Hermione heated up the last of the potato and leek soup she’d made for dinner two nights ago and took it out to the sitting room with her. She was worried. Harry had been gone nearly a day and the longer he stayed away the easier it would be for him to say or do something that would alter events in time. She hoped with all her might that Harry would be able to keep his mouth shut, not be the noble git she knew him to be and come back to her all in one piece. It wouldn’t do for him to come back injured because that would make hiding out all that much harder if he needed medical attention.
“You’re worrying too much, Hermione,” she chided herself. “Harry’s a big boy. He knows how important it is not to tamper with or change even the smallest thing. You have to have faith that you prepared him well enough back in third year.”
The voice she’d always equated with Professor McGonagall now stepped in. “You need to research this some more. Somehow you must bring Harry back to the present before he does something he’ll regret.”
“There’s nothing more to research!” she protested. “I don’t have a Time-Turner and I don’t know how to make one. Besides, if I suddenly showed up in 1901, that would be changing time too much!”
A third voice, one that sounded like Ron’s, said, “Enjoy being by yourself for a while, Hermione. You’re boy-free until Harry gets back. Go ahead, it’s all right to read those sonnets Harry was reading the other night. They might take your mind off things.”
In the end, Hermione finished her soup, washed the dishes, and then grabbed her coat and went for a long walk.
430 hours, 14 May 1901
After a substantial, pre-dawn breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast and fried tomatoes, Harry and the other hired men followed Mr Potter and Cameron up the hill to the sheep washing station. As had been agreed upon the day before, Harry and Cameron waded into the burn and waited for the first sheep to be sent down from the holding pen, a pair of rams that had escaped washing the day before. The rams were reluctant to enter the water and even with the help of the dogs, it took all of Harry’s strength to drag his ram deep enough to float and then swish him back and forth until the dirt drifted from his fleece. As the water reached his hide, the ram went limp in Harry’s grasp, stopped fighting to get loose and seemed to be enjoying himself. A moment later, Harry towed the ram toward the opposite bank, took a moment or two to squeeze some of the water from his fleece and then turned him loose. The ram scrambled up the bank with a bellow, and aided by Peter and Seth, entered the drying pen.
In the meantime, Harry and Cameron had taken hold of another pair of sheep and were diligently swishing the ewes back and forth in the cold water. As much as he would have liked to ask questions about technique or the time required to get a sheep truly clean, Harry’s teeth were too busy chattering to make conversation possible. He wished mightily that he had thought to cast warming charms on his person and clothes before leaving the barn this morning, but he hadn’t wanted to risk performing the magic.
Noontime finally rolled around and Cameron and Harry gratefully climbed from the water.
“How you doing, Harry?” Cameron asked through chattering teeth as the group started back to the house.
“I can’t feel my feet,” Harry admitted. “It’s been a while since I was this cold from the waist down.”
“The walk back and a change of clothes should get you a bit warmer,” Cameron said as if trying to convince himself the statement was true.
“I doubt it,” Harry grumbled. “I have to stay in these clothes the rest of the day. I only brought the one change of clothes and I’m wearing it. Yesterday’s clothes were too dirty to wear a second day.”
Cameron scrutinized him for a moment, then said, “You look to be about my size. Maybe some of my clothes will fit you.”
“I couldn’t take your clothes,” Harry protested.
“I didn’t say I was giving them to you, just letting you borrow them,” Cameron said, shaking his head. “Don’t be stubborn, Harry. If you don’t change, you’ll be wet the rest of the day and you’ll risk getting sick.”
Sighing, Harry gave in. “Thanks. I owe you one.”
The two finished the walk to the house in silence.
When they reached their destination, Cameron said, “Come up to my room. Let’s see what I can find for you.”
Harry followed his grandfather through the kitchen and up the stairs to the bedroom he had slept in the first night he and Hermione had been in the house. Amazingly, it looked practically unchanged except for the Muggle photographs Cameron had set out on his bedside table. Harry bent down and studied the photos: there was one of two older people and one of Cameron’s entire family standing before the doors of a building that was obviously Hogwarts castle. In the family portrait, Cameron looked to be about eleven or twelve while the girl looked to be a sixth or seventh year. Both were wearing Gryffindor school robes. As he stared at the photo, the frozen girl winked and wiggled the fingers of her left hand at Harry. It was all he could do to keep from gasping aloud. The girl winked again and dropped her hand back to her side, then continued to pretend to be a Muggle image.
“Hey, Cameron, is this your family?” Harry asked.
Cameron came over, holding a pair of trousers and a clean shirt. He held them out to Harry. “These ought to fit,” he said. “Oh, yeah, that’s my family. It was taken at the end of my first year at boarding school. I was eleven and my sister was seventeen.” He pointed to each person in the photograph. “That’s my dad, James, and my mother, Imogen. Philippa, my sister, is married now to a bloke named Bruce Macmillan who spent my entire first year at school calling me ‘Pipsqueak’. They live farther north near Glasgow now and I don’t get to see her very often.”
“She’s pretty,” Harry said admiringly, then felt instantly guilty for even considering looking at another girl when his Ginny was more beautiful than she.
Cameron chuckled. “You’re not the first bloke to drool over my sister, Harry. And don’t feel guilty for looking at her if you’ve a girl of your own, as long as she doesn’t catch you at it. Do you?”
“I broke up with my girl nearly a year ago and I think I still pine for her occasionally,” Harry said truthfully.
“Give it time, my mum always says,” Cameron said sagely.
“Since you asked me, do you have an eye on a girl?” Harry asked.
Cameron’s ears turned pink as he reached into the top drawer of his bureau and pulled out a small photograph of a girl in school robes standing on the same steps as Cameron’s family. Since the photo was black and white, Harry couldn’t tell which house she was in, but thought there might be a Ravenclaw patch on her left shoulder.
“Have you been going out long?” he asked.
Cameron shook his head. “We’ve exchanged a few letters since school ended, but I haven’t asked to escort her to—” He broke off because Harry was sure his cousin was going to say Hogsmeade. Instead, he corrected himself and said hastily, “—the local village.”
“Does she have a name?” Harry asked, wanting his suspicions confirmed.
“That’s a nice name,” Harry said, trying to hide his excitement at seeing a picture of his grandmother. He handed the photograph back to Cameron, who had a sort of glassy-eyed look on his face. “If you’re serious about her, don’t let her get away.”
“Huh?” Cameron asked. “You think she’s a keeper?”
“She’s not a fish, Cameron!” Harry chuckled and knowing the conversation was quickly getting out of hand, he asked, “What’s your dad do? You said he and your mum were going to the Continent.”
“He read law after he left school and now has a practice of his own. Many of his clients have interests in France, Germany and Italy and he makes a trip there at least every other month, sometimes more. Mum wanted to do some shopping in Paris and Munich before the tourists invaded, so she went with him and I came here, like I told you yesterday.”
“They sound like very interesting people. My dad’s in law enforcement, working for the government,” Harry offered, wondering how best to describe the Aurors without actually using the words ‘magic’ or ‘wizard.’ Suddenly, he began shivering. “Excuse me. I need to go change,” he said, and turned towards the door. He held up the clothes. “Thanks for these.”
“See you down stairs, then,” Cameron said.
Harry descended the stairs and headed for the barn. Just as he reached the connecting door between the barn and the kitchen, Mrs Potter came in from the garden. At the sight of him, she jumped a little, then smiled. “Mr Potter, you don’t have to borrow Cameron’s clothes,” she said, “I laundered the ones you wore yesterday and hung them up by the fire all morning. I put them on your pillow in the barn.”
It took Harry a moment to find his voice. “Thank you, ma’am,” he finally managed. He held up the clothes he’d borrowed from Cameron. “Er, what should I do with these?”
“Give them here. I’ll take them back up,” she said. “Oh, and Mr James, change quickly. Lunch is nearly ready.”
Harry smiled gratefully at her and headed for his mattress. Before stripping off his wet clothes, he took a moment to search for his wand and the Time-Turner. Relief flooded him when he found them undisturbed. Satisfied that his secret hadn’t been found, Harry hung his wet clothes on a couple of hooks he found on the barn wall and quickly dressed. He was looking forward to the meal; washing sheep certainly worked up an appetite.
The men sent the last of the clean sheep into the drying pen at a quarter to five in the afternoon by Harry’s watch. Transferring them from the holding pen to the sheep shed to finish drying took an additional twenty minutes and then Mr Potter called the men to him. He was holding four small money bags, which he handed to Seth, Robert, Peter and Harry.
“I thank you men for your help these last two days,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to get this task done without you. Seth, Robert and Peter, I’ll send a message about which days I’ll need you for shearing.” The men nodded and departed for home as Mr Potter addressed Harry. “We finished half a day early because of your help. I appreciate you coming out. Will you spend the night with us free of charge? I sense you will want to leave in the morning to find work elsewhere.”
Harry smiled. “I appreciate the offer, sir. Leaving in the morning agrees with me just fine.”
“Good, then. Let’s get back to the house before my wife starts hollering for us as if we were recalcitrant lads shirking our chores,” Mr Potter laughed genially, and with a whistle for the dogs, he turned towards the house.
Harry walked into the barn to find the wet clothes he’d worn earlier that day freshly laundered and folded on his pillow. He smiled and went over to the basin to wash most of the grime from his body. He even took the time to brush his teeth before he went back to the kitchen to see if he could help his great-aunt. She was alone in the kitchen when he arrived.
“Mrs Potter, thank you for laundering my clothes from this morning. I sincerely appreciate the time you took to do that for me,” he said with a smile.
“It didn’t take me very long, Mr James. I was glad to do it,” she said as she busied herself at the stove.
“We, erm, we talked about you giving me a tour of your garden. Do we have time now?” Harry asked.
Mrs Potter checked one last pot. “Yes, there’s just time for a quick tour of my kailyaird before I start dishing up,” she said. She took off her apron and hung it on its hook. “Come this way.”
She led him out the back door and around the side of the house to the sunniest side of the yard. Like Mrs Weasley’s garden, his great-aunt’s was surrounded by a picket fence along which grew rambling roses—Harry could identify those by the leaves and thorns—and in the back corner, he could see a skep surrounded by a cloud of bees. Since it was still early in the growing season, only the spinaches and lettuces seemed to be thriving; most of the other vegetables had just begun peeking through the soil, but Harry’s practiced eye could distinguish between the parsley and carrot tops, the mints and cabbages, the violets from the calendulas, the tomatoes from the potatoes and beans. He stepped close to the fence and inhaled deeply the scents of turned earth and growing things.
“What a peaceful place,” he commented without thinking.
“It’s practical, Mr James. It keeps us in vegetables, provides plants to keep us healthy, and gives me something to do while Herry is out tending the sheep,” she explained.
“That’s what I mean,” Harry said. “Everything you grow here has a purpose, but it still is pleasing to the eye and nose. Your bees provide you with honey as well as help your plants grow. I even see your compost heap just beyond the skep. To me, that means your scraps and dead leaves are hard at work providing nutrients for next year’s garden. It’s peaceful to me because there’s so much order in this tiny corner of a chaotic world.”
Mrs Potter stood looking at him for a long moment before she said with a grin, “Either you’re very old for your years or you’ve been reading Shakespeare’s sonnets, young man.”
“I’m guilty of both,” Harry said enigmatically.
They stayed by the fence a few minutes longer until Harry’s stomach rumbled, reminding them of the need to get dinner on the table. Without asking, Harry went to the bureau and took out plates, glasses and cutlery for four and set the table while his great-aunt ladled vegetable soup into a big tureen. Harry added soup plates to each place and then carried the soup to the table. Cameron came down and even helped with the pitchers of milk and water, which made his aunt smile. By the time Mr Potter came downstairs, the three of them were seated and laughing over something one of the sheep had done that day.
To Harry, sitting round the table with his family was the best feeling in the world. There was something to be said about the easy conversation, the smiles and laughter they shared, that made this meal special for him. Deep inside, he didn’t want to leave, but he knew he had to. He had things he needed to do in his own time and if he didn’t show back up when he was supposed to, he would change time in so drastic a way that he probably wouldn’t recognize it when he did return. He would leave at midnight, he decided, and not stay the third day, since he wasn’t needed around the farm. He was glad for the time with his relatives and the sense of belonging he now felt. A hand on his made him look up.
“Tired?” Mrs Potter asked, a note of concern in her voice.
Harry shook his head. “No, ma’am. I was just thinking about how nice it is to be included in your family meal.”
She smiled. “It’s nice to have you with us. Now you three get out of the kitchen so I can clean up,” she said.
The men rose and Mr Potter beckoned Harry and Cameron to come with him. Cameron shook his head and picked up the tureen, indicating that he was staying to help his aunt. Harry followed his great-uncle through a passage under the stairwell into a small room lined with work benches. The walls were hung with all sorts of tools. A bookcase was positioned against one wall. On its shelves were hundreds of wooden objects ranging in size from tiny fish hooks to full-size duck decoys. Harry walked over to examine them closer.
“Wow! Did you carve all of these?” he asked in wonder.
Mr Potter beamed. “I did.” He picked up a shepherd’s crook shaped like a duck’s head. “This was my latest project. I finished it about a month ago. I’ll use the decoys later this year when the ducks migrate south.”
“When do you have the time to do this?” Harry asked.
“The winter nights are longer here than they are in the south, so there’s plenty of time to whittle while my wife reads sonnets and other books aloud, unless one of the sheep goes missing in a storm and we need to search for it,” he answered. “You’ve probably noticed that most of Amelia’s kitchen tools are wooden. I’ve made every one of them for her.”
“Is it hard to do?” Harry asked, curiously, somewhat awed at the fact that his great-uncle was so talented with a knife.
“Not really. You just have to be careful not to take off more wood than needed. I’ll show you,” he said, reaching for some small knives and a couple of small wood cylinders. He handed a knife and a piece of wood to Harry. “We take the bark off first, like this…”
Over the next several hours, great-uncle Herry taught his great-nephew Harry the fundamentals of whittling and before he knew it, Harry had a miniature sheep laying in his hand. True, it was crudely shaped, but it did look like one of the woolly animals they’d been working with all day.
Impulsively, Harry asked, “May I keep this, sir?”
Mr Potter smiled. “You’ve done very well, Harry. Take it with you as a reminder of your time here.”
Harry stood up, pocketing the sheep, and helped Mr Potter sweep up their wood shavings. The older man put them in a special box, saying that his wife would use the cuttings for starting her kitchen fires. A few minutes later, Harry said good-night to his family and went out into the barn to wait until the household was asleep.
At a quarter past one, Harry quietly gathered his things, made his bed and quietly tiptoed into the kitchen. There, he set the small purse containing his thirty shillings and a note of thanks on the table and then Apparated out of the kitchen. The walk to his get-away point seemed longer than it ought because he kept turning around and looking at the house and the sheep shed on the hill, trying to remember it all. The track turned a corner and Harry was swallowed by the surrounding hills. It was time to go. By the light of his wand, Harry set the rings and dials on the Time-Turner and gave it one full turn forward.
When the Time-Turner deposited Harry on the dirt track between the hills at the Potter farm, it was no longer raining. Scowling, he lit his wand and began searching for the footprints he most assuredly had left in the mud after his departure. They were gone, completely obliterated by the rain. Suddenly feeling sick with dread, he just knew that something had gone horribly wrong and that he wasn’t in 1998 and that he would be doomed to wait out the time difference in hiding for the rest of his life, thus changing the outcome of the war, because another time jump just didn’t seem practical. With a muffled cry, he took off running down the track towards the house.
There was a light on in the sitting room window when Harry pelted headlong through Hermione’s enchantments into the farmyard because he knew the house was there. Quickly, he cast several detection spells and was relieved to find only one person in the house. That could mean one of two things. The first was that Hermione was awake when she shouldn’t be, the second was that the Death Eaters had found her, taken her away and left one of their own behind to capture him as well. Harry didn’t think the Death Eaters were that smart.
Pulling his wand, Harry strode up to the front door and knocked. A moment later, a cautious feminine voice called, “Name yourself.”
“Harry James Potter, son of James and Lily, grandson of Cameron and Iona and great-nephew of Herry and Amelia Potter,” he said. “Who are you?”
“Hermione Jean Granger. I sleep in a Cannon’s t-shirt I appropriated from Ron last summer,” came the answer.
Harry grinned. He’d only discovered that titbit of knowledge when he and Hermione had needed to rescue the tent from being blown into Loch Ness on New Year’s Eve. He now knew he was safe and so was Hermione.
“Let me in, Hermione. It’s freezing out here,” Harry requested, his teeth beginning to chatter in the cold night air.
The door was suddenly flung wide open and a hand shot out and grabbed him by a wrist, pulling him into the house. The lock clicked and the door sq uelched shut with Hermione’s sealing charm and then he was engulfed in one of her bushy-haired hugs.
“Oh, Harry, I’ve been so worried!” she sobbed.
“Why?” he asked. “You’re supposed to be sound asleep upstairs.”
“Harry, let me see that Time-Turner,” Hermione demanded. “There has to be something wrong with it.”
Harry fished the Time-Turner from under his shirt and handed it to her. She peered at it closely, careful not to turn it fully forward or backward.
“How many forward turns did you give it?” she demanded.
“What date did you set it for?”
“Twelve-oh-two, seventh January 1998. Why?”
“Harry, you should have set it for January fourth. I’ve been alone for twenty-four hours!” Hermione exclaimed. “Do you know how much could have changed because of your mistake?”
“Yes. You wouldn’t have awakened to find me missing if I’d set it correctly,” he breathed, suddenly panicking. “Have we been discovered?”
Hermione relaxed a little. “Not that I can tell. We’re so isolated out here I can’t get wireless reception even at the top of the tallest hill,” she told him. “Besides, the Death Eaters wouldn’t use the wireless until we were in custody, our capture had been confirmed with You-Know-Who, and the Galleons for our capture awarded.”
“That’s reassuring. Still, if I had to make a mistake, this seems to be the best time and place to do it, then,” Harry said hopefully.
“I don’t think anything’s been changed,” Hermione affirmed. She gave him back the Time-Turner and then turned towards the kitchen, making a slight detour to pick up her mug. “Come into the kitchen. I’ll make more tea.”
Harry smiled and followed her. When they both had a steaming mug, Hermione led him back into the sitting room and curled up on one end of the settee, pulling her feet under her. Harry sat at the other end, conjured a woollen blanket like the one that had been on his bed in the barn and threw it over both their laps.
Hermione ran a hand over the material as she exclaimed, “It’s so soft!” She took a sip and the said, “Now tell me all about your adventure. I want to know everything.”
A/N: Thank you, everyone, for reading and reviewing my story. It seems that you’ve enjoyed reading about Harry’s familial adventure as much as I had writing it. I don’t know about you, but I learned a lot about how sheep were prepared for shearing in the early 1900s. A big thank you goes to Aggiebell, my beta, for her help in posting this story.