Harry Potter fell out of the bed in his sparse room at number 4 Privet Drive shouting "No! No! NO!!" at the top of his lungs.
was not late at night. Harry had been up all night staring out of the
window at nothing. Uncle Vernon was not pleased with this at all, but
it was only two days after the "train station incident" as he called
it, when he had to mention it. He hated and despised the humiliating
circumstances of that event and the requirement to treat Harry better
than ever before.
But even Vernon was frightened by the
terror in Harry's voice. Vernon did not fear for Harry, but if he was
being attacked up there, would the attackers leave after finishing off
"that boy," or would they come down stairs?
Dudley, the big
strong yet still quite chubby boxing champion of his school, rolled out
of his chair and hid behind it. The notion that parts of Dudley could
be seen on either side of the chair at the same time had somehow eluded
him in choosing this hiding place.
It was Aunt Petunia's action that was the most surprising.
had been in the kitchen preparing dinner. When Harry began shouting
Petunia was just starting to cut vegetables with her sharpest knife.
Like a race horse when the starting gun goes off, the horse-faced woman
bolted out of the kitchen and was on her way up the stairs before
Vernon could sputter, "Petunia?"
She had treated Harry with the most kindness of the three since his eventful
homecoming. Over the entire school year she had often pondered the
question: had Harry been telling the truth? Had he saved Dudley's
life... er soul from the Dementors? Finally, in February, she went up
into the attic when Vernon was at work and re-read the original letter
from Dumbledore that accompanied Harry's baby basket - the letter
Vernon thought she had destroyed.
With tears in her
eyes, she came down from the attic that day believing Harry's story.
Relatively speaking, she had been much more civil to Harry than before
- she now was outwardly as kind as most people were to complete
Harry and Aunt Petunia nearly collided at the top
of the stairs. Their hearts were already beating as fast as a
machine-gun in their chests, and this near collision startled them even
more. At the exact moment they both yelled, "What's wrong?" and a
second later, after noticing the wand in his hand and the knife in
hers, they simultaneously shouted, "Don't point that at me!"
Both took a deep breath and Harry said, "Voldemort is sending Death Eaters to attack the Grangers! I've got to warn them!"
are the Grangers? Are they outside? How do you know this?" These were
all good questions. All a bit disjointed, but the woman welding the
knife looked ready to fight, so Harry instinctively included her as a
possible ally for the next few moments. (At random moments over the
weeks to come, he would think about the idea of Aunt Petunia fighting
Death Eaters with her sharpest paring knife.)
"You stay up all night boy..." Uncle Vernon had waddled up the stairs fairly quickly.
"Please Vernon! Now Harry, who are the Grangers?"
"...you sleep all day..." Uncle Vernon continued ignoring his wife's interruption.
"That is not helping, Vernon." Petunia's growing impatience was evident in her voice.
"...now you have a bloody afternoon nightmare..."
"SILENCE VERNON! Tell me quickly Harry."
entirely different reasons, both Vernon and Harry were dumbstruck by
this outburst. Dudley, still cowering in the den, hunkered down even
more when he heard her outburst, squeezing more of himself out into
view on both sides of the chair.
Harry spoke in rapid-fire
sentences. "Hermione Granger is a classmate. Her parents are Muggles
like you. They live...well I don't know where, but not too far from
Oxford. They are both dentists. I just dreamed Voldemort was sending
Death Eaters to their house and Mr. Granger's office to kill them."
"Boy! All this for a dream..."
she screamed turning the knife she had been pointing at Harry towards
him. He cringed and shrank against the wall with a whimper. That was
the last sound he made, except for his ragged breathing.
"Do your dreams warrant investigation?" Harry was even more surprised by her calm, pertinent question. How to explain this?
have dreams that are just dreams. Also, Voldemort has used them to
mislead me, but I have also saved a life because I saw his evil actions
in my dreams. True or false, I have to warn them of the possibility."
"How should we proceed? Would calling the police help? Is there any way I can help?"
was this woman talking to him like this? "I...erm...the police will
just be more people for the Death Eaters to kill. Muggles cannot fight
Death Eaters. I suppose I should go to Mrs. Fi...go where I can contact
Professor Dumbledore or someone who can get Aurors or Magical Law
Enforcement officers to the Granger's aid as quickly as possible."
Harry ran out the door towards Mrs. Figg's house to use the Floo network.
However, Harry had been wrong about one thing.
was 4:58 pm. Steph Granger was locking the door to his dental office
and turning to take the elevator down to the parking garage below the
medical complex. It had been a long day but the week was over and he
and his family were going to spend the next three weeks on vacation in
Germany. His daughter, Hermione, had come home from Hogwarts where her
friends had said that she was the smartest witch of her generation.
chuckled with incredulity that soon settled into concern. "My daughter
a witch," he mused. That phrase now meant something entirely different
from what he understood when he first heard it applied to her by her
Hogwarts Letter. There had been odd relief at that time because finally
there was a "logical" explanation for the odd occurrences in their
family. Until he and his wife had helped Hermione control her temper,
they had noticed things breaking a lot and other children skinning
their knees quite often. She had always been able to get books off of
top shelves when she wanted them and she had sworn she had not climbed
up to reach them. An awful lot of childhood coincidences had suddenly
made more sense.
She had always made straight 'Outstandings'
on every graded test and assignment in primary school, with only two
exceptions. She viewed each of those 'Exceeds Expectations' as abject
failures. Those two subjects were never in question again. Though he
had been a very good student, always near the top of his class,
Hermione received her brilliance and her drive for top marks from her
mother. Now she was the smartest witch of her generation. That was not
exactly how he had always dreamed his little girl would excel.
excel she did. She had always enjoyed studying and school, but at
Hogwarts it was as if she had found her reason for being. She had come
home that first year feeling like she had a destiny. Each succeeding
summer she had come home even more certain that she was where she ought
to be. After her fourth year she had matured well past the youthful
enthusiasm of previous vacations. Since then she had been a young woman
with a serious mission - which she would not share with her parents -
until the day she arrived home from finishing her fifth year.
had been one subject - not an academic subject - in primary school
where Hermione had not been a star. Of course Physical Education was
graded on a pass/fail basis and Steph Granger had no elusions that his
daughter would take after him in that area. He had lettered in every
sport in school except golf. He thought any activity like golf, where
over weight people could do well, could not be a sport at all.
Granger had been a rarity - an athlete who had made very good grades.
He had been accepted to two good universities, and there had been talk
of some athletic scholarship assistance, but he had shocked everyone
when he went into the army in the ranks. Ten years later, taking longer
than he had expected, he had left the army. He had slowly achieved a
degree while in the military. Upon leaving, he had enrolled in dental
school and paid for it with savings from his soldier's pay and with
some academic scholarship help. He wanted to spend all of his time
studying and not let his grades suffer by being required on the pitch
for so many hours a day.
No, Hermione was never going to be
an athlete excelling in sports as he had, but he was disappointed that
she had let her running lapse while away at school. For the last two
years before Hermione went off to Hogwarts, she had met him for the
last mile and then two miles of his daily run. Steph had used the time
to cool down and chat with his daughter. She'd enjoyed the running
after getting over the initial difficulties. Now, she had lost the
physical edge that running had given her. She never had joined him for
the strenuous exercises and training he did daily in the Granger's
Steph had run at least five miles, usually more,
everyday since the age of ten, except when military service had other
activities for him, and except the day of Hermione's birth and the
terrifying few days that followed. He had spent those days alternating
between crying for joy when he looked at or held his newborn daughter,
and crying beside his wife's bed not knowing if she would pull through
from the complications of a wretchedly difficult childbirth.
wife eventually pulled through and regained all of her former vitality,
but Hermione would be their only child. Steph could never be sad about
it when he looked at his daughter. His only sadness had been that he
did not understand her new world well at all.
That had all begun to change a few days after the battle of the Department of Mysteries.
was standing practice at Hogwarts that when a student was admitted to
the Infirmary over night, a note would be sent telling the student's
parents or guardians what had happened. The Dursleys had sent word back
by Harry that they did not care if he was injured or sick, so stop
sending the owls unless Harry died or something worse.
Grangers had received only three such notes in the five years Hermione
had attended the school. The first two were from her second year. Her
stay while she slowly transformed back from half cat after the
Polyjuice Potion incident had been written up as a school prank gone
bad and glossed over by Hermione's accompanying letter.
second notice that year had informed the Grangers that Hermione had
been petrified. Professor McGonagall had visited them within the hour
of that owl's delivery. It was a Saturday, the Quidditch match had been
cancelled, and Dumbledore had insisted she go to the Grangers to help
explain what had occurred. The Transfigurations teacher had been torn
between staying at the school to protect her young lions and going to
the Muggle parents who would be confused and distraught. The Headmaster
had made the decision easy for her.
When, in her fifth year,
the third owl message had arrived telling of Hermione's injuries in the
Department of Mysteries, it had been sent with two other sealed
parchments. There had been a letter from Hermione herself, explaining
that she was fine and improving, and trying to make light of the
Dumbledore had sent the third missive with the
official infirmary Notice of Extended Stay. He had outlined in great
detail what had happened and had told the Grangers that the school owl
would stay with them if they wanted to respond with any additional
questions or concerns. The headmaster and the parents had corresponded
numerous times before the day they arrived to pick Hermione up outside
the barrier to Platform nine and three quarters. Their written
discussions evolved from specific questions about the battle to broad
and general penned conversations regarding the conditions of the
magical world at this juncture. The Headmaster had answered all
questions concisely, but completely.
Her parents said nothing
about her injuries at the station or during the trip home, other than a
quick 'are you all right,' just as she came off of the train. In the
car they had had an interesting discussion regarding Hermione's role as
a part of the delegation that "encouraged" the Dursleys to improve
Harry's treatment during the summer. That conversation with Harry's
relations had occurred within earshot of the two dentists. Both parents
were appalled at the scraps of home-life horror stories Hermione had
pieced together over the years from Harry's brief comments to her and
When the three Grangers arrived at home, there was the
smell of baked chocolate in the air. Before leaving for the station,
Mrs. Granger had set a large tray of chocolate biscuits in the oven on
time bake. Arthur Weasley would have wanted to talk for hours about the
concept of time baking, but that was not the discussion in their home
Mr. Granger had taken Hermione's trunk upstairs
and in a few minutes she had come back down to the kitchen. The fresh
baked goods were on a plate, ready for consumption, and the tea was
poured. Her father said, "Please sit down, young lady. We have a lot to
Flashback to 1968 - -
right you young pups. You have been in for a year and you think you are
the big cocks in the barnyard. You somehow staggered through our
basic training and now you are in the bleedin' SAS. You think you are
ten feet tall, six inches off the ground, and bullet-proof. One of you
is the bleedin' enlisted knife champion of the bleedin' b'tallion.
"Well, I've picked up better stuff on the bottom of my brogans when I wasn't too careful in a back alley.
"You! The arrogant young pup with a pie-eatin grin on yer mug. Stand and pull your blade."
of his left sleeve his right hand pulled a knife almost a foot long. It
was a Fairbairn, a street fighting knife designed in the 1930's by a
Hong Kong chief inspector of detectives for his men who fought the Tong
gangs. The Fairbairn, legend has it, was the favorite knife of Major
David Stirling, founder of the SAS in WWII. The sleeve knife holder was
a lesser-known part of the legend of the knife.
shook his head in disgust. "Ruination of our service to let you young
snotties carry a Fairbairn even if you are a knife champion. I comes
along when a man had to see battle a'fore they lets-em carry one. And
in a bleedin' sleeve holder no less. Thinks he's soddin' Stirlin'
hisself re-in-CAR-nate." He was muttering this tirade to himself, but
with a raised voice so all could hear.
The young soldier was
standing easy but wary. He was supremely confident in his abilities but
he was no fool. During SAS initial training, he had been surprised by
his hand-to-hand instructor. The instructor had acted as if he had a
head cold and was six inches shorter and thirty pounds lighter. The
little sergeant had him on his back with his foot at his throat in less
than three seconds.
That was day one, but being caught
unprepared had never happened to him again. He had learned from that
first embarrassment and was now not only the battalion knife champion,
but tops in all other forms of close-quarters combat.
sergeant was six inches taller than him and fifty pounds heavier if he
was an ounce. But he looked big and lumbering. And the younger man had
his Fairbairn. He had seen it in a pawnbroker's window and had had to
have it. It was WWII issue and had been well maintained. The sleeve
holder had been six pounds extra and well worth it.
have your bleedin' toad sticker with the protective blade cover. I
don't want you holdin' back." He smeared axle grease on the blade
cover. "There. Iffen you cut me we will know." The sergeant's uniform
was immaculately clean and starched.
"And I will fight you
with these." He pulled out a deck of cards. The whole mob laughed but
the young soldier was still cautious. The sergeant shuffled the cards
and made two card fans in his hands.
"Okay, prepare yerself. Five. Four. Three. Two."
young knife expert tried to take a step back but the fanned cards were
flung with such force into his face that he had three small cuts on his
right cheek. The younger man took a step forward to slash at the big
man but the sergeant fell forward and stomped on his toes. As the young
soldier lowered his hand to comfort his toes, the sergeant knocked the
blade flying with his left hand and punched him in the nose with his
right. The punch did not break his nose but there was blood. Instead of
in the usual three seconds, the "former" knife expert was on the ground
in seven seconds.
"You okay there, laddie?" The sergeant
offered him a hand to stand. The young boy pivoted on the ground and
was on his feet and backing away in moments.
roared with laughter. "That lads is the first youngin' to do that in
fifteen years. He is also the first one to NOT be thrown ankles over
teakettle." He turned to the young man with his hand extended. "Truce!"
A little closer, as they shook hands, the sergeant said in confidence,
"Last year at the championship, finest knife fightin' I've seen since I
won it in '42."
The bloody but vindicated young soldier took his place with the rest of the men. The sergeant paced as he taught.
"Here's what you must always remember in hand-to-hand when you face a better armed opponent.
Close with the enemy. Two. Anything is a weapon. Three. Hurt'em to
distract'em. Four. Hurt'em to disarm'em. Five. Kill'em! This is war! It
is literally you or them!"
"Now, Repeat that after me. One...."
three had talked for over six hours. They had talked through the
preparation and eating of dinner and still they had kept talking. At
first, Hermione had spoken the most, with her parents stopping her
narrative with a few questions to clarify a detail here or there.
the conversation flow had gone to a general question and answer period.
Hermione was not really surprised at the depth and perceptiveness of
the questions they had asked. After all, she had to receive her
intelligence from somewhere. They asked very specific questions about a
host of related issues, but the most unexpected queries were concerned
with the actual Death Eater fighting methods and battle tactics. She
remembered her father had been some sort of medical orderly or
something in the army, but he had never wanted to discuss it. Those
experiences may be why he had asked those specific questions, but her
mother had had questions of equal insight and clarity on the same
Though his daughter did not know it, there was
little that frightened Steph Granger. Initially, Hermione's description
of the battle she had been in had scared him to no end. In the summer
before Hermione's second year at Hogwarts, the dentist had observed the
fight at Flourish and Blott's between Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy.
Mr. Granger felt useless. He was under the impression that there was
nothing he could do to help the red haired man he had liked
immediately. Most Muggles, upon learning that the magical world
actually did exist, assumed that everything they knew of magic from
fairy tales and fiction was true. Much of it was, but some of it had
been placed in Muggle lore and writings as disinformation. Most witches
and wizards wanted Muggles to think that their world did not exist at
all, so the outlandish was included to make its existence "impossible."
Now, war, actual fighting with serious wounds and death had
touched his daughter. And it happened right here in England, not in
some foreign jungle or rice paddy. The innate desire of a father to
protect his family rose up within him. And the answers to those
specific questions that night gave him hope that he was not as helpless
as he had feared. Hermione knew that both of her parents were as
inquisitive as she was. It never occurred to her that the questions
posed by her mild and gentle father and mother could come from anywhere
else but their curiosity.
ran out of the house and straight to Mrs. Figg's. He did not even
consider using Hedwig because he felt for sure that if he had overheard
a real assignment from Voldemort, the Grangers would be dead before the
owl could reach anyone.
Harry took the steps in one leap and
started banging on Mrs. Figg's front door. He considered crashing
through it. He hoped she had a Floo network connection or some way to
communicate this summer. She hadn't the previous summer and Harry had
heard discussions of "doing something about that" as Order of the
Phoenix members had discussed his narrow escape from Dementors right
there in Little Whining.
Mrs. Figg opened the door and
started right in on her feeble cat-lady routine, but Harry barged right
past her and into the room, shutting the door over her shoulder. She
quickly looked out of the windows and then pulled down the shades. She
did not want a neighbor to report to the police that "that terrifying
child that goes to St. Brutus's Secure Center for Incurably Criminal
Boys" had forced her door.
She straightened a little from her humped over state. "What is it Harry, more Dementors?" the squib asked with genuine fear.
quickly told her what had transpired and begged for some means of
communication with someone, anyone who might help. She had heard about
the events leading up to the battle of the Department of Mysteries. She
had heard about Harry being deceived. "Harry, are you sure this
"AAUUGHH! You can have me locked away at St.
Mungo's after we call for help. Seconds count if I am right, and if you
delay one more moment and the Aurors arrive too late, I will hex you
into next year! What can we do?"
Mrs. Figg physically shrank
before his verbal assault, but realized he was absolutely correct. She
moved as quickly as she could. She wasn't playing a little old lady;
she was a little old lady. She grabbed two jars from her mantle piece
muttering to no one in particular, "Hotter than blue blazes but I keep
this fire going just for...." She threw in an imprecise amount of the
regular green Floo powder and then measured an exact amount from the
other jar. "Now the Secure Floo Powder..." she continued to mutter.
the green fire turned red she stuck her head in the fireplace and
yelled, "12 Grimmauld Place. Potter emergency! Come to Figg's!"
she stepped back, almost right behind her tumbled out Kingsley
Shacklebolt, Bill Weasley, and Remus Lupin. All three fell over each
other onto the floor. Mrs. Figg barely dodged the sprawling bodies.
Mad-Eye Moody walked out of the fireplace and to the side of the
entangled trio two seconds later. They were all up on their feet in
short order. They all proceeded to verbally fall all over themselves
asking her and Harry why they had called.
Moody slammed his walking stick on the end table near the couch bringing instant silence. "Potter, what's wrong?"
rushed to explain and just over two-thirds the way through Remus Lupin
interrupted, "Harry is there any possibility that this is another trap
set for you?"
This hurt Harry but he understood why he had
to be asked. Moody spoke before Harry drew breath to respond, "We
cannot afford to gamble that this is not true. We are honor bound to go
to their aid instantly. Where were they Harry? All at home or on
Harry did not think about how well informed
Moody was. "Voldemort sent two Death Eaters to their dental office and
two to their home, wherever those locations are. Hermione owled me that
her father was working today, and her mother was taking her shopping
this morning. The two of them will be at home this afternoon and all
three will be there this evening packing. They leave on holiday in the
Moody had a notepad open before Harry finished
speaking. "Kingsley and Remus go to their home, at number 37 Beckett
Court off of Beckett St. in Oxford. Bill, you come with me to the Manor
Road Medical Center six miles east of Oxford. We will apparate to the
underground parking garage to the back west wall. It is dark there.
Potter, any idea what time they will attack?"
"Voldemort said to coordinate their attacks at 5:00 this afternoon."
had his pocket watch in his hand before Harry completed the sentence.
He looked up at them and said, "5:02." All four disapparated within one
second of his last syllable.
Flashback to the Fall of 1977 - -
"Who is that crustacean two rows over Syl?"
"Quiet Meg, he'll hear you. Besides, he is rather fit, don't you think? He's not that old and quite dashing, really."
you daft? Look, he has gray hair! And his hair is so short. I bet he is
retired military. He is at least late thirties." Meg's Irish accent
came out stronger when she was joking and when she was angry. She was
both right now.
The class ended and Meg and Syl walked out
under the burden of their class assignment. Behind them they heard in a
clear yet not loud voice, "Twenty-nine."
They stopped and
turned. "I am only twenty-nine-years-old. I am probably not more than
eight or nine years older than either of you. I was in the regiment,
but I de-mobbed after ten years service to become a dentist."
did not like soldiers. Before her friend could speak, Meg was in high
dudgeon. "The regiment. The regiment. What were you? Coldstream
Guards?" The venom could be heard now as well as the Irish lilt. "The
South Essex? Perhaps even the bloody SAS?"
Syl was 5' 8" and
Meg was only slightly shorter, but the foot-wear of the time added two
inches to both of the young ladies. He was 5' 10" but because of his
erect bearing, he looked taller. Though he did have a very
erect bearing, when she said "SAS," he, if anything, stood even more
erect and proud. This was not going to work out like he had hoped.
"The SAS," Meg spat. "The bloody, bleeding, blinding SAS! Your kind killed my Uncle Caley! Why you are..." Meg's Uncle Caley had taught her how to swear and she honored his memory at that moment.
Meg dropped her books and ran at him fists up. Of course he had
been in the SAS, so this attacking female was easy enough to handle.
Syl, standing mouth-opened and speechless, was surprised at how gently
he held her wrists and turned her so her kicks were ineffectual.
Meg softened into a puddle of tears and drooped in his hands, her
friend came up and took her from him. As he turned to leave he quietly
stated, "I am sorry. I was never stationed in Ireland." Syl knew he
meant his apology, but Meg wailed louder with his words and their
contact with him was over.
When they were next in a class
together, he had moved as far away from Meg as he could, and likewise
in all the other classes they shared. Dental School was not that big
and distance within a classroom was their only hope of not being near
please move your wand to the table. I need the space on the counter to
prepare dinner." Mrs. Granger realized that was one more strange
sentence to add to the many strange sentences she had constructed since
the summer of her daughter's eleventh year. And of course the
conversations over the past twenty-four to thirty hours had been the
She did not know what bothered her more, her
daughter's account of what sounded like a horror fantasy movie, or her
husband's grim mood due to that conversation. It worried her so much
when she saw Steph pull down the dusty old chest from his closet. But
she had known he was right in doing so.
The summer after her
first year, Hermione had at first kept her wand on her person at all
times, just because she could. She had explained how she was not
allowed to do magic away from school except in an emergency, but she
also said that she felt funny without it. She had left it in her room
more and more often as that summer progressed. After her second and
third years she kept the wand in her room most of the time, but took it
with her on their holiday trips.
After her fourth year, she
had been with her parents for less than a month and she had her wand
near at hand at all times. It was even on the side of the water basin
when she flossed and cleaned her teeth.
This year, they insisted that she carry it with her always. And that wasn't the only precaution.
Granger was a runner like her husband, running not always as far but
almost as often. She did not go to their basement as often as he did,
but she was there with him several times a week. And she did a number
of toning exercises during the day at the office and when she was at
home. She never forgot her extensive training, none of it.
door bell rang and Hermione shouted that she would answer it. Mrs.
Granger felt a fearful chill go up her back. Women's intuition or
whatever it was, the shiver was instinctual, and Steph had taught her
that feelings of foreboding should only be ignored after the situation
had been checked thoroughly.
Author's Note - For
those who do not know, the Special Air Service (SAS) of the British
Army is one of the finest special tactics small units fighting
organizations in the world. They are the only unit that can rival US
Navy Seals in my opinion.
Author's Note - Thanks to my new beta, ninkenate. She jumped in to help when she was already fully occupied. I am grateful.
belongs to J K Rowling is J K Rowling's. What belongs to anyone else is
theirs. Everything left is mine, I guess, but remember the old adage:
"There is nothing new under the sun."