had been, back when she was a teenager. And if Potter was involved... “They didn’t leave together, did they?” she asked.

    “What? No, no!” Lavender shook her head. “We - Ron and I - would have stepped in if they had done that. I mean…” She grimaced.

    Ellen sighed and nodded. “I know.” Several talks with Professor McGonagall had made sure of that. “But if Mr Potter’s missing, and Hermione’s not back yet…”

    “You should call the Potters! They’re investigating!”

    Ellen frowned again. She hadn’t had any trouble with the Potters, and they had been perfectly polite when they had met, but since they had only ever met following a call from Professor McGonagall about another incident, all their meetings had been more than a little awkward.

    But this was about Hermione. She could stand a lot more than some awkwardness where her daughter was concerned.

    “Yes. I don’t suppose they have a phone?”

    Lavender shook her head. “But I can call the Knight Bus, and it’ll take us to Godric’s Hollow.”

    Ellen grimaced. She remembered the Knight Bus. But if Hermione was in danger… “Let’s go.”

    “Alright!” Lavender nodded and stood.

    Ellen quickly wrote a note for Gabriel so he wouldn’t worry - or, rather, wouldn’t worry about her; he would, of course, worry about Hermione - and one for Hermione, in case her girl returned during her absence, before grabbing her purse. She didn’t bother fetching her coat, however; it was warm outside, and her sweater would be enough. She was almost at the door when she gasped. “Wait!” she told Lavender, already turning, “I’ll just get the photo album; if we go to the police, they’ll want a current picture of Hermione.”

    “Oh, good idea!” Lavender agreed.

    Stepping back into the living room, Ellen closed her eyes for a moment, squeezing them shut, her words echoing inside her head. Hermione would be OK. She had to be OK. Many children went missing for a few hours, usually for harmless reasons. Even children as smart as Hermione.

    And yet she couldn’t help fearing the worst - Hermione had told them about the kind of crimes magic made possible. The kind of crimes that had been committed fifteen years ago. And Ellen had no illusions that Wizarding Britain was now free of such criminals.

    Taking a deep breath - it wouldn’t help anyone, least of all Hermione, if she started crying right now - she wiped her eyes and bent down to grab the most recent photo album from the shelf behind the couch. After a moment, she also grabbed the album Hermione had made for them as a Christmas present. The one with the magical pictures, usually hidden.

    They might need to contact the wizarding police, after all. And to think she had been worried that one day, the wizarding police would call because Hermione’s feud had gotten out of hand.

    Scoffing and holding back a sob, she joined Lavender at the door. The girl was fidgeting again, scuffing her shoes on the carpet.

    “She’s probably just stuck in a bookshop,” Ellen told her with far more assurance than she felt.

    Lavender nodded, but her smile looked brittle and fake.

    “Now let’s…” She hesitated a moment, steeling herself. “...call the Knight Bus.”

    Lavender nodded and stepped outside. She waited until Ellen had locked the door, then grabbed Ellen’s hand and raised her wand. A moment later, the huge triple-decker bus arrived with a literal bang. And everyone else in the street ignored both the sound and the bus.

    Ellen shivered a little. If Lavender let go of her hand, she’d ignore the bus as well - she remembered how Hermione had demonstrated that, years ago. Her darling daughter hadn’t quite understood, back then, why Ellen and Gabriel hadn’t been impressed as much as concerned about the whole thing.

    Because Ellen just couldn’t help wonder what she was ignoring, hidden by magic. And what she might have been made to forget by magic. She knew it wasn’t very likely that she had been manipulated, but… it wasn’t impossible, either.

    But she forced the familiar worry away. She had something much more important to worry about: Hermione was missing.

    Lavender paid the fare, and Ellen picked the closest seat to sit in - she had learned her lesson from her previous trips. Even so, she was thrown into the seat and then almost off it when the bus accelerated at a rate that was positively neck-breaking, wildly swerving around cars whose drivers didn’t even notice it as it sped through London.

    By the time they reached Godric’s Hollow, Ellen felt as if she had spent an hour on a rollercoaster. Without being buckled in. “They really need to improve this bus,” she mumbled as she staggered out of it, ignoring the conductor’s cheerful farewell.

    “Hermione says that all the time,” Lavender replied. “She can’t wait for Apparition lessons.”

    Ellen nodded. Her daughter had told her the same thing - repeatedly. “So, where to now?” She looked around.

    “We’re here,” Lavender said, pointing at an empty lot. “Oh. I forgot.” She blushed and reached out to Ellen. As soon as their hands touched, Ellen could see a cosy-looking, small house. Appearances were deceiving, of course - even a tent could contain a wizarding palace. Still, the whole house and garden looked just like any other middle-class home in the countryside, and Ellen clung to the familiar look of it as Lavender led her into the yard and to the door.

    The bell sounded familiar as well.

    The door was opened after a few seconds by Mrs Potter. “Who… Lavender?” She blinked at Ellen for a moment, before adding: “Mrs Granger?”

    Ellen nodded. “Lavender informed me that your son is missing. I fear that my daughter is missing as well,” she said.

    “Oh.” For a moment, Mrs Potter and Ellen shared the same worried expression. “Come in, then. James went to work - he’s the Head Auror - but we’re also gathering friends to help to look for Harry... for them.”

    The inside of the house was, as Ellen had expected, larger than the outside. And missing modern appliances. But otherwise, it looked normal enough - just like Lavender’s home.

    “Ron!”

    “Lavender!”

    That was Lavender’s boyfriend, then. Ellen looked at the other man - wizard - present while the teenagers embraced each other. “Professor Lupin?” She recognised the man - they had met when Hermione had insisted on getting permission to join the ‘Duelling Club’ in her first year, and Ellen and Gabriel had insisted on talking to her teacher first.

    “Mrs Granger.” He nodded at her. “I’m sorry for the circumstances.”

    She nodded, not bothering to reply with an empty phrase of her own. “So,” she asked, turning to Mrs Potter, “Are the police looking into this already, or is this still a… private affair?” That sounded wrong.

    “James has informed the DMLE,” Mrs Potter told her. “We can’t reach Harry with a Patronus Messenger; that means this isn’t some prank.” The glare she sent at the wizard told Ellen that there was something more behind this than Hermione’s feud.

    But she was here for Hermione, not for anything else. “I’ve got pictures of Hermione, if the wizarding police need them,” she said, pulling out the photo album - the wizarding one.

    “That should be helpful,” Mr Lupin said with a smile. “I can make copies of it.”

    “Good idea!” Mrs Potter agreed. “I’ll get some of Harry’s as well. And we need to tell James that there’s another student missing.”

    Ellen wondered if that meant that Mr Potter was leading the investigation - that wouldn’t be very professional, would it? But then, who would care about procedure when their child was missing? Ellen would do anything to get Hermione back.

    And, watching Mrs Potter send off a glowing doe to her husband, followed by another to a man named ‘Peter’, telling him to hurry ‘back to England’, she was sure that she wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

    It didn’t make her stop worrying about Hermione, but it did help a little.

    *****​

    Unknown Location, July 6th, 1996

    Harry Potter froze. That roar… the wyvern must be close! He took a step towards the cave exit before he realised what he was doing, then stopped. If Sirius or Remus had seen that…

    “Watch out!” a whisper sounded behind him.

    So Granger had noticed. Damn. “I’m not even close to the red line,” he told her with more assurance than he felt. “Now let’s see the wyvern impale itself on my spike!”

    “Going after my bait,” she retorted.

    He didn’t deign to respond to that. Instead, he stared at the trap. If the wyvern was hunting, it would spot the bait any moment now.

    “It roared. It might not be hunting,” Granger said in a low voice. “Alerting your prey to your presence is counterproductive for a hunter.”

    “Unless it hunts by driving its prey into a panic by roaring, and then catching it as it tries to flee,” he pointed out. “Some magical creatures can even use magic to cause their prey to panic.”

    “The Terrorising Tayra, yes,” she said. “Able to send grown men into a panic through subvocalisation. But we don’t know whether that’s the case here.” She snorted. “Although the roar feels terrifying enough.”

    “It’s not that terrifying.” Not really. Not when compared to, say, a Dementor.

    “Sure it isn’t.” Granger scoffed. “Only an idiot wouldn’t be afraid of such a monster.”

    He wasn’t an idiot! “I didn’t say I wasn’t afraid,” he told her. “I said it’s not that terrifying.”

    “Sure.”

    “Perhaps to you it is. But I’ve seen worse,” he retorted.

    “The dragons in Romania, yes. You told everyone about that trip for weeks.” She scoffed.

    He clenched his teeth. “I meant the Dementor I saw.”

    “You saw a Dementor?” She didn’t sound as if she believed him.

    “At the Ministry. It was an accident - it shouldn’t have been there.” Dad had been livid with the idiot responsible for bringing a Dementor to the Ministry without realising that there was a tour for Quidditch fans that day. But it had been a very memorable trip. Especially Bagman’s nervous breakdown.

    “Riiight.”

    He frowned without taking his eyes off the bait. “I’m not lying.”

    “I guess that depends on your definition of exaggeration.”

    “That’s rich coming from you!”

    “I don’t lie to teachers!”

    “That depends on your definition of lying through omission,” he shot back.

    She blinked and stared at him, snorting once, before glaring at him. “How original!”

    “Takes one to know one!” He snorted as well.

    “Now, that was…”

    But before she could finish whatever she was about to say, a blur hit the giant fish across the pond. And then it howled. No, it screeched with rage!

    Harry froze for a moment, then smiled. “Yes!” That was the howl of a wounded monster! He could see it thrashing around on the pond’s shores, right where they had set the spike. “We got it! Yes!”

    As if it heard him, the wyvern stopped thrashing around and heaved - and then the monster’s giant head was staring straight at them, the spike apparently lodged in its jaw.

    It must have heard them, Harry realised. And it must have understood that they were responsible for its wounds since it charged straight at them, jaws opening wide as it hit the waterfall.

    But Harry had already jumped back to the wall, outside of the monster’s reach, when the wyvern’s head appeared in the cave, screeching and roaring, splattering spit and blood around as it shook its head.

    Granger was shrieking as well, he noted. Even though they were perfectly safe here, in the rearmost part of the cave. The wyvern was just too big to reach them here. Especially with the spike hindering its movement.

    Harry grimaced when the creature shook its head outside the waterfall, trying to dislodge the offending object - without success, since the spike’s barb was stuck in its maw.

    And here it came again, shaking its head and banging the spike against the cave walls as if that would allow it to reach them!

    Then the spike broke free, spraying more blood over the floor - and flying straight towards them.

    “Watch out!” he yelled, tackling Granger and throwing her to the ground. The spike passed over their bodies and hit the wall, then the ground, rolling back towards them. He managed to twist his body, kicking out with both feet and pushing the thing away from them, towards the entrance of the cave.

    “Yes!” he cheered. That had been close - but Seeker reflexes had saved the day, and their lives, once again!

    “Get off, you lout!”

    Then Harry realised that he was lying on Granger, not on the ground. And she was mad.

    *****​

    “Get off me!” Hermione Granger repeated herself, emphasising her order by slipping her hands between her chest and Potter’s and pushing. “You’re crushing me!”

    He slid off her, finally, and she glared at him as she slowly sat up. The idiot had thrown her to the ground - which was made of rock - and then had jumped on her and ground her into the rough stone some more by his antics with the spike. Her knees, hips and back hurt. And the back of her head.

    “Sorry.”

    He didn’t sound as if he was sorry. Typical. She eyed the monster which was still trying to get them. It was bleeding from its maw - part of which was torn; she could see the ripped skin and flesh, and there were blood drops splattering against the cave floor and walls as it shook in rage.

    She cringed when the monster roared. She quickly hid her reaction, straightening her spine - she wouldn’t look like a scared girl in front of Potter. “It can’t get us here,” she told Potter as much as herself.

    “Unless it throws things at us,” Potter replied.

    “I doubt that it’s smart enough to understand that. Tool use seems beyond its capability,” Hermione pointed out. If the monster could use tools, it would’ve tried to widen the cave by now. And it wouldn’t have fallen for the trap, either.

    “I don’t think that’s a deadly wound,” Potter said.

    “Unless it gets infected,” Hermione told him.

    “We can’t count on that - magical creatures are tough.” He shook his head. “We need to take it out now.” He flicked his wand, and the spike turned back into a wooden stake. A few slashes followed - Severing Charms, she noted - and smaller slices fell off the spike. What was he…

    Ah. “You want to banish lead down its gullet?” she asked.

    “Yes. If it’s trying so hard to eat us, better feed it, I say.” She saw him wet his lips and pick up one of the pieces of wood. “Turn this into lead? I’ll banish it at it.”

    The monster roared again, and she tried to shut it out. Shut everything and everyone out and focus. Focus on the transfiguration… She swished her wand, and the piece of wood turned into dull lead. Potter threw it into the air, then pointed his wand at it with a stabbing motion.

    The lead slice flew at the creature, straight into its gaping maw. “Yes!” Potter cheered. “Straight down its gullet!”

    The monster started to cough and retch. Not unlike Crookshanks when he needed to cough up a hairball. Hermione’s eyes widened. “Take cover!” she snapped, casting a Shield Charm.

    “What?” Potter asked, but he dropped to the ground, then cast a Shield Charm of his own.

    Not a moment too soon, since the monster drew back its head, then threw it forward, coughing and retching, and the leaden slice shot out of the creature’s mouth - and directly at them. It hit Hermione’s shield, shattering it as she shrieked, then ricocheted off and slammed into a wall before hitting the wall next to it at an angle and rolling over the floor.

    Hermione found herself on the ground again, this time without a rather muscled Quidditch player on top of her - and didn’t that sound dirty? “No more feeding it balls,” she told Potter. “Not when it can shoot them back at us!” He chuckled, though with a grimace, and she scoffed. “This isn’t Quidditch! That projectile could’ve killed us!”

    “That’s like professional Quidditch!”

    Potter was an idiot! “We’ve got a raging dragon-like monster trying to kill us, and you want to talk about Quidditch?” she asked, not bothering to hide her scorn.

    “You started it!”

    The monster roared again, and, for a moment, Hermione feared it would force itself forwards, wedging itself into the too narrow cave. That would trap the two of them inside as well.

    But the monster suddenly withdrew and pulled back - out of the cave, and out of their sight. She shook her head. “Now it’s wounded and mad at us. Great.”

    “Hey! That wasn’t my fault!”

    She smirked. “Did I claim that it was? But it’s telling that you feel that way.”

    “I’m the only other person on the island,” he shot back. “Who else would you blame?”

    “Myself, if it were my fault,” she told him. Did he think she lacked integrity and wasn’t intellectually honest with herself?

    “‘If it were’?” He scoffed as well. “I don’t remember you objecting to the plan!”

    “You were the driving force behind it!” she told him, scowling at the boy. He wouldn’t pin the blame for this debacle on her!

    “We’re here because you couldn’t be bothered to stay out of Knockturn Alley!” he yelled.

    “We’re here because you thought that you could order me around!” she yelled back.

    Before he could make another stupid claim, the sound of a boulder rolling down a rocky hill, followed by a splash, interrupted their row.

    *****​

    “It’s above the entrance!” Harry Potter exclaimed. The wyvern must have flown and landed above them.

    “So I gathered,” Granger replied.

    He frowned at her. “We’re lucky that it sent a boulder down or we might have walked into an ambush.”

    “We would’ve been - will be - checking for such, anyway. And…”

    Another boulder hitting the pond interrupted her.

    “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence…” Harry said.

    “...three times is enemy action,” Granger finished.

    Another splash. “What’s it trying to do? Bury us in here alive?”

    “Or trying to burrow into the cave from above,” Granger said, looking at the ceiling.

    “That’s ridiculous,” he replied. “That’s solid stone, all the way to the top.”

    “Not so solid stone,” she pointed out as another stone crashed into the pond. This time, it didn’t disappear completely, but ended up in a shallower part, sticking out of the water. “Perhaps it’s trying to raise the water level so the cave gets flooded. Ravens are smart enough to come up with plans like that, so a monster like this might be capable of such reasoning as well.”

    “That won’t work - the overflow will run downhill, not up into the cave,” Harry retorted. “We’re above the shoreline here.”

    Granger took a step towards the cave exit. “If it blocks the waterfall from the pond, the stores might act as a dam and force the water - or enough of it - into this cave.”

    That would be… well, technically, they could cast Bubble-Head Charms, but… “We’ll have to vanish the rocks, then,” he said.

    “That’s only a temporary solution.” Granger, of course, had to criticise him.

    “The wyvern will run out of rocks sooner or later. Or succumb to its wounds.” Harry nodded. The creature couldn’t keep this up indefinitely.

    “Unless it triggers a rockslide, and we get buried alive in here.”

    “You’re a ray of sunshine, aren’t you, Granger?” He clenched his teeth. “We can burrow our way out with Vanishing Charms.”

    “Provided that we don’t vanish a rock holding up other rocks, and trigger another rockslide.” Granger shook her head. “We can’t stay here. Not now that it knows we hurt it and that we’re in here.”

    “Provided that it doesn’t die.” He smiled at her.

    She pursed her lips in return but didn’t reply.

    Two more rocks had joined the others in the pond. “It’s slowing down,” Harry said. “It must take longer and longer to find suitable rocks.”

    As if the wyvern had heard him, a roaring noise filled the air, followed by what looked like half the mountain hitting the pond, sending water flying everywhere - even through the waterfall. Granger jumped back just before a wave reached her, though.

    And looked at him as if this was his fault.

    He scoffed. “Well, whether it’s doing this to bury us or to flush us out, it’s getting a little concerning.”

    “A little?” Granger raised her eyebrows at him.

    “Nothing we can’t handle,” he shot back with a confident grin. “Unless you slept through our lessons.”

    “Oh, you…” He could see her clenching her teeth - her jaw muscles twitched. “Then let’s do something about it before the creature causes another avalanche.”

    He snorted and took a few steps closer to the waterfall, then stopped. “Can you divert the water somehow?” His charm would only hit the falling water, otherwise.

    She sighed as if that was asking the world of her. Or beneath her. But she flicked her wrist, and the closest piece of the spike grew, then floated towards the entrance, forming a small gap in the water curtain as it entered the waterfall.

    Well, better than nothing. He took a few steps closer, then aimed his wand at the closest boulder. “Evanesco!”

    His spell hit the rock, and it vanished. Yes! He hadn’t been entirely sure that he’d manage to vanish so much volume.

    The next rock was about the same size and vanished as well. The third, though, was too large - his spell failed to affect it. He clenched his teeth in frustration - Granger wouldn’t let him forget this, he just knew it - and cast a Shrinking Charm on the offending rock. That worked, and his next Vanishing Charm made the boulder disappear.

    “Clever.”

    He frowned, not looking back. It hadn’t quite sounded like an insult - Granger’s sarcasm usually was unmistakable - but… Granger wouldn’t praise him. Instead of replying, he vanished two more boulders with his spell combo.

    Then he heard a noise from above again - more rocks? He looked at the cave ceiling, then at the entrance…

    ...and saw the wyvern coming at him.

    Gasping, he flicked his wand, and a shimmering field enveloped him a fraction of a second before the monster crashed into it. His shield shattered a moment later, and he was sent flying backwards. He hit the ground, sliding and rolling over the rough stone.

    “Potter! Stupefy!”

    He came to a stop, wheezing, and got up, pointing his wand at the monster - and clenching his teeth so he wouldn’t groan with pain.

    “Stupefy!”

    “Granger!” he snapped. “Stunners won’t hurt it!”

    “I’m trying to distract it!”

    “It’s stuck in the mouth of the cave. It’s about as distracted as it can get,” he replied.

    “At least it can’t spit a Stunner back at us!” she snapped.

    “It can’t reach us here.” He straightened, wheezing again, and ran a hand over his chest. His ribs didn’t feel broken - as a Seeker, he was familiar with that kind of injury.

    “It almost got you!” she hissed at him.

    “Almost doesn’t count,” he quoted Oliver.

    “You… You idiot!” Granger pointed her wand at him.

    “What are you doing?” he snapped.

    “What does it look like? Healing you, idiot! Episkey!”

    He looked down. His pants were torn in several places, and he could see - and, now, feel - the scrapes on his legs.

    “It’s nothing,” he said. “My Shield Charm protected me.”

    “You were thrown back two yards! And you bounced on the ground!”

    “Exactly - out of its reach.” He grinned at her.

    She glared at him with bared teeth, then whirled and slashed her wand at the wyvern, which was still stuck in the entrance. A red line appeared over the beast’s ripped cheek, and it withdrew, roaring louder than before.

    That had been a Cutting Curse. He hadn’t known Granger had learned how to cast that. “Why did you learn the Cutting Curse?”

    “It’s not illegal,” she replied.

    “I know that,” he said, clenching his teeth. “I was asking why you learned the spell.”

    “It’s on the Defence curriculum.”

    “For the seventh year.”

    “Some people like to study ahead.” She sniffed. “Besides, you recognised it.”

    He pressed his lips together for a moment. “Some people like to study ahead.”

    She huffed - like she usually did when her own words were turned against her. “Why did you learn the curse?”

    “So I could defend myself if some Death Eater remnant came after me.” At least that was the excuse Uncle Sirius had given for teaching him. Mum hadn’t been amused but had accepted it. And had made him swear he wouldn’t use the curse unless his life was in danger.

    Something he doubted anyone had made Granger swear or promise.

    *****​

    Hermione Granger fumed. Potter was an idiot! Almost getting eaten by the monster, bouncing over the ground like a cricket ball and then grandstanding about his wounds… And he had the gall to question her for learning a perfectly legal spell! See if she healed him again unless he was bleeding all over the floor!

    That reminded her… She cast a simple healing charm on the scrapes on her legs - short shorts definitely weren’t the right clothes to go caving. Or for getting smashed into the rocky ground by some stupid boy tackling her. She should’ve done that sooner - if those scrapes got infected… She cast a more advanced healing charm. Just in case. Episkey was supposed to remove dirt and other foreign matter when closing a wound, but she didn’t know if that would be enough to prevent an infection by itself.

    “So… we know that the wyvern is smart enough to ambush us,” Potter said.

    “Obviously,” she replied. “And we have to assume that it knew what it was doing when it started dropping rocks into the pond.” That meant it was at least as smart as a raven. A raven the size of a small plane, with skin hard enough to withstand most spells.

    “And that it takes getting hurt personally,” Potter added.

    “Yes.” And that was Potter’s fault. She frowned at him.

    He frowned back. “Now, we need a way out of this cave without becoming monster food.”

    “And a safe place to hide from the monster afterwards,” she pointed out. “In here we are, as has just been demonstrated, safe from it - at least from direct attacks - as long as we don’t stray too close to the entrance.”

    “We can’t stay in here, though,” Potter insisted.

    “Why not?” They were safe here. They wouldn’t be safe outside, no matter how they got out. She pressed her lips together to keep them from trembling. She wouldn’t cry now.

    “What about food?”

    “We can summon a coconut and enlarge it.” She took a few deep breaths. She had to keep her composure. Panic would be deadly. They were safe, for the moment, anyway.

    “That won’t last or work forever.”

    “I thought your parents would be here soon.” She bit her lower lip - she hadn’t meant to blurt that out.

    He snorted. “That’s my line.”

    She managed to snort as well. “We can stay here for a day or two. At least.”

    He shook his head. “And wait for the monster to get bored? We hurt it. I don’t think it’ll give up.”

    “We need the time to plan. No more half-baked efforts!” she told him.

    “We almost got it!” he protested.

    “We miscalculated and we underestimated its intelligence,” she retorted. “We can’t afford to do that any more.”

    “Then what’s your plan?” He narrowed his eyes at her and crossed his arms.

    *****​

    Harry Potter stared at Granger. Turnabout was fair play. He was sure that the swot didn’t have a plan, much less a better plan than his own. “Hm?”

    “I don’t have a plan yet!” she retorted, rolling her eyes as if he had asked a stupid question. “That’s why I said we need time to carefully plan our next, ah, plan.”

    He smirked at her fumbling her words. ‘Plan our plan’, huh? “And do you have any ideas, yet? Somewhere to start?”

    “If I had, I would’ve said so, wouldn’t I?” she replied. “Really.”

    He shook his head. “The longer we stay in here, the more time the wyvern has to come up with something else to get us.”

    She scoffed. “While it’s clear that it’s not a mere animal, I am confident that we’ll outsmart it easily - now that we have its measure.”

    She talked like a character in one of Dudley’s cartoon series, yet thought purebloods were old-fashioned? But, right now, pointing that out wouldn’t help anyone except the wyvern. “You’re very confident all of a sudden,” he commented instead.

    “I’m confident that rushing into another half-baked plan would be a bad idea;” she said.

    He clenched his teeth. “It almost worked.”

    “Who was it who said ‘almost doesn’t count’?”

    “That’s different. And the wyvern might still die from infection - or, as you would say, ‘succumb to its wounds’.” He grinned at her.

    “Of course you would think that having a wide vocabulary was something to make fun of,” she shot back with a deep scowl.

    What? He frowned. “It was a harmless joke.”

    “I’ve heard that before, too. It’s always a ‘harmless joke’, unless it happens to you, isn’t it?” She glared at him.

    “I make such jokes with my friends all the time!” he protested. Well, often.

    “The difference is that I’m not your friend,” she spat. “And I don’t think it’s funny!”

    He was taken aback for a moment. Then he remembered that this was Granger talking to him, not some poor helpless first year. “But calling me the Bait Who Lived is OK, huh?”

    “That was in retaliation for one of your ‘pranks’!”

    Oh for… “Didn’t we go over this already?”

    She blinked, then actually blushed. Unless that was a trick of the light - it was a little dimmer now. “Right.” She said through clenched teeth. “Let’s focus on surviving this.”

    He nodded, more than a little stiffly. “Let’s. We need to get out of the cave without being seen by the wyvern. And we need a secure shelter to, ah, hide in.” He’d almost said ‘to shelter in’.

    Judging by the slightly pouty expression on her face, Granger had caught that as well. “There’s only one exit. And last we checked, it was trapped.”

    “We could make another exit,” he suggested.

    “How? Vanishing Charms won’t work on parts of an object.”

    So she didn’t know a digging spell or something like that. “Transfigure stone to water?”

    She gave him a flat look. “Are you asking whether or not I can work such a transfiguration because you can’t?”

    He forced himself to smile widely. “Yes.”

    She sighed. “No, I can’t do that, either.”

    Damn. But Harry wasn’t out of ideas yet. Not by a long chalk. “Blasting Curses!”

    “Do you want to bury us under tons of rock?” she countered. “Unless you have some training as a miner and in demolition, I’d rather not try to blast our way out of this cave.” She blinked. “But that could work against the monster!” She smiled, then her face fell. “And if you knew how to cast that spell, you’d have already tried it when the monster was stuck in the mouth of the cave.”

    He nodded. He wouldn’t have thought that finding out that Granger didn’t know a spell - several spells - could feel so disappointing. Right now, he’d be grateful if she showed off a N.E.W.T.-level spell that solved their problems. “I’ve got it! The Shrinking Charm! We can shrink ourselves and sneak away and hide that way! The wyvern won’t see us if we’re just a few inches tall!” And they had both learned the charm in their second year!

    Granger, though, didn’t seem enthusiastic. “Can you cast the spell well enough to risk casting it on yourself?” she asked. “It’s dangerous to cast it on humans - and very difficult. You don’t want to end up with your body proportions out of alignment. That can lead to organ failure.”

    Harry frowned. He did remember some warnings about that, now that he thought about it. “We’re not second years any more.”

    “How often have you used the charm?” she asked. “It’s very complicated when used on a human.”

    He raised his eyebrows. That sounded like… “Speaking from experience?”

    She pressed her lips together. “I didn’t have a bad experience, but it was more complicated than I thought it would be - and I wasn’t trying to shrink my entire body.”

    Harry blinked. “You experimented with shrinking parts of your body?” That sounded… actually that sounded both dumb and terrifying.

    “I shrank my teeth,” she spat. “Perfectly safe. But Madam Pomfrey still lectured me when she found out.”

    “Why didn’t you go to a specialist for that?”

    “My parents wanted to fix my teeth themselves. Having someone else - someone magical - do it wouldn’t have been right. Doing it myself…” She shrugged.

    He shook his head. No wonder Granger was so weird if her parents had raised her like that. “So, let’s keep it as a possibility. I’d rather have some misaligned limbs that can be fixed at St Mungo’s than become wyvern food.”

    Granger nodded, although a little reluctantly. “I would really prefer an alternative, though.”

    “Me too.” He squinted - had the light grown even dimmer? He looked at the waterfall. “Oh, no!”

    “What?” Granger looked around, then at the cave entrance.

    “It’s going to be evening soon,” Harry told her.

    “We can summon a coconut for dinner,” she said.

    “That’s not what I meant,” he explained. “Mum and Dad should’ve noticed that I’m missing - I should’ve been back home by now.”

    “So?”

    “A Patronus Messenger should’ve arrived by now. They always send one if I’m not home by dinner.” he said. “And if the sun is setting, then dinner was a while ago.”

    “Oh. We might be out of reach of the spell,” she suggested. “The Ministry didn’t register our spell-casting, either.”

    He snorted, but without any humour. “It’s not the same. The Patronus Messenger should’ve reached me.” Mum had told him that wherever he went, the spell would find him.

    “We… we might be in the southern hemisphere, where it’s winter and the sun sets earlier,” Granger told him. “We can check the constellations… I mean, we could if we were able to leave the cave at night.”

    He nodded, but he didn’t think that was the case. He felt hungry enough for dinner. And he thought enough time had passed, too. More than enough.

    He sighed, swallowing, as he sat down, back against the wall.

    His parents wouldn’t be swooping in and saving them.

    Harry closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. They were alone here, on this island. Alone with a murderous wyvern. And no help was coming.

    Damn.

    “Uh… it’ll be alright? There are other ways to find us?”

    He looked at Granger, who was smiling weakly, very weakly, at him. “If a Patronus Messenger can’t find us, then I doubt any other spells will work.” He shook his head. This was… this was far worse than he had thought.

    Granger sat down next to him, pulled her knees to her chest and rested her head on them.

    They remained like that for a while.

    *****​
     
  23. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    They'll need more time to get over their issues, anyway :) And yes, tehy'll set each other off a number of times. But they are making progress.
     
    Zeal Iskander and space turtle like this.
  24. Zeal Iskander

    Zeal Iskander E SUN THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN TH

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    And now the penny drops : they're stranded and no one knows where they are. Won't that be fun to deal with...

    BTW : you need to threadmark chapter 1.
     
  25. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Thanks! Fixed that. And yes - realising that Mum and Dad won't come save them is not a nice thing to happen to Harry.
     
  26. Threadmarks: Chapter 7: The Breakout Part 1
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 7: The Breakout Part 1

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

    Ron Weasley wished he had an Invisibility Cloak. Or knew how to cast a Disillusionment Charm. Or had nicked one of Fred and George’s Invisibility Potions. The real ones, not the ones that fooled the drinker into thinking that they were invisible when they were actually the only one who couldn’t see themselves. But since none of that was the case, he just kept quiet and tried not to draw attention to himself as he listened to Harry’s dad sum up the results of his investigation - he had no doubt that he wasn’t supposed to be here for that.

    And neither was Lavender, who was sharing an armchair in the corner with him. He glanced at her; she had taken the news hard. Almost as hard as Rose. And unlike Harry’s little sister, who, incidentally, had already been sent to her room, Lavender wasn’t trying to hide how worried she was. Ron squeezed her thigh encouragingly. “It’ll be OK,” he whispered. “You’ll see.”

    She nodded, taking a deep breath, but he could see that her eyes were wet - she was close to tears. So he wrapped his arm around her shoulders instead of her waist and pulled her close. And let her cry into his chest while Harry’s dad was talking.

    “...and we’re sure that both Harry and Miss Granger vanished from the shop after picking up an unregistered and - or so the owner claims - unknown Portkey.”

    “Unknown Portkey?” Sirius scoffed. “That scumbag knew what it was! He was selling all sorts of dark and shady stuff!”

    Harry’s dad looked at his friend. “Why would they have left a Portkey lying around on their shelves where anyone could grab it if they had known about it?”

    “It’s a trap for shoplifters?”

    “Hermione wouldn’t steal anything!” Granger’s mum blurted out.

    “And neither would Harry,” Harry’s mum added. “We have to find out who made that Portkey, not why it was there. If it had been a trap, they would’ve covered it up, anyway.”

    “Exactly, dear,” Harry’s dad agreed. “We’ve interrogated the clerk, and he claimed not to know where the rope was from, either.” He shook his head. “Apparently, he had never asked about it.”

    “Did he think that it was a normal piece of rope?” Granger’s mum asked. “What shop was it?”

    “Leopold’s Slightly-Used Goods,” Harry’s dad told her. “In the past, we’ve found a variety of stolen goods in there, but the owner managed to successfully claim ignorance of their origins and so got off with fines.”

    “Figures,” Sirius muttered.

    “So, does the owner know where that rope is from?” Harry’s mum asked.

    “We’re still looking for the owner, Leopold Müller - an emigré from Prussia.”

    “Might’ve been a supporter of Grindelwald,” Sirius said. “A number of them came over after ’46. If Britain had been as tough on them as the rest of Europe, Harry wouldn’t be missing right now.”

    “Sirius!” Harry’s mum hissed. “Don’t start with this now! We have to focus on finding Harry - and Miss Granger.”

    “Hermione,” Granger’s mum added.

    Lavender pulled back from Ron and nodded as well. Not that any of the adults noticed.

    “Yes, of course,” Harry’s dad told the muggle woman. “We’re looking for both of them.”

    “But you can’t find them. Not with magic,” Granger’s mum said.

    “Not with the magic we - us here - have access to,” Harry’s mum corrected her. “But we’ve contacted Dumbledore for help.”

    “And what can he do that you can’t?”

    Ron wasn’t the only one blinking at the woman. Dumbledore was Dumbledore! If anyone knew a spell to defeat whatever enchantments were blocking a Patronus Messenger, it would be the Headmaster! He had defeated both Grindelwald and the Dark Lord, after all! No wizard or witch was his equal.

    “He’s Dumbledore,” Sirius said. “He’s forgotten more spells than we ever learned.”

    “And you think that he can save Hermione and your son?”

    “Yes.” Harry’s dad sounded confident, but the slight pause before he replied wasn’t a good sign, in Ron’s opinion. “He also, ah, has some contacts that we don’t have access to.”

    “Criminals,” Sirius told Granger’s mum.

    “Criminals? And he’s the Headmaster of Hogwarts?”

    “Hey! He fought in two wars - he knows a lot of people. And a lot of them owe him,” Sirius replied, frowning. “His contacts were very useful during the last war. Saved a few of us. He’ll save both Harry and your daughter as well, don’t worry.”

    “Yes,” Harry’s dad nodded. “We’ll find them, don’t worry.”

    Mrs Granger nodded, but she didn’t seem to be reassured.

    Ron wasn’t, either. He could only hope that Harry - and Granger - were safe. If something had… No. He shook his head. He wouldn’t think about such things. Harry was fine. He had to be.

    “Now,” Harry’s dad went on, looking at Ron and Lavender, “I think you two should head home. We don’t want any more parents worrying about their children.”

    Ron was about to protest - his parents weren’t worrying; they knew he was with the Potters - but the fireplace flared up and everyone turned, wands drawn.

    Dumbledore stepped out of it with his usual smile. He was wearing dark blue robes with small orange stars on them - for him, that was almost subdued.

    “Good evening, James, Lily.” He nodded at them. “Sirius. Mrs Granger. I came as soon as I heard - I was, unfortunately, not at Hogwarts when your message arrived.”

    Harry’s dad nodded. “Thank you.”

    “Thank you,” Mrs Potter echoed him. “Can you find them?”

    “I would like to think so, although I fear it’ll require some research - what I’ve tried so far did not work, which indicates that they are in a location that is protected against magical detection. Quite powerful protections, I have to add.”

    Which, as Bill had taught Ron, meant the spells were old. Protections grew in power with age.

    Lily drew a breath that sounded almost like a sob.

    Dumbledore smiled at her. “They are alive; that much I could confirm.”

    Ron smiled, relieved. His best friend was alive. And so was Lavender’s best friend.

    *****​

    Unknown Location, July 6th, 1996

    Potter looked devastated. The realisation that his parents wouldn’t come and save them had hit him hard. Hermione Granger couldn’t remember ever having seen him more miserable than he was right now. He’d always been confident. Or angry, like when he had suffered a well-deserved defeat as a consequence of his own actions. No matter what, he never seemed to give up. Or acknowledge defeat. But now… And he hadn’t said anything in some time. Just stared at the ground.

    Of course, knowing that they weren’t just on a magical island somewhere, but on a magically hidden island, that they couldn’t be found with magic - at least not with magic that Potter’s parents had at their disposal - was a shock. Hermione had been prepared for it, after the Trace hadn’t worked, but to have it confirmed… And it must have been worse for Potter, who had insisted that they’d be saved soon.

    She glanced at him. He wasn’t crying, but… he looked so vulnerable. Completely unlike the arrogant boy she knew. She almost wrapped her arm around his shoulders but caught herself in time. They couldn’t afford to wallow in misery. They had to be active. Proactive. Do something to solve their problems. Now more than ever.

    “We’ll get out of this,” she said.

    For a moment, he didn’t react, and she wondered if he had heard her. But then he scoffed and turned his head to look at her.

    She pressed her lips together and raised her chin a little, meeting his eyes. “We’ll get off this island,” she said, hoping she sounded more confident than she felt.

    “We don’t even know how to get out of this cave,” he replied with a deep frown.

    “Not yet,” she admitted. “But we can’t give up!” She drew a sharp breath, blinking. She couldn’t lose it now. She had to hold it together. They were in a sticky situation, but they had their wands. As long as they kept their wits about them, they would beat the wyvern and find a way off this island. Muggles had survived worse situations without any magic!

    “Who’s giving up?” Potter asked with a sneer.

    What? He had been the one staring at the ground as if he was about to cry! “I’m not the one who counted on their parents to come and save us.” Well, she had hoped they would be saved, but that wasn’t the same.

    He glared at her. “I almost got the wyvern with my trap.”

    “Our trap,” she corrected him. Her contribution had been quite crucial.

    “Now it’s our trap, and no longer my fault?” His grin wasn’t quite as annoying - or infuriating - as the one she usually saw after one of his so-called ‘pranks’, but it was more familiar than his lost expression.

    She sniffed. “My part worked perfectly - it went for my bait.”

    He snorted. “I didn’t hear you criticise my barbed spike.”

    “I assumed you knew what you were doing.”

    “Ah?”

    “Yes.” She bit back on a comment about phallic symbols.

    “That’s a first, then.”

    “What?”

    “Trusting me.” He shrugged.

    “What do you mean?” She narrowed her eyes at him.

    “You always criticise me.”

    She clenched her teeth. “My criticism is usually aimed at your intent and morals, not your skill.”

    “Ah.” He nodded.

    “Yes.” She bared her teeth in a tight smile. That should’ve been obvious.

    He snorted again, but this time, he seemed genuinely amused. “Well, I’ll be sure not to disappoint you a second time.”

    “You better not. If you do and we end up eaten, I’ll be very cross with you.”

    He laughed. “I can believe that. You’d probably become a ghost to properly lecture me.”

    She frowned at him for a second, then laughed as well. It wasn’t really funny, but laughing was better than crying. Far better.

    *****​

    Harry Potter snorted once more, then took a deep breath. He’d needed that. And who’d have thought that Granger had a sense of humour? Not that it was actually funny - they were in deep trouble. Mum and Dad couldn’t find them with a Patronus Messenger. Which meant that something - someone - was blocking the spell. “I didn’t even know that that was possible,” he muttered.

    “What do you mean?” Granger asked.

    “I didn’t know you could block a Patronus Messenger. They always found me,” he explained. “Well, not without using the Fidelius Charm.” That would have to be able to block even a Patronus Messenger - probably.

    Granger gasped. “Do you think we’re on an island protected by that charm?”

    “Or something else that blocks spells,” he said.

    “But…” Granger bit her lower lip, he noticed. She went on: “Whatever spell it is - and some variant of the charms to render a location unplottable might work as well - someone must have cast it. Someone hid this island.”

    “Yes?” Harry asked. That was obvious, wasn’t it? Then he blinked. “You mean…”

    “They question is: Where are they? And who are they?” Granger said.

    Those were good questions. But Harry had another thought. “They might be dead,” he said. “These might be old wards, grown more powerful with time, even after the original casters died.” That would explain how they could block a Patronus Messenger. As Uncle Sirius had told him, old wards often were very powerful - and ‘quirky’.

    Granger, to his surprise, nodded in agreement. “That’s likely. Normal spells would end with the death of the caster, but wards…” She rubbed her chin. “And if no one is left on the island, just old wards, it would explain why no one has done anything about the wyvern.”

    “Or this is a wyvern sanctuary,” Harry pointed out. “A private reserve, perhaps.”

    “That would require a breeding population; dragons, and I presume the same goes for wyverns, don’t live that long. Or the spell’s caster is still alive.” She looked at him. “If they check on the island or the wyvern, they might be aware that we’re here.” She smiled. “They would know how to deal with the wyvern and save us!”

    She was right. Anyone able to hide an entire island should be able to handle a wyvern - or breeding population, he corrected himself with a wince; that was a terrifying thought. But… “If they want to.” He pressed his lips together.

    “What do you mean?” she asked, eyes widening.

    “They might not want to save us - not if that means that their secret could be revealed.” He looked at the cave entrance. “They hid this island for a reason. A reason good enough to go to such trouble might be a reason good enough to kill whoever stumbles on their secret.”

    Granger gasped. “That’s… That’s…” She shook her head. “Who would do such a thing?”

    “The Australian wizards kill any foreign wizards they catch on their soil,” Harry told her.

    “This isn’t Australia, though,” she said.

    “Are you sure?” He raised his eyebrows at her.

    “Yes. My parents are interested in the continent - they even considered moving there, at least before I told them about Magical Australia - and so I’ve read up on the flora and fauna. This isn’t Australia.”

    That was a relief. Not many places were more dangerous than a magically hidden island with a large flying man-eating and magic-resistant predator, but Australia certainly qualified. “There are others who would kill to keep their hidden island, well, hidden.” He ignored her smirk at his fumbling sentence. “Dark wizards, for one.” There were lots of those around - Dad had told him about some of the more infamous ones. “If this is the refuge of Herbert Kohlmeier, for example...” He winced. The last surviving member of Grindelwald’s inner circle, Kohlmeier had earned the moniker ‘Butcher of Silesia’ during Grindelwald’s War, and he had done worse since his flight from Magical Prussia.

    Granger had paled, but she shook her head. “I honestly doubt that such a wizard would tolerate a wyvern on their island.”

    “It might be a pet,” Harry retorted. “Trained to attack intruders.”

    “If that were the case, there should’ve been a reaction by now from whatever guards are present,” Granger told him.

    Harry wasn’t so sure - many dark wizards were mad, the Dark Arts warping their minds and eroding their sanity, as Sirius had put it. And Harry’s godfather was an expert on the Dark Arts thanks to his upbringing. Come to think of it, a number of the dark wizards Uncle Peter had dealt with for Dumbledore hadn’t sounded like the smartest wizards, either.

    He shook his head. They couldn’t afford such distractions. It was even more important to deal with the wyvern now, before whoever had cast the protections noticed them. “In any case, we need a plan to leave this cave and hide.”

    “We already knew that,” Granger replied. “But now we have to assume that we might have to hide from humans as well.”

    And that further complicated things. He muttered a curse under his breath.

    For once, Granger didn’t chide him about his language.

    *****​

    Hermione Granger told herself that she had to focus on the problem at hand: the wyvern. They didn’t know anything about who had hidden the island. Trying to second-guess the unknown wizards or witches wouldn’t help them - quite the contrary, actually.

    Although they could take some basic precautions anyway. “Hiding from wizards won’t be too difficult,” she said. “We can’t disillusion ourselves, so we’ll have to use muggle means to conceal ourselves. That means that if we’re careful, the Human-presence-revealing Spell won’t be effective.” Which was a small consolation - although they would have to find hiding spots that also hid the markers which the spell would place above their heads.

    “There are other ways to detect people,” Potter told her.

    “The Supersensory Charm will be nigh useless in the jungle,” she retorted. “It’ll overload anyone’s senses.” She had discovered that the hard way when she tested it.

    “I wasn’t talking about that spell. But you can have animals sniff someone out - a conjured dog is as good as the real thing,” Potter explained.

    She drew a hissing breath. That was true. “We’ll have to take care not to leave a trace, then. We’ll have to travel through water whenever possible - they won’t be able to track us that way.”

    “Don’t underestimate dogs,” he said, shaking his head. “They’ll be able to pick up our scents along the shore. And some have noses good enough to track people even better than that.”

    “Did your parents have dogs track you?” she asked before she thought better of it. She noticed him clenching his teeth and blinked. “They did? Really?”

    “Occasionally. When I was little.”

    She snorted. “Playing hide and seek past your bedtime? I thought they would send a Patronus Messenger.”

    “Not always,” he said.

    Hermione shook her head. “So we’ll have to avoid leaving tracks, then.” How would they do that? They didn’t have brooms… She blinked. “We’ll have to float.”

    “Float?”

    “We can cast Levitation Charms on enlarged planks of wood,” she explained. “It’ll be slow, but as long as we only use them for a short distance - enough to significantly widen the area any dog would have to search - we should be OK.”

    “Unless they simply conjure dozens of dogs,” Potter said.

    She glared at him. “Then we’ll have to travel a little further.”

    He nodded. “Or we lay down fake trails. Your birds could carry cloth with our scent on it.”

    That was a clever idea. She nodded in turn. “We can do that. Although that would confirm our presence on the island.”

    “I think we already did that by wounding the wyvern,” Potter pointed out.

    She briefly pursed her lips. He was correct - almost. “Those wounds could’ve been the result of an accident,” she said. “Palm trees can be remarkably tough.” Well, she remembered from a BBC documentary that bunkers made from palm trees in the Second World War had proven to be surprisingly tough - that was close enough.

    “I don’t think they’ll consider that possibility. People who hide an entire island seem like they’d be a bit too paranoid for that.”

    “Well, we’re already assuming that whoever it is will be looking for us,” she said. “I’m just pointing out that we could be lucky for once.” They certainly deserved some luck - but that wasn’t how it worked.

    He nodded in agreement. “So, we’re back to our original problem. We need to get out and find shelter. Wyvern-proof, and concealed, shelter.”

    “That almost certainly means a cave - anything else, we’d have to rely on not being detected,” she said. “We could dig a tunnel ourselves in the soil.” Vanishing Charms worked on earth, sand and similar material that didn’t form a single object. “But if the wyvern finds us…” She winced. The monster would likely dig them out without much trouble.

    He grimaced.

    “I could transfigure earth into stone,” she said, “but it would be quite noticeable if we wanted it to be thick enough to hold a wyvern at bay.”

    He nodded, then grinned. “So, you admit it’s a wyvern?”

    Oh, for heaven’s sake! She rolled her eyes. “Do you have any productive thoughts about our problem?”

    “Lighten up, Granger!”

    She couldn’t. They were still stuck in a cave, a murderous monster waiting outside, on an island which might be owned by a dark wizard who would treat them as witnesses to be disappeared. She blinked. “I think I just solved half of our problems!”

    “Yes?” Potter didn’t have to look so surprised.

    “Yes. We can’t disillusion ourselves, but we can still prevent the monster from seeing us. If we cover the area in smoke or mist…” She tilted her head, smiling tightly, as his eyes lit up.

    *****​

    That was a good idea, Harry Potter thought. If they could cover the pond with smoke, out to the jungle, they would have a decent chance of escaping the cave unseen. Although… “It might spot us in the jungle once we leave the area by the pond.”

    “Not if we keep it distracted,” Granger retorted. “You’ve used a ventriloquism spell in the past.”

    “The Throw-Your-Voice Charm?” He grinned, both at her reaction to being corrected about the name of the spell and at the memory of that prank. That had been fun - Malfoy had been sure Slughorn was observing them while disillusioned. Granger, though, had quickly realised what he was doing.

    “Yes,” she said.

    “That might work - though I’ll have to imitate your voice as well,” he told her. With a shrug, he added: “The wyvern might or might not be smart enough to suspect one of us sneaked out if it only hears one voice from the cave.”

    She nodded. “Good point. We can’t underestimate it.”

    “Well, we can, but we shouldn’t.”

    Another glare. He shrugged it off with a grin. “So, how do we produce smoke?”

    “I guess that means you don’t know the Smokescreen Spell.”

    He frowned. “I guess that means you don’t know it either.”

    “It’s not on next year’s curriculum, and casting it in Hogwarts is harshly punished, so I haven’t yet had any reason to learn it,” she explained. “But as I understand it, it’s quite popular in duelling.”

    “It was popular, but it’s too easily countered these days,” he told her. And it tended to trigger fire alarm spells. Harry wasn’t afraid of breaking the rules, but the school came down hard on people who falsely cried fire - whether they had intended to or not. And since you weren’t allowed to use it in duelling in Hogwarts until seventh year, it hadn’t seemed worth the trouble to learn.

    She sighed. “Then I think our best bet is burning wet wood - that should produce a lot of smoke. Enlargement Charms should help. We’ll need to cast Bubble-Head Charms, of course, so we don’t die from smoke inhalation,” she explained.

    “I can conjure a gentle breeze that will blow the smoke out of the cave,” he pointed out.

    “We’ll still have to travel through the smoke.”

    Right. “And we’ll need to be silent.”

    “That shouldn’t be a problem,” she said. “We can sit on a floating plank so we won’t make much noise when we cross the pond.”

    Right, she had proposed something like that already. “Then we should keep the fire on the plank as well - or a fire, at least. That’ll hide us from sight. Until we’re in the clear, of course.” Afterwards, it would act as a beacon for monsters. Whoever controlled the island wouldn’t even have to use dogs - just a broom.

    Damn. Harry missed his broom. If he had it with him, this wouldn’t be a problem at all. Even with Granger in his lap, he’d outfly the monster. He blinked. Wait, his lap? What a stupid idea. You only flew like that in the sorts of stupid stories Rose liked to read. No, Granger would have to sit behind him, holding on to him as he put the broom through its paces, arms wrapped around his waist, chest pressed into his back…

    He coughed. Damn, Ron ribbing him about not having a girlfriend must have stuck in his mind or something. He was better than that. And he had higher standards than that, too. It was Granger’s fault, anyway. If she wasn’t wearing short jeans shorts and that stupid top, he wouldn’t be having such weird ideas.

    “Potter?”

    “What?”

    “You looked disturbed.” Granger was frowning at him. “Or disturbing. What’s wrong?”

    Damn. He shook his head. “I just tried to guess how much wood we need to cover the whole area up to the jungle with smoke thick enough to hide us.”

    “Oh.” She bit her lower lip. “Quite a bit, I think. It would be easier if we had certain ingredients, but unless you’re carrying a potions kit in your enchanted pocket…”

    “I don’t have an enchanted pocket,” he told her. Mum had told him he could have one when he could cast the spell. Sirius had bought him an enchanted trunk, though.

    “Then we need quite a bit of green wood.”

    He sighed. “I can see the treeline from here.” But to cast a Severing Charm, from this distance... He rubbed his chin. “We’ll have to use Cutting Curses, I think.”

    “To cut down trees? I would say so, yes.”

    And, of course, she would say so with that ‘it’s obvious, are you stupid or what?’ vibe.

    He clenched his teeth for a moment, then nodded. “Let’s cut down a tree or two, then.” He raised his wand, pointed it at the closest young tree, and sent a Cutting Curse at it.

    Granger followed his example. Her aim was better than usual, he noted - all her spells hit. Then again, that was to be expected since no one was sending spells at her, unlike in a duel.

    His own spells were perfectly placed, of course - hitting a stationary target at this distance was child’s play.

    “Accio cut trees!” he yelled next, jabbing his wand towards the pond. A moment later, the wood started flying towards him.

    Granger gasped, taking a quick step back when the mangled trees entered the cave, scraping against the walls, but Harry grinned and didn’t move until the wood came to a stop right at his feet.

    He had mastered this spell, after all.

    *****​

    Hermione Granger eyed the cut trees on the ground. That was more wood than she had expected, but that was a good thing - they would need a lot of smoke to cover the entire area. All green wood, and there was also a lot of foliage. “That should do it,” she said. “But we might need to float a bit of the burning wood out to the edge of the pond, to cover everything.”

    “Good idea,” Potter told her. “Though that might warn the wyvern about our plans.”

    She shook her head, then had to brush a stray lock out of her face. Really, this was one of the most annoying parts of the holidays, having to deal with her hair without… She blinked and almost blurted out that she was stupid - she could use magic here! She flicked her wrist and styled her hair into a ponytail. “If the wyvern is smart enough to see through our plan, it’ll be smart enough to do so as soon as smoke starts covering the pond.”

    “I still think we should only float the wood out once the smoke has already covered the pond,” Potter replied.

    “That’ll be more difficult,” she pointed out.

    There was that insufferable grin of his again. “Nothing I can’t handle.”

    She rolled her eyes. “Let’s hope you aren’t just bragging this time.”

    “Hey!”

    She tilted her head towards him. “‘I’ll catch the Snitch before they can score more than five times’.”

    “That was bad luck! The Snitch didn’t even appear until they were ten goals ahead!”

    “You mean you didn’t find it until then.” She scoffed. “This time, there is more on the line than some silly game.”

    “And we almost won anyway, despite the Slytherins hexing two of our Chasers before the match!”

    Oh, for heaven’s sake! She sighed. “Can we focus on getting out of the cave without becoming monster food? Instead of, say, rehashing a stupid game from three years ago?”

    He opened his mouth, then closed it and glared at her. “You do your part and let me worry about my part!”

    “Of course!” But she was worrying about both parts. And there was something else. “We also need to decide where we’re going afterwards.”

    “We’ll burrow a tunnel and hide inside it. Deep enough that the wyvern can’t get us even if it finds us. And you can reinforce it by transfiguring the earth to stone.”

    “I told you that would stick out,” she pointed out.

    “Not if we dig deep enough,” he retorted.

    “We might hit bedrock quite quickly - this is an island. I doubt the soil is deep enough.” And Vanishing Spells wouldn’t work on bedrock. “Do we count on finding another suitable cave?”

    “We can use earth and magic to modify an existing cave,” he said.

    “If there is another cave in the first place.” She wasn’t so sure there would be one.

    “Then we’ll have to make one and camouflage it. Like a bunker. If we build it in the jungle, we won’t be easily found.” He grinned confidently at her.

    “And if we’re found? By the wyvern, or by anyone else?” This was dangerous. They were betting their lives on this working as planned. And if her years at Hogwarts had taught Hermione anything - other than a lot of magic - it was that plans rarely worked out perfectly.

    “If we get discovered, we won’t be any worse off than we are now - the wyvern knows where we are,” Potter told her. “And if there’s a dark wizard on the island, they’ll know where we are as soon as they check up on the wyvern.”

    She pressed her lips together. Put like that… She took a deep breath. “Alright. But I reserve the right to blame you if this doesn’t work.”

    He chuckled. “I’ll see that I get eaten first in that case.”

    It wasn’t funny. Not funny at all. But she laughed anyway, Even though she knew the idiot was probably serious. “Let’s get to work, then,” she said. The sooner they were out of this cave, the better. It was getting dark outside, too. Oh. “Wyverns can see well in the darkness. We’ll be at a disadvantage if we flee into the jungle at night,” she said.

    He frowned. “But it’ll see us even better during the day.”

    “Have you ever been camping and put up the tent in the evening, only to discover that you picked the worst possible spot when you woke up in the morning?” She snorted; she hadn’t let her parents forget that for years. Unfortunately, it hadn’t been enough to get out of going along on their subsequent camping trips.

    “Speaking from experience?” He asked.

    “My parents, not me.”

    “Oh. Too bad. Camping experience would be really useful,” he said. “Muggle camping experience, at least.”

    “I’ve got some experience,” she admitted.

    “Good.” He smiled. “So… you think we should wait until morning?”

    “Yes.” She nodded. “With any luck, the beast might be sick with an infection by then, too.”

    She didn’t think so, though.

    *****​

    “Yeah,” Harry Potter said. He didn’t think so, though. The wyvern had had the entire side of its face ripped open, which should cause an infection or something. But while Charlie had told them stories about sick dragons, he had never told Harry and Ron about wounds getting infected or anything like that - it was always some magical disease. And he had told them how often dragons fought, and how brutal it was. Granted, the dragon keepers would tend to a dragon’s wounds, but… His gut told him they wouldn’t get rid of the wyvern so easily.

    He sighed and looked round. “So… who’s taking first watch?”

    “First watch?” Granger replied. “Oh. Yes, I guess we should keep watch. If the creature manages to block the entrance again or finds another way to come after us directly or indirectly while we’re asleep, that would be bad.”

    ‘Bad’? Harry almost snorted. Granger was understating things, which was funny in a way - usually, she’d exaggerate harmless little pranks all out of proportion. “I’ll take first watch,” he said. They were both pretty tired - well, Harry was, and Granger wasn’t nearly as fit as he was - she had never been trained to play a week-long Quidditch match ‘just in case’. She needed the rest more than he did - and he could stay up an hour or so longer to ensure she was well-rested when it counted tomorrow.

    Of course, she frowned at him as if he had insulted her. Well, if she wanted to argue about this, he would oblige her.

    But after a moment, she sighed. “Let’s get dinner, then. Coconut OK?”

    He snorted then. “Is that the daily special?”

    That made her snort. “Yes. We’re out of fish.”

    Chuckling, he got up and raised his wand, then visualised the last palm tree he had seen on the way to the cave. “Accio coconut!”

    It took longer than he hoped - Granger was frowning again, he noted - but after a minute, a coconut landed at his feet.

    “Where did you summon it from?”

    “The closest palm tree I remembered,” he replied.

    “And how far was that?”

    He didn’t remember. He shrugged. “A few hundred yards?” She pursed her lips in response, and he asked: “Why?”

    “Knowing how far we can go from food sources is important.”

    “We’ll build our bunker in the middle of the jungle,” he told her. “Coconuts won’t be a problem.” The jungle wasn’t that big, after all - the palm trees would be in reach.

    “I guess so,” she replied, before sticking the coconut to the ground with a quick flick of her wrist and enlarging it.

    “Won’t that make it harder to cut it open?” Harry asked.

    She looked at him, then cut the top off with a Cutting Curse. Show-off.

    A few Severing Charms later, they each had a meal on a plate made of coconut shell.

    “Bon appetit,” Granger said.

    “Thinking of visiting Beauxbatons for the next Tournament?” he asked before taking a bite of coconut. Mmm. He quickly chewed and swallowed - he was hungrier than he’d thought.

    “Aren’t you?” she shot back.

    “Of course.” They’d be in their seventh year. Ideal for the Tournament. “Though I thought you’d prefer to focus on preparing for your N.E.W.T.s instead of taking part in ‘silly tournaments’.”

    “Having spent time at Beauxbatons will be a good addition to my CV. Also, based on what we saw at Hogwarts a year ago, I don’t think I’ll have any trouble with my studies while we’re there - even if I were to be selected as a champion.”

    He snorted at her fake humility. “Do you think you’ll be our champion?” If she thought so, she was delusional. Granger wasn’t champion material. The last time, every champion had been a great flyer. Two Seekers and a Veela. Who was also an accomplished broom racer.

    “We’ll find out in a year,” she replied with a frown. “Do you think you will be chosen as Hogwarts’ champion?”

    “We’ll find out in a year.” He grinned. Who else? He was the best duellist and best flyer in their year. He could beat Granger any day in the ring, and while Ron was good, he wasn’t as good as Harry, and no one else came close.

    She rolled her eyes. “How mature.”

    “Takes one to know one,” he shot back. She really hated it when her own words were turned against her.

    Granger huffed at that, and she didn’t say anything else before they were done with dinner and she stood. Harry was about to make a comment about enjoying her sleep, but she stretched, and so did her top, and…

    “I don’t suppose you know a spell to conjure a pillow, do you?”

    Pillows? He blinked. Oh. He shook his head. “No, I don’t.”

    “Too bad,” she replied as if that was his fault. “Accio grass!”

    A lot of grass flew through the waterfall and ended up on the floor. She gathered all of it, then dried it with a charm before enlarging it.

    “Like sleeping in a haystack,” he commented.

    “Not quite,” she told him, unwrapping her robes and spreading them out on the floor.

    Ah. He nodded. “You’re making a mattress.”

    “Not quite,” she repeated herself with a grin. Then she enlarged the robes. “I’m making a sleeping bag with an integrated mattress.”

    He watched as she filled the robes with the grass, folded it in half and stuck the edges together. That was clever, actually.

    “I assume you can make one of your own,” she said.

    “Of course,” he replied, clenching his teeth a little. He would have come up with that himself, once he was ready to go to sleep. Probably.

    “Good night. Wake me up when it’s my turn.” She crawled into the sleeping bag.

    “Will do.”

    *****​

    Unknown Location, July 7th, 1996

    Hermione Granger stifled a yawn. Dawn was finally breaking, or that’s what it looked like through the waterfall, and she was sleepy. And she really missed her books. Having a good book - or any book - to read would have made this stupid watch much more bearable. Why hadn’t she taken a book with her? Because she had been meeting Lavender, of course, and it would’ve been rude. If only she had an enchanted purse or pocket - she would have been able to carry all the books she wanted with her. But since she had a book bag at Hogwarts, she hadn’t needed one. And they were expensive. It had seemed smarter to wait until she could make one herself.

    Once they were back, she’d focus on that. And she’d also buy camping supplies and other things. And enough camping food to last for a year. She sighed. She wasn’t sick of eating coconuts yet, but that would happen sooner or later. And she would get literally sick if she tried to subsist on coconuts alone for any length of time.

    She chuckled. They first had to escape the wyvern before they would need to worry about malnutrition. Still, a smart person planned ahead. And one of them had to plan ahead.

    She glanced at Potter, in his slightly malformed sleeping bag. Only his head was visible, and only his shock of hair at that. And he criticised her own hairstyle? Ha! She should dye his hair green and pink or something. See how long it’d take him to realise what she’d done.

    No, that would be stupid. They needed each other to survive this island. Unlike Potter, she knew that pranking people without a reason was foolish and only served to cause trouble. She blinked. He wouldn’t, would he? Trust, but verify. A quick check showed that her hair hadn’t been dyed.

    Good.

    She looked out of the cave again. Yes, the sun was rising. Should she wake up Potter? No. The idiot needed his sleep. Especially after he hadn’t woken her in time for her watch. The boy probably thought letting her sleep longer was noble, but all it would do was make him lose out on sleep, which would endanger them both. Sleep-deprived people were prone to making mistakes.

    Well, he could sleep in today. Whether they escaped early or late morning wouldn’t make a difference - they had no way to judge when the wyvern would be around.

    She stretched again, then looked at the coconut. Breakfast was ready. Almost ready.

    She leaned back against the wall. She could wait a little longer.

    *****​

    “Alright. We’ve got the green wood ready. Split so we can float the smaller fires out to the edge of the pond. We’ve got our own plank ready. Everything’s packed up. Now we need the Bubble-Head Charms.” Hermione Granger raised her wand and cast, then turned towards Potter. His head was showing the slight shimmering effect of the spell as well. “Everything’s ready, then.”

    “Yes.” Potter looked tense. About as tense as she felt.

    Well, this was going to be dangerous. If they had misjudged, if the creature wasn’t fooled or hampered by the smoke…

    No. She wouldn’t think about that. They would get out of this cave. Off this island. Back to their families. Back to Hogwarts.

    She pointed her wand at the wood at the entrance of the cave. “Engorgio!”

    The wood grew, filling most of the cave entrance - as calculated. No adjustments needed.

    “Incendio!”

    The green wood took a little while to start burning, but soon the flames were licking at the trunks and branches, and the foliage was curling up and turning to ashes. Smoke was already filling the cave.

    Potter waved his wand, and a soft breeze pushed the smoke out of the cave. Perfect.

    More and more wood was catching fire. More and more smoke was being blown out. This was working. Not that she had had any doubts.

    She licked her dry lips. It was difficult to judge how far the smoke had spread. And it was growing hot in here. Very hot.

    She gasped. “I think we have a problem,” she said.

    “What?” Potter asked.

    “We have to go past the fire. And I’m not sure splashing water over ourselves will be enough to protect us. We may have underestimated the heat produced by the fire.” She should’ve thought of that. This wasn’t a campfire. This was a veritable bonfire. And even with Potter’s spell blowing the smoke out, the heat was getting worse.

    “Damn,” Potter muttered. “We’ll have to banish the wood into the pond when we’re going out. The smoke will keep for a bit.”

    “Yes.” But they would have to wait until the smoke had covered the whole pond - and until after they had floated the rest of the wood to the pond’s other shore to cover the area next to the jungle. Still, not impossible…

    Just difficult. And dangerous.

    Then she heard the wyvern roar. It was outside.

    *****​
     
  27. space turtle

    space turtle Getting sticky.

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    Flame freezing charm not taught early enough I guess?
    I wonder if radiant heating / burning smoke falls under the umbrella of protection it offers?
    I assume it must if that crazy witch had it done to her so many times.
    Or she had some weird ideas on public masochism...
     
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  28. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    It hasn't been on the curriculum yet, and Harry (and Hermione) thought - quite correctly at the time - that the Water-Making Spell was more than enough to handle any fire in a duel, and offered more options anyway - and an extinguished fire was gone while a Flame-Freezing Charm could be dispelled by an enemy when you were standing in the flames.

    Radiant Heating is an edge case, but I think if hot smoke (or hot air) could harm you, the charm wouldn't be very useful.
     
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  29. RedX

    RedX Not too sore, are you?

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    I can certainly see 'put fire out' being more useful than 'personally ignore fire', for most general life circumstances.
     
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  30. Threadmarks: Chapter 8: The Breakout Part 2
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 8: The Breakout Part 2

    Ministry of Magic, London, July 7th, 1996

    “...I really don’t know. Please, you gotta believe me - I don’t know anything about a Portkey!”

    James Potter scowled at the shivering wizard in front of him as he leaned forward, placing both his hands on the small table in the interrogation room. “Really, Weatherby? It’s your shop, and you expect me to believe that you didn’t even know what you were selling?” He scoffed. “How stupid do you think I am?”

    The man sniffled. “But it’s true! I wouldn’t have left a Portkey lying around like that! You know me - I keep my nose clean!”

    James shook his head. “You shouldn’t try to lie like that.” He stifled a yawn; it wouldn’t do to appear weak right now, despite the late - or early - hour. This scumbag knew what happened to Harry, and James would make him talk.

    “But… but…” Another sniffle followed.

    Was Weatherby about to cry? Then he was about to break. Time to increase the pressure. “You know what I think? You know what happened to the children. You know exactly what you have in stock and how much you can charge for it. Because it’s stolen loot and you’re fencing it!”

    “No!” Weatherby shook his head frantically. “That stuff wasn’t stolen - I got it from a wizard who was selling his great-uncle’s estate. You need to ask him, Mr Cobblespun, he sold me the stuff on that shelf!”

    “Mr Cobblespun has left the country,” James informed him. “Family business in the New World.” At least that was what the scum had told the French authorities when he’d purchased a Portkey for Iceland. And the useless Gendarmes Magiques hadn’t bothered to question why a British wizard would come to France to travel to the New World! James was sure that once the Scandinavian ministry got back to them - which could be any time within the next few weeks - they would tell them that Cobblespun hadn’t taken a Portkey to Newfoundland, but to somewhere else.

    “But…” The wretch was gaping at him. “That’s not my fault!”

    “Exactly.” James bared his teeth at the wizard. “He can’t help you. He can’t tell us that he was the one who sold you stolen loot, and that you had no idea what you were buying.”

    Yes, the wizard was now crying. “But… I didn’t know about any Portkey! And there were no curses on any of the stuff.”

    “You’re the one with a shop full of stolen loot.” That wasn’t exactly true - no fence would be as stupid as to exclusively sell stolen loot. They would mix it with lots of junk they got legitimately, so they could claim that they had mistakenly bought something stolen whenever someone found stolen goods among their wares. And Weatherby knew how to play the game. But he wasn’t used to drawing so much attention. No one really cared about small-time fences. But kidnapping the child of the Head Auror? Harry?

    “But… I didn’t know!”

    “You didn’t know? And you didn’t suspect? Really?” James scoffed again. “Tell me what was on those shelves, or I’ll send you to Azkaban for life!”

    The man paled. “Azkaban? For life? But… I only sold stuff! I ain’t no dark wizardI I never hurt anyone!” He trembled, shaking like a bush in the wind. “Please! You can’t do that!”

    “Well, there’s fencing stolen loot…” James glared at the man, clenching his teeth as he stood and walked over, then leaned down until his mouth was next to the other wizard’s ear. “...and then there’s kidnapping!”

    “Kidnapping?” Weatherby gasped. “I didn’t kidnap anyone! Honest! Please, you gotta believe me!”

    “Two children walk into your shop… and they never leave. What do you think the Wizengamot will do when they hear about this? And one of the children was Harry Potter. My son.”

    “But…” The man was in tears. “I didn’t know there was a Portkey! I don’t know what happened! I didn’t kidnap anyone!”

    “You can tell that to the Wizengamot. Harry’s godfather is on it.” James walked behind the man. “Do you think they’ll believe you?”

    “But it’s the truth! I didn’t do anything to them!”

    “They disappeared in your shop. And you know nothing?” James scoffed at him again. “What was on those shelves? What happened to them?”

    “There was just junk! And nothing is missing - the charms would have alerted us if anything was taken out of the shop.” Weatherby sniffled again. “Please - I don’t know nothing! It wasn’t my fault! I can’t go to Azkaban!”

    “If you don’t want to go to Azkaban, then you need to help us find out where the Portkey took them.” James sat down again.

    “But how? I would tell you if I knew! I’ll tell you everything! But I really don’t remember all the junk I bought!”

    “But you do remember, though. More than you think.” James grinned. He had the man now.

    *****​

    Godric’s Hollow, Devon, Britain, July 7th, 1996

    The sun had been up for a while when James finally made it home. But as soon as he stepped into the house, he could see Lily standing in the doorway of the living room. “James! What did you find out?”

    She must have stayed up all night as well, he realised - he could tell that from her face, too. Her eyes were a little… He shook his head. Focus. “We know a bit more,” he said, smiling weakly.

    Her face fell. Then she took a deep breath and raised her chin. “But not enough.”

    He shook his head.

    “What do you know?”

    Sirius was here as well? James frowned as he stepped into the living room. Remus was on the couch, still asleep. And the rug in front of the fireplace was scrunched. “Did you sleep on the floor?” he blurted out.

    His friend frowned. “I rested a little. But that’s not important, now. What did you find out?”

    James sighed and sat down in his favourite chair. Which, he noticed, smelt like dog. And he was too tired to clean it with a spell. Damn, this felt like the bad old days during the war. How often had they gathered like this, ready to head out and fight? Standing guard?

    He shook his head. He had to focus. “I convinced Weatherby - that’s the shop’s owner - to donate his memory. We also have the clerk’s memory. So we can find out what the Portkey Harry activated looked like.” He stifled a yawn. “But we need Albus’s Pensieve for that.” Too bad that the clerk hadn’t actually seen what had happened.

    “I’ll go fetch it!” Sirius said, whirling and striding towards the fireplace.

    “Wait!” Lily snapped. “You want to fetch the Pensieve?”

    “Well, yes?” Sirius looked confused. “We need it, don’t we?”

    James sighed. He was too tired for that. All of them were - Sirius usually wasn’t this… this much like Padfoot unless he’d just transformed.

    “What’s going on?”

    Ah. Remus had woken up.

    “We’ve got the memory of the shop’s owner,” Lily explained. “And now we need to go and ask Albus if we can use his Pensieve.” Her expression told James that she considered the answer a formality. A sentiment with which he wholeheartedly agreed.

    “Ah.” Remus got up. “I’ll open the Floo for us, then. I hope Albus is already awake.”

    James didn’t care. And he didn’t think that the others cared. This was about Harry. And about Miss Granger, he reminded himself. Couldn’t forget the other missing student. At least the Grangers weren’t here, fortunately.

    “Let’s go,” he said.

    “Shouldn’t you take a Pepper-Up Potion?” Sirius asked.

    “Already took one,” James told him. And a second one was… Well, it would render him awake - and cure any cold he might’ve caught - but he’d crash hard afterwards.

    Sirius nodded. He didn’t suggest that James went to sleep while they handled things, of course - his friend knew better.

    James could sleep once they knew what kind of Portkey the idiot had left on the shelves of his shop.

    *****​

    Unknown Location, July 7th, 1996

    Damn. Harry Potter clenched his teeth. The fire was growing hotter than he’d expected. And the wyvern was outside the cave. They needed to float the smaller fires to the edge of the pond, but with the big fire in the way, they couldn’t see well enough… He really should have learned the Flame-Freezing Charm, even though the Water-Making Spell was usually fine to deal with fire and had more uses...

    “What do we do?” Granger asked. “We have to do something.”

    He glanced at her. With the smoke filling the cave entrance and covering the pond outside, the light was dim inside here, but he could see she was worried. Obviously, she hadn’t learned the Flame-Freezing Charm either. “We’ll have to fly through the fire. But first, we need to ensure that the whole area outside is covered.”

    The wyvern roared again. Would it try to enter the cave? Despite the smoke? The fire might not hurt it, not much - wyverns were related to dragons, after all.

    Harry shook his head. They had to stick to the plan. Now or never. “We’ll have to be quick. Float the smaller fires to the edge of the pond right after we banish the main fire into the pond. Then we float out through the smoke.”

    “That won’t be long enough to let the smaller fires cover the area to the jungle,” Granger pointed out. “And if we wait after banishing the main fire…”

    “...then the smoke over the pond thins out,” he finished for her. “And with the wyvern right there…”

    “Yes.” She wiped sweat from her face. “We’ll have to levitate the fires blindly. And wait.”

    He nodded, feeling sweat run down his face. It burned when it entered his eyes. Damn. “Alright.” He flicked his wand, ending the Gentle Breeze Charm, and cast a Water-Making Spell, dousing both of them in cold water.

    Granger shrieked. “What… Ah.”

    He quickly recast the Gentle Breeze Charm. “Alright. On three. One. Two. Three.”

    “Wingardium Leviosa!”

    He waved his wand, focusing on the thick plank to the left which he could barely see through the smoke - just its tail end. But that was enough for the spell to take hold, and he saw the plank rise, embers dropping down when it wobbled a little.

    Clenching his teeth, he pushed his wand forward, pointing towards the mouth of the cave - and beyond. The plank with the logs stuck to it started to move. Slowly. Too slowly. It needed to move faster to pass through the waterfall without the fire being extinguished. He cursed under his breath, blinking as sweat ran into his eyes, and concentrated on moving the plank faster.

    The plank passed through the waterfall - he felt the push of the falling water. He could no longer see it - it had disappeared in the smoke - but he had a feeling, roughly, where it was. It was over the pond now. Moving towards the edge of the pond. But how long did it have to go still? At the speed it was going, it would be… somewhere above the pond.

    Damn. He took a deep breath and tried to visualise the pond and the small strip of clear ground between the edge of the pond and the start of the forest. Damn. He hadn’t had any trouble when he had imagined it before the fire. But with all the smoke…

    The wyvern roared again. Louder. Angrier, if that was possible.

    And the smoke suddenly blew into the cave, his Gentle Breeze Charm overwhelmed. How… Bloody hell! The waterfall at the mouth of the cave was moving back and forth - the wyvern was flapping its wings and driving the smoke and water back into the cave with each stroke of its wings! “It can hover? How’s that possible?”

    “Dragons can hover for short periods of time,” Granger said. “Can you cast a stronger wind spell?”

    “Not without dropping the fire,” he told her. And… where was the plank now? Still over the pond or over dry ground again? Could he risk it? Or should he keep it moving for a little longer? “Have you gotten your fire to the edge of the pond?”

    “I think so. The wyvern distracted me,” Granger replied.

    Had the creature planned this? Just how smart was this wyvern? And how far had his fire floated?

    The smoke had filled the entire cave now - he couldn’t see Granger any more. And that meant the smoke over the pond would be gone.

    And the heat… the hot air wasn’t being blown out of the cave any more, but blown back in. It was rapidly becoming too hot to stay in here.

    Suddenly, cold water drenched him. “I dropped the plank. Over solid ground… I think,” Granger told him.

    He did the same, hoping his plank had travelled far enough. Then he recast the Gentle Breeze Charm.

    “It cannot hover for too long, not a creature its size,” Granger said. “We just need to hold out a little longer.”

    Was she trying to convince him - or herself? Harry didn’t care. He pushed against the draft from the wyvern’s wing with everything he could manage. Not that it was much - but at least it kept the heat down a little.

    Granger’s Water-Making Spell helped as well - and that had been his idea.

    Still, if the wyvern kept this up, they’d have to banish the fire into the pond if they didn’t want to get burned.

    Suddenly, the heat grew even worse. “What the hell? It’s getting hotter?”

    “The fire’s vaporising the water from my spell!” Granger exclaimed. “It’s turning to steam! And steam carries heat better than air!”

    They were being boiled alive? “We have to banish the fire!” he snapped. “Before we’re cooked!”

    For once, Granger didn’t argue - she snapped her wand forward, and the big fire was pushed towards the pond. She muttered something and repeated the Banishing Charm. More logs were pushed into the water. The heat receded, too.

    But so would the smoke. It was now or never. “Mount up!” Harry snapped. “Levitate the plank!” He was already casting the Ventriloquism Charm.

    “But… the smoke’s thinning. And the wyvern is flying in front of the cave.”

    “Not any more!” He yelled - the wings weren’t pushing air into the cave any more. “But we have to hurry.”

    “Wingardium Leviosa!”

    The plank rose up until it was about a yard high. Harry climbed on, straddling it, then helped Granger up, pulling her in front of him. “Push us out!”

    “This is crazy!” she snapped - but the plank started moving.

    Harry focused on his spell: “We’re going to die!” “We have to do something!” “It’s waiting outside!” “Oh, no!”

    He held his breath as they flew through the remains of the fire, weak flames flickering beneath them. Then they hit the waterfall - and were out of the cave, floating over the pond. Inside a rapidly thinning cloud of smoke.

    With the wyvern close by.

    *****​

    “Oh, no! We’re trapped here! Save me!”

    Hermione Granger tried to ignore the voices Potter was making behind them with his spell. They were in the cloud of smoke covering the pond - which wasn’t nearly as thick as she had planned. Or expected. And somewhere close - far too close - the wyvern was flying around. Any moment now, its wings would part the cloud of smoke…

    She trembled and willed the plank she and Potter were sitting on to move faster. To fly, instead of floating. Towards the jungle. Fly. Faster than the smoke was fading. She could only hope that the wyvern was fooled by Potter’s spell.

    They were still far slower than a broom - even the school brooms were faster. If the creature spotted them, they’d be dead. And they were still over the pond - she could see the water beneath her; her feet were almost touching it. But she could see the ground, too - they must be close to the edge of the pond now.

    She gasped when she heard the wyvern roar and reflexively looked over her shoulder. Through the fading smoke, she saw the massive beast hovering in front of the cave again, wings flapping furiously.

    And each stroke parted the smoke even more.

    She suppressed a whimper. If the wyvern heard them… A spell that muffled all sound, not just speech, would be really useful right now. But they didn’t have that, so they would have to be silent.

    She could see the edge of the pond now, far too clearly. There was a fire burning on the shore, logs half in the water. There should be two fires, though - one must have fallen into the water. The smoke that fire was producing wouldn’t be enough to hide them until they vanished into the jungle - because she could still see the wyvern behind them, as a quick glance showed. Which meant the monster could see them as well.

    Another roar made her jerk, and she had to quickly adjust the course of the plank as it bucked. If the monster turned its head, they were done for.

    No! She drew a breath through her clenched teeth, gripping her wand so hard she feared she might break it, and pushed on. They were past the pond now, over land - she could see the edge of the jungle, ahead of them. But the underbrush they needed, the thick foliage that would hide them from the wyvern’s eyes, was still a hundred yards away.

    Which was too far. They wouldn’t make it. Any moment now, the wyvern would notice them - and would speed after them. No, it would rise, then swoop down, like a giant bird of prey.

    She blinked tears from her eyes. Halfway there - they had passed the first palm tree. But they had also left the smoke cloud. She felt naked. Exposed. Helpless. Why couldn’t she push the plank to fly faster? Brooms used the same charms! Why hadn’t she studied how brooms were made? If she had been able to enchant a broom, they would be safe now.

    A dozen yards left. She was weaving between the trees now, and the palm trees were giving way to taller trees. Almost there.

    She leaned to the side, as if she were flying a broom, rounding a thick trunk, branches and foliage scraping against her leg and shoulders, tugging at her hair. Almost…

    “Fuck!” Potter cursed.

    A moment later, the wyvern roared.

    It had seen them! They were dead! No!

    “Fly! Fly!” Potter screamed. “It’s coming after us!”

    No! She tensed, focusing everything into her spell. They sped up, breaking through the underbrush - but it was too late. The wyvern was on their tail.

    Potter started casting curses as they flew between two tall, thick trees. She heard an explosion behind her. And the monster roared again.

    “Fly us into the thick of it! Where the trees are too dense for it to follow us!”

    What did he think she was doing? Damn! She clenched her teeth and pushed on, almost ramming another tree. This far into the jungle, the underbrush was growing less dense again. Lack of light, her stupid brain informed her. It made flying easier - but they couldn’t hide here. Not if the wyvern managed to break through.

    And, judging by Potter’s cursing and the crashing noise behind them, the monster had just done so.

    It roared, and Hermione froze for a moment. Too close! Too close! Without looking, she leaned to the side as she steered the plank into a hard left turn. A shadow shot past them, and she shrieked when she felt herself losing her one-handed grip on the plank.

    Then Potter’s arm closed around her. “Keep going!” he yelled as she heard trees splinter behind them. “It’s crashed!”

    She kept going, half-circling back towards the denser parts of the underbrush. A moment later, they dived through a particularly tall bush, and she had to shield her face with her arm to avoid branches hitting it. Her shoulder slammed into a thicker branch, almost dislodging her again, but she kept going. Her scalp hurt - something pulled on her hair.

    But she kept them going. Into the jungle. Through the underbrush. Away from the monster.

    *****​

    Harry Potter kept one arm wrapped around Granger’s waist, his wand pointed behind them, and his thigh clenched around the plank they were riding. At any moment, the wyvern could crash through the trees behind them - or above them - swooping down with bared claws to pounce on them, slam them into the ground and rip them to pieces.

    He clenched his teeth so they wouldn’t chatter - and so he wouldn’t bite his tongue if Granger crashed into something; Oliver and frequent encounters with Bludgers had taught him that. Sweat was running down his forehead, into his eyes, but he couldn’t wipe it away - he had to keep his attention on the air and the forest behind them. At any moment, the wyvern could reappear. Would reappear. And he had to be ready with a curse. Even if the spell would only distract the beast, it was their only chance. If only they had a decent broom! Not some… slowly floating piece of wood!

    They entered another dense bush, and he tightened his grip on his wand when branches and leaves brushed against him. He felt Granger jerk and heard her gasp when something hit her, and, for a moment, he feared they would crash.

    Then they were through the bush. He looked up - they were still under a dense canopy of branches. But the ground wasn’t covered with underbrush. And… no wyvern. Still no wyvern.

    He glanced forward. There was another large and dense bush. “Stop!” he snapped in a whisper.

    “What?”

    “Stop in the bush ahead of us.”

    “What? We’ll die!”

    “The wyvern isn’t chasing us any more. We’ve lost it.”

    “Oh.”

    She slowed down, then stopped the plank inside the bush.

    For a moment, the only sound Harry could hear was his and Granger’s laboured breathing. Panting.

    Then he heard the familiar roar - but far away. He shivered. “We’ve lost it,” he repeated in a whisper.

    “Yes,” Granger replied. “Oh, God…”

    The plank suddenly started to descend, and he barely managed to get his feet on the ground before it dropped to the jungle floor. Granger didn’t - he almost toppled over when she sagged in his grip before he could gently lower her down as well.

    “Oh my God!” she whispered, kneeling on the ground. “We almost died. We almost got eaten.”

    He swayed for a moment - he must have strained his muscles, clinging to the plank. That must be it. Then he sat down himself, shivering. She was right. They had almost died. If Granger hadn’t timed that turn perfectly, the wyvern would’ve… would’ve…

    He felt nauseous. They had come so close to dying… “Merlin’s beard!” he muttered, then closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths to calm down. It didn’t work too well - his hands were still shaking, and his teeth… It was worse than after a Seeker duel. Far worse.

    But Granger was even worse off. She was trembling - no, shaking like a leaf in the wind. He could hear her teeth chatter. Shock, he realised. Uncle Peter had told him about it. When the battle was over, when the tension left, people started shaking.

    Without thinking, he reached out and wrapped his arms around Granger. “We’re alive.”

    “We’re alive,” she repeated his words. “Alive.”

    “Yes.”

    He could feel her breathing slow down as they sat on the ground, clinging to each other. He closed his eyes again, listening to his own breathing. And Granger’s. They were alive. Alive. They had gotten away from the wyvern. Their plan had worked. Mostly worked.

    “Damn,” he muttered.

    Granger had stopped shaking, he noticed after a while. She was still clinging to him. Why? They had been almost killed before, hadn’t they? They’d barely escaped into the cave. “It’s worse than last time,” he whispered.

    “That was just a brief… attack,” Granger replied. “This time… how long did it chase us?”

    “I don’t know,” he told her. “Not too long.” It would’ve caught up with them, otherwise.

    “Long enough.” She sobbed. Once.

    “Yeah,” he agreed. And looked up at the canopy above them again. No sign of the wyvern. And they would hear it if it came through the jungle. Still… “We should hide, now. I mean, dig our shelter,” he said.

    “Y-yes,” she agreed. Then she slowly released her grip around his chest.

    He let her go and finally pulled his glasses off and wiped his face with his hand.

    “Let me,” she whispered.

    Before he could answer, he felt something brush over his face, and he blinked.

    “Make-up-Removal Charm,” she said. “It cleans your face.”

    “Ah.” He nodded, then watched her do the same for herself. He reached out, tugging on a piece of wood - a twig - stuck in her hair. “You’ve got something…”

    “Ow!” she protested. “Let me!” Another charm and her hair, which had been a mess, settled into a braid.

    So she could do hairstyling charms.

    He blinked. They had almost been eaten by a wyvern, and he was wondering about hairstyling charms? He shook his head with a brief laugh at his own stupidity.

    “What?”

    *****​

    Hermione Granger frowned at Potter. What was so funny? They had almost died! If the wyvern had been a little faster… She shivered again, gripping her knees to steady herself.

    And hissed with pain. What the…? She blinked. Oh. Her legs were bleeding.

    “What?”

    She ignored Potter and stared at her legs. There were dozens of small cuts, from all the bushes they had flown through, and she could see a bruise forming on her left thigh. And the inside of her thighs… She clenched her teeth as she realised what the rough plank had done to her while she’d been riding it. And her arms didn’t look much better.

    She aimed her wand at her thighs and started casting Healing Charms. Silently - she didn’t want to attract any other predators that might not have been scared away - or eaten - by the wyvern. If they heard her, or if they… “Damn,” she cursed. “If the wyvern can smell blood, we need to move. After we heal up.”

    “What?” Potter blinked, looking at her, then tensed. “You’re right. You’ve left a trail of blood.”

    We’ve left a trail of blood,” she corrected him, pointing at a few rips and tears in his pants - and the torn skin below. She didn’t quite touch his wounds with her wand, but he tensed anyway.

    “Do you want me to heal them?” Healing wounds could be tricky. Hermione had read up on potential mistakes and mishaps when she had studied the charms. Some mishaps were fatal if you failed to or couldn’t deal with an infection - or a clogged vein.

    “I can do it myself,” he told her, frowning.

    She sniffed. Typical Potter pride. Couldn’t accept help even if it might kill him.

    She finished healing her wounds - and she’d had a lot of them; she could have served as a test subject for an entire class learning weak Healing Charms - and looked at Potter. He was finished as well, though that didn’t mean anything - his clothes had protected him, unlike hers.

    Which reminded her… She quickly cast a few Mending Charms on her clothes. And then on his.

    “Hey!” he hissed, apparently startled.

    “What?” she asked. “You want to walk around with torn clothes?” If he said yes, she’d happily oblige him!

    “What? No!” he whispered back. “But I could’ve done it myself.”

    “I was faster. And we need to move - before our blood trail causes trouble for us. More trouble.” She didn’t want to deal with Smoke Sand Leeches, or Giant Vampire Vixens or whatever monsters the Lovegoods hadn’t yet discovered.

    “If it could smell such tiny drops, it would’ve found us already,” he retorted. “I think.”

    “Do you want to bet your life on that?” And it wasn’t just a few drops!

    He scoffed but didn’t contradict her. Or answer her question. “Let’s mount up again, then.”

    “You want to fly?” She blinked. Stupid question - she doubted that Potter would walk a single step outside their classrooms if riding brooms weren’t banned inside Hogwarts.

    “We won’t leave any tracks that way.”

    “We will leave tracks - those bushes we flew through will have damaged foliage,” she pointed out. “And we cannot assume that the wyvern - or any other predator - is too dumb to figure out what that means. Not to mention we’ll have left scent traces all along our route.”

    And she really didn’t want to hurt her thighs again.

    “But we’ll also avoid leaving tracks on the ground,” he retorted. “And if we’re spotted by the wyvern, we have a better chance of surviving if you can fly us away while I send curses at it.”

    ‘A better chance’. Not ‘a good chance’. But he was right. She sighed. She really didn’t like the idea of rubbing the inside of her thighs raw again. There was a reason real brooms used charms to cushion the rider. But she’d pick that over getting eaten by the wyvern. “Let’s go, then. We need to find a good spot for a hidden bunker.”

    “Shouldn’t be too hard,” Potter said, grinning.

    She sighed at his optimism as she picked up the plank again. “One moment,” she said. She cast a Cleaning Charm to get rid of any blood that might have been left on the wood, then started to smooth some of the rougher parts of the plank.

    “What’s that spell?” Potter asked.

    “Sandpaper Hex,” she replied without looking at him. She still heard him draw a sudden breath and mutter a few choice expletives under his breath.

    “Why did you learn that hex?” he asked.

    “Just in case I should ever need it, of course;” she replied. “And who would’ve known? - it’s come in handy after all!” She grinned at him.

    “You didn’t learn that hex for woodworking!” He glared at her.

    “You didn’t learn the Cutting Curse for dicing vegetables,” she retorted.

    “But the Cutting Curse is a versatile spell for Defence,” he protested. “The Sandpaper Hex, though… all it does is cause pain. It won’t take out an attacker. Unlike a well-placed Cutting Curse - or a Stunner. It’s a bad spell to defend yourself with since whoever you cast it on will be angry as hell at you.”

    She shrugged and grinned at him. He wasn’t entirely wrong, of course - like many curses, the Sandpaper Hex wasn’t good in a duel. “But it’s a useful tool for self-defence,” she told him. “It’s a good deterrent.”

    He blinked, then scowled at her.

    She smiled at him and finished preparing their ride with a Polishing Charm.

    *****​

    Harry Potter suppressed a scoff. A deterrent? He knew who Granger wanted to deter - him. Planning to use such a hex, just to scare him off? There were pranks, and then there was… that.

    He shook his head. He couldn’t dwell on this now. He had to focus on getting away from here and finding a good spot for their shelter. The wyvern could return - could find them - at any moment. It had spent more than a day trying to kill them, waiting in ambush outside the cave, and it had even tried to smoke them out… it wouldn’t give up.

    “Done. Let’s go,” Granger said. She waved her wand, and the plank rose into the air until it reached hip height.

    He nodded and let her mount the plank - well, now it looked more like a broom shaft - before mounting behind her. He felt her tense a little when he wrapped his arm around her waist as before.

    And he tensed as well. Now that they weren’t in a cave rapidly filling with smoke, trying to sneak or dash past an enraged creature, he couldn’t help noticing that his bare arm was wrapped around her bare waist.

    Focus! He told himself. Besides, it was Granger. The witch who had learned the Sandpaper Hex to scare him off pranking her.

    That helped. “Looks clear,” he said, raising his wand.

    “Here we go, then.” Granger cast a Shield Charm and directed their ride forward.

    He kept watching the sky and their rear. Mostly the sky - the wyvern, by now, could be anywhere. “Stay under cover,” he told Granger as they passed through a denser bush. Granger’s shield pushed the branches away, but they were still going slowly. Carefully.

    After a bit, Granger stopped inside a bush.

    He looked up - the canopy wasn’t as dense here as before; he could see glimpses of the sky. “Back up a little.”

    After a moment, she did, and Harry felt the branches brush over his back and sides again. One caught in his hair.

    They circled the spot, sticking beneath the taller trees, until they hit denser underbrush again. After a while and several more such detours, they finally found a sort of clearing that wasn’t exposed to the sky.

    “Let’s do it here,” Harry said, getting off the plank - the pole. Without the charms of a broom, riding such a thing was uncomfortable. He stretched his legs. Very uncomfortable, actually. If only he had learned the variant of the Cushioning Charm that was used on brooms...

    Granger looked a little stiff herself. “It’s a bit small.”

    “I don’t think we’ll find a better spot,” he told her. “Unless you want to circle round the entire island.”

    She looked like she was seriously considering that. “Exploring the entire island might tell us where we are.”

    “Let’s get some shelter first.” Then he snorted. “Isn’t it your role to argue for more caution?”

    She snorted in return, then raised her wand and started casting Vanishing Charms on the ground. “Let’s dig.”

    *****​

    A bit over half an hour later, they had excavated a decent sized cave with earthen walls and an earthen ceiling. It wasn’t as deep as Harry would’ve liked - there wasn’t much soil above the bedrock - but it would keep the wyvern out once Granger finished transfiguring the earth into stone. Harry was gathering more earth to camouflage the whole thing when he felt a cramp in his stomach. It felt like… Ugh.

    He hesitated a moment. This was embarrassing. But if he was becoming sick… “Hey, Granger!”

    “What?” She appeared in the entrance - far smaller than the cave behind the waterfall; the wyvern wouldn’t be able to stick its head in this one. “No, I haven’t finished the shelter yet.”

    “No,” he replied. “My stomach’s acting up. I think that coconut was bad or something.”

    “Ah.” She looked surprised, then pointed her wand at him.

    He almost cast a Shield Charm when she cast an unfamiliar spell at him. A moment later, he felt better. “What was that?”

    “A spell to treat diarrhoea. Coconuts can function as a laxative.” She nodded, then turned back to the cave.

    “Wait! You learned a spell to treat diarrhoea?” There were potions for that.

    She turned back round to roll her eyes at him. “Obviously, since I just cast it.”

    “Are you planning to become a Healer?”

    She tilted her head. “As soon as I heard about the twins’ new Diarrhoea Drops, I made sure to learn the spell.”

    “You think I would’ve slipped you a drop? Merlin’s beard, that would’ve been gross!” he protested. He’d seen the results of one of the tests. That was… Really, how could she think he’d do that? He wouldn’t do that to anyone!

    “That’s never stopped you before.” She scowled at him.

    “What? No! I never did anything with… diarrhoea.” Mum and Dad had taught him better than that.

    “You made me vomit slugs for half an hour!”

    “That’s not the same!”

    “It was unbelievably gross!” Granger snapped. “And incredibly humiliating!”

    Of course she’d think losing a duel that way was embarrassing! But… “I wouldn’t make you shit your pants!”

    “What a fine line you draw!” She huffed and went back into the cave.

    He scowled. “And you made me pee blue!”

    She stuck her head back out of the cave. “That was a simple colour change. I didn’t make you piss your pants! You didn’t have to clean your clothes afterwards!”

    “It’s still gross!” And visiting the infirmary had been humiliating. Not that he’d mention what Pomfrey had first suspected, of course.

    She huffed and disappeared again.

    He stared at the entrance, then sighed - and checked the sky before remembering that they were hidden by the canopy. He wouldn’t have used the twin’s drops on Granger. How could she think that? He wasn’t that… He wouldn’t have done that. He knew better than to stoop that low. Slugs were different. That was a known hex, and robes were easily cleaned with a spell. It was embarrassing, but not humiliating. Like any decent prank. How could Granger not see the difference?

    He hadn’t ganged up on her. He hadn’t humiliated her. He hadn’t used the nasty spells Sirius and Uncle Peter had taught him or vanished her robes or anything like that. He had only done harmless pranks. Mostly harmless. Hell, he had rejected most of Sirius’s suggestions! And he had stuck to official spells when duelling.

    Why would Granger think she’d need to learn a spell to cure diarrhoea to protect herself against him?

    *****​

     
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