The Many Faces of Harry Potter 18

“The Many Faces of Harry Potter: Chapter 18”
By = Fayanora

Chapter Eighteen: Pardons, Patronuses, and Coming Out

Note 1: Text in 'Italics and British quotes' is Parseltongue.

Note 2: Once more, I apologize for any bits and pieces of canon dialogue/narration here and there. It's been frustrating me, too, but some things are just too perfect already to change.

Note 3: I have different styles for the internal speech of Alastair, Harry, and Zoey, and now #Iliana (bold, italic, underlined, and now between hashtags/pound signs because some people's computers don't do the B.I.U.).#

Note 4: I can't respond to guest reviews (on FanFiction.net), so if you're going to review, please do it logged in so I can reply. Anyway, I'm going to try to respond to a guest question here. The question was “does your entire collective enjoy writing, or does just one of your collective do the fanfic, mostly?” My answer:
In our collective, it's a bit hard to answer that question. We all co-front, and it's not always clear who is doing or thinking what. But it seems to be a group effort, at least among the members who have inspired members of the Potter collective (Alex, Molly, and Pi), also Tempest and Fayanora Ahnabahn.

Note 5: Sorry this took so long. Among other things, I wrote the same scene twice and had to untangle that mess.

~X~

“SIRIUS BLACK PARDONED; TRUE CULPRIT IN AZKABAN FOR LIFE,” read the headline, when it came. All the details were out, now. Peter Pettigrew was in prison for life, the Potters' godfather was pardoned, and now the whole world would know how and why. Or at least, all of the UK would know.

The day after the newspaper reported this, Sirius Black showed up at the front door of Hogwarts looking very much the worse for wear, and was immediately taken to the Hospital Wing. Harry was pulled out of class to come meet him before his transfer to St. Mungo's.

“There you are, Potter,” Madam Pomfrey said when he came in. “He's right this way. He's in a private ward so people wouldn't gawp at him. I'll let you two get acquainted; I'll be in my office if you need me.”

“Thank you, Madam Pomfrey.”

When the matron left, Sirius beamed at Harry.

“Harry. We meet again.”

“Yeah, we do. Only I don't remember the first time.”

“Makes sense. Most infant memories don't last.”

“Except really traumatic ones?”

“I guess so. Not sure. Why? You don't... remember it, do you?”

“Sorry to be such a bummer. But yeah. And when I thought it was you, well... I didn't take it so well.”

“But you figured it out. You kept an open mind, and figured it out.”

“I saw Pettigrew's name on the Map.”

“Oh yeah, Moony told me you found that old thing. Or rather, the Weasley Twins found it and gave it to you. Excellent, that. It was a wrench, losing it to Filch all those years ago.”

Harry walked up to hold Sirius's hand, since Alastair had already done his soul-reading thing and confirmed what they'd already suspected to be true. Sirius teared up as he looked at Harry's hand in his.

“Well, you've had quite a life, from what I hear,” Sirius said. “You're a whole bunch of different people, from the sound of it. What's that like?”

“Noisy, at times. But I'm rarely ever lonely. And it's really useful with classes, a whole team of people on my side to help me learn things, each with their own specialties.”

Sirius gave a loud bark of laughter, and hugged Harry's head.

“Good to see you have a sense of humor, still, after what I hear those Dursleys did to you. I wish I could've been there to save you from that, Harry.”

Harry shrugged. “Yeah, well, you were in prison. You couldn't have done anything.”

“Yeah. Doesn't mean it doesn't still bother me, though. But anyway, once I get mended up, I can get into my Gringott's account and get us a flat somewhere, probably London, for convenience. I have a house I inherited from my parents, but I detest the place, and it'll be full of all kinds of dark creatures and worse, since the property was mis-managed after my parents died. So how do you feel about that, living with me?”

“Yes! I want that very much. Hogwarts is very boring when nobody else is around.”

Sirius barked again with laughter.

“Too true, that. That is, if you don't know how to make your own fun.”

“By the way, how'd you escape prison? I wasn't around to hear that part.”

“Ah, well, I'm an animagus. Still unregistered, I'll have to register at some point now. My animagus form is a large black dog. I knew I was innocent, which wasn't a happy thought, so the dementors couldn't take it from me; that kept me sane enough that I could change into a dog sometimes. One night, the minister stopped by and let me have his copy of the Prophet. It was the one with you and the Weasleys in Egypt. When I saw Peter was at Hogwarts, sitting on Ron's shoulder, I turned into a dog to escape. The dementors were confused by that.”

“Cool. Zoey figured that's how you knew about Pettigrew. Hey, maybe you can teach me how to be an animagus.”

“Sure thing, Harry. Given your transformation ability, you should have a knack for it. Not sure how having other people in your head with you will affect the process; for all I know they might each have their own form. But we'll have to do it through proper channels, with Ministry help. Us three doing it on our own was stupidly dangerous, we shouldn't have done it. So many things could have gone horribly wrong.”

“Okay, safety first. I agree. Of course, I don't even know if I could do it.”

“What with your constant friends?”

Harry laughed.

“Odd way of phrasing it, but yeah.”

“Well I'll be here for you either way.”

“Thanks.”

“Oh, by the way, before I forget, I have something to tell you. I hear you got a Firebolt for Christmas.”

“Yeah, I did. Of course, it's being checked over for...” he paused, looking up at Sirius. “You didn't!”

Sirius barked with laughter several times before speaking.

“Yes, yes, that was me. Thirteen years of birthday presents in one go I had to make up for.”

“Well, I can tell McGonagall to stop checking it for jinxes, now.”

“That's right, Harry. You sure can.”

“Though how you did it when you were on the run...”

“First, the goblins don't give a tinker's cuss about wizard laws; I could've walked right in and they wouldn't have minded. But the other witches and wizards, well... let's just say I went in as a dog with a note and the key to the vault, and they didn't ask any questions. I did the same thing to buy the Firebolt. The shop owner looked like he wanted to say something, but all that gold shut him up right quick.”

Harry grinned. Then there was a silence that drew out as he got thoughtful.

“Um... Sirius?”

“What is it, kiddo?”

“There's something else as well. I... I figured something out about myself recently. I've only told a few people – Ron, Hermione, Healer Young, Madam Pomfrey, and Professor McGonagall – but it's important, and eventually everyone will need to know, but I'm gonna tell you now, if I can get it out...”

“What is it?” Sirius asked, seriously.

“Well, I... I don't want to be called Harry anymore. I have a new name for myself.”

“Oh?”

“Nothing against the name, it just doesn't really feel right for me. Never did, come to that. But it's more than just the name. It's what the name represents. And I don't mean the unwanted fame or the baleful destiny stuff, either. I mean... well... I'd rather be called Adira. Adira Lily Jamie Potter.”

“Wait, I thought Harry was the one who looked like James. I didn't realize--”

“That's right. Harry is the name of the one who looks like James. With Lily's eyes.”

Sirius was looking very confused for a moment. Then it clicked.

“Oh. OH.

Adira sighed. “You're the second person to respond that way.”

“Sorry, just... so, er... in your heart of hearts, you're a girl?”

“Yes. And despite my appearance, I, well... I made some modifications down below, if you get my drift.”

“Ah, I see.”

Harry wrung his hands.

“You still like me, don't you?”

“Yes, Har—er... do I call you Adira? You're only out to a few people so far, you said.”

“I prefer Adira. But yeah, in public it's still Harry. For now.”

“Right you are. Adira, then. Anyway, Adira, of course I still love you. You're my—well, my god-daughter. And I'm still your loveable old dogfather!”

Adira/Harry laughed at the joke.

“I'm not going to judge you badly for something like that, Adira. I would've accepted you even if you'd been a Slytherin! Besides, I dated a trans woman for a few weeks after I graduated Hogwarts. Lovely Muggle woman. But she was looking for someone a little more serious than me, if you'll pardon the pun.”

Adira laughed again.

“So, what are you being treated for, anyway? I mean, you look like crap warmed over, but what specifically?”

“Oh, nutrient potions, some things to help my muscle tone, Dreamless Sleep for the nightmares, chocolate, because of all the dementors here at the school as well as Azkaban.”

“That must be nice, your first taste of chocolate in 12 years.”

Sirius's face grew rapturous. “Amen to that! It was heavenly! I'll have to stop by Honeydukes sometime when I'm better, get some more. Anyway, no comment on my offhanded mention of nightmares?”

Adira shrugged. “I'm all too familiar with nightmares myself. After what you've been through, it would have surprised me if you hadn't been getting nightmares. Are they gonna get you a mind healer at St. Mungo's?”

“Yeah, probably a whole team of them. The Ministry is very contrite about the whole thing. Still, I'd be very surprised if there wasn't an inquiry about the fact I never got a trial.”

He sounded understandably angry when he said this.

Adira opened her mouth to speak again, but Madam Pomfrey came in then.

“That's quite enough, Potter. Let your godfather rest, he needs it after what he's been through.”

“Oh now, Poppy, have a heart! I've only met one of the Potters so far. Haven't even met the others yet! And I really want to meet Alastair. Heard he's a handsome devil.”

“Yes, well, there will be plenty of time for that later. I daresay they will be able to visit you in St. Mungo's over the easter holidays. For now, you need more rest.”

Sirius sighed heavily. “Fine, fine. You win, Poppy. Anyway, Adira, you lot be good. Don't let my infirmity keep you from doing well in school!”

She laughed again. “I won't, Sirius. I'll do well in school. But I'll write you letters!”

“Ah, something to look forward to. More than flirting with the female Healers, anyway.”

But Madam Pomfrey shooed Adira out the door, a bottle of Dreamless Sleep in one hand, and a measuring cup in the other. So Adira left, reluctantly.

She didn't go any further, though. Instead, she traded places with Al, who was still glowing when he burst back into the ward.

Mister Potter,” the matron said exasperatedly, “Do please not---”

“Well look at that pathetic old mutt just laying there like a wounded puppy!” Al said over the matron's words, breaking past her to hug Sirius.

When they pulled apart, the two just stared at each other, agog.

“Fine, fine. A few more minutes, then. But no more than that.”

“Hell's bells,” Sirius exclaimed. “I didn't believe it, but ye gods! You look exactly like I did at your age! Just how Adira looks like James.”

“Yeah. I hear Iliana's resemblance to Lily is equally uncanny. Those two I understand, but I'm still at a loss as to why I look like you. Unless... wizards don't have a way of making sure there's two fathers, do they?”

At this, Sirius turned bright red with embarrassment, and the matron actually burst out laughing; the first time they'd ever heard her do more than a quick chuckle of amusement. When she regained her wits, she shook her head.

“No, Mr. Potter, that hasn't happened yet, to my knowledge. Just the one father, I'm afraid. One father, one mother.”

“Well damn. Still a mystery, then. Unless there's something you want to tell us, Sirius?”

Sirius started coughing, having choked on his own spittle in his chagrin.

“Out, Mr. Potter, this time for good,” Madam Pomfrey said, still chuckling herself as she shooed him out of the ward. “Before you make him die from laughter!”

Well, there are worse ways to go, Al thought.

“Honestly,” he heard her say as he left, “one of them is bad enough, but two? You two will be the death of us all, I swear...”

~

The next day, when Adira was back, she sought out the twins during some free time, and once more dragged them into a spare classroom, with privacy spells put up behind them.

“Harry, mate, something else happening? What else could possibly be going on?”

“Yeah, what's up?”

“In all the excitement over Sirius, there's something important I forgot. Two things, actually. First, thanks for all your help with that stuff. I really appreciate it.”

“It was nothing, Harry, honestly!”

“Anything for a friend, right Fred?”

“Aye, George. I'd risk life and limb for Harry here, any day of the week.”

“Me too!”

“It's nothing like that, guys, really!”

Sensing their friend's serious mood, they sat down and waited.

“Right. So... this is getting difficult, this is the fifth time I've done this, and it doesn't really get any easier...”

She stood up and started pacing. They watched her, glancing occasionally at each other as they did, in silent communication.

“I... I don't like the name Harry. Never have, really. But more than that, well...” she breathed in, like preparing to rip off a bandage. “Like Sirius put it when I told him, in my heart of hearts I'm actually... actually a girl.”

The twins sighed, relieved.

“We thought you were gonna tell us something bad, like you were taken deathly ill, or murdered someone,” George said. Fred nodded.

“Wait, what? That's... I wasn't expecting a reaction like that.”

“Yeah, well, we've been talking about it lately, and we'd noticed some things about you that didn't seem easily explainable even with the others in your head with you.”

“We reckoned either there was someone new, or you were transgender.”

“How is it that so many people know that word? I only know it because I read it in a Muggle library book once.”

“I can't speak for the others, but Fred and I spend time in Muggle places when we can. Bookstores, magic trick shops, places to buy tools for lock-picking, so on. What with the Trace, it's useful to know how to do things the Muggle way. Wizards never check for that stuff.”

“Yeah, and we may have run into a book like the one you did, mate.”

“Well that's a relief. But something tells me my luck is doomed to run out soon.”

“Who're you planning to tell next, mate? Or have you decided yet?”

“Oh yeah, and do you have a new name for yourself yet?”

“Um... last question first: Adira Lily Jamie Potter. Other question: Well, probably Ginny.”

The twins both winced, hissing as if in pain.

“What? You don't think I should?”

“No, that's not it. You should definitely tell her before you tell anyone else, though. If she hears it from someone else, or you tell many more people before her, and... well... it won't be pretty no matter what, but the more people know before she does, the worse it'll be.”

“So yeah, Ginny next for sure, but be prepared for tears and recriminations.”

“And wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

“And bat-bogey hexes.”

“Or worse.”

Adira winced. “That bad, eh?”

“She has a serious crush on you, mate. With you being a girl... well... no telling how she'll take that, exactly, but seeing as she's only fancied boys so far, well... you see the problem.”

“Yeah, I do. I don't want to, but I do. Well, thanks for the warning.”

“No problem.”

Morosely, Adira left the room, lost in thought about Ginny.

~

On Thursday, Adira still hadn't plucked up the courage to tell Ginny. She was thinking about this off and on throughout the day, and was lost in thought when she quite literally ran into Professor Lupin.

“Oh, sorry sir! I was lost in thought.”

“I noticed. It's quite alright. Worrying about Sirius?”

“No, he's on the mend. I was thinking of... something else.”

“Well it's a good thing I found you. I know the Dementors have been recalled, but if you're still interested in lessons on how to fight them off, I'm still willing and able.”

“Really? Yeah, that sounds great. After all, who knows; I might run into them again someday.”

“Indeed. Tonight at 7?”

“Sounds good to me, Professor.”

“Well, I shall see you in my office at 7, then.”

She nodded, and they parted ways.

~

After that night's lesson, Adira was exhausted. Lupin had found a boggart, and of course when it saw her, it turned into a Dementor, with all the same effects. She'd also heard her parents again, both of them, which disturbed her. But she was determined to learn the charm.

Despite her exhaustion, when she saw Ginny reading in the common room, she went over and sat next to her. Ginny looked up and turned beet red.

“Hi Ginny. Listen, there's something I want to talk with you about, but I don't want other people overhearing. I have my own room, we can talk there.”

Ginny stammered and stuttered, but finally managed to say, “You're... inviting me up to your room?”

Now it was Adira's turn to turn red.

“Not like that, of course. Just... we won't be overheard there.”

Looking perplexed, Ginny closed her book. “Now?”

“If you're not busy.”

“Oh this? I'm almost done with it. I can put the rest off for now. I could use a break, anyway.”

Putting the book in her bag, Ginny dropped her things off in her dorm first, then followed Adira up to her room.

Adira closed the door behind them, cast privacy spells, then turned to the redhead, who was turning even redder in the head at being in her crush's bedroom.

“I've told several other people this – Hermione, Ron, Sirius, McGonagall, and the twins – and, well, it never gets any easier.” She breathed in deeply to fortify herself.

“What is it, Harry?”

“I... well... I've figured something out about myself lately, that was some time in the making. And though we don't know each other well, you have this crush on me, so I figured I should tell you before the whole school finds out...”

“Oh my... are you gay?”

“What? No, not gay. Bisexual, actually.” She paused a moment. “Which makes you only the second person I've told that to. But no, it's something else.”

“Okay,” Ginny said, looking like she couldn't think what else it could be.

“Well, it, uh... it turns out that Iliana and Zoey are not the only girls in the collective. I – the one you know as Harry, in case it wasn't obvious, I've figured out I'm actually a girl, too. I just... didn't realize it til recently.”

She looked up at Ginny, and could see understanding and denial in those eyes. The redhead crossed her arms as though hugging herself.

“I don't... what do you mean?”

“I mean that I'm a girl. And I don't want to be called Harry anymore. I want to be called Adira. My new full name is Adira Lily Jamie Potter.”

Ginny was going red again, but it wasn't embarrassment. It was anger. Adira focused on the emotions coming off the girl, and found the anger was going off in random direction, aimless, not focused on any one person. Some of it was even focused inward, back on Ginny.

“Are you... you're not joking, are you?”

“No. I wouldn't joke about something like this.”

The confusion in her emotions increased, though this was of a different flavor than her previous confusion.

“Um... Ginny?” Adira said, after almost an entire minute had passed in silence. “Ginny? Are you, well... are you okay?”

“Sorry, Harry. I mean, what was that name again?”

“Adira.”

“Um... yeah, Adira, sorry. I just... I don't know what to think about this. I don't know what to feel about it. I mean, I want to be supportive, I do, but... I have a crush on you. And now you're a girl? Does that make me gay? Do I even still have a crush on you now? Should I? I just...”

Her eyes watered, tears running down her cheeks.

“I feel...”

Her feelings switched to anger again.

“Wait, you told the twins before telling me?”

“Sorry. But yeah, I know them a lot better than I know you.”

She could sense Ginny's emotions shifting again. Ginny opened her mouth to speak, but closed it, then ran out of the room suddenly. Adira could sense her crying, even though she couldn't hear it.

Sitting down on her bed, she sighed.

“That could have gone better,” she told herself aloud.

“Yeah,” said Ron from the doorway, “but it could've gone worse, too.”

“Hi Ron. Been there long?”

“I was just coming down to check if you were here when Ginny ran past me. I made a clever guess about why she was upset. You told her?”

“Yeah, I told her.”

“Mind if I sit down?”

“Go ahead.”

They didn't speak for several minutes. But when the silence was finally broken, it was Adira who spoke.

“I can't do this for everyone in the castle. I'll do it for Luna and maybe Neville, but then, I don't know. I need everyone to know, but I don't want to make a spectacle of it.”

“Yeah... hmm... have you thought about just, you know, doing it? I mean, just not making a big deal of it? Hold on, I'm not saying this right.”

Ron thought a few moments before speaking again.

“Okay, I think I got it now. I mean like, just being Adira, making it obvious without overdoing it. When people ask, then you can just be like 'I am the person formerly known as Harry. Call me Adira,' and then let the grapevine do the rest.”

“Maybe. But the problem with the Hogwarts grapevine is it has a tendency to garble things. But I'll think about it. It's an option, anyway. Thanks, Ron.”

“You're welcome, mate. And I'll be here for you, come Hell or high water or Slytherin taunting.”

Adira laughed. “Thanks.”

~

The next day, after classes were over, Adira went over to the Ravenclaw table during dinner and spoke with Luna. This wasn't unusual, as they had been spending time at least twice a week all year hanging out with Luna, either at the Ravenclaw table or in the library after.

“Hello, Harry. How are you?”

“I'm good. And you?”

“Oh, mostly good. I just wish whoever stole my book on crumple-horned snorcacks would return it.”

Adira glared up the Ravenclaw table at the others, some of whom were turning away very suspiciously at her gaze.

“Yes, I hope so too. I'd hate to have to send a load of snakes into the Ravenclaw dorms. Puts the poor creatures at such risk of harm, you know.”

Luna smiled serenely. “That is very true,” she said, nodding sagely.

No doubt about it, some of the people there were getting very nervous. That book would be returned by bedtime, she knew.

“You let me know if anything else goes missing, okay Luna? After all, snakes tend to hibernate this time of the year, and they get very grumpy if disturbed.”

“Of course, Harry.”

Several Ravenclaws in Luna's year suddenly left the table, looking panic-stricken.

“Anyway, Luna, I got off track,” Adira said very quietly near Luna's ear. “Meet me in the entrance hall after dinner, I have something to tell you, and I'd prefer privacy.”

“Yes, I think I can do that,” she replied happily, before taking a bite of pudding.

Adira went back to her own seat at the Griffindor table and ate quickly, skipping pudding herself so as to be in the entrance hall quicker. She needn't have bothered, though; Luna didn't come out until shortly after Adira did, as she'd been watching for Adira.

“Where do we go, then?”

“I know of a spare classroom we can use,” Adira answered. “This way.”

She led Luna along the corridors and into a spare classroom not far from the library. It was, in fact, the same one the Mirror of Erised had once been in. Adira cast privacy spells on the door and the walls, including one she'd read about recently, a sort of poltergeist repelling charm. The last thing she needed, after all, was Peeves overhearing and spreading things about the school ahead of schedule. Peeves, after all, would not be kind.

“There, that should do it.”

“What did you want to tell me, Harry?”

Perhaps it was Luna's serene energy affecting Adira, or perhaps Luna's straightforward nature was rubbing off on her, but Adira felt none of the usual nerves.

“My name is Adira, now. Adira Lily Jamie Potter.”

“That's a lovely name, Adira. It's elegant.”

“Thank you.”

“Does this mean you're a girl now?”

“Yes, it does. I'm not out to everyone yet, though, so I'm still Harry in public for now. Or just Potter.”

Luna nodded. “You know, my father is the editor of a magazine called The Quibbler. He could put in a very tasteful coming out announcement for you, if you'd like.”

“Um... well, I don't know if I want to go that far. It's not like I've even changed my name legally, yet. Come to think of it, that's something I need to look into.”

“It's fine. It was just a suggestion. That is, if you want to come out to everyone.”

“That is the eventual goal. I just... I mean, once the whole school knows, it will eventually leak to the press, but in the meantime, I'd rather not bring any more attention to myself than I have to.”

“You could just cast aside the old you and embrace the new you like it's no big deal. I know people talk about you behind your back, but they're mostly polite to your face. It may be the same way with this. But even if not, I'll be here for you.”

“Um... Thanks, Luna. That's... not the most comforting thing you could say, but I can't fault your honesty. And I'm glad to have a friend like you.”

“And I'm very glad to be your friend. Having friends is still something of a new experience for me.”

She nodded. “I know how that goes. I didn't have any friends until Hogwarts. Dudley scared off anyone who might've tried.”

“Are you telling anyone else in person?”

“Neville's the last one I have planned. I like him. I want to be friends with him, not just acquaintences.”

“Neville seems nice. He doesn't feel comfortable around me, but he hides it better than most people. He's very polite that way.”

“Yeah. You may be unusual, but he's one of those people who knows what it's like to be bullied, so it makes sense he's polite to you.”

She nodded.

“You know, Adira, you could speak with your head of House about coming out.”

“Yeah. I did once, a little, but I wasn't ready then.”

“And you are now?”

“Probably. Being Harry feels like a lie, at best. I need to be me.”

“Being yourself is always the best person to be, I've found. A lot easier to keep track of, for one.”

“No argument there.”

~

Ginny avoided them in the morning, which was fine by them. If she needed space and time to process things, then she could have it, and it was a Saturday anyway. They went about their day, and after Quidditch practice, they switched from Iliana to Adira so Adira could stop by Professor McGonagall's office.

“Yes, Potter? What is it?”

“May I come in?”

“Yes, come in, come in.”

She went in, the Professor closing the door behind her.

“Do sit down, Potter.”

She did as instructed, and the teacher sat down as well.

“Is this about your Firebolt, by any chance?”

“Um, no. But now that you mention it, Sirius told me he sent it to me to make up for all those missed birthdays. And since he's innocent, you don't need to check it for jinxes anymore.”

“Ah yes, I had wondered, but it kept slipping my mind. I shall fetch it for you after we're done here. I take it you came for another reason, then?”

“Yes. Well, I've been coming out to my friends. So far Sirius, Ron, Hermione, the Weasley Twins, Ginny Weasley, Healer Young, Madam Pomfrey, and you know about it. I still want to tell Neville in person. And now that I think about it, Professor Lupin as well. But after that, well... I don't really know. I need the rest of the school to know, so I can be myself in public, but I hate drawing attention to myself.”

“Hmm... yes, I see your point.” She began to go through the files in her file folder. “Well what we usually do when someone needs to change their status partway through their school career is to post notices to the different Houses about it. Prefects make sure everyone sees them. The notices note that... well, here's an old example,” she said, pulling out a file.

“This one is very old, and the person it is about died in the last war, so I don't think he will mind.”

She handed it to them. They took it and read.

December 12th, 1976

This note is to inform all to whom it may concern that the student you have gotten to know as Aileen Morgenstern is now Luca Morgenstern. His sex has changed to that of male, and he will be treated as such, and his new proper name used, or there will be detentions with our caretaker, Apollyon Pringle. If you do not think you can use Mr. Morgenstern's first name, you may refer to him by his surname. But you will refer to him with “he,” “his,” and “him” pronouns all the same.

The note wasn't signed by McGonagall, but by the deputy headmaster of the day.

“This looks good. It kinda does bring attention to me, but I guess that can't be helped. Okay, I'm good with this.”

“It will naturally be adapted to you. What is your new name, Miss Potter?”

“Adira Lily Jamie Potter.”

McGonagall's eyes watered, and she smiled. “Lovely choice.”

She waved her wand and a piece of blank parchment appeared. With another wave of her wand, she filled it out. Then she handed the parchment to Adira.

January 9, 1994

This note is to inform all to whom it may concern that the student you have gotten to know as Harry James Potter is now Adira Lily Jamie Potter. Her sex has changed to that of female, and she will be treated as such, and her new proper name used, or there will be detentions with our caretaker, Argus Filch. If you do not think you can use Miss Potter's new first name, you may refer to her by her surname. But you will refer to her with “she” and “her” pronouns all the same.

Sincerely,
Minerva McGonagall,
Deputy Headmistress,
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

“It's dated tomorrow, Professor.”

“Yes, well, it's getting late today, but we will begin distribution tomorrow morning if that's what you want. We can do it another time if you'd like, though.”

“No, Professor, tomorrow is fine. People can get their gossiping about me done during the remainder of the weekend. And it gives me time to tell Neville and Professor Lupin.”

McGonagall chuckled. “Quite. Was there anything else, Miss Potter?”

“Well yes, Professor, just one other thing: what spell did you use to fill out the page?”

“The incantation is scribo, but the spell itself is very difficult to learn and to use, as it takes a great deal of concentration. I wouldn't recommend using it for your homework, Miss Potter. I rarely use it myself, but this was a rare circumstance when it made sense to do so.”

“I'll keep that in mind, Professor.”

“Good. Now you should run along, if you wish to have time to tell Professor Lupin before dinner.”

Adira nodded and left to find Lupin.

~

Adira knocked on Professor Lupin's office door, hoping he was still in there.

“Come in,” she heard him say. She turned the knob and entered.

“Harry,” Lupin said in surprise, putting down his quill. (He'd been grading papers.) “What brings you to my office on a Saturday?”

She closed the door and sat down in front of his desk.

“I have something I need to tell you. Everyone will know tomorrow morning, but I wanted to tell you first. I've already told my friends and Sirius, and it's just you and Neville left before everyone finds out tomorrow.”

Lupin sat up a little straighter, being more attentive.

“What is it, Harry?”

“I've been struggling with something for some time. I think I always knew, in some way, but over the summer, the truth hit me hard, and I've gotten to the point where I can't live a lie anymore. I have to be myself.”

Lupin nodded. “Go on.”

“Well it's about my gender. I always thought I was a boy, because everyone said I was. In fact, until kindergarten, I thought 'boy' was my name, because the Dursleys never called me anything else. But I'm not a boy, I'm a girl. And my... our ability gave me the ability to completely change my sex. Which I've done, though it isn't obvious right now. But tomorrow or Monday, I'm going to look the part more.”

She stopped abruptly, looking to Lupin for a response. He smiled.

“Sex change, eh? Glad to hear you're able to be true to yourself. I've known a few transexual—or, I suppose the term now is transgender—people over the years. Have you chosen a new name for yourself?”

“Adira Lily Jamie Potter.”

Lupin smiled in the same way McGonagall had earlier. “It's a lovely name, Adira.”

“Thanks,” she said, smiling back.

Silence fell, in which Adira started thinking, concerned. Her mood must've shown on her face, because Lupin asked her, “What's the matter?”

“I was just thinking about how the Dursleys would react to this if they knew. And it made me wonder how my parents... how they'd feel about it.”

“Adira, your mother and father loved you very much. They were friends with someone they knew to be a werewolf. They were open minded and open hearted souls, especially with those they loved and cared for.”

“Yeah, but you didn't choose to be a werewolf, you just got bitten.”

“True. But you didn't choose to be transgender, either. You chose to acknowledge the truth of your soul, that much is a choice, but being transgender isn't a choice, from what I understand. Given how people – wizards and Muggles alike, in our country and others – are about these kinds of things, if being transgender was a choice, nobody would choose it. In some other cultures, maybe; I understand there are cultures where transgender people are recognized as a third gender, just as valid as the other two. Some cultures even have many more than 2 or 3 genders.”

“Wow!”

“Yes. And non-human cultures have interesting gender ideas as well. Tell me, have you ever seen a female goblin?”

“Er... I don't think so.”

“Well you have, and you haven't. Goblins don't care for the concept of gender; they don't identify as male or female, just as goblins. So likely you have seen goblins capable of getting pregnant, and never knew it.”

“Yeah, and the centaurs treat gender the way we treat clothes; something fun to play with, but ultimately unimportant. According to Firenze, anyway. But that doesn't explain how you know about these things.”

“Oh, I love studying other cultures. It came about from my love of history. See, I so enjoyed learning history in school that I wanted to learn Muggle history, too. Which led me to the history of other countries, and other cultures. I enjoy reading so much, I try to get work at bookstores when I can, and I use the Muggle public libraries when I can, too.”

“You like history?”

“Yes. History, especially History of Magic, is a lot more interesting than Professor Binns makes it sound. Professor Binns could make Quidditch sound dull, trust me on this.”

“Yeah, we really need a better History of Magic teacher. If you're such a history buff, you could do it,
if you weren't already teaching Defense. But two classes at once? I imagine that would be very hard to do.”

Lupin chuckled. “Yes, indeed. In fact, it's funny you should mention me teaching History. Dumbledore remembered my History of Magic scores very well. I was the only person in the whole school during my O.W.L. year to get an O on History of Magic. O means 'Outstanding,' it's the best grade you can get on O.W.L.'s. Anyway, I was also the only person to even take History of Magic to N.E.W.T. level. Got an O there, as well.”

“Wow. That's impressive.”

“Yes. Dumbledore seems to think so, too. In fact, he came to me the day before our first anti-Dementor lesson, and asked me if, at the end of the year, I would switch from DADA to History of Magic, replacing Binns.”

“But you're the best Defense teacher we've ever had! Why would he want you to switch?”

“Well, I wondered the same, and debated it with him. As it turns out, H—Adira, the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts is indeed cursed, by Voldemort.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.”

“Why?”

“Well, as to that... is it correct that you met Voldemort as a 16 year old down in the Chamber of Secrets?”

“Yes. He looked a lot different. I mean, I've never seen him in his original body from before his fall, but I saw him sticking out of the back of Quirrell's head, and he was hideous. But as 16 year old Tom Riddle, he was handsome. If he hadn't been an evil git, I...” she blushed. “But yeah, he was different.”

“Indeed. And he tried to secure the DADA position, right out of school. He was told he was too young, then. Dumbledore says he came back years later, looking very distorted from dark magics, no longer handsome as he was, but not yet fully Voldemort. He asked Dippet for the job first, but the second time, Dumbledore was Headmaster.”

“Voldemort tried to teach DADA?”

“Yes. This was before the war, you understand. Dumbledore thinks he wanted to use his position as teacher to recruit new Death Eaters while they were still young. For that reason, Dumbledore refused him. And we haven't been able to keep a DADA teacher for a whole school year ever since. Quirrell had been a quite ordinary Muggle Studies teacher before getting the DADA position, and only over the summer, while studying for his new position, did he run into Voldemort and get seduced to the dark side.”

“So does that mean you're worried that if you don't take Dumbledore's offer to be History teacher, that you might... might die like Quirrell did?”

“Something like that. Of the two other teachers you've had in this subject so far, one died, and one is still in a coma in St. Mungo's. Others, I'm told, retired from teaching from stress related health concerns, lost close family members mysteriously, had horrible disfiguring accidents, or ended up in the mental ward of St. Mungo's, having gone mad. One chap was independently wealthy, only did teaching as a diversion. Before the year was over, his many stock investments had crashed horribly, and businesses he'd invested in did so poorly he lost most of his wealth. What was left was taken after he was investigated for tax evasion, except for his house. Then his house burned down. No idea where he's at, now.”

Adira's eyes went wide at these words.

“Yeah, definitely take the History job in that case, Professor.”

He chuckled. “Okay, Adira, I think I will, at that. If I do, maybe the curse will let me finish out the year. I may just give up on DADA a week or two in advance just to be on the safe side, though.”

“What about Binns, though? What will he do?”

“Probably just keep on teaching History of Magic, completely oblivious to the fact he no longer has any students. I understand he was pretty oblivious even when he was alive. But Dumbledore has been getting complaints about Binns for years. I suppose, what with recent developments, he decided it was time to cave to those pressures.”

“Well Defense won't be the same without you, but I look forward to having History with you.”

“Indeed? Well now I've decided I must take Dumbledore's offer. Anyway, it's almost dinner, you should get going.”

They both stood up and left, then; Adira for dinner, Lupin to speak with Dumbledore.

~

After dinner, she went back to the common room and found Neville.

“Hey Neville, come with me up to my room, will you?”

“M-me? Why?”

“It's the best place to have a private conversation. Besides, you haven't seen it yet. Are you coming?”

“Well, okay, H-Harry. D-don't know what you could possibly want to talk to m-me about, but I'll come.”

Neville followed her upstairs to her new room. They went in, she closed the door, and put up privacy spells.

“What's this about, Harry?”

“Yeah, it's about something that will be common knowledge starting tomorrow, but I wanted you to know first. There are some others I've told as well, too.”

“Yes?”

“I know we're not much more than acquaintances, Neville, but I've been thinking I want to be friends with you. Between my unwanted fame, people trying to kill me, and being called a freak behind my back for being... the way we are... I can use every friend I can get, and you've always been nice to me, both in front of and behind me, from what I understand. Even stood up to some of the people calling me a freak, I've heard.”

Neville blushed. “It w-was nothing, Harry.”

“It wasn't nothing. You were very brave to do it, you didn't have to.”

“B-brave? N-no, I was terrified doing it! But it had to be d-done.”

“Bravery isn't the lack of fear, it's facing your fear, not letting your fear control you. You have proven many times you're brave. Heck, just continuing to go to Snape's classes when he plainly terrifies you more than most things do is extremely brave.”

“B-but I have to go to P-Potions. Gran would kill me if I failed.”

“Oh please. The way he torments you in class, you'd be better off skiving and studying the subject on your own. But you go to his classes.”

“Maybe you're right,” he said quietly. “I'm p-practically failing anyway.”

“Iliana is really good at Potions, she could tutor you.”

“T-that would be cool. Hermione helps me sometimes, but tutoring? She hasn't done that.”

“Good. We can discuss the time later. We've gotten off track. What I wanted to talk to you about is different.”

With a deep breath for calm, Adira told him, in much the same way as she'd been doing with others, about her being a girl, and her new name.

“W-wow!” Neville said when she was done, his eyes wide with awe. “I c-can't even imagine being brave enough to have to d-do something like that! You have m-my support, Adira. However much th-that's worth, I mean.”

“It means a lot, Neville. You're a good person. The Sorting Hat chose well.”

Instead of responding to that, Neville changed the subject.

“S-so, c-can you help me with my Potions homework tonight?”

She beamed at him. “Sure thing, Neville.”

That done, Neville got his stuff for potions and Adira helped him with it for an hour before Neville left. Adira locked the door behind him and started experimenting more with her appearance. She paused at times to spend minutes at a time drawing or writing ideas, since it was faster than switching back and forth all the time. By the time she was ready to go to bed, she'd chosen her changes to her form.

First was her hair, which was longer and a lot tamer now, and which she was choosing to wear in a long single braid in the back, with green scrunchies, and a Griffindor hair barrette Hermione had gotten for her somehow. She'd also transfigured her glasses to look much nicer, their color now the same green as the hair scrunchies (thus matching her eyes).

And though it was making her nerves jangle even more with the sheer daring of it, she had also painted her fingernails green. Looking at herself in the mirror, she was reminded of how close they'd gotten to being Sorted into Slytherin. If not for the Griffindor barrette, you'd think she was a Slytherin, for all the green. But it was a nice color, and suited her.

She had a hard time getting to sleep that night, her nerves were in such a high state of dudgeon. She did finally get to sleep, around 3 AM, but her sleep was disrupted by nightmares about being called a freak, a pouf, and worse. In one dream, she was being made to tell the whole class in detail about her treatment at the Dursley's place while people booed at her and called her a liar and an attention-seeking prat. Halfway through, everyone started to laugh and point as she was suddenly naked, and a bunch of people pointed out she had a willy, and said this was proof that she was a liar. She looked down to confirm this, but saw instead a venomous snake growing from there, and it was hissing threateningly at her.

'GO AWAY!' she hissed at it in Parseltongue. 'LEAVE ME ALONE!'

'NEVER!' it answered, and bit her, the pain startling her awake. In a panic, she checked down below; the offending thing wasn't there. Everything looked right to her.

The rest of the night wasn't much better.

~

Waking up in the morning, her nerves were even worse than before. She couldn't even get out of bed at first; she just lay under the covers, moaning, trying not to cry.

There was a knock at the door. She tried reaching out with her empathic ability to figure out who it was by the general shape of their emotions, but her own nerves made it rather like trying to hear a whisper from across a room when someone was screaming in your ear.

Still, thinking it might be one of her friends, she got out of bed and shakily opened the door a crack, to seen Ron and Hermione standing there.

“We got these today, mate, and Hermione figured you could use some support,” Ron said, holding up a copy of the notice she'd had McGonagall pass around. “She's good with this touchy-feely stuff.”

“Come in,” Adira said weakly, feeling like to say any more would make her puke.

They did, and she closed the door behind them.

“You don't look so well, mate,” Ron said.

“Didn't sleep very well. Nerves about today. Nightmares, too.”

“Well people are talking about it, sure enough, but in whispers. They don't want to risk detention with Filch.”

“Gee thanks, that's so... no, I can't even be sarcastic. That is the opposite of helpful, Ron.”

“Sorry. I could make you some tea. Or get you something for breakfast from the Great Hall.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I feel like I might lose my breakfast before I even have it.”

The two friends kept her company for another few minutes until she finally decided to buck up her courage and get ready to face the day. For which she had to get Ron out of the room so she could change, after her shower. Hermione stayed behind to give her opinion of Adira's dress, an understated dress of indigo with white trim.

“Looks good. A little plain, but good.”

“I want plain. I want it to be obvious I'm wearing a dress without being flashy about it. Might make some people be a little less quick to call me attention-seeking.”

“You should wear what you want on the weekends, other people be darned. But I also understand why you want this dress. It makes sense. You want to kinda... ease into this change, I think?”

“As opposed to getting dragged into changes before I even know what's going on? Yeah, that's a nice change, even if it is nerve-wracking.”

~

It wasn't easy, leaving her room and going down to the common room, but she managed it, running into Dean and Seamus.

“Hey, H—er, I mean Adira. Did I pronounce it right?”

“Yeah, Dean, that's it exactly.”

“Oh good. The note didn't leave a pronunciation guide, and I had to guess. Glad I got it in one.”

“Wow. If I'd known you were gonna be this supportive, Dean, I'd have told you personally, sooner.”

“Oh, well. Yeah, it's new territory for me, but so was magic, and so was you being a load of other people. This is nothing compared to either of those.”

“Thanks.”

“Does this mean ya like blokes now?” Seamus blurted out. “You a pouf?”

“If I did just like blokes, well, I'm fully a girl now. And even if I still had a... a thing... being a girl means I would be straight. Not a pouf.”

“But you were a bloke, now you're not. Doesn't that make you a pouf?”

She glared at him. “It makes me girl, Seamus. Like any other girl. Would you call Hermione a pouf if she wanted to snog you?”

He blushed. “Er, no, I guess not.”

“Then the same applies to me.”

Not telling him you're bi? Al asked her.

None of his business, yet. I've only told Ginny and Ron that, and that was more or less an accident. I don't know if I want to come out as bi, yet. In fact, if Seamus's comment is any indication, best to pretend I'm straight for now.

I dunno. Being bi would kinda throw a monkey wrench into their thinking. He's probably not the only one who thinks being trans is the same as being a pouf.

Be that as it may, Al, I'm keeping that mostly to myself for now. I want to know more about how such things are viewed in the wizarding world first. Might tell Ron and Hermione soon, but I'm kind of tired of these coming out conversations, so I'm gonna put that on the back burner for now.

“Oh,” Seamus said, responding to the last thing she'd said to him after a few seconds pause, snapping her attention back to reality. “Yeah, that makes sense. Sorry if I was being rude.”

“You're forgiven. I'd actually rather hear questions like that from someone friendly than from, say, Malfoy.”

“Well, I may not really understan', Potter, but I'll kick Malfoy in his teeth if he's rude to ya.”

“Thanks for that, but don't bother. I think I want him to say something. I'd love to see McGonagall give him a detention with Filch.”

Everyone present laughed at that.

Feeling much better now, Adira actually thought she could eat some breakfast and keep it down, so they all went down to the Great Hall together, ignoring the renewed staring and muttering.

“Check out Malfoy,” Ron finally said.

She turned to look up at the Slytherin table. Malfoy was glaring in Adira's general direction.

“Must be sore he can't tease me for this,” she told Ron, returning to her breakfast.

“Yeah. He certainly never misses an opportunity to call you names or pretend to be fighting himself like he's two people split down the middle. Pity he's apparently too smart to open his mouth about your gender.”

“Also a pity I can't goad him into saying something. Pretty sure McGonagall would consider that to be manipulative and put me in detention right next to Malfoy.”

“Wonder if he'll try to catch you alone somewhere to bully you then. Or in Potions.”

“Oh god, Snape. What's he gonna be like?”

“Probably ignore you. He ignores Iliana,” Hermione pointed out.

“Yeah, but she looks like my mum, and he fancied her. He still picks on me, and he loathes Al.”

“He might ease up on Al, now he knows Sirius is innocent.”

Adira snorted. “I doubt it. They hated each other in school. Sirius being innocent and free, he'll probably hate Al more than ever.”

~

As it turned out, they didn't have to wait for Potions to be bullied by Malfoy and his cronies. Monday after lunch was Care of Magical Creatures with the Slytherins. As the Griffindors approached the area of Hagrid's cabin, they spotted the snakes already there, waiting to ambush Adira.

“Hey look, everyone,” Malfoy said, “it's the Potter pouf. I'm surprised you aren't wearing a pink frilly dress to class today.”

“Why, do you have one for me to borrow, Malfoy?” she asked casually.

Even some of the Slytherins were having a hard time suppressing their laughter at this, except for Malfoy, who looked furious.

“Anyway, Malfoy, for your information, I'm a girl. Not a pouf. I don't have a willy anymore. I reckon you're disappointed by this, are you? Hoping you could get some practice in, were you?” she asked, miming a blowjob.

Even Crabbe and Goyle were chuckling now. The other Slytherins were howling with laughter. Malfoy was not taking this well. His face was redder than Ron's hair, and he looked like he was going to kill something. Or someone.

It was perhaps a good thing that Malfoy was so angry he was rendered speechless, because Professor Hagrid came walking up then, ready to start class. Upon seeing Hagrid, Adira could've kicked herself; she'd forgotten to tell Hagrid!

“Right, everyone, right, cummon, I got a good lesson fer ya all, no dawdlin'.”

The lesson turned out to be on unicorns, which was something of a departure for Hagrid. But then, the animals he'd been showing them since Buckbeak got hexed had been reflective of Hagrid's dour mood. Adira didn't know what to make of him showing them unicorns.

She did, however, have no trouble at all noticing that he was avoiding her. The emotions coming off of him made it plain to her that he was hurt to have to find out her new name and her change in gender from McGonagall. She tried all lesson to get him to talk to her, but it was hard when most of it was spent around the unicorn foal, since unicorns don't like boys for some reason. It accepted her with no problem, which was a relief to her. Even given her change, she half worried that the creature would pick up on Al's presence inside her, but it didn't.

After the bell rang, she hung back. Hagrid tried avoiding her again, but she stood right in front of his cabin's door, making that rather difficult.

“Whatta yeh want, Potter?”

Now it was her turn to feel hurt, but she supposed she deserved it.

“Sorry, Professor,” she said pointedly. “But I wanted to talk with you.”

Her use of his title successfully took him aback.

“I dunno if I want yeh ter talk with me an all,” he said, crossing his arms.

“Please, Hagrid?”

He wilted at her pleading tone.

“Oh alrigh', go on in, we'll talk.”

She nodded, and went on in, fending off the excited Fang in order to sit down at his table. She noticed Buckbeak was missing.

“So what're yeh here for, then, anyway?”

“I wanted to apologize. I really am sorry, Hagrid. It felt so bad, continuing to pretend I was a boy now that I knew the truth, and I got so caught up in wanting to get it all out there so I wouldn't have to wear that horrible mask of lies anymore, that I completely forgot to tell you ahead of time about it. You should've been the first to know after Ron and Hermione, but it completely slipped my mind until I saw you today. I'm horribly sorry. Can you forgive me my dunderheadedness?”

Hagrid softened. “Yeah, o' course I can, Adira. I know bein' a teen can be a distractin' sort o' time, an' then yeh got all this other stuff on yer mind, too, I don't blame yeh. I was just hurt I had ter hear it from McGonagall, in a piece o' parchment no less.”

“I'm sorry, Hagrid,” she said, hugging him. “I really am. Sirius may be my godfather, but I've known you since you got me from the Dursleys, and you're like the father I never had. I should've told you after telling Ron and Hermione.”

“Yeh... yeh think o' me like a father?” Hagrid asked, awe in his voice.

“Yeah, I do. You care for me, you get angry on my behalf when I've been mistreated, you listen to me, you know when to give good advice and when to just be there for me, you went to the trouble to get me a whole book of photos of my parents, and you give me gifts on holidays and birthdays. You're the first real family I've known in my life, really. Mom and Dad... all I remember of them is from the night they died, in dementor visions.”

Hagrid burst out crying. She could've felt they were tears of joy even if she hadn't been empathic. She was doing the same thing, in fact, but quieter. Telling Hagrid he was like the father she'd never had was one of those things she hadn't realized was true until she'd said it, and then when she did, it made too much sense to question. Sirius was an unknown quantity, still, but if it worked out as well with Sirius as it had with Hagrid, she was sure she'd feel like she had two dads.

As Hagrid's wails of joy turned into sniffles, he wiped his eyes and said, “Yeh've no idea how much it means ter me yeh've said that, Adira, yeh really can't. I've long thought yeh were like me own blood kin, too. And since I never knew me mum, and me dad died before I was expelled, well... I've been lonely a long time. Then you came round, and it all changed.”

“I know, Hagrid. It took me until... well, until today to realize what you were to me. I'd never had anything like it, before. Didn't have anything to compare it to. But then once I said it, it all clicked into place and I knew it was true.”

Hagrid beamed at her. She beamed back.

~

She'd spent as much time with Hagrid as she'd dared. It wasn't until he offered her lunch that she made an excuse to leave. “To be honest, Hagrid,” she'd said, “as much as I love you, your cooking leaves much to be desired.” He'd chuckled at her and agreed, and she went up to the school to get some lunch.

The next few weeks were fairly uneventful. Classes continued, they continued their anti-dementor lessons (in which slow progress was being made), people slowly got used to Adira's new name and pronouns, Malfoy kept trying to be horrible and the collective kept making clever comebacks that shut him up. Slytherin also narrowly defeated Ravenclaw at Quidditch, which was good for Griffindor's prospects. Quidditch practices were a lot more cheerful than they'd been, between the dementors being gone and the presence of a Firebolt on the team, Iliana going through the air so fast she could've sworn she was reaching point B before leaving point A. Wood was certain they were going to make up for the disaster that was their match with Hufflepuff.

Ginny was still avoiding them, but seemed a lot less vigilant about it than she'd been, so maybe she was sorting out her feelings, or getting over her crush on 'Harry.' Buckbeak was still recovering from Malfoy's hexes, though apparently he was getting a lot better. Zoey still hadn't worked out what revenge to hit Malfoy with.

~

Not much else happened of note until February 5th, when Griffindor and Ravenclaw had a Quidditch match with each other. Wood was getting more intense with practices than normal for him, because they needed to win this match and win it well to have a good chance of winning the Cup.

On the morning of the match, Iliana brought out the Firebolt for the Great Hall to see. This was significant because Wood had insisted they keep the Firebolt a secret for as long as possible, which they had. Various people admired it, and Malfoy looked like he was going to be ill, when he saw it. In fact, he came over and made an attempt at his usual bullying.

“Got plenty of special features, hasn’t it?” said Malfoy, eyes glittering maliciously. “Shame it doesn’t come with a parachute — in case you have another fainting fit.”

Crabbe and Goyle sniggered.

“Pity you can’t attach an extra arm to yours, Malfoy,” said Iliana. “Then it could catch the Snitch for you.”

The Gryffindor team laughed loudly. Malfoy’s pale eyes narrowed, and he stalked away. They watched him rejoin the rest of the Slytherin team, who put their heads together, no doubt asking Malfoy whether Potter's broom really was a Firebolt.

Finally, it was time to go to the pitch. She grabbed their Firebolt and made her way down to the changing rooms, though she'd already changed into her uniform, so she only passed through. When she went out onto the pitch to inspect the area before play, she noted someone climbing up the steps to the stands – Sirius. She got on her Firebolt and flew up to talk to him. When she got there, Hagrid came up the stairs as well and gave Sirius a thoughtful look before sitting next to him. He looked a lot better, his hair trimmed neatly. He'd gained weight, and his face looked better, but it still hadn't lost most of the haunted look Azkaban had given him. His hair was shorter and clean, and the rest of him was clean as well, and he had gained weight, no longer looking skeletally thin. He was a little less pale, too, but not by a lot.

“Sirius! You're out of St. Mungo's?”

“What?” Sirius said, having not seen them. He looked at her and gasped. “Lily!”

“Iliana,” she said. “Sorry, I guess I forgot we hadn't met yet.”

“Right, I should've known. I was at the Quidditch match where you lost your other broom, so I should've recognized you. But to be honest, 12 years in Azkaban tends to damage the memory permanently. Or rather, the short term memory and the parts of the brain that remember happy thoughts. The Healers say I may never fully recover. There's going to be a lawsuit for wrongful imprisonment against the Ministry, and they're collecting evidence.”

“Aye,” said Hagrid. “'orrible place, Sirius. I was there only a few months at most, an' that was 'orrible enough. Can't even imagine what being there 12 years would be like.”

“I'm glad we got you out of there. Both of you.”

“Me too. By the way, Hagrid, do you still have my motorbike?”

“Yeah, I got it right enough. It's in storage, should be good as new still. Dumbledore set up the charms fer me. He reckoned it might come in useful down the way.”

“So were you released from St. Mungo's?” she asked Sirius.

“No, not yet. I'm on a supervised day trip to see the match,” he said, pointing a thumb up the stands at a St. Mungo's healer in green robes. The woman was watching Sirius like a hawk.

“Those St. Mungo's healers are worse than Madam Pomfrey,” Sirius said with annoyance. “They won't let me go until they're sure I'm as healed up as I can be. But seeing as I don't have my own flat yet, and I'd rather swallow 20 pounds of doxy eggs than go back to my parents' house – which is an utter pigsty, by the way, I don't really have anywhere else to go yet.”

“Miss Potter!” came Madam Hooch's voice. “We're about to start the game! Come down from there now, please!”

“Gotta go, Sirius, Hagrid. Stick around after the game a bit, will you?”

“Sure. I think I'm authorized to stay the whole day, as long as I get food from the Hogwarts kitchens.”

“Cool,” she said, getting on her Firebolt and flying back down to the pitch.

“It's uncanny, Hagrid, isn't it?”

“Aye, that it is. She could almos' be Lily's identical twin.”

“And that Alastair, looks exactly like me when I was his age.”

“Yeh, that he does. It was a mite unnerving, fer a long time there. Still gives me pause. Twelve years o' thinkin yeh were, well... old habits die hard, yeh know.”

“That they do. But you're sitting next to me, so it looks like you're making progress.”

“Aye. I know what 'slike, bein' falsely accused o' summat. An' I also know what Azkaban's like.” He shuddered. Sirius shuddered, too.

“Still got nightmares, Hagrid? Were you there long enough for that?”

“Not so much now, but yeah, fer a few months I did, sure enough. You?”

“Of course. Probably for the rest of my life. The Healers reckon I have shell shock. Then there's this one Healer, a chap who's into Muggle medicine as well as wizard Healing, he called it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There isn't even a magical cure for it, yet. Well, if I understand the condition well enough, at least Adira and I have something in common, now.” He barked once with bitter laughter.

But they had to stop talking then, because the players were in the air, and the game was starting. They wouldn't have been able to hear one another over the cheers anyway.

Lee Jordan commentated as usual, but he was so focused on the Firebolt and talking about it that it was hard to keep up with what was going on in the match. But McGonagall managed to finally get him to focus on the game.

For all Wood's talk about Cho Chang, Iliana hadn't known who he was referring to (there being a number of Asian students whose names she didn't know) until she saw the Ravenclaw Seeker on the pitch, at which point her stomach did its own pitching, and she felt very light-headed and giddy. She recognized the pretty girl from The Three Broomsticks, that day she'd learned of Sirius being their godfather. The events of that day had driven the girl from her mind, but she was back in full force now.

It wasn't very helpful for the game, though, these feelings. Every time she went for the snitch, Cho – who was tailing her because of the vast difference in speed of their brooms – kept showing up to block her. And the girl was so pretty that she was finding it hard to do anything but stop hard to avoid crashing into the girl.

“What are you doing, Iliana?” Wood yelled at her. “Show her your acceleration! Fly at her and make her chicken out!”

Trying to force herself to focus on the game and ignore how pretty Cho was, she did some difficult turns around the hoops to shake the girl off her tail, while keeping an eagle eye out for the snitch at the same time.

When she next saw the snitch, she dived after it, dives being something of a specialty of theirs; while the others didn't really like broom flying, Al was stoic enough of a person, except when it came to anger, that having his help to ground her thoughts made dives less terrifying than normal. But a bludger came flying at them from one of the Ravenclaw beaters, and the snitch got away as she avoided it.

Of course those supporting Griffindor gave a great 'ooooh' as this happened, and the Slytherins and Ravenclaws cheered. Iliana ignored that and listened to the score briefly – 80 to zero Griffindor – before going back to hunting for the snitch.

The Ravenclaws scored a few goals, starting to catch up on points a bit. Getting the snitch became more important as a result. Shortly after, the snitch caught her eye again, and she dived again. Once more, Cho blocked her, and she barely avoided crashing into the other girl.

“ILIANA! THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR GOOD MANNERS!” Wood yelled at her. “KNOCK HER OFF HER BROOM IF YOU HAVE TO!”

Cho gave Iliana a smug grin at having kept the snitch from her, but instead of annoyance, Iliana felt her insides, already soft, turn to mush. There was also an odd tingling between her legs that was utterly alien to her. She wondered suddenly if Cho had cast some kind of weakness curse on her, something that caused tingling in the skin as well. Her skin felt hot, and her breathing was too fast even taking the game into account.

Very concerned about what was happening to her body, Iliana doubled down on her efforts to focus on the game. Some quick thinking gave her a new tactic; if Cho was going to stalk her around the pitch, then she'd take advantage of that. When she next spotted the snitch, she pretended she didn't see it and dived in a different direction to make Cho try to block her before feinting and heading to the real location of the snitch. This worked for a while, but then Cho started diving for the real snitch.

She accelerated; so, many feet below, did Cho. Iliana was winning, gaining on the Snitch with every second. Then--

“Oh!” screamed Cho, pointing.

Despite herself, Iliana looked down and saw three hooded dementors. Her brain was already not working right, so she didn't think how unlikely it was, nor that she wasn't feeling any of the normal symptoms of dementors; she just pulled her wand out and shouted “EXPECTO PATRONUM!” and kept flying toward the snitch.

Something silvery-white and enormous came out, which she barely noticed. Her head still clear – feelings for Cho aside – she grabbed the snitch out of the air, ending the game.

The whistle blew, and the crowd went wild at the win. People were coming left and right to congratulate her as she landed.

“That was a hell of a Patronus,” Sirius said.

“Quite right, Padfoot old friend,” Lupin said from beside the Animagus.

“I can't believe those dementors didn't affect me! And where'd they come from, anyway? I thought Dumbledore had them all recalled to Azkaban?”

Sirius began laughing too hard to talk, or even breathe. Lupin grinned at Iliana.

“That would be because they weren't dementors. Take a look.”

She did. In a plan that was stupid even by Malfoy's standards, he, Crabbe, and Goyle had pretended to be dementors, to try to sabotage her. McGonagall was furious at them, yelling and taking points and giving detentions, but they weren't listening because they were still trapped in their robes. The Patronus had terrified them utterly. She even thought she smelled the odor of urine coming from them. She laughed merrily at their misfortune.

“You gave Misters Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle quite the fright,” Lupin said, in case she'd missed who they were.

Ron arrived soon and joined her laughter at Malfoy and his cronies.

~

There was to be a party in the Griffindor common room. Iliana wanted to invite Sirius and Remus, but Sirius deferred, on account of the fact that The Fat Lady would “do her nut” in his words, if she saw him again after what he'd done to her earlier in the year while trying to get Pettigrew. When she reminded him that she still wasn't repaired and rehung yet; Sirius said he didn't think he wanted to meet the mad knight temporarily guarding Griffindor, and he also wanted to give people time to get used to him not being a murderer before he popped in on a bunch of kids who'd been taught their whole lives about how evil he supposedly was. Lupin, too, deferred, though just because he'd had enough excitement for one day.

“Don't worry about us, though, Iliana. It'll give Padfoot and I some time to catch up on old times.”

The party was just as loud and raucous as she'd anticipated. She walked around the room, taking congratulations from people. On her third round of the room, she spotted Hermione trying to do homework – reading a book about Muggles – in the midst of all the noise.

“Do my eyes deceive me? Is Hermione Granger so behind on her homework that she's trying to work in this noise?” she asked her bushy-haired friend.

“Yes, a bit. I'm taking more classes than you are, and it's taking a bit longer than I'd thought, but I'm managing it.”

“Did you even go to the match?”

“Yes, Iliana, I did. I'm thrilled we won, but I have over 400 pages to read before Monday,” she said, her voice high-pitched and frantic.

“You're not going to be able to concentrate here in the common room, surely? Maybe you should try the library, or your dorm?”

“You're right, but if I went to the library, I'd have to come back. And I'm rooming with Lavender and Padma, and they can get very silly, they keep trying to drag me into their silly girlish things, and I don't have time for that. So this is the best I can do, and you talking to me isn't helping, sorry if that's rude.”

“I can feel how frazzled you are, even in all this emotional chaos, Hermione. Maybe you should drop Muggle Studies. You don't actually need it, after all, since your parents are Muggles.”

“But it's fascinating learning it from a Wizard perspective!”

“So read the books in your spare time, as a hobby. Lupin reads History and Anthropology books in his spare time.”

“I can't! What if I decide to go into the Ministry as a Muggle Liason? I need O.W.L.'s and N.E.W.T.'s in Muggle Studies to do that!”

“In all honesty, Hermione, Mr. Weasley works with Muggles all the time, and he once asked me what the function of a rubber duck is, so the bar can't be very high. You were raised by Muggles, you could ace the tests without studying! Hell, you could write the tests! I could write the tests! And they'd probably be a lot better than the current tests. Also, I read somewhere that you can take tests for subjects you haven't been taking classes for.”

Hermione sighed heavily and leaned back in her chair, looking very much like she wanted to scream at Iliana. But then she grabbed the book and slammed it shut, and began to cry. Iliana just sat there with her, not saying or doing anything but waiting and being there for her friend.

When Hermione finally began to compose herself, Iliana spoke at last.
“If you're really determined to keep taking Muggle Studies, you can study in my room. I'm the only body there, so it should be quiet.”

“Thanks for the offer, Iliana, but you're right. I bit off more than I can chew this year. I've known it for months, but I have such a terror of academic failure that I kept it up.” She sighed again. “I'm going to drop Muggle Studies. And Divination, too, I think. A more useless subject I've never seen, at least the way she teaches it. If I drop those two, I know for sure I can manage the rest. And I can...” she trailed off, clutching her hand to her chest, as though grabbing something under her robes.

“Yes, that's what I'm going to do, Iliana. Thanks for helping me realize I need to do this.”

“You're welcome.”

“Well, if I'm doing that, I can move on to my Potions homework. Is that offer of studying in your room still valid?”

“Of course it is. Come on, let me help you take your things up.”

“I'll take the Muggle Studies and Divination stuff back up to my room first.”

Iliana waited for her friend to come back from her room before grabbing the girl's remaining things and going up to the room with her. She left Hermione there for a few minutes to go get them both some snacks and drinks from the party, so they could refuel while they worked. Iliana worked on DADA homework while Hermione worked on her Potions.

“You don't have to leave the party on my account, Iliana.”

“I may go back later. But I could use a little quiet.”

When they were done with their homework, they lay back and pondered what punishment to get Malfoy with for Buckbeak. They were still pondering when Hermione left to go to bed. Before going to bed themselves, Zoey came up with the perfect plan, and grinned maliciously. But they couldn't do it yet. No, they would have to wait.

~

It took a few days to find an opportunity to strike on their plan, but coming back from the owlery on Wednesday, where they'd been sending a letter to Sirius before Lupin's anti-dementor lessons, they found one. Malfoy was coming up the other way, they could hear him talking to either Crabbe or Goyle, telling them to go on back to dinner if they were still hungry, he hadn't asked them to tag along.

Shifting into Zoey's form, she listened and heard the brute leaving, and Malfoy coming back upstairs. She ducked into a secret alcove they'd once found by accident, which apparently was activated by pounding the wall with a fist three times in succession. Doing this did not make the wall move or anything, it instead made the wall permeable, a bit like Platform 9 and 3/4ths. What was better, anyone inside could see out, but nobody could see in. So she waited there for Malfoy to come up the steps, a letter in his hands.

As he passed, she stunned him with their wand and dragged him into the alcove, keeping the door permeable by keeping one foot inside it while she grabbed him. Once they were both inside, she tied him up with ropes from their wand, gave him the Full Body Bind for good measure, and then stuck him to the ceiling with a Sticking Charm, resisting the temptation to attempt a Permanent Sticking Charm, just barely.

Instead, she set a few more charms on him, which would have very specific results, and when she was satisfied, she left the alcove and headed off to their lessons, which they were still going to because – one incident aside – they still couldn't reliably do the charm. She quite surprised Lupin by being the one to show up, and to stay showed up, but he accepted it without much fuss. She turned out to be able to produce white mist on the first try, and every subsequent try.

It was hard, later, to resist snickering to herself every time she thought of what she'd done. She only wished she could witness the results when the Sticking Charm wore off around midnight, the ropes cushioning Malfoy's fall before dissolving to free him. He would think he simply had to sneak back down to the dungeons without getting caught, but then as soon as he left the alcove, the Wailing Charm would activate, filling the nearby bits of the school with a piercing shrieking noise that was bound to attract Filch and/or any teachers or Prefects that might be in the area. Not knowing how to activate the alcove – she hoped – he would panic and run. But whether he went upstairs to the owlery, or down to where he needed to go to escape, he was sure to be caught. She'd be very astonished if he managed to get back without getting caught, when he would be shrieking like a banshee the whole way.

Sure enough, at breakfast the next morning, it was the talk of the school that Slytherin had lost 50 points overnight, and that Malfoy was to blame. Filch had caught him out of bounds at one in the morning, and taken him to Professor McGonagall, who had docked him points and taken him to Snape to be given a detention. The word on the Hogwarts grapevine was that Snape would be having him scrub something particularly stubborn and nasty off the walls of the potions lab that had exploded in an N.E.W.T. level class, something experimental that was dissolving the stone, and he'd be cleaning it without magic, since magic had already failed to clean up the strange mess.

The only downside was that Snape, as he passed them in the hall, clearly suspected them of having been responsible for Malfoy's predicament. Zoey made sure to fill their brain with some especially annoying songs whenever Snape was nearby, so that if he was reading their mind, he'd only hear stuff like 'infinity bottles of beer on the wall.'

~

The universe must've had a sense of humor, though. Because on the morning of their February Hogsmeade Saturday, Iliana woke up feeling like shit. And when she pulled the covers aside, she screamed. There was blood everywhere. And it was emanating from...

She immediately felt like an idiot for screaming, especially since there was a pounding on the door, and Ron asking if she needed help. Her period, of course. She had been warned by both Snape and Madam Pomfrey to expect this, and it seemed to have come at last.

“I'm fine, Ron. It's... it's just that time of the month, apparently.”

“Oh,” Ron said through the door, sounding uncomfortable.

“Do you, er... need me to help you with anything?” he asked, sounding like he was desperately hoping the answer would be 'no.'

“No, I have what I need here. I was warned this would happen. It just came as a shock, all this blood, for the first time.”

“Too much information, Iliana. Should I fetch Hermione?”

She blinked. That was a good idea; Hermione had experience with this sort of thing already.

“Yeah, sure. If you can find her. Boys can't go up the stairs to the girls' dormitory.”

“Right, I'll try my best,” Ron said. She heard him leave down the hall.

She got out of bed and tried to clean the sheets with magic. But she didn't know how to get blood out of them, so she gave up and concentrated on cleaning herself up. By the time Hermione came in, she was out of the shower, but still in her towel. When her friend came in, she locked the door.

“Ah, so it's happened finally,” Hermione said, looking at the sheets.

“Yes. And I still feel horrible. Also, I think I might need to clean up again.”

“Here, let me help you. See, you take this bit and this, and...”

Iliana listened attentively to Hermione's lesson in the realities of being the owner of a working uterus. Which potions to take, what they did, how often; which pads to use, and how to use them. Even a spell for completely removing blood from her panties, which was something Muggle women didn't have.

“You could probably use it on the sheets, too, but you can just chuck the sheets down the laundry chutes. Someone must come around and put new sheets on when we're out; I've never seen them at it, but it gets done. Still, no sense keeping bloody sheets on the bed. You have noticed, I hope, that we never have to clean our dorms? Sure, they don't touch personal posessions, but... well never mind. Here, wrap them like this and put them with a dirty robe to hide the evidence if that helps. Though with Ron's behavior and your scream earlier, well... never mind that, too. Girls won't make any issue of it, and boys would rather have their eyeballs hexed inside out than talk about it, so never mind.”

So, with her friend's help, Iliana got rid of the evidence and got herself fully presentable and ready for the day, thankful for the magical pads that could be kept on all day long, catching everything, and leaving no odor behind. She was also thankful for the potions. Her abdomen had felt like it was being tortured, but now it was much better. Nevertheless, she still felt ill, and at breakfast she found it hard to eat much.

“What's the plan today, Iliana?” Ron asked her, as though nothing unusual had happened. Only his plainly forced smile gave his feelings away.

“Sirius was allowed another day trip by the Healers, so I'm going to meet with him today. Do you two want to come, too?”

She looked especially at Hermione, silently communicating that she wanted her around just in case.

“Yeah, sure. Sounds cool. Sirius is awesome.”

“Good.”

“Hey, check out Malfoy,” Ron said, changing the subject.

Iliana looked at Malfoy. He looked almost as miserable as she felt. When he looked up, he glared at her. Clearly Malfoy suspected them of causing his detention and points the other day. Iliana just stared blankly at him, too out of sorts herself to do anything else.

She heard Seamus laugh. “Yeah, I heard Malfoy was scrubbing that stuff off the walls until well after midnight. So that's two nights in a row he hasn't slept well.”

As she continued to stare blankly back at Malfoy, his stare turned into one that promised revenge, and soon. She'd have to be on the lookout. If he did do something to her, she wondered if Zoey could turn him into a girl, so he'd have to go through the Hell she was currently experiencing; a Hell that, while muted, still felt wretched.

“Oh hey,” Iliana said, feeling the need to change the subject, “I forgot to ask before, did you tell McGonagall you're quitting Muggle Studies and Divination?”

“What?” Exclaimed Ron. “Hermione is quitting two classes? Hermione?

“Yes, Ron,” Hermione answered testily. “Iliana finally convinced me that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I was running myself ragged on that schedule, but I should be able to manage fine now. And yes, Iliana, I told her last Sunday.”

“Are you gonna tell us how you were getting to your classes before?”

She paused to think for a moment. Coming to a decision, she nodded.

“Yes. I suspect I only had to keep it a secret so others wouldn't steal it and abuse it. But since I've given it up now, I can tell you. No more danger of it being misused, now.”

“Abuse what?” Ron asked.

“I was given a time-turner.”

“A what, now?”

“A device kept at the ministry that let me go back and redo hours. Back... in time.”

Iliana choked on her eggs and fell over, turning into Alastair on the way down. When he climbed back up, able to breathe, he goggled at her.

“I was just kidding when I suggested a time machine!”

“Keep your voice down, Al,” she said unnecessarily, since his voice had been hoarse and quiet from choking. “I'm not entirely sure it was a good idea to tell you.”

“You had a bloody time machine and you gave it up? With Moldy Voldy still out there? He could come back, and we could use the time machine to go back and prevent it!”

“That is exactly the kind of attitude that makes me think I shouldn't have told you. Meddling with time is very dangerous. McGonagall--”

“If time travel is so dangerous, why'd they let you do it to attend classes? Gods, that has got to be the geekiest thing ever. 'I'm Hermione Granger, I got given a time machine and I used it to take more classes because I want my picture to be in the dictionary next to the word “swot”.'”

Hermione glared at him. “For your information, Alastair Potter, Professor McGonagall had to write all sorts of letters to the ministry swearing I was a model student and wouldn't use it for anything but going to classes.”

“God, knowing you, you probably did. Man, if I had a time machine, I'd go back an hour and give myself a--”

Please do not finish that sentence,” Hermione begged of him.

He smirked at her. “You know me too well, 'mione.”

“Yes, I do,” she said sourly, focusing on her breakfast.

“So, er, Al... how, uh... how do you feel? You know, with...”

“Oh me? I feel great. Guess since I don't have a uterus, I'm not affected. Maybe I'll just hang around whenever the girls get their monthlies so they don't have to suffer.”

Ron chuckled. “From what I've heard, today's gonna be great. Al and Sirius in the same room together is a hoot, I've heard tell.”

“A regular hootnanny, no less,” Al replied before digging heartily into his bangers.

“Hogsmeade won't know what hit it.”

“Too right. Me and Sirius might even give Fred and George a run for their money.”

“Oh really?” said one of the twins, having overheard him talking. “Whadda ya think, George? Go down with this lot to meet the infamous Sirius Black?”

“I wouldn't miss it for the world, Fred. I just wonder what kind of protective gear we should take, to prevent injury and loss of limb. You know, from the epic shenanigans that are bound to ensue.”

“Should we sell ringside tickets, d'ya reckon?”

“On such short notice? Nah, maybe later. Got to preview the show, vet it for suitability with audiences.”

“Of course, of course. Silly me, why didn't I think of that?”

“Because I'm the clever one, of course.”

“Too true, too true. Whereas I got the devilishly good looks.”

The twins laughed and went back to their food. Hermione rolled her eyes at them, while Al barked with laughter before going back to his own food.

On their way down to the village later, Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle caught the three of them 'alone.'

“Oh look, it's the Weasel, the Mudblood, and the freakshow.”

“Behave yourself, Malfoy,” Al warned, “or Zoey will hide you somewhere nobody will ever find you.”

“So you did attack me that night, and stick me to the ceiling! I knew it!”

“Go ahead and think what you will. But I warn you to behave, or I'll have Zoey transfigure your cock up your own arse. You know, right next to your head.”

Crabbe and Goyle cracked their knuckles menacingly.

“You two babboons don't scare me. I've faced Voldemort, twice, and survived. I could transfigure your faces to each other's arses before you could even get a shot off. So run along and forget about your revenge. Because if we did have something to do with your predicament the other day, Malfoy, it would've been because of what you did to Hagrid's hippogriff, Buckbeak. Not just some random prank, like I'm sure you think. Hypothetically speaking, of course.”

“Of course. And hypothetically speaking, Potter, if I did have plans to get you back, it bloody well wouldn't be here in broad daylight where anyone could come along and see. I'd just think it would be fun, to put you on your guard, make you squirm before it happened.”

Al put his hands on his knees and bent down like he was talking condescendingly to a small child. “And if I was the weest bit fwightened of big scawy Swythewins, Malfoy, I might be worried. But Crabbe and Goyle are practically squibs, relying on their muscles and bulk to intimidate people, and they have the collective intelligence of half a flobberworm. Whereas you're just a small, blond, sniveling git hiding behind big words, your goons, and your father. You think the world is your oyster, and the first person to be unimpressed by your entitled attitude is who you've chosen to be your enemy, because you can't stand it when you're not the center of the universe. Without your money, Malfoy, you're nothing. If your daddy's fortune somehow vanished, like if he gambled it away or spent it all on whores and booze, your name would mean nothing. You pick on Ron and his family because I'm betting that your boggart would be you and your parents dressed in rags, begging on the streets to survive.”

Malfoy exploded in rage, and Al just barely dodged the hex, sending his own back. Crabbe and Goyle surged forward to engage Ron and Hermione, but Al tripped them with a trip jinx and sent three stunners, hitting all three Slytherins. When the dust settled, figuratively speaking, he rolled them to the side of the path, tied them up with ropes from his wand, Disillusioned them, and put a Full Body Bind on them.

Hermione wrung her hands all the time, but didn't stop him. She continued wringing her hands on the way down to the village, too.

“Listen, Hermione, don't worry about it. The spells will wear off before dinner. They'll miss their whole Hogsmeade day, but that'll serve them right for attacking us.

“You do realize they're just going to be even more angry now, right?”

“Let them be. I don't care. They're bullies, and I can't stand bullies.”

“You're being a bit of a bully yourself, you know.”

“Nonsense. I never attack them first. They always bring it about themselves.”

“You goaded them into attacking, Al. How is that not bullying?”

Al looked a bit uncomfortable. “Yeah, well, they goaded me into goading them. If they just knew how to stop while they're behind, I'd leave them be. But they've always got to have the last word.”

“Something you have in common with them, Al.”

More might've been said, but they'd gotten to The Three Broomsticks, and it was time to meet Sirius.

End note: Yes, I know the Harry Potter Lexicon says lessons with Lupin were at 8 pm, but in this one they're at 7. It gives them an extra hour.

Also, I don't care for the movies past the second one, but I couldn't think of a good book reference for Mr. Weasley's incompetence with Muggle stuff, so please forgive me that one movie reference.

End note 2: Ending the chapter here because it's already almost 30 pages long, and that's without the spaces between paragraphs.



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