Content Harry Potter
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Author Notes:

This chapter is relatively short — it was written while I was still contemplating making the whole thing a oneshot.   They start getting longer after this.   Each of the chapters will have at least one flashback scene.   They are denoted with this separator:   -oooOOOooo-

The beginning of the flashback in this chapter (in bold font) is taken directly from Book 3

Chapter 2, Escaped Prisoners, Dementors and a Time Turner

Hermione made herself comfortable, leaning up against Harry’s side with her head on his shoulder, and waited patiently for him to begin his story as he took a deep breath and closed his eyes, recalling his younger days.

“I’m sorry I stopped writing to you,” he apologized. There were just so many things I couldn’t tell you because I had to keep them secret. It was too hard to keep things straight, what I could tell you and what I couldn’t. Especially as time went on.”

“That’s all right,” Hermione reassured him. “I could tell there must be things you were leaving out, and guessed that it must be something like that. And I let it slide too, as I got busy with my new school. I suppose it’s surprising that we kept on as long as we did.”

“Do you remember the things I wrote you about third year?” he asked. Feeling Hermione’s head nod, he elaborated. “About Sirius Black and the dementors? How my broom got destroyed during that quidditch match, and I got a new Firebolt for Christmas? And how I learned the Patronus charm to drive them away?”

“Yes, I remember that I was so impressed. That was an advanced spell for a third year!” Hermione responded with admiration. “And if you remember, I promptly wrote you back and warned you against using that broom until you had someone check it out,” she chided.

Harry chuckled. “Well, McGonagall had already confiscated it by the time I got that letter back from you. I wasn’t very happy about it, but I did get it back in time for the next match, so it worked out all right. Both Ron and Oliver Wood were pretty steamed. But I have to admit that she and you were both right, in a sense. It turned out that Sirius did send me the broom.”

Hermione sat up and stared at him. “I don’t think you ever mentioned that!” she declared. “You did say at the end that he turned out to be innocent, but you didn’t explain how you came to that conclusion. What happened?” Harry motioned to her to calm down, so she settled herself back into her previous position to hear his explanation.

“It all started when we first arrived at the castle, when McGonagall called me into her office,” he told her …


“Potter! I want to see you!” a voice called.

Harry and Ron turned around, surprised. Professor McGonagall was calling over the heads of the crowd. Harry fought his way over to her with a feeling of foreboding: McGonagall had a way of making him feel he must have done something wrong.

“There’s no need to look so worried – I just want a word in my office,” she told them. “Move along there, Weasley.”

Once in McGonagall’s office, after he was checked over by Madame Pomfrey to make certain there were no aftereffects from his exposure to the dementors on the train, McGonagall motioned Harry to sit down.

“Mr. Potter, I can’t tell you how sorry I am about Miss Granger’s removal from Hogwarts,” she began. “And I’m certain that it will affect you more than anyone.” Harry shrugged uncomfortably and managed a nod. He was indeed greatly saddened by his friend’s absence, more so because he felt that to some extent it was his fault. But his Head of House hadn’t brought him to her office merely to commiserate.

“Because of this, and because of the unique nature of your situation, I’ve decided that it will be necessary for me to take a more direct interest in your education,” she informed him.

Harry’s eyes widened. “What … erm, why?”

McGonagall leaned forward. “It appeared to me that Miss Granger was largely responsible for the level of your academic achievement for the past two years.” Harry nodded slowly. He certainly couldn’t argue with that. Without Hermione’s help, and, he was embarrassed to admit, her ‘encouragement’ (one might uncharitably call it ‘nagging’), he suspected he would have been lucky to pass his first two years.

“Mr. Potter,” the stern teacher sighed. “Because of who you are and what lies ahead for you, it is imperative that you master your magical studies. You are perfectly aware of the things that you have faced during your first two years, and there is no reason to believe that it will get any easier for you. Quite simply, you are and will continue to be a target for the dark lord and his followers.”

Harry swallowed hard and nodded. He’d reluctantly come to that same conclusion himself.

“Without Miss Granger here to motivate you, and with no obvious replacement for her among your friends and acquaintances, I see no other alternative. You will need to change your course schedule to include two important courses that Miss Granger signed up for but you did not, and you will need to dramatically increase the time you spend on your studies.”

Harry paled. It sounded like she was saying he would have to learn as much as Hermione had. But she was a genius! It would take him more hours then there were in the day to match her achievements.

“I have dropped Divination from your schedule,” McGonagall said, scowling as she spoke the course name, “and added Arithmency and Ancient Runes. You will have study sessions with me every day. And you will need to use this.” She pulled out a long chain on which a small hourglass was suspended.

Harry leaned forward, his curiosity piqued. “What’s that?” he wondered.

“A time turner.”


“What!” Hermione gasped. “She gave you a time turner! Do you have any idea how rare those are? Not to mention extremely restricted!” Harry rolled his eyes.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do,” he pointed out. “Seeing as how I used one for five years and had to study everything about them in order to use it safely.”

“Oh. Of course you did,” she replied apologetically. Harry smiled at her and gave her hand a squeeze.

“Actually, she originally got it for you,” he revealed. As he expected, her eyes went wide. “That’s how she’d planned for you to take all the classes you’d signed up for. She had a contact in the Department of Mysteries who evidently owed her a favor or something. He got it for her without anyone knowing about it. When you didn’t come back to Hogwarts, she realized that I would need it in order to manage the increased course load she decided I needed to take.”

Hermione could only shake her head in disbelief as Harry continued. “She set up a private study classroom that only I had a key for. It had a desk and a cot, so I could nap when I needed to. There were also snacks available every day. With that and my invisibility cloak, things worked out pretty well.”

“I can see how that would be the case,” she muttered, still in somewhat of a daze.

“Yeah, it really came in handy,” Harry agreed with a grin. “For more than just studying.”

Hermione’s head jerked up and her eyes narrowed. “Harry James Potter, tell me you did not use such an extraordinarily rare and powerful magical device for pranking!”

Harry’s eyes widened comically and he gave an exaggerated ‘Who, me!’ pantomime. Hermione sighed and leaned her head against the back of the sofa. Turning to him with a look of resignation, she sighed. “What did you do?”

“Well, there was this one day in Hogsmeade …” he reminisced fondly. With a glance to the side he stretched his arm out across the back of the sofa in her direction. After one final half-hearted glare she accepted the invitation and snuggled against his side again. He told her about not being allowed to go to the village since his uncle hadn’t signed his permission slip, and how Fred and George had given him the Marauder’s Map.

He had to interrupt his tale to show her the enchanted parchment so she could ooh and aah over the impressive magic that had gone into its creation. Then he continued by relating how he’d sneaked out during each of the Hogsmeade trips that year (she glared at him again), encountered Malfoy during one of them near the Shrieking Shack, and thrown mud at him when he started insulting Ron. Unfortunately, the invisibility cloak had slipped, giving Malfoy a glimpse of his head, and he’d needed to hightail it back to the castle.

There, he’d gone back an hour and spent it in the library, making sure to ask Madame Pince’s assistance several times while researching dementors and the patronus charm. When Snape had accosted him, he’d had an iron-clad alibi, even being so fortunate as to have Pince go off on Snape for shouting in the library.

After she’d sighed once more and half-heartedly scolded him, Hermione wanted a closer look at the Map.

Who are Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs?” she asked.

“The creators of the Map, who just happened to be my dad and his friends,” Harry answered proudly. “My dad was Prongs and Sirius was Padfoot. Remus Lupin, who was the DADA professor that year, was Moony.” He paused slightly and scowled. “And Peter Pettigrew was Wormtail.”

“How did they get such unusual nicknames?” was her inevitable follow-up question.

Harry’s demeanor grew more somber. “Remus was a werewolf,” he revealed, as Hermione’s eyes widened again. “The other three decided to become animagi in order to help him out during his transformations. Sirius was a big black dog, Pettigrew was a rat, and my dad was a stag.” Hermione nodded silently. The names now made sense, fitting their animal forms.

“Did you ever try to become an animagus?” she asked, trying to lighten the mood.

“No, I never got around to it,” Harry admitted. “Would you like to try it together?”

Hermione brightened and agreed, and they spent the next few minutes speculating on what they’d become. Harry thought he might like to be some sort of bird, like an eagle or falcon, but Hermione imagined him as a lion. She rejected the idea of becoming an owl herself as too stereotypical, causing Harry to claim that she would also make a good lioness.

Eventually Hermione got Harry back on track with his story. “It all came to a head at the end of the year. It was the last day of exams, and Ron had a weird thing happen during his Divination exam. Trelawny went into a trance and made a prediction about the dark lord’s servant breaking free and rejoining his master.”

Hermione scoffed. She’d never had any use for the subject of Divination. But Harry insisted that this was a real prophecy, one of two that the batty professor had made in her life.

“After that we got a note from Hagrid saying that they had lost Buckbeak’s case and he was going to be executed,” he continued, “and we decided to go out to see him, show our support.” Hermione nodded – she already knew the gist of that story, how the hippogriff had attacked Malfoy and been condemned to death. “But first we checked the Map to make sure the coast was clear. And we saw another name in Hagrid’s hut – Peter Pettigrew.”

Hermione gasped and Harry nodded slowly. “Well, I never thought it was that Peter Pettigrew; I reckoned it might be a relative or something. But when we got down there, under the cloak of course, Hagrid was by himself. Hagrid was all shook up so we didn’t ask about where Pettigrew went. He even dropped his milk jug while he was pouring us some tea. That’s when we found Scabbers! Turned out he’d been hiding there for months, ever since Sirius Black broke into our dorm one night.”

Hermione’s eyes narrowed as she processed this information. “You don’t mean … Scabbers was Pettigrew!” Harry nodded again.

“We didn’t figure it out until later, when Sirius attacked him. That is, when this big black dog that we later found out was Sirius attacked Ron, who was holding Scabbers while we went back to the castle. We’d decided that there wasn’t anything else we could do for Hagrid. We talked about trying to help Buckbeak escape, but Hagrid told us there wasn’t time. At that point I decided I’d use the time turner to come back and free him. I could do it as long as I didn’t actually see him executed.”

Hermione thought for a moment and then agreed that that idea seemed plausible.

“Well, that plan was thrown off when Sirius – transformed into a dog – showed up and grabbed Ron with his teeth,” Harry went on. “He dragged him to the Whomping Willow. I followed, but couldn’t get close. Once they got there, the Willow bashed Ron, knocking him unconscious while Sirius dodged out of the way. I saw him touch a knot on the tree trunk and disappear into a crack in the tree. It took me a while to figure out what he’d done but I managed to follow him. Inside the tree was a long tunnel that led to the Shrieking Shack.”

“The Shrieking Shack!” Hermione exclaimed. “Why would there be a tunnel from Hogwarts to that haunted house?”

Harry related the story about Remus and how he used the rundown structure for his transformations as a student. Then he described how he confronted Sirius Black inside the house and heard the true story of his parents’ betrayal. How the fugitive had convinced him that it was Pettigrew who was the Secret Keeper and traitor.

“Then, after we got it all sorted out, we went back down the tunnel to Hogwarts with Ron still knocked out and Pettigrew tied up,” Harry concluded. “We figured that would be enough proof to get Sirius cleared. But before we made it to the castle we were swarmed over by dementors.”

“Oh no!” Hermione moaned. “Let me guess – in the confusion Pettigrew transformed and escaped.” Harry acknowledged her with a rueful nod.

“Sirius tried to draw them away, but they caught him. I tried to conjure a patronus, but they’d caught me by surprise and I couldn’t produce a strong enough one,” he revealed. “So I used my time turner.”

“Ahhh.” Hermione now realized how everything was coming together. “You went back an hour, freed Buckbeak, hid somewhere – in the Forbidden Forest I’ll bet (Harry confirmed this by inclining his head approvingly) – and then waited. Since you were ready for the dementors this time, you cast a solid patronus and drove them away and recaptured Pettigrew.” She stopped and smiled, quite pleased with herself.

“Not quite,” Harry corrected. “That was what I was hoping to do but it didn’t all work out that way. I got Buckbeak just as you said, and convinced him to leave as soon as I freed him. He’d spotted Macnair arriving and was pretty uneasy, like he could sense what was going to happen, so it wasn’t too hard. Then I waited.”

Harry’s shoulders slumped noticeably, and Hermione pulled herself more snugly against his side, silently urging him to continue. “You see, time turners are tricky,” he explained. “You can’t change anything you personally witnessed. You can change something you suspect happened, as long as you don’t know for sure, but if you saw it, it’s pretty much fixed. Because if you went back and changed it, then you couldn’t have seen it happen in the first place.” Hermione nodded that she understood. She knew many people would struggle with this concept, but her logical mind grasped it without difficulty.

“That’s why I wanted to leave Hagrid’s hut before Buckbeak’s execution took place,” Harry noted. “Since I didn’t know for sure it happened, there was the possibility that someone – in other words, my future self – had rescued him at the last minute. Which is exactly what happened.” Hermione indicated that she was still following along perfectly.

“But when Pettigrew escaped, there was just too much happening at once,” Harry pointed out somewhat dejectedly. “I couldn’t try to recapture him until he was out of sight of my original self, but by then the dementors had already caught Sirius. I couldn’t risk wasting time trying to capture him before casting my patronus to drive the dementors away from Sirius. By the time I did that Pettigrew was long gone.”

Hermione opened her mouth to offer a suggestion, but quickly closed it. There was nothing that could be done about it now, nine years later. But Harry already knew what she was going to say. “Yeah, I know, I could have used the time turner and gone back again, so there were three of me there at the same time,” he conceded. “But I didn’t think of that until the next day and by then it was too late.”

“So what did happen?” Hermione prompted after a few seconds.

“Sirius went back down the tunnel to the Shrieking Shack to get outside of the Hogwarts wards, then escaped from there. After that I took Ron to the Infirmary, then went to see Remus and Dumbledore and told them the whole story.”

At this point Harry fell silent, and the two friends sat together, Hermione snuggled up against Harry’s side, offering quiet comfort while he mused over what might have been.

For her part, Hermione was very pleased that he’d opened up to her, and that their close friendship had been restored so quickly. More than restored, actually, since they’d not been this physically close before. But that made it even better.

Harry found himself, unknowingly, thinking the same thing. This closeness, this opportunity to really open himself up to another person, trusting them completely, had been largely absent from his life. He closed his eyes and reveled in the feeling. And it certainly wasn’t escaping his notice that this was an attractive woman he had his arm around. That was something else to think about.

All in all, his life had certainly changed to a remarkable extent in just one day!


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Author Notes:

Ripple effects … when Harry incorporated the time turner into his prank on Malfoy, he didn’t lose the Marauders Map … Remus didn’t have it to come looking for him in the Shrieking Shack … Snape didn’t find it in Remus’s office when he came to deliver the wolfsbane potion … therefore Remus and Snape were not a part of the confrontation in the Shrieking Shack and subsequently there was no loose werewolf to contend with.

However, the dementors were still there, so were still in position to attack Harry and Sirius. (And Snape was still an evil git who outed Remus at the end of the year, causing him to lose his job.)

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