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Stranded (Harry Potter AU) (Complete)

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

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  1. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Yes, typo, now fixed!
     
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  2. Hylas_Daemonem

    Hylas_Daemonem A Colony of Ghosts

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    Ya'know, I think that's a Patronus! It could, of course, be a fake out. But they seem to be outside the warded area, so any attempts should be able to find them.
     
  3. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Yeah, as soon as they left the warded area, Patronuses could find them. But after so much time, the others probably slowed down the casting of them.
     
  4. BadTiming

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

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    Binged this story today.
    Very nice story, quality everywhere, will read again.

    Thanks for writing.
     
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  5. space turtle

    space turtle Know what you're doing yet?

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    Rescue seems to be soon at hand.
    Although we might have missed the smack down being laid on the the pirates by the order.
    But I’m sure a little return and revenge trip wouldn’t be amiss
     
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  6. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Thanks! I hope you'll like the rest of the story!

    No, the fight against the pirates will be shown next chapter.
     
  7. Threadmarks: Chapter 30: The Rescue
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 30: The Rescue

    Unknown Island, July 18th, 1996

    “We’re close,” the captain announced as he lowered his sextant. “Now, we’ll find out whether or not our prisoner told us the truth!”

    Lily Potter, standing on the bridge of the ship nearby - if you could call the area a bridge; she wasn’t a sailor, after all - narrowed her eyes. “Are you questioning whether or not the Veritaserum worked?” She had brewed the potion herself, and while she might not be quite as gifted at Potions as Severus, and might have focused on spellcrafting instead of potions research after Hogwarts, she had earned her Outstanding N.E.W.T. in the subject.

    “Oh, no. But it wouldn’t be the first time that a pirate doesn’t know as much as they think they know. Smart pirates take precautions against the exact thing we are attempting.” Abdul grinned at her. “Isn’t this exciting?”

    Lily didn’t think so. The pirate - former pirate - might enjoy the risk of things going awry, but she didn’t. They were here to save Harry. And Hermione. Not to have an adventure. Besides, the man’s bravado rang a little hollow to her. She had experience with braggarts, after all - teenage James and Sirius, especially. “The only way that our prisoner might have concealed things from us would be a very complicated Memory Charm.”

    “Exactly! So, it’s not impossible that this might end with us fighting for our lives, caught in the island’s wards.”

    “We have experience with such charms,” Lily said, not quite rolling her eyes. Bloody experience. She pressed her lips together at the memories of people screaming with terror and pain.

    “And I can assure you, my friend, that even a thorough examination of our prisoner’s mind has not revealed even a hint of such a charm.” Dumbledore smiled as he joined them at the railing.

    “Ah, of course.” Abdul’s seemingly confident grin had vanished the moment he had noticed Dumbledore taking an interest in their conversation.

    Lily smiled. She didn’t like braggarts. Or people who sought out danger for kicks. She briefly wondered if Abdul would be different if he had fought in the Blood War. James and herself certainly had changed a lot.

    The captain cleared his throat. “Anyway, we’re close to the island. So, to continue sailing towards it will risk triggering the spells protecting it. We’ll have to slow down and prepare to cross the wards.”

    “Not for a few more miles,” Dumbledore told him with a polite smile.

    “How would… of course,” Abdul nodded a little jerkily.

    “And rest assured, I’ll be able to cast the spells necessary to pass through the island’s protections quickly enough so we won’t have to slow down,” Dumbledore went on.

    And there was Abdul’s broad smile again. The man either had a mercurial temperament or had missed a great career as an actor. “Perfect! Storming an island at the Great Dumbledore’s side - this will be a tale worth a thousand drinks! Perhaps even a tale worth a French bride?” He cocked his head sideways. “You wouldn’t vouch for my character after this, would you?”

    Dumbledore chuckled. “I will certainly give my honest appraisal of your character, Captain, should you desire so.”

    “Ah… I’ll have to consider this very carefully, then,” Abdul replied with a forced smile. “But now…” He turned and bellowed something in Arabian to the deck below.

    And the sailors rose, wands and blades raised to the sky, as they yelled in return.

    “He told them to get ready for combat,” Dumbledore explained.

    “Thank you.”

    “And so should we,” James said, stepping up to Lily. “As soon as we’re through the wards, we’re flying off.”

    She nodded. She would cast a Patronus Charm to send after Harry, and they would follow it. Abdul and his cutthroats could handle whoever was in the harbour; Lily, James and their friends would fly directly to her baby.

    Dumbledore would do whatever he felt was necessary, of course. They’d have to trust him - but then, he had earned that trust, over and over, during the war.

    She wet her lips. It was barely past noon now, and the heat was, even with the charms on her duelling robes, getting a little uncomfortable. But not much longer, now, and she would be in the air. Flying towards Harry.

    He had to be on the island. He had to be.

    “May I have your attention, please?” Dumbledore’s amplified voice rang out over the ship. Instantly, the rowdy sailors fell silent. “We’re closing on the wardline. We’ve already passed the Muggle-Repelling Charms. I will now cast the spell needed to pass through the actual protections.”

    The spell he had retrieved from the captured pirate’s mind. At the cost of damaging the man’s memory. Lily pushed the slight guilt she felt away. This was for Harry.

    “I bet he’s cutting it close,” Sirius mumbled next to her.

    “Shhh,” Remus chimed in.

    Fleur and Bill were a little off, hugging each other once more.

    And Peter, as usual, remained a little apart from everyone else.

    Dumbledore suddenly waved his wand in a complicated pattern, then raised it and spoke a single word. A light flashed over the entire ship, glowing motes racing up the mast, then disappeared.

    A moment later, Lily felt as if a faint mist brushed over her face.

    Then an island appeared in front of them as the spells hiding it stopped working, and Lily froze for a moment.

    There was a capsized ship in the harbour, and at least two buildings had burned down.

    She gasped. Had that been caused by the storm they had encountered earlier? No! The charms on Abdul’s ship had easily held the storm’s power at bay. Surely, any pirate ship would be similarly protected. That meant… someone else had attacked these pirates! Oh, no - Harry! What if he had been hurt in the fighting?

    “Expecto Patronum!” She flicked her wand as her Patronus appeared in front of her. “Harry! We’re coming for you!” She held her breath as the doe pranced.

    Then her spell sped away, and she gasped with relief. Harry was alive! And he was on the island! Behind the protections, as they had thought! They had found him!

    “It’s too fast!” James yelled.

    What? Lily looked. The translucent deer had already disappeared from view - and it hadn’t been heading towards the island but out towards the open sea. She almost flew after it - but they had just passed the wardline; she would fly directly into the protections. “We need to turn back and leave!” she yelled.

    “Heads up!” Bill yelled. “The pirates are coming!”

    And indeed - half a dozen pirates were already rising into the air on brooms. And more were gathering at the shore.

    Abdul yelled something in Arabian, and his crew sent curses towards the shore. Most spells missed, but a Blasting Curse hit the beach, and the explosion threw up a cloud of sand and dust.

    “We’ll take the flyers!” James snapped. “Take them down quickly so we can go after Harry!”

    “Allow me,” Dumbledore said, his voice still amplified.

    Lily looked at him just in time to see him wave his wand. A moment later, the flying pirates were driven back, scattered by a strong wind.

    The wind also dispersed the cloud of sand and revealed that one pirate had been felled.

    Abdul’s ship was still sailing on but turning to the left now, the crew sending curse after curse at the village. One building caught fire, but most spells didn’t seem to do much - the distance was too great and the spells more apt to disable or kill people than damage houses.

    Dumbledore stepped up to the railing and cast another spell. The capsized ship started to float - in the air. Big streams of water ran down its hull as it rose from the waves.

    For a moment, everyone seemed to stare at the sight. An entire ship, flying through the air. One sailor near Lily muttered what sounded like a prayer, and Lily guided her broom upwards - if that ship fell into the water, it would cause a huge splash.

    Once more, Dumbledore’s voice rang out - over the entire harbour, it seemed. Lily couldn’t understand what he said, other than that he mentioned his own name. While he floated the ship above the village, water kept falling from the holes in the hull.

    The pirates broke. Some knelt down, dropping their wands, others turned and ran or flew away.

    Abdul’s crew cheered, and they quickly got onto their brooms, racing to secure the village. And their loot, Lily realised.

    “No!” she said. “We need to turn back. Harry’s outside the wards!” And there had been that terrible storm before they arrived...

    Dumbledore didn’t answer, but the pirate ship slowly started to fly back to the water, sinking lower and lower - and turning upright. Lily saw the holes in its hull and deck and wondered what kind of spell had done this. Some holes looked like the result of an overpowered piercing curse. Like a cannonball.

    She shook her head. “We need to get Harry!” He was alive, but he could be hurt.

    Dumbledore flicked his wand, letting the pirate ship settle in the water, then sighed. “We will have to wait a little until the village is secure. And we need to find out who attacked it before us - it would not do to run into a second group and start a fight we might have been able to avoid.”

    Lily wanted to protest, but the Headmaster was correct. But Abdul better hurry up! Harry was out there, in need of help!

    “Let’s speed things up!” James snapped. “Follow me!”

    He flew off, the rest of their group chasing after him.

    “Fan out and secure the pirates on the beach. Watch out for stragglers hiding in the houses!”

    Lily suppressed the impulse to tell James that she had fought in the war as well; he had been doing this for years as Head Auror. Instead, she flew close to the shore and started casting Stunning Curses and Incarcerous Spells to secure the pirates who had surrendered.

    “Should we hunt down the ones fleeing?”

    “No. Secure the village, first,” James said.

    “I concur,” Dumbledore agreed - when had he arrived? Lily watched as he took a look at the burning remains of a large building. “I wonder what happened here.” A flick of his wand summoned the remains of a fence. No, bars.

    “A prison, Albus?” Lily asked.

    “It seems so,” Dumbledore replied. “Although a rather large one.”

    “For slaves and hostages,” Fleur hissed.

    Like… Harry! Lily clenched her teeth. “They kept Harry in this prison?”

    “That is what we need to find out, I believe,” Dumbledore replied.

    “Whoever attacked the village would have freed him,” Sirius said. “Your spell didn’t point at the prison. But who did this?”

    “We’ll find out,” Lily said and pulled out a vial of Veritaserum.

    *****​

    Dumbledore repeated his question. Lily Potter didn’t know what he was asking since the pirate didn’t speak English, but she noticed that Dumbledore had asked the same question twice in a row now.

    And now for a third time - at least she thought so. She glanced at Abdul, who was shaking his head. “What are they saying?” she whispered.

    “It’s nonsense,” Abdul said. “They must have been fooled.”

    “What are they saying?” Lily repeated herself.

    “They claim this - the ship sunk, the village set on fire, some guardian beast killed, a prisoner freed - was done by two wizards. No, a wizard and a witch.” Abdul shook his head again.

    Lily looked around. It wasn’t impossible. With surprise and the right spells… Wait. “A wizard and a witch? How did they look?”

    “I bet they were ten feet tall, both of them,” Abdul said with a laugh while Dumbledore asked another question.

    Lily didn’t laugh.

    “Lily? You don’t think… Harry did this?” Remus sounded incredulous.

    She didn’t answer. She stared at Dumbledore.

    The Headmaster seemed bemused as he turned to face them. “According to the description given by this gentleman here, they were attacked by a ‘British wizard with hair the colour of the darkest night and a witch with a mane of brown hair, both of them wearing muggle clothes’.”

    Lily blinked. That sounded like…

    “Harry did this?” Sirius blurted out. “Impossible!”

    *****​

    Atlantic Ocean, July 18th, 1996

    “Down!”

    Hermione Granger dropped automatically, grabbing her wand, when Harry yelled. Turning around, she saw a glowing light approaching the boat and gasped. If the pirates had found them…

    Then she realised what they were seeing. A glowing, flying deer. A white, translucent doe. A Patronus Charm! Warmth filled her.

    Céline made a surprised sound.

    Harry gasped as well. “Mum…” he whispered.

    “Harry! We’re coming for you!” a female voice - Mrs Potter’s, she recognised it - rang out as the doe pranced in front of them, standing on empty air.

    “We’re on the Atlantic Ocean!” Hermione blurted out.

    Harry coughed as the doe faded. “The spell can’t hear you. It’s strictly a message spell. One-way.”

    “Oh.” Hermione frowned. “That’s…” That wasn’t as useful as she thought it would have been. On the other hand, if the recipient knew the spell as well, they could easily communicate like that.

    “But they can find us now. And they’re looking for us,” Harry stated the obvious. He was beaming, though.

    As was Hermione. They hadn’t been abandoned! People were still looking for them! And they were no longer hidden by the island’s protections - they would be saved soon!

    “Qu’est-ce qui se passe?” Céline asked. She sounded timid and exhausted - unsurprisingly, of course - but also hopeful. Hermione saw her smiling shily.

    “C’etait une message de la mère de Harry,” she replied.

    “Oh! On est sauvés?”

    “Oui!” Hermione replied. They were saved. Or would be, soon. They just had to wait until they were found. She blinked. “Can they follow the spell to us?”

    “Uh…” Harry briefly bit his lower lip. “I don’t think so. They never did when they sent the spell after me before. Though… the spell doesn’t appear instantly. It flies. And we saw it coming.”

    “It came from the east. Northeast,” Hermione pointed out. “Unless we were blown off course, that’s where the island should be.” The island full of pirates. If the Potters had stumbled on it…

    Harry, though, was chuckling. “Oh! Serves them right!”

    “What?” Hermione frowned at him.

    “Mum and Dad won’t be alone. They’ll have all their friends with them. Probably all the Aurors, too,” Harry explained. “Those pirates have no chance!”

    “Oh.” Of course, the Potters wouldn’t be alone, but with the Aurors. And maybe even with Dumbledore. Hermione shook her head at her own naivety. A band of pirates wouldn’t be able to stand up to such a force. Especially not this specific band of pirates. “So… now we just wait?” If you were lost in the woods, you were supposed to wait at one spot so you could be found more easily. But they were in the middle of the ocean.

    “Yes,” Harry said. “They’ll find us.”

    He sounded so confident. Hermione smiled. “What spell will they be using?”

    “Uh…” He blinked. “I don’t know. But they’ll find us. If everything fails, they can keep casting the Patronus Charm and just follow the directions until they find us.”

    Hermione nodded. That sounded logical. And, using brooms, they would be able to cover long distances quickly. Though… “Then we should be seeing more spells soon.”

    “Yes.” Harry nodded.

    They waited in silence for about a minute. No more Patronuses arrived.

    “They must be busy. Probably with the pirates,” Harry speculated.

    “That makes sense,” Hermione agreed. Though she couldn’t help but worry. Why had they sent the first spell out if they weren’t ready to follow up with more? Just to assure them that help was coming? That had to be it. Otherwise… No! She wouldn’t worry herself with hypotheticals.

    But as more time passed without any spells arriving, she started to worry. As did Harry. He didn’t say anything, but she saw how he was clenching his teeth and staring at the sky, towards the east.

    Still no Patronus. Hermione wanted to ask how much time had passed - Harry still had his watch - but that would… she didn’t want to make him worry even more. But they couldn’t just keep sitting around and waiting to be saved. What if some pirates were looking for them, and the others were still fighting the rescue party?

    “Do you think we should move?” she asked.

    “I… I don’t know. Mum and Dad are fine. They can handle the pirates. We handled them, after all. And they won’t be alone.”

    He was repeating himself. And he sounded as if he was trying to convince himself. Hermione took a deep breath. “I think we…”

    She trailed off as she saw another bright light coming towards them. And two more. A Doe. A Stag. And a dog.

    And she smiled as three voices talked over each other, and light and warmth once more filled her.

    They were safe.

    *****​

    “Harry! We’re coming!” “Harry! Hold out! We’re on the way!” “Don’t worry, we have everything under control!”

    Harry Potter didn’t mind that Mum, Dad and Sirius’s voices were talking over each other as their Patronuses flew around the boat. He felt good. Better than ever. Even his foot didn’t seem to hurt as much any more.

    Mum and Dad were coming. And Sirius. They were saved. He closed his eyes and sighed with relief as the animals faded. “They’re coming,” he whispered.

    “Les parents d’Harry sont en route,” Hermione told Céline. “Nous sommes sauvés!”

    The little girl cheered and chattered in French - too fast for Harry to catch. Even Hermione seemed to have trouble understanding her. It didn’t matter, anyway. Soon, they would be safe. And home.

    “Do you see anyone?” Hermione asked. “We don’t know how far we are from the island.”

    “No,” Harry replied. But he was staring at the horizon. If they weren’t too far from the island, then Mum and Dad could be here quickly. They had the best brooms money could buy. As did Sirius. Speed was life in a battle as well as in Quidditch, as Harry’s godfather liked to say.

    He didn’t see any approaching brooms, though. But they were coming. He knew it.

    Another set of Patronuses arrived - the same as before.

    “We’re coming!” “Almost there!” “Don’t run off!”

    “‘Don’t run off?” Hermione asked. He looked at her - she had raised her eyebrows.

    Frowning, he told her: “When I was little, I used to do that when they sent a Patronus after me.”

    “Ah.” Was she smirking? It was hard to tell; she had been smiling widely since the first Patronuses had arrived.

    “They must be really worried,” he said. He hadn’t done that in ages. Well, at least a year. But that had been justified.

    “Of course they are. We’ve been missing for almost two weeks,” she said. “My parents must have been sick with worry as well. Do you think they brought them as well?”

    “To fight pirates?” He cocked his head at her.

    She blushed and scowled at the same time. It was a silly question - why would they bring muggles on a rescue mission?

    He didn’t tell her so, though, and looked back at the horizon. And he saw something move, something dark. “I see something!” He held his breath. Were those…?

    A few seconds later, he could make out details. Broom riders! Half a dozen of them!

    Mum and Dad were here!

    “Over here!” he yelled, waving.

    “We’re here!” Hermione’s voice rang out - she had cast an Amplifying Charm.

    He frowned at himself for missing the obvious spell, then copied her. “We’re here!”

    Céline started waving as well. “On est ici!”

    And the brooms homed in on them. He could see Dad in the front - the red robes were a dead giveaway, and he was the best flyer amongst the three. Sirius was right behind him; Harry recognised the sheen of his duelling robes. And there was Mum! “Mum!” Harry caught himself sniffling and wiped his eyes. “Mum!”

    “Is that… Dumbledore?” he heard Hermione ask. “On a broom?”

    He tore his eyes off Mum and blinked. Yes, that was the Headmaster. Riding a broom. And quite skilled - his posture was perfect. Oh. “Those pirates are dead!” Harry blurted out. With his Amplifying Charm still on.

    “Harry!” Dad stopped in front of the boat. “Are you alright?”

    “I’m fine,” Harry told him - after cancelling the spell.

    “Except for your mangled foot,” Hermione remarked.

    “Your foot?” Dad asked.

    “Harry!” Mum almost jumped off her broom. At the last moment, she seemed to realise that she couldn’t just land in the boat and climbed down into the boat. “Oh, Harry! We were so worried!” she said as she hugged him. Mum! Safe at last.

    “Watch his foot!” Hermione exclaimed.

    “His foot?” Mum said, gasping as she pulled back and looked down.

    “It’s not broken,” Harry told her.

    “Not any more,” Hermione added. “As far as we can tell. But it needs to be seen to by a Healer.”

    “Harry!” Sirius exclaimed. “What did you do?”

    Mum waved her wand at it. Then she gasped. “Merlin’s beard, Harry! It’s… what did you do?”

    “Broom accident,” Harry told her. “I rammed a tree.”

    “Broom? You didn’t have your broom with you....” Dad said.

    Harry was about to explain when the rest of the group arrived.

    “Céline!” Fleur exclaimed. “Céline de Ciel!”

    And more French followed between her and the little girl.

    “Harry needs a Healer!” Mum exclaimed. “And we need to get everyone back to the ship!”

    “You have a ship?” Harry asked.

    “We hired a dhow with crew,” Dumbledore explained. “And yes, I believe we should return to them post-haste. We cannot expect them to stay outside the wards forever, not with most of their crew on the island and several pirates still not accounted for.”

    “We can fly,” Harry said, pulling his broom out. “Just not too fast with Céline riding with us.”

    Hermione was already on her broom.

    “You had a broom with you?” Dad repeated his question.

    “No,” Harry told him as Céline climbed up behind him. “We took them from the pirates.”

    “What?” “What?” “You did what?” “Harry!”

    “They attacked us first,” Hermione quickly added.

    Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to help at all.

    *****​

    “What were you doing?”

    “What were they doing?”

    “What happened?”

    “I believe we should wait with more questions until we are back on the ship.”

    “Ah, of course, Albus.”

    “Yes.”

    “But…”

    “No buts!”

    Hermione Granger smiled at the Headmaster’s words. The middle of the ocean, on brooms, wasn’t the place to explain what they had done. What they’d had to do to stay alive, she corrected herself. They hadn’t done anything wrong, after all. All they had done had been perfectly justified.

    She hoped the Aurors would share her view. Technically, they had been using magic while underage, and she wasn’t entirely sure if being stuck on an island justified breaking that statute. It should, but the Ministry’s laws weren’t always fair. Or sane. Especially with regards to muggleborns.

    Still, it couldn’t be too bad. They were alive and safe. Finally. Harry’s foot would be treated. Healed. Céline would be reunited with her family. Hermione would be reunited with her parents!

    Dad and Mum… She missed them. And her friends. Lavender! Oh, dear Lord - they must have been so worried! Harry was lucky - his parents were both here. And fawning over him. Which was perfectly understandable, of course. It wasn’t their fault that Hermione’s parents weren’t wizards and couldn’t be here.

    They were flying in a wide turn, she noticed. Avoiding the island’s wards? But how did they know where… Oh. Dumbledore was leading them now. Of course, he would know how to avoid the wardline!

    Then she saw the ship on the horizon, and her heart seemed to skip a beat. The pirates had returned! She gasped, her wand appearing in her hand before she realised it. “Harry!”

    “Yes!” Harry, too, had his wand out.

    “Harry? What are you doing?” Mrs Potter asked.

    “That’s the ship we hired!” Mr Potter said.

    Oh. Hermione blinked. It looked so much like the pirate ship…

    “You hired pirates?” Harry blurted out.

    “What?”

    “We hired former pirates, Mr Potter,” the Headmaster explained - without looking back, Hermione noted. “I can assure you that they hold no love for the pirates whom you’ve met and revealed themselves to be quite trustworthy during our voyage to the island.”

    “As long as you were there to keep an eye on them, Albus,” a man with black hair and an aristocratic manner added.

    Judging by the Headmaster’s chuckle, he didn’t disagree.

    Hermione frowned. That didn’t really endear the ships’ crew to her. If they only were trustworthy as long as they were cowed by Dumbledore… She glanced at Harry. He didn’t seem to be happy, either.

    Well, Dumbledore was with them. That counted for something.

    Hermione would still keep her wand ready. Just in case.

    They approached the ship.

    “Ahoy!” a big wizard dressed like a pirate shouted, waving to them from the bridge. “You’ve found your wayward children, I gather!”

    Children? Hermione narrowed her eyes at the man. They weren’t children - they were teenagers. Hermione was a little over two months from being an adult in Wizarding Britain.

    “We found them! But we need a Healer!” Mr Potter yelled back even as the first of their group landed on the ship’s deck.

    “A Healer?” The man - apparently the ship’s captain - yelled something in another language. Hermione only caught a name: Ahmed.

    Then she landed and dismounted, shrinking the broom and stuffing it into her pocket before anyone could take it from her.

    Another wizard approached them, and Céline shied away from him, clutching at Harry’s shirt - he was still astride his broom.

    “Calme-toi! Il n’y a aucun risque. On va te protéger,” a witch told Céline - one of the Potters’ friends. And one of the most beautiful women Hermione had ever seen, now that she took a second look at her. A Veela, she realised. And French.

    Céline still looked scared, though.

    “N’aie pas peur,” Hermione said, showing her wand. “On est en garde.”

    That seemed to help. Céline released Harry but stayed close even as the wizard examined Harry’s foot.

    The apparent Healer said something to the captain, who translated. “He says it needs a few spells, but it’s nothing serious.”

    Hermione clenched her teeth - it most certainly was serious! And extremely painful! But she held her tongue.

    “He also asks permission to treat the boy,” the captain went on.

    “He has it,” Mr Potter said. Mrs Potter nodded.

    Harry clenched his teeth, Hermione noticed. They hadn’t asked him.

    “Are you alright, Miss Granger?”

    She turned her head. Who… “Professor Lupin!” she blurted out. Of course - she had known he was a friend of Harry’s parents, so she should have expected his presence.

    He smiled at her and repeated his question.

    “Ah.” Hermione nodded. “I’m fine,” she said.

    “Good, good. We’ll have you back with your parents in no time,” Mr Lupin told her. “Don’t worry.”

    They were treating her and Harry like Céline, she realised. Like children.

    Hermione didn’t like that. Not at all. But she managed to smile when Harry, a little belatedly, introduced everyone to her.

    *****​

    Harry Potter sighed with relief when the pain in his foot vanished. This was… “Merlin’s beard, this feels good!” He exclaimed. “Thank you!”

    The sailor healing him nodded and stood, saying something in Arabian. Probably. Harry still didn’t know what language they were speaking. He smiled at the man anyway and repeated himself. “Thank you.”

    Then he poked and gripped his foot, squeezing a little. No pain. Then he stood, pulling himself up with the help of his broom, before putting weight on the foot. Still no pain.

    “It seems healed,” Hermione said. She was staring at it as if she wanted to check herself - he saw her wand twitch a little before she pressed it to her leg.

    “Yes,” Harry agreed. He took a few more steps, feeling the polished wooden deck under his bare foot. “A bit tender, but it’s OK now.”

    “Good.” She nodded.

    “I can’t believe you were walking around like this!” Mum blurted out. She was frowning even as she hugged him again. And Dad stepped closer, rubbing his head and ruffling his hair.

    “I wasn’t walking,” Harry protested. “I was staying on the broom.”

    “Or hopping or crawling,” Hermione added.

    “I didn’t crawl,” he disagreed.

    “That’s not the point!” Mum insisted. She released him and wiped some tears from her face. Then she turned to Hermione. “And you, Miss Granger! Are you hurt?”

    “No!” Hermione shook her head, her ponytail almost hitting her face.

    “Better check her anyway,” Harry told Mum. She had been banged around, after all - he could see the bruises.

    Hermione glared at him for that, but he met her eyes. There was no reason not to get checked out by a Healer.

    Although… Hermione was really tense, he realised when the Healer waved his wand at her. Oh - the wizard did look like one of the pirates they had fought. “Sorry,” Harry mouthed at her.

    She nodded in return.

    “It’s OK,” Mum told them. “You’re safe.”

    “Yes, Mum,” Harry agreed. Though he couldn’t help feeling a little tense, standing on the deck. Which reminded him… He pulled his shoe out and put it on while the Healer finished with Hermione. Harry saw the bruises disappear under healing spells.

    “You are slightly malnourished and in need of rest, but healthy otherwise, Miss Granger,” Dumbledore translated whatever the Healer told him. “The same as Mr Potter, actually.”

    “Malnourished?” Mum gasped as if she had been told they’d be dying.

    “We had to make do with coconuts, mostly,” Hermione explained. “And some fish, but fishing was often too dangerous.”

    “Yes. And the wyvern wasn’t really edible,” Harry joked.

    “The wyvern?” That was Dad. And he was frowning as well. Shouldn’t he be smiling? It was a joke.

    “There was a wyvern on the island. It was hunting us, and so we had to kill it,” Harry explained. “Please don’t tell Hagrid!” The professor would never forgive them.

    “Or Luna,” Hermione added. “Luna Lovegood.”

    “Yes.” Harry nodded. “Best keep that a secret, OK?” He smiled at the others.

    Mum and Dad were staring at him, though. As if he had asked them to kill the neighbour’s cat. Or told them he had killed it.

    “A wyvern? A great flying dragon-like beast?” Uncle Remus asked. “And it was hunting you?”

    “The captured pirates did mention something like it,” Dumbledore said. “Quite a large specimen, according to them, though sailors have a habit of embellishing their tales.”

    “Well, it wasn’t that big,” Harry said. “Like…” he moved his hands about a yard apart. “Like this, right, Hermione?”

    She nodded. “That was the size of its mouth, yes.”

    More gasping.

    “You fought… you killed such a monster?” Mum looked pale.

    Oh, damn. He glanced at Hermione and winced.

    “We trapped it,” Hermione said. “We didn’t fight it out with wands versus claws.”

    “And we were safe in a cave. And later a shelter,” Harry added.

    “Safe? When fighting a wyvern?” Dad sounded angry.

    “It was too big to enter the cave,” Harry explained. “It got stuck.”

    “That was your trap?” Uncle Remus asked.

    “No, we used spikes with barbs,” Harry told him. “The cave was when we hid after the first trap failed. But we got it the second time when we used a pit with spikes.”

    “And bent trunks to smash it onto the spikes.” Hermione interrupted him with a nod. “And lead poisoning.”

    “It took a while, but we got it.” Harry nodded as well.

    “I think you should tell us exactly what you did since you disappeared from Knockturn Alley,” Mum said in a rather clipped tone. The last time she had spoken like this, Harry remembered, had been when Rose’s Potions experiment had almost set the house on fire despite the Protective Charms that should have prevented that.

    He winced again.

    *****​

    “...and then the wyvern succumbed to its accumulated injuries,” Hermione Granger finished her tale - well, it felt more like a report. Only that instead of researching in the library, she had to remember every detail herself.

    “And we buried the carcass, so it wouldn’t attract scavengers and such,” Harry added.

    “Merlin’s beard!” the aristocratic wizard - Mr Black, Harry’s godfather - blurted out. “That’s…” he shook his head. “We never did anything like that!”

    “This is quite the tale, Mrs Granger, Harry,” the Headmaster smiled at them. “I would award both of you points for quick thinking and persistence as well as bravery if we were at Hogwarts. Although I think you are correct - this is not a tale Rubeus would like to hear.”

    “Albus!” Mrs Potter snapped. “This isn’t some school… adventure! They almost died! Multiple times!”

    “But we didn’t!” Harry protested.

    “And it wasn’t as if we had a choice,” Hermione pointed out. “The wyvern was hunting us - we were at risk whenever we left our shelter. Or the cave.”

    “It attacked us first, too,” Harry interrupted her. “What should we have done? Hide until we starved?”

    This entirely logical argument didn’t seem to impress his parents, Hermione noted.

    “How long did it take you to construct your trap?” Mrs Potter asked. “Time you spent out of your ‘shelter’. And how long did it take you to gather food?”

    Hermione scowled and spoke up before Harry could say anything. “That’s an unfair comparison. We might have been able to hide and live off summoned coconuts, but Malnutrition would’ve become an issue very, very quickly.”

    “And being effectively locked up in a small room isn’t good long-term, either. You told us that,” Harry added, frowning at his parents.

    “I was talking about Azkaban!” Mrs Potter retorted. “Not about hiding from a man-eating magical beast the size of a dragon!”

    Dumbledore cleared his throat. “Without taking sides, I have to point out that the plan was sensible and took the dangers into account.”

    “They used Harry as bait!” Mr Potter snapped. “If the Summoning Charm had been a little slower…” He shook his head, and his wife paled.

    “We had it under control. And I knew Hermione could summon me quickly enough,” Harry told them. “Just like at the pond. We weren’t reckless!”

    Hermione nodded in agreement. “Yes. We had a plan and followed it, and it worked as planned.”

    “After your first plan didn’t work,” Mr Potter said.

    “I’d say you were reckless, but it worked out well,” Mr Black said. The Potters glared at him, and he cringed a little. “Still, I hope you’ve learnt your lesson.”

    Harry nodded. “Oh, yes. Next time we encounter a wyvern or something similar, things will go differently.”

    “Yes.” Hermione narrowed her eyes. “I’ve already made a list of spells we need to learn that will be most helpful in the same situation.” She wouldn’t be caught unaware and unprepared again. Never again.

    The Headmaster seemed pleased at hearing that. “Feel free to ask me for advice, Miss Granger, Harry. I do have some experience in the field, so to speak.”

    “Thank you, Headmaster!” Hermione replied, beaming at him.

    Unfortunately, the rest of the group didn’t seem to be happy about the situation.

    “Albus! That’s not the lesson they should’ve learnt!” Mrs Potter protested again.

    “Oh? I would think learning new spells to be prepared for any eventuality was the hallmark of a good wizard or witch.” Dumbledore inclined his head as he turned to face the Potters. “Far too many of my students seem to forget how to use their wands for anything but the most basic charms and a few spells they need at work as soon as they leave Hogwarts.”

    “That’s not the point,” Mr Potter retorted. “But they shouldn’t be trying to kill the next wyvern or dragon they meet.”

    “Of course not!” Harry blurted out. “Only if it attacks us! Or attempts to.”

    “And if we can’t run away and get help,” Hermione added. “Or if others are in danger, of course.” She glanced at Céline.

    Once more, only the Headmaster seemed to like their plans.

    “Harry! You’re not Aurors! You’re not even Hit-Wizards! You’re children - students! You shouldn’t fight any dangerous creatures!” Mr Potter all but yelled.

    “Tell that to Hagrid when he makes his lesson plans,” Harry snapped back.

    “And whether or not we should isn’t the question,” Hermione cut in. “The question is what we do when things go wrong. We can’t count on others being there to save us.”

    “Indeed, Miss Granger. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, accidents and incidents do happen, and the authorities, be they teachers or Aurors, cannot be everywhere at once.”

    The Headmaster’s smile turned a little sad, but the Potters looked as if Hermione had hexed them, she realised. Oh. They probably felt guilty for not finding them sooner.

    “Yes.” Harry nodded sharply as he turned to Mr Black. “And I’ve heard enough about the war from Sirius to know that you didn’t leave things to the Aurors and Hit-Wizards either!”

    “That was different!” his mother retorted.

    “And we were out of school!” Mr Potter added.

    “Albus didn’t let anyone join the Order unless they were adults,” Mr Black added. “Fortunately, he didn’t require us to act our age all the time.”

    No one laughed at the joke, though. And Hermione had to bite her lip to keep from telling the Potters that she’d be an adult in a bit over two months. That wouldn’t help her argument at all.

    The Potters exchanged a glance, then Mrs Potter said. “Look, Harry… we just want you to be safe. This should never have happened!” She frowned. “It wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t gone into Knockturn Alley.”

    “Hey! I went in to protect Hermione.”

    “I was only in the part right next to Diagon Alley!” Hermione retorted, glaring at Harry. Then she frowned at his father. “If that’s so dangerous, then the DMLE should’ve shut down the alley long ago!”

    Mr Potter gaped at her even as Harry chuckled. “That’s… That’s not the point!”

    “She got you there, James,” Mr Black muttered.

    “While discussing the policies of the Ministry is both necessary and sometimes entertaining, I do believe that this is a subject for another occasion,” the Headmaster cut in. “Instead of assigning blame, might we hear the rest of your adventures while we wait for our allies to finish their business in the village?”

    Said business was looking like their ‘allies’ were looting everything that wasn’t protected by a Sticking Charm, as far as Hermione could tell. But the Headmaster had a point.

    So she nodded. “Yes. After we dealt with the wyvern, we decided to explore the island, see if there was a way to call for help or escape it. So we climbed the central hill first, and…”

    *****​
     
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  8. Mastersgt

    Mastersgt Experienced.

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    Wonder when it will be revealed that they fell in love...

    This story kinda makes me think of that Harrison Ford movie 'Six Days, Seven Nights'. Where he is stranded on a "deserted" island with a woman he cannot stand, only for them to fall for each other while they try to get off the island while evading Pirates that seem to be setup nearby.
     
  9. Hylas_Daemonem

    Hylas_Daemonem A Colony of Ghosts

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    Woohoo!! Good to see them off the island, and it's funny to hear the parental reactions to what is pretty much equivalent to OG Harry's school career.
     
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  10. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    I saw that movie on a plane in the 90s, and while I don't remember many details, it's been one of the inspirations for this story.

    Indeed. Of course, the canon threats were even worse - basilisk, dementors, Voldemort...
     
  11. ProfessorP.Hardraad

    ProfessorP.Hardraad Thread Necromancer

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    Dead parents. The Dursleys. Umbridge. The Dursleys. Tri-Wizard Tournament. Dead parents.
    Harry got off lucky in this AU.
     
  12. Krule

    Krule Not too sore, are you?

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    Lucky? In comparison to canon, he’s gotten better than lucky, in several ways. Always thought Hermione was a better match for him then Ginny anyway.
     
  13. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    On the other hand, unlike canon, he won't just bounce back as if nothing happened after this. Still, he's got a family (including a little sister) and a girlfriend out of this, so to speak.

    With regards to Ginny or Hermione, both have their good and bad sides. I've written stories with both pairings.
     
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  14. draconomial

    draconomial Getting out there.

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    should be Arabic
     
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  15. space turtle

    space turtle Know what you're doing yet?

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    I should have anticipated that all Dumbledore would need to do is declare his presence and perform one grand magical feat to cow the rest into submission.
    Unless the charge for piracy is death, which is what volunteering for a duel with a pissed of mugwump would entail.
    Trust the headmaster to take the path of least bloodshed.

    And I second the call for someone to go “wait... how small a space did the pair of you sleep in?!!”
    I cannot wait for the Lilly vs marauders beat down.
    But!!! maybe she will be more sympathetic. Knowing a thing or two about combattive relationships developing into something more once the boy in question matures sufficiently. “Call me Lily, or mother in law if you want to save time” ;p
     
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  16. Threadmarks: Chapter 31: The Tale
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 31: The Tale

    Unknown Island, July 18th, 1996

    “...and then we saw the village and the ship. And we realised that we had to cover our tracks,” Harry said.

    James Potter frowned. “Why did you come to that conclusion?” Harry looked good - slightly tanned, not sunburnt, hair a mess, but that was normal, and healthy. Not hurt, not any more.

    “Because they were on the same island as a man-eating wyvern who had killed several people,” Miss Granger butted in before Harry could explain. “We weren’t certain that they were pirates, but we had to assume the worst, so we hid and then sneaked up on the village to find out what kind of people they were.”

    “We did that carefully,” Harry quickly added. “We went underwater to sneak into the cove because we assumed the village was warded against intruders.”

    James gritted his teeth. He ignored Fleur whispering to the little girl - probably translating - and said: “And you thought that they wouldn’t have wards underwater?”

    His son - his brave, smart and oh so foolish son smiled. “Well, we considered it unlikely. Not with the wyvern hunting sea mammals and large fishes. And we were ready to summon each other in case something went wrong.”

    “Like underwater netting. Disillusioned underwater netting,” Miss Granger added.

    “But there wasn’t any. We did encounter a shark, but it was harmless,” Harry said. A shark! James gritted his teeth and forced himself to let his son talk. “So, we swam into the cove and then looked around. Under cover by the ship. And we found out that the settlement wasn’t abandoned, so they had been living on the island for a while. And hadn’t done anything about the wyvern.”

    “And we saw the prison,” Miss Granger interrupted again. “So, we were either on a pirate island or a former pirate island. We couldn’t risk revealing ourselves.”

    Lily nodded. James agreed. Of course, they couldn’t reveal themselves - as they found out, those were actual pirates. Not former pirates. If they had revealed themselves… Damn it!

    “Anyway,” Harry picked up again. “We made some plans, then went back to spy on them some more. That’s how we found Céline.”

    James narrowed his eyes. Harry was glossing over things. He only ever did that when he was hiding something. Damn it - this was… Why couldn't Harry have trusted them to find him and simply hid for two weeks? Stayed safe instead of risking his life like this? Why couldn’t they have found him sooner? They had almost… Damn it! “You sneaked into a pirate village?”

    “At night,” Miss Granger replied. “The pirates were busy celebrating. We could investigate the prison without risk.” The girl frowned. “Or so we thought.”

    “Yes, we must have left some traces or tracks since the pirates started hunting us afterwards,” Harry said.

    “Or we triggered a spell,” Miss Granger added. “We never found out what mistake we made.”

    Triggered a spell? What if it had been a lethal one? James clenched his teeth.

    “Something easily rectified, now that we can question our prisoners,” Dumbledore said.

    “They hunted you?” Lily blurted out.

    “We already knew that from the prisoners,” Sirius pointed out. He was grinning, as if hearing how close Harry had come to dying was funny!

    “Well, not right away. We returned to our shelter for a while to plan. Then we moved up and made a hideout near the pirate village, so we didn’t have to walk through the jungle every day,” Harry went on.

    “So, that worked out, and we started spying on the village again,” Miss Granger said.

    She was talking a little more loudly than before, James noted. Crooks usually did that when they were agitated - or tried to hide something. He reminded himself that this wasn’t an interrogation.

    Harry nodded several times. “Uh, right. Anyway, we were making plans to free Céline - we didn’t know her name back then - but we spotted a fishing boat sailing through the wards. So, we knew how to escape then. But the pirates used dogs to track us to our hideout, and we had to flee on our improvised broom.”

    “A pole we were levitating,” Miss Granger explained. “Not an actual broom.”

    “And you managed to escape the pirates on that?” Sirius blurted out.

    “They couldn’t easily find or see us since it was at night, and we managed to lose them the few times they saw us,” Harry said. “Blew up half the jungle, but they never caught us, and we went back to our shelter to rest and recover.”

    “You were hurt?”

    “Only scratches. Easily healed,” Harry quickly said. Too quickly.

    James shook his head. This was… this was madness! Harry wasn’t a trained Auror. He hadn’t even finished school! And he and Miss Granger had, apparently, treated the whole ordeal as some adventure! Sneaking into a pirate village! Repeatedly! Running from pirates, and then… “What did you do then?”

    “Well,” Harry said, “then we made new plans to sneak into the village to free Céline and escape with the fishing boat, of course.”

    “‘Of course’!” Lily spat, shaking her head.

    “We didn’t know that you’d arrive so soon,” Miss Granger said with a frown. “If we had known, we would’ve waited. But… we didn’t know!”

    “We picked the best course of action we could think of!” Harry blurted out.

    “And you proved your ingenuity and courage!” Dumbledore beamed at them.

    For a moment, James wanted to hex the old man. Harry shouldn’t have been risking his life!

    “We were so worried about you!” Lily said, sniffling. “And you… you...”

    James nodded.

    Harry looked sheepish.” Sorry, Mum, but… we really saw no other way.”

    “And you made it!” Sirius smiled at them. “You took on the pirates and won! Saved the girl, too! You’re heroes!”

    Heroes who wouldn’t get the slightest chance to brave such danger again, James silently vowed. Neither he nor Lily would survive another week or two spent worrying about Harry. Certainly not now that they knew what he would do in such a situation!

    “Thank you, Sirius,” Harry said, beaming at him.

    James frowned. Sirius had no business encouraging Harry - this wasn’t some prank or Quidditch stunt. His son had fought murderous pirates! One mistake, one curse, and he could’ve died!

    “So,” Miss Granger quickly took up the tale again, “we made a plan to distract the pirates, lure the majority of them away from the village, then break into the prison, free Céline and escape with the fishing boat, to let us pass through the wards.”

    Harry nodded. “We had captured a broom during the chase, so we could now meet them on even terms.”

    James blinked. “You had captured a broom? While the pirates were chasing you?”

    “Yes. I managed to hit one with a curse, and he crashed,” Harry said. “Then I summoned the broom.”

    James wasn’t about to ask Harry whether or not his boy had killed a man. But he knew he had to ask their prisoners if only so he wouldn’t wonder and worry.

    “Good thinking!” Sirius said. “So, everything went according to your plan?”

    “Yes. I attacked the ship to rile them up so they would chase me, lured them away and then returned to pick up Hermione. Worked like a charm.”

    “Except for you hitting your foot against a tree trunk when the pirates were chasing you through the jungle,” Miss Granger replied.

    “That was an accident,” Harry protested. “And I had to fly fast or I wouldn’t have been able to lose the pirates in the jungle. Which I did!”

    James had a few horrible visions of Harry crashing head-on into a trunk. He should have never let Lily drag him into that muggle movie.

    You sunk the ship? How?” Sirius asked.

    “We turned tree trunks into metal spikes, shrank them, and I dropped them after enlarging them from a great height,” Harry explained.

    “Though some of the damage was done by spells when they were chasing you around the ship,” Miss Granger added.

    “Anyway,” his son continued - a little too quickly; James saw Miss Granger close her mouth and frown, too - “I returned, and we broke into the prison.”

    “After we sent conjured and enlarged mice and birds into the village,” Miss Granger cut in again. “And the doors and windows of the prison were protected, so we blew through the walls to save Céline.”

    The little girl perked up when she heard her name and said something in French. Fleur replied in French, which prompted another wave of quick sentences.

    “Céline says she was very frightened until you found her,” the witch said.

    Harry winced, as did Miss Granger. “Well, Hermione calmed her down, and then we hid in the prison.”

    “You hid in there?” Lily asked.

    “Well… we had taken a little longer than planned to get into the prison.” Harry’s smile told James that his son was about to lie again. “So, we had to adjust our plans a little.”

    “How did you hide in the prison, with the pirates coming?” James asked. “Did you use a Disillusionment charm?”

    “No,” Miss Granger replied. “That wouldn’t have worked, anyway - they used Disillusionment Charms, so they also had to use Human-presence-revealing Charms.” She nodded and glanced at Harry.

    Who, James noted, glanced back at her instead of continuing their tale. That was a very bad sign.

    Lily must have picked up on that as well. “What did you do?” she asked in a clipped tone.

    “We shrunk us and hid under an armoire,” Harry blurted out. “So the armoire would hide the markers from the Human presence-revealing Spell.”

    “We had trained to do that while we were planning this,” Miss Granger added quickly. “And it worked very well.”

    “You shrunk yourselves?” Lily all but yelled. “Do you know how dangerous that is?”

    “Yes,” Harry replied, frowning. “That’s why we trained for it.”

    “And we had used the shrinking charm a lot even before we specifically started training,” Miss Granger said.

    “Very impressive,” Dumbledore commented with a wide smile. “Not many wizards and witches would have dared take such a risk, but I dare say you had no choice.”

    “If I had our cloak with us…” Harry trailed off when James and Lily glared at him. “Anyway, it worked out, and we waited until they had left the prison and started looking for us elsewhere. Then we lured one of the pirates into the prison…” He trailed off. “Merlin’s Beard, I completely forgot about him!”

    Miss Granger gasped. “Me too!”

    “What? What did you do?” James blurted out. Had they killed a pirate?

    Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a doll. No - a shrunken tied up pirate!

    James stared, as did the others. No one said anything for a second or two.

    “He’s OK,” Miss Granger announced after waving her wand at the shrunken man.

    “Yes,” Harry said. “I cast a Bubble-Head Charm on him before I stashed him in my pocket. Well, mainly so the smoke from the fire wouldn’t hurt him, but it also helped when we went underwater.”

    Underwater? James resisted the urge to grab Harry and shake him until he told them everything. In detail. But it was a near thing.

    *****​

    “Underwater?” Mum asked. She was standing very close now.

    “Well,” Harry Potter replied, “we had to ride out the storm, and we couldn’t risk getting blown back through the wards, so we went underwater.”

    “You were out in that storm?”

    “Of course,” Harry replied. Hadn’t that been obvious? “We struck at the pirates at night, then fled. And the storm began shortly after sunrise, when we were at sea.”

    “We were travelling by brooms and only used the boat to pass through the wardline,” Hermione added. “And we didn’t want to test whether or not the boat had charms to protect it against environmental hazards. So riding out the storm underwater seemed the best course of action.”

    Well, they hadn’t thought of that, but there was no need to tell Mum and Dad that. Harry nodded. “And it worked out well,” he said. “We resurfaced, got the boat out and then dried ourselves.”

    “J’avais tellement froid!” Céline piped up.

    “You spent hours in the cold water?” Fleur blurted out. “You could’ve died!”

    “We clung together to share body heat and minimise the loss of heat,” Hermione retorted. “It was much safer than riding out the storm in a fishing boat.”

    “Yes. We didn’t know you were coming - and we were committed. We couldn’t return to the island, either,” Harry said. “The pirates had to be searching for us after we lost them at the wardline.” Although if they had managed that... the pirates would’ve never expected them to return.

    “‘Lost them at the wardline’?” Uh-oh. Dad had that expression he usually did when he caught Harry at a prank.

    “They spotted us when the sun went up, and we had to use the boat to cross the wardline,” Harry explained. “So, we had to fight them off while we did that. It was only for a few minutes, and it was only a few pirates.”

    “We used conjured birds to block their curses and serve as targets for Reductor Curses to allow us to hit them despite them being disillusioned and flying on brooms,” Hermione added.

    “Oh, good thinking!” Sirius said.

    “Quite clever, indeed,” Dumbledore agreed.

    “Thank you!” Hermione beamed at them.

    “Anyway, that’s why we forgot about the captured pirate,” Harry said. “Sorry.”

    “But he wasn’t hurt,” Hermione said with a sneer. “And he was stunned, so he didn’t even realise what was going on.”

    “And then you sent the Patronus after us, and we knew you were coming,” Harry finished. “And here we are!”

    “So… you killed a wyvern, sunk a pirate ship, burned down a pirate prison, freed a pirates’ prisoner, stole a pirate’s boat and pirates’ brooms, and escaped from the entire pirate crew?” Sirius beamed at Harry. “That’s great! You put my training to use!”

    “Sirius!” Mum hissed. “They almost died! Multiple times!”

    “But they didn’t!” Sirius defended himself.

    “That doesn’t mean it’s OK!” Mum insisted. Well, she usually said that about pranks as well. “You can’t be lucky forever!”

    “We weren’t just lucky!” Hermione protested. “We did plan everything carefully!”

    “But not everything went according to plan,” Dad replied. “And I know you skipped over a few things in your tale.”

    Harry struggled not to blush. What they had done in the shelter was no one’s business but their own. “A few details,” he said. “Nothing important.”

    Hermione frowned for a moment and glanced at him, then nodded. “Yes. We didn’t go into details about dealing with diarrhoea caused by a diet of coconuts. Or how we had to bury the rotting carcass of the wyvern before it became a health hazard.”

    Sirius grimaced. As did Mum and Dad.

    “It would’ve been very embarrassing if the wyvern had managed to kill us after we killed it,” Harry joked. Sirius and Bill were the only ones who laughed, though. Well, Dumbledore smiled. “Oh, can we go and dig up the carcass before we leave? The skull would make a great trophy!” He blinked. “Although we would have to hide it from Hagrid, I guess.”

    “And Luna,” Hermione added.

    “Yes,” Harry agreed. “But we can shrink it. Or keep it in Grimmauld Place. It would make a great conversation piece.”

    “Oh, yes! My godson’s trophy!”

    “I confess I am curious about this creature’s size,” Dumbledore said. “And I think Xenophilus might be interested in the skeleton as well - wyverns are rare, after all.” Harry winced, and the Headmaster added: “Don’t worry, Xenophilus understands how dangerous wyverns are.”

    “Unlike Hagrid,” Sirius mumbled.

    “Let’s do it,” Dad said. Mum nodded.

    Harry had the sudden feeling that this might not have been a good idea.

    *****​

    Hermione Granger looked around as they flew towards the shore. The prison had suffered greatly - the walls still stood, and the roof hadn’t collapsed, but what she could see of the interior was blackened with soot and signs of extreme heat such as bent and warped bars. And in front of it, she saw a long row of stunned and bound pirates lying in the sand.

    She nudged her broom to the side until she was flying next to Harry, who, for once, wasn’t speeding ahead, and said: “Too bad we can’t hold the pirates in their own prison.”

    He laughed at that. “Oh, right! That would’ve been ironic. Though if they are smart, they would’ve prepared some ways to escape their own prison, wouldn’t they?”

    “I don’t think so. That would’ve been a weakness their captives could’ve exploited,” Hermione pointed out.

    Instead of flying ahead to their shelter, the adults leading them landed at the shore. Hermione frowned as she followed suit. She saw Mrs Potter already walking towards the prison, followed by the Headmaster. “What is going to happen to the pirates, anyway?” she asked as she dismounted.

    “They’ll be tried?” Harry replied.

    His father turned and nodded at them. “Yes, they’ll be tried. But we’re still in the process of detailing who gets to try them,” he told them. “Britain, France or Algeria.”

    “Why France?” Harry asked.

    “Fleur counts as French involvement in the capture.”

    “She’s not a French Auror!” Harry protested.

    “That would be a French Gendarme Magique,” Hermione corrected him. “They don’t have Aurors.”

    He snorted. “You know what I mean. She’s no Gendarme either.”

    “Technically, we’re all here as civilians,” Mr Potter said. “This isn’t an official Auror raid.”

    Hermione nodded - that had been obvious. Not even Harry’s father was wearing the official Auror robes, anyway.

    “But everyone else is British,” Harry pointed out.

    “Or belongs to a ship’s crew from Algier. And Céline is a French victim of the pirates,” his father replied.

    “And we’re British.” Hermione nodded.

    “Yes. Although I’m not quite certain if you count as victims,” Mr Black cut in with a wide grin. “Too bad the pirates are stunned - imagine if they knew they were beaten by two students!”

    They would find out at their trials at the latest. Oh. “Do we have to attend the trial and give testimony?” Hermione asked. Unless the trial was held very quickly, they would have to leave Hogwarts in the middle of the term for that.

    “That depends on where the trial’s been held,” Mr Potter told her. “I’m not sure how trials are held in Algiers.”

    “Bet they would let them go,” Harry muttered. His godfather laughed, but Mr Potter shook his head.

    “No, I don’t think so. These pirates are mostly Moroccans. Unless they have a powerful friend in the Bey’s court, they will likely be found guilty to show that Algeria doesn’t tolerate pirates.”

    Hermione scoffed. As if anyone believed that.

    “And what will happen to them if they’re found guilty?” Harry asked.

    “They’ll be executed,” Mr Potter said.

    Hermione froze for a moment. “Executed?” she asked.

    “The usual punishment for piracy is death,” Mr Black told them. “In Britain, France and Algeria.”

    “Oh.” The pirates they had fought against would be killed. Executed. Hermione swallowed. That was… She glanced at the captives laid out in the sand, then looked away. That was… partially her doing.

    “Really?” Harry asked. “I thought only the worst dark wizards got the veil.”

    “That’s for using the Dark Arts,” his father said. “But convicted pirates are hung. The Ministry continued the muggle practice.”

    “But…” Harry trailed off. He glanced at Hermione, and she saw him wince. She felt slightly ill herself.

    “Oh, Harry, Miss Granger! That’s not your fault! You didn’t capture those pirates!” Mr Potter said.

    “Except for the one we did capture,” Harry replied, frowning.

    “And without us, you wouldn’t have found the island,” Hermione added.

    “They attacked you, didn’t they? And they kidnapped the little girl,” Mr Black pointed out.

    “Céline,” Hermione said.

    “Right.” The man nodded. “Anyway, they chose to become pirates. And sooner or later, they would’ve been caught by the French if they kept raiding their shores. It’s really not your fault.”

    But it was. Dozens of people would be executed because of their actions. If Hermione hadn’t gone into Knockturn Alley, hadn’t picked up the Portkey…

    “Céline would still be their captive,” Harry whispered.

    Hermione nodded. The pirates had captured and enslaved many people. And they had killed many as well. Sometimes by letting the wyvern eat them. They were brutal criminals.

    Telling herself that helped. But she still didn’t look at the captured pirates. And neither did Harry. To be responsible for the death of someone… She drew a sharp breath. “Did… did any of the pirates we fought die?” she asked, then bit her lower lip. She hadn’t meant to sound so… insecure.

    “I don’t think so,” Mr Potter told her with a smile.

    “You mean you don’t know,” Harry said, scowling.

    His father frowned at him, then sighed. “I’ll ask.”

    Hermione nodded. She would rather know than wonder and worry about the consequences of her actions.

    *****​

    Harry Potter wasn’t quite holding his breath, but he would be lying if he claimed he wasn’t worried - no, concerned - whether or not he had actually killed someone. He took a few deep breaths. He had only defended himself and Hermione and Céline. The pirates had attacked them first, not even counting the wyvern. If they hadn’t attacked them, Harry and Hermione wouldn’t have done anything to them. Although… He pressed his lips together. They wouldn’t have left Céline in prison, so they would have done something.

    It wasn’t as if Harry had been trying to kill them. But he hadn’t exactly played it safe, either. Not that any spell was truly safe in a fight, as Sirius had taught him. Even a stunner could kill someone if they fell down and hit their head or something. Or fell from their broom if hit in the air...

    He drew a hissing breath. And he hadn’t just used Stunners against the pirates. Again, he hadn’t had any choice - they couldn’t let themselves get captured. And the pirates had kept coming after them. Still…

    “It’s not your fault,” Hermione whispered next to him.

    Harry nodded even though he had trouble convincing himself. He smiled at her anyway. Then he noticed how tense she was. “It wasn’t yours, either,” he whispered back.

    “I should’ve made a better plan,” she replied. “Without leaving so much to chance.”

    “We did what we could,” he told her. Which was true. But she would still blame herself. Sirius was giving them a weird glance, Harry noticed. But his godfather wasn’t saying anything. What was he thinking?

    “Alright!” Dad arrived before Harry could ask Sirius. “The pirates you hurt all lived through it.”

    Harry felt relieved. He hadn’t killed anyone! Hermione hadn’t killed anyone! He smiled.

    “But they’ll be executed,” Hermione said in a low voice.

    Harry froze. That was true - they had already been told that. And that was, sort of, their fault.

    “No one forced them to become pirates,” Dad said, echoing Sirius. “Sooner or later, they would’ve been caught anyway.”

    That wasn’t true - Harry knew that not every criminal got caught. He nodded anyway. For Hermione’s sake. She couldn’t blame herself for that. “So… can we lead you to our shelter now?” he asked. They had no reason to stay in the village, looking at the doomed pirates, feeling guilty for something that wasn’t really their fault.

    “Yes,” Dad quickly agreed. “The captain has the village secured.”

    “And I doubt that any of them dare to turn against us,” Sirius added with a grin. “Not after Dumbledore’s demonstration.”

    “What did he do?” Hermione asked.

    “Made the ship float over the village,” Sirius told them. “They surrendered right after that. Most of them.”

    “Most of them?” Harry asked.

    “Some fled into the jungle,” Dad explained.

    “Oh.” Harry tensed. There were pirates left on the island? Hiding in the jungle? He glanced at Hermione. She had drawn her wand and was scowling.

    “We need to fly along the beach then, with some distance to the jungle,” she said.

    Harry nodded. They couldn’t risk getting cursed from hiding.

    “They won’t dare to attack us,” Sirius said with a smile. “Don’t worry. We’ll have Dumbledore with us, after all.”

    “And the pirates will be hiding, hoping that we leave before they’re found,” Dad added. He turned towards the prison. “Lily! Albus! We’re ready to go!” he yelled.

    Dumbledore and Mum appeared in the doorway of the prison a moment later. And Bill, Fleur and Uncle Remus were walking towards them with Céline - they must have taken her away from the prison and the pirates.

    “Where is Peter?” Dad asked.

    “Still interrogating the pirates,” Sirius told him.

    “Why?” Harry asked.

    “He’s trying to find out what else the pirates have done,” Dad explained. “And whether or not there are more of them around.”

    That made sense. Harry felt dumb for asking - of course Uncle Peter would want to find out as much as possible! “Should we leave without them?” he asked.

    “I think they want to see your shelter as well,” Dad said.

    “I certainly want to see it,” Mum added. “The prison was a disgrace. To keep a little girl in those cells…” She shook her head.

    “Although the different spells on the building were quite interesting,” Dumbledore said. “I do not think that they removed any of the original spells - it does look like they just kept adding new ones whenever they learned a new spell, no matter how the spell might fit into the pattern.”

    “Really?” Dad asked.

    “Yes,” Mum confirmed. “In some cases, I think, two spells cancelled each other out. At least that would explain why you managed to breach the walls.

    “Really?” Harry asked. Had they been luckier than they had thought?

    “We should’ve gone with the plan to kidnap a pirate and force him to help us,” Hermione muttered.

    Dad looked aghast, as did Mum. Sirius, though, chuckled. “And how would you have convinced them to help you?”

    His godfather sounded amused, Harry noted. He narrowed his eyes. “Probably with a Sandpaper Hex,” he said.

    “What?”

    “Hermione knows it.” Harry nodded at her.

    “I used it to sandpaper our floating platform and furniture,” Hermione explained with a glare at Harry. What had he done? Oh, she probably hadn’t wanted to reveal that.

    “And how would that have helped you to…? Merlin’s beard!” Sirius grimaced.

    Harry cleared his throat. “Anyway, let’s go. We’re wasting daylight!”

    “Yes,” Hermione agreed.

    *****​

    Hermione Granger tensed as they left the village. There were pirates hiding on the island - somewhere in the jungle. And Harry, herself and the others were presenting an easy target flying as a group. Even following the shoreline and avoiding the jungle, they were still at risk of being hit by a well-aimed curse.

    Which was why she kept her attention on the jungle to her left. Ready to react at the slightest sign of trouble. If a pirate showed their wand, she’d send a curse at them. As would Harry.

    But no curses flew at them as they cleared the ridge of the peninsula shielding the cove. The pirates must have fled further away - and must have decided against doubling back. Or they were hiding to be able to curse them from the back.

    She glanced over her shoulder, studying the ridge as they flew on.

    “Merlin’s Beard! Did they burn down the jungle?” Mr Black blurted out.

    Hermione turned her head. What was he… Oh.

    “Well, they tried to,” Harry said. “That was where our hideout was.”

    “You were there when they did this?” Harry’s mother asked.

    “We were flying away,” he replied. “They couldn’t catch us.”

    “This… This…”

    “It was at night, and we lost them pretty quickly. They just kept blowing up the jungle after we already left,” Hermione explained.

    “‘Pretty quickly’?” Harry’s father shook his head.

    “Well, yes. And we got our first broom here,” Harry told them.

    “Impressive, I have to admit,” the Headmaster commented. “They thought you were part of a larger force.”

    “They did?” Harry asked.

    “They certainly didn’t expect two stranded students to spy on them in order to attack them,” his mother snapped.

    “No, they didn’t!” Harry agreed. Hermione didn’t need to look at him - and stop watching the jungle - to know he was grinning.

    “That’s no laughing matter!” his mother protested. “You could’ve died!”

    “But we didn’t!”

    “Is that your answer to everything?”

    “Well… yes? It’s true, isn’t it?”

    They didn’t like Harry’s answer. And Hermione was certain that they wouldn’t like the shelter, either. The pirates had burned down the jungle there as well, after all. At least the hiding pirates didn’t ambush them as they flew on.

    “That’s where we appeared,” Harry explained as they reached the beach a little later. “The Portkey dropped us down there.”

    “They attacked you here as well?” his father asked.

    Well, that was obvious, wasn’t it? A look at the jungle, or what was left of it, showed that. It wasn’t as if she and Harry would’ve done this.

    “We were ready and lost them again,” Harry told him.

    “They must have found us because of the tracks we left before we realised that we were on a pirate island,” Hermione said. “There’s the shelter,” she quickly added to cut the discussion short and pointed at the torn and blasted remains.

    She didn’t fly down right away, though - she circled the area first, going as fast as she could, to check for hidden pirates.

    “There might be pirates hiding there,” Harry said as he drew up next to her - despite her flying evasively; it was really disheartening how good he was on a broom.

    “Yes.”

    “You think pirates might be hiding in the ruins of your shelter?” Mrs Potter asked.

    “It’s not impossible,” Hermione defended herself.

    “We wouldn’t expect that, would we? Well, you wouldn’t,” Harry added.

    “My spell’s not showing anyone inside,” Mr Black told them.

    “We managed to hide from that spell ourselves,” Harry retorted.

    “Although we counted on the tree canopies to hide us from view; if they burrowed down a bit more…” Hermione stared at the shelter’s remains. “They just blasted it open.”

    “I’ll check,” Mr Black said.

    “Sirius!” Mrs Potter exclaimed, but the man was already touching down.

    And then he was a dog.

    Hermione blinked. Self-Transfiguration? But that was… No. The robes had disappeared. That meant he was an animagus.

    And he was back in human form. “No one near us - the nose can tell.”

    Oh. She glanced at Harry. He met her eyes and nodded. It was safe, then.

    She guided her broom down, letting Harry take the lead. If anything happened, she could summon him to safety. And his Shield Charm should deal with one curse at least.

    Mr Black was peering around. “That looks like it was a bunker.”

    “It was meant to protect us from the wyvern,” Hermione defended her design. “It wasn’t meant to look like a bungalow.”

    “And it worked!” Harry chimed in.

    “Looks cosy,” the man went on.

    Hermione scoffed; she was well aware that they had only made crude furniture and partitions. She clenched her teeth when she reached the remains of the door. If they had been inside when the pirates did this…

    “Separate bedrooms! McGonagall would’ve approved!” Mr Black must have found the remains of the beds and partitions.

    “You’re not quite as funny as you think you are,” Harry said as they walked around their old shelter.

    “It looks like the pirates didn’t leave anything,” Hermione said. Not that there had been anything valuable left. “Not even the remaining coconuts.” Or they might’ve been carried away by animals. Or destroyed in the blast.

    “So, that’s where we stayed most of the time on the island,” Harry said. “Until we noticed the pirates, that is. See? We were safe from the wyvern! The entrance was far too narrow for it, and the stone ceiling too strong.”

    “Not that we ever had to test either,” Hermione quickly added when she saw the frowns on the Potters’ faces.

    “But how did you know that the entrance was too narrow?” Mr Potter asked. “Because it got stuck in that cave you mentioned?”

    “Yes. We can show it to you,” Harry said. “But let’s check the wyvern’s remains!”

    “Careful,” Hermione cautioned. “It might’ve attracted scavengers, which might have attracted predators.”

    “Right.”

    *****​

    Harry Potter kept an eye out for snakes and other dangerous animals as he approached the area where they had buried the wyvern. The earth there hadn’t been hit by Blasting Curses - there weren’t any craters - but the ground had been torn up anyway, and he could see some bones peeking through the soil. Bare bones - the jungle’s animals must have picked them clean already.

    “Ugh, the stench!” Sirius complained.

    Harry frowned at him. “Why didn’t you cast a Bubble-Head Charm?”

    “I just did!”

    “No, I mean before,” Harry replied.

    “There was no stench before.”

    What? “I meant before we flew here,” Harry explained. “So you would be protected from gases.”

    Sirius stared at him, then exchanged a glance with Mum and Dad.

    Harry looked at Hermione. She was as bewildered as he was, he could tell. She had her Bubble-Head Charm up, same as Harry.

    And as Dumbledore - the Headmaster was approaching the former pit. “I would counsel everyone to ensure they are protected from the smell,” he said, raising his wand.

    Uncle Peter and Remus had already cast a charm, Harry noticed, but Fleur and Bill did so on Dumbledore’s advice.

    Then the old wizard waved his wand, and the earth covering the pit vanished, revealing the dead wyvern.

    Mum gasped at the sight. “Harry!”

    He nodded. “That’s it. I guess the pirates didn’t find it.

    “Look at the size of the teeth!”

    “And the wings!”

    “Look at the spikes!”

    “Merlin’s beard! That was your doing?”

    Harry turned to frown at Sirius. They had told them that before, hadn’t they? “Yes. It was resistant to spells, so we needed a way to kill it that allowed us to get around that.”

    “Harry! You….” Mum started sniffling, then grabbed him and hugged him, squeezing hard. “You risked your life to trap this monster. Twice!”

    “Someone had to,” he told her. “And I’m the better duellist than Hermione, so I could dodge better.” Everyone was frowning at him. Or glaring at him. Except for Dumbledore, who seemed vaguely amused. And Céline, who was asking Fleur something. Even Hermione frowned at him, and it had been her plan as well!

    He looked at her, raised his eyebrows and grimaced.

    She pursed her lips before speaking up: “Our plans might have been a little more dangerous than is comfortable, but we didn’t see any alternative. We were trapped on an island, magically hidden from detection, and facing a man-eating monster that was hunting us. If we didn’t ambush it, forcing a confrontation on our terms, it would do the same to us sooner or later.”

    “Yes,” Harry agreed when Mum released him. “And after the first trap failed, it was clear it wouldn’t give up - it tried to ambush us when we left the cave. And it chased us through the jungle when we fled. We had to kill it, and we didn’t have any better plan than this.” He gestured at the pit in front of them. “And it worked!” he stressed again.

    “You were lucky. Damn lucky,” Dad told him with a deep frown. “If you hadn’t been so lucky, you’d be dead. Thrice over!”

    “It wasn’t luck,” Hermione protested. “We carefully planned. If we had just relied on luck, we would’ve died. Or worse.”

    Unfortunately, just as when she had used it before, that perfectly correct statement didn’t seem to convince anyone.

    Mum shook her head. “I can’t take any more of this. Let’s leave.”

    “Not without the wyvern’s bones!” Harry protested. That was the reason they had returned, wasn’t it?

    “Indeed,” Dumbledore agreed. “It would be a shame to leave such a magnificent specimen behind. With your permission…?” He looked at Harry and Hermione.

    “Of course,” Harry told him as Hermione nodded.

    Dumbledore waved his wand, and the jumbled mass of bones, rotting meat and frayed skin rose into the air, earth dropping from it as it lightly shook. A few smaller bones followed, floating next to it.

    Then the whole mass began to shrink until it was the size of a football, which disappeared into Dumbledore’s pockets.

    “And done.” The old wizard beamed at them.

    “Good. Let’s go,” Dad said - he was hugging Mum. “Let’s leave now, before we hear about yet another close brush with death by Harry and Miss Granger.”

    Harry bit his lower lip to keep from asking if they counted the cave escape as one or two brushes. Mum looked like she really couldn’t take anything else.

    And it was his fault, he realised with growing guilt. Even if it wasn’t really his fault.

    *****​
     
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  17. space turtle

    space turtle Know what you're doing yet?

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    Hopefully they don’t forget the remains of the poor witch who perished before them!
     
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  18. Krule

    Krule Not too sore, are you?

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    Parents often have trouble realizing that their children have grown, especially when it’s due to a rite of passage like this one. It appears that Dumbledore sees it though.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2022
  19. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    Sirius, also. Mind you, both of them would take it better than Harry's parents (or Hermione's, for that matter).
     
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  20. Threadmarks: Chapter 32: The Return
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 32: The Return

    Unknown Island, July 18th, 1996

    Leaning against the railing of Abdul’s ship, watching the captured pirates being loaded into the hold, Sirius Black didn’t know whether he should be proud of his godson or angry at him. Or both. Harry - with Miss Granger’s help - had fought and killed a man-eating dragon. Well, a wyvern, but it was close enough. And then he had fought a band of pirates, sunk their ship and freed their prisoner. And he had outflown them on a broom and escaped with a stolen boat.

    It was like a tale out of one of those muggle adventure books Lily had introduced him to at Hogwarts, just with magic.

    But it was real. Harry wasn’t lying. He wasn’t even exaggerating what he had done - Sirius could tell. In fact, he was sure that his godson was downplaying their adventures, and Miss Granger was doing the same - mostly. The girl had certainly not held back when pointing out how Harry had gotten hurt, but she hadn’t really seemed to brag or boast either. In their place, Sirius would’ve been telling everyone what he had done. Then again, he wouldn’t have cared what his parents had thought, unlike Harry or Miss Granger. They were far too quiet.

    He glanced at the two of them. After wolfing down a couple of sandwiches each, they were standing close together near the ship’s bow, wands in hand, and staring at the prisoners. No, at everyone, Sirius noticed. He shook his head. They were almost as bad as Moody. Then again, they had gone through a lot, and just a few hours ago, they had still been fighting for their lives. And despite Abdul’s claims, the crew of his ship were far too close to pirates to relax in their presence, even with Dumbledore aboard. Once they were back in Britain, Harry and Miss Granger would be able to calm down.

    Although… Sirius narrowed his eyes. They were standing very close together. Covering each other like… like Sirius and James had used to, during the war. Oh. Merlin’s balls! Sirius grimaced. He should’ve realised this sooner! This wasn’t an adventure - this had been like the war for the two. And at their age…

    He sighed and looked for James and Lily. James was with Dumbledore talking to Abdul. Probably about the prisoners. Sirius didn’t care about that or them. And Lily… was with Fleur and the little Veela.

    He pushed off the railing and walked towards his godson. “Hey!” He grinned at them, despite the fact that both turned to face him, and he saw their wands twitch. At least they didn’t point them at him. “We’ll be back in Britain in no time!” he told them.

    “Are we taking a Portkey?” Miss Granger asked.

    Sirius blinked. “Ah… I don’t know. Those are regulated.”

    “I know,” the witch told him. “But with Mr Potter, the Head Auror, and the Headmaster here…”

    Sirius chuckled. “Ah, they’re not here in an official capacity. That’s actually why we’re probably not taking a Portkey. That way, the Ministry can claim to have neither known nor sanctioned this little expedition.”

    “Why wouldn’t they do that?” Harry asked with a frown.

    “Politics. Of course, now that you’ve been rescued and the pirates captured without an international incident, they might change their opinion,” Sirius replied with a shrug.

    “I can’t believe you would’ve come here without emergency Portkeys,” Miss Granger said. Harry nodded in agreement.

    “Well, it’s not an emergency, is it?” Sirius smiled before growing serious. “Unless it is,” he added, looking at them.

    “What? No, we’re fine,” Harry replied at once. “Just fine.”

    Miss Granger nodded.

    But both of them kept looking at the pirates and the crew.

    “Does that mean we’ll be sailing to Britain?” Harry asked after a moment.

    “I think we’ll get off at Gibraltar and use the Floo from there,” Sirius said.

    “They have a connection to the Ministry?” Harry blurted out. “But that’s…” He wrinkled his nose. “...a thousand miles! Almost double the distance from Scotland to Cornwall!”

    “Entirely possible,” Sirius told them. “Though it’s not part of the regular network.”

    “Ah.”

    “Good,” Miss Granger said. “How long will we take to reach Gibraltar?”

    “Five to six hours,” Sirius told them. “Apparently, it depends on the wind.” He shrugged - he wasn’t a sailor.

    Fortunately, the two kids accepted that.

    “So, if you want to sleep, go ahead! Trust me - sailing is rather boring if you don’t need to help out the crew.” He grinned at them.

    Harry and Miss Granger exchanged a glance, then nodded. “You first,” Harry said.

    “You were hurt.”

    “I was healed. I’ll wake you up after three hours.”

    Sirius blinked. What were they talking about? They couldn’t mean to… “Harry!” He shook his head. “You both can sleep. You’re safe.”

    “Oh.” Once more, Harry glanced at Miss Granger. “I guess so.”

    The girl nodded, though Sirius caught her blushing a little. “We’re not used to…” She shrugged.

    OK, they were as bad as Moody. Sirius refrained from wincing. That would only make them worry.

    “So, where do we sleep?” Harry asked.

    “Oh, just…” Sirius trailed off when he realised that Harry hadn’t asked him - he had asked Miss Granger.

    “Beneath the boat there?” she replied, pointing at the longboat fastened to the deck nearby.

    Harry peered at it, then nodded. “Alright. You still got the mattresses?”

    “Yes.”

    Before Sirius could comment, the two trotted off and ducked under the boat. With their wands drawn.

    He probably should talk to James and Lily about this.

    Then he frowned. Mattresses? The raggedy things they had fashioned out of their robes? He opened his mouth to tell them that there were perfectly fine actual beds to be had but reconsidered. Those beds didn’t fit under the boat, and Sirius had a feeling that the two teenagers valued the cover it provided over the comfort of a real mattress.

    He snorted - that, at least, was something they had in common with other teenagers, although not for the same reasons. Another young wizard and witch would want privacy for some snogging, not to hide from pirates.

    He blinked, his faint smile fading. Could it be possible that….? He frowned again as he considered it. They were very close for two students who had been at each other’s throats for five years. Very close indeed - it was obvious that they trusted each other over anyone else. Even over Harry’s godfather! And they had been alone for two weeks on a desert island.

    On the other hand, they had been fighting a wyvern and pirates. And they had dealt with diarrhoea. Not exactly the most romantic time. He winced at the memory of a date that had gone very badly when Snape had spiked his drink at Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop. He paid the bastard back, of course, but Mildred had never smiled at him again after that unfortunate accident.

    And yet… the two were very close. Obviously, they had overcome their rivalry. He frowned again. Normally, Padfoot’s nose would tell him all he needed to know, but this wasn’t a normal situation. Both of them had spent two weeks together, and a few hours in the sea. Any hint of certain activities would’ve been literally swept away by the water.

    Well, finding out whether or not Harry had fallen for the girl he had spent years fighting could wait. Informing James and Lily about the two teenagers’ Moody-like habits was more important. Sirius could tease his godson once everything was back to normal.

    He walked over to the bridge part of the ship. “James! Lily!”

    “Sirius?” James turned to look at him.

    “Where’s Harry?” Lily asked, looking around.

    “That’s what I need to talk to you about,” Sirius started to say. When Lily drew her wand, still looking for Harry, he quickly added: “They’re asleep under the boat there.”

    “What?” James stared at him, then at the boat. “Why would they…?”

    “They feel safer there,” Sirius explained.

    Lily gasped. “Oh, no! They’re traumatised!”

    “What?” James repeated himself. “You mean…” He blinked, frowning. “Like Moody?”

    “Not that bad,” Sirius told him with a shake of his head. “But they’re… well, Moody would be pleased about their habits.”

    “Oh, no!” James closed his eyes and sighed. “They need help.”

    “Therapy,” Lily said. “They can’t return to Hogwarts if they are ready to curse people at the drop of a hat.”

    “What? No!” Sirius shook his head. “They haven’t even killed any of the pirates, so the other students should be safe. Mostly.” Malfoy might be too stupid to be safe, but Sirius wouldn’t shed a tear for that bigot. “Besides, Dumbledore is aware of that.” The Headmaster couldn’t have missed this, after all.

    “Dumbledore didn’t think there was anything wrong about their feud before,” Lily objected with a frown.

    “And there wasn’t!” Sirius grinned. “Harry’s a chip off the old block!” And if he actually had fallen for Miss Granger, then that would be even more true!

    But James, instead of agreeing with Sirius, grimaced. “Still, we need to talk about this. If they don’t even feel safe with us...”

    “We’re on a pirate ship,” Sirius pointed out. “They don’t watch you - they watch the crew.”

    “And they’ve been alone, only able to depend on each other, for two weeks,” Lily added, though she sounded as if she was trying to convince herself. “Of course they would have trouble adjusting quickly to being safe.”

    Sirius shrugged. “They’ll come around once we’re back. I just wanted to let you know that they’re a little twitchy.” Honestly, keeping Harry from Hogwarts? Perish the thought! The other students would just have to learn not to annoy him or Miss Granger. Though, as far as Sirius knew, most of the students already had learned that. With the notable exception of Narcissa’s stupid get, but even little Draco had stopped getting hexed every week, at least according to James.

    Not to mention that if Harry and Miss Granger were a couple, they wouldn’t be able to keep Harry away from Hogwarts - not if Miss Granger was there. And while Sirius wasn’t overly familiar with the witch, he knew enough from Harry’s stories to be sure that nothing and no one would keep her from going to school. Certainly not her muggle parents.

    Lily was still eyeing the boat and biting her lower lip.

    “They didn’t kill anyone,” James said. “But they fought. Several times. I know rookie Aurors who have trouble with their first fight.”

    “That’s my godson,” Sirius said. “Your son. He’ll be fine.”

    He caught James and Lily glancing at each other. Apparently, they weren’t as optimistic as he was. Well, they’d see.

    *****​

    Atlantic Ocean, July 18th, 1996

    Hermione Granger sighed as she woke up, suppressing a yawn. She had… She blinked, then gasped, grabbing her wand and pulling away from Harry. What the…? Oh. She remembered. They had been rescued.

    “What?” Harry hissed as he looked around, wand already pointing at… the boat above them. “Oh.”

    She nodded in the dim light beneath the upside-down boat. “I think we were more exhausted than we thought,” she said in a low voice.

    “Yes,” he agreed. He was still tense - she could feel his muscles where he was pressing against her thigh.

    Then again, she wasn’t exactly relaxed, either. They were on a pirate ship. Sure, they were in the company of the Potters, their friends and Dumbledore, but… That only made it unlikely, not impossible, that anything bad could happen. You’d have to be mad to attack Dumbledore, but not everyone was rational. And pirates certainly weren’t very rational, given their dangerous and despicable ‘business’, especially with the punishments they were now facing. But that was a problem. What if the ship’s crew had relatives amongst the captives? Or were bribed to let them escape, or worse? Or…

    She shook her head. Those were silly thoughts.

    “Looks safe,” Harry whispered.

    She nodded again, then bent down to peer through the gap between the boat’s railing and the deck. “No one’s near,” she said. No one she could see, at least, but then again, Harry would be aware of that limitation.

    “Good.” Harry took a deep breath. “We’re safe.”

    “Yes.” She almost believed it.

    He was looking at her with a weird expression, she noticed. Was something wrong? Was he… was he having second thoughts about… what they had done on the island? She bit her lower lip. Those were silly thoughts, she told herself.

    “So, uh…” He licked lips. He was nervous.

    “Yes?” She cocked her head.

    He took a deep breath. She saw his chest heave. Saw his muscles move. He didn’t say anything, but - did he really think that she would break...?

    She was leaning over before she realised what she was doing, wrapping her free arm around his neck, and pulled him in. Then she hesitated. What if he didn’t want to kiss her? Didn’t want her, now that they were rescued?

    But his lips were already on hers, and she closed her eyes, enjoying the kiss.

    She was breathing heavily when she pulled back, licking her lips. “So…” She wanted to kiss him again. Hold him. Caress him. And… But they were on a ship. With so many people nearby. His parents amongst them. This wasn’t the place for that.

    He nodded as if he had read her thoughts and sighed. “Let’s go check where we are.”

    “Yes.”

    A quick Levitation Charm lifted the boat up, enough so they could duck under the upside-down railing instead of having to crawl. The sun was setting outside. Two sailors were looking at them, one of them joking with the other. She couldn’t understand the language, but the way they acted and laughed left no doubt. And they were laughing at Harry and her.

    She narrowed her eyes at them, wand twitching at her side, then took a deep breath. They didn’t matter. They were just the ship’s crew, and Harry and she would be off the ship soon enough. And if they tried anything other than laughing, they’d regret it.

    “Harry!”

    She turned and saw Mrs Potter walking towards them.

    “Mum.” She saw that Harry was relaxing - a little; he still had his wand out.

    “Miss Granger.”

    “Mrs Potter.” Hermione nodded at her.

    “You were really tired,” Mrs Potter said. “You’ve slept through almost the whole trip.”

    “Sirius said it was boring anyway,” Harry replied.

    “Unless we were following the coastline,” Hermione added, “there wouldn’t have been anything we hadn’t seen plenty of times while we were on the island.”

    “Ah.” Mrs Potter seemed to wince in response. “Well, if you’re hungry, we’ve got dinner ready.”

    “Did you cook it, Mum?” Harry asked.

    Hermione nodded. She was hungry - and so thoroughly sick of coconuts, she would pay a fortune for a decently cooked meal with anything but coconuts - but to eat something the crew prepared? While she would like to try out the local food, tampering with a meal was an obvious way to strike at them.

    “What? No.” Mrs Potter laughed. “I don’t think the ship’s cook would’ve let me take over their kitchen. But it’s good - we ate already; we weren’t sure you’d wake up before we reached Gibraltar.”

    “Oh.” Harry pressed his lips together; Hermione met his eyes when he turned towards her.

    She frowned. If everyone amongst the rescue force had eaten already, they were the only ones who might not have been affected if there was anything in the food. And the local food might be a little much for their digestive systems, anyway, after their coconut diet. “Could we have some more sandwiches, instead?” she asked. “I think we should stick to something simple.” She rubbed her stomach for emphasis. “I’m not certain that we’re up to spicy food yet.”

    “Oh, I should’ve thought of that!” Mrs Potter blurted out. “I’ll go make some right away.”

    Hermione hoped she’d use their own stocks. “That should be safe,” she whispered.

    Harry nodded. “Yes. I doubt there’s any wizard alive who would risk angering Dumbeldore.”

    “Yes.” Hermione nodded. Only a fool would dare face the wizard who had vanquished both Grindelwald and Voldemort. She knew that. Everyone knew it.

    But she couldn’t help feeling nervous on board this ship.

    *****​

    Wizarding Gibraltar, July 18th, 1996

    Harry Potter frowned as he looked at the harbour that had suddenly appeared as soon as the ship had crossed a certain line - a wardline. The port looked impressive, if a little empty, but the way it was kept hidden… That felt too much like the pirate island they had left.

    “What’s wrong, Harry?” Sirius asked.

    “Nothing,” Harry quickly replied with a shrug.

    Hermione narrowed her eyes at him but didn’t say anything.

    Sirius wasn’t as discreet. He snorted. “Really? You just frowned at the last step before we return home for no reason?”

    Harry sighed. Sometimes, his godfather was too perceptive - and unwilling to act as if he hadn’t noticed anything amiss. “Couldn’t they have hidden the harbour like Diagon Alley and the Leaky Cauldron? So only muggles didn’t notice it?”

    “Ah!” Sirius nodded. “They could’ve. But the protections were laid down shortly after we conquered it, some three hundred years ago or so. So, it had to be hidden from Spanish wizards and witches, too.”

    “1703, actually,” Hermione cut in. Of course she’d know that! “Wizarding Britain conquered it before the muggles did, which was a first of the time, so shortly after the Statute of Secrecy.”

    “But wouldn’t the Spanish wizards have known where it was?” Harry asked. “It was theirs before, right?”

    “Yes, but this way, they can’t see what’s going on in the harbour,” Sirius replied.

    Harry felt like an idiot. He should’ve thought of that! Although… “A spy could easily tell them,” he pointed out.

    “And probably did,” Sirius agreed. “But it still meant they had certain advantages when the Spaniards actually attacked.”

    “Ah.”

    “But that’s ancient history,” Sirius waved his hand. “With ships no longer important, Gibraltar’s just the last stop before we’re home!”

    “Yes,” Harry said. He glanced at Hermione.

    She nodded in agreement, but she didn’t seem to be as… unconcerned as she appeared. And probably not because she might disagree with Sirius’s take on ships.

    Home. Godric’s Hollow. His room. He would be able to sleep in his own bed again instead of on his own robe stuffed with dry grass.

    But he would be sleeping alone. Without Hermione.

    “Rose will be so happy to have you back,” Sirius commented with a smile. “She was really worried about you, you know.”

    Rose. Harry drew a sharp breath. His little sister would have been frantic! And he hadn’t really thought about her. Merlin’s beard, he was a jerk!

    “As will be your parents, of course, Miss Granger,” Sirius added.

    “Did… did you tell them that you’ve found us?” Hermione asked.

    “Ah… We didn’t want to get their hopes up,” Sirius explained. “And it’s not as if we could tell them now - can’t send a Patronus Messenger to muggles; that would threaten the Statute. Well, we could send them an owl, but we’d beat it to London.

    “Ah.” Hermione nodded.

    Harry suppressed the urge to wince. She was missing her parents, of course. She couldn’t wait to return home. Her home. But would she be missing him once they were home? They had talked about this, but that had been on the island, and now...

    “Harry!” Mum interrupted his thoughts. She went and hugged him again. “Sorry for leaving you with Sirius, but Albus asked me to check an enchanted item that Abdul had found, and James was busy with the prisoners.”

    “An enchanted item?” Hermione asked. “Wouldn’t that be more suited for a Curse-Breaker?”

    “Bill was there as well,” Mum told her. “But I was asked to examine the spells used. Amongst other reasons, to determine their age.”

    “Oh?” Hermione perked up. Of course she would. “What did you find out?”

    “That the spell on the knife isn’t an unknown curse, but merely a variant of an obsolete Cutting Curse.” Lily released Harry.

    He cleared his throat and pointed his wand at his clothes to straighten them out and clean them.

    “Harry!” Hermione blurted out. “We’re now on British soil!”

    He froze. “Uh…”

    Mum shook her head. “Don’t worry about it - we’re on a magical ship in a wizarding port. They don’t track underage magic here. The Trace would be triggered every time you entered the harbour.” She frowned. “It’s the same reason the Trace won’t be triggered in Diagon Alley or other magical locations.”

    “Ah.” Hermione frowned as well. Deeply. “So, basically, underage magic is only tracked in muggle areas.”

    “Yes,” Mum agreed. “The Ministry can only trace magic being done near an underage student, but not who cast it.”

    “Yes,” Harry said. Sirius had explained that to him before he went to Hogwarts.

    “I wonder how many muggleborns get framed by bigots by casting spells near them.” Hermione scoffed.

    “That isn’t a problem any more - people can exonerate themselves by explaining the situation to the Ministry. A priori incantatem usually clears them,” Mum explained. “It was bad when I was a student, though. Until the war grew worse and the Ministry couldn’t spare any Aurors for such petty incidents any more.”

    “It’s still not good,” Hermione complained. “I can’t do magic during the summer, unlike everyone from a magical household.”

    “You can come visit and do magic at our house,” Harry told her with a smile. She could also stay the night if he had anything to say about it!

    “Ah…” Hermione’s initial smile faltered as she glanced at Mum.

    Harry quickly turned to beam at her. “Please, Mum! We used magic all the time for weeks - we can’t just quit from one day to the other!”

    Sirius grinned. “That’s a good argument to let you cast spells at home if I ever heard one.”

    “It’d also be illegal,” Mum protested.

    “Only if we get caught - and not even Rose would snitch on us!” Harry pointed out. His sister better not snitch on them - not if she wanted her more dangerous potions experiments kept a secret!

    “It will be hard to stop using hairstyling charms,” Hermione said, biting her lower lip.

    Mum sighed, and Harry knew they had won.

    *****​

    “Speaking of hairstyling Charms,” Mrs Potter said. “You look rather stubbly.”

    Stubbly? Hermione Granger blinked and ran a hand through her hair. Oh. Mrs Potter was talking about Harry.

    “I didn’t have my razor with me!” Harry protested. “And it’s not stubble - it’s a beard!”

    “A rather stubbly beard,” Mr Black chimed in with a chuckle.

    “It’s not!” Harry glared at him. “And this is your fault!”

    “What?” Mr Black looked surprised. “How so?”

    “You gave me the razor,” Harry explained. “So, it’s your fault that I never learned a shaving charm. And I couldn’t cut my beard with a Severing Charm, could I?”

    Hermione grimaced. That would’ve been a rather bloody affair. Lily Moon once tried to shave her legs with that charm. Granted, the girl had messed up the casting, but still!

    “You’re blaming me for not wanting to learn a charm?” Mr Black shook his head, chuckling again. “I’m so proud!”

    “Sirius!” Mrs Potter hissed before turning to Harry. “James can cast the charm.”

    “I don’t know…” Harry bit his lower lip and glanced at Hermione.

    “Ask him,” Hermione replied.

    “It’s not stubbly, isn’t it?”

    “No,” she assured him, “but it’s a little ragged.”

    “Oh.” He looked down, and Hermione fought the urge to hug and console him. Besides, she was correct.

    “We might want to freshen up, anyway,” she said, looking at her clothes. “So we don’t look like…”

    “...like we spent two weeks on a deserted island?” Harry chuckled.

    “Yes,” she agreed, laughing as well.

    “Well, the Prophet would love some pictures of you looking like that,” Mr Black commented.

    Hermione gasped - Lavender would never let her forget it if she appeared in the newspaper as she was now.

    “If those vultures dare to take our pictures, I’m going to invent a new curse for them!” Mrs Potter spat. “I’ll ask James to ensure no one’s waiting for us in the Ministry.”

    “Can’t we go straight home?” Harry asked.

    “No. we don’t have a direct connection from Gibraltar - it goes through the Ministry,” Mrs Potter explained. “But yes, you should be able to freshen up a little,” she added.

    “Thank you!” Hermione smiled at her. She didn’t want to meet her parents looking like she had run through a jungle for days. They would be worried enough already. Even though that came pretty close to what she had done.

    “Yes, thanks, Mum,” Harry said. “So… where do we do this?”

    “We’ll wait in the local inn while James and Albus settle things with the Ministry,” Mrs Potter explained. “We can rent two rooms there.”

    “Two rooms?” Harry asked. “Oh.”

    “I think Miss Granger and Miss de Ciel can share. It won’t take long, anyway. We’ll probably be done before the prisoners are handed over,” Mrs Potter said. “Albus has a way to speed things along.”

    “Just by being present,” Mr Black said, laughing.

    Hermione didn’t laugh. She was aware of what would happen to the pirates, now that the British Ministry took charge.

    “Lily!” Mr Potter approached them as the ship drew up next to a long pier. “I’m off to meet the governor. Can you handle the kids?”

    “Yes.”

    Hermione pressed her lips together. She would be an adult in a little more than two months. But mentioning that would be childish.

    Two Hit-Wizards - Hermione spotted the grey robes - were already waiting at the pier. They were standing at attention, so they probably knew that Dumbledore was on the ship. Well, according to what Hermione had heard, Dumbledore had boarded the ship in the same port this morning, so that was to be expected. Then again, the Ministry’s competence wasn’t beyond all doubt…

    Hermione kept her wand ready as Mr Potter and the Headmaster handled the paperwork at the pier, then followed Mrs Potter and the other members of the rescue party to the local inn.

    The inn itself was mostly empty, as far as Hermione could tell as they entered, but the service was swift, and she found herself in a room with Céline, Mrs Weasley and Mrs Potter in no time. A room with a real bathroom. A large tub, which Mrs Weasley filled with soaped, scented hot water with a flick of her wand.

    She had to learn that spell. It shouldn’t be too hard, and it would come in very handy should she ever find herself stranded again. Hermione added it to her mental list of spells she needed to master as she stripped down and slid into the tub, sighing with relief and contentment. “I missed this!” she announced.

    “I can imagine,” Mrs Weasley replied with a faint smile.

    “I’ve fixed your clothes,” Mrs Potter added while Hermione cleaned herself.

    Hermione pressed her lips together. Those were her clothes - she was perfectly able to fix them herself! She forced herself to smile - they meant well. “Thank you.”

    “You’re welcome,” Mrs Potter replied. Hermione caught her smile - friendly but with a hint of pity.

    Hermione felt a cold shiver run down her spine. Oh dear Lord! She would have to face this attitude for the foreseeable future, wouldn’t she? The poor little girl who was stranded on a pirate isle. Everyone be gentle with her so she doesn’t break down crying!

    She closed her eyes and tried to relax once more as Mrs Weasley helped Céline bathe. They probably treated both of them the same!

    And she had thought dealing with her parents would be bad enough...

    *****​

    “Hold still!”

    Harry Potter didn’t want to hold still. He could shave himself perfectly fine - provided someone had brought him a razor, enchanted or not. To have Sirius cast a Shaving Charm on him…

    He closed his eyes and clenched his teeth as he felt a brief breeze wash over his face.

    “And done!” Sirius announced. “No more stubble!”

    “It was a beard,” Harry protested.

    “It was stubble.” Sirius pointed at his own face. “This is a beard. Well-styled, too. Albus has a beard. You had some stubble.”

    Harry sighed. Another week and no one would’ve called it stubble.

    “Oh, sorry,” Sirius said, suddenly looking worried.

    “For what?” Harry snapped.

    “I didn’t want, well…” He shrugged. “I know you’ve had a rough time. I only wanted to help. And I didn’t think to bring a razor.”

    Oh. “I’m fine,” Harry told him.

    “Are you sure?” Uncle Remus asked. “You have gone through an ordeal few people face. And you’re still a… student.”

    Merlin’s balls! “I’m fine,” he snapped. “We’ve made it through this OK. It was just two weeks, anyway.”

    He didn’t like the way Sirius and Uncle Remus looked at each other before smiling at him. Damn it!

    He glanced at Uncle Peter, but he also seemed to think Harry was fragile and about to break down crying. Harry had done that already when he had hugged Mum and Dad! He wasn’t about to repeat it. What would Hermione think?

    Hermione… Harry still had no idea how to handle their… their relationship once they were back home. Visit every day? He could do that with the Knight Bus. And she could do the same. If she wanted to. He had invited her for daily visits, but would that be too clingy and drive her away? She would want to meet her friends, wouldn’t she? Well, they could go on a double date with Ron and Lavender. Like in Diagon Alley before all this started, but for real.

    He drew a sharp breath. Would that remind her of everything bad, though? Or of their feud? Perhaps pick another café? Hogsmeade, maybe? Or would it be better to go to some muggle cafés? That would also be more private - Harry really didn’t want a date getting ruined by bumping into Malfoy. Or, much worse, having it plastered over the Prophet.

    “It’s alright, Harry,” Sirius said, interrupting his thoughts. “It’ll get better with time.”

    “What?” Harry shook his head. “No, no, I was… worrying about the Prophet writing a story about everything.”

    “Well…” Sirius grimaced, as did Uncle Remus. “I don’t think that that can be helped. Since the pirates will receive their trial in the Ministry, the story will get out.”

    Uncle Remus nodded. “And your return will be noticed anyway - your disappearance was a big story as well.”

    “It was?” Harry winced. “How… How much was in the newspaper?” What did they know about the, uh, incident that started it?

    “Well…” Sirius trailed off. “They know that you disappeared in Knockturn Alley, you and Miss Granger. And they know what you were doing beforehand.”

    “What?” Harry gasped. Did they know about him following Hermione?

    “Your meeting with Ron and Miss Brown,” Uncle Remus explained.

    “Ah.” Harry felt a little relieved. In hindsight, he had acted like an idiot, following Hermione. Well, she hadn’t been acting like a genius, either.

    “Of course, the Prophet being the Prophet, they were very creative with their articles,” Sirius said.

    Articles? More than one? Of course, Harry berated himself, they would milk this for all it was worth. “Uh… what did they write?” he asked.

    “Well, you fought some hag cabal… you were kidnapped by Grindelwald’s lost legion, you were possessed by a ghost of a Death Eater, you eloped with Miss Granger…”

    Harry felt himself blush at that. “What?” he blurted out. “They think… What were they thinking?”

    “Nothing, as usual. It’s just the Prophet,” Sirius said. “Anyway, once they hear about the pirates, they’ll claim you captured them all. Or that they had captured you, and we saved you from being sacrificed to a volcano. Or something worse.”

    Harry pressed his lips together. If the Prophet claimed that they had been captured by pirates… He knew what they would claim about Hermione. “We have to tell them the truth, then. We can’t let them speculate about this,” he said. “Not about getting captured by the pirates!”

    “You want to talk to the Prophet?” Sirius looked surprised.

    “I don’t want them to think we were captured,” Harry repeated himself.

    “Ah.” Sirius nodded - he had finally understood the problem.

    Good. Harry wasn’t looking forward to it, but it was better than having to deal with all the rumours that would be spread about him and Hermione at Hogwarts if he let the Prophet make up a story.

    *****​

    “...and that’s why we’ll have to be prepared for reporters,” Harry finished explaining as they approached the local administrative building.

    Hermione Granger nodded. That made sense. She didn’t like it at all, but it made sense. “I never expected that I’d have to deal with tabloids.” Then again, maybe she should’ve - Wizarding Britain’s only newspaper was a tabloid. And given the small size of the country, they tended to report even the smallest news if it was a slow day. Though they usually didn’t cover Hogwarts.

    “Be glad you didn’t. It’s not fun.”

    Right. Harry’s parents were celebrities. At least in Wizarding Britain.

    “It’s not too bad, either,” Mr Black commented.

    “It’s actually that bad,” Mrs Potter disagreed. “The things they wrote about me when James and I got married…”

    “Right. I had forgotten about that,” Mr Black conceded. “They stopped, though.”

    “After I gave an interview about curses,” Mrs Potter replied. “Anyway, we’ll make sure the Prophet won’t go overboard. But Harry is right - you have to talk to them if you don’t want them to make up their own story.”

    “And even if you do, they will still embellish things,” Mr Black added.

    Hermione frowned. “I would prefer to see my parents first.”

    “Of course!” Mrs Potter nodded emphatically. “We wouldn’t expose you to the press without letting you get… without letting you rest and recover from this, first.”

    “But wouldn’t that defeat the entire purpose?” Hermione pointed out. “If we wait, they’ll make up stories, won’t they?” Hermione really didn’t want to read how she was supposedly saved in extremis from an Ottoman Harem. Or out of one.

    “We can give them the bare bones, I think,” Mr Black said. “That Harry and Miss Granger were stranded on a Barbary Coast pirate island and daringly escaped the pirates and their pet monster until we arrived to save them.”

    “Uh…” Harry grimaced. “Do we have to mention the wyvern?”

    “You won’t be able to keep that a secret,” Mrs Potter told him.

    Harry sighed. “Hagrid will be sad.”

    Hermione winced as well. Professor Hagrid wouldn’t be happy with them. But she agreed that trying to hide the wyvern’s death wouldn’t work. “So… we can use the wyvern to distract them? Show them the skull?”

    “That’s a good idea!” Mr Black smiled at her. “Especially if we make them work for getting pictures of it! If they think we don’t want them to, they’ll be certain to focus on that!”

    “Good idea,” Harry told her with a smile that made her feel better about it all. She still felt ill at ease at the thought of facing the press back home.

    Home… Mum and Dad must be frantic with worry. She pressed her lips together and followed the others into the building.

    Mr Potter and the Headmaster were there, smiling. “The Floo connection is ready,” Mr Potter announced.

    “You already handled all the paperwork?” Mr Black sounded almost as surprised and impressed as when he had heard about their adventure on the island, Hermione noticed.

    “Mr Travers was very happy to facilitate the procedure after I reminded him that we had two children who had spent the last two weeks evading pirates and were anxious to return home,” the Headmaster explained with his usual polite smile. “He would be here to greet you, but, unfortunately, he is kept busy handling the prisoners.”

    That caused some amusement amongst the group, but it was clear - at least Hermione thought so - that none wanted to stay here longer than necessary. They proceeded straight to the fireplace connecting Gibraltar with the Ministry.

    “I’ll go first, in case someone is waiting for us,” Mr Potter said.

    Hermione wondered whether he meant to dissuade a journalist, who might have decided to ambush them - or an actual ambush. She exchanged a glance with Harry, who nodded at her, and kept her wand ready.

    “The Ministry!” Mr Potter disappeared in green fire, followed by Mr Black, Mr Lupin, and then Dumbledore.

    Then it was Harry and her turn. She took a deep breath as she grabbed some Floo powder from the bowl, licked her lips and clearly pronounced “The Ministry!” as she threw it into the fire. As soon as it turned green, she clenched her teeth and stepped through.

    The trip didn’t feel different compared to any other trip through the Floo network, though she thought it had taken a little longer than usual. Not very much, though - and the brief moment of disorientation was the same as well, so…

    Someone pointed their wand at her! She dived to the side, raising her wand…

    …and froze, embarrassed. Mr Potter was staring at her. “I was merely about to clean the soot off your robes,” he told her. “I’m sorry. I should’ve waited, but…”

    “Ah.” She felt her face flush and stood.

    “Hermione!”

    Harry had arrived - wand in hand.

    “I surprised her,” Mr Potter said. He glanced at her. She nodded, and he waved his wand, casting a Cleaning Charm on her, then on Harry.

    They were in a chamber with a closed door - or gate - she realised. Not the usual Ministry fireplaces in the Atrium. And behind the others, a pair of wizards stood guard. Hit-Wizards. Who, she noted, carefully didn’t stare.

    “After such an experience, anyone would be a little nervous. Why, I remember almost hexing the face off of my favourite Gobstones partner when he paid me a surprise visit after the war,” Dumbledore said with a smile.

    Hermione forced herself to return the smile. She wasn’t… it was perfectly normal to react to a wand being pointed at your face!

    Céline and Mrs Weasley arrived, followed by Mr Weasley - Fleur and Bill, she reminded herself, though it would be some time before she got used to that - and Mrs Potter.

    “Where’s Peter?” Mr Black asked.

    “He said he had to look into a few things,” Mrs Potter explained.

    Mr Black laughed at that. “Peter… already on the next mission.”

    “He’s probably keeping an eye on the pirates,” Mr Potter said. “Anyway, let’s get you out of here, and home.” He turned to Hermione. “We’ll take the Floo Network to our home, and I’ll apparate with you to your home from there. Is that alright?”

    She nodded. “Of course.” After saying goodbye to Céline - Fleur would take her home to her family. And she’d take the wand and the remains of the French witch they had found with her as well.

    He smiled. “Good. Now, Hastings told me that there is a journalist in the Atrium, so…”

    “Not Skeeter?” Harry blurted out.

    “No, not Skeeter,” Mr Potter replied. “Thank God.”

    “We’ll have to give a short statement and arrange an interview with them at a later date. That should do it,” Mrs Potter said. “And we might distract them with the news about the wyvern.”

    “I think I shall stress my concern about my students being pounded by over-eager journalists,” Dumbledore casually mentioned.

    Hermione was certain that that would help a lot to keep the press off them.

    But she feared it would frame the narrative as Harry and her being shocked victims. And she wouldn’t like that.

    But she wasn’t about to contradict the Headmaster in this. She had to trust him.

    *****​

     
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  21. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Not for long, in any case - they'll be taken back to France.

    Indeed. Although Dumbledore's standards might be a little antiquated as well.

    Definitely, yes.
     
  22. Cargo200

    Cargo200 Getting sticky.

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    I must say that I really like them

    (a) having a reaction to events
    (b) this kind of reaction
     
  23. Beyogi

    Beyogi I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Well the parents are really lucky these guys were pirates and slavers. Otherwise that little intervention might have been far more politically iffy. But hostis humanis generis is hostis humanis generis.

    Anyway, great story so far. They're traumatised and really don't like being treated like children anymore, but overall they seem to have come out fine. I'm just worried about the situation with Hermione's parents and what they were told or rather not told.
     
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  24. Cargo200

    Cargo200 Getting sticky.

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    I am hoping that it will be equally great (Hermione actually telling them what happened?)
     
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  25. Threadmarks: Chapter 33: The Nightmares
    Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Chapter 33: The Nightmares

    Kingston upon Thames, London, Britain, July 18th, 1996

    “Hello, Ellen!”

    “Hi, Martha.” Ellen Granger forced herself to smile at her neighbour. Martha Smith was a friendly woman about ten years older than Ellen. Widowed and chatty, but not one to spread malicious gossip.

    “So, how are you doing? Did you hear about the Wilkinsons? They got a new car. A French one!” Martha shook her head. “Carl owned a French car in his youth, and it was terrible!”

    “Ah.” Ellen nodded. “We’ve been thinking of buying a new car ourselves.”

    “If not English, then German. That’s what Carl always said.” Martha nodded sagely.

    Oh. Martha’s husband had died in the Gulf War, Ellen remembered. A car accident on the way to the base, but Martha liked to imply he had died more heroically. Still, a touchy subject. “Well, we haven’t talked about a model, yet,” Ellen said. “But we want a model that’s more economical.” Not some petrol-guzzling monstrosity.

    “Oh, yes. Matthew has a new car - a Volkswagen. I can ask him how it’s holding up once he’s had it for a few weeks.” Martha nodded. “How’s Hermione doing? Still visiting her friend?”

    “Yes.” Ellen winced against her will. Officially, Hermione was visiting a friend. That would make it easy to explain her return. But if she didn’t… Ellen shook her head. Hermione would return. Safe and sound. She was a witch. She had magic. She would be fine. She had to be fine. Ellen didn’t know what she would do if… if...

    “Oh, don’t worry! Hermione’s at that age - they want to be independent. Spend their holidays with friends instead of their parents. It’s just a phase. Matthew was the same, and now he visits every week!” Martha beamed at her.

    Ellen forced herself to nod. Martha didn’t know that Hermione was missing. Couldn’t know - Mr Potter had been firm about that. The Ministry’s regulations were strict. “Oh, yes. She should be back soon. But I really need to head in - Gabriel is finishing up at the office, so it’s my turn to cook.”

    “Ah. What are you cooking?” Martha looked eager - she liked sharing recipes.

    Normally, Ellen liked sharing recipes as well. But not now. All she wanted was to go home, put some frozen tv dinners in the oven and wish Hermione was back. “Nothing fancy,” she said. “Perhaps just some roast beef sandwiches.”

    “Ah. Then I won’t hold you up any longer.” If Martha was disappointed, it didn’t show on her face. She smiled and nodded at Ellen before turning to walk down the road towards the small shop at the corner.

    Ellen promised she’d make it up to Martha. Once Hermione was back.

    But when she closed the door behind her after entering their home, she leaned against it and closed her eyes. Hermione had been missing for twelve days now. And the Ministry of Magic hadn’t found her. Not for want of trying, either - Hermione had vanished with the son of the Head Auror. The Potters would be doing anything they could to find them. And Mr Dumbledore, as everyone had told Ellen, the greatest wizard alive, was personally involved in the search.

    And yet - they hadn’t found Hermione. Not with all their magic.

    Ellen sniffled. She knew what that meant. Probably. Hermione was… Hermione was…

    She wiped tears from her eyes. Breaking down wouldn’t help anyone - least of all her little girl. Taking a deep breath, she dropped her handbag on the shelf in the hallway and walked towards the kitchen. She needed a cup of tea right now. Something to calm her down and keep her busy. So she wouldn’t think of… so she wouldn’t think.

    Crookshanks meowed, begging for food. She ignored him - his bowl had been full this morning. She needed tea. But she had barely set the pot on the stove when the doorbell rang. Followed by the sound of someone unlocking the door.

    She blinked. Who would ring the doorbell if they had a key? She took a step into the hallway before she found an answer.

    “Sorry, Mr Potter, I forgot I had a key… Mum!”

    Ellen gasped. Hermione! Her daughter was back. And rushing towards her. “Hermione!”

    “Mum!”

    Hermione all but tackled her - Ellen stumbled two steps back from the impact. And she was hugging her so strongly, it actually hurt a little.

    But Ellen didn’t mind. “Hermione!” Her little girl was back. Alive! Safe! “Oh, Hermione!”

    “Mum!” Hermione sobbed. “I’m so sorry.”

    “You’re back!” Ellen held her, taking deep, shivering breaths. “Thank God!”

    “I’m so sorry.”

    What was she sorry for? She was back. And that was all that mattered! Blinking and sniffling, Ellen pulled back, gripping Hermione’s shoulders to take a closer look at her. She looked fine. Perfectly fine. Her hair was even styled, and her robes impeccable. And she’d gotten a slight tan.

    “Mrs Granger?”

    Oh. Ellen blushed - she had missed entirely that Hermione hadn’t been alone. “Mr Potter! You found her! You saved her!”

    “Technically, we found her,” the man told her. “But whether or not we saved her is a matter of debate.” He smiled.

    What? Ellen blinked, then shook her head. “Oh, I’m so sorry - is Harry safe as well?” He had said ‘them’, hadn’t he?

    “Oh, yes. He’s home already with Lily - we took a detour to avoid the journalists,” Mr Potter told her.

    “Journalists?” Ellen stared at him, then at Hermione. “Oh. The wizarding journalists.”

    “Yes, Mum.” Hermione took a deep breath and grimaced. “I’m so sorry about that.”

    This didn’t sound good. “What… what happened?” Ellen asked.

    *****

    “Uh… That’s a long story,” Hermione Granger said, biting her lower lip.

    “Hermione…” Her Mum still looked so worried.

    “I’m fine, Mum!” she quickly said. “I’m not hurt - I wasn’t hurt. Just a few scrapes. Easily healed.”

    That didn’t seem to calm down Mum either. “Hermione…”

    She took a deep breath. “Harry and I accidentally were transported to a magically hidden island off Northwest Africa,” she said.

    But Mum gasped, putting a hand in front of her mouth. “A Barbary Coast Island?”

    Hermione clenched her teeth. She should’ve remembered that she had told Mum about the differences between muggle and wizarding countries - and the danger those pirates still represented for the wizarding countries in the Mediterranean! “Yes, Mum, but we only found that out later - we didn’t meet anyone after we arrived.”

    Mr Potter cleared his throat behind them. “Perhaps we should sit down for this?”

    Mum straightened. “Oh, of course! I’m sorry, I just…”

    Mr Potter shook his head. “It’s entirely understandable - I reacted the same when we recovered Harry.”

    Hermione didn’t remember the wizard losing his composure, but he had had some forewarning thanks to the Patronus Charms. Mum had had Hermione’s return sprung on her out of the blue. That must have been a shock for her, and… “Crookshanks!” Her cat pawed at her legs, meowing pitifully. She knelt down to hug and pet him. “You must have been so worried!”

    After about half a minute, she stood with him in her arms, blushing. “Sorry.” That had been rude, ignoring the others. But she hadn’t seen Crookshanks for nearly two weeks, and he must have been so worried about her, not knowing what had happened.

    Mum smiled, then led them to the living room. “Please have a seat.”

    Mr Potter sat down in the armchair - Dad’s armchair. Hermione joined Mum on the couch, wrapping her arm around her waist.

    But Mum jumped up. “Oh, my God! I need to call Gabriel!” She rushed to the phone.

    Hermione pressed her lips together. Should she ask Mr Potter to go and fetch Dad so he didn’t rush through traffic? Or was that presumptuous? Did Mr Potter even know where her parents worked? Well, it wasn’t as if Dad was driving, so it should be fine… “I can make us some tea,” she said instead.

    “Ah…” Mr Potter looked embarrassed.

    Hermione heard Mum in the hallway. “Gabriel? Gabriel? Come home! Hermione’s back!” And then Mum started to sob again.

    Hermione stood, setting Crookshanks down on the floor. “I’ll be right back with tea, Mr Potter.” She stepped out of the room and into the kitchen, where she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She couldn’t lose it. She wouldn’t lose it. She had survived for almost two weeks on a pirate island. She could do this!

    Her hands still trembled a little when she filled the kettle. And Crookshanks bowl - he must be starving, too.

    “Hermione?”

    Drat. “I’m in the kitchen, Mum! Making tea!” she yelled.

    Mum appeared at the door a moment later. “Hermione!”

    “I missed tea,” Hermione said, forcing herself to smile. “We only had coconut milk and water.”

    “Oh, Hermione!” Mum hugged her again.

    “I can’t stand coconut any more,” Hermione said. “At least for a while. But it kept us alive, and it wasn’t long enough to suffer malnutrition, and we had some fish, for a while, and I had a spell for the diarrhoea the coconut diet caused, and…” She trailed off and sobbed herself. “Sorry.”

    “It wasn’t your fault,” Mum told her.

    “But it was,” she said. “If I hadn’t gone into Knockturn Alley, this wouldn’t have happened!”

    If she hadn’t wanted to find some grimoires to get the upper hand against Harry, her parents wouldn’t have spent two weeks worrying themselves to death over her disappearance. If she hadn’t fought with Harry, hadn’t grabbed the stupid rope, they wouldn’t have triggered the Portkey.

    “There was no way you could’ve known about the Portkey,” Mr Potter said, startling her.

    When had he left the living room? She hadn’t noticed him arriving in the kitchen! She had to be more on her guard!

    “I shouldn’t have been in that store in the first place,” Hermione retorted.

    “They shouldn’t have left a Portkey on the shelves,” Mr Potter said. “It was just a question of time until it would have transported someone else away by accident. Rest assured, they won’t be doing it again.”

    “Good,” Hermione said before pressing her lips together.

    The kettle’s signal went off before anyone could say anything else, and despite Hermione’s attempts, Mum insisted on preparing tea herself, sending her and Mr Potter back to the living room.

    Mum probably needed some time to recover her composure.

    Hermione sighed as she sat down on the couch again - without Crookshanks, who was still eating.

    “It’s normal that you need some time to readjust,” Mr Potter told her.

    She bit her lower lip to avoid telling him that she was fine. He wouldn’t believe her, anyway. Instead, she nodded.

    “I felt the same after the war. Suddenly, things were different. We no longer had to fear for our lives and the lives of our friends every day.” Mr Potter smiled, though he wasn’t looking at her. “It’s hard to go back to a normal life from one day to the other, after fighting for so long. But you can do it, trust me.”

    Hermione was about to nod when she heard her mum gasp. “Fighting?”

    Oh, no! That wasn’t how she had wanted this to go. Not at all.

    Hermione turned and forced herself to smile at Mum. “About the fighting…” She sighed. “Can we wait for Dad? I would rather not go through this twice.”

    “Oh, of course, Hermione! I’m sorry!”

    And Mum was hugging her again.

    *****

    Godric’s Hollow, Devon, Britain, July 18th, 1996

    Harry Potter had his wand trained on the fireplace in the living room as soon as the flames turned green.

    “Harry!”

    Oh, Mum was frowning at him.

    He lowered his wand. Right. Not just anyone could use their Floo connection. And Mum had sent a Patronus Messenger to inform Rose that they were back, so this would be...

    A figure stepped out of the fireplace. “Harry!” Rose yelled, then rushed towards him.

    Harry managed not to raise his wand out of reflex before she tackled him in a hug.

    “Harry! You’re back! I thought… I feared…” And she started sobbing.

    Rose must have been very worried, Harry realised - she was hugging him for all that she was worth. Of course, she would’ve been worried - anyone would’ve been worried, so it wasn’t a surprise. And it was all his fault. If he hadn’t followed Hermione into Knockturn Alley, if he hadn’t tried to make her leave...

    “I’m back,” he told her, patting her on the back.

    Then flames turned green again, and Harry twisted, putting himself between the fireplace and Rose and raising his wand once more.

    Ron stepped into the living room. “Mate!”

    “Ron!” Right. The Weasleys had been babysitting Rose while Mum and Dad had come for Harry. Of course, Ron would’ve heard. He lowered his wand again.

    Rose released him, sniffling a little and wiping her eyes. “Sorry for running off,” she said to Ron.

    “We understand,” Ron told her. “Mum’s not angry. And neither is Ginny. Oh, hi!” he greeted Mum as she entered the room carrying a tray of scones and tea.

    “Hi, Ron,” Mum replied, putting the tray down. “James is with the Grangers. We’ll eat when he returns.”

    “So... what happened? Is Granger alright?” Ron asked.

    “Yes,” Harry said at once. “We’re both fine. We got stranded on a pirate island off the African Coast.”

    Rose gasped. “The Barbary Coast?”

    “Well… a bit more to the south,” Harry said. “Geographically, it wasn’t part of the Barbary Coast.” That was what Hermione had said, at least. “But the pirates were from the Barbary Coast.”

    “Pirates?” Ron stared at him. “Actual pirates? I heard about the Portkey, but… I didn’t think they were still pirates around.”

    “There were,” Mum said. “We fought them.”

    “After Hermione and I had already left the island,” Harry was quick to point out. “And we saved the girl they had kidnapped.”

    “What?” “What?”

    Rose turned to look at Mum. Ron did the same.

    Mum nodded. “We found them in the middle of the ocean.”

    “Near the island,” Harry corrected her. “We were on our way to Africa.”

    “Were you swimming?” Rose asked.

    “No,” Harry told her. It was a stupid question, but Rose hadn’t been there and didn’t know it. “We had brooms and a boat. Taken from the pirates.”

    “You what?” Ron was staring at him. Like Rose.

    “They were hunting us, and we needed them to escape - the whole island was warded,” Harry explained.

    “You and Granger fought pirates? And stole their brooms and boat?” Ron still didn’t sound as if he believed it.

    “How?” Rose asked.

    “It’s a long story,” Harry said.

    “And a rather unnerving one,” Mum added.

    Harry frowned at her. “Hermione and I are fine,” he said. “We weren’t really hurt.”

    “You almost died. Several times,” Mum spat.

    Rose and Ron gasped again. Harry’s sister even started sniffling once more.

    “And we had to fix his foot when we found them,” Mum went on. She pressed her lips together, Harry noticed, before she smiled. “But they’re fine.”

    “Yes,” he said.

    “But…” Rose shook her head. “What did you do? How did you survive?”

    “Yeah, Mate - how did you survive?”

    “We ate coconuts and fish. And we hid from the pirates and the wyvern,” Harry replied.

    “The wyvern?” “What wyvern?”

    He sighed. Best tell the whole story, then. “Alright! We were dropped by the Portkey on a beach, and we had no idea where we were. So, we gathered coconuts and prepared a shelter. But soon, we noticed that there was a large wyvern on the island…”

    *****

    Kingston upon Thames, London, Britain, July 18th, 1996

    Dad arrived breathlessly - he must have run the whole distance from the tube, Hermione Granger knew.

    “Hermione!”

    “Dad!”

    More hugging followed.

    “You’re back! You’re safe!”

    “Yes,” she assured him. “Harry and I are both back - and we’re not hurt.” Not any more.

    “Yes. They were treated and healed,” Mr Potter said.

    Hermione pressed her lips together. Arguing that she healed them before wouldn’t help with calming down her parents. “It wasn’t much,” she said. “Mostly scrapes. And Harry’s broken foot.”

    “But you were fighting,” Mum retorted.

    “Fighting?” Dad asked, releasing her and gaping at her.

    “Yes. We were stranded on a pirate island and we had to fight their pet wyvern and the pirates themselves. And we escaped after killing their wyvern and sinking their ship. And after freeing the little girl they had kidnapped,” Hermione said. And she was fine.

    Her parents exchanged a glance. Then Mum spoke: “I think I need to hear the whole story.”

    Dad nodded.

    Hermione bit her lower lip. There was no way out of this. “Alright.” She looked at Mr Potter. “You’ve already heard the story, and I’m sure that you want to return home to Harry.”

    But Mr Potter shook his head. “I’m sure your parents have more questions, and as the Head Auror and involved in the rescue mission from the start, I am perfectly placed to answer them.”

    Hermione didn’t frown. She really didn’t want to keep Mr Potter from Harry. And she could answer any questions her parents had perfectly fine. But he was the Head Auror. “Alright. But… could we eat something first? Sandwiches? Anything but coconut?”

    “Oh, of course!” Mum all but jumped up. “I’ll fix us some sandwiches.”

    “Or we could order out,” Dad said. “How does pizza sound? Or Chinese?”

    Both sounded wonderful. Hermione smiled. “Pizza, please.” Their usual pizza place was a little faster than their favourite Chinese restaurant. And she would probably be able to handle pizza more easily than Chinese after her coconut diet.

    “I’ll call!”

    *****

    “...and then we were found by the Patronus Messenger, a spell which led the rescue party towards us. They led us back to the island, which they had secured already from the pirates, and we travelled by ship to Gibraltar, where we used the special Floo Network to return to London,” Hermione Granger finished her story, absentmindedly petting Crookshanks, who had returned to her lap.

    Once more, her parents glanced at each other. They had sat through her tale mostly in silence, and not just because they had been eating pizza for half the time, though their expressions…

    “That was a rather… clinical description,” Dad remarked.

    “Yes.” Mum nodded. “Almost detached.”

    Hermione bit her lower lip. She had aimed for succinct and factual, focused on the relevant points. There was no need to go into irrelevant details. And this wasn’t the time to discuss the… changes in her and Harry’s relationship. Certainly not with Mr Potter present!

    “Hermione,” Mum went on. “What you lived through… This was a traumatising experience.”

    “It was harrowing,” Hermione agreed. “But it’s over. We’re safe. And we weren’t really hurt.”

    “You were very lucky,” Mr Potter said. “And even if you come through a fight unscathed, and without having killed someone, it’s still an experience you can’t just… shrug off.”

    “I’m not shrugging it off,” Hermione protested. “But I’m not going to break down and cry myself to sleep, either.”

    “Of course not,” Mum said. But she was looking at Dad.

    “I’m really not,” Hermione insisted.

    “We know,” Dad told her. He looked at Mr Potter. “So, the people responsible for this have been arrested?”

    “Yes. The pirates didn’t resist after they realised Dumbledore was with us,” Mr Potter replied. “And they will be tried. Both the pirates and those responsible for the Portkey having been left on a shelf so irresponsibly.”

    Hermione winced. And the pirates would be executed.

    “Good.” Dad nodded. As did Mum.

    “And Miss de Ciel has been returned to her family,” Mr Potter went on.

    “The poor girl!” Mum exclaimed.

    The poor girl we saved, Hermione added to herself. “Yes. Things worked out quite well,” she said out loud to remind her parents of that fact.

    She was getting really tired of the way her parents glanced at each other.

    “Can we talk to you later? When we’ve had time to, ah, think about this for a little while?” her parents asked Mr Potter.

    When she wasn’t present, in other words. Hermione frowned.

    “Of course. I should return now,” Mr Potter said, standing up.

    “Oh, of course. We’re sorry we’ve kept you from your son for so long,” Mum apologised.

    “Oh, no.” Mr Potter shook his head. “It’s fine - we’ve already talked on the ship.”

    Briefly, Hermione knew - Harry had slept for most of the trip - as had she. But pointing that out wouldn’t help anyone. So Hermione nodded. “Thank you again, Mr Potter. I’ll probably come to visit tomorrow.” Why was everyone staring at her again? “Harry invited me, and Mrs Potter agreed,” she explained.

    “Right.” Mr Potter nodded once more. “Lily mentioned that.”

    It would be good to see Harry again. Hermione was getting tired of being treated like a… like someone about to have a nervous breakdown. She was fine. As was Harry.

    Suddenly, she gasped. “Oh! I need to tell Lavender that I’m back!” She blinked. “But I don’t have an owl!” She looked at Mr Potter. “Ah, could you…”

    He smiled. “Of course. You can give me the letter, and I’ll have it delivered.”

    “Thank you!” She beamed at him, then started for her room. “It’ll be just a few minutes!” Just enough to let Lavender know that she was back and fine. She could tell her more once they met.

    Her eyes widened as she reached her room. Lavender would expect to visit her tomorrow. When Hermione wanted to visit Harry.

    This would be… Hermione bit her lower lip.

    This would be a little tricky. Her best friend deserved to hear about this from her. But she really wanted - needed - to talk to Harry.

    She frowned while she quickly jotted down a note for Lavender.

    Things were much more complicated than they had been on the island.

    For a moment, she almost wished they hadn’t left.

    *****

    Godric’s Hollow, Devon, Britain, July 18th, 1996

    “...and then, Mum and Dad’s Patronuses found us,” Harry Potter said as he grabbed another piece of cake. “We - Hermione, Céline and I - flew back to the island with them and took a ship to Gibraltar. The others had already captured the pirates.” Mostly thanks to Dumbledore.

    “Wow!” Ron shook his head. “That’s… incredible!”

    “You almost died!” Rose shook her head as well, but apparently, she didn’t share Ron’s sentiments.

    “Yes,” Mum said.

    “It all turned out well,” Harry protested. Why couldn’t they see that? “Besides, we had no choice - we didn’t know how long it would take for you to find us. And the wyvern was hunting us!” He was getting a little sick of telling his story and defending his and Hermione’s choices.

    “But you could’ve died!” Rose repeated herself.

    “But we didn’t!” Harry looked at Ron. His best friend could support him there.

    “That’s true,” Ron said loyally. “But it was very dangerous, wasn’t it?”

    “Yes, but that wasn’t our fault. We didn’t know there was a Portkey! And we didn’t attack the pirates or the wyvern - they attacked us first!”

    “And you killed the wyvern!” Ron added.

    “After it almost ate you!” Rose said, shaking her head again.

    “It all worked out,” Harry said. “We did the best we could!”

    “But you could’ve died. Both of you!”

    “Rose,” Mum said. “Please calm down.”

    “Mum!”

    As his little sister hugged Mum, Harry pressed his lips together. He glanced at Ron. His friend shifted in his seat and wasn’t looking at Rose and Mum either. “Can we go to my room, Mum?” Harry asked.

    Mum looked at him. “Of course, Harry.” She hesitated a moment, as if she wanted to say something else, then nodded. “Call if you need something.”

    “Thanks, Mum!” Harry all but jumped up. “Come on, Ron!”

    He really didn’t want to see Rose crying.

    They went upstairs to Harry’s room. He took a deep breath as he closed the door. “You know, I really missed that.”

    Ron looked at him. “What?”

    Harry gestured. “My room. My bed. We slept on our robes stuffed with dried grass. And in shelters we had dug into the ground. Or in a cave.” He sat down on his bed, patting the sheets. “I really missed this. Almost as much as I missed the food.” And his family.

    “Well, you’re back now.” Ron sat down on Harry’s chair, turned so it wasn’t facing the desk but the bed. “And you can still enjoy the summer.”

    Harry nodded. It hadn’t even been two weeks. “It felt longer, you know,” he said.

    “I can imagine,” Ron said. “We were all so worried for you.”

    Harry clenched his teeth. He hadn’t known about the Portkey. “Sorry.”

    “It wasn’t your fault,” Ron told him. “And, well, you’re a hero!”

    Harry snorted. He didn’t feel very heroic. “We did what we had to,” he said. “We didn’t do it to be heroes. If we had been able to leave the island without fighting anyone, we would have done so. We tried, you know - we spied on the village, trying to find a way to get out. But then we found Céline, and...” He shrugged. “We also knew we couldn’t let them catch us.”

    “Damn pirates,” Ron agreed. “Fleur has a lot of stories about them attacking her family.”

    “Well, those pirates won’t attack anyone any more,” Harry said, then clenched his teeth. That wasn’t his fault - they had kidnapped Céline. And the others.

    Ron nodded. “Good.”

    “Yes.” It was a good thing. The sea was safer now. A little bit, at least.

    “And, wow - I couldn’t have done half the things you did. Hell, I wouldn’t have thought of it!” Ron went on.

    “You know Hermione - she knows a lot,” Harry said. “And she knows a lot of spells.”

    Ron blinked, then looked at him. “‘Hermione’? Not ‘Granger’?”

    Oh. Harry hadn’t told anyone that part of the story yet. It wasn’t something you just blurted out in the middle of a group of his parents and their friends. He hesitated a moment. They hadn’t said anything about hiding their… relationship, had they? Quite the contrary, actually. And there was no reason to hide it, anyway. Ron was his best mate and was going out with Hermione’s best friend. “Yes.” Harry nodded, then shrugged. “It just happened.”

    Ron blinked again. “It just happened? Well, it would’ve been stupid to feud while you were stranded on the island… Wait. You mean…?” Harry felt himself blush a little, and Ron made a surprised sound. “You and… her?”

    Harry narrowed his eyes but nodded. “Yes.”

    “Wow. I’d never expected that!” Ron chuckled. “Then again, I never thought you two would get stranded on a pirate island.”

    “Yes,” Harry repeated himself again.

    “So, you two are dating.” Ron shook his head with a smile. “We can double-date now!” He chuckled again.

    Harry laughed. It felt good to joke around. “She’s visiting tomorrow.” He smiled. It would be good to see her again - he was missing her already.

    “Oh.”

    “What?” Harry looked at his friend.

    Ron hesitated, then grinned. “Nothing.” He reached over to clap Harry on the shoulder. “Welcome back, mate!”

    *****

    Kingston upon Thames, London, Britain, July 19th, 1996

    She was alone. Alone facing a gang of pirates. And they had seen her - the closest was pointing his wand at her, moving it in a familiar pattern. She sent a Stunner at him, but his shield deflected it. And the pirate’s spell shattered her own Shield Charm.

    Her next spell was stopped by the man’s shield as well, and she dropped behind a rock to avoid his next curse. The rock shook with the force of an explosion, and she started running away as more pirates joined in, blowing the rock up and sending more spells at her.

    She couldn’t fight so many! She was alone! All alone!

    She recast her Shield Charm as she slid down the slope, narrowly avoiding a Stunner, heading straight to the jungle’s edge. She could lose them in the underbrush!

    But before she reached the jungle, the trees started toppling, and a monster emerged - the wyvern! And it was charging straight at her...

    *****

    Hermione Granger woke up with a gasp, sitting up with her wand in hand. She was sweaty - her pyjamas clung to her as if she had fallen into the sea with them on. And she was panting. As if she had run a mile or two. And Harry was gone!

    She looked around, aiming her wand. Where…? Oh. She was home. In her room. In her bed.

    She hugged herself as she took deep breaths, forcing herself to calm down. She was home. She was safe. The pirates had been arrested. The wyvern was dead.

    And Harry was home - at his home. She was alone in her room except for Crookshanks. At… she looked at the clock on her nightstand. At one in the morning.

    She closed her eyes. She was safe. Her parents were in the room next to her. Crookshanks was sleeping in her chair. Harry was safe with his family. Everything was fine. She just had a nightmare.

    But she was still trembling.

    Clenching her teeth, she shoved her wand under her pillow and lay down again.

    *****

    When Hermione Granger woke up again, it was seven in the morning. And instead of resting her head on her pillow, she was hugging the pillow to her chest. At least she wasn’t drenched with sweat any more, but, as a quick sniff proved, she smelt like it anyway.

    Grimacing, she slipped out of her bed. A few cleaning charms would… No! She lowered her wand, then dropped it on the bed. She was in London, and underage magic was illegal. Until she returned to Hogwarts.

    She picked her wand up and went to the bathroom. Out in the hallway, she heard Mum from below. “Hermione? Are you up already?”

    She frowned for a moment. What did Mum think? That Hermione was so exhausted that she needed to spend the day in bed? She wasn’t so fragile. “Yes, Mum,” she replied. “Going to the bathroom.”

    “Alright. I’ll prepare breakfast.”

    Oh. Breakfast. A real breakfast. Tea and scones and croissants… damn, she would love black pudding right now, but her parents never made that.

    In the bathroom, a glance at the mirror had her wince at the state of her hair. If only she could use a charm to fix it!

    But the shower was great. Divine. Hot water. Scented Soap. Shampoo. Soft towels.

    Hermione was still smiling when she entered the kitchen wearing a light sundress. “Smells great, Mum!” she said. “Where’s Dad?”

    “Rescheduling our appointments.”

    “Oh.” Well, that made sense. But… “What excuse are you using?”

    “A family emergency.”

    She pursed her lips and put her cup down. “What kind of family emergency?”

    “You were almost in a traffic accident and were shocked.”

    Hermione clenched her teeth. She was tougher than that.

    “It explains why you returned home, and it’ll explain any, ah… flashbacks you might have,” Mum explained.

    “I wasn’t in a war, Mum!” Hermione protested.

    “It was close enough according to what you and Mr Potter told us,” Mum retorted. “And the newspaper…”

    “What?” Hermione looked up and saw that Mum was holding the Daily Prophet. And she could read the headline.

    Missing Students Battle Wyvern and Pirates!

    Mum handed her the newspaper. Hermione quickly read the front page. It was all there - Portkey, pirate island, wyvern, pirates. But the details… “That’s pure speculation!” she exclaimed. “We didn’t kill the wyvern with ancient curses from the Black library! And Harry didn’t duel the pirate captain!” Just because Harry was a talented duellist didn’t mean they would’ve done something stupid like challenging an experienced pirate to a duel! “And certainly not over me!”

    Mum actually chuckled at that.

    Hermione scowled. “We need to set the record straight before they claim he had to rescue me from an Ottoman Harem!” She would never live that down.

    “Oh, Hermione. Gabriel and I had a talk. We think we all should visit the Potters today.”

    What? Why would her parents want to come along? “We don’t need a chaperone!” she protested.

    “What? No, we want to discuss how best to handle this affair with them,” Mum said. “But… a chaperone? Why would you think of that? And with Harry Potter?”

    Oh. Hermione sighed. “Well,” she said, “We - Harry and I - had to work together on the island to survive. And, well… we did work well together, once we talked things out, and… one thing led to another, and… we’re now in a relationship.”

    At least she hoped that they still were in a relationship.

    *****

    Godric’s Hollow, Devon, Britain, July 19th, 1996

    He was racing on his broom. Towards the jungle. Just a few hundred yards left. Spells flew past him, above his head, bouncing off his shield, narrowly missing him. Just a few dozen yards now, and he was above the trees. Almost safe.

    A pirate appeared in front of him, flying towards him. He rolled and flicked his wand. His Cutting Curse shattered the man’s shield and sliced into his neck seconds before they met. Then his foot hit the man’s face, and the pirate’s head snapped off. He flew past, then dived, breaking through the dense foliage, then pulled up before he hit the ground - a perfect Wronski Feint!

    As he weaved through the trees, another pirate came up behind him. He veered to the right, and the pirate crashed into an uprooted tree with a sickening crash. Blood splattered all over the wood.

    Then he was on a cratered field, smoke rising from the craters left by Blasting Curses and the remains of the forest set ablaze. He was surrounded by half a dozen corpses. Cut in two. Mangled beneath fallen trees. Missing limbs or heads. Burned to crisp.

    And he was covered in blood. Not his. None of it was his. He turned, looking around. As far as he could see, there was only devastation. Broken brooms and dead pirates.

    He stared at his hands. They were covered in blood. Sticky, drying blood. He blinked and drew a shuddering breath. Where was Hermione? He couldn’t see her. He screamed her name but didn’t hear an answer. She was gone. Kidnapped? Killed? Or left in disgust?

    Either way, it was his fault.

    All his fault.

    *****

    Harry Potter woke up with a gasp and sat up, blinking. Then he looked at his hands. They weren’t covered in blood. His face wasn’t covered in blood. It was just sweat. He rubbed his eyes, trying to slow down his breathing. It was just a nightmare, nothing more. He was home. With Mum, Dad and Rose. He hadn’t killed anyone.

    He closed his eyes, sighing as he slowly put his wand down. He was in his bed. Not standing in a wrecked patch of jungle, surrounded by corpses.

    But he was alone. Hermione wasn’t here. She was with her family. Safe. In her home.

    And as he wrapped his arms around himself, shivering, he wished she was still with him.

    Hedwig looked at him, barking in her concerned tone.

    “I’m fine,” he told her with a smile. “I’ll have a letter for you later. For Hermione.”

    She barked again, and he winced. “Not a pranked letter, I promise.”

    “Harry? Are you up?”

    He twitched, grabbing his wand before he recognised the voice. Rose. “I’m up,” he told her.

    “Good. Breakfast is ready.”

    “Coming.” He got out of his bed and hesitated. He wasn’t on the island any more - he was back in England. And he was underage.

    “Fuck it,” he mumbled and cast a few cleaning and hairstyling charms. It felt good. “Accio robes!” he whispered, and his house robes flew towards him.

    Perfect. Or almost perfect - he ran his hand over his cheek, feeling stubble. His enchanted razor was in the bathroom. It wouldn’t take long…

    He scoffed. He could do that after breakfast.

    Mum, Dad and Rose were already at the table when he entered the kitchen.

    “That was fast!” Rose said. “Wait - you didn’t shower?” She grimaced.

    Harry rolled his eyes. “Cleaning Charms. I didn’t shave, though.”

    He looked at Mum and Dad, but they didn’t say anything about him casting spells. Mum smiled at him and moved the basket with the toast towards him.

    She’d done a full spread, he realised - eggs, sausages, bacon, even black pudding. “Oh, Mum!” He beamed at her.

    “You’ve been eating coconut for weeks,” she said.

    “Don’t get used to it,” Rose commented.

    He snorted and started eating. It was wonderful - he ate everything and then had seconds. “It’s delicious, Mum!”

    “Nothing like a diet to make you appreciate good cooking, right?” Dad grinned at him.

    But Mum scowled. “James!”

    “Sorry,” Dad replied, ducking his head. “I didn’t think…”

    “It’s OK,” Harry told him. “Hermione said the same on the island. You can ask her when she’s coming by today.”

    “Ah. When is she coming?” Mum asked.

    “I’ll send her a letter,” Harry replied. “I hope she can eat lunch with us.” Hermione should be up by now, and Hedwig was fast. As was the Knight Bus. He perked up. “Or I could take the Knight Bus after breakfast and ask her in person.”

    Mum and Dad were glancing at each other. And Rose was staring at him.

    “What?” he asked.

    “Harry, I don’t think you should go to London,” Mum said.

    “Why not?” Harry asked. “I could go fetch her.”

    “I don’t think she’ll want to spend her first day back home here instead of with her family,” Mum said.

    He frowned. “She said she would visit.”

    Mum and Dad looked at each other again.

    Harry pressed his lips together. “I’ll send her a letter, then.”

    She said she’d visit. Why wouldn’t she want to visit?

    Then he saw the Daily Prophet on the table.

    *****
     
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  26. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    They'll need some time adjusting to being back and safe. Unfortunately, Wizarding Britain isn't the best place to deal with this.

    Indeed.

    Yes. But I skipped repeating the tale.
     
  27. Baked the Author

    Baked the Author (Chaurus-rights activist) (aggressive archeology)

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    *vehement swearing*

    "Harry James Potter!"

    "What? He's just saying what we've all been thinking."

    "Rose!"

    Nice chapter, as usual. Can't wait for more.
     
  28. loatroll

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

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    Fantastic stuff! Hoping they clear up that they are now in a relationship ASAP :)
     
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  29. Mastersgt

    Mastersgt Experienced.

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    Doing a good job of making these parents seem like annoying busybodies.
     
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  30. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

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    Well, Lily might not care overly much about swearing :p

    It's not as if they can hide that for long, if they wanted to.

    I don't think being concerned about the traumatic experiences their children went through is being an "annoying busybody".
     
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