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Becoming Harriet

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Harry lay quietly in his bed, watching the seconds tick down to midnight. It seems a lifetime ago that he had done just this in the hut on the rock, counting down to his eleventh birthday by the light of Dudley’s watch. Now, six years later, in just thirty seconds, he’d be an adult. A real adult in the wizarding world. He’d be able to do magic away from Hogwarts, get his apparition licence, and best of all, he’d be able to leave number 4, Privet Drive, never to return again. His trunk was packed, and the fare for the Knight Bus to Diagon Alley was all counted out ready.

The last few seconds counted down on the battered old clock. “Happy birthday, Harry,” he whispered to himself, and sat up, reaching for the wand on the bedside table. His hand never closed around the shaft. He was thrown back onto the bed, his head cracking against the wall with a reverberating thump. “Ow,” Harry grunted as the world swam before him and shooting pains wracked through him. He shut his eyes against the spinning world.

The early morning sun slanted across the bed, and Harry groaned, throwing an arm across his eyes. His muddled brain couldn’t quite seem to surface. When had it become morning?”

He sat up slowly, groaning as he flopped his head forwards to rest in his hands. Something was wrong, he decided. Nothing felt quite right. He forced his eyes to focus, and noticed the crisp parchment envelope on the floor, squarely between his feet. It certainly hadn’t been there last night…

My dearest Harriet, it read. Harriet? Who was Harriet? Harry wondered, scrunching his nose.

I’m so sorry that I’m not here to explain all this to you. If things had been better… but if you’ve received this letter, then I’ve died before your seventeenth birthday. I wish I was with you to explain myself, but it would seem that I can’t be. I’m sorry for the deception.

You see, dearest, your father is wonderful in many ways, but in some, he is still set in the old wizarding traditions. He was so very certain that our first child would be male. I don’t know if you know this, Harriet, but the wizarding world is still deeply misogynistic. The first born for the old families is always a boy. Firstborn girl children apparently don’t happen, but don’t believe that for a minute. They’re killed at birth, and I couldn’t let that happen to you. So I hid the fact that I was having a girl from the world, from your father, and when you were born, I cast the necessary spells to disguise you as male. Now you’re seventeen, an adult, and you’re able to protect yourself and claim your place in the world. Please forgive me, dearest.

I know you will have questions, my love, and I can’t hope to anticipate them all. One other person knows about this: my oldest friend, Severus Snape. He was there when you came into the world, and he helped me do all this. Please, seek him out. He is a good man, though dour, and he will see everything right.

I love you always and forever,

Mum

 

Harry stared down at the letter in confusion, and pushed a lock of hair out of his face. Out of his… his hand stilled. His hair wasn’t long enough to fall over his face like that. Slowly, fearfully he stood and ran his hands down his body. Oh Merlin. he had breasts, and hips that stuck out like a girl’s. He stumbled over to the cracked mirror on the chest of drawers- it had been in Dudley’s room until a fit of rage had seen it broken.

Even around the spidery fault lines, Harry could see the changes in his face. he was shorter still, he realised, the centre of the break in the glass over his forehead instead of his nose. His chin was more delicate, his cheekbones more pronounced, his eyelashes longer, fuller. All that paled in comparison to his hair, which tumbled down his back in a dark tumultuous waterfall. “Bloody hell,” he breathed, his voice higher. His hands came up to cup his new breasts again, tugging a little to make sure they were real. That hurt. Then, gingerly, a hand went down to feel between his legs. He pulled it away quickly. The familiar lumps and bumps down there were gone. Harry swore and sank down onto his bed again. He glanced at the clock and realised that it was only half past five. The Dursleys wouldn’t be up for a couple of hours yet. He needed to get away. They couldn’t see him like this. He shuddered to think what they would think to suddenly find a teenage girl in their house when a teenage boy had gone to sleep the night before. He stood and dragged his jeans out from his trunk. Quickly, he decided; get dressed quickly, don’t look. He managed to get as far as stripping out of his pyjama bottoms and into his jeans, belting them tightly around his newly smaller waist.

He was just about to unearth a t-shirt which might be clean when a sharp rapping came from the window. He let the owl in with surprise; he wasn’t expecting anything. His friends knew that he’d be at the burrow later, so they wouldn’t send gifts to him here.

The owl was unusually dark grey. It offered Harry the letter held in it’s beak and immediately hopped back to the windowsill. He thought it might have been glaring at him, but he couldn’t be sure. Owls usually did look grumpy.

The parchment in his hand was addressed simply to ‘Potter’, and Harry couldn’t help but recognise the flowing handwriting. Snape. He sighed. He’d never expected to receive private correspondence from Snape, but perhaps he’d get some answers.

Potter,

If all has gone to plan, you will now be as you were born. I will fulfill my promise and duty to your mother; any questions you have about your situation I will answer to the best of my ability, and any needs you I have I will strive to fulfill.

I am available to meet at your convenience, be that now, later or never. I await your response by return owl.

Severus Snape

 

Harry couldn’t believe that he was going to have to be reliant on Snape for anything, but it seemed like it was his best option at the moment. He grabbed a muggle pen from the bedside table and scrawled As soon as possible, please. Where? Harry beneath Snape’s missive. He thrust it back at the owl, who took the note and soared out of the window without further instruction. He really hoped that Snape would respond soon.

He turned his back to the mirror, tugging his pyjama top over his head and replacing it with a mostly-clean t shirt. A glance down told him that it was stretching oddly across his newly engorged chest, but there was nothing to be done about that. When the shops opened in Muggle London, he could see about finding some clothes that fit.

It was short work to toss the remainder of his possessions into his trunk: he didn’t have much, and he’d never been a fastidious packer. The majority of his belongings lived in his trunk all summer anyway. Even so, he was surprised at how quickly the owl returned.

I am at the end of Privet Drive. We can apparate to a better location.

-Severus Snape

Harry was certainly not delighted about the prospect of going off to meet Snape, but he couldn’t just stay here. He cast charms to shrink and lighten his trunk before tucking the whole into the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt along with his wand. A last glance around the bedroom he’d spent his summer holidays in since he’d first gone to Hogwarts- there were no happy memories here.

He was sure he’ make it out of the house unseen. It was still just after six. As softly as he could, he closed the bedroom door. He’d forgotten the squeak at the top of the stairs though.

“Where are you going, boy?” Uncle Vernon growled when Harry was only half way down the stairs.

Harry wanted to laugh. Even without whatever had happened overnight, he wasn’t a boy anymore; he was an adult now. And with his new body, he certainly couldn’t be described as one. He turned to face Vernon. “I’m leaving,” he said resolutely, aware that his voice was higher, and that even in the dim light of the hallway, Vernon couldn’t help but notice something odd. He was right; he watched his uncle’s face contort and redden. Harry smiled. “Goodbye. I’d say thank you, but you’ve done nothing good for me.”

He left Vernon spluttering and swearing on the landing, and unlocked the front door, shutting it quietly behind him. At least all the neighbours still had their curtains drawn, so  the Dursley’s wouldn’t have awkward explanations. Harry had a moment’s thought that he should have waited until later and then had a shouting match on the lawn. It would have been satisfying to leave the Dursley’s angry and ashamed, but probably would not have done much good to him in the long run. Better to be the bigger person, he decided.

Snape was nowhere in evidence, but Harry headed for the end of the road anyway, his hand tightly wrapped around the hilt of his wand in case it was some kind of trap. Voldemort may not be likely to be lurking on Privet Drive, but Harry wasn't about to take any unnecessary risks.

From the dappled shadow of an oak tree, Harry noticed the shimmer of a disillusionment charm being lifted, and Snape stepped forwards. “Harriet,” he said softly. Harry had never heard him speak without the cold barb in his voice before.

“I suppose so,” Harry replied.

Snape looked him up and down appraisingly, taking in the jeans rolled up at the ankles, the shoes that were too big and would cause blisters if worn for any distance, the t shirt that didn’t hide the fact that he had no bra. “Of course,” he said. “You don’t have any women’s clothes. I think that we should go for breakfast, then see about getting you something that fits.”

Harry nodded, and Snape held out a black-clad arm for him to take. For a change, Snape wasn’t clad in his typical voluminous robes, but it seemed that his muggle fashion sense wasn’t as far from the mark as most wizards. He wore a pair of close fitting black jeans, a grey t-shirt and short black jacket. Harry recognised his boots as high-quality dragonhide, but muggles would assume leather. He reached out to put his hand in the crook of Snape’s elbow, and immediately felt the swirl of apparition, squeezing him tightly from all sides.

His ears were ringing from the magical travel when he landed with a thump. “Where are we?” he asked.

“Manchester,” Snape replied shortly. “This way.” Harry had to scamper to keep up with his professor’s long legs.

Luckily, it wasn’t far. A small bell on the back of the door tinkled as Snape pushed into a small cafe. A surly looking man in builder’s overalls sat in one corner with a bacon roll and a large mug of tea. The plump brunette girl behind the counter looked up and smiled at him. “Severus!” she greeted warmly. “Are you looking for Robin? He’s not in until ten…”

Snape waved her words away with a gesture of his hand. “I just need somewhere quiet for breakfast, Rosie,” he assured her. “I’ll visit Robin sometime soon. May we use the back room?”

“Of course,” she replied. “Make yourselves comfortable; I’ll bring in some breakfast for you.”

Snape thanked her and swept past the counter and into the back of the shop. Harry scrambled after him with an apologetic smile as he brushed past Rosie the waitress. To his surprise, the room he followed Snape into wasn’t a kitchen or storeroom, but a tiny little staffroom, just big enough for a table and four chairs. Snape sat and waved Harry into another chair. “You know her?” Harry asked.

“Rosie? Yes. My son works here.”

Harry almost fell off his chair in surprise. “Your son?” he asked incredulously. “You have a son?”

“Yes, Robin.” Snape didn’t even flinch at Harry’s tone. “He’s at university, but he works here to cover the bills.”

“How come no one ever mentioned him?” Harry wanted to know. “Didn’t he go to Hogwarts?”

Snape shook his head. “Robin’s a squib,” he explained, without a touch of malice. Harry had to shut his mouth, hanging open with shock, when Rosie nudged the door open with her hip, her hands full with a large teapot and mugs. Snape thanked her, and only when she had shut the door behind her did he continue speaking to Harry. “His mother was a muggle,” he explained, “and as I am a half-blood, it’s not surprising that he didn’t inherit the ability to practise magic.” He poured milk into both mugs, then tea, and pushed one towards Harry. “As fascinating as you may find my family situation, I feel that you must have more pressing concerns at the moment,” he told the girl in front of him.

Harry made a little shaking motion with his head, not to disagree, but to clear the thought of Snape having a son, much less a son with a muggle woman, from his head. “Yeah,” he said. “I don’t really understand. Am I a boy or a girl?”

Severus sat back, cradling his mug of tea, his long fingers curled around the warmth of the heavy earthenware. “You were born female,” he told Harry. “Think of all the old Wizarding families you know, and think of how many have first born females. The Malfoys, the Blacks, the Longbottoms, even the Weasleys. All have a first born male in the major line. The magical world can hide it well, but it is inherently misogynistic. Girls cannot inherit in the same ways as their male siblings, so first born females are often killed in the womb as soon as the sex of the child is known. Your mother wouldn’t do it. She lied to everyone about you. I was the only one present when she gave birth, and I helped her with the spells necessary to hide you as a male. Even James was sure that you were a son.”

“So I’d be dead if she hadn’t pretended I was a boy?”

Snape inclined his head. “You would have never been born,” he agreed. From an inside pocket of his jacket he pulled some papers. Silently, he passed them across the table.

A birth certificate for Harriet Jane Potter, born 31st of July at seven minutes past midnight. “I changed the Hogwarts records to read Harry instead of Harriet,” Snape said quietly. Harry sat staring at the official documents until Rosie disturbed them again, this time with a tray groaning with two huge full English breakfasts and a toast rack.

“I’ll be in the front if you need anything else,” she said cheerfully.

Snape pushed a plate towards Harry. “Eat first,” he instructed, “questions after.”

Harry had never been a big eater. Ron as always stealing the food he hadn’t finished from his plate at school. He’d never had much food at all living with the Dursley’s. They hadn’t normally starved him, but he never quite got enough. Nevertheless, he made a valiant effort at the massive plate of food. Only the fried mushrooms didn’t even get touched- he hated them. Snape, he noticed, didn’t appear to like tomatoes, but his mushrooms were eaten with gusto.

How was he ever going to tell his friends all this? Harry wondered. How did you just turn up and say: hi, I’m a girl now?

Eventually, both had pushed their plates away from them. “What would you like to do?” Snape asked.

“What do you mean?” Harry wanted to know.

Snape steepled his fingers under his chin. “Well, you can reveal yourself as female to the world. Now that you are of age, no one can contest your right as the heir of the Potters; you came into your inheritance at midnight. On the other hand, you can choose to present to the world as male. The spells that were used to give you a male body can only be used on a newborn child, but you can use glamours to give the appearance of masculinity.”

“I… I don’t know,” Harry admitted quietly.

“Well,” Snape pressed, what do you feel like? A man or a woman?”

Harry looked at him helplessly. “I just feel like me,” he explained. “Just the same as always. How am I meant to know what it feels like to be something I’m not?”

“I don’t mean to pressure you,” Snape pressed on, “but this is a decision that you should make quite quickly. You must tell your friends something, and I know that you are expected at the Burrow later on today.”

Harry nodded. He tried to imagine life as a woman, tried to imagine hiding something this big from the world.

“If I used glamours to look like a man, would I be able to, erm, well, have sex?” he asked hesitantly. He couldn’t believe he was discussing sex with the scariest teacher! It would have been more uncomfortable with McGonagall, though, he thought.

“No. It’s a glamour only, it doesn’t change your anatomy. I don’t know of any spells that can do that on an adult. Muggles have surgeries that can give an approximation, though.”

Harry nodded. He’d expected as much. He sank back into thought for a few moments. eventually, he said, “The last couple of years I figured out that I was gay. I tried to fancy girls. It was what you were meant to do, you know? But I had my first crush on a guy in first year.”

Snape didn’t laugh, or even look surprised. “Homosexuality happens in the wizarding world, but it’s viewed with suspicion,” he informed Harry. Harry already knew that. He’d heard the whispers, the taunts about boys suspected of being gay. He’d kept it to himself.

“I think I should be a girl,” Harry informed the professor.

“I think that’s wise,” Snape replied. “It’s good to finally meet you, Harriet Potter. I hope that we can make a fresh start, and that you can bring yourself to forget the way I have treated you in the past.”

Harriet smiled, thinking of how Snape had gone out of his way to help today, how he’d gone to such lengths to keep the secret made by Lily Potter. “I’d like that.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“We need to get you some clothes,” Snape declared. “Clothes that fit. Have you muggle money on you?”

“Erm, about twenty quid?” Harriet admitted.

“I will pay, you can reimburse me at a later date.”

“Sir?” Harriet asked in surprise.

Snape smiled. “Until you are back at school, Severus will do fine,” he said. “And I know that you have plenty of gold in your vault, because you’ve just come into your inheritance, so you can’t have spent it yet. Therefore, lending you money is unlikely to see me out of pocket.”

Harriet wasn’t sure what he meant. “I’ve had access to my vault since I came to Hogwarts,” she pointed out.

“You didn’t know?” Severus asked. “I thought your mother would have said something- I know she left a letter for you. You’ve had access to your personal vault, yes, the money James and Lily put aside for you. Now you have access to the full Potter fortune.”

“There’s a Potter fortune?”

“Of course,” Severus said. “The Potter family is very old. I don’t know exactly what you’ll find, but the goblins at Gringotts should have another couple of vaults for you- they’ll have the keys for you. There should be a couple of properties too, as well as the house at Godric’s Hollow, of course.”

Harriet was gobsmacked, but she quickly saw a problem. “But… won’t all that have been left to Harry Potter?” she asked. “Not Harriet Potter?”

“The goblins work from magical signatures, not legal identity,” Severus assured him. “It’s why identity fraud isn’t a problem in the wizarding world. A magical signature is the same through your life. Yours was registered with Gringotts when you were a week old, to set up your vault and add you as heir to your parents’. When you’re next in Diagon Alley, visit Gringotts and ask for a statement of your assets. You might be pleasantly surprised.”

Harriet realised that there was a lot about the wizarding world and her own history that she didn’t really know. She’d had no idea about female children being killed, no idea that she had more money than was in the vault she had seen. Severus pulled her out of her reverie. “Come on, we need to get you some clothes before you go to surprise the Weasleys.”

Harry nodded and stood, but before Severus could open the door there was a sharp rap and the door was pushed open. “Dad? Rosie said you were here.”

Robin Snape was as tall as his father, his hair dark brown rather than the midnight black Severus wore. When he turned his gaze to Harriet, she saw that his eyes were the same obsidian, under the same straight black brows. Harriet gulped, her belly constricting on her breakfast.

“Robin, this is Harriet. She’s the daughter of a very old friend of mine,” Severus said quietly.

“Pleased to meet you, Harriet,” Robin said, shutting the door behind him. “You’re a witch?”

“Erm, yeah,” Harriet said. She still wasn’t sure about her new name; it was strange to be introduced by it. It was even stranger to be referred to as a witch instead of a wizard. She hadn’t thought of that.

“Finished school?” Robin asked with a grin.

Severus cut in. “Robin, stop flirting. It’s Harriet’s seventeenth birthday today; she has a year of schooling left. We were just on our way out to buy her some clothes; she’s just left home in some rather unfortunate circumstances, hence the odd clothing.”

Robin shrugged. “Magical folk have the worst fashion sense anyway,” he said. “Nothing unusual there. Hope to see you again, Harriet.”

“Me too,” Harriet replied shyly. “See you again, that is.”

Severus sighed in impatience. “Come on,” he said to Harriet. He squeezed Robin’s shoulder in farewell as he passed.

“Thanks for the use of your staffroom, Rosie,” he said as he passed the counter, leaving a twenty pound note. He herded Harriet out of the door.

Severus, it turned out, had a decent sense of where to buy muggle clothes for females. He seemed to know Manchester well, taking Harriet to the town centre and shepherding her around shops, picking out jeans and t shirts and jumpers. Within two hours, she had enough clothes to see her through a week, plus two new pairs of shoes. She even had a skirt, at Severus’s insistence. “You’ll have to wear one for school uniform,” he pointed out. "You may as well get used to it."

She began to regret the decision to live as female when Severus sent her to be fitted for a bra. The feeling of the saleswoman flitting a tape measure around her newly budded chest was unnerving. She couldn’t believe how much more sensitive she was there than when she’d been Harry. She was so relieved to escape with a selection of the contraptions that she almost didn’t mind that Severus had take it upon himself to pick out knickers for her. At least they weren’t lacy, she mused.

In truth, she felt a lot better when she emerged from the bathroom at the end of the shopping spree, dressed in jeans that actually fit, a plain blue t-shirt that was cut to allow for her shape, and a black cardigan. Even the ballet style shoes were comfortable, as much as new shoes ever were, but she felt almost like she was barefoot, they were so light.

“Much better,” Severus said approvingly, and held out a paper cup of hot chocolate. “I didn’t know if you liked coffee,” he explained, “but everyone likes hot chocolate.”

“Thanks,” Harriet said, perching on the bench next to him and sipping the drink.

“When are you expected at the Burrow?” Severus asked.

Harriet chewed on her lip. “Anytime now,” she admitted.

“Would you like me to come along and explain?” Severus asked gently.

Harriet looked up hopefully. “Would you? I mean, I know you don’t like the Weasleys, but I’m really nervous, and I don’t know how they’ll take it…”

“Shush,” Severus said. “I wouldn’t have offered if I did not intend to follow through.

“Why are you being so nice?” Harriet wondered. “You never liked me before.”

“You’re right, and I can only apologise,” Severus admitted. “When you were Harry, I detested the fact that you’d made Lily so unhappy- she was so excited to have a daughter, and so upset that she had to hide what you were. And I hated the fact that the action we took in hiding your true sex lead to her death.”

Harriet looked up sharply. “What?” she spluttered. “She’s dead because Vol...because he killed her. Not because I was a boy.”

“The prophecy specified a male child,” Severus reminded her. “Sybill explicitly stated that the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal. Had you been known as female, you would never have come to his attention, he would never have attempted to kill you.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Harriet admitted.

“Don’t blame yourself, Harriet,” Severus admonished. “The choice to hide what you are was down to your mother, and to myself. You are not to blame.” He laid a cautious hand on Harriet’s shoulder, ready to move away if she flinched. She didn’t. “Come. The sooner we face this, the better.”

Severus seemed to know all the deserted alleys from which to apparate, and Harriet quickly found herself standing just outside the Weasley’s front gate. She felt sick. How was she going to explain to Ginny, who’d been hoping for a real relationship, that she’d never really found her sexually appealing, that she was just going through the motions? Severus seemed to sense her fear. “Don’t panic,” he muttered as he opened the gate to the higgledy-piggledy house.

He rapped sharply on the back door. “Coming, coming,” Mrs. Weasley’s voice floated through the door, muffled. She had a smudge of flour on her nose when she appeared, clearly in the middle of baking something. Harriet was willing to bet it was probably a birthday cake, knowing Mrs. Weasley. She shrunk back, trying to hide behind Severus, wishing she didn’t have to do this.

“Severus,” Mrs Weasley said, her voice flatter, colder. “Nice of you to visit. What can I do for you?” She apparently hadn’t noticed Harriet yet.

“Good morning, Molly. May we come in?” Severus asked smoothly.

Mrs. Weasley looked puzzled for a moment, then spotted Harriet. “Oh. Oh, yes, of course.” She stepped back letting them into the kitchen.

“I believe you’re expecting Harry today?” Severus commented, as if just making conversation. He seated himself at the chair nearest the fireplace.

Mrs Weasley smiled fondly. “Yes, we are. He’s seventeen today, you know.” Harriet could feel her eyes on her, searching.

“I was aware,” Severus intoned. “Molly, this young lady is Harriet. Harriet Potter.”

Molly frowned. “I don’t understand.”

Severus continued on smoothly, as if she hadn’t spoken. “Seventeen years ago today, I helped Lily Potter deliver a beautiful child. At Lily’s insistence, I helped her to disguise her daughter as a boy. However, now that Harriet has come of age, the spells that bound her are no longer in place.”

“Severus, that’s not possible,” Mrs. Weasley cried out. She crossed the kitchen to where Harriet stood, looking at the floor. Strong, floury fingers grasped Harriet’s chin and made her look up. Mrs. Weasley searched her face, brushing a thumb across the scar on her forehead. “You do look like Harry,” she admitted. “Same eyes, same scar.” She looked away, glancing at the clock on the wall. She gasped.

There was a new, tenth hand on the Weasley clock, and it pointed to ‘Home’. Mrs Weasley looked back and forth between Harriet and the clock for a moment, then she folded Harriet to her breast in an embrace. “I have another daughter,” she whispered fiercely.

She released Harriet and wiped a hand over her eyes quickly. “Well,” she said, “you can’t stay in Ron’s room anymore. You’ll have to bunk in with Ginny and Hermione. Unless… well, dear, I have to ask…” she trailed off, not knowing how to phrase it.

“I like boys, Mrs. Weasley. I always have,” Harriet assured her.

“Well then, that’s settled,” Mrs. Weasley said. “Now, I can’t very well make your cake with you here to watch, can I?” She smiled at Harriet warmly. “Ron, Hermione,” she called.

“Now then,” she said, turning back to the counter, “you want to be called Harriet, not Harry?”

“Erm, yeah, but I’m still getting used to it,” Harriet admitted.

“That’s understandable, dear,” she assured her. Ron skidded into the kitchen, Hermione following at a more sedate pace.

Ron stared at Harriet. “Who’re you?” he demanded.

Mrs. Weasley answered before Harriet could. “There’s been a bit of a change,” she told him. “It would appear that Harry was a girl all along. This is Harriet.”

Ron shook his head. “That doesn’t make any sense,” he declared.

Hermione cuffed him around the ears. “Stop being so stupid, Ron,” she said primly. “Why didn’t you tell us, Harry?”

“I didn’t know,” Harriet explained.

Severus stood. “I’ll take my leave now,” he said. “Your owl will find me if you need anything, Harriet. I will inform the headmaster of the change in your circumstances.” He inclined his head to Mrs. Weasley. “My thanks for your hospitality, Molly.”

“Anytime, Severus,” she replied, still in something of a daze. “Now, why don’t the three of you go up and get Harriet settled in Ginny and Hermione’s room,” she instructed.

Ron hung back as the climbed the stairs, and just before Hermione followed Harriet into Ginny’s room, he grabbed her arm and pulled her back, slamming the door.

Harriet sat on the third bed that the house had provided, alone in the room. She should have guessed that Ron would take it badly.

She could hear his whispered words if she strained. “...could be a trick,” he hissed to Hermione. “There’s no way that’s Harry. Why was Snape here? I bet Snape’s taken Harry to you-know-who…”

“Don’t be an idiot, Ron,” Hermione snapped. She pushed open the door again. “So, Harry,” she asked brightly, “what happened?”

“Harriet,” Harriet said quietly. “My name’s Harriet, apparently.”

“Rubbish!” Ron exploded. “You’re not Harry, no fucking way. Harry’s got dangly bits!”

Harriet looked up helplessly. “Look mate, I’m confused too. But I am the same person, you’ve got to believe me. Ask me anything, something only I’d know the answer to.”

Ron continued to splutter wordlessly. Hermione perched on the side of her bed. “Okay then,” she said. “Which of us knocked out the troll in the bathroom, in first year?”

“Ron,” Harriet answered. “He used wingardium leviosa to levitate the club.”

“See, Ron,” Hermione pointed out. “It is Harry… erm, Harriet.”

“They could have stolen his memories,” Ron grumbled.

Hermione huffed in frustration. “Oh, now you’re just being ridiculous, Ron,” she said. “Harry… Harriet, why don’t you tell us what happened?”

Harriet took a deep breath. “Okay… it’s going to sound really weird, though.” Ron settled, leaning against the wall, still looking angry. Hermione nodded encouragingly, so she continued. “I was awake at midnight, last night. I was going to leave just after midnight, get the Knight Bus and stay at the Leaky Cauldron for the night, instead of sleeping at Privet Drive one more night. But before I could go anywhere, just after midnight, there was this.. pain.”

“In your scar?” Hermione asked.

Harriet shook her head. “No, everywhere,” she said. “It… it was like the cruciatus curse.”

“See!” Ron exclaimed. “Harry was tortured by death eaters and had his memories taken away to give to her!”

“Shut up, Ron!” Hermione snapped. “Carry on, Harriet.”

“Erm, okay… Well, I suppose I must have fainted because of the pain, or something, because when I woke up, it was about half past five. There was a letter from my Mum sitting next to me,” she explained. “It said she’d hidden me as a boy, because I’d have been killed if anyone knew I was a girl… here.” She fished the letter from her pocket, folded up with her real birth certificate.

Hermione read it, Ron looking over her shoulder. “So you contacted Snape for answers?” she asked.

Harriet shook her head. “No. Snape contacted me. He sent an owl asking if I wanted to meet up. He took me to breakfast, then we went shopping for girl clothes.”

Snape took you shopping?” Ron asked incredulously, looking up from his study of Harriet’s birth certificate.

“Yeah,” Harriet said. “He’s been really decent. He said that all this time, he hated me because he knew I was really Harriet, and I guess it upset my mum to have to hide everything like that.” She decided to leave off the bit about the prophecy. She wanted some time to think about that one, and discuss it with Dumbledore first.

“Mate, that’s bizarre,” Ron told her. “Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but this looks real to me.” He tapped the birth certificate. “Look, I’m sorry for getting mad, but I’m really confused.”

“You think you’re confused,” Harriet muttered.

Mrs. Weasley had obviously explained the change from Harry to Harriet to the rest of the Weasleys when they arrived mid-afternoon for the birthday party.

Hermione had braided her hair back for her- it was too long for Harriet to manage, unpractised as she was. She resolved to get it cut as soon as she could, and get a fringe cut in to hide her scar. It made it harder to hide behind it as she slipped into the warm Weasley kitchen.

“Ooh-er, Harry, you make a sexy witch,” George chortled.

“Harriet, you dolt,” Fred corrected, elbowing his twin in the ribs. “He’s not wrong though- you look amazing. All that quidditch. Good for the physique.”

Harriet blushed. Ginny gave a choked sob and fled the room.

“Don’t mind her,” Bill assured Harriet, pulling out a chair at the head of the table. “She just isn’t used to the idea yet. Come on, birthday girl, you get the seat of honour.”

Mrs. Weasley had laid on a spectacular afternoon tea for Harriet’s birthday. She’d missed lunch, so she happily put away sandwiches and little sausage rolls and pork pies. Now that Ron had come around, and without Ginny in the room, all of the Weasleys treated her, if not exactly as normal, with warmth. She smiled as she blew out her birthday candles.

This wasn’t so bad, she decided. 

 

 

Chapter Text

A Hogwarts owl swooped in in the middle of breakfast the next morning. Only Harriet’s quick reflexes kept the missive it carried from being dumped in the marmalade.

Dear Miss Potter, it read.

Professor Snape has brought the change in your sex and the reasoning behind it to my attention, and he informs me that you will be living as female henceforth. I wonder if you would be so good as to meet with me for lunch today? I have enclosed a portkey which will activate at 12 noon precisely, and which will bring you to the entrance hall at Hogwarts. The password to my office is ‘liquorice allsorts’.

My warmest regards,

Albus Dumbledore.

 

“What’s that, dear?” Mrs. Weasley asked as Harriet set the letter and the coin it contained beside his plate.

“The headmaster wants me to have lunch with him today,” Harriet explained.

“Oh dear,” Hermione said. “I’d hoped we could go shopping today, get some stuff for you.”

“Maybe we should all go tomorrow,” Mrs. Weasley suggested. “Ginny needs new school robes- she’s shot up over the summer.”

“Where is Ginny?” Harriet wanted to know. “She didn’t come to bed last night.”

“She spent the night in the other bed in my room,” Ron yawned. “Don’t think she’s too chuffed about you, mate. She still had a crush on you.”

Mrs. Weasley sighed. “I’ll talk to her later, Harriet, dear. I’m sure she’ll come around.”

Harriet nodded. She didn’t want to cause problems, but Ginny had always had this crush. When she was Harry, she’d tried to like girls. She’d kissed Cho, but hadn’t really liked it. She liked Ginny, she really did, but the thought to kissing Ginny, going to bed with Ginny… the thought left her cold. It had always been about boys- Oliver Wood, Cedric Diggory. He’d had a brief crush on Seamus in fifth year. He knew enough from the whispers and sniggers and off-colour jokes not to admit to homosexuality. Except now it turned out that perhaps she’d never actually been gay… she decided not to think about it too much. It made her brain feel as if someone had stirred it with a stick.

She made sure to be holding the coin Dumbledore had sent at twelve, and felt the familiar hook yank just behind her navel, the hurtling, flying sensation, then he was dumped unceremoniously in the entrance hall.

“Well, I didn’t expect to see you again so soon.”

Harriet looked around in confusion. She was expecting Dumbledore, if anyone. Eventually, she spotted Robin Snape lurking in the shadows of the empty hall. She really wished she’d had a more graceful landing, and not ended up in a heap in front of him.

“Hello,” she said. “What are you doing here?”

He shrugged. “Came to see my dad,” he explained. “Why are you here in the summer holidays anyway?”

“Erm, meeting with the headmaster,” she choked out. “Hang on, aren’t you a squib? How are you at Hogwarts?”

His laugh was warm and deep. “Squibs aren’t muggles,” he pointed out. “Anti-muggle wards don’t work, my magic just isn’t powerful enough to bother training me. I doubt I’d even be able to turn a toothpick into a needle, but I can use floo powder to get around and brew most potions.”

“Oh,” Harriet said, feeling stupid. “Well, I’d better get going.”

“Me too,” Robin said.

Harriet turned to go, but he called out after her. “Hey, Harriet?” She turned back to look back at him. “I hope we run into each other again.”

“Oh, erm, yeah, maybe,” Harriet said. She was blushing much more easily the last couple of days, and Robin seemed to be having an effect on her. The clenching feeling in her tummy was familiar to her; the same as when Cedric had spoken to her in fourth year.

Why did she have to go and fancy Snape’s son? she wondered. The sudden image of having Snape as a father in law provoked a shudder. No matter how nice he was being, it was still Snape.

She shook her head to rid herself of the idea. How ridiculous could she be? She’d met a good looking boy twice. There was no reason to start thinking of weddings and in laws. She climbed the steps, headed for Dumbledore’s office.

“Liquorice allsorts,” she informed the guardian gargoyle, which obediently jumped aside. She hopped onto the moving staircase.

The door was open when she got to the top. “Ah, come in, come in, my dear,” Dumbledore twinkled. “My my, you certainly have changed a bit. You’re going by Harriet now?”

“Erm, yes, Professor,” Harriet stammered. Dumbledore waved her over to a seat at the little table that had appeared by the fireplace.

“Time for some lunch, dear girl,” he said. “I do find myself so peckish by this time of day if I haven’t had any elevenses. I’m sure you agree.”

“I suppose so,” Harriet agreed. As soon as she and Dumbledore were seated, plates piled with cottage pie and vegetables appeared. Dumbledore tucked in with gusto.

“I imagine this was quite a surprise for you,” he asked Harriet. She nodded, not willing to speak around a mouthful of mashed potato. “Quite so,” Dumbledore continued. “It will probably come as quite a shock to your classmates. It came as quite a shock to me. I had no idea that Lily had concocted such a plan. Of course, she was a very bright witch. The practice of disguising children has fallen quite out of fashion.”

“It used to be a common thing?” Harriet asked, surprised.

“Oh, in certain circles,” Dumbledore assured her. “Anne Boleyn killed one of her children attempting to disguise a daughter as a son to please Henry VIII, you know. She had only a herb woman to help, though, barely any magic at all. It’s no wonder she failed. And lost her head, poor dear. Your mother had Severus, though, and their magic was powerful.”

He nodded to himself and took a large mouthful of carrots. “You understand that there will be changes made to accommodate your new identity?” Dumbledore asked when he’d finished his plateful of food. He smiled with delight when a dish of treacle tart with custard replaced the vanished plate. “You’ll have to move to the girls’ dormitory, and I fear it may take some time for your classmates to adapt. I will do my best to ensure that all of your teachers refer to you using female pronouns, of course.”

Harriet nodded. “Sir, Professor Snape said something about the prophecy… about how it’s not true anymore.”

Dumbledore put down his spoon and nodded sagely. “Quite so. It specifically makes reference to a male child. It would seem now that it was meant to refer to Mr. Longbottom.”

“So… does that mean that Neville has to fight Voldemort?” Harriet wanted to know. She’d hardly dared hope that perhaps the fate of the wizarding world no longer rested on her shoulders. She’d had the concept hanging over her ever since she knew what the prophecy said; it seemed too much hope that she was free now.

“I simply don’t know, Miss Potter,” Dumbledore said. “Prophecy is a tricky thing. Voldemort may have broken it in any case, by marking you despite your sex. If that is the case, then the prophecy is null and void. It is broken. It is the duty of all of us to see the downfall of such an evil wizard. We must continue to find the horcruxes, in any case. No matter who deals the final blow, the horcruxes must be destroyed.

Harriet nodded. That made sense, at least. Even though the locket was a fake, she’d helped Dumbledore fetch it. She understood the horcruxes now. She wasn’t free, not completely. It made sense that she’d still help Dumbledore find them, and he was right, it was everyone’s job to make sure Voldemort was defeated.

“I’m not sure how Voldemort will react to the news of your change,” Dumbledore continued. “I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that the fact that Professor Snape had a hand should not be spread around. He still maintains his precarious position as a spy, and it would be disastrous, probably even fatal to him should it come to light that he had hidden such information from Voldemort.”

Harriet nodded. “Yes, I know, Sir. Ron and Hermione know, but I haven’t told anyone else, not even Mrs. Weasley.”

“That’s wise, Harriet. Whilst I doubt Molly would spread such information, the fewer who know the better.”

Before she left, Dumbledore gave her the equipment lists for the next year, and instructed her to purchase the girl’s school uniform. She flooed straight back to the Weasley’s from Dumbledore’s fireplace.

She let herself into Ron’s bedroom. “Come on, Hermione, just one game?” Ron pleaded as she came in. Hermione had her nose buried in a book, as was usual.

“No, Ron, exploding snap can wait. I have research to do! I wonder if Professor Dumbledore would let me use the library before term starts again?”

“What are you researching?” Harriet asked, settling on Ron’s bed and holding out her hands for the deck of cards.

Hermione shoved a escaping strand of hair out her face impatiently. “I want to know what spells were used on you, to make you a boy,” she explained.

“Dumbledore said it’s an old spell. He reckoned Anne Boleyn tried it.”

“Really?” Hermione looked up in surprise. “I didn’t even know she was a witch.”

“Course she was,” Ron said, then shouted “Snap!” Harriet only just got her fingers out of the way in time. “How do you think she got the King? She can’t have been a very good one, though, because the love spell wore off.”

“Muggles believed she was a witch because she had a sixth finger,” Hermione noted. “Anyway, how did the meeting with Dumbledore go?”

Harriet sat back from the game. “Okay, I suppose. We talked about how I’ll still help with hunting horcruxes, and he told me that I can’t let on that Snape knows anything about this.”

“Obviously,” Hermione said, rolling her eyes. “I bet Voldemort would be pretty annoyed.”

“Yeah,” Harriet agreed. “Oh, and I saw Snape’s son again.”

“Woah, woah, back up,” Ron almost shouted. “Snape has a son?”

Harriet giggled. She was shocked for a moment- she was sure she’d never giggled before- but carried on, “yeah, I forgot to say. I met him yesterday- he works in a cafe in Manchester; Snape took me there to eat.”

“How old is he?” Hermione asked curiously. “I’m sure we’d know if he want to Hogwarts?”

Harriet shifted nervously, suddenly feeling like she was under scrutiny. She knew he cheeks were flushed again. “Erm, about nineteen, I think? But he’s a squib.”

A guffaw burst out of Ron’s mouth. “Snape’s son’s a squib?”

Harriet nodded. “Snape said that his mother was a muggle, so it wasn’t surprising.” Hermione was looking at her thoughtfully. She glanced away from her friend.

Ron screwed up his face. “Eww, that means some poor woman had to sleep with Snape.”

“Ronald!” Hermione squealed, gently cuffing Ron around the ears with her book. “Be polite, that’s one of our professors!”

Ron just shrugged.

Ginny appeared for dinner that evening, but remained silent and kept her eyes very carefully away from Harriet. After the plates were cleared, Mrs. Weasley set Ron and a sulky Ginny to washing dishes, and pulled Harriet off into the sitting room. Hermione stayed to help dry the dishes, and Arthur was making himself scarce somewhere, probably in his shed, so they had the living room to themselves.

Mrs. Weasley sat on the squashy sofa and patted the seat next to her. Harriet had always loved the Weasley’s sitting room. Nothing matched, but it was full of comfy seats festooned with bright blankets and cushions, all handmade by Molly over the years. “Now, Harriet, dear, I had a bit of a word with Ginny earlier. She’s going to do her best, but she’s having some trouble coming to terms with everything. I’ve cleaned out the twins’ old room for you and Hermione- I hope there’s nothing left in there from their infernal joke shop.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Weasley,” Harriet said. She didn’t want to make Ginny uncomfortable enough to shove her out of her own bedroom.

“That’s quite alright, dear. You should be comfortable here. After all, if the clock thinks you’re part of the family now, you should have some space of your own. You’ve always been one of my children, really- I hated sending you off to those infernal relatives of yours when you could have been here. I wish Dumbledore had let us raise you instead…” She trailed off and shook her head. “Never mind that. I wanted to give you this.” She handed over a brown paper bag.

“You gave me a present yesterday, though,” Harriet insisted. She peeked inside. “Mrs. Weasley, what is this?”

Mrs. Weasley was grinning. “It’s not necessarily a present, dear. You’re a girl now, and you’ll notice some more changes in your body. These things are for when you get your monthlies- your periods. It’s best to be prepared, in case it comes sooner rather than later. There’s some pain relieving potions in there too, in case you get cramps. If you need more, Madam Pomfrey always has a stock on hand.” Harriet blanched, and Mrs. Weasley laughed. “Oh, dear, don’t be embarrassed. It happens to the best of us.” Quite honestly, Harriet hadn’t even thought of this aspect of being a girl. She vaguely knew that girls bled once a month- she remembered a science lesson in her last year of primary school, although as far as she knew, it had never been mentioned at Hogwarts. She hadn’t been friends with Hermione when all the first year witches were pulled aside by Madam Pomfrey and shown the store cupboards where supplies and pain relievers were kept for the young witches.

“Erm, thanks,” Harriet said with a blush.

“One more thing, Harriet,” Mrs. Weasley said. “Now, I’m sure you know how sex works, but you know about it from a male point of view. I’m not going to tell you not to have sex- I’m not one to speak. I have seven children, and between you and me, if you do the maths between my wedding and Bill, you’ll come up a bit short of nine months. Enjoy yourself, but be careful. You can get pregnant now, remember. There are potions you can take to stop it, though, so if you think you might be ready, for goodness sake, take the potion.”

Harriet was sure she couldn’t get any more red. Mrs. Weasley wrapped an arm around the blushing girl. “Now, off you go and move your things into your room. I’m here if you have any questions.”

“Erm, thanks,” Harriet squeaked, and gratefully scarpered.

She’d been a bit scared of really looking at her body this far, but Mrs. Weasley’s talk made her realise that she needed to figure out what she had. She’d forgotten all about periods; what else was there that she might need to know? She set the water running in the big bath in the Weasley’s upstairs bathroom, and quickly stripped out of her clothes. She had to twist her hands uncomfortably behind her to unsnap the unfamiliar bra. It had taken a while to get it on that morning.

There was a full length mirror hanging on the back of the bathroom door. She forced herself to look at her body, really look at it. Where she’d been straight up and down before, she now curved in and out. her skin was pale. She carefully cupped her breasts in her hands, feeling their weight. They weren’t the biggest she’d ever seen- Fleur certainly won in that department. She thought she was probably just a little bigger than Hermione. The nipples were deep pink, and starting to pucker in the cool air.

She ran her hands down, over her stomach. It was rounded a little, where her male body had been flat. Her waist nipped in, just before the flare of her hips. She was on the short side of average, she thought, standing about five foot four, but her legs looked long. The triangle of dark curls hid her more private parts. it did look much neater than a penis, she decided.

Turning to the side, she eyed the curve of her backside. It was pleasing enough, she reckoned. Attractive enough, she decided. No Veela beauty, to be sure, but not exactly a troll either. Strong rather than delicate, with solid limbs and wide hips, but she’d had a favourable reaction from the twins, She wondered what Robin had thought of her.

Shaking her head at her silliness, she turned off the water and slipped into the warm bath. Deciding that she may as well act girly, she tipped some of the flowery scented bubble bath in, splashing to bring the bubbles up. She wondered if her senses and likes had changed, because she was sure she’d have found the scent cloyingly sweet as a boy, but now it was delicate and pleasant. Sighing, she leaned back.

With her eyes closed and a floor away from anyone else, it was quiet and relaxing. Even the ghoul in the attic, who had a tendency to rattle the pipes, was silent. She tipped her head back, the water seeping up into her long hair, drawing it to swirl around her in the water.

It wasn’t a conscious decision, but her hands slipped down under the water and tugged at the curls where her thighs met her body. Spreading her legs as wide as allowed without pulling them up out of the bath, her fingers ran down between her thighs. She gasped when the lips separated under her fingers. She slipped them inside, exploring the folds as the water rushed into the space. Experimentally, she bent her wrist and slipped a finger slowly into her. The breath caught in her throat as the first thing to ever enter her tight channel pushed in as far as she could get it. Her muscles clamped around it, the sensation alien. Slowly, she dragged her finger out, and pulled it up through her folds again. There was a slickness now that had nothing to do with the bathwater.

She wasn’t expecting the jolt of sensation as she passed over a little lump of flesh at the top of the folds. She bit her lip and rubbed again, in a deliberate, circular motion this time. Wanking had never felt that amazing when she was male: she hadn’t really understood what all the fuss was about. This felt different, though, the curling tightness in her belly.

There was a pounding on the bathroom door. “Hey, are you going to be in there all night?” Ron shouted through the door.

She guiltily snatched her hand away. “I’ll be out soon,” she called.

“Okay. Hermione and I are in the twins’ room,” he said.

She quickly got out of the cooling bath and reached for a towel. In just a few moments, she was dry and pulling on pyjamas. She really needed to get ones that fit, she decided, buttoning the top. She hadn’t even thought of it on her shopping spree with Severus, and apparently, nor had he. She needed to find out how much she owed him, she remembered.

Hopefully she’d be better outfitted tomorrow, if they managed to go shopping.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Don’t go down Knockturn alley! And be back home by five for your dinner!” Mrs. Weasley called after Hermione and Harriet. Ron looked grumpy to have been left behind, but he knew he’d be quickly bored out of his skull with the day of shopping Hermione had planned. He’d at first assumed that she meant spending the day in Flourish and Blotts, but was even more horrified when she’d explained that she and Harriet were going to get their hair cut, then to muggle womenswear shops. Helping his mother find secondhand robes to fit Ginny was bad, but it was better than an endless parade of muggle shops. At least he might get a few minutes in Quality Quidditch Supplies. Harriet wasn’t entirely sure that she didn’t just want to spend the day in there too.

“I need to go to Gringotts first, to change some money,” she said. Hermione just nodded. She’d just opened her own vault a month ago, in preparation for starting a job after school.

The tall white building had been a poignant symbol of the wizarding world for Harriet, ever since her first trip here with Hagrid. Her vault key was safe in her pocket, but she remembered what Severus had said about having more than one vault. She and Hermione passed the goblins at the front door and entered the main hall, lined with goblins at tall desks.

Harriet approached a free goblin. “Good morning,” she said.

The goblin looked up. “Good morning, Miss Potter,” he said solicitously. “We have been expecting you. Wait here, please.” He slid off his tall stool and wandered into an office.

“What’s that about?” Hermione asked. “How come he knew exactly who you are? He didn’t even seem surprised.”

Harriet shrugged. “Sn… I mean, our teachers thought that they might recognise me. Apparently they work from magical signatures, not appearances.”

The goblin reappeared with three keys clutched loosely in his hand, and a roll of parchment. “A summary of your accounts and holdings, Miss Potter,” he said, holding out the scroll, “and the keys to your vaults. This one,” he handed over a little silver key, “is the key to the vault held by Mrs. Lily Potter, this key is for the personal vault of Mr. James Potter.” Finally, he held out a large ornate key, set with a ruby. “This is the key for the hereditary Potter vault. Would you like to inspect the contents now?” Hermione gasped at the glimmering key.

Harriet shook her head. “Not today, thanks. I’ve got some other things I need to take care. I just need to make a withdrawal from my vault.”

“Very well, Miss. If you would follow me, please?”

Twenty minutes later, with her stock of galleons replenished and a hefty wad of twenty pound notes in her pocket, Harriet and Hermione headed out into muggle London.

“What do you think is in the Potter vault?” Hermione wanted to know. “Did you even know you had other vaults?”

“Not until two days ago,” Harriet admitted. “I thought there was enough to last a lifetime in the vault I knew about.”

“Well, I know where to go if I’m ever penniless,” Hermione joked, steering Harriet into a hair salon.

It was still early enough to be quiet. Harriet had no idea what to say when the stylist asked what she wanted. Luckily, Hermione jumped in. “A wash, cut and blow dry, please, for both of us. Harriet wants a fringe cut in, and taken up to shoulder length. I just want a trim, please.”

Harriet soon found herself bent over a sink as the hairdresser worked her long, sharp nails along her scalp, rubbing in shampoo. “You’ve got lovely thick hair,” she told her charge. “What products do you use?”

“Erm, just shampoo,” Harriet said, not sure that there was anything else.

“Ooh, hair like yours really needs a good conditioner. It’ll make it much easier to comb. We sell a lovely one. It’ll make your hair so silky.”

“Okay,” Harriet agreed, feeling stupid. Figuring out all this girl stuff was going to be hard, she decided. She really hoped Hermione was up to being asked lots of stupid questions. Asking Hermione had to be better than another ‘girl talk’ with Mrs. Weasley.

“There, all done,” her hairdresser said half an hour later, holding a mirror up behind Harriet to show her the back of her head. She did feel much lighter, and she hoped that less hair meant less to constantly get in her face

The messiness of her boy hair had been hiding soft waves. A sideswept fringe hid the lightning scar completely. Harriet smiled. “It looks great, thank you.” The hairdresser insisted on selling her not only conditioner, but the matching shampoo and some kind of mousse. As appreciated as the haircut was, Harriet had the distinct impression that she’d been duped on the products. She was sure that none of them could match to their magical alternatives, like sleekeazy. She’d seen the results on Hermione’s hair at the Yule Ball.

The rest of the morning passed in a whirl of shops that Hermione dragged Harriet in and out of at breakneck speed. In every one, Hermione piled clothes in Harriet’s arms and dispatched her to the fitting rooms, making her try on and model outfit after outfit to be ‘yay-ed’ or ‘nay-ed’. In Next, the shop assistant even stood and watched, giving her own opinion. Hermione even talked Harriet into some pink tops, although Harriet was sure that Ron would wet himself laughing; and if he didn’t, the twins would. Twice, the girls had to duck into deserted alleys to shrink down the shopping bags, and Harriet’s supply of muggle money was much diminished by the time Hermione called a stop for lunch.

“So,” Hermione said, pulling a folded piece of paper and a pen from her bag after they’d ordered, “You had plenty of underwear. We’ve bought you jeans, t-shirts, jumpers…” she started ticking items off her list. “Blouses, school skirts, a dress… we just need to get you some tights, some school shoes, and toiletries. Then we can go back to Diagon Alley and get school robes. Your old ones will be too big.”

“I’m still not convinced on the dress,” Harriet grumbled. It was a dark green affair, at least bringing out the colour of her eyes, but it felt hideously girly to Harriet. She still felt a little like some kind of cross-dressing fraud in her new girl's clothes.

“You looked amazing in it. You should have something nice,” Hermione responded. She was still distracted by her list. “Maybe we should get you something more formal too… and some high heels.”

“I am not wearing high heels,” Harriet said firmly. “They look like death traps. I like my feet on the ground if my arse isn’t on a broom.”

Hermione tried to glare, but couldn’t help a chuckle overflowing. “Okay, then, no high heels for now,” she acquiesced. “I suppose if you’re invited to any formal events, you can get a dress nearer the time.” She folded up her list again, tucking it back in her handbag.

Harriet grinned slyly and pulled the scroll she’d received from the Gringotts goblins from her pocket. “I don’t know about you,” she said, “but I’m dying to know what’s on here.”

Hermione’s eyes lit up with the prospect of knowing what was in the Potter vault. “I didn’t want to ask in case it was rude,” she admitted.

Harriet grinned. “Nah, you’re my best friend. Who else can I share this with if not you and Ron?” She unrolled the parchment and laid it flat on the table, weighing each end down with their drinks.

 

Contents of the vaults belonging to Miss Harriet Potter as of the 2nd of August, 1996

Vault 3359, belonging to Harriet Potter

6439 galleons, nine sickles and 12 knuts

Deeds to the properties: 12 Grimmauld Place

                                      Black Vineyards, Bordeaux

 

Vault 2981, belonging to Harriet Potter, bequeathed by the late Lily Potter

3908 Galleons and 23 knuts

One platinum and diamond engagement ring

One platinum wedding ring

One gold pendant

Four pairs of earrings in silver

 

Vault 2018, belonging to Harriet Potter, bequeathed by the late James Potter

7849 galleons, 18 sickles and 2 knuts

One golden snitch

One platinum wedding ring

 

Vault 904- Potter vault

102983 galleons, 16 sickles and three knuts

One 22 carat gold ring belonging to the head of the Potter household

Eighteen assorted works of art, valued at 5000 galleons

One chest of jewels, comprising eight necklaces, five bracelets, seven rings, eight pairs of earrings, one tiara, three unset diamonds together equalling six carats and 24 small gems (rubies, emeralds, sapphires)

106 piece dinner set bearing the Potter crest

98 piece cutlery canteen in sterling silver

60 piece dinner set in red and gold

One suit of armour

Deeds to the properties: Potter house, Godric’s Hollow

                                     74 Marylebone Road, London

                                    12 Witch’s Crescent, Edinburgh

 

At present, 20 galleons are removed each month from vault 2018 and placed into vault 3359, on instruction from James Potter, dated 19th November 1979.

 

Your personal banker is the goblin Silverjoy. Please contact him with any instructions regarding your holdings or banking needs.

 

“I have a suit of armour?” was all Harriet could manage.

“Never mind the suit of armour, you’ve got over a hundred thousand galleons just in cash! Plus five houses- I know one’s a ruin and one’s order headquarters, but still!” Hermione struggled to keep her voice to appropriate levels. She quickly rolled the parchment and shoved it back towards Harriet, seconds before their food arrived.

Harriet poked her ravioli with her fork. She’d known for years that she was wealthy: the healthy pile of gold in her vault had reassured her of that. She’d never asked for it to be counted, though; until Severus had told her, she hadn’t known that the goblins offered such a service. But before, it had just been a pile of gold. She’d had no idea that it was just what her parents had put aside for her, and that there was more than she could even conceive of in another, older vault.

“How much room does a hundred-piece dinner set take up, d’you think?” she eventually asked Hermione, and popped a piece of ravioli in her mouth. “Why is it even in a bank and not one of the houses?”

“I’ve no idea,” her friend replied, “but, God, what you could do with that gold! All the people you could help! You could give charitable donations until you went blue in the face and not dent that lot!”

Trust Hermione to think of charities, Harriet thought with a grin. If it were Ron, he’d be calculating the cost of broomsticks and a lifetime season ticket to the Canons, with a side of Honeydukes sweets.

“Yeah, that’s a lot of wooly hats and socks,” Harriet said, carefully keeping a straight face.

Hermione reached across the table to punch her lightly on the arm. “Be nice,” she said, but her grin and light tone belied her words.

Both girls were relieved to get back to Diagon Alley. Harriet was exhausted from the whirlwind trips in and out of changing rooms, and thought she’d never want to get dressed again. Despite the fact that both witches had been raised in the muggle world, the wizarding one was their safe space, the world where they didn’t have to hide. Most witches and wizards were uncomfortable when out and about amongst muggles, because the muggles couldn’t comprehend them, and they had to completely hide such a large part of their identities, their very selves. To a witch or wizard, to live without magic was unthinkable. Even Hagrid kept his wand pieces in his pink umbrella.

“Come on,” Hermione said. “Let’s get Madam Malkin’s out of the way first, then we can get our books.”

“No offence, Hermione, but I’ve decided that big shopping trips really aren’t my thing,” Harriet moaned, trailing behind a little. Hermione huffed and stopped for a moment so Harriet could rest. Her legs were shorter than she was used to now.

“Nor me, really,” Hermione admitted. “I have to say, though, it’s more fun shopping for someone else instead of myself. And when my mum isn’t along trying to put me in frilly things.”

Harriet couldn’t help laughing at that one, a sudden image of Hermione in some sort of pink glittery tu-tu.

“Got a new friend, mudblood?” a familiar voice drawled. Malfoy’s hand landed on Harriet’s shoulder, and he wrenched her around to face him.

“Ow!” she protested, pulling her arm from his grasp. She tried to look anywhere but into his flat grey eyes, knowing that if he looked too hard, he’d surely know she was familiar. He’d spent long enough as Harriet’s nemesis. She was glad for the heavy fringe that covered her scar.

Malfoy smiled. “I haven’t seen you before,” he noted, the sun glinting paley off his slicked, shining hair. “I’d remember a pretty girl. Where’d Granger find you?”

Harriet gulped. Malfoy didn’t recognise her, which meant he didn’t know yet. That must mean that Voldemort didn’t know either, but she had no idea what to say. Hermione rescued her, reaching out to take her wrist. “Shove off Malfoy,” the bushy haired witch spat, “and crawl back into whichever foetid hole you came from.”

“Honestly. Turns out even six years of decent education can’t teach some people manners,” Malfoy grumbled. “You don’t know how good you’ve got it, Granger. Try a little humility.” He stalked off with a sniff, and Harriet shuddered.

“Ugh. I can’t believe he touched me. Come on, let’s finish up quickly, so we can leave.”

 

 

Chapter Text

There was a lot more to being a girl than Harriet had anticipated when she’d made the decision so quickly in the back room of a Manchester cafe, and she had the feeling that Hermione was possibly not the best teacher of the feminine arts. For a start, Hermione had very little idea of the charms and potions usually used by witches to maintain their appearance. Mrs. Weasley tried to help, but it had been some time since she was a teenaged witch. Harriet reckoned that Ginny would have been her best bet, but the littlest Weasley was still furious at the hand that fate had dealt her.

She’d always thought, she confided to Mrs. Weasley, that someday, she’d be married to Harry. She’d certainly never realised that the object of her affections preferred men; the thought had never occurred to her. Harry had been in her life for six years. Harry had saved her from Tom Riddle. She knew Harry; she just couldn’t bring herself to accept Harriet in his place. No matter how much her frustrated mother explained that it was the same person, that it was Harriet who had been real and Harry the illusion, no matter how many times she pointed out that this had just happened to Harriet without her say-so, Ginny couldn’t manage more than a strangled ‘hello’ to Harriet. She spent a lot of time in her bedroom, doing what, no-one knew.

The month of August rolled past in a series of long, lazy days of lie-ins and admonishments from Hermione to get some work done in preparation for the new year. NEWTs, as she pointed out, came only once. If they failed, they would have no chance at a good job.

Ron grumbled that he was sure the twins would give him a job. “Yeah, as a product tester,” Harriet pointed out. “You’d be testing skiving snackboxes all day.”

Ron blanched. He’d been the unwitting tester for his brothers’ pranks too many times. It wasn’t something he wanted to do as a career. Harriet thought that it was a good point, though. For all Hermione had blustered about schoolwork every year, this was the last chance to get it right, and the year where they had further to fall. For the first time, Harriet actually began to worry about the future. For the last few years, there had always been the niggling doubt that there would even be a future for her, with the threat of Voldemort looming large. And if there was, well, people would fall over each other to offer a job to the ‘boy-who-lived’. But now, she supposed she was ‘the-girl-who-lived-but-looked-like-a-boy-at-the-time’, and that was too much of a mouthful for anyone. So far, everyone had told her that the world at large would have trouble accepting her in her new body. She was reasonably certain that Ron believed her now, and Hermione had apparently accepted it without any doubt, even if she was itching to lose herself in the Hogwarts library and find the spells used.

Her friend’s acceptance of the situation, though, didn’t really quell the nerves she felt as she dressed early on the morning of the first of September. Since her birthday, she’d really only been in contact with the Weasleys and Hermione. Soon, though, she’d be on a train with almost four hundred other students. There was nowhere to hide on a train. At least Hogwarts was full of nooks and crannies and secret rooms where you could take cover for an hour or two. She sighed. Maybe everyone would be too excited about sharing their summer news to notice that Harry Potter was missing, and a girl who looked a lot like him had appeared.

“Everything okay?” Hermione asked, sitting back on her heels. She was quite proud of herself, having just placed an undetectable extension charm on her trunk. The stack of parchment she’d transfigured into a bookcase in there made packing so much easier. “You’re not nervous, are you?” she asked.

“Well, yeah,” Harriet admitted. “Wouldn’t you be?”

Hermione sat on her bed, folding jumpers and dropping them into her trunk. “They’ll all find out anyway, so there’s really no point wasting energy on nerves,” she said pragmatically. “Worrying won’t change anything.”

“Well, fine,” Harriet huffed. “You try not worrying when you’re going to have to tell everyone you know that you’ve been living a lie and weren’t the person they thought you were all these years!”

She threw the last of her supplies into her own trunk and flounced out of the room. “Harriet!” Hermione called after her, but didn’t come to find her. Harriet was glad. She went down to join Mrs. Weasley in the kitchen.

“Are you alright, dear?” she asked when Harriet perched at the big kitchen table, scrubbed until it was smooth as butter and almost white. She slid the first plate of bacon and eggs over to her. “You look a little peaky. Did you sleep well?” She laid a warm hand across Harriet’s forehead. “I hope you aren’t sickening for something. You need your strength up for starting school.”

“I’m fine, honestly,” Harriet said.

“I know you better than that,” Mrs Weasley said. She sat down across the table from Harriet. “It’s going back to school that’s worrying you, isn’t it?” she asked kindly. “You’ve always loved the first of September before.”

“But what if they hate me?” Harriet wanted to know.

Mrs Weasley patted his hand. “If they hate you, then they were never your friends,” she said. “You will always have friends here, Harriet. We will all support you. Professor Dumbledore is behind you, and I’m sure he won’t allow anything to happen to you.”

Harriet privately wasn’t sure about that one. Dumbledore could appear as a lovely old man, and he was obviously very knowledgeable, but you couldn’t deny that he placed people in danger to achieve his ends. After all, he’d taken her into a cave full of undead creatures to retrieve a horcrux. That couldn’t be considered safe on any level. “I suppose so,” she said with a weak smile. Before they could say anything else, Ron and Ginny thundered down into the kitchen, demanding breakfast. Harriet scooted to the furthest corner of the table to give Ginny space.

It was a good job that Harriet hadn’t managed much by way of breakfast, because by the time she was on the platform at a quarter to eleven, her stomach was clenching in knots. “C’mon,” Ron said, leading the way to their usual carriage at the end of the train.

Hermione grimaced. “Sorry, I’ve got to go up to the prefects’ carriage,” she said.

“Oh yeah, what with being head girl and all,” Ron grumbled.

“Well, you should be there too, Ronald,” she informed him sharply. “You are a prefect.”

“Ugh, fine,” Ron said. He clomped off down the platform after Hermione, and Harriet found herself alone. She shut herself in the very last compartment of the train, and pulled out The Auror’s Handbook. Mad-Eye had sent it to her for her birthday, but Harriet wasn’t even sure she wanted to be an auror anymore. It had always been about fighting Voldemort. She hadn’t really realised just how responsible she felt for it all; how much she felt that it was her job to rid the world of the dark wizard. Now, though, realising that the prophecy Trelawney had made could never have referenced her, she just felt used. It shouldn’t be her job, her sole responsibility to defeat him.

A few minutes after the train pulled out of King’s Cross, the compartment door slid open and Neville peered in. “Oh, sorry,” he said. “I was looking for someone else. You haven’t seen Harry Potter anywhere, have you?”

“It’s me, Neville,” Harriet said.

Neville did a double take and peered at her. “Are you in disguise?” he asked, puzzled.

“Sit down,” Harriet said, waving at the seat on the other side.

Luna followed Neville in. “Hello, Harriet,” she said, dreamily. “Did you have a nice summer? Daddy and I went hunting Lirewimmels in the Alps. We didn’t find any though.”

“How did you know?” Harriet demanded.

“About the Lirewimmels? Well, you can always tell when they’ve been about, on account of the sparkles,” she informed him seriously.

“No, about me?”

She propped her feet in the seat next to him, her long legs easily spanning the distance. “Well, you are Harriet now, aren’t you?”

“Hang on,” Neville said. “What’s going on?”

Harriet put down her book. She’d spent ages thinking about how to explain this, but she hadn’t come up with a good way. “I’m a girl now,” she said. “Well, it turns out I was always a girl, I was just under a spell to make me look like a boy. But the spell’s worn off now.”

Neville’s brow crinkled. “You never said.”

“I didn’t know. It happened when I was a baby,” Harriet explained. “It’s really hard to explain; I don’t really understand it myself. I think Hermione’s going to try to find out more.”

“So… when will you turn back?” Neville asked.

Harriet stared at him in disbelief. Luna patted Neville’s knee. “She’s already turned back,” she explained kindly. “Harry never really existed. She was Harriet all along, she just looked like Harry.”

“I don’t get it,” Neville complained.

“It’s okay, Neville, nor do I,” Harriet said.

Ron reappeared after an hour, flopping down into the seat next to Harriet. He was careful not to touch her, though, a politeness he’d never had offered to Harry. “There’s whispers all up and down the train that there’s a new girl starting,” he told them.

Harriet groaned. “Aww, don’t worry, mate, they’d all have found out anyway,” Ron reassured him.

Hermione spent most of the journey roaming the corridors of the train, looking for troublemakers, bullies, and purveyors of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes products. She deigned to join them for a brief lunch break and a chat before going through the train again, reminding everyone to be dressed in their uniforms on arrival into Hogsmeade.

She joined them again in time to get the same carriage up to the school. “Don’t look now,” she hissed to Harriet, “but Malfoy’s got his eyes fixed on you.”

“I know,” Harriet mumbled back. “I can practically feel it.”

They couldn’t escape him completely. Harriet climbed down first from the magical vehicle, only to come face to face with Malfoy leaning against a low stone wall. “We meet again,” he said with a smile. “You’re clearly too old for a first year. I’m simply dying to know your story. Shall we walk up to the castle together? You can do better than that motley bunch for company.”

“No thanks, Malfoy,” Harriet snapped. Malfoy just sniffed and turned, his long strides easily catching him up to Zabini and Pansy. His goons hadn’t returned after OWLs, having not received a single passing grade between them.

“He’s creepier than ever,” Ron muttered. Even Luna agreed.

Even though she was nervous, Harriet couldn’t help a grin as they entered the great hall. The enchanted sky was twinkling with stars, far more than you’d see outside. Something about the big, grand room, the shining, polished plates and the floating candles always made her happy. It was such a potent example of magic, every stone imbued with centuries of it.

Ron elbowed her in the side. “Look,” he hissed, gesturing to the head table, where Sprout was in deep discussion with none other than Lupin. “Did you know he’d be back?”

“Nope,” Harriet said. Her smile just grew.

“That’s wicked!” Ron grinned.

Even Hermione agreed. “At least we know we’re getting a decent teacher for defence this year. I’m surprised no one thought to mention it, though. Are you sure Dumbledore didn’t tell you, Harriet?”

Lupin’s gaze fell on them. Ron waved. Lupin smiled, and raised an eyebrow at Harriet. He certainly recognised her.

As soon as the plates had vanished, Dumbledore got to his feet. “Good evening, everyone,” he called. The hubbub of chatter died down immediately. “I have the usual start of term announcements for you. For our new first years: welcome. Please note that the forest is out of bounds to all students, and that magic is not permitted in the corridors between lessons. I’m sure several of our older students would also benefit from the reminder.

“Now, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Professor Lupin to those of you who are not already acquainted with him. Professor Lupin is returning to us to take up the post as our Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher once more. In addition, we very unusually welcome a new student. Miss Jeanine Hargraves has come to us from the Salem witches' institue.”

Harriet could see Malfoy staring at her again. He clearly thought that she was Jeanine Hargraves. Dumbledore continued. “Miss Hargraves has already been sorted, and is joining our fifth year Ravenclaws. I’m sure we will all have much to learn from her.”

The look on Malfoy’s face was priceless. His head snapped around to the Ravenclaw table, then back to the Gryffindor. Dumbledore still hadn’t finished. “In one last notice, one of our students has returned to us somewhat altered. Harry Potter is now Harriet Potter following the removal of an undetected enchantment. Magic truly is a wondrous thing.” Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. “And now, off to bed, everyone, to be well rested for the joys of the morrow.”

The hall exploded into chatter before Dumbledore had even finished, and it seemed that every student was craning to get a look at Harriet. The blood rushed into her cheeks. “I’m going to Gryffindor tower,” she murmured to Ron and Hermione, who still had to gather up the first years. “I’ll see you there.”

She was halfway up the stairs to the boy’s dormitories when she remembered that she wouldn’t be sleeping there this year. Sure enough, when she peeked into what was now the seventh years’ room, there was one less bed. She trudged back down the stairs, just in time to meet with the gaggle of upper years arriving from the great hall. She was instantly surrounded.

“Can I get a picture, Harry? You look different now!” Colin Creevy wanted to know.

Dean shoved through the knot of people and peered at Harriet. “You get hit by some spell, Potter?”

“No, I…” Harriet trailed off as more and more people started throwing questions, ranging from what to call her to bald enquiries about her genitalia. She shoved her way through and up the steps to the girls’ dorms instead. If proof of her sex was needed; here it was: no klaxon sounded, and the stairs did not eject her. They stayed resolutely stair-like, with no hint of slipperiness at all. A stray thought slipped through her head: had the stairs only reacted to Ron, that time in fifth year? Maybe she’d have always been able to access the girls’ rooms.

She found the seventh year dorm easily enough, the door marked with a sign as on the boys’ side. She spotted her trunk at the end of a bed, and flopped down, her head in her hands. Then she realised something was wrong. She looked around. The beds. There were only five, but with her, there should have been six girls. She couldn’t see Hermione’s things by any of the beds. Then she remembered; the head girl had her own rooms, elsewhere in the castle. She’d been relying on Hermione’s help, but it looked like she was on her own. She silently cursed her friend for not at least thinking to come up to make sure she was alright.

The door flew open, and Parvati and Lavender burst in in a tumble of giggles. Lavender stopped dead. “You can’t sleep here,” she sneered. “You’re not a girl.”

Harriet didn’t really have an answer to that. “Yes I am,” she stated dumbly.

“You’ve been a boy up until now.” Lavender crossed her arms and stared Harriet down. Parvati mimicked her.

“I’m too tired for this,” Harriet declared. She pulled the curtains around her bed closed and changed into her pyjamas in the safety of the semi-darkness. She heard Fay and Imogen come in, but neither made any comment about her. She slithered into the warmth of the quilts, and almost immediately fell asleep. Her bed might be in a different dormitory, but it felt like the same bed, cocooned in the red and gold curtains.

She had no idea how long she’d been asleep when the water splattered over her. Spluttering, she sat up, one hand grasping for her glasses. An enchanted bucket hovered over the bed, slowly refilling with water. All the curtains of the other beds were closed, but she could definitely hear suppressed giggles. The bucket upended again.

She pulled a blanket off her bed and stomped down to the common room. The fire was still burning, so she spelled the blanket dry and curled up on the sofa. Sleep took longer to come this time.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Wake up, mate,” Ron hissed, shaking Harriet’s shoulder.

“Wha‘time’s it?” Harriet slurred, rolling over.

“Just after seven. Neville saw you down here and fetched me. Why are you sleeping on the sofa?”

Harriet sat up, rubbing her eyes. Her glasses had fallen off sometime in the night. She fished around the cushions for them. It was a good job that they were the wizarding glasses she’d bought last month, charmed to be unbreakable. “They chucked water over my bed,” she said with a yawn.

“They chucked water on your bed?” Ron parroted back. “What, when you were in the bed?”

“Asleep,” Harriet confirmed.

Ron grimaced. “Aww, that’s not on,” he said. “You can’t do that to anyone, ‘specially not a girl.”

Harriet stood and gathered her blanket. “I reckon it was because I’m a girl, actually. Don’t go to breakfast without me.” She tramped off towards the spiral staircase, her legs still heavy with sleep. As she climbed, she could already hear giggles, the girls getting up for the day.

The dormitory was still silent, eerily so. Harriet shut the door as quietly as she could, hoping to dress and leave as quickly as she could. When she turned, though, she gasped and swore.

The contents of her trunk were strewn over the floor. There were clothes scattered into the corners of the room. Underwear festooned her bed curtains, held in place with sticking charms. Harriet glanced around feverishly, looking for her invisibility cloak and the Marauder’s Map. Sh spotted the map  still resting inside the overturned trunk: it would have just looked like scrap parchment. She couldn’t see the silvery material of the cloak anywhere, though.

She yanked back the curtains of her bed. A scream bubbled in her chest, but it wouldn’t come out. Her broomstick, her prized Firebolt, lay across her bed, the twigs snapped and scattered, and gouges taken out of the handle. The cloak was nowhere to be seen. One by one, she went to each bed, yanking back the curtains in turn. Some were rumpled, some perfectly made, but each was also perfectly empty.

Harriet tried one deep breath, then two, wanting to push down the bile rising in her throat. Seething, she located some clothes and robes, dressing as quickly as she could. She stuffed the Marauder’s map into her pocket and snatched up her ruined broom.

She marched down to the common room again. “What’s going on?” Ron asked, scampering to keep up as Harriet climbed through the portrait hole. “What happened to your broom?”

“We’re going to Dumbledore.”

Years of sneaking about the castle, avoiding Filch and Snape had taught them the best ways to go. “Liquorice allsorts,” Harriet snapped at the gargoyle. She’d been afraid that the password would have changed, but the gargoyle jumped obligingly aside.

Harriet didn’t even bother to knock at the door, she just burst in. Ron almost crashed straight into her back when she pulled up short. Snape was sitting across the desk from Dumbledore.

“Can it wait, Miss Potter?” Dumbledore asked mildly. “Lunchtime, perhaps?”

Snape stood and turned. “Harriet, what’s wrong?” he questioned quietly. “What has happened to your broom?”

“It was vandalised overnight,” Harriet said, striding forward to plonk the broom on the headmaster’s desk. It shed a few more twigs over his paperwork and that morning’s Daily Prophet. “My things are spread all over the room, and…” she stopped suddenly, and glanced at Snape, realising that the Potions master was the only one in the room not to know about the invisibility cloak. She decided to continue, “I can’t find my cloak.” She gave Dumbledore a meaningful look, hoping he would realise which cloak she meant.

“Surely,” Dumbledore commented, “you would have heard such destruction?”

“I wasn’t in the room,” Harriet admitted. “They chucked water over my bed, so I slept in the common room.”

“Headmaster, this cannot be allowed,” Snape said.

Dumbledore held up a hand to silence him. He picked up a broom twig and twirled it between his fingers. “Who was it that did this, Harriet?” he asked.

“The seventh year girls,” Harriet said, feeling that this should be obvious.

Dumbledore shook his head sadly. “But you didn’t see them do it? None of them had admitted it?”

“Well, no but…”

Dumbledore cut her off. “I will ask Professor McGonagall to speak to the girls,” he said. “I’m sure there is some misunderstanding. Now, off you go to breakfast, or you will be late.”

Harriet nodded, feeling deflated. She turned and left the room, the sad remnants of her broomstick in her hand. It certainly wouldn’t fly again. She’d have to order a new one, but she loved her Firebolt. A broom was more than just wood and twigs and enchantment; it was freedom, power, a friend. People kept the same brooms for years, nurturing them with beeswax polish and giving them names.

Before she shut the door, Snape began to speak. “Albus, this can’t be allowed to continue…”

Harriet didn’t hear the headmaster’s response.

She tucked the remains of her broomstick under the bench, and reached for a piece of toast. She’d only just buttered it and taken a bite, though, when McGonagall appeared behind her. “A word, please, Potter, in my office,” she demanded.

“That was quick!” Ron said.

“Your presence will not be required, Mr. Weasley. Potter, if you would?”

“Yeah, okay, I’m coming,” Harriet assured her. She gathered her broom and the toast, and followed her head of house out of the great hall.

They met Hermione just outside. “Harriet!” she exclaimed. “Is everything alright?”

McGonagall cut across any answer Harriet might have given. “Get along to breakfast, Miss Granger. You may speak to each other later on.” Hermione was left open mouthed as the professor swept Harriet away.

They were silent until they reached McGonagall’s office. She pointed her student to a seat and settled herself behind her solid desk. “What do you remember of last night, Miss Potter?” she asked.

Harriet wasn’t really sure what she meant. “Erm, well, I remember being drenched in water?” she ventured. Shouldn’t McGonagall have been telling her that she’d do something about her stuff?

“Drenched in water?” McGonagall asked incredulously. “You were having nightmares about being wet?”

“Nightmares, professor?”

“Yes, Potter, nightmares. Miss Brown was in some distress when she came to me this morning to tell me that you had woken in the middle of the night and begun to throw your belongings about the room. I naturally presumed you must have been suffering from night terrors of some kind.”

“No, Professor,” Harriet said with a frown. “Lavender told me that she didn’t want me sleeping in the girl’s room. I went to bed, then was woken up by a bucket of water charmed over me. I slept in the common room instead, and when I went up this morning, all my stuff was strewn over the floor and my broom was broken.” She held up her bedraggled broom as proof.

McGonagall frowned. “You’ve had a shock recently. It wouldn’t be unusual for you to experience symptoms like night terrors. It’s no shame, Potter.”

“I’m telling you, I didn’t have nightmares! Everything I just told you; it’s the truth!”

“Now, now, no need to get snippy,” she chided.

Harriet jumped to her feet. “Why don’t you ever believe me?” she demanded. “None of you! You didn’t believe me about putting my name in the Goblet. You didn’t believe me when I said someone wanted the stone! I was right, though, wasn’t I?”

“Potter, calm yourself!” she admonished. “I’ve never heard such things from Miss Brown before, and you are prone to nightmares given your connection to You Know Who. You can understand why I find her version of the tale the most likely scenario.”

“Fine. Fine.” Harriet spat out. “I’ll just find somewhere else to sleep, where my mere presence won’t terrify precious Lavender.” She marched out of McGonagall’s office, slamming the door far louder than was necessary. She felt better.

“Steady on there!” the knight in the portrait outside the door howled after her as she started down the hall at a run.

She met Hermione and Ron hurrying in the other direction, towards her. “Here,” Hermione said, shoving her book bag at her. “I fetched this for you. And I found your cloak. It was under your bed. The house elves are tidying your things.” She peered more closely at Harriet. “Are you… crying?”

“No,” Harriet replied, dashing away a tear before it could run down her cheek. Hermione looked around and hustled them into an empty classroom.

“What is it?” Ron wanted to know. “Didn’t McGonagall sort it?”

“Lavender told her I had nightmares and started tearing up my own stuff.”

“That’s ridiculous!” Ron exploded. “Like you’d ever destroy your broom! You love your broom! I’m going to go and tell her…”

Hermione grabbed Ron’s wrist. “Think, Ron. She’s not going to be believe you any more than she did Harriet. You weren’t there. I’ll catch Lavender later, see what her problem is. And I’ll see if I can get the others to go to McGonagall and tell her the truth. Fay and Imogen are alright, Lavender and Parvati just bully them into submission.”

“Thanks, Hermione,” Harriet said. Hermione held out a handkerchief

“Come on, we’d better get going. We’ve got potions first. Your timetable’s in your bag.”

They dashed into potions with ten seconds to spare before Snape swept in. “I need not tell you,” he purred, “that this class will be even more dangerous and difficult that in any previous year. Therefore, I require your complete attention.” He reached the lectern and swept his robes about him. “We will start with one of the simpler potions, to allow the dunderheads amongst you to leave behind the idleness of your holidays. You will find the instructions for a restoration draught on the board.” He waved a wandless hand towards the blackboard, and his sloping writing filled it immediately.

He swept up and down the aisles as his students scurried to gather supplies and ingredients. “Chopped, not minced, Potter,” he snarled. “Start the iceroot again.”

“Yes, Sir,” Harriet said quietly. She’d hoped that Snape might treat her better in lessons now; but she should have known better. He still had to keep up appearances. It couldn’t be common knowledge that Snape had anything to do with her transformation.

“Ten points from Gryffindor,” Snape snapped twenty minutes later, vanishing the contents of Harriet’s cauldron just as it bubbled over. “What is wrong with you today, Potter? You’re even more careless than usual!” He sighed deeply. “There’s no point you starting the potion again. Go into the storeroom and put the beetle eyes in the jars. You’ll see me at the end of the lesson.”

“Yes, Professor,” Harriet replied, quite dejected. Now she was going to be told off by Snape too. She had thought he might have been on her side.

The urn of beetle eyes was huge, and the jars were small, but Harriet found herself soothed by the ‘shhhh’ sound the tiny black eyes made as they funneled into the glass receptacles. It didn’t seem long until Snape came for her.

He hooked a stool over to the storeroom table with his foot and perched. “What happened, Harriet?” he asked quietly, and not unkindly.

“I’m sorry, Professor. I was distracted.”

“I thought we’d agreed that you’d call me Severus when we’re alone,” he gently reminded. Her heart leaped. He wasn’t angry with her. He was still on her side. “I meant what happened this morning, with Minerva? Has she spoken to the guilty parties?”

“No,” Harriet admitted, her voice rough. “She says I was having nightmares, that I did it myself.”

She glanced up. The crease between his brows was deep, his frown severe. “You told her what happened?”

Harriet nodded. “She said I’d had nightmares before, so it was more likely than the girls wrecking my stuff.”

“Has she made other arrangements for your sleeping quarters?”

“No… well, I don’t know. I sort of… stormed off before she had a chance to say anything. I said I’d find somewhere else,” Harriet admitted. “Maybe I can bunk in with Hermione.”

“I will speak to the Headmaster,” Snape promised. “I am sorry that I can’t do more for you, openly, but I will do what I can to make this easier for you, Harriet.”

Harriet nodded, still rather dejected. “They all hate me,” she complained.

A wry smile quirked the corners of Severus’s lips. “Such is the way of life, I am afraid. Do not feel alone, Harriet. They all hate me as well.”

That actually teased a grin out of Harriet. She was a fine one to be complaining to Severus that no one liked her. He was the greasy bat of the dungeons: hated, feared, reviled. Snape took the funnel from her, and sent her off to Charms. Flitwick didn’t seem to mind that she was a couple of minutes late, he just grinned at her as she slipped into her seat next to Hermione.

Harriet was hungry by the time lunch came around, having had just half a piece of toast at breakfast. She filled her plate and started to shovel food into her mouth. “Whoa, slow down,” Ron joked, “or there’ll be nothing left for me to eat.”

“Sorry,” Harriet mumbled through a mouthful of mashed potato. “Hungry. What’ve we got this afternoon?” She hadn’t yet had a spare moment to check her timetable.

“Nothing,” Ron informed her gleefully. “Free afternoon. Want to have a fly around?” His face fell when he suddenly remembered the fate of the firebolt. “Or not. But you could borrow a school broom?”

“Yeah, maybe,” Harriet said, swallowing her mouthful.

“Free lessons are supposed to be for doing your homework, boys,” Hermione grumbled. She looked up from her book. “Oops, sorry, Harriet. Boy and girl.”

Harriet just shook her head. She should have expected it. “Everyone else thinks i’m still a boy anyway,” she said.

“Oh, Harriet,” Hermione sighed. “I’m sorry. I know you’re a girl. It’s just force of habit.” She carefully marked her place in her book and put it aside. “They’ll get used to it,” she promised. “It’s just a shock.”

Harriet never got the chance to protest that surely the biggest shock was hers, and that most people in shock didn’t destroy broomsticks worth hundreds of galleons. A heavy hand rested on his shoulder. “A word, Harry… et,” Dumbledore said, quickly correcting her name.

“Yes, Professor,” Harriet said heavily. If even Dumbledore and Hermione were getting it wrong, what chance did anyone else have?

She obediently followed Dumbledore out of the great hall. It would seem that she was destined not to have a full meal today. Dumbledore did not take her up to his office; though. Instead, he stopped outside a portrait down a little used corridor on the way to the dungeons. “Hermaphroditus,” the headmaster told the mermaid in the portrait firmly. She said nothing, but the portrait obligingly slid away, revealing a door. “After you,” Dumbledore said, waving Harriet through the door. Puzzled, Harriet stepped through.

A little room was on the other side, just big enough to fit her bed, trunk and a little chest of drawers with a mirror. A small fire was already lit, warming the stone. it was always a bit cold this close to the dungeons.

“It would seem that you can no longer stay in the dormitories,” Dumbledore said heavily. “This would seem to be the best solution. There is a small bathroom through the other door.”

“Professor,” Harriet began, “what about my broom?”

“Madam Hooch will have a catalogue. I’m sure she would let you borrow it to order a new broom,” the headmaster said. “Now, if you hurry, you will be back in time for pudding. You may, of course, change the password for this room as you will.”

“Thank you,” Harriet said. She was sure that Dumbledore didn’t believe her about what had happened. Of course, she thought wryly, it was easier to believe that she was unstable. That was nothing new. Dumbledore tended to believe her though. Well, she reckoned, she wasn’t his precious boy-who-lived anymore, the hope for the future.

“All sorted, then?” Hermione asked as Harriet rejoined them in the hall. Typical, she mused. There was no pudding left.

“I’ve got my own room now,” Harriet said. “I’ll show you now, if you want?”

“I have Arithmancy,” Hermione explained. “This evening?”

Harriet nodded, then beamed as Ron slid the extra dish of crumble and custard he’d been hiding across the table to her. “Hey, Ron, I’m going to get a broomstick catalogue from Hooch after lunch. Would you help me pick?”

“Yeah!” Ron said, perking up quite a bit. Harriet idly wondered if Ron would accept a new broom as a Christmas present- his Cleansweep was ancient and had  tendency to drift upwards if not managed with a firm hand.

Madam Hooch, it turned out, was mostly concerned with whether Harriet had retained her flying ability.She was only satisfied after Harriet had made a  few rounds of the pitch, looping and diving. “No problems there, Potter,” she said. “Now, what was it you wanted?”

“A broom catalogue, please,” Harriet said, stacking the broom back into its rack. “My Firebolt... “ she paused, wondering how to put it. She decided to go with her version of events. Dumbledore and McGonagall might not believe her, but that didn’t change the truth. “It got vandalised.”

“Oh no!” Hooch exclaimed. “Have you reported it to Professor Dumbledore?”

“Yeah,” Harriet told her. “He reckons I had a nightmare and did it myself.” Madam Hooch said nothing to this, but the scowl on her usually smiling face left little about her views to the imagination.

“Here,” she said, thrusting a thick, glossy catalogue towards the girl. “Try to get it ordered fast, Potter,” she instructed. “It’s not long until the season starts.”

Harriet and Ron traipsed back to the castle. “Want to come and see my new abode?” he asked.

“Got to be better than sharing with that room of bitches,” Ron groused. Harriet couldn’t argue with that. The mermaid flipped her tail up as she gave the password, and let them through. Harriet wondered if she even could speak. Ron pushed open the door.

“Wicked,” he breathed. That was odd, Harriet thought; the cramped little room shouldn’t have had that reaction.

The windows must have been charmed. There was no way that this out-of-the-way little cubbyhole could possibly have floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Quidditch pitch. Those windows most certainly hadn’t been there earlier. Nor had the room been palatial, with a sitting area around a huge roaring fireplace, and a big table as well as the bed. “It wasn’t like this earlier!” Harriet exclaimed. “It was tiny, and there were no windows, and the fireplace was about the size of a postage stamp!”

“Postage stamp?” Ron asked. He still didn’t have the best grip on all things muggle.

“Erm, it’s a little bit of paper to prove that you’ve paid to post something. Like pre-paid owls.”

“Muggles.” Ron said. “ Anyway, the room thing’s weird,” he told her, sinking down into one of the massive armchairs. “Are you sure?”

Harriet could only look around, wide eyed. She kept spotting new things: the tapestries on the wall, the tea kettle off to the side of the fireplace, her books all neatly lined up on the shelves. “Maybe I really am going mad,” she commented quietly.

The sharp crack of house-elf apparition  made both students jump. “Does Harriet Potter like her rooms?” Dobby asked nervously. “Dobby thought she might not like them when Dobby moved her things.”

“Oh, Dobby, did you do this?” Harriet asked gratefully. “Thank you!”

“Dobby was thinking that the rooms Master Dumbledore had given Miss Harriet were not fitting, so Dobby made some changes,” the house elf explained. “Dobby did so hope that Miss Harriet would like them. Dobby saw what the nasty other girls did to Miss Harriet’s things, and Dobby was angry.”

Harriet couldn’t help the massive grin spreading across her face “Oh, Dobby,” she said, “You’re getting the best, brightest pair of socks I can find for this!”

Dobby squeaked with delight and vanished again with a pop.

“Never mind friends in high places,” Ron said, awestruck. “Seems like all you’ve got to do is make friends with the house elves. Here, look at this new Peregrine Premier. Supposed to be the most maneuverable on the market.”

Harriet perched on the arm of Ron’s chair and perused the catalogue.

 

Chapter Text

Harriet shouldn’t have been surprised by how well she slept that night. The previous sleep on the Gryffindor sofa had been far from comfortable. It was strange going to breakfast without Ron, though, she decided as she let herself out of her room.

“Morning,” she said, slipping onto the bench next to a sleepy Hermione. “Late night?” she asked when the other girl just gave a yawn in response.

“I’d never thought about the fact that the head girl and boy have to do patrols at night,” she complained. “I was out with Anthony at midnight last night, sending students back to their houses.”

“I’m surprised Goldstein’s head boy,” Harriet said between mouthfuls. “I was sure it’d be Malfoy. Just to torment me.”

“But Professor Dumbledore’s never liked Malfoy,” Hermione pointed out. “Umm, I spoke to Lavender last night…”

“And?”

“And she insists that you had some kind of mad spell. She says she and the other seventh years had to take cover in the sixth year’s dorm because they were scared.”

“So you just believe her?” Harriet hissed. “I thought you were on my side.”

Hermione blanched. “I am, I am,” she insisted. “It’s just… well, Ginny says that they really did spend the night with the sixth years.”

“Pretty odd, don’t you think, that I only destroyed my own belongings, and none of their stuff?” Harriet asked through gritted teeth. She was sure she had a headache brewing already.

“Yes, I do,” Hermione stated flatly. “Which is why I believe you, and not them. Well, that and the obvious fact that you aren’t mad. I just thought you should know what they’re saying about you.”

Ron rushed in, his robes done up wrong, and plonked himself next to Hermione. “I need to train Neville to wake me up in the mornings,” he gasped, heaping his plate as fast as he could.

“Or you could get an alarm clock,” Hermione pointed out.

“Hey, Hermione, I’ve been meaning to ask… where are you living these days? Where are the head girl’s rooms, anyway?” Harriet wanted to know.

“Third floor main corridor,” Hermione supplied. “How on earth did you not know that? They’ve been there decades!”

Harriet shrugged. “Never needed to see the heads,” she explained.

“It’s in Hogwarts…”

A history!” Ron and Harriet supplied in unison. Hermione huffed.

“Well, if you’re going to be that way,” she admonished. “Anyway, we need to get going.”

“But I haven’t finished my breakfast,” Ron complained morosely, looking back at his plate of bacon and eggs as Hermione towed him away. For all her insistence that they’d be late, they were the first to arrive at Lupin’s classroom.

He smiled broadly to see them. “It’s good to see you again,” he told the trio. “It’s been a long time since your third year.”

“I’m so pleased they brought you back, Professor,” Hermione enthused. “I was so scared that we would have a rubbish teacher again. Professor Snape was good, of course, but when I heard that he was going back to potions…”

Lupin cut her off. “You vote of confidence is appreciated, Hermione,” he told her in his gentle voice. “I hope I can do justice to your expectations.” He gently squeezed Harriet’s shoulder just as a gaggle of Slytherins arrived for the lesson. “Off to your seats, you three,” he instructed, and waved his wand at the blackboard to clear it of the previous class’s notes. Harriet took a seat next to the tank of hinkypunks, watching them flatten themselves against the glass by his head. The last group of students filed in and picked their seats.

“Good morning, everyone,” Lupin said when everyone was seated. “I’m pleased to see so many of you have chosen to take Defence, given the political situation of our time. The chances of you seeing combat in your lifetimes will be high. This class period, Wednesday morning, will usually be given over to theory work, and the Friday afternoon lesson will be practical. Before we start, I’d also like to mention that I intend to run a defence and duelling club in the evenings, and all of you are of course most welcome…”

Lupin spent the rest of the lesson explaining the various types of shield charm, from the basic protego through to spells that, when cast with enough power, could lessen the effects of the cruciatus curse. He called various members of the class up to demonstrate, and Harriet was delighted to find herself called on more than once.

“Okay, class, for the last ten minutes, pair up and practice the refuto shield. Nothing too debilitating on the offensive side, please, a simple stinging hex should do nicely.”

The class stood, and with a wave of Lupin’s wand, all the desks slid to the side of the room. Harriet turned to pair with Ron, but instead found herself face to face with Lavender. A burst of nerves fizzled in her stomach.

To her surprise, though, they traded backwards and forwards with no surprises. Lavender’s shield failed once, leaving a faint red mark on her cheek where Harriet’s spell had hit. Gradually, though, Harriet relaxed, and they cast faster and faster, until, just as Harriet was about to cast her stinging hex, a blast of hot magic hit her in the face.

At first she thought it was just someone else’s hex gone awry, but instead of fading after a second, the heat began to prickle and itch. She lifted a hand to rub her cheek, but found, instead of smooth skin, a rapidly growing beard. Quite aside from the prickle of the rapidly growing hair, Harriet felt the hot pinpricks of tears of shame at the back of her eyes. She looked up at the ceiling, fighting to keep them from falling. “Miss Patil, five points from Gryffindor,” Lupin snapped. “I said a stinging hex.” He pointed his wand at Harriet’s face. “Finite incantatum. Ex folliculus.”

The beard mercifully stopped growing, and the hair fell away, vanishing into nothingness before it hit the ground. The giggles were impossible to stop though, bouncing from student to student.“Class dismissed,” Lupin said. “I’ll see you all on Friday. Harriet, a moment, please?”

The laughter faded away as the class made a scramble for bags and the door until, a few moments later, only Harriet and Ron were left. The latter shuffled his feet uncomfortably.

“Go on, Ron,” Lupin encouraged. “I’d like to have a word with Harriet alone, please.” Ron glanced over at Harriet, and she managed a little nod.

“I’ll see you in the common room?” she suggested.

“Yeah,” Ron said gratefully.

Lupin waved Harriet to the seat beside his desk. “I take it that Parvati is one of the girls who was so keen to get you out of the dormitory?” he asked gently.

“Yeah,” Harriet confirmed, gratefully sinking into the chair. “Well, it was Lavender, mostly. I think Parvati’s just doing whatever Lavender says.”

Lupin nodded thoughtfully. “People can be very cruel, Harriet. I’d like to make sure that you know that my door is always open to you. I know that your peers are not being as supportive as they could be. I can’t say for certain that Parvati did mean to cast at you, so I can’t punish her more on this occasion. I do believe she did, and if something of that nature happens again, I will deal with it more harshly. Fair?”

Harriet nodded. She was glad to have Lupin at the school again. The unassuming professor had always been kind before, and he was a link to her parents. “Professor,” she asked on a whim, “did you know? About me being a girl, I mean?”

“Not before the last order meeting, no,” Lupin explained. “Your father didn’t know, and your mother certainly never let on. She loved you so very much, Harriet. We always knew that, but it’s become so very clear now that I can see the lengths she went to to protect you.” Lupin smiled warmly at her. “Now, I should imagine that you have some homework to do, and I have a class to prepare for.”

Harriet found Ron in the Gryffindor common rooms playing gobstones with Neville. “Hey,” she said, dropping into a seat.

“Hi, Harry,” Neville said, not looking up as he made a valiant effort to not get squirted in the eye. He failed, and rubbed furiously at his left one.

Harriet sighed. “It’s Harriet now,” she reminded Neville gently.

“Oh, yeah,” Neville said. “Why did you change your name?”

Harriet wasn’t altogether sure how to reply to Neville. “Well,” she said eventually, “Harry’s a pretty funny name for a girl.”

Neville nodded along. Harriet had to wonder how long it would take Neville to catch up with everyone else. She’d noticed that her clueless friend was spending more and more time with Luna, so maybe she’d eventually be able to set him straight. “Hey, guys, shouldn’t we get some homework done?” she asked.

Ron looked at her like she’d sprouted horns. “Is this a girl thing” he asked, “Wanting to do homework all the time? Are you turning into Hermione?”

“No,” Harriet assured him, “I’m just thinking that if we get some done, Hermione might not nag us so much, and we could go to see Hagrid before Transfiguration?”

Ron didn’t look entirely convinced, but he agreed.

As it turned out, Hermione had other ideas when she joined them at lunch. “We need to sort out the wards on your rooms, Harriet,” she told them. “Malfoy was wondering where they were before Ancient Runes.”

“Oh great,” Harriet said sarcastically. “Just what I need, Malfoy trying to destroy all my stuff too.”

“Actually, that’s the strange bit,” Hermione replied. “It didn’t sound like it was for malicious reasons. I don’t know if it was because I was there, or… well. But he just seemed more, well, curious, I suppose.”

“I’m not sure a curious Malfoy is better than a bastard Malfoy,” Ron pointed out. “He’s always been a bastard, so at least you knew where you stood. He must be up to something.”

“You two always think he’s up to something!” Hermione groused. “You were convinced that he was the heir of Slytherin, and look where that got us! Last year, all you did was moan about how Malfoy was acting weirdly, but I didn’t see it.”

“He was acting weirdly!” Harriet insisted. “This is just more weirdness!”

“Didn’t you hear?” Jimmy Peakes said, leaning over. “He’s in disgrace. My mum’s friends with Zabini’s mother, and she said that Draco mucked something up last year, something big, and his dad sent him away to live with his aunt for the summer.

“Bellatrix Lestrange?” Harriet asked, surprised. “That aunt?”

Jimmy nodded. “Yeah. I hear she’s mad as a box of chocolate frogs. Maybe it rubbed off on him.”

The trio looked at each other with raised eyebrows. Whatever it was that caused Malfoy senior to send his son off to his demented sister-in-law had to be something relating to Voldemort. “Come on,” Hermione said. “I’m dying to see your new quarters, Harriet.”

“That’s kind of insulting,” Hermione noted when Harriet gave the mermaid the password. “Is that the one Dumbledore set? Because it kind of implies you’re neither male or female.” Seeing the confused looks on her friends faces, she explained. “Hermaphroditus was the child of Aphrodite, goddess of love, and Hermes, the messenger of the gods, and was considered both male and female at the same time… goodness!”

Hermione had finally looked around her at Harriet’s room. “This is amazing!” she said. “This is nicer than my room, and I’m head girl!” Predictably, she went straight to the bookshelves. “Harriet! I had no idea you had a copy of Morwena LeRoi’s Potioneer’s Grimoire! It’s really rare! Not even the library has a copy, though I bet Professor Snape does...”

“Erm, I don’t…” Harriet said. She’d never seen the heavy leather bound volume in Hermione’s hands before.

“And here’s a copy of Alexander Harrison’s treaty on magical inheritance. There are only a few hundred of these in the world!”

Harriet shrugged. “I have no idea where they came from,” she said. “Dobby!” she called, thinking that the house elf might know, seeing as he’d unpacked her things for her.

Dobby appeared in front of the fireplace, beaming. “Yes, Miss Harriet? How may Dobby serve you?”

“Cake, please, Dobby,” Ron said gleefully. Harriet wondered how he could possibly want cake after his lunch and a full helping of jam roly-poly for pudding.

Dobby nodded, his smile not budging a millimetre. “Yes, Mr. Weasley, Sir, right away!”

“Dobby, wait,” Harriet asked. “These books, where did they come from? They weren’t in my trunk?”

“No, Mistress,” Dobby said, his ears flapping back and forth comically as he shook his head, “Professor Snape thought that Miss Harriet might like some of the books from the Potter house in Edinburgh. He was sending Dobby to move some here for Miss Harriet. The Professor said it’s a lovely library, yes he did.”

Hermione turned the Potioneer’s Grimoire over in her hands. “I wonder why Snape wanted these books for you?” she mused. “Maybe he wanted to read them too…” Dobby had vanished, and the three of them jumped when he cracked back in, precariously balancing an entire chocolate cake. Ron’s eyes went wide, and he immediately cut a big slice.

Hermione put down the book with a sigh, clearly itching to lose herself in them for hours on end. “So, Harriet, what do you want to change the password to?” she asked. “And you need to lay some wards to warn you when someone’s about or comes in, I think…”

“You should have the password in parseltongue,” Ron suggested indistinctly, his mouth full of cake. “Then no one else could get in. Well, except you-know-who.”

As good an idea as that seemed, Harriet couldn’t manage to bring out parseltongue when faced with a portrait of a mermaid. It was a shame that it wasn’t a snake, she thought, because it really was a good idea. Ron’s next suggestion was ‘Voldemort’, since not many people were willing to actually say his name.

“How about teaching the portrait to recognise you?” Hermione asked. “If you just did it from appearance, polyjuice would get through it, but you could make it recognise you and your wand… that way, the only way someone could get in would be with polyjuice and stealing your wand.”

“But what if she forgets her wand?” Ron pointed out.

Hermione glared at him. “When has a witch or wizard ever willingly been without their wand?” she asked him witheringly. “Although…” she lapsed into silence for a second, then made a lunge for the bookshelf. She leafed through their defence textbook. “Yes!” she cried after a few minutes. “I knew I remembered reading something about it, because it sounded like what the Gringott’s goblins do. The Amicum magi shield can recognise the magical signatures of your duelling partner. I bet I could adapt it so that you had to cast a spell to get in, so that the portrait would only recognise your magic!” Her cheeks were flushed with excitement, and she pulled some parchment and a self-inking quill from her bag. She subsided into silence, the only sound the frantic scratching against the parchment. Words and runes and little diagrams marched across the page.

Harriet joined Ron by the fireplace and helped herself to a big piece of cake. Half an hour later, Hermione finally reappeared, a smudge of ink on her cheek where she’d brushed a curl away. “Okay, I think I’ve got it,” she said. “It should mean that Harriet just has to cast alohomora, and the portrait’ll open. Want to try?”

It took Hermione almost ten minutes to lay the wards, sketching symbols in the air with her wand, and walking backwards and forwards on both the inside and outside of the portrait door, but eventually, she gestured to Harriet to cast the spell. Nothing happened. “Again,” she prompted. “The wards should have recognised that, so this time should make the portrait open.”

Harriet pointed her wand at the mermaid. “Alohomora,” she said. Hermione squeaked with joy when the portrait slid back.

“Now you try, Ron,” she said when the mermaid was back in place. Ron’s spell did nothing. “Excellent!” she declared. “And just in time for Transfiguration!”

Ron groaned.

They were to start transfiguring themselves into inanimate objects this year, a feat which proved much harder than transfiguration into living creatures. It was all in the keeping still, McGonagall explained. After seeing a strangely twitching hat stand from Hermione’s first successful attempt, Harriet could see why.

McGonagall called her back at the end of the lesson. Harriet was beginning to wonder if she’d ever be able to just leave a classroom with the rest of the class. “Potter,” McGonagall began. “The Headmaster and I both think that you might need more practice with shielding your mind. Professor Snape has kindly agreed to give you private tuition once more. He expects you on Monday and Thursday evenings, at half past seven. And Potter… please don’t give me reason to regret persuading him to help. I’ll be most displeased if I hear that you’ve been rude to him. You simply must put your silly ideas of disliking him aside.”

“I’ll try, Professor,” Harriet promised. She also really hoped that she was better at occlumency now than in fifth year. She really would rather not let Snape know that she’d dreamed about his son the night before.

 

Chapter Text

Harriet nervously knocked on Snape’s classroom door at seven thirty the next evening. “Enter,” Snape called. “Ah, Potter. Let’s see if you can manage to control yourself this year.”

Harriet gulped. It would seem that they were back to mean Professor Snape. “I think,” he continued, “that this may be more comfortable in my sitting room.” He ushered her through his storeroom, tapping three potions ingredients with his wand. A whole section of shelving moved back and slid to the side. Snape gestured Harriet through to the darkened room beyond.

A wave of Snape’s wand, and the candles in the sconces around the wall flared to life. “There. We’ll be undisturbed in here, Harriet,” he said. “Make yourself comfortable.” Another flick of his wand and the buttons down the front of his teaching robes parted, and he hung them on a stand by the door. Beneath them, he wore perfectly normal trousers and a white shirt, open at the neck. Harriet perched on the end of the sofa, and to her surprise, a sleek black cat prowled up to her. It meowed, and jumped up next to her, arching its back, its claws fully extended. Thus stretched, it settled down and began to lick itself.

“Well, it would seem that Sheba likes you,” Severus commented mildly. “Tea?” He set a kettle over the fire to heat.

“Oh, erm, yes, please,” Harriet said hesitantly. Her head was reeling, unable to keep up with the rapid changes between scary Professor Snape and kind Severus. He settled himself in a deep wingback chair, upholstered in dark forest green. The whole room was in forest colours, Harriet noticed. Not the jewel tones of Slytherin green, but a darker, more soothing shade, with browns and occasional blues thrown in. Severus  rested his elbows on the arms of the chair and steepled his fingers, his obsidian eyes fixed on her.

“I had been wondering how to ensure that I would be able to speak to you privately,” he said silkily. “When Minerva approached me about further occlumency lessons, it seemed the perfect opportunity.”

“Sir… Severus?” Harriet asked in confusion. Why did he want to speak to her alone?

“I think it’s important that you have adults to look out for you, Harriet, and who you can come to for help.” He held up a hand to silence her before she could speak. “I know, you are an adult  by law. And you feel that you have support. But, through the years, you’ve been notoriously distrustful of the people who should have helped you, often with good reason. In addition, I no longer remain convinced that the Headmaster has your best interests at heart. He has always allowed, even encouraged you to enter dangerous situations, and I fear that he now views you as expendable, given that the prophecy can no longer refer to you. He is speaking of attempting to train up Longbottom. I can only give him wishes for good luck; I cannot see that Longbottom will ever be able to outwit the Dark Lord.”

The kettle whistled, and Severus knelt by the hearth, spooning tea leaves into a pot and filling it. “I’ll just be a moment, Harriet,” he promised as he stood and left the room. She could hear him opening a cupboard and rustling about.

The fire flashed green, and someone tumbled out, upsetting the teapot. Harriet gave a little scream, before realising that it was only Robin.

“Harriet?” Severus asked, rushing back into the room. “Oh, Robin, it’s you…” he trailed off, seeing, like Harriet, that Robin was pale and shaking, clutching his arm to his chest. He guided Robin to the sofa and sat him next to Harriet. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“My wrist… I think it’s broken,” Robin said. “And I jostled it, coming through the floo. I think I made it worse.”

“Let me see,” Severus said gently, prising his son’s arm away from his chest. Harriet blanched: not only was it clearly broken, hanging at a strange angle, but the skin had split as well, revealing the bone. Severus pulled the hand straight again, prompting a whimper from Robin. “Ferula,” he murmured, tapping with his wand. Bandages raced out of the tip, binding the joint tightly. “Stay there,” Severus told him firmly. “I’ll go and get some potions for you. Harriet, could you remake the tea?”

Harriet nodded, and set about rescuing the teapot. A long crack ran down the side. A reparo fixed that easily, and it was quick work to summon water to refill the kettle.

“It’s so effortless for you,” Robin said quietly. Harriet looked up from her new seat on the floor. His face was still drawn, and he was cradling his tightly-bound hand again. He seemed to favour his father’s favourite color, dressed in black boots and jeans, and a black t-shirt with the words ‘Iron Maiden’ blazoned across the front in a pointy, angular font.

Harriet shrugged. “I’ve been doing it since I was eleven,” she pointed out. She used her wand to siphon up the spilt tea. Robin’s eyes followed the movement.

Severus returned with two potions vials. Robin downed them quickly, with barely a wince. Harriet watched wide-eyed. The milky coloured one steamed when Severus uncorked it, just like skele-gro, but Harriet was sure that skele-gro was blue. It could only be described as disgusting in her experience. Robin smiled weakly at her. “I’ve been swallowing dad’s vile concoctions since I was a kid,” he rasped, the potion clearly having been caustic enough to give him a sore throat. “I’ve had lots of practice.” Severus sniffed with disapproval.

“What were you doing, Robin?” he snapped.

“Jumped over a wall,” Robin supplied. “I know, I know, it was stupid. Carrie wanted to take me to A and E, but I told her it was just a sprain.” Harriet wondered who Carrie was. Probably his girlfriend, she mused. She tried to force down the sudden surge of dislike for a girl she’d never met; there was no reason for her to care who Robin was with. Of course he probably had a girlfriend.

“It’s a bad break,” Severus lectured. “You’ll have to keep it strapped up; it’s too complex for an accurate spell fix. The skele-knit should heal it up properly in a day or two.”

“Yeah, thanks, Dad,” Robin said, leaning back against the sofa. The pain potion was kicking in, numbing his arm, and he looked less like he was about to throw up.

Severus watched him with a critical eye, his arms folded across his chest. “Have you eaten tonight?” he asked. Robin shook his head, and his father called for a house elf to bring some food.

Just then a sharp bell began ringing, somewhere in Severus’ quarters. “Merlin’s beard,” Severus cursed, “they had to need me tonight, of all nights?”

“What is it?” Harriet asked. Was he being summoned by Voldemort?

“There’s something going on in Slytherin,” Severus explained quickly. “I don’t know how long I’ll be; Harriet, can you stay and watch him, please? If anything happens, floo call for Poppy; she knows him.”

Harriet had barely agreed before he was gone, pulling on his teaching robes as he went. The kettle boiled again, and Harriet made the tea. The house elf popped back in, setting a plate of food on the coffee table in front of Robin. “Thanks, Maltie,” he told the elf, who twisted the hem of his immaculate pillowcase with joy.

“Anything for you, Master Robin,” he squeaked, and popped away again.

“Well, the house elves like you,” Harriet commented. She suddenly felt nervous, left alone with the tall boy.

Robin picked up the fork in his good hand. “Maltie looked after me when I was a kid,” he explained. “I spent my summers here, running riot in the castle, and I lived here for almost a year.”

“You lived here?” Harriet asked, confused. “How did no one know?”

“I stayed in these rooms,” Robin explained. “It was three years ago, when my mum died. Dad said I was too young to live on my own, so I stayed here and flooed home to school every day. It was that or boarding school, and I knew my dad couldn’t really afford the boarding fees.”

“Oh,” Harriet said, pouring the tea. It was odd to think that Robin had lived in the castle, and no one had been the wiser. She could have seen him on the Marauder's’ map, she realised, but then, that had been the year of the Triwizard tournament. She’d had other things on her mind. “I didn’t know your mother had died.”

Robin thanked Harriet as she put the tea down next to his plate. “Stroke,” he explained shortly. “She was young for it. Dad’s a bit touchy about it: he reckons he could have saved her, if he was there.” He rubbed his head absentmindedly. “Why is it,” he asked, “that the damned skele-knit always end up giving me a headache?”

“I had skele-gro once,” Harriet said sympathetically, “I had all the bones in my arm vanished, in my second year.”

Robin grinned. “Dad told me about that one… it was an idiot teacher doing the vanishing, I seem to recall? Wait…” He frowned, thinking. “It can’t have been you. That was a boy.”

“Erm… well, it was me,” Harriet said, flushing red. “I… I used to be a boy.”

“Oh.” Robin replied, picking up his fork again. “That’s cool. I’ve got a friend who’s transgendered, only he was born a girl. You pass really well.”

“I’m not sure I understand…” Harriet said, trailing off. “What do you mean, pass?”

Robin waved his fork about, saying, “you know, you really look like you were born a girl. I guess you can use spells for stuff like breasts, yeah?”

“But I was born a girl…” Harriet said, confused. “My mother disguised me as a boy, then when I was seventeen, the spells wore off…”

Robin’s eyebrows vanished up under his dark hair. “Okay,” he said eventually, “that’s… unusual.” Then, after a moment’s pause, “The kid with the vanished bones… that was Harry Potter… oh, Harriet! I get it.” He chuckled quietly to himself. Harriet just stared, deciding that he was very odd.

“Sorry,” Robin said. “Painkiller potions make me a little loopy. So, you’re the infamous Harry Potter. From what I hear, you’re possibly more accident prone than I am.”

“Erm, well, I’ve had a few stays in the hospital wing,” Harriet admitted. “So,” she said, wanting to change the subject, “what do you do? Your dad said you were at university?”

“Yup,” Robin said, putting down his fork and sitting back. “Just started my second year. I’m doing Classics and Philosophy. Probably not the best thing to lead to a job, but whatever. I enjoy it.”

The door at the far end of the room slammed, and Severus strode back in. “Imbecilic third year flooded the common room,” he explained shortly. He laid one long fingered hand on Robin’s forehead.

“I’m fine, Dad,” Robin sighed.

Severus just made a ‘harumphing’ noise. “I’m sorry, Harriet, but I don’t think we’ll be having any lessons tonight. I’ll see you on Monday, and in the meantime, I’ll have your hearth connected to this one by floo, in case you need anything.” He took a pot of floo powder from the pocket of his robes and handed it to Harriet.

“Thanks,” she said quietly. “I’ll see you Monday. Bye, Robin.”

“See ya, Harriet,” he responded with a smile. “Stay in one piece- no copying me.”

Harriet shook her head. She decided that Robin Snape was clearly quite mad.

The castle was quiet, most of the students holed up in their common rooms or the library. Ravenclaw were holding their tryouts on the quidditch pitch, she noticed from her bedroom windows. Gryffindor had the pitch booked on Tuesday evenings and Sunday mornings, so she had a few days before tryouts. She hoped that she wouldn’t have any trouble from the team, especially Ginny. It would be awkward if one of her chasers wouldn’t stick around to hear a word she said. Ginny was a good player, and Harriet would hate to lose her from the team.

Although she was nervous about facing her house again, she climbed the stairs to the Gryffindor common room. Ron was almost undoubtedly there, and as long as she wasn’t busy with head girl duties, Hermione would be too.

The babble of the Gryffindors hit her as soon as the portrait swung open, and she couldn’t help but smile. Ron and Hermione were over at their usual cluster of chairs, Hermione surrounded by books, and Ron sucking on the end of his quill and staring into space. “Hi,” Harriet said, flopping into her usual chair. Ron jumped, clearly having been a million miles away.

“Hey,” he said. “Didn’t think Snape’d let you go this early.”

“He was called away. I guess some Slytherins did something idiotic,” Harriet said shortly, not wanting to explain the meeting with Robin. Not here, in the busy common room, anyway. She pulled out her Transfiguration textbook to do the required reading for their next class.

“I was in the library earlier today,” Hermione commented, apparently to no one in particular.

“Big surprise there,” Ron said, rolling his eyes.

Hermione continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “I was looking up the rules of inheritance in pureblood families. At first, it all looks really good, really fair. The firstborn child inherits, no matter their sex.”

“And?” Ron asked, exasperated.

“Shut up, Ronald,” she snapped. “Anyway, that looks good. I expected male children to be preferred, given what happened with you, Harriet, but it turns out that for a family to continue, the firstborn basically has to be male. By pureblood customs, a married woman can’t hold assets on her own. That’s why they kill firstborn girls; because they inherit everything, and then it all goes to their husbands. It leaves the rest of the family line penniless. It’s supposed to be illegal in the wizarding world to find out the sex of a child before birth, but according to Madam Pince, most do find out about halfway through the pregnancy. Apparently it’s not unusual for a pureblooded witch to have a miscarriage or two before she has a son.” She sounded a bit like she did when she’d championed the house elves, Harriet thought. She expected badges campaigning for equal rights for witches any day now.

Ron was frowning. “Mum said that she had a miscarriage once,” he mused.

Harriet shook her head. “But didn’t she have Bill not long after she married your dad?,” she asked. “Surely she can’t have…”

“I doubt it,” Hermione reassured Ron. “After all, no offence, but it’s not like your family has any great stock of wealth to lose.”

“True,” Ron agreed with a shrug. “Hermione, I don’t get this thing about everlasting charms. The book makes it sound like you lose your magic…”

“Of course not, Ronald!” Hermione said, exasperated. “Don’t you remember any of your theory of magic lessons?” She bent her head close of Ron’s pointing out where he’d gone wrong. Harriet’s heart gave a disconcerting jolt when she saw them close like that. It wasn’t that she fancied Ron; and they weren’t even a couple, but they just looked so… comfortable.

“I’m going to bed, guys,” she said. “I’m really tired. I’ll see you at breakfast, yeah?”

“See you,” Ron said, and Hermione just offered a smile before pulling Ron’s attention back.

Her room was quiet after being in the tower. She sort of missed the bustle, she decided. Apparently, she wasn’t the most interesting gossip anymore, since no one had bothered her for the hour she was there, but she didn’t recall seeing any of the seventh year girls other than Hermione. It was no great surprise, since the library was always crammed with students in their final year.

There was a note lying on the hearth rug.

Harriet,

Your fireplace is now connected to the one in my living room.  You may use the connection to attend your occlumency lessons, or in a time of need. Do at least attempt not to break any bones when you come through.

Severus

It would seem that Severus worked fast. She hoped Robin was okay, and shook her head, feeling quite silly. She shouldn’t care about a random boy that she’d only met a few times. He lived in a different world, she reminded herself. He’d never be part of the magical world, not really.

She got ready for bed, but only after climbing into the big four poster did she realise that she wasn’t actually that tired. She heaved her transfiguration book into her lap instead, reading until her eyes grew heavy.

 

 

Chapter Text

Harriet looked around at the showing for the quidditch tryouts. There were decidedly fewer hopefuls than last year, with the giggling girls notable only by their absence. Harriet supposed they really had only been interested in the famous Harry Potter, and not the game. There was Ron, of course, and Ginny, though she was carefully looking at the ground instead of Harriet. Dean Thomas was back, as was Jimmy Peakes. Two second years he thought were too small to actually be able to weigh the broom down looked nervous enough to be sick.

Given the lesser number of players, the tryouts only took two hours. Harriet was really pleased with her newest beater, a surprisingly strong fifth year called Anna Holmes. Female beaters were unusual, given the sheer power required to bat bludgers across the field, but she clearly worked well with Jimmy. Ron was more confident this year, and out-caught the other keeper candidates by a long shot. Dean and Ginny retook their chaser spots, along with fourth-year Linda James. Ginny still wouldn’t look at her, but seemed content to take instructions, and flew just as well as ever. It was a good team; Harriet hoped she could go out on a high note with her name on the quidditch captain’s trophy.

A trip to the library, though, wasn’t Harriet’s idea of a good way to spend the rest of the morning. Despite Hermione’s best efforts, Harriet just couldn’t seem to settle to work. She’d finished the homework assignments set over the week, which, at this point in the year were either reading or recaps of previous knowledge, and she had no patience for reading ahead. She wanted to go for a fly, but her Peregrine was still on order, and flying on a school broom was what she imagined trying to ride a particularly recalcitrant horse was like. Not that she’d ever been on a horse, though there were pictures of Dudley sat atop one from a holiday to the seaside. Harriet had always sympathised with the look in the poor animal’s eyes: she knew what it was like to be sat on by Dudley.  

Her dread of the school brooms aside, she found her steps tending back towards the Quidditch pitch. She thought that Slytherin had the pitch this afternoon, but they wouldn’t be there until after lunch. She slipped into the dim half-light of the broom shed, breathing in the smell of dust and beeswax polish and the unique, woody scent of broomstick twigs. She eyed the racks of brooms, hunting for the least wonky. There was an ancient Comet 180 on the top rack at the back that looked hopeful. Harriet rubbed the dust off with the hem of her t-shirt. Its twigs were mostly still in shape, even after so long. It would do, she decided.

A shadow fell across the entrance of the broom shed, and Harriet came face to face with none other than Malfoy.

“Potter,” the blond said, his tone mild. He picked up a cleaning cloth from the pile on the shelf by the door. “I thought you were finished with team tryouts. Sorry.”

Harriet blinked at him in surprise. Malfoy, saying sorry? What was the world coming to? “ Erm, yeah, we are,” she stuttered. “Just, erm, wanted a fly.”

“I heard what happened to your broom,” Malfoy said conversationally, leaning against the door frame. “Damned shame, that. Destroying someone’s broom, that’s just not on. Anyone would think that those girls want Gryffindor to lose the cup, with sabotage and all.”

Harriet frowned. “Hang on,” she said. “You don’t think I did it?”

Malfoy shrugged and left the shed. Harriet jogged to keep up, clutching the Comet. “As good a player as you are?” Malfoy drawled. “Players with some future, some talent, players like you and me, Harriet Potter, we don’t hurt our brooms. Not in nightmares, not ever. They’re an extension of us.”

Harriet was quite sure that she was staring google-eyed at Malfoy. Draco Malfoy, talking to her for more than a sentence without throwing an insult in? Malfoy, saying that she was a good player, and that he didn’t think she was mad? It had to be some kind of alternate universe. “Yeah, well, I’ll go for that fly about,” Harriet stammered.

Draco smiled at her, actually smiled. “It’s good to be back where you can fly free after the summer, isn’t it?” he asked rhetorically. “And I hope you get a new broom soon. It’s hard to be without one.” He finished wiping down his own spotless broom, and kicked off from the ground, shooting into the air and flying laps around the pitch. Harriet threw her leg over the handle of the Comet and headed off in the other direction, to loop over the lake and the outskirts of the forbidden forest. If did feel good to have the wind whipping through her hair again, able to fly without worrying about going beyond the protections of the field behind the Burrow. She even managed to forget about Malfoy’s odd behaviour as she swooped and turned, the lake glistening beneath her. Who cared what Malfoy thought, she decided. Malfoy, or Lavender Brown or McGonagall. None of it mattered up here

Malfoy was nowhere to be seen when she returned the broom to its place and trooped up to the castle for her lunch. Hermione groaned when Harriet slid onto the bench and reached for the serving spoons; she was starving.

“You look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards,” Hermione informed her.

Ron looked up. “Not nearly scratched enough to have gone through a hedge, backwards or forwards,” he declared.

“It’s an expression, Ron,” Hermione sighed. “Honestly, Harriet, I know you own a hairbrush. Use it!”

Even Hermione agreed that they’d done enough work for the week, and supported Harriet’s idea of going to see Hagrid. Harriet felt a little guilty that it had taken her this long to go and visit the half giant. He’d been her first real friend, and this was the last year she’d be living in such proximity to him.

Hagrid must have seen them walking down the hill, because he threw open his front door as they opened the gate to his cottage. “Yer a witch, Harriet!” he called delightedly. “Come in, come in, all of yer, and I’ll get some tea on.” He waved them all to the table, and pottered about, putting the kettle on and plonking a plate of scones in front of them.

“Nah then, how’re you finding yer last year at Hogwarts?” he asked. “Aside from you bein’ a witch now an all, Harriet. Mind, I were that shocked when Dumbledore told me. All them years, and none of us knew a thing!” He chuckled to himself, and poured the tea. Harriet sneakily fed her scone to Fang, who’d laid his slobbering head in her lap. “Even me, ‘an I knew you as a baby!”

“There’s lots of homework,” Ron said morosely, interrupting Hagrid’s sojourn into his memories. “We’ve had it for every class so far, and it’s only the first week.”

“Well, now, you’ll all be needin’ to know what yer doin’ when it comes time to defeat You Know Who,” Hagrid supplied. “You three are gonna be tha’ important: after all, it’s Harriet here who’s got to do the job.”

Harriet looked down at her lap, suddenly aware of all the eyes on her. Everyone else seemed to have forgotten that the prophecy specifically mentioned a male child. She probably would have, if not for Snape. “I think Dumbledore’s doing most of the work,” she muttered. “I haven’t even seen him since… well, since I left the girls dorm.”

Hermione nodded sagely. “He hasn’t been at the teachers’ table much this week,” she noted. “Do you know where he’s been, Hagrid?”

The half giant suddenly became very interested in filling up their teacups again. “Oh, you know, bit ‘o this, bit ‘’ that, I suspect,” he informed them. “Gathering up some bits an’ pieces, like.”

“The horcruxes?” Harriet asked. “Did he say whether he’d found more horcruxes?”

Hagrid looked away uncomfortably. “I dunno,” he said. “You’d best ask Dumbledore.” He coughed loudly. “Come an’ see the puffskeins I got in for th’ third years,” he said, suddenly cheerful. “Cuddlin’ a puffskein’s enough to cheer anyone up!” Harriet certainly wasn’t convinced by Hagrid’s sudden change of subject, but didn’t object to snuggling the funny little caramel coloured puffball, which shook with delight in her hands. I wasn’t a bad way to spend a sunday afternoon, all in all.

“Fancy a game of chess?” Harriet asked Ron as they walked back up the castle.

“Ah, mate, we’ve got that prefect’s meeting,” Ron said. “All the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff prefects, to organise patrols and who’s going to be in charge of Hogsmeade weekends and stuff. Later, after dinner maybe?” he offered.

“Yeah, maybe,” Harriet said, watching her two friends head off to their meeting. She supposed that she was glad not to have the responsibilities of a prefect, but it still stung, Ron being chosen over her.

She mounted the stairs to Dumbledore’s office. The conversation at Hagrid’s had reminded her how little Dumbledore had said about the horcruxes since the end of last term, and she had to admit that she felt left out. Perhaps it was just Ron and Hermione going off without her, but Dumbledore was still treating her as a child. “Liquorice allsorts,” she told the gargoyle, but it remained resolutely still. The password had changed. It wasn’t liquorice whip, either, or lemon sherberts or sugar mice. She even tried ‘mars bar’, to no avail. She gave the gargoyle a kick in frustration, but only succeeded in hurting her foot. With nothing else to do, it seemed wisest to invest some energy in the schoolwork she’d failed to do that morning.

The library was unusually quiet. Madam Pince glanced up as she came in. “You’ve got an hour before I shut, Potter,” she informed her.

She’d only been settled for five minutes when someone pulled out the chair beside her. “Evening, Harriet,” Malfoy said, getting out a half written essay and a quill. He bent his head over the table, his silky hair catching the light from the magic globes that lit the library. Harriet looked around, puzzled. There were plenty of other places to sit. What on earth was Malfoy up to?

“Have you done that Transfiguration reading yet?” Malfoy asked quietly, so as not to bring down the wrath of Madam Pince. “I don’t think I really get the bit about the…”

Harriet cut across him. “Why are you being nice, Malfoy?” she asked.

“I’ve grown up,” Malfoy said, meeting her eyes. “I know we’ve had our disagreements, over the years, but I’ve come to realise that you’re not someone to get on the wrong side of, Harriet Potter.”

“How do I know you’re not spying on me?” Harriet asked.

Malfoy raised one shoulder. “You don’t,” he said simply. “Look, Potter… I spent the summer at the beck and call of my mad aunt. I don’t want to end up like her. Believe me if you want, or not, but I’m a changed man.”

Harriet narrowed her eyes. “I can’t forget all the shit you’ve pulled, Malfoy,” she whispered. “You, and your father. I wouldn’t even know where to begin the list of all the insults. ”

“Let me make it up to you,” Malfoy offered. “I’ll be good as gold from now on, you have my word. And you won’t be bothered by any other Slytherins, I’ll see to it. You’ve got enough shit going on with your own house for us to be stirring it up.”

“Erm, okay,” she said. “That would be nice, I suppose.”

Malfoy grinned at her. “Consider it done,” he said, and bent back over his essay until it was time to go to the great hall. He insisted on walking Harriet down, only parting ways at the entrance to go to their separate tables.

“So,” she began as soon as Ron and Hermione joined her, “What on earth is going on today? Malfoy’s trying to make out that he’s turned over a new leaf.”

“He hasn’t been up to his old tricks, lately,” Hermione noted. “I haven’t seen him go after anyone at all since the start of term. He’s even leaving the younger kids alone. Maybe being around Bellatrix really has convinced him that he’s better off out of that life.”

“Yeah, but it’s Malfoy…” Ron pointed out.

Hermione glanced around, noting the interested look on the faces of the sixth years just down the table from them. “Hey, Harriet, can we come to your room tonight?” she asked loudly. “I really just need a quiet place to get some work done.”

“‘Course,” Harriet replied, catching on.

Ron raced up to Gryffindor tower to fetch his chess set after dinner, leaving Harriet and Hermione to settle in her room. “I haven’t been to your room yet,” Harriet pointed out.

“It’s nothing all that special, actually,” Hermione said. “Plus, Goldstein’s always there, with Hannah Abbott, snogging in the corner. I’m not sure why he uses our sitting room instead of his bedroom, or why he’s even with her. She’s an ugly cow anyway.”

Harriet winced. It was unusual to hear Hermione saying such things about anyone. Hermione had never been one to criticise based on appearance; it wouldn’t have surprised Harriet so much if she’d said that Hannah was unintelligent. “Can you hear that?” she asked, suddenly aware of a faint banging from the direction of the portrait hole.

Both witches drew their wands. “If it’s Malfoy…” Harriet muttered, “I’ll be tempted to hex his balls off.” She prodded the portrait open.

“You really need a doorbell or something!” Ron said, red faced, his arm raised to bang again.

Harriet and Hermione laughed. “We thought you were Malfoy!” Hermione giggled.

Ron went even more red in the face. “Do I look like Malfoy?” he demanded, climbing through the portrait hole. “You knew I was coming down when I had the chess set, anyway!”

“Well, he was asking where Harriet’s room was!” Hermione pointed out.

“So, maybe he fancies her,” Ron said, setting up his chess men.

Hermione scrunched up her face. “Eeew, slimy Malfoy,” she squealed.

“Yeah!” Harriet agreed.

“You’re blushing!” Hermione accused.

“Yeah, because you’re busy pairing me up with the platinum prat!” Harriet insisted. “Okay, Ron, ready to thrash me at chess?”

It wasn’t that she fancied Malfoy, Harriet rationalised as she got into bed. He was, well, Malfoy, after all. But she wasn’t used to men finding her attractive. That must be it, she told herself. The giggling girls had never appealed, so she’d found them more an annoyance than a reason to be flattered. But a man being nice, saying she was pretty? It was bound to have an effect, she decided. She just had to forget about Draco Malfoy, forget about Robin Snape, and get on with her life.

Her dreams didn’t agree with her decision. Draco’s hands slipped over her breasts, down her waist. He slowly began to unbutton her robes, his breath hot on the side of her neck. He nipped at her ear. She was naked beneath her robes, she realised, and the silky skin of his fingers trailed down between her breasts, circled her exposed belly button. She was gasping, pressing towards his teasing light touches. “All in good time, my dear,” dream Draco murmured into her ear. “You’ll have what you need, what you want, I promise…”

And then Draco was Robin, his hands bigger as he cupped her breasts, his thumbs circling her tender, puckered nipples. “Are you ready for me?” dream Robin leaned his dark head down to ask her. His hair brushed her collar bones, then his head went down, further...

She woke with a gasp, tangled in sweaty sheets, the morning sun already slanting into the room.


 

 

 

Chapter Text

Harriet was five minutes late for her standing appointment with Severus for her Occlumency lesson. Over the last three weeks, he’d praised her progress as she consistently resisted his legilimency attacks. She’d almost blown up her cauldron when he’d surprised her with a silent attack during a lesson, and the twenty points he’d taken still stung a little, as did the memory of the veritable tongue lashing.

She sped into her room, dropping her bag and seizing a pinch of floo from the pot hidden on her mantlepiece. “Severus Snape’s living room,” she cried out.

She was apologising almost as soon as she whirled into the fireplace, stumbling out onto the hearth. Severus might be much nicer to her now, but he still didn’t tolerate tardiness well.

“It’s okay,” Robin said moodily. “He’s not here.” He had his knees drawn up to his chest, his sock-clad feet on the cushions in front of him.

“Oh… erm, where is he?” Harriet asked. Was she supposed to have met him in his classroom again, like last week, where they’d practiced Occlumency in less comfortable surroundings?

“He was summoned, a couple of hours ago,” Robin informed her. His eyes never left the fire. “I doubt he’ll be in any shape for lessons when he comes back, so you can go, if you want.”

“What kind of shape will he be in?” Harriet asked, still standing uncomfortably in the middle of the rug. She shifted from foot to foot, unsure of what to do. Robin’s black eyes flicked up to her. He looked… almost angry. He stared into the flames again.

“As good as can be expected after going three rounds with a magical megalomaniac, I suppose. I’ll probably pour some potions into him and stick him in his bed. He should be okay for lessons tomorrow. He usually is.”

Robin shouldn’t be left alone like this, she decided, staring into the fire and worrying. She perched on the opposite end of the sofa to Robin. “Do you always wait for him, when he’s summoned?” she asked.

He shook his head absentmindedly. “He doesn’t exactly let me know when he goes,” he told her. “I just happened to be here, today. He’s been gone two hours already. It’s never good if he’s gone a long time. At least if I’m here, I can patch him up, or call for Poppy if he’s really bad.”

“I’ll stay too,” she said. “We can keep each other company, and if he’s hurt, I can help.”

Robin shook his head. “It’s fine. I’m sure you have friends to see, or magic to do, or something.”

“I can’t leave you like this,” Harriet insisted. “You’ve been sitting here staring at a fireplace for two hours. You’ll go mad!”

Robin threw a cushion across the room and buried his face in his hands. “Why does he have to go and be such a bloody hero,” he growled, his voice muffled. “Why can’t he be like anybody else’s dad, just living a normal life?”

“I’m sorry,” Harriet said quietly.

He sighed deeply. “It’s not your fault.”

“It kind of is,” she pointed out. She knelt on the floor to fill the kettle and set it to heat. Robin looked like he could do with a cup of something hot. “It was because of me that Voldemort came back in the first place. It was my blood that made his body.”

Robin shook his head. “I may not be magical,” he said, “but I know my magical history and theory. And I know all about the madman my idiot father had the terrible idea to pair himself with. You were a child, you had no hope against him.”

Harriet looked down at the rug beneath her knees. She could feel tears prickling at the backs of her eyes. She’d had no idea, not really, that she felt this strongly about Severus, that she cared this much. “How bad will it be?” she asked, shakily.

He finally looked at her, looked properly. “Usually cruciatus. Sometimes something more physical.” He paused. “I was here, you know, that night when he came back. The Dark Lord. I was living here, and I was here when everyone found out that he was back, the dark Lord was back. I’ve never seen Dad like that, so shaken, so desolate. You’re caught up in all of this, but it’s not all about you. It’s much bigger than you.”

She shook her head. He didn’t understand. “It’s all my fault,” she sobbed, a tear finally escaping. “If I hadn’t survived, if I’d never been born…”

Robin slid onto the ground beside her. “Don’t be an idiot,” he said, putting a warm arm around her shoulders. “Megalomaniacs have existed all over the world; this is just another one. You were a child caught up in it all.”

Harriet turned her face into the soft cotton of his t shirt. “You don’t hate me?” she asked quietly.

He pulled back from her so he could look at her. “Why would I hate you?” he said gently. He brushed away a tear caught on her cheek. “This started before you were even born, and my dad made his choices then. He has to live with them now, no matter how much I wish he didn’t.” Green eyes met obsidian, and they just stared at each other for a few moments, her eyes bright with unshed tears, and his deep with thought. “Have you ever been kissed, Harriet?” Robin finally asked, his voice rough. “May I kiss you?”

Harriet tried to force her muggy brain to answer. She’d kissed Cho, and Ginny, but had she really ever been kissed, or just kissed someone else? She never got to respond before he lowered his lips down, brushing them over hers, so gently as to be hardly there. She let out a startled gasp. “I’m sorry,” he said gruffly, drawing back and looking away. “I shouldn’t have…”

“Can we do that again, please?” Harriet said, interrupting him.

A little smile played on his lips… his lips that he wasn’t currently using to kiss her, much to her annoyance. She reached up and tangled her hand in his hair, tugging down until they were on hers. He wrapped a hand around the back of her head, cupping her skull as he deepened the kiss, his tongue brushing gently over her lips, inviting her to part them and let him in. She obliged.

The kettle whistled, and they sprung apart, Harriet giving a nervous giggle. Robin took over the tea-making, leaving her a private moment to touch her lips in something like wonderment. Cho had been highly uncomfortable and the only real kiss she’d ever shared with Ginny had been in the heat of the moment, emotion and passion spilling over. She regretted that kiss now, for leading Ginny on. But that kiss had felt nothing like this one, her head cradled in Robin’s hand, his lips so insistent on hers.

He stood wordlessly, but bent again to carefully place a kiss on her forehead. It was covered by hair, but he’d unwittingly kissed her just over her scar. She gave a shudder, more from pleasure at the kiss than the odd feeling that always came when anyone touched her scar. He was only gone for a minute or two, long enough to fetch a plate of biscuits from the other room. Harriet guessed that there must be a kitchen somewhere; but she’d never seen any part of Severus’ quarters besides this room. It was also long enough to give Harriet a few more minutes to let it sink in. Her stomach was in knots, and it felt like her heart was in her throat. She’d actually just kissed Robin… more than that, she’d asked him to kiss her!

He put the biscuits on the table, and folded himself to the floor again, facing her, but carefully not touching her. “Were you… are you okay with this?” he asked quietly.

“I..I think so,” she replied.

“I know we don’t know each other very well,” he said. “I don’t want to scare you, or, or force you into doing something you’re not comfortable with. I didn’t mean to make a move on you so soon… you know, with you still being at school and that.” He twisted his fingers together, a nervous habit.

“I wanted to,” she insisted quietly. “I’m not some stupid kid. I know what I’m doing.”

“Harriet,” he asked quietly, “What is this to you? Are you just… playing the field? Or could this be… that is… are you interested in me? In making some kind of relationship with me?”

How could anyone resist the look him Robin’s dark eyes at that moment, Harriet wondered? He looked genuinely scared. Could it be possible that he really did want her, really felt the same way about her as she did about him, even though she’d been desperately trying to bury those emotions? “I know what people call girls who sleep around,” she said firmly. “I’m not a slut.”

“I never said you were!” he exclaimed. “A kiss most certainly doesn’t make you a slut, Harriet. Just… if you’re not interested, can you tell me now? Because I’d rather not be led on.”

She leaned forward, kneeling up to close the distance between them. She kissed him again, just lightly, not much more than a peck. “I’m interested,” she said. “But I’m scared too… I’ve not really been here before, done this. I’ve only been a girl for a few months.”

He brushed her hair back behind her ear. “I know. We can go slow, I promise. Nothing until you’re absolutely ready for it. I can wait. For tonight, we just cuddle and wait for my dad to get back, okay?”

“Okay,” she agreed.

Robin moved the cushions from the sofa onto the floor, making a nest for Harriet and himself. She transfigured a spare cushion into a blanket, and together, they curled up.

“Do you miss your family?” Robin asked. Harriet was tucked against his side, her head against his chest and her heart still feeling fit to burst.

“I don’t remember my parents,” Harriet admitted, “but yeah, I guess. I wish they’d lived.”

“I meant your other family,” he said. “Didn’t you live with muggle relatives?”

Harriet snorted. “Miss them? I hope I never have to see them again. I spent my childhood locked in the cupboard under the stairs and my teenage years locked in a bedroom with bars on the window. I was called a freak and a burden every day I spent in that house.”

“Seriously?”

“Deadly,” Harriet replied. “They hated everything to do with magic. They only kept me because they were scared of Dumbledore.”

Robin tightened his arm around her shoulders. “I’m sorry,” he said. “That’s a terrible way to grow up.”

“Well, I can’t imagine your childhood was brilliant,” she commented. “Severus… he’s not exactly a bundle of fun, is he?”

She felt as much as heard the snort of laughter he gave. “He didn’t exactly play football with me,” Robin admitted. “But he’s always been… kind to me. He always made sure I had what I needed, and he was around when he could be.”

“Didn’t your mum mind that he lived at the school?” Harriet wanted to know. “I can’t imagine it made having a marriage easy. Why didn’t you live here, with him?”

Robin really laughed this time. “For a start, she was a muggle,” he pointed out. “Muggles can’t visit Hogwarts. Secondly, they weren’t married. I think I was the result of a one night stand, but neither of them would actually confirm that.”

Harriet snuggled further down under the blanket, the chill of the dungeons permeating despite the cheerful fire. “I can’t really imagine Severus having romances,” she said with a yawn. “What was your mother like? Do you look like her? Because apart from your eyes, you’re not that much like your dad.”

“My photo album’s here, if you’d like to see photos,” he offered. “Let me just go and get it.”

Harriet raised her wand “Accio Robin’s photograph album.”

“Or, I suppose, you could just summon it,” he said with a sigh as the album landed on her lap with a thump. “Because magic makes everything so much easier.” He opened the album to the first page, showing a round-faced, dark haired woman grinning down as a tiny, squashed, red baby. It was a muggle photograph, stubbornly still, but Harriet got the impression that had the photography been a wizarding one, the woman would still just have been smiling down at the swaddled baby.

“That was taken the day I was born,” he told her. “Apparently my dad delivered me- you wouldn’t think it to look at him, but he’s actually a trained midwife. He was going to be a mediwizard before he decided to stick with potions.”

“I did know,” Harriet murmured as Robin turned the page. “He delivered me too, or so I’m told. I don’t exactly remember.” The next photo was of a younger Severus cradling a slightly older Robin, a cuddly toy floating in midair in front of the child’s face. One chubby baby arm was reaching out to make a grab at the green teddy bear.

“I hate looking at me as a baby,” he said. “I look so… squashed. Oh, here’s a better one of my mum…”

This was a wizarding photo. Robin’s mother alternated between smiling at the camera and glancing at something out of the frame. She was rounded, Harriet thought. A round face, rounded limbs. She had a delicate, pink mouth, an equally dainty nose, and big round china-doll blue eyes. “She’s beautiful,” Harriet said, a touch of envy evident in her voice.

“Not as beautiful as you,” Robin told her, dropping a kiss on her nose. “Her name was Annie. She wasn’t very old when she had me, about twenty. She was… sweet, but not very grown up, to be honest. I think my dad sorted a lot of stuff, like the rent and the bills. She just wasn’t altogether… there. She accepted the magical world like it was just perfectly normal, although I think she was secretly quite glad that I turned out to be a squib. She was kind of… jealous of magic, I think.” He fell silent for a moment, leafing through a few more pictures of him as a child. “You know,” he said, almost conversationally, “I’m the same age now as my dad was when I was born.”

Harriet still had trouble wrapping her head around Snape as a father, let alone as a nineteen year old father. That was just a couple of years after her own father had dangled him upside-down by the ankles, she realised. The idea of that gangly, greasy teenager being responsible for a tiny baby…

The fire had burned low when Severus stumbled into the room. There were no cushions on the sofa, his addled brain informed him. He wavered on his feet, ready to collapse when he caught sight of the nest of pillows and blankets, and two dark heads leaned close to each other, fast asleep.

“I told you to go,” he growled, as the world spun around him. He braced his hands on the back of the sofa, his head hanging down limply. Voldemort hadn’t been delighted with him: he’d been insistent that he did not know Dumbledore’s plans regarding the newly- female Potter. He’d hardly been able to hold onto the shields of his occlumency through the minutes-long bout of the cruciatus curse. He wished that the Dark Lord would find some creativity; he was sick of the endless unforgiveables.

Robin leapt to his feet. Harriet’s head, which had been resting on his shoulder, thumped painfully back, and she sat too. “Come on, Dad,” Robin said, supporting Severus under his arms. The spell- befuddled potions master leaned heavily on his son. “You should have gone,” he repeated stubbornly, his words a little slurred.

“Then there’d be no one to put you to bed,” Robin explained. “Harriet, can you do healing spells? He’s got a few cuts and bruises.”

“Erm, yeah, little ones.”

“I fell over,” Severus ground out. “I’ll be fine.”

Robin rolled his eyes at Harriet, and gave a tiny grin. He slowly walked his father over to a door near the fireplace. Harriet followed cautiously, unsure. Would Severus get angry at her for being here? She decided it wasn’t important. No matter how angry he would be, she had to try to help if she could.

She followed their ponderous progress into a gloomy corridor and left into a bedroom. Robin deposited his father as gently as he could on the bed. “Heal what you can,” he muttered to Harriet, slipping through an archway in the stone wall.

Severus was flopped the wrong way across the bed, his feet off one side and his head thrown back on the other. Harriet nervously perched on the edge of the mattress next to him. “What’re you doing here, Potter?” he growled.

“Helping heal you, Sir,” Harriet said quietly. Respect was probably the best option with Severus at the moment, she decided. He groaned, and she gulped. Focus on the injuries, not Severus, she told herself. Don’t think about how angry he’d be later on.

A shallow gash at his left temple had bled, leaving a thin trail of dried blood. She healed that first. There was nothing too serious that she could see, nothing that would require more than a decent application of episky. She’d knitted together the flesh on his forehead and was starting on a graze by his chin when Robin came back, his hands bristling with potion bottles. With a grunt of exertion, he pulled Severus up into a reclining position and held a vial to his lips. The black eye Severus had sported faded under her spell, as did the abraded skin on his palms.

Harriet couldn’t see any more injuries, and she didn’t really want to think about what was under Severus’ clothes, so she watched Robin tip the last of five potions into his father’s throat. “You should go to bed,” he told her. “I’ll get him into his bed, and I’ll kip here.”

“Will I see you tomorrow?” she wanted to know.

He shook his head. “I’m on early at the cafe tomorrow, and I’ve got lectures all afternoon. I’ll come and see you as soon as I can though, yeah?”

“Can I owl you?” she asked on a sudden impulse.

A slow smile spread across his face. “Yeah, if you want. But it’ll only be a few days, I promise.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Harriet woke late. Just by fifteen minutes, but enough to cause her to leap out of bed in a hurry. She’d have to be quick if she wanted to get a decent breakfast, and she wanted to see if Severus was at the teacher’s table.

The bathroom floor was cold under her feet. She shed her pyjamas as fast as she could, goosebumps rising across her chest and arms in the chilly air. It was only as she dropped her pale blue pyjama bottoms that she noticed the brownish stain. She stared at the stain for a few moments, her mind leaping into overdrive. It looked like blood, but she couldn’t see any injuries… then, cursing her own stupidity, she pressed two fingers between her legs. They came away streaked with red. “Merlin, why today?” she whispered to herself.

Two minutes later, following what was probably the fastest shower of her life and a  drying charm, she was scrabbling in her drawers for the bag of supplies Mrs. Weasley had given her. For the first time, she regretted Dobby unpacking all her things.

“Accio… sanitary products,” she cast, not entirely sure what to call them. The paper bag shot out of the bathroom, along with a bottle of Mrs. Skower’s Magical Mess Remover. She suspected that she didn’t actually need the latter, or at least, she hoped not. She’d just about reckoned that she was getting a handle on the ‘being a girl thing’, as she thought of it, then this had to happen.

Harriet had no idea how to use the cylinders of cottony stuff in the bag. She thought that perhaps Mrs. Weasley should have provided instructions. She hoped that the large papery pad would be enough, she had no idea just how much she would bleed. She tucked the pad inside her knickers and dressed as quickly as she could.

At least her room was closer to the great hall than Gryffindor tower, she mused. Almost everyone was already at breakfast, though. Ron had either trained one of the other boys to wake him for breakfast, or had invested in an alarm clock, because he hadn’t been late recently. “Morning,” Ron grunted.

“Everything okay?” Hermione asked with a small frown. “You’re not normally late, and you haven’t brushed your hair.”

Harriet tried to smooth down her hair whilst also surreptitiously glancing up at the head table. Severus wasn’t there.

“I’ll tell you later,” she promised her friends. “Has Snape been to breakfast?”

Ron craned his neck to look up at the teacher’s table. “Can’t see him,”

“I know, you dolt. That’s why I asked if he’d been already!” Harriet snapped. Ron threw his hands up as if in defense.

“Why d’you want to know, anyway?” Ron asked.

Harriet glanced around to make sure there was no one in whispershot. “He was summoned last night,” she hissed.

“By you know who?” Ron whispered back.

“Oh who else, Ron?” Hermione asked with an air of frustration. “Of course by him. How do you know, Harriet?”

Harriet shook her head. “Tell you later, “ she repeated. There was no way she was discussing her romantic exploits in the great hall, nor did she particularly wish to be overheard discussing her period: she was a seventh year, it should have been old hat by now. There had been less snipes about her change in sex over the last couple of weeks, and no more incidents of outright meanness. It seemed that the Gryffindor girls were content to ignore her as long as she wasn’t in their space.

The owls swept into the room through the arched windows, dropping their burdens in front of recipients. Hermione deposited the cost of her Daily Prophet into her owl’s pouch, and Harriet had to swiftly remove the corner of a letter from her pumpkin juice. The owls were useful, but careful, they were not. She carefully unfolded the slightly soggy parchment and couldn’t help a little groan.

“What?” Hermione asked.

“Dumbledore wants to see me this afternoon,” she explained.

“Well, that’s a good thing,” Hermione said. “You were complaining that you felt like he’d forgotten you just last week.”

That was true enough. Dumbledore had been mysteriously absent whenever Harriet decided to go looking for him, and wasn’t a regular fixture at meals anymore. Even Ron had noticed that the Headmaster looked tired; that he didn’t seem to joke through with the other teachers anymore. Harriet had asked Severus, but he’d become almost angry, so she hadn’t pursued the matter.

“Suppose so,” Harriet sighed.

She tried to squash the relief she felt when Snape was at his usual place in the classroom, glowering at his students. He looked no different than his usual self. How many times had he done this, Harriet mused? How many times had he been summoned, tortured, and taught lessons the next day? No wonder he was always mean. She didn’t know the lasting effects of repeated cruciatus, but she was willing to bet that it wasn’t pleasant.

“Turn to page two hundred and ten in your books,” Snape instructed, his voice low, quiet, but every syllable audible perfectly in the pin-drop silence of his classroom. “You will spend this lesson creating the Veneamare potion. Which of you is able to tell me what this potion does?”

Hermione’s hand, of course, shot up. Harriet more slowly added her own, as did a number of the rest of the class. Snape, of course, preferred to embarrass, particularly when his head ached as it did today. “Mr Weasley,” he purred.

Ron looked startled. “It’s… an antidote to spider venom,’ he guessed. It was a good guess, as their previous projects had been on venomous spiders.

“Ten points from Gryffindor,” Snape admonished. “You failed to complete your homework reading, I see.” He wheeled around. “Miss Potter,” he hissed dangerously, “can you redeem your house?”

“Veneamare is an antidote to most love potions,” Harriet said, after gulping when Snape fixed his gaze on her. “However, it’s not effective on any love potion also containing an aphrodisiac- when there’s an aphrodisiac, it makes the potion more effective because it works by strengthening your awareness of yourself, and so it also makes you aware of your... your, erm, uh, genitalia.”

“You are not five years old, Miss Potter, there is no need to snigger,” Snape said, although Harriet was sure that blushing was more the problem than sniggering. “Nevertheless, you seem to have a basic grasp of the subject for once. Perhaps you are not completely useless.”

He eyed the rest of the class, some of whom were openly gawking at Snape for actually praising Harriet. “What are you waiting for?” he snapped. “The supplies are in the same place they have always been.”

There was a sudden flurry of activity as everyone lunged for the supply cupboards, and a  clang as cauldrons hit the work surface. Severus gave a visible wince; or at least it was visible to any of his students who were actually watching him. Harriet was the only one who was.

The morning sped by too fast for Harriet, who felt nerves bunching in her stomach as she mounted the stairs from the great hall to Dumbledore’s office for their meeting. She’d never been particularly nervous about visiting the headmaster before. She gave herself a mental shake and a telling off for her silliness, and gave the password (strawberry laces). Just because she hadn’t seen much of Dumbledore, and the last time she’d been in his office he’d chosen not to believe her didn’t mean she should wallow in nerves and self pity. She knocked on Dumbledore’s office door far more confidently than she felt.

The door swung open of its own accord to admit Harriet into the warm, comfortable room. The thick carpets and wall hangings, along with the roaring fire, kept the Headmaster’s domain cosy.

The gizmos on the tables whirred, but the usual occupant of the room was noticeably absent. Fawkes chirped softly, and Harriet went over to his perch to say hello. She stroked a finger softly against the top of his head. He was in full plumage, resplendent in red and gold and orange to match the leaves that were falling from the trees outside.

“I do apologise for my lateness, Harriet,” Dumbledore said as he entered. “Please, sit down. I regret that I was detained.” Dumbledore eased into the chair behind the desk with a sigh. “Age and infirmity must catch us all sometime,” he explained to Harriet. “Alas, it is fast creeping up upon me.”

“Sir?” Harriet asked. She knew that Dumbledore was old, of course, but now she could see him up close, she noticed the dark circles around his eyes, noticed that his face was more lined; the wrinkles deeper. His eyes didn’t really twinkle anymore: they looked more watery than bright.

“There are things that I have done of late that have been foolish, Harriet,” Dumbledore told her. “However, I have not called you here to discuss my own health. How are you getting on?”

“Fine?” Harriet ventured. She wasn’t sure what Dumbledore was getting at. He ignored her, for all she knew, actively avoided her for a month, then asked how she was getting on?

“I hear that you haven’t spent much time in Gryffindor tower this year,” Dumbledore prodded. “Are you quite sure that everything is as normal?”

As normal? Harriet thought. No, everything was not as normal! She had an entirely different body, compared to this time last year. “Well, I do have no own room now,” Harriet pointed out. “And I spend a lot of time in the library, like the other seventh years.”

Dumbledore looked over his glasses at Harriet. “Friends are very important,” he intoned. “You must not abandon your peers because of a change in your circumstances. I am sure that your Gryffindor fellows miss you.”

“Yeah, the ones that destroyed my stuff,” Harriet pointed out hotly.

“Now, Harriet,” Dumbledore warned, “Professor Snape tells me that you’ve been coming on very well in your Occlumency lessons. I am sure it will have helped your nightmares…”

“I didn’t have a nightmare!” Harriet snapped.

“Oh, of course, of course,” Dumbledore replied gently. “Here, have a lemon drop.” He offered the dish to Harriet and she took one, popping it in her mouth. “I don’t mean to bring up old grievances, you understand. I simply want to ensure that you, like all my students, have the care you need, and a suitable environment. I know that your room is very small, and I thought that you might prefer to be back in the Gryffindor dormitories, with your friends.”

Harriet privately thought that she’d rather sleep in the great lake than back in the girls’ dormitory, but she had enough sense to realise that Dumbledore probably wouldn’t want to hear that. It was interesting that Dumbledore apparently hadn’t heard of the improvements that Dobby had made to her room; Harriet had presumed that the house elves would share such information with the headmaster. After a few moments of silence, where it became obvious that Harriet wasn’t going to respond, Dumbledore sighed. “Spend some time in your common room,” he advised. “Talk to your classmates. I’m sure Mr. Longbottom would appreciate your advice.”

“Neville?” Harriet asked with a frown, “why Neville?”

Dumbledore waved a hand almost dismissively. “You have already been through much of what is on his mind at the moment. You will be able to help him.”

“Erm, okay,” Harriet agreed. “Is that all you wanted me for?”

“You will spend more time in Gryffindor?” Dumbledore confirmed. Harriet sighed and nodded. “Yes, Miss Potter, that is all.”

Harriet stood, and felt a sudden gush from between her legs. She gasped, feeling lightheaded, and gripped the back of the chair hard.

Dumbledore may have complained of old age, but he was still out of his chair and around his desk very quickly. “What’s wrong, Harriet?” he asked, one wrinkled hand on her shoulder.

Harriet shook her head. The tightening in her stomach that she’d taken to be nerves was still there, she realised. “Nothing,” she said.

“There’s clearly something wrong.” Dumbledore went to the fire and tossed in a little floo powder. “Poppy,” he called through the connection with his head in the flames, “could you come through if you’re not busy?”

“I don’t need the infirmary,” Harriet insisted, her head clearing now. “I’m fine!”

Madam Pomfrey stepped through the fireplace. “Ah, Miss Potter,” she said, “I was wondering when I’d see you. What’s the problem?”

Harriet had always quite liked Madam Pomfrey. She was strict, yes, but she had always been kind to her when she’d been stuck in the hospital wing. “It’s nothing,” she assured the mediwitch. “Just some, erm… female problems, I think.”

“I see,” Madam Pomfrey said with a smile. “First one, dear?”

“Erm, yeah…” Harriet admitted, blushing. She didn’t much want to be talking about it with anyone, and having Dumbledore in the room was hardly making it easier.

“Nothing to be worried about at all,” Madam Pomfrey assured her. “Now, how about you visit my office with me for a just a few minutes, and we’ll make sure you’re alright, hmm?”

Harriet tried to demur. “I’m fine, now, honest,” she said. “It was just a moment, I just got dizzy.”

Dumbledore gently propelled Harriet towards the fireplace. “Put an old man’s mind at rest, Miss Potter,” he insisted. “Did I not say that your welfare was important, just a few minutes ago?”

It seemed a bit churlish to refuse after that, so Harriet agreed to floo through to the hospital wing with Madam Pomfrey. She’d never realised before how many of the Hogwarts fireplaces were internally connected.

The fireplace spat her out onto a rug in a room Harriet had never seen before, just beside Madam Pomfrey. It must be the matron’s private office, she decided, with a polished wooden desk and upholstered armchairs. “Have a seat, Miss Potter,” Madam Pomfrey said, indicating an armchair.

“Oh, erm, I’m not so sure that’s a good idea,” Harriet stammered, heat rising up in her cheeks again. “I… er… I think I might leak.”

“No problem,” Madam Pomfrey said with a smile. She pulled a pad from a cupboard by the desk and indicated a door. “There’s a bathroom through there, you can go and clean up.” Harriet ducked through the door into the little bathroom with relief.

When she hiked up her robes and skirt and pulled down her tights, she realised that the pad had shifted in her knickers, and whilst part of it was sodden, so was her underwear above it. Wrinkling her nose, she rolled up the blood-soaked cotton and found a bin in the corner. It was a magical waste basket, meaning that as soon as the offending item hit the bottom, it was whisked off to wherever the waste for the school went with a pop. She took out her wand and cast Tergeo to clean off the blood on her clothing, leaving only a faint pinkish-brown stain. She tucked the new wad of cotton into her charm-cleaned knickers, trying to arrange it so it wouldn’t move, and rearranged her clothes.

By the time she was cleaned up and had let herself into Madam Pomfrey’s office again, the mediwitch was sat behind her desk with some paperwork, and two cups of steaming tea sat on the shining wooden surface. Madam Pomfrey smiled. “All better?” she asked.

“Yeah, thanks,” Harriet said, taking the indicated seat, and the cup of tea that was pushed towards her. “Erm, is there a trick to, well, not getting the pad to move though?”

“A sticking charm is usually very effective,” the matron told her. Harriet cursed herself silently. How had she not thought of that? “Muggles, I believe, use some kind of glue on theirs… Anyway, are you feeling better now? Has the lightheadedness faded?”

“Er, yeah,” Harriet said. Then she realised that the rosy-cheeked witch in front of her was probably going to be her best source of information. “But, well, I don’t really know much about this. Mrs. Weasley gave me some of the pads, and some kind of cylinder things, and I knew that witches bled, but, that’s about it…”

“Perfectly understandable,” Madam Pomfrey reassured. “Most witches have their cycles every month, and bleed for about five days. Some are heavier than others- you’ll discover for yourself how much protection you need. It’s better to err on the side of caution, though, as you discovered- leaking through your clothes is never fun.” She smiled wryly, and Harriet thought that she was probably speaking from experience. “You might find that you get headaches, cramping in your belly, backache, or you might feel dizzy. Those are all perfectly normal: a pain potion will help with the aches and some chocolate will do wonders as well. You might find that your magical capacity is very slightly diminished for a day or two just before you bleed: that’s normal too, and it shouldn’t affect you unless you are doing something very strenuous.”

“Can I still fly?” Harriet asked anxiously.

“Of course!” Madam Pomfrey assured her, and took a sip of her tea. “Keeping active and going on as normal is the best thing to do. Although you may prefer to use the tampons- the cylinders you mentioned- as wearing a pad on a broom can feel unusual. You use them by inserting them up inside your vaginal canal. I can show you where I keep extra supplies for all the girls, so you don’t have to worry about running out. Do you have any other questions?”

Harriet nibbled her lower lip as she thought. “I don’t think so,” she said. “Erm, do you have a potion for the pain? I thought I was just nervous, but my stomach still hurts…”

Madam Pomfrey got up and fetched a bottle of pale purple potion for her. “A few more things, Miss Potter,” the matron told her. “If you’re able to bleed, you’re able to breed, as my mother was fond of saying. Remember that unprotected sex could have consequences.”

Harriet had thought that she was done blushing. It turned out that she was wrong.

“There are potions that can prevent pregnancy. Come to me again if you need them.” She eyed Harriet up. “I don’t suppose you’re going to let me examine you, are you?” she asked.

“I’d rather not,” Harriet stammered

Madam Pomfrey sighed. “I thought as much,” she said. “Well, we shall assume that everything is present and correct between your legs. You must come back if you have any worries at all. Come on, I’ll show you the girl’s store cupboards.”

 

Chapter Text

Harriet mounted the stairs to Gryffindor tower without too much trepidation. After all, it was still lesson time, so the younger students would all be in their classes; it was just the sixth and seventh years who would be around, and many of them would be shut away in the library.

She’d been in the tower since her move to the room near the great hall, of course. But only a couple of times, always during free lessons, where most students were away elsewhere. Increasingly, she, Hermione and Ron spent evenings in her room. Hermione enjoyed the quiet to work (and the contents of Harriet’s augmented bookshelves), Harriet liked not being bothered, and Ron was delighted by the snacks Dobby sometimes left for them. Hermione had taken to complaining that she’d never before known anyone think with their stomach so much as Ron this past year. He was shooting up in height, though, just about brushing six feet. He must have needed the energy to feed his growth.

The portrait swung open for her, and she climbed into the common room. It was completely empty, but she knew that the likelihood of Ron being in the library without Hermione to cajole him there was slim to none. She trod the familiar spiral stairs up to the boys’ dormitories, her heart in her throat as she remembered the years where she had belonged here.

The door to the seventh year’s room was ajar, by just enough that she could hear a choked sob. Careful of the creak she knew was part and parcel of that particular door, she pushed it open. The curtains on Ron’s bed were pushed back, and he was nowhere to be seen, but a huddled figure was curled up on the bed next to the window. Neville’s bed.

“Neville?” Harriet said quietly, “What is it?” Neville looked up in surprise. Harriet entered the room fully, pushing the door closed behind her. She settled herself on the soft mattress at the foot of the bed, not wanting to crowd the upset boy-man.

“Hi Harriet,” Neville said with a sniff, wiping the back of his hand across his cheeks and under his nose. “I… I didn’t know you were there.”

“I was looking for Ron,” Harriet explained. “Neville, what’s the matter? Is it your parents? Did something happen?” Harriet’s mind immediately jumped to Alice and Frank Longbottom, stuck in St. Mungo’s. Perhaps Voldemort had managed to kill them, even within the hospital? Perhaps he’d figured out that the prophecy could now only refer to Neville? “Or your grandmother? Is she ill?”

Neville shook his head. “No, nothing like that,” he said. “It’s just… Professor Dumbledore says I need to do better, work harder. I’m not good enough at Defence, he said… even though I’m quite good at defence now, since Harry… I mean, since you taught me.”

Harriet’s heart sunk. She understood now. Dumbledore asking her to talk to Neville- it was because Neville was taking her place. Neville was expected to kill Voldemort. She remembered that Severus had warned her about it, warned her that Dumbledore wanted to train Neville up. If Neville was expected to be Voldemort’s downfall, well, then, she was off the hook, so to speak. It wasn’t her responsibility any more, and no one expected anything of her. But she’d been trained for it since the age of eleven, pushed in situation after situation designed to push her and test her, and she’d survived them all, with the help of Ron and Hermione. Neville, though… he’d had none of that. He’d just wanted to live a quiet life with his plants.

“You should come to defence club,” Harriet suggested. “Lupin runs it, on a Wednesday evening. It’s good, honest, and you’ll be one of the best there anyway, because it’s open to all years. You can help teach the lower years, and I found out when I did the D.A. that teaching it really makes you better at it.”

“You really think I could teach them?” Neville asked shakily. “I don’t even take defence…”

Harriet shrugged. “You don’t have to take defence to join the club,” she assured him. “And you’re good at it, honest. You were really good, in fifth year. You got an E in your OWL, didn’t you?”

“Yeah,” Neville agreed with a sniff.

“There you go then. Come on, Neville, it’ll be fun!” she insisted. “And I can help you if you need it- I’ll show you where my room is later. You can come and visit.”

Neville nodded, but their conversation never got any further before Ron and Seamus burst in. “Wondering where you were,” Ron informed Harriet.

Seamus had stopped dead in the doorway. “Are you meant to be here?” he asked in his lilting accent. “I mean, now you’re a girl and all?”

Harriet shrugged, but she never got a chance to reply. “Aww, give over, mate,” Ron said.

At just the same moment, though, Neville spoke up too. “Why shouldn’t she be here? She’s our friend,” he informed Seamus. Harriet couldn’t help a smile at that one.

Seamus sighed, although he still didn’t look entirely convinced. “I’m going to the library,” he said. “Need to get started on that charms essay.”

“Eurgh,” Ron groaned. “More bloody homework. Harriet, Neville, you coming?”

Harriet looked at Neville with a raised eyebrow. She didn’t really want to leave him on his own when he was still upset. “How about the common room instead?” Neville suggested. “I keep running into packs of Slytherins in the library.”

Seamus shrugged. “Whatever. Makes no difference to me.” he was still eying Harriet up, and she couldn’t help but think that he was happy as long as he got her out of the dorm. He picked up his schoolbag and gestured for the others to go before him. Harriet went first, feeling just a little bit hurt. Whilst they’d never been as close as she and Ron, Seamus had shared a room with her for six years. That should have stood for something, she thought.

McGonagall was just pinning something on the common room noticeboard as they trooped down the stairs. She glanced over. “What, Miss Potter, were you doing in the boys’ side?” she asked sharply.

“Just looking for my friends, Professor,” Harriet explained with a sigh. McGonagall’s gaze softened slightly as three boys appeared after her.

“Remember that fraternising in bedrooms between the sexes is not allowed at Hogwarts, Miss Potter.” She tapped the notice she’d just stuck up, though. “You four might be interested in this though- apparition lessons start next week.” She nodded to them and climbed back through the portrait hole.

“Oooh! Finally!” Ron exclaimed. “Now Hermione can stop lording it over us because she got hers last year. Just because she’s the oldest in the year…” He winced a little at the twelve galleon fee. Not for the first time, Harriet wished that the Weasley’s would take some help from her. She wouldn’t even notice the twelve galleons. She took the quill Ron handed her to sign her name on the sheet, just below his, and then passed it along to Neville.

“I just know I’m going to lose an arm or a leg…” Neville said morosely as he scribbled.

They enjoyed the quiet of the common room for almost an hour before lessons finished. They had the coveted table by the fire, sitting in silence apart from an occasional question on the homework. Harriet was settling into the comfort of the tower once more, and wondering why she hadn’t tried spending time here earlier in the year.

The portrait hole swung open minutes after lessons had finished, and students flowed in like thick, black oil. Most peeled off up the stairs to deposit their schoolbags, but a good number tucked themselves into the sofas and chairs around the room to while away the half an hour until dinner.

Seamus waved a little group over to them: Dean, tailed by Lavender and Parvati. Lavender’s face scrunched into a scowl when she spotted Harriet sitting on the floor by the table, cross legged on one of the giant cushions. “What’s he doing here?” she asked, pointing.

“Did you miss the memo, Lavender?” Ron asked sarcastically. “Harriet’s a girl.”

“Not really, though,” Lavender snipped. “Hey, guys, there’s an imposter here!” she called out, loud enough to catch the attention of most of the common room.

“Harriet’s not an imposter!” Neville declared, standing up. “She… she’s a Gryffindor, same as any of us.” He looked around, and then, realising how many eyes were on him, plopped back into his chair, carefully avoiding any eye contact with Harriet.

“Then why’s he hanging ‘round with Malfoy, huh? I’ve seen them, sat in the library together!” Lavender called.

She decided enough was enough. She needed to stand up for herself, not rely on her friends to do it. She climbed up onto the table to everyone could see her. “For those of you that haven’t figured it out,” she said, keeping her voice low so it would carry, “I’m a girl.” The hubbub died down, and she was suddenly speaking to a silent common room. A few third years came down the stairs from their room and flattened themselves against the wall to listen. “I was born a girl, but because of some obscure inheritance laws, I was disguised as a boy on the day I was born. I didn’t know, I never knowingly deceived any of you, and I don’t want to. I just want to be left in peace to finish my last year here. if you have a problem with that, fine. I can’t tell any of you what to do. But please just keep your opinions to yourself.”

Hermione had come into the common room unnoticed during Harriet’s little speech, and she was the first to clap. Soon, a few others joined in the applause, and Harriet made to get down from the table. Before her feet touched the floor, though, she was hit with a hex. The stingy tickle in her cheeks and chin was familiar; it was the beard growing hex Pavarti had thrown at her in defence. With a grimace she used the same spells as Lupin has to stop the growth and shave it off. Perhaps she hadn’t been as convincing as she’d hoped.

A collective gasp ran around the room, and Harriet looked up to find Ginny with her wand pointed straight at Lavender. “In case you haven’t heard, Brown, we’ve got a match against Ravenclaw on Sunday. I’m not having you put our seeker in the hospital wing, so don’t you dare cast whatever nasty little hex you were thinking of. I’d like to win the Quidditch cup again this year, thanks. I don’t much care for the situation, but I’m not putting the reputation of my house in danger.”

Lavender gulped and nodded, knowing that the redhead’s hexes weren’t something to be trifled with. Ron and Hermione cheered, followed by the rest of the Gryffindor quidditch team, and Harriet could only look at Ginny with utter bewilderment. Ginny pressed the tip of her wand against Lavender’s cheek for good measure. “I don’t care if Potter’s a he, she or it, as long as the snitch gets caught. And I’m not covering for you any more. One more stupid prank, and I’ll go to McGonagall,” she hissed, and turned on her heel to stalk up to her dormitory.  

Harriet fidgeted all through dinner, desperate to get down to the quidditch pitch and see if she could have a private word with Ginny. The younger girl, though, had other ideas. She arrived at the training session with seconds to spare, leaving no time for a chat.

She was attentive, as she’d been at every session, of the plans and diagrams, and she flew perfectly. Harriet knew that Ginny would make an excellent team captain, in fact, she wasn’t sure that Ginny wouldn’t do a better job than she herself did. Like her brother, she had a natural grasp of strategy which, paired with spectacular flying abilities, made her a formidable player.

The light had gone completely, leaving only the magical floodlights on the quidditch pitch by the time Harriet called a stop to the session. “Okay, everyone,” she said, alighting on the ground, “Brilliant session. I reckon we’re going to trounce Ravenclaw on Sunday, though their seeker’s an unknown- she’s the girl that transferred in from Salem. Jimmy, remember that you and Anna are a team- try to keep the bludgers together so you don’t have to split up too far. It’s easier with two sets of eyes than one. Great work, though, to all of you. Ginny, can I have a word before you go, please?”

Ginny scowled. Harriet knew that pulling her up in front of the whole team wasn’t ideal, but there was no way that she’d catch her alone otherwise. She knelt to strap the bludgers back into their box, waiting for her housemate to come to her.

“What, Potter?” Ginny snapped, standing over her. Harriet straightened.

“I wanted to say thanks,” she said. “For earlier, in the common room.”

“Don’t think it means I suddenly like you,” Ginny said tartly. “I just don’t want to lose at quidditch. I’m still mad at you for leading me on, though.”

Harriet’s eyebrows shot up. “Ginny, I didn’t… I never meant to…”

“Right.” Ginny said. She poked Harriet with a jabbing finger, in the middle of the chest. “‘Let’s be friends, Ginny’ you said, ‘I have too much to think about, Ginny’... you let me go on thinking that we might get back together.”

Harriet glanced around. Ron was still there, waiting for them, but he was far enough away not to hear every word. She dropped her voice anyway. “Look, Ginny, I’m sorry, I really am. I was trying to let you down gently. You’re the prettiest, most talented witch I know, but… I’ve never been that into witches. If I was, you’d be the one.”

Ginny snorted. “Nice try, Potter,” she said. “I’m still not your friend.” She shouldered her broom and headed back off to the castle.

Ron came out of the shadows. “Everything okay, mate?” he asked.

Harriet pulled the tie from her ponytail, releasing her sweat-streaked hair, letting the cold breeze dry it. “I suppose nothing’s really changed,” she admitted. “Ginny still hates me. Merlin, this feels like the day from hell.”

“Aw, don’t worry. She’ll come around,” Ron promised. Harriet wasn’t so sure.

Hermione was leaning against the portrait entrance to Harriet’s rooms when she and Ron arrived. “Right, now you can tell us what’s been going on today,” she declared. Harriet sighed and opened the portrait. She sort of wanted a long bath, but she couldn’t put off Ron and Hermione any longer. She owed it to them to tell them what was going on. She just wasn’t sure where to start.

Dobby had left a big pitcher of pumpkin juice and a stack of cauldron cakes on the corner of the desk, and Ron and Harriet fell on them with delight. It had been quite a hard training session: Harriet wasn’t having anyone saying she’d gone soft. “So, spill,” Ron said after he’d inhaled a cupcake. “How did you know about Snape?”

Harriet chewed the inside of her lip. “Well, I went for my Occlumency lesson last night, but Snape wasn’t there,” she said. “Robin was, though.”

“Robin?” Hermione interrupted.

“Oh, erm, Snape’s son,” Harriet explained. She’d never quite gotten around to telling her friends about his appearance at the first of her meetings with Severus, and she certainly hadn’t mentioned her growing attraction to him. “Anyway, he was there, and he told me Snape had been summoned. He was kind of upset, so I stayed with him, to wait until his dad came back, and well… we kissed.”

A shower of crumbs burst from Ron’s mouth as he snorted and choked. Hermione wrinkled her nose and vanished the mess. “You kissed Professor Snape’s son?” she confirmed calmy.

“Erm, yeah… I.. I think we’re kind of a couple now.”

“But you barely know him!” Hermione insisted, whilst Ron spluttered disjointed words in the background. She sent him a glare. “Shut up, Ronald,” she admonished.

Harriet worried at the hem of her quidditch top. She couldn’t quite meet her friends’ eyes. “I’ve met him a few times,” she said, “and I got to know him last night. He was showing me photos, telling me about his mum… he actually lived here for a year, in our fourth year.”

Ron was finally regaining the power of speech. “Mate, you can’t be serious. You can’t have snogged anyone related to Snape!”

“It was… really nice,” Harriet insisted. “He’s really nice, he’s not like Snape at all. He’s nineteen, and he goes to muggle university. He likes loads of muggle bands- he’s really into music. I like him.”

“But he’s a squib!” Ron exclaimed.

“So?” Harriet and Hermione asked at the same time.

Ron looked between them, puzzlement in his eyes. “But, squibs, they’re… they’re like second class citizens. Not having any magic, it’s shameful. No one wants to admit to having a squib relative.”

“Second class citizens like, maybe, muggleborns?” Hermione asked, her voice dangerously low.

Ron’s eyes widened. “There’s nothing wrong with being a muggleborn!” he insisted. “Muggleborns are great. It’s the having the magic that matters.”

“I don’t care if he has magic or not,” Harriet declared. “Magic’s nice, but it’s not the be all and end all. There are loads of lovely muggles- they’re not all like my pathetic aunt and uncle.”

“I just hope you know what you’re doing, Harriet,” Hermione sighed. “It’s a completely different world.”

“I know.” Harriet snapped. “I lived as a muggle when I was a kid, remember! Anyway, Snape came back in really bad shape. I was worried about him, that’s why I wanted to make sure he was okay this morning.”

Ron and Hermione traded glances that seemed to say that they thought Harriet quite mad. “Well, he seemed fine, other than randomly heaping praise on you,” Ron supplied eventually. “Hey, does that mean he’s going to start being nice to you, if you're shagging his soon? Do we get some kind of benefit too?”

Harriet threw a pillow at Ron. “I’m not shagging him!” she countered. “And I don’t think Snape even knows we’re together… not unless Robin told him his morning.”

Hermione wrinkled her nose. “No offense, Harriet, but right now, i’m trying to get the image of you with a slightly younger Snape out of my head, and it’s kind of disgusting. What happened with Dumbledore?”

Harriet explained her odd conversation with Dumbledore, and his instructions to spend more time with Neville. Hermione looked thoughtful but had nothing to say about it, whereas Ron agreed that Harriet should spend more time in Gryffindor- after all, he pointed out “it’s still your house. The morons need to accept that.”

She balked at telling even Ron and Hermione about her dealings with Madam Pomfrey, though. Some things were best kept private.

 

 

Chapter Text

Severus was pacing before the fire when Harriet popped out of the hearth, stumbling a little. She wondered if she’d ever get the hang of magical transport: with the exception of brooms, it all made her feel ever so slightly queasy.

“Were you here when I returned on Monday night?” Severus demanded before Harriet could fully right yourself.

“Yes,” Harriet said. “Don’t you remember?”

Severus shook his head, his dark hair swaying and catching the firelight. “Memories are often hazy following a long bout of the cruciatus curse, or the imperius curse, for that matter,” he lectured. “Were you, or were you not, asleep on the rug with Robin?”

“Yes…” Harriet hedged. It sounded like Robin hadn’t mentioned anything to his father, but that Severus was suspicious anyway.

“Did you engage in sexual intercourse?” he snapped.

Harriet’s eyes went wide. “No! Not that it’s any of your business!”

Severus stopped his pacing directly in front of her. He gripped her chin, a little harder than he would normally touch her. “Legilimens,” he whispered.

Harriet threw everything she had into the shields. She could feel Severus prodding, trying to get through them. He grunted in annoyance, and broke the connection, both mentally and physically. “You will have to work on making your shields less obtrusive,” he said. “Make them look like, feel like, the rest of your mind. It is better if the one invading your mind does not realise that they are being stopped. Now, tell me, what, exactly, happened between you and my son on Monday night.”

“Nothing!” Harriet snapped. “Are we going to have a lesson, or are you just going to interrogate me?”

“Manners, Miss Potter,” Severus snarled. “And ‘nothing’ does not normally take the form of curling up and sleeping beside one another. What were you doing?”

“We kissed, okay? That’s it, that’s all. He was worried about you, I was worried about him.”

“Idiot girl,” Severus hissed. “What has possessed you?”

Harriet glowered up at him. “I like him. He likes me. What’s the problem?”

Snape’s upper lip curled in a snarl. “He’s a squib, Harriet. He is everything the Dark Lord fights against, and I won’t have him dragged into this, this war. I’ve given so much to protect him, all these years. You couldn’t understand the love I had for him, the second he was in my arms. I’d give anything for him, and, Merlin help me, for you as well. You’re Lily’s daughter, and you may as well be a child to me too. You being together- it’s just not possible. You cannot understand each other’s worlds.”

“I won’t hurt him,” Harriet said, gently. She couldn’t blame Severus for wanting the best for his child.

He shook his head sadly. “You may not be able to help it, girl,” he retorted, his voice softer now. “The Dark Lord’s interest remains on you, as much as ever. Should he ever learn of Robin’s existence… he would be killed, Harriet, and so would I.” Severus sat down in his accustomed armchair, Sheba moving only just in time to avoid her tail being squashed. He gave a wave of his arm, inviting Harriet to a seat. She sat. “He is the reason I turned from my path as a Death Eater. I didn’t turn to Dumbledore until your mother’s death, but I was trying to extricate myself from the Dark Lord’s camp since the day Robin was born. I couldn’t ally myself with a man who would have killed my son, simply for being born of a muggle woman.”

“That’s why my mum trusted you?” Harriet asked. “She knew about Robin?”

Severus nodded, then rested his cheek in the palm of his hand, staring into the fire. “Yes, she knew. She was one of the few who did. It was she that I turned to, when Annie found me, told me she was expecting a child. Lily… she always said that she knew I was better than the choice I had made. We… we were better friends than you might think, after Hogwarts. She didn’t tell James, but we met frequently. When she... died, I knew that I wasn’t doing enough against the Dark Lord. It wasn’t enough to lie low, hope he would forget me, out in the outer circle of followers. If he could try to kill you, a baby, he would never hesitate to kill my child.” Contrary to his earlier rage, his voice was quiet now, like the whisper of cold steel. Harriet thought that he didn’t really seem to be speaking to her so much as to himself. “I turned myself on the mercy of Albus Dumbledore, and promised him that I’d do whatever was necessary to bring the Dark Lord down.”

He suddenly looked up at her, his eyes sharp and bright. “For all my faults, I love my son. He is what I could not be: kind, and giving, and free. He is no toy, Harriet.”

Harriet wanted to tell him that she wasn’t an idiot, that she wasn’t cruel, to berate him for even suggesting it, but she thought better of it. “I’m not going to hurt him,” she reassured. “I… I like him. I want him to be happy. I know that he doesn’t have magic, and I don’t care. I don’t have blue eyes; that doesn’t make me inferior to someone who does. I want to fight against a world where he’s not accepted because he happens to not be able to use a wand.”

Severus scrutinised at her closely for a few minutes. She kept her mental shields high, expecting a legilimency attack at any moment, but it never came. “Stay there,” he said eventually, and stood, going into his storeroom.

“Here,” he said on his return, thrusting a vial of amber potion at her. “Drink this.”

“Why? What is it?” she asked.

“Well, it’s most certainly not pumpkin juice,” Severus sneered. “I don’t want you and my son together-” he held up a warning hand to stop Harriet’s plea,”-but I was a teenager once. It’s a contraceptive. It’ll last for a month, then you’ll need another dose.”

“We’re not sleeping together,” she insisted, trying to hand back the vial.

He crossed his arms in a childish gesture of defiance. “I don’t care. If you do not drink that potion now, here, in front of me, I will ensure that you will not see him again. I can easily block the floo.”

Harriet glared at him, but uncorked the potion and downed it. It tasted strongly of lemons, sour and bitter and mouth-puckering. Severus took the empty vial from her and banished it back to his storeroom. “I’ll not have any babies whilst you’re still at school,” he informed her sharply. “You are not to leave the school to see him. You are not to take him wandering the corridors- yes, Harriet, I know about that infernal cloak of yours. You are not to tell anyone of his existence, and most especially not that he is my child.”

“Erm, I kind of already told Ron and Hermione,” Harriet admitted. It seemed stupid now: she should have realised that Voldemort would have a problem with squibs.

Snape sighed deeply. “I should have guessed. Well, they are at least pathetically loyal to you. You are to impress upon them that they must not share this knowledge. Should a student with Death Eater connections overhear and relay the facts…” Severus didn’t even have to finish the sentence. Harriet shuddered.

“I’ll tell them,” she assured Severus hurriedly. “They won’t tell anyone.”

“Yes, well, we can at least credit Miss Granger with the intelligence to be aware of the consequences,” Severus intoned. “Perhaps she can even keep Weasley in line.”

Severus sent Harriet away early, with a book on guided meditation that he insisted would help her develop shields undetectable to anyone using legilimency on her. She knew that Ron and Hermione were at another prefect’s meeting, and whilst she knew she should go up to the common room or the library, she just wanted a bit of time alone. She settled down on her bed, the book from Severus on her lap, but did more staring off into the distance than reading.

She’d kind of suspected that Severus wouldn’t be delighted by she and Robin being together, but she hadn’t expected his reasons. She hadn’t really considered the fact that, as the child of a muggle, Robin would be high on Voldemort’s hit list, possibly just behind the muggleborn witches and wizards, and that if Voldemort ever found out that Severus had had a child with a muggle, allowed that child to live… Severus would have been killed too.

She jumped and gave a little shriek when the fire flashed green and a dark figure tumbled out. At first she thought Severus had decided to come and tell her off some more, but when the dim light caught the hair, she realised that it was deep ebony brown, not inky blue-black, and he wasn’t wearing robes. Robin, then. He straightened and smiled. “Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“Just… surprised,” Harriet replied.

“I hear dad read you the riot act. Sorry about that, too.” He looked around. “Nice room,” he commented. “Is it okay that I came through? I can go away if you’d prefer.”

She scrambled off the bed. “Oh, no, it’s fine,” she insisted. “I just wasn’t expecting you. Did he tell you off too?”

“Oh, yeah,” Robin said. He perched on the sofa next to her. “I’m a distraction you don’t need, apparently, and I can’t hope to keep up with you. He said that you’re a powerful witch, and you deserve a powerful partner.”

“He said I’m powerful?” Harriet asked, aghast. That was two praises from Severus in a week- he must be going soft.

Robin nodded. “One of the best. He said you could be anything, do anything that you wanted, as long as you weren’t distracted from your schoolwork. Harriet… if you’ve thought better of this, it’s okay. I understand. Just tell me, and I’ll go.”

“No!” Harriet exclaimed, cutting him off before he even started. “I want this, honestly, I do.” Who was Severus to decide how much of a distraction she could take anyway? She’d managed the triwizard tournament when she was fourteen, she could manage a bit of kissing now!

Robin looked down at her seriously. “I don’t want to hold you back, Harriet.”

“You won’t,” Harriet whispered, and stretched up to kiss him. He pulled back. She wasn’t expecting the hurt that blossomed in her chest. Why didn’t he want to kiss her?

His hands were warm when he cupped her face between his palms. “You’re worth too much to the wizarding world to risk,” he murmured, “and yet, I can’t help myself.” He brushed his lips first against her forehead, then the tip of her nose, and finally, her lips. Her eyes fluttered shut and she couldn’t help a little moan of desire when he deepened their kiss, his tongue meeting hers. She pressed up into him, her belly clenching with unfamiliar feelings.

Her hands came up almost involuntarily to rest against his shoulders. One of his moved around to the back of her head, beneath her hair, a gentle grip at the top of her neck. She gasped again as the other moved down, resting against the dip of her waist. He broke the kiss and pulled away.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I got carried away.”

“Stop apologising,” she told him with a hint of a smile. “I think I like carried away.” She knelt up on the sofa so she was at about the same level as him, and pressed his lips to his. “I like kissing,” she declared in a whisper, breaking contact for just as long as it took to say the words. Feeling bold, she trailed a hand down his chest and ghosted over his stomach, bringing it to rest against the bulge she could feel against his jeans. She’d been a boy too, and whilst she had never quite understood the oversexed hormones of her peers, she knew what felt good. She cupped her fingers firmly around him.

He groaned and pulled back. “No, Harriet,” he said breathily. “Don’t make me push you too far.”

“It’s okay,” she insisted. “I’m fine with it.”

“I’m not,” Robin told her gently. “I don’t want to go too fast here, Harriet. I don’t want you to sleep with me in the heat of the moment and regret it in the morning. It should be when we’re comfortable with each other, and we have time. Not now.”

Harriet frowned. She didn’t want to be told what to do. She climbed over Robin’s lap, straddling his thighs. “Harriet,” he said warningly, putting his hands on her hips to hold her in place. “I’m not doing this.”

She huffed sulkily and settled back until she was perched on his knee. “What’s the point if we don’t have sex?” she wanted to know.

He smiled gently at her. “Sex is nice, but it’s not everything, you know,” he explained. “Talking, cuddling, kissing… just knowing that there’s someone who cares. That’s what it’s about.”

“Don’t you think I’m pretty enough?” she asked.

“Oh, Harriet…” A hand came up to stroke her cheek. “You’re beautiful. Didn’t you feel how hard I was? This just isn’t what I want for my first time with you. For a start, my dad knows I’m in here, and I don’t want him to come looking for me whilst we’re in the middle of it.”

Harriet sighed. He was right, and she hated him for it. He leaned closer to her. “Just think of me when you touch yourself tonight.” Her shock must have shown on her face. “What?” he asked with a laugh. “You can’t pretend you don’t masturbate.” He looked closer. “You really don’t?” he asked, puzzled.

Harriet looked away. “Erm, not really…”

His brows were quirked high. “Seriously?”

“When… when I was a boy, I did. But it never felt all that good. As a girl… well, I tried once, but I was interrupted. I’ve never really tried again. I don’t really know how.”

He chuckled. “You see? This is why you aren’t ready for more. You don’t even know your own body yet.” He pulled her down against his chest, her cheek resting against the side of his neck. He smelt nice, like pine and wood. A gentle hand stroked her hair.

“I take it you’re a virgin, then?” he asked quietly after a minute.

“Yes,” she whispered.

He wasn’t content with the answer. “Just as a girl?” he prodded. “That is, did you sleep with anyone when you were a boy?”

She chewed her lower lip. For all she’d told Robin that she didn’t want to be known as a slut, she also knew that she was one of the last virgins left in the year. “I’ve never been with anyone,” she admitted. “I just didn’t really want to sleep with girls, and, well, homosexuality just isn’t really accepted in the wizarding world.

“I know,” he said into her hair. “Magical society is really intolerant. You fit in, or else.”

Harriet snuggled into his neck. “Do you hate it, being a squib?” she asked.

He shrugged, her head rising with his shoulder. “It is what it is,” he said. “Yeah, I get jealous of you, of all magical people, for being able to manipulate the world at will, but jealousy won’t cure anything. I just don’t have enough magic. You have no idea how desperately I waited for the post, the summer I turned eleven. But I just didn’t have enough magic to come to Hogwarts. I begged dad, I begged Dumbledore, but it’s not their choice. It’s just how it is.”

“Wait,” Harriet said, pulling back from his embrace. “Enough magic? I thought you didn’t have any?”

“How do you think I can get around anti-muggle wards?” Robin said with a smile. “May I borrow your wand for a minute?” he asked.

Harriet frowned and slid her wand out from her sleeve, offering it to Robin. “Fulgia” he said assertively. One or two droopy sparks appeared from the wand tip, fading almost at once. He handed it back to Harriet. “Only spell I can do,” he explained with a wry grin. “And only inside Hogwarts- the magic here makes it easier. Dad thinks that I might be better, with training, but of course, no one will sell a wand to a squib, and you must know that wands don’t like working for those that don’t own them.”

Harriet nodded. They’d done a number of lessons on theory of magic in Charms last year, and that was one of the points Flitwick had emphasised. As Ollivander said, it was the wand that chose the wizard, and the wand chose not to work for a wizard who did not have it’s loyalty.

Robin glanced at his watch and sighed. “I should be getting home,” he said. “I’ve got a bugger of a Latin translation to do.” He kissed her gently on the top of her head, and she climbed off his lap.

A last embrace, and he was by the fireplace, reaching for her pot of floo powder. “Hey, Harriet?” he said, “you’ve got homework from me. Before next week, find some time for self-pleasure, yeah?” He grinned as her eyes went wide, and then the was gone into the emerald flames.

It was only when she went to bed that she realised her plans to leap into bed with Robin would have resulted in extreme embarrassment. She imagined that not many people had sex whilst the female of the pair was bleeding.

 

 

Chapter Text

Package owls were usually big, and this one was no exception. The eagle owl set his burden down on the breakfast table next to Harriet on Saturday morning, resting atop it for a moment before flying back off with a hoot.

Harriet frowned as she unwrapped the box. She wasn’t expecting any parcels, but it had her name on the front in neat cursive. The same writing  marched across the box beneath the wrapping.

Don’t open this around other people!

Robin

Hermione looked at it appraisingly. “Are you sure it’s safe?” she asked. “What could he be sending you that you can’t open in public?”

“Kinky sex toys,” Ron supplied immediately, barely looking up from breakfast, and only half joking.

Harriet shrugged. “I’ll find out later I suppose,” she said. A quick shrinking charm on the box let it slide neatly into her bag, crammed with textbooks for a morning’s work in the library.

Everyone was easily distracted from the mysterious package though, with the next arrival. An owl with feathers charmed electric blue swooped down and dropped a package directly onto Harriet’s plate. Ron finally tore his eyes away from his plate.They widened. “Giving the twins business?” he wanted to know. Whilst not the typical Wheezes packaging, only the twins could have chosen such colours.

“Didn’t order anything,” Harriet said. She tore open the orange and pink striped paper, and the box inside magically resized itself, springing out to knock over the toast rack. Hermione snatched the teetering pitcher of pumpkin juice before it could topple.

At the top of the box, Harriet found a note from the twins.

Hey sexy witch,

We heard from a little birdie or two that you were having a few run-ins with certain students, and thought to ourselves: well, we can help! So, please find enclosed a selection of our products on the house, both old favourites and new prankish delights. We’re sure you can find a good use for them...

Fred and George

Harriet laughed and dug down into the box, handing the note over for Ron and Hermione’s perusal. First out was a big pack of Canary Creams, and another of Budgerigar Bourbons.  A selection of trick wands, all meticulously labelled with their effects and a large, carefully sealed package of dungbombs came next, followed by some biting teacups. At the very bottom were some new products- vibrant, spell resistant hair dyes designed to look like normal shampoo, a face soap which promised to provide the user with purple spots and a face cream which would cause the victim to grow a luxurious mustache. Even Hermione had to give a little snicker at the twins’ plans.

It was the package from Robin, though, that seemed to weigh heavily in her bag as she walked alongside Hermione down to the library. Ron trailed back with Neville and Luna, who’d agreed to join them.

Even though it was only shortly after breakfast, the library was already busy. Hermione knew all the best spaces, though: she found them a table tucked away in the ‘Magical Maladies’ section. Even with Madam Pince’s best efforts, though, the room was noisy, the scratch of quills, rustle of paper and occasional giggles of younger students disturbing the peace. Apparently younger year Ravenclaws didn’t like their common room, and would prefer to spend their time in the library, disturbing everyone else.

Harriet looked up from the last six inches of her transfiguration essay in surprise when a pile of books thumped to the table beside her. “Mind if I sit here?” Malfoy asked. “Everywhere else is full.”

Harriet glanced around the table uncertainly. Neville looked like he’d just swallowed a bee, Luna was starting off at the ceiling, apparently not having even noticed Malfoy, and Ron was suddenly studiously scribbling. Only Hermione was looking up, a slight frown marring her features. “Okay,” she whispered, and went back to her own work.

Malfoy settled into the seat next to Harriet, so close that she could feel the heat from his body. Malfoy had been as good as his promise: he didn’t bother the Gryffindors, and Harriet hadn’t had so much as a snigger in the corridor from a sixth or seventh year Slytherin. Even given that, though, Harriet couldn’t bring herself to trust him. What about all the insults and jibes and downright hexes through the years? How could all that just disappear?

A loud chorus of laughter erupted from the other side of the shelves. “Out!” Madam Pince roared.

Hermione threw down her quill. “Harriet, can we work in your room, please?” she asked. “It’s horrid in here today, and I’d really love to check my essay against some of your books.”

Luna looked at Harriet, her eyes bright. “Oh yes, I haven’t seen your room yet,” she interjected.

“Anywhere but here,” Ron said. Harriet suspected that he wasn’t so much interested in the peace and quiet of Harriet’s sanctuary, but the warm fire, the sofa, the chess set and the possibility of a snack.

“Yes, where do you hide these days, Potter?” Malfoy asked smoothly.

“Why’re you hanging ‘round with Gryffindors anyway Malfoy?” Ron asked with something of a sneer.

Even a shrug, when performed by Draco Malfoy, managed to be effortlessly elegant. “I’m not exactly flavour of the month with the Slytherins, and I’m starting to believe that it may be a good thing,” he explained. “Perhaps the Slytherins have had it wrong all along. Perhaps purity isn’t everything.” He looked around the table, at least attempting to meet the eyes of all those present. Luna was staring intently at him, but Neville was studiously looking down, and Ron glancing around. Harriet looked away quickly as Malfoy shifted in his chair to better see her.

“Well, it would seem that everyone has some good in them,” Hermione responded sanctimoniously. “Anyway, Harriet, your room? We’ll never all fit in mine.”

Harriet sighed. She nodded and gathered up her parchment and quills. The others did the same, and trooped out after Harriet. It wasn’t far from the library to her rooms, so in just a few minutes, she was opening her portrait door.

“Your password is alohomora?” Malfoy asked with a small sneer. “Isn’t that kind of… pathetically simple?”

“Maybe it’s simple enough to be genius,” Harriet replied smoothly. Hermione, though, couldn’t resist explaining what she’d done, setting the wards to recognise Harriet’s magical signature. Whilst Harriet wasn’t convinced of the wisdom of letting Malfoy in on the construction of her protections, it was clear that he was impressed. He looked around appreciatively at the room, and sat next to Hermione at the big desk, asking questions about her use of runes in magical signature wards.

Harriet got no time to herself until after dinner, when she begged a headache to skive off an evening walk around the lake.

She had no idea what would be in the package from Robin that no one also could see. In fact, she was a little apprehensive. It wasn’t terribly large, but it was heavy for the size. She made herself a cup of tea and settled down in her favourite seat in her room- a big, deep armchair that she could easily curl up in. From the door, it would look like there was nobody in the room, the arms of the chair coming almost to the top of her head. It was like curling up in a big, pillowy box.

A wave of her wand slit open the sellotape holding the box closed perfectly, and she pulled back the lid. Red tissue paper covered all the contents but a letter. He had nice handwriting, she mused; round and neat, but firm and bold, not like her pointy spider-scrawl.

Harriet,

I thought I’d give you some help with the ‘homework’ I set you. I hope you don’t mind, and aren’t offended. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, but you deserve to have some fun. Have a relaxing bath, and enjoy.

Robin

Harriet frowned in confusion and parted the tissue paper. At first, she couldn’t make sense of the contents, but when she did, she gasped, blood heating her cheeks even though she was alone. First out of the box was a long, cold glass dildo- not particularly large, she thought, having seen real penises, both her own when she was a he, and others in showers and changing rooms. Another little note was stuck to it with a bit of sellotape: ‘I know electrical and battery powered things won’t work at Hogwarts, but the glass should take a vibration charm well.’ She nervously slid it back into the black velvet bag it came in. Biting her lip, she pulled out the next object, a tub of some kind of gel. The note on this told her that it was lubricant, and better than anything you’d buy in muggle shops. She wasn’t sure she wanted to think about how he knew that. It was dawning on her that Robin could have quite a lot of experience with sex. Even though he was a squib, he still had some magic, which probably meant that he had the same rampant sexual urges during his teens as magical children. It was something to do with the magic heightening hormonal influences, Harriet thought she’d read somewhere. It did mean that most of the students lost their virginity in about third or fourth year. Harriet had once walked in on Ron and Imogen in fourth year. The image had been seared onto her brain for months, making her wish for an obliviate.

Shaking her head to clear thoughts of Robin’s sexual exploits, she reached back into the box, half apprehensive, half excited. Another little bag, this one satin, yielded a pair of smooth, heavy rubbery spheres linked together, which resonated oddly in her hands. There was no note with them, and she couldn’t even begin to fathom their purpose, so she slipped them back into their pouch. The last item in the box was a book, a cheaply bound muggle paperback, full of short stories; not just short stories, but erotica.

There had been a few magazines with scantily clad witches (or indeed, muggle women) secreted around the boys’ dormitory, and Harriet had been party to the poring over of the pages a time or two. She’d heard the groans, the panting breath when one or other of her roommates had forgotten silencing spheres. But this book… it was no lingerie-clad woman on the front, but a man. A large, muscled man, clad in snug leather trousers and a skin-tight white t-shirt that left nothing to the imagination. She glanced around her empty room furtively. Even though she knew she was alone, and that no one could disturb her, the fear of being caught still caught her breath in her throat.

The paper was cheap under her fingers, not like the heavy parchment that wizarding books were printed on, and the ink had bled a little into the fibres of the page. It wasn’t the ink, though, that held Harriet transfixed.

There wasn’t much by way of fiction in the Hogwarts library: most fiction was written by Muggles anyway, so what there was was mostly for the use of Muggle Studies students. But Harriet had loved reading the stories available in the primary school library- it had been a refuge from Dudley and his gang.

The stories were stilted, she thought, not believable at all, but somehow, she just kept reading. Her breath came shallower as she went on, but it wasn’t until the third tale in the volume that she was aware of the wetness between her legs. The hand that wasn’t holding the book had drifted down without her even noticing, idly rubbing her crotch through the thick fabric of her jeans. She slammed the book shut and shoved it back into the box guiltily. She needed something to distract herself. Robin might be wrong on the sex toys, but a bath was always nice.

Her bathroom, like the rest of her quarters, had been kitted out by Dobby, and the house elf sometimes had somewhat ostentatious tastes. Therefore, all the taps on the large bath were gold, and most spewed out foamy mounds of scented bubbles, like the prefects’ bathroom. She’d tried them all over the last few weeks, although she’d vowed never to turn some of them on again, most particularly the one which spewed bright yellow bubbles which smelt just like the toilet cleaner Aunt Petunia had used. Tonight, she fancied the pale green foam which reminded her of the calm of the edge of the forbidden forest. She shed her clothes and sank into the water, already deep thanks to the magical plumbing.

The warmth was soothing. She closed her eyes, letting the water cradle her, and let her mind wander. But it kept coming back to one thing… Robin’s package, Robin’s ‘homework’. Why did he want her to, anyway? Whilst the Gryffindor boys had always been open about their personal ministrations, she remembered Catherine, a girl who’d left two years ago. She’d been found in her bed with her hands in her knickers, and she’d been shunned by her year-mates. Only Hermione had asked why it was such a big deal. Harriet could still remember Ginny’s wide-eyed response. “Girls just don’t do that, Hermione,” she’d said vehemently. “Boys don’t like girls who do that. It means that sex isn’t as good, and it can weaken your magic.” Hermione had just frowned and left it.

Harriet hadn’t thought much about it. She’d had no particular interest in what sex was like with a girl anyway, but now she had to wonder. If it made sex worse, why would Robin encourage her to do it? And if it was just that, then why was there such a reaction from the girls as well as the boys when Catherine was caught? What did it matter to them? It was almost as if it was something dirty, something… catching. As if association with her would mean that they, too, were under suspicion. Weakening magic, though, would be a good reason to avoid it, but she didn’t understand why self-pleasure would weaken a girl’s magic, but not a boy’s.

She wondered who she could ask. Discussing it with any of her peers would risk her being further ostracised, and it sounded like the kind of belief that was passed from parent to child, like views on blood purity, that would be hard to find facts on. That left her with books, or teachers.

She wasn’t as familiar with the contents of the library as some of her classmates, but she didn’t remember ever seeing a section on sexuality. The main Hogwarts library was good, but it was focused only on what was taught at the school. She could sneak into the restricted section with the invisibility cloak, but she didn’t even know if that would have what she wanted.

Madam Pomfrey would probably be able to explain it to her, she thought, but for some reason, Harriet was reluctant to discuss such a thing with the kindly witch. She’d mended scrapes and broken bones, but Harriet couldn’t imagine talking about sex with her. McGonagall was out of the question. In fact, oddly, the only teacher he could imagine taking her seriously was Snape. Perhaps discussing anything to do with sex with your boyfriend’s father was stupid, but Severus wasn’t blindly pretending that sex didn’t exist- he’d made her drink the contraceptive, after all. And he was a midwife, she remembered. Besides Madam Pomfrey, he was probably her best bet. Mind made up, she got out of the bath and dried off quickly. Clad in clean clothes, she took a pinch of floo powder and stepped into the fireplace.

It was only as the fireplace spat her out that she worried that she may be interrupting Severus at an inopportune moment, or, worse, that Robin might be visiting his father. But Severus was settled in his armchair with a heavy book resting on his knee, a tumbler of firewhiskey in his hand.

“Good evening, Harriet,” he intoned. “Are you well?”

“Erm, yes, thanks,” Harriet said, now wishing she hadn’t come.

Severus inclined his head in acknowledgement. “Put the kettle on if you would like some tea,” he said. Harriet took that to mean that he didn’t object too strongly to her landing on his hearth rug. She filled the kettle and swung it over the flames. Severus marked his place and put his book aside. “What brings you to see me this evening?” he asked, not unkindly.

Harriet looked at her feet. “Oh, erm, it doesn’t matter.” she stammered, nervous.

“Don’t lie.” Severus said. “Is something wrong? Are you unwell?”

Harriet perched on the edge of the sofa. The sofa where she’d found Robin, waiting for Severus. She took a deep breath. She had to figure this out, she reminded herself. “I’m fine,” she assured him. “I just have some questions that I thought you might know the answer to. About… about sex.”

Severus had to work hard to hide his surprise. “Would you not be more comfortable talking to a woman?” he asked gently. “Perhaps Professor McGonagall, or Madam Pomfrey, or indeed, a friend, like Miss Granger?”

Harriet shook her head. “They might laugh at me, or think I’m weird,” she explained. Severus gestured for her to continue. She took a deep breath. “I’m a virgin,” she began. “I never wanted to sleep with girls, and, well, it never seemed as desperate for me as for all the other boys. I just wasn’t as interested. But now I am.”

Severus nodded. “It’s a known effect of the spells that were placed on you,” he explained. “Sexual desires are caused by the changes in hormones as you reach maturity, but in your case, those hormones didn’t match your physical form. I had supposed, though, that peer pressure would have led you to experiment with your sexuality anyway. I suppose that these… questions of yours have something to do with Robin?”

The kettle whistled, and Harriet was glad to have something to do with her hands, and somewhere to look other than the potions master. “Well, yeah, kind of,” Harriet mumbled. Severus had to strain slightly to hear her. “I, erm, I wanted to have sex, but he said no, not until I knew my own body.” He cheeks burned, and she did her best not to look at her professor.

Severus sat back in his chair again, swirling the amber spirit in his glass thoughtfully. He knew it was ridiculous to be relieved that the two hadn’t been to bed together yet, but he was, and he was proud of Robin for thinking with his head instead of his nether regions. “That would seem sensible,” Severus said. “I fail to see the issue?”

Harriet looked steadfastly at the worn pattern on the green rug. “But witches aren’t supposed to, you know,” she blurted lamely.

The crease between Severus’ brows deeped slightly as he tried to catch her meaning. “Are you referring to the notion that a witch of good breeding does not engage in masturbatory activities?”

Harriet nodded glumly. Severus’ chuckle was warm. “That old wive’s tale is ridiculous, Harriet,” he said. “Self-pleasure is healthy, and will not affect your ability to bear children, the strength of your magical power or the chances of a good marriage, and will not cause blindness or mental illness. I assure you, Robin knows this, and he will not think badly of you for having engaged in masturbation. If he does, he has forgotten the lessons he was raised with.”

Harriet finally looked up. “If it’s not true why do people say it?” she asked.

Severus sighed. “Have you read any Aristophanes, Harriet?” he asked. She shook her head, not even sure who Aristophanes was. Severus huffed again. “I have said this before, and I still hold that the study of literature and mathematics at this school is abysmally inadequate. Aristophanes was a Greek playwright. The play I am most concerned with here is Lysistrata. It’s a favourite of Robin’s, in fact. In short, the womenfolk of Greece decide to deny the men sex in order to force them into ending the Peloponnesian war. The men cannot concentrate when they are denied sexual relations, and thus do as the women demand.”

Harriet didn’t understand the connection and she said so. “Magical folk are highly sexed,” Severus explained, “and our society is heavily male dominated. Wizards are afraid that if their witches find their pleasure elsewhere, though masturbation, for example, then the witches will cease to engage in intercourse with them. Thus, the rumours spread to ensure that witches are almost always desirous of having sex, assuring the wizard a willing partner. No one can deny that, as a society, we are misogynistic.”

He swallowed the dregs of his drink, the firewhiskey stinging his throat and heating his belly. “My son was raised differently,” he told her. “Robin will respect you as an equal, or he will answer to me. Explore your sexuality to your heart’s content. Just… don’t tell me about it,” he finished with a wince.

 

Chapter Text

Harriet hovered high above the pitch, keeping one eye out for the glint of the snitch, and one on the game. She grinned as Ginny performed a perfect loop-the-loop to catch the quaffle mid-pass between the Ravenclaw chasers.

The Ravenclaw seeker, Jeanine Hargreaves, was amongst the other players. Harriet had always thought that a bad tactic for a seeker. From above, you could see the whole field. It was true that it might mean you were further from the snitch, but you had a better chance at actually spotting it. And it meant that you could see a bludger coming from a long way off and pull it back towards the beaters.

She looped lazily around the pitch, searching always for that little glint of gold. Below her, Ron blocked a goal with the tail of his broom, sending the quaffle sailing beautifully across the pitch into the hands of his sister. Harriet smiled. Ginny tossed it to Dean Thomas, but he never caught it. A collective gasp ran around the pitch as Jeanine Hargreaves reached out to bat it away towards Ravenclaw’s chasers.

Madam Hooch’s whistle blew sharply as the commentator- a fourth year Harriet didn’t know- gabbled, “And Hargreaves touches the quaffle- that’s a penalty to Gryffindor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that one before; the seekers can usually tell the difference between the quaffle and the snitch…”

Jeanine was red faced, gesticulating wildly. Ginny, Dean and Linda lined up for their penalty shots. Just as Linda sent a fantastic curve ball sailing past the Ravenclaw keeper, Harriet spotted the little glint of gold down near the teacher’s stands. She bent forwards, urging her broom faster. Jeanine was much closer, but hopefully, she was too discomfited by her mistake to notice… she was closing in, halfway there now as the little wings of the snitch beat, propelling it lazily upwards.

Jeanine finally noticed Harriet, and followed her line of sight, then jerked her own broom into action. They were neck and neck as they raced towards their prize, but Harriet was just that little bit faster. She inched ahead. With a low grunt of frustration, Jeanine slammed her body to the side, knocking Harriet off course. She was older, though, more experienced. She’d been playing on the school team since she was a first year. She flipped into a perfect barrel roll to absorb the impact, ignoring the shrill of Hooch’s whistle sounding out again. She reached, pushing everything she had from the broom between her knees. Her fingers closed around the cool metal of the snitch, the feathers tickling at the sensitive skin between her thumb and index finger. Jeanine’s hand closed around hers, and the girl cursed and fell back as Harriet held the ball aloft.

“Potter’s got the snitch!” the commentator cried. “Gryffindor wins! Ravenclaw loses twenty points for the foul!”

Jeanine climbed stiffly off her broom and extended a hand to Harriet. “Sorry,” she said. “I got kind of angry. I shouldn’t have tackled you. And I didn’t know that seekers couldn’t touch the quaffle. We have different rules in the States.”

“S’okay,” Harriet said, taking her hand. “It’s all about learning, right?”

Of course, any quidditch win required a party in Gryffindor tower. Harriet stopped off in her room to put her broom away. She showered as quickly as she could, and pulled on jeans and a fitted pink t-shirt. It seemed as good a time as any to remind the Gryffindors that their captain was still a girl.

It was surprising that the raucous joy of the Gryffindor common room didn’t spill out past the portrait of the Fat Lady, but the laughter hit as soon as you opened the portrait. Ron was animatedly dissecting every goal in front of the fireplace to anyone who’d listen, and even Hermione was there, looking slightly deranged at the noise and chatter, but gamely clutching a drink instead of a book. Dean and Seamus, of course, had taken it upon themselves to sneak in alcohol in the form of Veela’s tears, a spirit that didn’t match firewhiskey in its burning qualities, but was still best drunk mixed with something else. Harriet sniffed the glass of pumpkin juice she poured for herself suspiciously before taking a sip, making sure it was the non-alcholic version.

Ginny was doing the same with the pitcher next to her. “Here. This one seems unadulterated,” Harriet said, offering it to the redhead. As a rule, the serious Quidditch players didn’t drink before their twenties- wizarding alcohol could affect reflexes which were crucial. For someone like Ginny, a slight slowdown in her quicksilver reactions could cost her a career. She took the pitcher wordlessly and gave it an experimental sniff, not willing to trust it to Harriet’s say-so.

“Well played, today,” Harriet continued. “That first goal was phenomenal.”

“I know,” Ginny said flatly, pouring out a drink. “I don’t need you to tell me that, Potter.” She turned away, and went to sit beside Hermione. Harriet couldn’t help a mental sigh- She wished that she could just be friends with Ginny again. At least her changes hadn’t affected her friendship with Hermione, though. Harriet wandered over to sit with Ron and his gaggle of boys, from Dean and Seamus down to wide-eyed Dennis Creevey.

“...and then when their seeker hit the Quaffle!” Seamus said, and took a glug of his undoubtedly tampered-with pumpkin juice.

Harriet flopped into a giant beanbag. “She didn’t know she wasn’t allowed to,” she explained.

“What?” Dean demanded hotly. “What’s the point if the seeker can double as a chaser?”

Harriet shrugged. “Apparently the rules are different where she’s from. You’d have thought Belby might have mentioned it to her, though.” She reached for a handful of the crisps in the bowl on Ron’s knee grinning as she grabbed them before he could snatch the bowl away. She popped one in her mouth.

“She tackled you, too, though,” Dean pressed on. “She’s a menace!”

Harriet shrugged. It was true that Jeanine was bigger than most seekers, and certainly bigger than her, but there hadn’t been much malice in her tackle. She was perhaps better served as a chaser or beater, but Harriet wasn’t about to complain about something that made it easier for her team to win. Either way, Harriet thought she was certainly the better player, and the tackle hadn’t cost her the win.

The party went on through dinner, with a gaggle of younger students dispatched to fetch more snacks from the kitchens. McGonagall showed up just after the meal and scouted around for alcohol or other contraband (Weasley’s wheezes products were commonplace at gatherings such as these) but didn’t find any, thanks to some quick banishing of bottles back to trunks. Instead, she had to content herself to congratulating the team on the win.

It was only an hour off curfew when Harriet finally extricated herself from post-match dissections and predictions for the season. Hermione had vanished some time ago to begin head girl patrols, and even Ron was yawning. Like Harriet, he was keenly aware that this was their last quidditch season at school: unless either of them went on to become professionals (a possibility for Harriet, but less of an option for Ron), and he was loath to let the very first match go without fanfare. They wouldn’t play again until after Christmas, instead taking to the stands to watch Slytherin take on Hufflepuff next.

The route from the tower down to her rooms took her close to the library. She shouldn’t have been surprised to run into Draco Malfoy. Quite literally. He seemed to be in the library every time she was of late.

“Oh! I’m sorry!” she exclaimed, bending to help him gather his stack of parchment. He was paler than usual, she realised, his face drawn and tight. He looked… worried. Not even Hermione was that worried about NEWTs yet.

“Not a problem,” Malfoy said smoothly, accepting the stack of notes back from her. “Please, forgive me, I should have paid attention. My mind was… elsewhere.”

Harriet lifted a shoulder. “No big deal,” she assured him.

She turned to go, but he touched her lightly on the shoulder. “Well done on the game today,” he said.

“Erm, thanks…” It wasn’t like Malfoy to be pleased at Gryffindor winning a match. “It was a good one.”

Malfoy nodded. “May I walk you back to your rooms?” he asked. “It’s getting late, and I would be unable to forgive myself if something were to happen on your way.”

Did Malfoy know something she didn’t, she wondered? What on earth could possibly happen at Hogwarts? “I’m fine. Thanks, though,” she said, turning away.

He strode alongside her. “Please. It’s my place as a gentleman. My father would never forgive me if he learnt that I was impolite to a lady. I know that there was some revelry in Slytherin tonight, a birthday party. Your rooms lie between the common room and the kitchens. I would hate for an inebriated Slytherin to waylay you.”

She rather thought that an un-inebriated one was getting in her way, but it didn’t seem worthwhile to argue. He knew where her room was, anyway, so there was no harm in it. She agreed.

Malfoy struck up conversation on the way. “How are you finding the change in your body?” he asked lightly. “It must have been quite difficult to come to terms with.”

“I’m, erm, getting used to it,” she replied. She doubted Malfoy was referring to, or at all interested in the kind of task that Robin had set her, but his words brought back the knowledge that the box was still sitting in her room.

Malfoy nodded. “Quite an unusual position to be in,” he agreed. “I must say, you’ve turned out as a pretty girl. You must have suitors falling at your feet.”

“No, not really,” Harriet replied shortly. She wasn’t sure that she liked this conversation- along with Robin’s present, it was reminding her of the couple of dreams she’d had featuring Malfoy. She couldn’t deny that she found him physically attractive, with his ice-prince good looks and charm, but she knew his personality all too well. She couldn’t bring herself to fully trust the newly ‘nice’ Malfoy. He’d never be as kind and warm as Robin, she thought.

“I’m surprised,” Malfoy said. “You always were pretty, even as a boy. Now, you’re lovely. Positively elfin, and beautiful.” Harriet said nothing; she couldn’t think of a reasonable reaction. They were approaching the turn to her portrait-door.

“Well, goodnight,” she said, pausing at the turning. Malfoy peered down the corridor and shook his head, gesturing for her to go on.

She suppressed a sigh as Malfoy followed her the fifty yards to her door. She got out her wand to let herself in, wishing that Malfoy wasn’t standing so close. She didn’t think he was likely to try to force his way in; if he wanted to do her harm, he’d had plenty of opportunity on the walk down.

His hand brushed her shoulder. “Perhaps,” he asked, his eyes bright, “you might grace me with a goodnight kiss?”

Harriet’s heart jumped in her chest. She stared at him in silence for a few seconds. “I don’t think we know each other well enough for that, Malfoy,” she finally worked out of her tight throat.

He smiled. “Please, call me Draco. We’ve known each other since we were eleven years old, don’t you think that counts as a long enough acquaintance?”

“You’ve been an arse for most of that time,” Harriet pointed out.

Draco spread his hands in surrender. “I admit, I was. But I’ve grown up, seen what a idiot I truly was.” He reached out to cup her cheek, and Harriet froze, completely unsure of what to do. He skin tingled, but his touch lacked that tenderness when Robin had made much the same gesture. His hands were thin and hard, like the rest of him. “You must be desperate by now,” he opined, speaking low. “Unless you’re fucking Weasley, that is.”

She gasped in shock and indignation. He said it so matter-of-factly: he gave no hint that he disapproved of the notion of her sleeping with someone. He leaned down to kiss her, but she was faster. She ducked out from under his arm. “I’m not interested, Malfoy!” she said hotly.

He gave a thin-lipped grin. “So you are fucking Weasley, then.” he deduced.

“I’m not ‘fucking’ anybody!”

Malfoy shook his head slowly. “I can’t believe that, Harriet. You’d be climbing the walls in desperation by now. Unless you’re frigid of course. Well, you know where to find me when it all gets too much. There’s no need to descend into hysteria, and you will, you know, without sex.” He smiled again, the corners of his eyes even lifting a little this time. “Goodnight, Harriet.”

She leaned back against the wall and breathed a small sigh of relief when he rounded the corner. She couldn’t help running over everything in her head as she readied herself for bed though, washing the sweat from her unruly hair. Was Malfoy right? Was she frigid? She shivered at the word, despite the warmth of the water raining down on her head and back. Was that why she didn’t know what to do with Robin’s gifts?

She paused by the box as she passed the armchair on the way to bed, but couldn’t bring herself to take the things out again. She was tired, she reasoned. Tomorrow night, she’d try.

 

Chapter Text

“Let us pretend,” Severus said, “that it is crucial that I do not know that Gryffindor won the match on Sunday. Make me believe that Ravenclaw took the victory.”

Harriet nodded, steeling herself for the onslaught of the legilimency attack. It still jolted her, every time. This occasion was no different. She carefully tried to school her features, playing a disjointed memory of Sunday’s game in her head. She tried her best to weave in the sounds, the feel of the air moving as she flew. In this false memory, though, Jeanine took the snitch, and the match. It was hard; the crackle of the fire distracted her, and the overbearing weight of Severus’ mind bearing down on hers was almost painful.

Severus broke magical contact, and Harriet blinked. It felt like it had been mere seconds, but the clock on the mantel told her that almost ten minutes had passed. She let out a deep breath in relief at her mind no longer feeling as if it was being inexorably pressed beneath a load of bricks. “You forgot to add in the Gryffindor reaction after the match.” Severus said. “Remember that a memory can never exist in isolation: it must join to others. With that said, however, well done. You’ve improved so much this year. I hadn’t thought it possible, given your pathetic performances in previous years, but I think we’re getting there. We can cut the lessons down to once a week, I think. Just Mondays will be sufficient.”

Harriet couldn’t help grinning widely. Whilst Severus was no nicer to her in Potions lessons, the praise in private almost made up for it. She was getting more and more used to kind Severus. He leaned back in his chair, setting his wand aside, and closed his eyes for a moment.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

He opened them again, and shook his head slightly to assuage her concern. “It’s nothing. Legilimency can be as tiring as occlumency,” he told her, “and I have been using my magic rather more than usual of late. There have been other… obligations placed on me.”

She chewed on her lip. She wanted to ask, but she doubted he would tell her, so she just nodded. “Can I help?” she wanted to know.

He smiled indulgently. “No, child, but thank you.” He turned his head to the fireplace as it flared the bright green of floo powder. “Ah, I should have known to expect a visit. I was never blessed with so much attention from my offspring prior to this year.” He gave a wry smile as Robin dusted himself off, and held up a hand when his son greeted him. “I am under no delusions that you are here to visit me, boy,” he assured Robin. “Go on, both of you.”

Harriet grinned and bounded up from her seat, her smile wide and her heart leaping as Robin dropped a kiss on the top of her head. “Hey, beautiful,” he murmured, and pushed her towards the floo.

Just before she tossed the powder into the hearth to go back through to her room, Severus’ hand shot out to grasp the top of Robin’s arm. “Be kind,” he beseeched his son, their coal-dark eyes meeting. Robin nodded seriously, and followed her through the floo.

Almost immediately, he spotted the box by the armchair, the red tissue paper peeking out of the top. He grinned. “Did you enjoy my present?” he asked.

Harriet flushed pink. He was beside her in a moment, his hands cupping her cheeks. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “Did I embarrass you?”

She bit her lip. “I… didn’t use them,” she admitted quietly. “I didn’t really know how.”

He frowned and towed her towards the sofa, settling her down next to him. “Do you actually feel desire?” he asked quietly. “For me, for anyone?”

“I do!” she assured him. She looked down at the lap, where he held her hands. “More than ever, in fact,” she admitted quietly. “But I had some… reservations. I think I got them sorted out, but I still don’t really know where to start.”

He’d rested his head atop hers. “Would you like me to help you?”

She tipped her head up to look at him, resulting in a kiss to her forehead on the way. “How?” she asked.

“Come on,” he said, “I’ll show you.” He took her by the hand and pulled her towards the four-poster, taking the box he’d sent her with them. He settled back onto the bed, leaning against the headboard. “Take off your tights and knickers,” he instructed quietly, “but leave your skirt on if you’d like.” Harriet’s fingers trembled as she hooked the undergarments off her feet and dropped them into the laundry basket by the bed for the house elves. She stood by the side of the bed, unsure. He patted the bed in front of him, splaying his legs so she could crawl between them and settle back against his chest. His long legs bracketed hers, leaving her feeling cocooned. She could feel the rise and fall of his breath, and the warm air tickled her ear when he tucked her hair back. “Are you okay?” he asked in a low murmur.

“I… I think so,” she replied. Her heart was hammering in her chest.

He kissed her, just below her earlobe, licking slightly at the sensitive flesh there. “Are you sure you’re happy to do this?”

“Yeah. I want to,” she assured him. “I… just don’t know how.”

“That’s okay,” he responded. He pulled a light blanket over their legs, so they were covered from the waist down. “Would you like me to guide you in what to do, or would you like me to show you?”

“Show me, please?”

His silky hair bobbed against her collarbone when he nodded. He turned her face up to the side so he could kiss her, covering her mouth with his own. He nipped lightly at her bottom lip, drawing a moan from her. “I had no intentions of doing this so soon,” he breathed when they broke the kiss. “I don’t want to take advantage of you, Harriet, but it’s a crime that you don’t know how to pleasure yourself.” He kissed her on the mouth again, then caressed the side of her face. “Close your eyes,” he instructed, his voice not much more than a whisper and a rumble in his chest. “Tell me if I hurt you, or you want to stop.”

She nodded, and did as he instructed, shutting out the soft candlelight. Being so close to him was already making her feel like her skin was a thousand times more sensitive than usual. His left hand moved down her body to cradle a breast under the blouse just as his right cradled her cheek. His thumb grazed across her nipple through the thin fabric of the blouse and her bra, and she gasped, the alien sensation of her nipple rising shooting straight down to between her legs. “Good girl,” he crooned, his lips moving against her ear as he spoke. His voice was low, gentle and liquid. Deftly, his fingers flicked the buttons of her blouse open and trailed lightly across the skin just above the cups of the bra. She shivered, although not from cold. His arm wrapped around her, and a solitary finger dipped below the fabric to brush her hardened nipple. She gasped and arched upwards. “Oh, you like that, do you?” he asked with a small smile in his voice. He did it again, nipping at the tender skin of her neck at the same time.

Then his hand moved on, journeying down her stomach and beneath the blanket. She raised her hips as he tugged her skirt up to give him access. When she settled again, she was suddenly aware of the hardened bump against her lower back. Robin was enjoying this too. The thought made her feel better, but also a little guilty: she wasn’t doing anything for his pleasure.

Before she could protest about the fact though, her breath was stolen by a gasp as she felt his hand rest high on her inner thigh. Another inch, and he’d be touching her there. “All okay?” he asked silkily.

“Yes,” she breathed. Robin coaxed her legs a few inches apart with light touches, and his fingers inched up until he was rubbing gently at the junction of her thigh and hip. She’d never realised that the skin there was so sensitive. He was able to elicit another gasp and arch from her, which he rewarded with a gentle kiss to her cheek.

“I’m going to touch you now,” he warned softly, and the declaration sent a pulse of desire down into her again. He moved his hand until his palm rested on her pubic mound, and then, so slowly, he set his fingers down across her lips, drawing a sharp gasp from her at the touch. “You’re wet,” he murmured in her ear, with a melted-caramel voice. “Good girl.”

Her lip found its way between her teeth again when he splayed his fingers, opening her. A light swipe of a finger, bottom to top, elicited a groan and a shudder. “Give me your hand,” he commanded softly, bringing his own back above the blanket to grasp it. He pulled it down, resting his fingers atop her smaller ones. She let out a breath when he touched her hand to her sodden pussy.

“These are your outer labia,” he lectured in his honey soft tones, running her fingers around the fleshy outside lips. “They spread apart when you’re aroused. Here are the inner pair.” He guided her hand to the folds of skin, then skimmed them downwards. “This is the opening to your vagina.” He curled his fingers around hers, and she felt just the tip of one breach the opening, entering not even a quarter of an inch. Her muscles clenched instinctively, and he chuckled. He grasped her fingers again, dragging them up. “This is your clitoris,” he explained. “It’s the female version of a penis, and very sensitive.” The pad of his index finger swept across it and she moaned, pushing her head back into his shoulder. “That’s it, good girl,” he praised, letting her hand fall to rest against her thigh. His finger dipped down again, gathering moisture from around her entrance and pulling it up. He captured her clit between his index and middle fingers and moved them back and forth, sliding her heated flesh between his fingers. She was panting now, completely given over the sensations of someone else touching her. He was still whispering praise into her ear as he circled the sensitive little button. She gave a deep, guttural moan when he slid a finger into her, curling it up behind her pubic bone, his palm still resting against her sodden exterior.

The hand that had curled around her chest, holding her tight to him moved away, and she heard the clink of the glass dildo that he’d put on the bedside table. “Is it okay if I use the toy on you?” he checked.

“Whatever you want,” Harriet breathed back. His cheek moved against hers as he smiled. She didn’t care, so long as he would keep touching her.

The glass was cold against her thigh when he touched it there, and she jumped a little. He soothed with nonsense noises, rolling it up towards her needy pussy. It was hard and smooth against her as he swirled it in her juices before very, very slowly, pushing it against her opening. Instinctively, she raised her hips and arched upwards, letting him slide the invader into her in a long glide. “Well done.” His voice caressed her ear. His voice was a bit rougher now, coloured with desire. He wished that it was himself that he was sliding into her, but he knew that she wasn’t ready. He pumped the narrow glass shaft into her a couple of times.

“I need your help, sweetheart,” he said. “Can you cast a vibration charm on the dildo, just a little one? I want to make your first orgasm a good one.”

She nodded blearily, and reached for her wand, lying on the bed next to them. Her inner muscles grasped at the smooth glass probe when he pulled it all the way out and brought it up for her to cast the spell. It gleamed wetly in the candlelight as she tapped it. It immediately began to shake in his hand, and he pulled her firmly back against his chest.

He laid it against her entrance again, but didn’t push it in this time, just circled with it, slipping it across her wet flesh. She groaned, wanting more, but not entirely sure what. Gradually, he travelled it up her pussy until it rested just beneath her clit, pressing upwards. She grunted at the new sensation, flexing her hips up. “That’s it,” he murmured, sliding the smoothness over her bud. “Come for me, Harriet.” The glass had warmed, but it was frictionless as he pressed it against her. She screwed her eyes closed tighter, tension building in her abdomen, leaving her feeling strangely empty.

Her inner muscles clenched, grasping for something that wasn’t there. Her hand gripped at the blanket. Wordlessly, he slid his other hand down her body, burying a finger into her quivering channel. Another few passes of the vibrating dildo, and a press upwards of his buried finger, and she clenched down hard, crying out as she spasmed. Her whole pelvis seemed to seize up, and she tossed her head to the side even as her hips bucked up.

He set the dildo to the side, still buzzing faintly, and laid his hand flat against her pussy, rubbing gently with his palm as she shook with her climax. “Well done,” he praised softly. “Good girl.”

Two minutes later, she was finally regaining her breath as he held her tight to him. He’d turned her onto her side so he could see her face, pillowing her cheek against his chest. “Did you enjoy that?” he asked, although she thought that that should have been a rhetorical question. She nodded sleepily, reaching out to end the vibration charm on the dildo.

She smiled and nodded against his shoulder, reaching up to stroke on hand across his cheek. “What do you need me to do for you?” she asked.

“Nothing,” he told her quietly, petting her hair. “That was for you, dearest.” He shifted beneath her. “May I use your bathroom?”

“Mmhmm,” Harriet mumbled, gesturing towards the door to the bathroom. Robin slipped from beneath her, letting her sink back onto the soft bed, still in a post-orgasmic haze.He shut the heavy Hogwarts door behind him, and turned to lean his head against the cool tile. His hair swung forward to cut out the light from the room. His hand fumbled down for the zip of his jeans, pulling out his heavy cock with a hiss. He could still feel the pressure of her lithe body against his, still hear her gasps and moans reverberating in his head.

The breath puffed hot and fast from him as he wrapped his hand around himself and stroked, then jerked faster, scrabbling behind him for a towel to catch the explosion that was building, tightening his balls and pulling his flesh taut. He clenched his jaw and pressed his lips together keep from crying out as he came, spurting into the towel. He rested his head against the wall again with a deep sigh, tossing the towel into the laundry basket. It had been harder than he could have imagined, keeping control of himself as she’d writhed against him. He was determined to do right by her though, determined not to take advantage or scare her away. She was special; he didn’t know why, but from the first time he’d seen her in the staffroom of the cafe, he’d wanted to protect her.

He tucked his deflating cock away and washed his hands, regarding himself in the mirror above the sink. He wondered if she saw his father when she looked at him: the same pale skin, though slightly flushed with excitement now, the dark, hooded eyes and silken waterfall of hair, though his wasn’t clumped with potions fumes, and framed a less angular face. He wondered if he should cut his hair, to minimise the similarity, but every time he considered it, he never quite got around to it. No matter how hated Severus Snape was to the majority of the magical population, he was Robin’s connection to the wizarding world, and Robin clung to the part of himself that belonged to that spectacular place.

Harriet had sat up on the bed in his absence, her knees drawn up and tucked beneath her chin. A tear track glistened against her cheek. “What is it?” he asked softly, settling on the bed in front of her, a hand on her arm.

She looked up beseechingly. “Do you hate me?” she asked.

“No. Why would I hate you?”

“Because… because I’m ignorant. Because I don’t know what I’m doing. Other girls; they’ve been having sex for years, they know what to do. You should have someone who knows what she’s doing. Not someone like me… frigid.”

Robin pushed a hand through his hair in frustration. He’d wanted to help her, and instead, she was crying. “You’re not frigid,” he explained gently. “You seemed to enjoy that, at least, so you’re not frigid. Did you know that in the muggle world, female innocence is prized?” he asked. “Historically, a virgin woman had far more worth than one who was not. The wizards… well, between contraceptive potions and no fear of sexually transmitted diseases, promiscuity is the norm. But I’m not exactly a wizard, am I?”

Harriet looked up at him, her eyes still bright with tears. “So… you still want me?” she asked shakily.

“I’ve wanted you since I first saw you, silly girl,” he said with a smile. “I’ve slept with a lot of girls- I started young- but I’ve never met anyone like you.” He kissed away the tear that had caught by her nose, tasting the salt on his lips. “I don’t mind that you don’t know much about sex; I understand that. But I’m going to imagine that you know better than most women what to do to please a man. You had the equipment not so long ago, after all.”

She couldn’t help a small grin at that one. He was right, she supposed. “I promised that we’d go slowly, and we will,” he continued. “I’m not going to make love to you just because I’ve shown you how to touch yourself. You get to make that choice for yourself.”

She nodded, and bit her lip. “Come on,” he said, standing and holding out a hand for her. “Let’s go and cuddle on the sofa, and we can talk about what we’ve done in the last few days. Didn’t you have a quidditch match? I’ve always wanted to watch a quidditch match…”

She laughed, the last of her tears dried from her cheeks, and let him tow her over to the bright fire. He stayed with her until she was content, warm and sleepy, ready to fall into bed and sleep off the last of the comfortable lethargy from his ministrations.

 

Chapter Text

Neville let out a cry of frustration and pain as, once again, his shield fizzled as Seamus’s stinging hex hit it. His face and arms were blotchy with past hexes, as if he’d stumbled into a large patch of nettles. Lupin put a comforting hand on his shoulder. “How about we work on this somewhere quieter?” he suggested kindly. He stopped the rest of the defence club and sent them away.

Harriet, though, stayed behind. Neville hadn’t seemed to enjoy defence club much, and Harriet felt guilty for persuading him to come along. “Everything alright, Harriet?” Lupin asked when she was the last one left, other than Neville, who was red faced and looking longingly at the door.

“Yeah… I just wondered if I could help?” Harriet replied. “Maybe you need someone for Neville to practice on, or…”

“Thank you, Harriet, but I think Neville and I may just have a little chat,” Lupin said. “It’s very kind of you to offer, but it won’t be necessary tonight.” He smiled genially, and waved Harriet towards the door. She tried to get Neville to look at her, but he stared resolutely at the floor instead. Harriet had no choice but to go; she jogged to catch up to Ron and Hermione.

Not quite an hour later, a much happier Neville tumbled through the portrait hole. “All okay, Neville?” Harriet called, almost singeing a finger in her distraction: exploding snap was not a game to be distracted from, especially not when playing hyper-competitive Ron. He folded himself into a chair: Neville had shot up about four inches since the start of the summer, and he was still getting used to his height.

“Yeah, thanks,” Neville said. “Professor Lupin was telling me about a book he’d read about plants being used for defence- things like devil’s snare and vampire briars mixed with quick-growth potions. It was really interesting.”

“That’s good,” Harriet encouraged, losing the game with good humour. Ron grinned widely- he usually won anyway, so Harriet wasn’t sure it deserved the air punch he gave. “After all, it’s not just about firing off the most powerful spell. It’s about creative thinking.”

Neville nodded. “I don’t think Dumbledore’s going to be that happy, though,” he admitted. “I don’t think he’s interested in quick growing plants. He wants me to be able to do spells that can kill people.”

Ron blinked in surprise. “You don’t seem like the killing people type,” he said. “Why does Dumbledore want you to kill people?”

Neville sounded dejected when he answered; his smiles had faded. “To kill Death Eaters, I suppose. He asked if I wanted to get revenge for what happened to my parents.”

That wasn’t what Dumbledore really wanted, Harriet was sure. He was trying to groom Neville to be Voldemort’s killer, to fulfill the prophecy. “Who cares what Dumbledore wants,” she said sharply. “Do what you want, Neville. What’s done is done. Killing Death Eaters won’t bring your parents back, so you don’t have to fight them if you don’t want to.”

“Might make him feel better, though, mate,” Ron pointed out.

Harriet scoffed. “Come on, Ron. Do you really think that killing people can make you feel better? Do you think anyone ever gets over the guilt of killing another human? Would you happily cast the killing curse and feel good about it? Haven’t you grown up at all? It doesn’t change anything, you know. Killing Death Eaters won’t bring Neville’s parent’s back. It won’t bring Sirius back. It just makes a cycle of killing and hurt and grudges.”

Ron looked at her with eyes practically bulging. “What’s got into you?” he asked. “They’re Death Eaters! They asked for it!”

They were beginning to draw stares, and the common room was falling slowly silent. Harriet shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “I don’t care what they’ve done, I don’t want to kill them,” she said. “Killing is never an easy option. That’s what the wizengamot and trials are for, it’s for them to decide who gets to live and who gets to die, not me.”

Whispers were rising around the room. Eventually, one voice called out loud enough for Harriet to hear. “You saying that you’re on the Death Eater’s side, Potter? Why not go to Slytherin? That’s where Death Eaters belong, and if you’re not against them, you’re with them.”

Harriet stood and turned to face Ritchie Coote. “Don’t you see?” she asked. “If you just want to put all of them to death, you’re no better than they are, wanting to kill people because they had muggle parents.”

Coote sniffed and turned away. “All Death Eaters deserve to die.”

Harriet looked at Ron and Neville for support. Neville, though, was gone, vanishing up the stairs to the dormitories. Ron held up his hands. “Don’t look at me,” he said. “I agree with him. I’d like to avada the likes of Lucius Malfoy a few times over.”

“Ron, you wouldn’t,” Harriet said beseechingly. “If you had him at wandpoint, you wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Ron squinted at her, as though he was waiting for her to morph into some kind of monster. “Yeah, I would. Is this some kind of girl thing? You don’t want to kill anything? Because that’s gonna be a bit of an issue when you end up face to face with you-know-who. You on the rag, or coming down with hysteria or something?”

Harriet blinked at him, trying to process what he’d just said. A girl thing? How could he possibly think that her gender changed anything? She just had no desire to judge who should die in the split seconds of battle. “I’m still the same person,” she said. “I’m still Hary, just with a different name and longer hair and wearing a different uniform.”

Ron shrugged. “You’d have been all for getting rid of a few Death Eaters before,” he replied, and turned in his chair so his back was to her. Harriet gasped in shock and hurt. She was mortified to feel tears pricking at the backs of her eyes.She turned to go through the portrait and back out into the main part of the school. She wasn’t sure whether to be grateful or angry that none of the Gryffindors present were looking at her, standing up for her. She gulped in a lungful of the cool castle air and started off towards her rooms.

“Everything alright, Harriet?” Lupin’s voice called out as she passed his office on the second floor. She hadn’t even noticed that his door was open. He stood from his desk and sheaf of marking to approach the door. “I hope you weren’t offended, earlier, with Neville.”

Harriet hadn’t expected kindness to set off her tears. The sob choked in her throat as she tried to swallow it down. Lupin took one look at her and placed a hand lightly on her shoulder, ushering her into his office. He guided her to a chair by the fireplace and sat down opposite her, leaning forwards with his elbows on his knees. He took a bar of chocolate from the table and broke off a row for Harriet. She took it with a nod of thanks, still trembling slightly with the effort of keeping the tears in. The low hissing of a runespoor in a large tank on Lupin’s sideboard was too low for Harriet to try to make out the words of the snake-like creature.

“It’s okay to cry, you know,” Lupin told her softly.

Harriet shook her head. “They all think I’m just some pathetic girl anyway,” she choked out.

“There’s nothing wrong with being a girl,” Lupin said. “You are a girl; you’ve always been a girl. It doesn’t matter what your gender is, it matters that you’ve a good, kind, intelligent person, who looks out for her friends and does good in the world.”

Harriet looked up from her nibbled chocolate, meeting Lupin’s eyes. “Would you kill a Death Eater if you had the chance?” she asked.

Lupin gave the question some consideration. “That depends,” he replied eventually. “If they were threatening the life of someone I loved, I would. That doesn’t go for just Death Eaters, that’s everyone. In self defence or in defence of others, it’s right to use whatever force necessary to end the situation. If that means killing them before they kill me, so be it. But if I had a Death Eater wandless before me? I wouldn’t kill. You should always use the least force that will guarantee your aims.”

Harriet nodded. “That’s what I thought,” she said. “I don’t want to kill people just for the sake of it. It’s not up to me to decide if they should live or die- I’m not a judge, I’m just a teenager. I shouldn’t have to be the wizarding world’s executioner. But now that’s just one more reason for everyone to hate me. Ron thinks I’ve gone soft because I’m a girl.”

“Oh, Harriet,” Lupin said with a frown. “I had hoped that the other students had stopped bothering you.”

Harriet shrugged. “I guess a lot of them got bored,” she replied. “And Ginny threatened Lavender, because she didn’t want me in the hospital wing before the quidditch match. But mostly, everyone treats me like some stranger who took away Harry. And I’ve heard more than one person wonder if I’m gay or straight now that I’m a girl, even though I haven’t talked about being with anyone, boy or girl. I try not to let it bother me, but…”

“...But it still hurts. I think I know how you feel. I’m a werewolf, after all.”

“Yeah, I suppose you do,” Harriet said with a little grin, her heart a little lighter. If Lupin had managed, so could she. “I still just wish that people would just get over it.”

Lupin patted her knee. “Most will. Some people will always view you with suspicion, because you’re outside their knowledge of the world. But there will always be people who love you, Harriet. You can always turn to us when you need to.” He paused for a moment, and gave a smile. “Your mother would be proud of you, you know, and your father, though he’d be a little angry, I think. And Sirius would have loved you just the same.”

“Thanks,” Harriet said. “It… it kind of means a lot. You knew them better than anyone else I know, so if you don’t mind what I am… well, it doesn’t matter so much what other people think. You’re kind of my family.”

Lupin blinked a few times, his cheeks going pink. “I’m honoured that you think of me that way,” he told the girl, leaning over to hug her loosely. “And you can always come to me, even if it’s just for a friendly ear. I know I’m your teacher, but I’d like to be your friend as well.”

Harriet’s good mood thanks to Lupin lasted until breakfast the next morning, when Ron shuffled a little to the left when Harriet sat next to him. Not enough to leave room for a whole other person, but enough to suggest that he thought Harriet might be in some way contagious. Having no desire for a confrontation in the great hall, she simply ignored it and reached for the platter of bacon. Hermione, her nose in her Ancient Runes textbook, didn’t notice a thing, and Neville, their sometimes-meal companion, was as careful as Ron not to look at her. Just when she’d thought that perhaps everything could be a little more normal.

Ron immediately partnered with Neville in herbology to begin a study of the effects of different concentrations of various silencing potions when watering mandrake roots during growth. That left Harriet with Hermione, who wasn’t saying anything, but had shot Ron a strange look when he’d lunged to pair up with Neville. She set to writing down their concentrations of potions to water magically cleansed of any other impurities whilst Harriet mixed the amounts together, careful not to over-or-under-measure by a single drop. She felt mildly sorry for the rats they’d be testing the effects of the mandrakes on in three week’s time.

“Okay, what’s going on with Ron?” Hermione finally whispered an hour into the lesson, when Ron had ignored a request from Harry to pass the water beaker. Neville had passed it over sheepishly.

“I said I didn’t want to kill Death Eaters for the sake of it,” Harriet whispered back. Hermione’s eyebrows arched down into a frown, but Harriet wasn’t sure if it was aimed at her or Ron. Hermione asked for the next beaker of potion and water without further comment.

Ron continued to ignore Harriet for the rest of the day. By the time potions had rolled around, she wasn’t even surprised that he had moved to a different bench, next to Imogen. Hermione sat beside Harriet without comment.

At the end of the lesson, when all the samples of the potions had been bottled and left for marking (Ron’s was a murky khaki colour instead of clear, Harriet noted with an uncharacteristic jolt of schadenfreude), Snape waved his wand at the blackboard, erasing all trace of his instructions for the lesson. “Homework,” he said with a sneer. “Because I am kind, you have a full week to complete this assignment. I expect no less than two rolls of parchment comparing and contrasting each of these brews. I expect a thorough understanding on the differences between them, and the correct usage and dosage of each, along with notes on their efficacy. At least I can rest assured that I am doing my utmost to aid my future sanity.” He waved his wand again, and a list of eight different potions appeared. Along with the rest of the class, Harriet began scribbling them down. All were unfamiliar to her, and she’d read the next two chapters of their potions textbook.

Hermione’s bushy head was down as she copied out the list, but Harriet had heard the intake of breath from her when the writing had first appeared. She was sure that Hermione knew what the potions were, and not encouraged when the other witch came up with a pink tinge to her cheeks.

Harriet blushed too when she finally located information about some of the potions in the library. Each and every one was a contraceptive potion, and they most certainly weren't on the curriculum for Hogwarts. She couldn’t shake the notion that this was for her benefit.

Hermione dumped a thick tome on the table beside Harriet. She hadn’t even known that she’d been in the library; assuming the other girl to be off on rounds or prefect duties. Sometimes it felt like she didn’t see much of Hermione anymore, which made Ron’s silence even more grating. How long would it be until she started going to Malfoy for friendship, she wondered?

“I can’t believe he’s given us this potion to research,” Hermione huffed. She laid her finger against a passage. Harriet skim read it. “Honestly, a contraceptive often used for the deflowering of virgins? What is professor Snape thinking?”

Harriet couldn’t quite suppress the shiver that shiver that ran down her back when she read that this particular potion tasted strongly acidic and reminiscent of a bitter lemon. This really was aimed at her. “I mean,” Hermione continued, “It’s not like any of us will actually need it. If he were teaching second years, yeah, but seventh? It’s kind of late for that.” Hermione flopped down into a chair in the quiet corner of the library.

“Erm, yeah,” Harriet said. “I suppose so.”

Hermione gasped and covered her mouth with her hand. “Oh goodness, Harriet, I didn’t think… is it because of you? Because if you haven’t already slept with someone, well, you kind of still have your virginity, because you’re female now?”

Harriet shrugged her shoulders, trying to cover up her discomfort. “Maybe. I don’t think Snape really thinks about me that much, though. He probably just wanted to make us all really uncomfortable. And like he said, teaching us to make contraceptives might mean less kids for him to teach in the future. Maybe it was aimed at Ron- there’s one here that’s taken by males.”

Hermione didn’t look convinced. “Maybe,” she hedged. “But Snape helped you back in the summer. And he’s been giving you occlumency lessons. He’s nicer to you in lessons now- he doesn’t take quite as many points as he used to, and he hasn’t vanished a single one of your potions since you almost blew the classroom up in the first lesson. And you’re kind of dating his...”

Hermione’s voice was low, but Harriet shushed her violently before she could finish her sentence. “Don’t talk about that where people can hear, Hermione!” she reprimanded.

Hermione looked thoroughly cowed. “Sorry,” she whispered. “But it’s true. I reckon he cares about you more than you might think.”

“Maybe,” Harriet said. “Look, Hermione, I’m off to bed. I’ve had enough work for tonight.” She certainly wasn’t going to tell her friend that she was intending to practice her vibration charms, in spite of Severus’ views on her contraceptive needs.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Stop that! Get off me!”

Harriet was sure that was Ginny’s voice. Why was Ginny down the corridor that housed the door to Harriet’s room? Holding her wand out, careful of whatever, or whoever it was that had made Ginny sound so annoyed, she crept towards the corner. Strange, she thought, there was no sound of a scuffle. Perhaps it was some kind of romantic encounter? If so, she was ready to retreat and leave them to it. She couldn’t really begrudge Ginny a lover.

There was no one around the corner. She shook her head, feeling silly. Had she imagined it all? She walked down to the storeroom and disused classroom at the end of the corridor, just to check.

The classroom was empty other than the swirling dust motes and a few burnt out firecrackers, remnants either of Peeves or a long-forgotten product test from the Weasley twins. The storeroom door creaked as she pushed it open. “Lumos” she whispered, a moment before her lighted wand hit the floor. Her scream choked off as a hard hand gripped across her mouth.

“Quiet,” Blaise Zabini hissed. “It’s not as if anyone would hear you from here, so you may as well spare my ears.”

If it was possible, Harriet stiffened even more. She was shut in a storeroom with a Slytherin, the only light her dropped wand. Her mind froze. Zabini hissed into her ear, his arms locked tight around her. “Not so high and mighty are you now, eh, Potter? No more Golden Boy, just a stupid little slut. Well, you should know what happens to sluts.” He bit down on her earlobe, hard.

A sob tore from Harriet’s throat, and he chuckled. “That’s right, bitch. Cry.” His hand squeezed down on her breast. No, her mind rebelled, he wasn’t allowed to do this. He shouldn’t, couldn’t touch her like this. Not when Robin had caressed her so gently not so very many days before. She kicked back, as hard as she could, but Zabini anticipated her movement, and stepped to her side. All her foot hit was hard stone; her toes smarted. She gasped out another cry, and shuddered when his hand went roughly between her legs, grasping her through her school skirt and tights.

She was okay at nonverbal spells- not as good as some, but she could cast a good range without giving away her intentions. Wandless magic, though, wasn’t something that was taught at Hogwarts. It was considered too advanced, saved for the students of the few magical institutes of higher education. But magical children had outbursts of uncontrolled magic. If she could just do something, use her magic to push Blaise away, or get her wand back into her hand… Accio wand she thought as hard as she possibly could, imagining her glowing wand leaping back into her hand. Accio wand!

Her wand didn’t so much as twitch. Blaise yanked at her blouse, scattering a couple of buttons to the floor. The flesh above a breast was pinched cruelly, and Blaise laughed. “You’re an abomination to nature, Potter,” he spat. “I’m going to show you what happens to people like you. You won’t be able to walk when I’m through with you. Were you a fag, eh? Did you like it up the arse? Because that could be arranged too...”

She was a witch, damn it all! She shouldn’t be helpless like this. She was a quidditch player: fast and strong and agile. But Blaise was much bigger than her, wiry and strong and his arms were like steel bands. She pushed against him, trying to free herself, to no avail.

He bit her neck again, rough and sucking, hard enough to leave a bruise. “Everyone can see you for the slut you are,” he hissed. It was the biting that gave her the idea. She dipped her head quickly, too quickly for him to realise what she was doing, and sunk her teeth into the back of his hand. She’d aimed for the fleshy pad at the base of his thumb, but missed. Her teeth slipped against bones and tendons, but she had enough of a grip to cause him to cry out. “Fucking cunt!” he yelled, his grip loosening as he tried to dislodge her.

It was enough of an opening. She twisted out of his arms, diving for her wand, a beacon in the darkness. The comforting length of holly in her hand, she backed towards the door.

It flung open, bashing her in the back. Blaise lunged for her again as she toppled, but she wasn’t so off balance that she couldn’t react. “Stupefy!” she shouted. Blaise dropped like a stone.

“What the hell?” Malfoy snapped from the door. “Harriet, what the fuck?”

She stared at him wide-eyed, her wand pointed firmly at him. He held his hands up as if in surrender, showing that he was unarmed, his wand not yet drawn. She barged past him and ran full pelt down the corridor, skidding to a halt at her portrait to perform the opening spell, slamming it behind her as soon as she was through. She didn’t think that Malfoy was following her, but still…

He was probably reviving Blaise, she rationalised. He’d be tending to his friend. She bit her lip. She’d knocked out a fellow student; not just that, she’d stupefied a Slytherin seventh year, a popular boy in the most vengeful house in the school. As if her life wasn’t hand enough already…

Blaise would tell. She knew he’d tell on her, conveniently missing out the part where he’d lured her into an empty storeroom and groped her. She needed to find someone who’d believe her over him. McGonagall didn’t have great form on believing her- Harriet still hadn’t forgiven her teacher for trusting Lavender over her.

The irony that she was going to her attacker’s head of house wasn’t lost on her as she threw floo powder into the fireplace.

Severus was obviously just arriving himself; he was unbuttoning his teaching robes as she whirled into his sitting room. “I believe Robin is in his room, Harriet,” he said with an exaggerated sigh.

She hadn’t even realised she was shaking until she stood there on Severus’ plush rug, the warmth of the fire at her back. Her voice caught in her throat; it sounded small and weak. “I stupefied Blaise Zabini.”

Severus’ fingers stilled halfway down his row of buttons. “Why?” he asked after several beats of silence.

“He attacked me.”

“Are you hurt?” Severus asked at the same moment as Robin’s voice cried “what?” from behind her.

Severus held up a hand to silence his son as Harriet turned towards his voice. “Harriet,” he said, his voice grave, “Where is Blaise?”

“The old storeroom down from my room,” she said in a small voice. “I think Malfoy’s with him.”

Severus nodded, refastening his buttons with a spell. “Stay here, both of you,” he instructed firmly. “I need to make sure Blaise is awake. I’ll be back soon.”

Harriet couldn’t meet Robin’s eyes, so she looked at the cat in his arms instead. He set Sheba on the floor, and she stalked over to the fireplace and proceeded to wash. She was so focused on the feline that she didn’t hear Robin’s soft footsteps. She jumped when he spoke from just behind her. “Are you alright, Harriet?” he asked, his voice rough. She nodded, but stiffened when he laid a hand on her shoulder. “You’re not,” he rebuked tenderly. “You’re shaking.” He pushed her gently towards the sofa, and perched next to her, holding her hand. “What happened?” he asked.

She gulped in a couple of lungfuls of air. “I… I thought I heard one of the other students calling for help, down the corridor from my room. When I checked the storeroom, he disarmed me and grabbed me. I… I bit him to get him to let me go.” She still couldn’t quite believe she’d been reduced to such tactics. “I managed to stupefy him when he was distracted, then I ran,” she finished quietly.

“Did he… rape you?” Robin asked hesitantly after a few minutes of silence.

Harriet shook her head. “I think he was going to,” she said. She realised she wasn’t the only one shaking: Robin was rigid and trembling with barely contained anger. She reached up to run the fingers of her free hand through his hair. She hadn’t yet got used to how silky it was compared to her own wild mane. “It’s okay,” she soothed. “Nothing happened. I’m fine.”

“That’s not the point,” he growled. “No one should be able to hurt you.” His eyes swept over her, taking in the missing three buttons from her blouse, leaving a slip of bra showing when she had her robes unfastened. He brushed his fingers against the reddened mark on the side of her neck. “I should be able to heal this for you. I should be able to protect you.”

“She needs no protection from you, Robin,” Severus commented dryly from behind them. “She’s quite capable of defending herself.” He winced as he crouched down in front of Harriet. He looked exhausted, she realised. “Mr Zabini is awake again, with a nasty bump to the back of his head. I’ve sent him off to the hospital wing. Draco is under the impression that Blaise may have been attempting to sexually assault you. He is quite distraught at the idea.”

Harriet nodded glumly. Severus pressed on. “Did he touch you, Harriet? Did he, god forbid, rape you?” She bit her lip and glanced at Robin. She didn’t want him to hear the things Blaise had said to her. He was already angry, and she didn’t want him doing anything stupid. A quiet little part of her also whispered that perhaps Robin wouldn’t want her anymore.

“I’d rather not,” she said.

Severus seemed to at least guess at what she was thinking. “Would it be easier if you showed me the memory?” he suggested kindly. “That way, you don’t have to say it.”

“Yes, please,” she said gratefully.

Severus rose from his knees with a groan. “Don’t fight,” he warned. “it will be easiest if you don’t fight.” He settled himself in his armchair. “Legilimens.”

Harriet’s first instinct was to throw up shields, block him out. One by one, though, she dropped them, letting him into her mind. He wasn’t trying to break her this time, it was just a firm pressure, not the usual onslaught. She leaned into Robin, and left her mind bare for Severus. Blaise’s cruel words reverberated through her head as the Potions master teased out the memory. She shrank back further into the sofa, cringing at the reliving of Blaise’s hands rough against her and the utter helplessness she’d felt.

Severus sighed as he broke the connection. “You did just right, Harriet,” he said. “You have done nothing which should cause you a moment’s shame. It is Mr. Zabini who should be feel humiliation.”

“Because he got beaten by a girl?” she asked quietly.

Severus had the good grace to look shocked at the suggestion. “Not at all,” he corrected. “Your sex is of no relevance. He should be ashamed at his actions. You’re a powerful witch, Harriet. I would have been unsurprised if you’d managed the wandless magic, had the...assault continued any further. Wandless casting requires either great concentration and preparation, or great power. You have that power.”

She blushed at the compliment. Robin pulled her closer and kissed the top of her head. “I’m proud of you,” he murmured. “If Dad says you did well, you did… he doesn’t give praise out easily.”

Severus sniffed in disdain at his son’s words. “I need to do homework checks on my Slytherins,” he told them. “Harriet, I’ll discuss this with Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall in the morning. In the meantime, or, indeed, as a general instruction for life, don’t go gallivanting after the disembodied voices of your friends.”

A muttered episkey as Severus passed them faded the bruise forming on her neck. Harriet smiled weakly at seeing Severus run a potion-stained hand over the top of Robin’s head.

The pair sat in silence for a few moments, Robin idly stroking her hair. “I don’t know what I should be doing for you, what I should be saying,” he admitted eventually.

“I don’t either,” she assured him. “I just feel.. dirty. I didn’t want him to touch me.” She pulled her legs up onto the edge of the sofa, toying with the threads left after her buttons had popped off. “He was rough, it hurt. It wasn’t like when you touched me.”

Robin’s hand stilled on her head. “Harriet,” he said, his voice cracking, “I’m sorry, I know you don’t want to tell me, but I have to know… what did he do? You said he didn’t rape you, but…”

“He groped me, that’s all,” she said quietly. “He never even got my clothes off before I bit him.”

Robin relaxed ever so slightly at her words, and even snorted a small laugh at the idea of her biting Blaise. “I’m so proud of you for getting away,” he said, gently kissing her forehead. Harriet turned her face up, wanting a real kiss. He stilled as she strained up towards him. “Harriet…” he said gently, “I’m not sure you’re in the right frame of mind…”

“Please?” she begged. “I want to forget him. I’d rather remember you.”

He sighed, his breath puffing soft across her face. “Why must you be so irresistible?” he asked before leaning down to close the gap and kiss her. She wrapped her arms around his neck, enjoying the softness of his lips and the tenderness with which he cradled her. She deepened the kiss.

“Does your dad check homework often?” she asked when they broke for air, wondering how long they had until Severus returned.

“Twice a week for as long as I can remember,” Robin said, pulling her towards him until she was half on his lap, settled in the crook of his arm. She leaned her ear against his chest contentedly, hearing the thump of his heart. “Well, as long as I’ve been visiting Hogwarts during term-time, anyway.”

“What was it like, growing up half in one world and half in another?” she wanted to know. She’d spent her first eleven years ignorant of the wizarding world, and then been thrust into it; she couldn’t imagine hiding what she was all the time, especially as a young child.

Robin rested his chin atop her head. “It was just my life,” he explained. “I always knew that I couldn’t tell anyone about my dad, I just didn’t know why. He explained it all to me when I was about four, just before I started school. Back then, he thought I would be magical. It’s not too unusual for children not to manifest until they’re about six or seven.”

“I turned my year two teacher’s hair blue…” Harriet shared, smiling at the memory. “Was he really strict?” she wanted to know.

“Dad? Yeah, I suppose so. Well, my mum was a complete pushover, so it’s probably a good thing he was. He made sure I did well in school, got all my homework done. I spent my summers here, learning Latin and ancient Greek and Potions. When I was in the middle of the teenage rebellion, about fourteen, he flooed in every schoolnight to make sure I went to bed. He dosed me with dreamless sleep a couple of times, until I figured it was better to just go to bed and skip the argument.”

“It sounds like the worst nightmare of any of us, Snape on our case all the time.”

Robin’s laugh was deep and it reverberated around his chest and her ear. “He has high expectations, but he’s patient and fair.”

Before this year, Harriet would have scoffed to hear Severus described such. He was the greasy bat of the dungeons, the taker of points and giver of detentions. He had no patience; he expected a perfect result first time and brooked no failure at all. But now, now that he’d properly taught her occlumency and been so kind about her change in circumstances, she could understand.

Robin broke her train of thought. “Can anyone else get into your room?” he asked.

“I suppose Dumbledore can,” she said. “I think any door in the castle will open for the headmaster. You or Severus can, from the fireplace, and the house elves, but no one else, I don’t think. Why?”

He twirled a lock of her hair around his finger. “I’m just worried about you. Will you be okay tonight? Will you be safe?”

She shrugged. “I’ll be fine,” she said. “Don’t really have much choice.”

“Well, I could stay with you, if you like. Or you could stay here? My bed’s big enough for both of us.”

Her heart leaped at the possibility of spending a night curled up against the warmth of Robin.

 

 

Chapter Text

Harriet was grumpy. She’d been grumpy for days. Blaise had been given two weeks of detention with Filch. Severus assured her that he’d pushed for at least suspension from the school, if not expulsion, but Dumbledore had argued that Blaise was simply distraught at the recent death of his stepfather. Besides, it wasn’t the first time a less than willing girl had been fondled; the boys were just usually a little gentler about it. Every time she saw Blaise, her heart gave a painful start, and just for a second, the felt the breathless panic from the dark storeroom. She did her best to ignore the fact that the corridor continued after her room.

To make matters worse, Severus had been uncompromising on the idea of she and Robin staying the night together. First, he’d pointed out that the student beds at Hogwarts reported when their occupants were not in them at expected times. Harriet wondered if the Gryffindor beds were broken- they’d snuck around at night frequently enough. Perhaps Dumbledore had just turned a blind eye. Secondly, he’d informed them that he was still not supportive enough of their relationship to allow such a thing. Harriet had tried shouting, but had been sent sulkily back to her own room. She suspected that Robin got a more thorough dressing down after she had gone, but she couldn’t be sure: he’d not visited her since. An owl to him had returned with her letter, looking mildly befuddled. She’d never known an owl fail to deliver before, but perhaps this one was stupid. She’d tried to send the letter with Hedwig, but her trusty companion had refused to so much as accept it. She’d given up, wondering if Robin had decided that she wasn’t worth the trouble and refused her owl.

And now, to top it off, Malfoy had apparently taken up residence outside her door. Her wards chimed every so often, the doorbell spell that Hermione had worked in letting her know that she had a visitor. Unfortunately, though, Hermione didn’t seem to have built in any kind of silencing option.

Malfoy had been following her about trying to talk to her for three days, ever since Blaise had cornered her in the storeroom. Between avoiding him and staying away from Ron’s icy glances, Harriet seemed to be rushing from lessons to meals to her room, trying to not be caught alone by Malfoy, or left alone with Ron. The wards chimed again. This was like torture, she decided, burying her head in in her hands. She could go through the fireplace to Severus’s quarters, but the idea of joining him in his rooms like nothing had happened, like he didn’t hate the idea of her being with his son… She was dreading Monday’s Occlumency lesson. Handing in her homework on contraceptives had been bad enough; she was sure she’d been scarlet writing about the one recommended for virgin witches, which, it turned out, included mild aphrodisiacs, activating only when the witch became sexually aroused. The knowledge that Severus had fed her a potion designed to make it easier to have sex just didn’t mesh well with the man who refused to let her spend time in a bedroom with his son. She couldn’t figure it out.

The chime sounded again. With a cry, Harriet threw down her quill, splattering a few drops of ink across her charms textbook. She wrenched open the door, the portrait sliding neatly away on the other side. Malfoy looked up.

“Ah, excellent. I knew you’d come out eventually,” he drawled. “I thought I might have to wait until it was time for Defence.” He was sat on the hard stone floor of her corridor, a textbook balanced on his knee, looking up at her.

“Go away, Malfoy,” Harriet sighed. Malfoy stood, dusting off his robes, but made no move to leave, just looked expectantly at her. She could just go back into her room, she supposed, but she’d be subjected to the wards again. It didn’t look like Malfoy was going anywhere, and there was still an hour until Defence. If she left her room, he’d follow her. She was trapped. “What do you want?” she sighed.

“To apologise for Zabini,” he said.

“Okay, you’ve apologised. Now go away!” she snapped. Malfoy reached out to touch her arm, but she snatched it back.

“Look, what he did was stupid. There’s no excuse for it.” He looked down the corridor as voices passed, some sixth year Slytherins on their way outside. “Can I come in?” he asked. “I don’t think this is a good conversation to be having in a hallway. Look, I’ll even give you my wand, so you know there’s no funny stuff, okay?”

No wizard ever willingly gave his wand to someone else unless they were serious. Malfoy obviously trusted her to give it back, and he was desperate enough to talk to her that he would go to any lengths. She held out her hand. No matter how much bigger than her he was, if she was the only one with a wand, she could take him.

He carefully laid his hawthorn wand into her outstretched palm. She closed her hand around it, feeling the buzz of an unfamiliar wand, and stepped back to let him inside. He gladly took a seat on the sofa- the ground outside her room had been hard and cold. She stood, leaning back against the edge of her big desk, strewn with books and parchment and a couple of broken quills. With all the essays they had to write this year, she was going through quills at a rate of knots. “So, what couldn’t you say in the corridor, Malfoy?” she asked.

Malfoy’s cool grey eyes didn’t leave hers. “Blaise is an idiot, but I had no idea he would do… what he did,” he said. “I know he didn’t get much of a punishment: his family have donated a lot of money to the school. But you need someone to look out for you. He’s angry, and I’m worried that he’ll try again. The Slytherins respect me, but I can’t make them something they’re not.”

“I seem to remember that I was doing okay at looking out for myself when you barged in,” Harriet pointed out.

Malfoy inclined his head in agreement. “You did well,” he admitted grudgingly. “Not many girls would have had the guts to stupefy.”

Harriet gritted her teeth. Two years ago, she’d probably have punched Malfoy, but she was better at controlling her anger now. “I’d imagine anyone, no matter if they’re a girl or a boy, would have done what they needed to to get away,” she said through clenched teeth.

Malfoy’s shoulders rose elegantly in a nonchalant shrug. “You might be surprised,” he countered. “It doesn't matter, either way… Blaise will be ready for your tricks, next time.”

“So, you’re what? Warning me to be careful? Trust me, Malfoy, the hour long lecture I had from McGonagall about keeping myself safe and away from dark corners was enough, thanks. I don’t need to hear it from you.”

“Oh, I’m sure you’ve learnt your lesson,” the blond said smoothly. “No, I have a different idea in mind. You see, at the moment, Blaise sees you as fair game. But if you were… attached to someone he saw as a threat, well…” He spread his hands, inviting her to see his point.

“Hang on,” she said after a few seconds, “is that you asking me out?” She snorted a laugh.

Malfoy couldn’t hide the affronted contortion of his features. “There’s no need to laugh at it,” he snapped. “Blaise wouldn’t dare to touch you; nor would anyone else. My family may not be as well regarded as it was- my father is still under house arrest, after all, but we are powerful. You’d have everything you could want; you’d be showered with gifts and you’d have respect from the wizarding world. Someday, you’d bear the heir to one of the most ancient houses, and your children would want for nothing.”

“My children?” she asked incredulously. “You seriously think I’m going to marry you and have kids with you?”

“You’d be an idiot not to take me up on the offer.”

“I’m a halfblood. What about your precious blood purity?”

Malfoy was looking slightly discomfited. “Given that our children would only be a quarter muggle-blooded, it doesn’t matter. Even the best families need new blood every so often, and the Potters and the Malfoys haven’t intermarried.”

“So, let me get this right,” Harriet said with a raised eyebrow and a badly concealed grin, “I’d be your girlfriend, and then, when we leave school, we’d get married. I’d move into Malfoy manor and get to work having babies.”

Malfoy shifted on the sofa. Harriet was enjoying the feeling of having an uncomfortable and wandless Malfoy on her sofa. “That’s a long way in the future,” he pointed out. “For now, perhaps we could just get to know each other… put the word out that you’re unavailable, and no one else will dare to try to lure you into dark corners.”

“I’m not interested in you that way, Malfoy.”

His hands bunched in his lap. “You’re turning me down?” he asked with incredulity in every note in his voice. “Why? You’re still into girls?”

“I was never into girls,” Harriet admitted quietly. “I just don’t think that the fact that one of your friends assaulted me is a good enough reason to form a relationship. Is that all, or was there something else you wanted?”

He was still looking at her like she’d run mad. “That was all,” he said slowly. “Look, the offer’s still open. I can do my best to call Blaise off the scent, but this really is the only way to keep him away. Slytherins are territorial.”

She walked him to the door, handing his wand back. Before she could close it, though, he slid his foot in. “Seriously, Harriet, you’d be a fool not to take me up on this. If nothing else, I’m good in bed.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Good to know, Malfoy,” she said, her voice carrying a hint of sarcasm.

“For a start,” he said, pulling his foot back, “You can stop calling me Malfoy. My name’s Draco, and I prefer to be called by my given name amongst friends.”

“Friends?” she asked. A few moments ago, he was talking about getting married…

“Or more, when you change your mind,” he said with a smirk.

“Ugh, Draco!” she exclaimed, but couldn’t help a smile. “Go away. I’ll see you in Defence anyway.”

Professor Lupin, it turned out, had heard about Harriet’s escapades, and decided that summoning your wand if it was knocked from your hand was a good skill to have. Harriet wasn’t so sure she liked the idea by the end of the lesson, when the only person who’d so much as made her wand twitch was Hermione, and everyone had a headache from the repeated calls of accio wand. She could understand why wandless spells were considered such advanced magic.

She was too tired when she sat down to dinner to care that she’d plonked herself next to Ron instead of Neville or Hermione. She yawned widely, and didn’t pay any attention to Ron’s customary shuffle away from her.

Hermione slammed down her fork. “I’m sick of this,” she declared. “Look, I don’t care what your differences are, you’ve been friends since the first time you set eyes on each other. Ron, you’re coming to Harriet’s room tonight, and you two are going to sort this out!”

“There’s nothing to sort!” Ron cried plaintively. “She’s had some kind of brain transplant!”

“He won’t listen, Hermione,” Harriet groused.

“I don’t care!” Hermione informed them tartly. “Eat, then we’re going to Harriet’s if I have to put a full body bind on you and drag you there, Ronald.”

Ron let out a long suffering sigh and dug his fork into his mashed potato. “There had better be cake,” he moaned.

It was that comment that gave Harriet the idea. There was a plate of chocolate bourbon biscuits on her desk, and she was sure that a small top up would be in order. She grinned, and tucked into her dinner with gusto.

It was the work of a few moments to reach into her desk drawer and pull out a few budgerigar bourbons to scatter amongst the chocolate biscuits on the plate. Ron very quickly plonked himself into Harriet’s favourite chair. She suppressed her annoyance, knowing that he’d soon have his comeuppance, and turned the plate of biscuits so the budgerigar bourbons were nearest him. In typical Russian roulette style, though, he took an unadulterated one first. “Right,” Hermione said authoritatively, “what’s the problem? Ron, you go first.”

Ron waved the other half of his biscuit in the air, jabbing it towards Harriet. “She,” he said, “reckons that Death Eaters are a lovely bunch, and we should have them around for tea.”

“That’s not what I said!” Harriet burst out over Ron.

“Hush, Harriet!” Hermione said. “You need to listen to the points of your opponent, then gather our thoughts and make your rebuttal. Ron, please continue.”

“That conflict management course you took has gone to your head,” Harriet grumbled.

Ron looked a bit red. “Well, that’s it, really,” he said.

“Okay. Now, Harriet, your turn. Ron, listen to everything she has to say, and we’ll see if either of you have a different view at the end.”

Harriet sighed, trying to make her displeasure at being told when she could speak and when she must be silent clear. “I never said I liked Death Eaters,” she explained. “I said that I don’t want to be the one in charge of killing them. It’s terrible, knowing that someone died because of you. I still dream of Sirius, imagine all the ways that I could have saved him. They need to have a trial, and someone else needs to be responsible for their death, not me.”

“But that was Sirius- you cared about him!” Ron interjected.

Hermione shushed him impatiently. “Sirius dying wasn’t your fault, Harriet,” she said. “You know that.”

Harriet shrugged. “Yeah, I didn’t kill him, but he died because I was there. Think how much worse it would be if my spell actually killed someone. I shouldn’t have to make that call, none of us should. We should be aiming to capture Death Eaters and let a court make that judgement.”

“So what, you want to tie up you-know-who and send him to the Wizengamot?” Ron asked incredulously.

Harriet shrugged. “If possible. But it won’t be me that makes that call.”

“What? You’re just giving…” But Ron was cut off by a squawk. Hermione was the first to fall victim to the budgerigar bourbons. In her chair was an attractive blue-and-white bird, eying them with beady eyes. Ron just stared at her for a long moment, then bent double, laughing. Harriet’s grin became a chuckle, and within a minute, she was laughing almost as hard as Ron. Somehow, Hermione managed to make even budgie cheeps sound outraged. The giant budgie hopped from foot to foot, scolding them, which only made them laugh louder.

By the time Hermione shed her feathers, tears were pouring from Ron’s eyes. “Merlin, that was hilarious,” he chortled, wiping at his cheeks with the back of his hand. “I’ve never seen a bird look so annoyed!”

“The house elves most certainly did not give you that biscuit Harriet!” Hermione scolded.

Harriet shook her head. “I’m sorry, that was hilarious,” she said. “Fair warning, though, there’s two others in there somewhere.”

Ron immediately dived for the biscuits, stuffing one in his mouth. The second yielded his desired results; his budgie was a garish green and yellow. He chirped merrily, and hopped down to look into Harriet’s mirror, where he tilted his head to the side quizzically, and let out a series of high trills that Harriet supposed to be laughter. She hadn’t supposed Ron would be so happy about it, but he seemed delighted by his bird form. Even Hermione had to giggle at him hopping about animatedly. At least the feathers he shed vanished magically, Harriet was relieved to note. The house elves didn’t need to be cleaning up Ron’s dander. Somehow, a trick meant to humiliate Ron had delighted him; Harriet just hoped it put him in a better mood.

“We need to feed these to someone else,” Ron declared when he was human again, a grin plastered across his face. “C’mon, let’s take them to the common room!”

“I think you’re missing something, Ron,” Hermione said primly.

“Huh?”

“Well, we were in the middle of a fascinating discussion on the merits of killing Death Eaters before we sprouted feathers.”

“Oh, yeah,” Ron remembered. He plonked himself down in the chair again. “You’re just going to give up, Harriet? You’re going to let the snakey git have his way, even after you’ve fought him all these years?”

Harriet shrugged. “It’s not up to me anymore,” she said. “It’s Neville’s job now.”

“Neville?!” both Ron and Hermione exclaimed in unison.

“Yeah. The prophecy specified that it was about a he. I’m a she.”

“Are you sure, mate?” Ron asked, looking a bit green around the gills. “About the Neville thing, I mean… not about the girl bit.”

Harriet nodded. “Yeah. ‘The Dark Lord will mark him as his equal.’ That only leaves Neville- we’re the only two magical children born at the end of July that year.”

Hermione was frowning, but Ron was nodding. “I guess I can see your point,” he admitted. “Killing people can’t be that great.” he thought for a few moments. “That explains why Dumbledore keeps getting Neville to go and see him,” he mused. “He was gone all night last week.”

“All night?” Harriet confirmed. “Did… did Neville say what they were doing?” She wondered if Dumbledore had found another Horcrux, and had taken Neville on the journey to fetch it.

Ron shook his head. “He won’t talk about it, but he’s always exhausted when he comes back.”

“Harriet,” Hermione interrupted, “can you remember what the prophecy was, word for word? Did Dumbledore tell you all of it?”

The words had been burned into Harriet’s memory since she’d heard them. “Yeah,” she said. “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies...." She finished her recitation, accompanied only by the crackle of the fire.

Hermione thought for a moment. “The Dark Lord will mark him… Voldemort’s never marked Neville, but he gave you your scar. What if the prophecy still stands, because Voldemort thought you were a boy?”

“Dumbledore doesn’t think so, and nor does Snape,” Harriet said quietly. “Maybe because Neville’s a pureblood, Voldemort already thinks they’re equal… or maybe he just hasn’t marked him yet. The prophecy never says when the marking will happen.”

“Or maybe Trelawney’s a complete fraud,” Ron supplied. The thought had crossed Harriet’s mind, but Dumbledore thought that the prophecy was for real. He believed in it enough to have dedicated seventeen years to protecting Harriet, and to protecting Trelawney. She shook her head. The prophecy was as real as any was likely to be.

So why, she wondered, when she’d had the burden of killing Voldemort lifted, did she feel more alone than ever in those moments, sat there with her friends? She shivered despite the fire.

 

 

Chapter Text

Hermione had confided in Harriet that there has been questions of the Hogsmeade weekends even happening this year. Certainly, the stern instructions given to the students by McGonagall were stricter than usual, and a number of the lower years’ students had not been given permission to visit the village by their parents. The fear of Voldemort was looming large in the minds of the populace. The first year was smaller than usual too this year, some parents choosing to continue their children’s education at home.

Gryffindor and Ravenclaw prefects were in charge of keeping everyone in line this weekend, and Ron grumbled about how little time he’d have to enjoy himself between keeping the third years well away from the shrieking shack and out of the Hogs Head, both of which were strictly off limits this year. Both Hermione and Harriet tried to point out that it had been his choice to accept his prefect’s badge, but to no avail.

Luckily, the budgerigar incident, as Harriet now thought of it, had broken the tension between them. She still had the impression that Ron thought she’d gone soft, but he wasn’t keeping away from her anymore.

Ron and Hermione peeled away from Harriet with an apologetic grin from Hermione and a scowl from Ron as they went to head off a group of third years inexorably drawn to the shrieking shack. The decrepit old building held a fascination for most students, so Harriet thought that it may be a losing battle, trying to keep students away from it. But she could also see that the boarded up building, with its overgrown bushes and trees, would also be a perfect place for someone with bad intentions to hide.

Zonko’s was closed now. The twins were in discussions to buy it, but for now, it sat, empty and forlorn. The old joke shop just hadn’t been able to compete with the innovation of the Weasley Twins, and saw their custom nibbled at the edges until nothing was left. Harriet ducked into Scrivenshaft’s to pick up a few more quills and a new bottle of ink. She knew that her consumption of ink was probably still only half Hermione’s, but it still felt like she never stopped writing.

She found Neville and Luna in Honeydukes. Luna had a particular fondness for sugar quills, and Neville had found himself quite unable to resist keeping her in good supply. She smiled up at him, and stood on tiptoes to press a kiss to his cheek in thanks. Neville blushed red and grinned like a fool, and a stab of jealousy tore through Harriet’s chest. She wanted to be able to be with Robin in public, to share a kiss and a smile. But she didn’t even know if Robin was still interested anymore, since he’d apparently refused her owl. He was a squib, anyway, and she knew that any relationship they did have would have to be secret until the war was done and Severus was no longer balancing in the dangerous position of double agent. It still didn’t seem fair.

“Shall we have lunch at the three broomsticks?” Harriet suggested to the pair. She didn’t much mind if they were all loved up at this point; she just didn’t want to sit on her own at lunch until Ron or Hermione was released to have some time to themselves. Neville and Luna agreed without hesitation. At least they weren’t the kind of couple who would leave her as a complete third wheel, she mused, even if Luna did try to steer the conversation around to the kind of plants a nargle would typically choose as habitat.

The pub had enough of a hubbub that a private conversation would go unheard by those beyond their little corner table. She hadn’t expected to have the chance to talk to Neville away from most of their friends so soon as well. She considered Luna as she took the first bit of her cheese and pickle sandwich. Luna certainly didn’t gossip: she didn’t have close enough friends to gossip even if she did. Harriet wondered how much she knew about Neville’s contact with Dumbledore anyway.

She answered his question for him. “You can say whatever it is you’re thinking,” Luna informed Harriet. “I won’t say anything to anyone.”

“How did you know?” Harriet asked. She was convinced that if anyone had the sight, it was Luna, and not Trelawney or any of her hangers-on. Sometimes it was like Luna was able to get into your thoughts, but Harriet had learnt enough occlumency by now to know if anyone was using magic to read her thoughts.

Luna cocked her head to the side. “It’s easy to guess things when you watch, and listen,” she confided. “You’re all fidgety, and you keep looking between Neville and me, and breathing like you’re going to speak.”

Harriet grinned. “Alright, Sherlock,” she teased.

“Sherlock?” Luna asked, missing the muggle reference.

“Oh, it’s nothing. He’s a fictional detective. I read some of the stories a couple of summers ago.” Harriet took a deep breath, steeling herself. “Neville, what’s going on with Dumbledore? Ron said you were meeting him all the time, and you were gone all night once.”

Neville looked down at his plate and mumbled something. Harriet had to ask him to repeat himself. “Dumbledore told me I wasn’t allowed to say anything to you,” he muttered.

Harriet huffed out the breath she’d been holding. How dare Dumbledore just drop her like this? she fumed internally. For years, he’d used her to attain his goals, and now, he’d just abandoned her. She could imagine his thoughts; that she was just a useless girl now, not his Golden Boy. She wasn’t even worthy of properly punishing Blaise for his attack on her as far as the headmaster was concerned. She took another bite of her sandwich, chewing with perhaps more force than was strictly necessary, and washed it down with a swig of butterbeer.

Luna appeared to be building a wall across her plate with her chips, stacking the wedges of potato atop each other, occasionally sticking one in her mouth. “Sometimes I think the headmaster isn’t very good at noticing things,” she offered by way of conversation. “For such a clever man, he’s not very observant.”

Harriet, personally, had come to agree with Luna’s view over the past few months. Albus Dumbledore might be the most powerful wizard of the age, and a formidable intellect, but she had lost respect for him, this year. She liked Neville; she didn’t want him to be nothing but Dumbledore’s next plaything. “Be careful, Neville,” she said. “Remember who it was that spent lots of last year shut in Dumbledore’s office.”

Neville looked startled at this. Apparently the thought hadn’t dawned on him. “Look,” Harriet continued, “Your life isn’t bound by prophecy. It’s taken me over a year to figure that out for myself.”

“Prophecy?” Neville asked, confused. “What’re you talking about?”

So, Harriet mused, either Neville was a very good actor, or Dumbledore genuinely hadn’t told him about the prophecy. “You know,” she said, “the one from the department of mysteries?”

“Your prophecy?” Neville asked. “Abou you and, and… you know who?”

“Erm, well, it wasn’t actually mine,” Harriet said cautiously. She could see Ron and Hermione coming in, and raised her hand to wave them over. “You know what, this isn’t the best place. I’ll tell you what I know when we’re back at the school, okay?”

Neville agreed as Ron and Hermione joined them, windswept and pink cheeked.

Harriet was happier when she opened the door to her room again late that afternoon, loaded down with packages, including a probably unhealthy supply of Honeydukes. She’d found a lovely leather bound set of notebooks for Hermione’s Christmas present. She was still toying with the idea of buying Ron a broom, but she still wasn’t sure if he’d find it insulting, and if he didn’t, his parents probably would. Maybe if she presented it as making sure Gryffindor won the quidditch cup in their last year…

She bent to tuck her chocolate stash in her desk drawer, next to the budgerigar bourbons and canary creams. It was only when she straightened up that she noticed the little bunch of daisies in a glass of water on her desk. A note with her name in Robin’s writing leaned against it.

Dear Harriet,

I’m so sorry about Tuesday night, that I couldn’t spend the night with you. Dad says that I need to respect your space. So, with that in mind… I’ll be staying at Dad’s tonight and Sunday. You know where to find me if you want me, and if not, that’s fine too.

Love,

Robin.

She couldn’t help a smile. Perhaps he’d refused her owl in a misguided attempt to ‘give her space’. She was furious with Severus for making such high-handed decisions about her life, and what she could and couldn’t cope with, but at least Robin still wanted to see her.

Before she could make it over to her pot of floo powder, though, her wards chimed. She dithered for a second or two, but if she suddenly vanished from her rooms when she’d gone to leave her stuff only a few minutes ago, her friends would get suspicious, and they didn’t know about the floo connection between her hearth and Severus’.  She’d better see who it was.

She’d been expecting Hermione, suggesting some work, or Ron after a fly-about before practice tomorrow morning, but she was instead greeted by a bashful-looking Neville. “I wanted to know what you were talking about,” he explained as he climbed in. “Professor Dumbledore… well, he doesn’t really tell me much, except that I need to work harder, do better.”

Harriet waved him to a seat and put the kettle on, mostly for something to do. “Has he told you anything about the prophecy?” she asked.

Neville shook his head. “No. I don’t get it- what’s a prophecy about you and you-know-who got to do with anything? I mean, I know everyone says you’re the chosen one, but why does that affect me?”

Harriet bit her lip, trying to find the best place to start. “The prophecy was… kind of vague,” she said eventually. “It was made by Trelawney to Dumbledore, and someone overheard part of it and reported it back to Voldemort. It said that someone with the power to destroy Voldemort would be born at the end of July, to parents who’d fought against him before. Voldemort figured that it was me, so he tried to kill me.” Neville nodded along to how that he he was listening. “Except… Trelawney specifically said that the one to defeat Voldemort would be male.”

A frown pulled Neville’s boyish features together. “So… it was wrong?” he asked.

Harriet shrugged. “Maybe,” she said. “The thing is, there’s someone else that the prophecy could have been about.”

“Who?”

She took a deep breath. “You, Neville,” she said.

It didn’t come as a surprise that Neville didn’t have a good response to this. She put a cup of tea in front of him and let him process it. Her gaze kept shifting to her bunch of daisies: she knew she should be thinking about supporting her friend, not flowers, but that was easier said than done. She’d never have thought she’d be so happy with a bunch of flowers but somehow just the knowledge that Robin had gone out and picked them out for her made her heart expand in her chest. She did her best not to smile: Neville probably wouldn’t appreciate her grinning.

“So,” he said at length, “I have to kill you know who? That’s what Dumbledore’s wanting me to do? That’s why he took me to… I mean, on some chase to Godric’s Hollow in the middle of the night?”

“He was probably looking for a horcrux- it’s a bit of Voldemort’s soul. Did he find anything?” Harriet wanted to know.

Neville sighed in relief. “You know about horcruxes?” he asked. “I was trying to find a way not to mention them… I couldn’t figure out why Dumbledore wanted me to know about them, though, why he took me....”

“Haven’t you noticed how weak and ill he’s looked lately?” Harriet asked. “I bet he’s making sure that someone can keep destroying them if something happens to him. What was the horcrux, by the way?”

“He, erm, took a funny little china pig. It didn’t break when he chucked it at the floor or sent a blasting hex at it. From… from your bedroom, when you were a baby.”

The breath caught in Harriet’s throat. Dumbledore and Neville had been at the house in Godric’s Hollow? “What was it like?” she asked quietly.

“Erm, it was white and green spotty, about as big as a quaffle…” Neville began.

Harriet cut him off. “Not the pig. The house,” she clarified. “I’ve never been… well, been back, I suppose.”

Neville’s eyes widened. “I’m sorry!” he burbled out. “I suppose his is why I wasn’t meant to say anything… I didn’t know, I’m sorry.”

It was more likely, Harriet thought angrily, that he wasn’t meant to say anything because Dumbledore didn’t see her as worthwhile any more, but she didn’t want to say that out loud, didn’t want to have it confirmed by the look on Neville’s face. Neville was rubbish at lying. “What was the house like?” she asked again instead.

Neville chewed his lower lip and couldn’t meet her eyes. His hands were clenched tightly in his lap. “It was kind of run down, I suppose. The windows in your bedroom were blown out, and there were leaves and branches and mud in there. Your room was all blue and green, under the mud. The roof had fallen in at the back of the house… we didn’t go there. I’m sorry, Harriet. I shouldn’t have said… I had no idea...”

“It’s fine,” Harriet assured, her voice hollow. “Look, Neville, all I wanted was to tell you to be careful. Don’t just believe whatever the headmaster tells you. And you shouldn’t have to be the one with the expectation of with world resting on you.”

“Don’t worry, I’m used to people being disappointed in me; Gran usually is. I’m just Neville Longbottom, cauldron exploder extraordinaire,” Neville offered, getting up to leave.

Harriet couldn’t help a grin at that in spite of herself. “Could you tell Ron and Hermione I just fancy some time to myself?” she asked. “I don’t think I’ll come to dinner.”

“Don’t think I will either,” Neville confided. “I’ll tell them, though.” Harriet smiled in thanks, and let him out. At least she should have the rest of the night to herself.

She couldn’t keep her mind off the house at Godric’s Hollow, though. She kept trying to picture it, trying to remember a green and blue room. How could Dumbledore have taken Neville, when it was her house? She owned it, how dare he just march in with someone else?

She could feel tears stinging in her sinuses. She glanced over at her daisies. She didn’t want to be alone, she realised, no matter what she’d told Neville. She wanted a hug. She wanted someone who didn’t see her as the boy who lived, the chosen one, some kind of freak. She wanted to just be Harriet. She wanted Robin.

She tossed some floo powder into the fire.

Chapter Text

The floo dumped her into Severus’ quarters. She thought that she was getting better at floo travel with practice: she hardly ever fell over anymore. The living room was empty. “Hello?” she called.

“Harriet?” Robin’s voice floated through from the door by the fireplace. A moment later, he’d appeared too, a broad smile on his face. “You came. Did you like the flowers? I didn’t know what kind of flowers  you liked, but they made me think of you…”

She smiled in spite of herself. “They’re lovely, thank you. I don’t know what kind of flowers I like either.”

Severus appeared from the kitchen, drying his long hands on a tea towel. “”Your mother liked daisies,” he offered. “We’ll be eating soon, would you like to eat here or go to dinner with your friends, Harriet?”

The mention of her mother, on top of knowing about Neville and Dumbledore’s visit to Godric’s Hollow, proved to be just too much for Harriet. She sniffled, trying to hold back the tears, but they fell anyway. She scrunched up her eyes as Robin wrapped his arms around her. “What is it?” he asked softly. “What’s the matter? Tell me, Harriet...”

She shook her head. “It’s so stupid,” she forced out. “Why am I always crying? It’s nothing…” She buried her face into Robin’s t shirt. “Dumbledore took Neville to Godric’s Hollow.” She choked on the mumbled words.

“Come again? What was that?” Robin asked, puzzled.

“Come here,” Severus said from behind her. His hands prised her away from Robin, and he swung her into his arms like she was a child. Somehow, the gesture truly opened the floodgates, and she began to cry in earnest: loud, breath-stealing sobs. Severus settled into his chair and held her close against her chest as she gulped in mouthfuls of air only to cry them back out again. One hand petted her head gently even as the other pulled her against him. “It’s okay, Harriet, you cry all you need to.” Severus’ shirt smelled of roasting chicken and juniper.

Over her head, she heard Severus explaining to Robin. “Her parents lived in Godric’s Hollow,” he explained. “The house they were killed in has been left as a monument to the Potters. It would seem that the Headmaster has taken one of her friends to the house for some reason, without telling her. I would suppose that my mention of her mother has distressed her further.” Severus used the corner of a white handkerchief to dab away the dripping contents of her nose.

By the time she had cried herself into exhaustion, Robin had settled on the floor by Severus’ feet. Severus had stayed silent, just holding her. When she’d been quiet save for a few snuffles for a minute, he spoke. “Is that better?” he asked.

“I think so,” she whimpered, her voice hoarse from crying. Severus shifted her until she was sitting on his knee instead of limp against his chest, one arm still supporting her. Robin offered a glass of cold water, which she took eagerly in both hands, gulping to replace the water she’d lost.

“Would you like to talk about it?” Severus enquired. “I find myself quite curious about the reasoning for a visit to Godric’s Hollow by young Longbottom, unless Albus wished to scare him into action.”

“They were looking for a horcrux,” Harriet said. “It isn’t fair! How come Neville gets to go? It’s my house!”

She was becoming agitated again, and Severus hushed her soothingly, one long-fingered hand stroking her hair. “You’re right, it isn’t fair. So much of your life hasn’t been fair, Harriet, but then, which of us can say that life deals us a pleasant hand? Not Longbottom, certainly.”

She knew he was right, but she didn’t want to hear about anyone else’s bad luck right now. “Why are you even being nice to me?” she demanded petulantly. “You’re supposed to hate me because I look like my dad.”

Severus sighed deeply. “I never liked having to deal with ‘Harry’,” he began. “You were so like James, but you’ve matured now, far more so than he ever did. You must try to understand, I was waiting for Harriet- the perfect little girl that I pulled into the world, that I named, and that I, as much as I hated it, had to hide, to keep James Potter from infanticide. I hated the duplicity.”

“But I’m the same person,” Harriet sniffled.

“I know,” Severus said, offering her the handkerchief. “Call it my own foolishness.”

“I’ve never seen it,” she admitted quietly some moments later.

“Never seen what?” Severus asked.

“The house. I can’t remember it. I want to go, to see it.”

Severus sat thinking for a few minutes. “It’s in ruins,” he said eventually. “Everything’s in tatters. It would need a lot of work to look anything like what it should. The roof fell three years ago, and it was encrusted in dirt before that. Lily would have been horrified. Nevertheless, if that’s what you want, the headmaster should allow you to leave the school to see it, although I would suggest most strongly that you take a guard with you. A guard meaning aurors, not your ragtag gaggle of friends. You have your majority, so you cannot be stopped from visiting a property you own.”

“I want to see it,” Harriet said firmly. “I’ll ask Dumbledore tomorrow.”

“I would advise against giving him the knowledge that you are aware of his visit there,” Severus cautioned. “Perhaps you might like to inspect the Potter property in Edinburgh at the same time?”

Harriet nodded gratefully at the idea. Severus spoke again, hesitant this time. “In addition, if you wished, I could show you some memories of the house before it was destroyed. You were born there, so I visited, although only once.”

She looked up at him, eyes wide. “Yes please,” she said. eagerly. If he was going to show her memories of the house, then he might show her memories of her parents.

He smiled down at her fondly. “After we eat, though.”

She fidgeted through dinner, roast chicken with mash and vegetables, eaten at the table in Severus’ little kitchen, which, contrary to popular belief, contained no cauldrons big enough to boil a third year. “Is this what having a parent is like?” she asked after Severus had told her to calm down and eat.

“Yes,” Robin said morosely, his head resting on one hand, the other drawing lazy patterns in the gravy with his fork. His father glared at him and tapped at his elbow until he removed it from the table.

“I kind of like it,” she said quietly. “No one’s ever held me while I cried before this year.”

“Oh, Harriet,” Robin gasped, “That’s terrible.”

“I’m sorry, Harriet,” Severus said. “I wish that I could have done right by you, all these years. I wanted to raise you as my own, when your mother was killed, but Dumbledore felt that I was too valuable as a spy to lose. I sometimes think I should have disregarded his advice: I should have heeded my duty to you.”

“To me?” she asked in surprise. “What duty? Did my mum ask you to take care of me, or…”

“In a manner of speaking, yes,” Severus said. “I am your godfather, after all.”

“No,” Harriet said after a moment’s pause and a frown, “Sirius was my godfather.”

Severus shook his head with a little smile. “You, my dear, are in the highly unusual position of having two magical godparents. You were named twice. Just after your birth, I named you Harriet Jane, thus registering your birth with the Ministry. Lily and I performed the spells to disguise your sex, and not more than a quarter of an hour later, Black named you Harry James, thus replacing the Ministry’s records of Harriet with those of Harry. You have two names, two godfathers and two birth certificates. Your Hogwarts and Ministry records were changed back to your original name by Albus shortly after your birthday.”

Harriet tried to process this. Robin spoke before she could. “Hang on,” he said, “if you need to have a magical godparent to be registered with the Ministry, who’s mine?”

“Lily was your godmother,” Severus told him. “I wouldn’t have trusted anyone else with the knowledge of your very existence at the time. I was still too new in the Dark Lord’s camp, too observed. I couldn’t risk your life with someone I couldn’t trust absolutely.”

“So,” Harriet said slowly, “that’s why you had my birth certificate? That was what convinced Ron it was really me- the birth certificate. But my muggle one is for Harry.”

Severus nodded. “Yes, because muggle births are registered in the usual way for wizards and muggles alike- by visiting the registry office, which your parents did. I don’t know how you would go about changing your identity in the muggle world, should you wish to do so.”

That made sense, Harriet supposed. She tried to stifle a yawn, but she wasn’t fooling Severus or Robin. “Go and sit in the living room,” he instructed the two younger members of the party. “I’m sure you can find something to talk about. I have a few matters which require my attention.”

Harriet wanted to know what, but she knew by now that Severus didn’t volunteer information that he didn’t want to. She hoped he hadn’t forgotten his promise to show her the memories of Godric’s Hollow.

Robin tucked her up next to him on the sofa, fetching a blanket from one of the rooms beyond the fireplace. She leaned her head back against his shoulder, her eyes dry and stinging after her earlier tears and the beginnings of a headache twinging in her temples. Robin leaned down to kiss her forehead. “How do you feel?” he asked.

“Better, thanks,” Harriet mumbled, her eyes closed in contentment. Their position reminded her a little of his hands between her legs, bringing her to her first shuddering climax. She tried to put the thought from her mind; they couldn’t exactly repeat the exercise in Severus’ living room. “I’m sorry I keep crying on you.”

“You’ve had enough reason to cry,” he assured her softly. “Has what’s-his-name, was it Blaise? given you any trouble?”

“No, he hasn’t so much as looked at me since. He’s got detention every night for two weeks, so I suppose he doesn’t have much energy left.”

“I can’t believe writing lines is supposed to be a harsh enough punishment,” Robin growled.

Harriet chucked at that. “Writing lines? Not a chance! He’s with Filch- he’ll have all the nastiest jobs. Detention with Filch is worse than detention with Snape.”

“I’ve never heard you call him by his last name before,” Robin said.

“I, erm, try to keep Severus and Snape separate in my mind. Severus holds me when I cry, and Snape tells me off because I haven’t chopped my foxglove finely enough and insists that I am trying to kill everyone with an exploded cauldron.”

Robin tried to stifle his laugh, but couldn’t, instead coming out with a snorting chuckle. “Okay, I can see that the two don’t go together,” he admitted. He brushed her hair back off her face and she sighed in contentment at his touch. “Would you like to see my bedroom?” he asked in a murmur a minute later. “After all, I’ve seen yours… it only seems fair.”

“Is that a proposition?” she asked with a grin.

“Only a little one,” he said with mock-seriousness. “After all, I can’t imagine that my dad will be gone for that long.”

Harriet had expected Robin’s room to be quite bare: after all, he didn’t actually live here. She was surprised.

She supposed that anyone would gasp when they looked up at the high ceiling in his room. Painted wooden models of birds were charmed to hover above head height, lazily drifting around the room. Robin reached up and snagged a bird as it floated past. He offered it to her to examine with a smile.

It was a little brown bird with a scarlet red breast. “A robin,” she said with a grin.

“Yeah. It was the first. I used to make these, a bit of a hobby. They used to be lined up on shelves, but when I moved them here, Dad enchanted them for me. They roost when I go to bed.” He pointed at the rail running around the room just below ceiling height. “Sheba’s just about stopped trying to catch them. She broke a couple, at first.” Harriet let the painted bird go, watching it float up to join its fellows. She looked around the rest of the room. Sheba opened one green eye from her perch on the bed, then went back to sleep.

He had his father’s affinity for books. Lined up on his shelves, in leather or good fabric bindings, was row upon row of books, all except the bottom shelf which held dog-eared children’s books. Hermione would love this room, Harriet thought, looking at the half wall of bookshelves, the big desk (which held lined pads of paper and ballpoint pens, not quills and parchment) with ragged paperbacks strewn across it. Harriet loved the birds, the deep blue rug which her toes sank into like sand, the big fireplace and huge cushions strewn on the floor in front of it. She flopped down onto one of the oversized pillows with a grin, the heat from the fireplace warming her face. “Do you stay here often?” she asked as he joined her on the floor, wrapping his arms around his knees and letting his hair fall forward.

“Not so much anymore,” he said. “I have uni, and work. It’s a nice escape from everything, though. My downstairs neighbour is having a party tonight, which I really didn’t fancy listening to. Well, it was more that I wanted to see you.”

The smile that plastered her face must have looked ridiculous, she thought. He didn’t seem to mind, though, pulling her into his side. His face hovered just above hers for a moment as he looked at her, his eyes searching hers.

His kiss was sweet and gentle. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him even closer. “God, Harriet, I want you so much,” he breathed when he broke the kiss, his forehead leaning against hers.

“I want you too,” she replied.

“Harriet… I’ve got to ask. Are you on any kind of contraceptive? I don’t want us to get carried away one day and, well…”

“It’s okay,” she assured him with a blush. “I am. Well, I think I need another dose in a few days, but yeah.”

He stroked a big hand over her cheek. “Make sure you take it, yeah? Or tell me if you don’t want to, and I can take something.”

“I will,” she promised him, reaching up for another kiss. He gladly obliged her.

“Well,” Severus’ voice drawled from the doorway, “I wasn’t aware that this was my living room.”

They sprang apart guiltily, but Robin kept one arm tucked around Harriet’s waist, giving his father a challenging look. Severus just rolled his eyes. “At least you weren’t in bed. Come on,” he said, “If you want to see these memories, Harriet, you’ll have to come through to the living room.”

The first thing Harriet saw in the living room was the carved stone bowl of the pensieve on the table, the ghostly shimmer of memories flitting inside. “This will be rather more comfortable than legilimency,” Severus explained. As she watched, he raised his wand to his temple, drawing out gossamer wisps of memory. Carefully he flicked them into the bowl. “Would you like to go in alone, or with company?” he asked. She bit her lip, unsure. Did she want to see it alone? She had to admit, she was almost scared of the memory. And it was Severus’ memory- he knew it already. “Can you come too, please?” she asked.

“Of course. Alone, or with Robin?”

“Can squibs use a pensieve?” she asked curiously. Robin winced. She wondered if there was a nicer word for the magic-less- he clearly wasn’t keen on squib. Severus inclined his head. “Yes. Even a muggle can view a pensieve. It is only the extraction of memories that requires magical power.”

She offered a hand to Robin, the question in her eyes. He smiled kindly and took her hand in his, stepping up to the shimmering stone bowl. “I don’t know how to do this,” he admitted.

“Just lean forward until you touch the mist,” Severus advised him. Harriet tipped into the pensieve, feeling the tug on her hand as Robin followed a few moments later. Severus coalesced beside her just as a knock sounded on the front door. Harriet looked around.

They were tucked into the corner of the hall, just next to the stairs. She noticed with glee that there was no cupboard under the stairs; instead, the space was open, housing a loaded coat rack and a sideboard strewn with bits of post and a pot of owl treats. “James, can you get that? It’ll be Severus.” Her heart lurched at the sound of her mother’s voice: sweet and soft.

“You can still change your mind,” James answered. His voice, at least, Harriet knew from her previous foray into Snape’s mind in the pensieve in fifth year, though it had been harsher then. He didn’t speak in jeers now, although that might have been more to do with his other conversant than age. “We can go to St. Mungo’s. It would be much better.”

“Get the door, James,” Lily sighed. Harriet watched the man she resembled so closely meander across the hall from the door behind them: she caught a glimpse of a bright kitchen. It was hard to believe that this man would have killed her for the simple crime of being a female child.

He unlocked the door. “Snape,” he snapped.

A younger, smoother Severus stepped into the hall, his hair smoothly tied back from his face, which was unlined. He’d been ravaged by the last seventeen years, Harriet realised. He looked tired, but nowhere near the bat of the Hogwarts dungeons. “Potter. How is Lily?”

James’ face twisted with a seer as he backed Severus into the corner by the door. “If you know what’s good for her, you’ll send her to St. Mungo’s, Snivellus,” he hissed. “Odd way to get into her knickers, this.”

“I’ll do what’s best for Lily,” Severus said smoothly, ducking out from behind James. “Where is she?”

James inclined his head to the other door, and Harriet, Robin and older Severus followed them through to the bright room. The overwhelming feeling of the whole house was one of light and air, with the windows open and the French doors to the garden thrown wide. The sweet smell of the lilacs that flanked the doors hung in the air. Lily smiled up at the two men, her hands resting on the massive swell of her belly. Severus perched on the corner of the footstool holding her delicate feet aloft. “How do you feel?” he asked.

“A bit nervous,” she admitted.

“Which is why you need to be with an experienced midwife. A woman,” James cut in.

“I trust Severus,” she replied, her gentle smile not wavering. James sighed deeply, but fell silent.

Older Severus best down to mutter into Harriet’s ear. “Your mother always knew how to keep your father calm. She had a temper all of her own, but she rarely showed it to James.” Harriet nodded, transfixed by her mother’s face as she spoke to Severus, her hands rested against her bump- the bump that was her, she realised with a little frisson of surprise. It wasn’t only Severus who was here twice; she was too.

They followed Severus and Lily up to the back bedroom, all blond wood and deep Gryffindor red accents. Here, though, the memory fizzled, going indistinct and moving in a swirl of colour and white noise. “Forgive me, but I could not bring myself to share this part of my memory,” Severus explained. “I wish to preserve Lily’s modesty. Childbirth is a messy, embarrassing business.”

The colours coalesced back into sense after a few moments longer as Severus carefully held a bundle of mint-green blanket in his arms. “I recognise this child, and give her up to the powers of the world. Harriet Jane, may your path be joyous and your troubles few.” In the air before him, a spot shimmered and expanded, a piece of parchment forming in the glow. Severus caught it with one hand, the other holding baby Harriet close to him. He carefully transferred the bundle of baby to Lily’s waiting arms. He also passed her her wand from the bedside table.

What happened next was clearly rehearsed. They spoke in unison, unknown lilting words lost in the swirling light surrounding baby Harriet. She squalled, bunching up her tiny red face against the brightness.

Gradually, the light faded. “Did it work, Severus?” Lily asked, her voice hoarse. Her face was drawn and pale.

“What’s wrong with her?” older Harriet asked older Severus.

“Nothing. It was very advanced and draining magic, especially just following a birth,” he explained softly. “Nothing to worry about.”

Young Severus checked beneath the blankets. “It is done,” he intoned. “I’ll fetch Potter and Black.” He leaned down to kiss Lily chastely on her forehead and brushed a single pale finger over baby Harriet’s cheek- or was it now Harry’s? They watched as James met his son, and Sirius said the same words as Severus had, naming the baby Harry James. Seeing shaggy, grinning Sirius left Harriet with as much of an ache in her heart as seeing her parents again.

The last part of the memory saw a still pale and slightly shaky Lily show baby Harry his bedroom: all green and blue with white painted furniture, as Neville had said, with soft, squashy cuddly dragons and kneazles and a mobile of golden snitches. She caught sight of a spotty piggy bank on the chest of drawers. It was a pretty room, but Harriet didn’t remember it.

The real world formed around her again as they left the memories.

“I remember her,” Robin said quietly. “Lily… did I meet her?”

“A few times,” Severus said. “She took you to the park one day when you were three, not long before she died. I had to… take your mum somewhere.”

Robin smiled down at Harriet. “I played with you when you were a baby,” he remembered. “We’ve met before… I just didn’t realise it was you.”

He leant down to kiss her sweetly, and she clung to him.

 

 

Chapter Text

It was the worst quidditch practice Harriet thought she’d ever witnessed. Ginny dropped the quaffle no less than six times, Ron missed every goal and even hit the goalpost once. She finally called an end to it when Jimmy managed to pelt a bludger straight into Anna’s face. She ennervated Anna and sent her off to Madam Pomfrey with a broken nose, Jimmy trailing behind her, apologising profusely.

“What the fuck was going on there?” she demanded of the rest of her players.

“Sorry,” Linda said, scrubbing at the ground of the pitch with the toe of her shoe. She’d managed to toss the quaffle at Harriet instead of to Ginny or Dean. “I just… got confused.”

“I don’t care what Ravenclaw’s seeker does, we’re not playing American rules,” Harriet reprimanded. “The seeker touching the quaffle is a penalty, and I can’t help touching it when you pelt it full force at my face.”

Linda looked like she might cry. “Okay,” Harriet said. “I’m guessing you’re all tired and cold and fed up. we’re not going to get anything else done today. On Tuesday we’ll work on drills, hopefully get back into the swing of things.” She waved her hands, scattering the players. Ron walked back up to the castle with her, bumping the tail of his broom along the ground. Harriet winced- no wonder it couldn’t fly straight. “What was happening out there?” she asked Ron.

He shrugged. “Not sure, mate. Just a bad day, I guess.”

“I can’t believe everyone on the team had a bad day, all at the same time.”

“Ginny started it,” Ron said defensively. “She hasn’t dropped the quaffle like that since she was a second year.”

“I know,” Harriet mused. “I was almost starting to think that she was doing it on purpose.”

Ron looked shocked. “Surely not!” he exclaimed. “She wouldn’t!” Harriet only shrugged. Ginny hadn’t let their quarrels affect quidditch before, but there was a first time for everything.

They passed through the massive front doors. “I’m going for a hot bath,” Harriet said. It was cold for November, and there had been just enough of a light drizzle at the beginning of practice to make everyone soggy and cold.

“Good idea,” Ron said. “Hey, fancy a game of chess or something after?”

“Oh, erm, no thanks,” Harriet said. “I… well…” she looked around fearfully and dropped her voice. “Robin’s visiting his dad. I don’t know if I’ll be at lunch or not.”

The tips of Ron’s ears flushed pink. “I still can’t believe you and… you know. Oh, Merlin, never mind. I’ll see you later.”

She hadn’t been expecting Robin to be in her rooms when she let herself in, but he’d dragged an armchair over to the windows and sat reading a ratty muggle paperback, idly chewing on the end of a pencil. He looked up as she came in. “Hey,” he greeted with a soft smile. “I hope you don’t mind… it’s just that you said that you had quidditch practice and I wanted to watch. Is the girl who fell off her broom okay?”

Harriet groaned. “Of all the things for you to see… that was the worst practice possible. Anna’ll be fine. Injuries are pretty common for beaters. She’s tough.”

Robin put his book on the floor and came over to hug her. She shied away. “I’m all wet and sweaty and disgusting,” she pointed out, unable to miss the flash of hurt that went through his eyes. “Let me get cleaned up, then we can cuddle.”

“Or… I could help you get cleaned up,” he suggested slyly. She looked puzzled, but he only grinned and pushed her towards the bathroom. Her heart skipped a beat when she realised what he meant.

He must have been used to Hogwarts baths, because he wasn’t in the least surprised by hers. She hadn’t imagined Severus as having a bath like this; she’d thought of him more as a spartan shower type of man. But Robin even knew to avoid the lemon-toilet-cleaner bubbles tap, instead picking pretty purple bubbles that Harriet thought might have spelt just faintly lilacy. His fingers fiddled clumsily with the lacings of her quidditch robes. She moved his hands aside and undid them with the ease of long practice, pushing them off her shoulders and into the laundry basket.

She was suddenly nervous, standing in front of him in her skintight t shirt and quidditch leggings. She wasn’t wearing all her padding, since it was just a practice. She blushed when he rested his hands on her hips, his fingers bracketing her waist. “I’m… a bit shy,” she admitted. “What if you think I’m ugly?”

“I could never think that,” he murmured. “You’re beautiful, Harriet.” His fingers began to ruche up the fabric of her top until he could rest most of hands against the bare flesh of her sides. She shivered. “You’re cold,” he said softly. “Come on, let’s get you into the bath. As much as I’d love to spend a long time unwrapping you, I don’t want you to get ill.” He skimmed his hands up her back, pulling the damp cotton with him, and tugged it over her head. He may have struggled with the quidditch robes, but he was obviously quite practiced at removing a bra, which he did with an effortless flick of his fingers. She gasped and caught the cups of the bra to her chest.

“Is this okay, Harriet?” he asked earnestly.

“Erm, maybe if you just didn’t look for a moment…” she bargained.

“Okay,” he agreed. “May I get in the bath with you?”

She eyed the large sunken tub. The bubbles were thick enough to hide everything, and the water deep enough to cover all of her from the neck down. She nodded, and he turned away and pulled his own t shirt over his head. She stripped off her boots and leggings and slipped into the water, sighing as the warm water caressed over her. The tension in her muscles from being on edge at practice began to melt away.

She stiffened again when the water shifted, making room for another person. Her heart pounded - Robin touching her arm wouldn’t normally make her suck in air, but a completely naked Robin touching a completely naked her… She could feel her body responding. She knew the signs now: the heaviness in her breasts, the odd tightness low in her tummy. “Kiss me?” she asked.

The tips of his hair were wet, and they clung to her cheeks when he pulled back after a sound kiss. The tightening in her belly was becoming warmth, and she wanted to be touched. She sighed in contentment and reached out to lay a palm flat on his chest. Like her, almost all of him was in the water, but she could tell that he wasn’t a hairy man by the smooth, taut flesh beneath the pads of her fingers. He groaned deep in his throat. “Maybe this wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had,” he said. “You’re too irresistible.”

She ran her hand up until he could wrap her arms around his neck. He pulled her the rest of the way over, until she was perched on his knee. He still held her carefully away from his body. She trembled and gasped at the completely alien feeling of sitting in his lap with no clothing between them. He’d buried one hand in the hair at the top of her neck, working her messy braid loose. She leaned forward to press her lips to his again, darting her tongue out to run along his. He pressed her head towards him, angling his head to the side so he could plunder her mouth. They were both short of breath when they broke apart. “Harriet,” he said breathily, “I need to know that you’re okay with this. I need to know how far you want to go here.”

“I want you,” she insisted, trying to press closer to him. One hand on her hip held her a few inches from his body.

“You want sex?” he confirmed.

“Yeah,” she mumbled. “I’m probably the only virgin seventh year left anyway…” She just hoped that he wouldn’t get fed up of her not having a clue what she was doing.

“You need to tell me to stop as soon as you want to,” he reminded her seriously.

She nodded and rubbed her hands across his shoulders, enjoying the warm, water-slicked muscle beneath her fingers. He released his hold on her hip and she easily slithered down onto his lap. Her eyes went wide at the heat of his cock rested against her thigh. “Is that a good reaction or a bad one?” he chuckled.

“Good, I think,” she replied. She wanted to touch it, but she didn’t want to be be too forward. She leaned forward to kiss his neck, smelling the woody scent of Robin above the flowery aroma of the bath.

“You’re a little sex kitten, aren’t you?” he teased. She didn’t get a chance to respond, other than with a gasp as his hands cupped her breasts, covering them completely. Her nipples pressed hard against his palms. He moved his hands to caress the hardened nubs, squeezing very gently. “This water’s in the way. How about we get dried off and go somewhere more comfortable?” he suggested. She was beyond disagreement: the arousal, probably helped along by the aphrodisiac, was throbbing through her, and they hadn’t even really done anything yet. She realised that she did want to be clean, so quickly soaped a flannel and scrubbed herself, paying particular attention to between her legs. Her cheeks pinkened slightly when she realised how wet she was, and not just from the water.

Robin boosted himself out of the bath and went to find a towel. It was Harriet’s first look at him unclothed, and she tried not to stare. She failed.

Slender was probably the best description of him. She’d known he was slim: she’d cuddled with him. He was small-boned, though, all limb and straight lines. There was only the lightest smattering of hair down his chest. And, of course, she couldn’t ignore his cock; her eyes were drawn to it. He looked impossibly long, certainly longer than her own male parts had been. She’d pushed her fingers up into herself; she wasn’t sure she take something that long inside her- was it meant to go in all the way? She thought it was. She swallowed hard. She hoped he wouldn’t decide he couldn’t be bothered dealing with her and her ignorance. Any other girl would know what to do, but she was still reasonably unsure of the mechanics of sex from a female point of view: she’d just never had enough interest to really listen to the other boys boast about it: she knew better than to believe macho posturing anyway.

He wrapped a towel around his narrow hips and held another out for her. Partly reluctant, partly excited, she climbed out of the bath and into the waiting towel, knowing that in the few seconds between the two, he could see all of her too. She was flushed with more than just the heat of the bathwater, which began magically draining as soon as it was no longer needed. She dried herself as quickly as she could, trying to ignore the fact that she knew Robin was watching her.

She looked up at him, unsure. A small smile played at the corners of his lips and he held a hand out to her. She took it, her heart giving an almost painful thud. Was this it? Were they really going to make love? Have sex? Fuck? What was the correct term?

He was gentle when he pushed her down onto the bed, burying his hands in her damp hair and pressing his mouth to hers, harder than he ever had before. Their teeth clashed as she pushed up towards him and he chuckled into the kiss. He came up for air. “I never would have thought you’d be like this,” he growled. “A couple of weeks ago you’d never even touched yourself.”

“Please, Robin,” she begged, desperate to be touched, to touch him. He smiled wolfishly and inched the towel down her body until her breasts were exposed to him. He ran a thumb over her nipple, his other arm supporting his weight over her. His head dipped, and she gasped as his heated lips closed around  the same nipple. Her back arched up towards him as the jolt of pleasure arced down her body to her clit.

“God, you’re so responsive,” he murmured. “No one’s even had that reaction to me before.” He looked up at her, his dark eyes hooded. “You’re not faking it, are you?” he asked quietly. “You don’t need to fake it.”

“Is it bad?” she wanted to know, her chest squeezing tight. “Should I be quieter?”

He crawled up the bed until he was lying next to her, his head propped up on his elbow. “No, kitten,” he assured her softly, “it’s a good thing. But I only want the reactions that are natural- I don’t want you to force anything. I’ve just never been with a girl that’s quite as… enthusiastic.”

She worried her lip between her teeth. “The potion I took… the contraceptive. It had an aphrodisiac.”

His eyes widened. “You took an aphrodisiac? Why?” he wanted to know. He sounded truly shocked, she decided.

“It… it was just what Severus gave me… it’s only supposed to activate when I start to, erm, get aroused…”

He cut her off. “My dad gave you an aphrodisiac?” he spluttered. “What the actual fuck?”

“He gave me a contraceptive!” she tried to explain. “I only found out afterwards that it has an aphrodisiac… it’s usually used by someone about to lose their virginity, because it’s meant to make it easier, make it hurt less.”

Robin ran his hand through his hair with a sigh. “I suppose I should be grateful,” he said, “but it is a bit weird. Do you really want me, or just the sex to sate the potion?”

“I want you,” she said quietly, softly. “It’s not supposed to kick in until I’m already, erm, excited. I’m not walking around in a perpetual state of horniness. Please, Robin…” She reached over to cup his cheek in her hand.

“You want it?” he confirmed quietly. She nodded, and he caught her up in a sweet kiss.

It wasn’t long before his hands had strayed to her breasts again, clever fingers twirling around the hardened nubs of her nipples, gently kneading at the soft flesh. She scratched her short nails down his back, pushing her achy pussy against his thigh. He took one of her hands in a loose grip and brought it down to the silky hardness of his cock. She breathed sharply as his fingers delved into the curls at the apex of her thighs and found the hard button of her clit. She responded by ghosting the tips of her fingers over the head of his cock. He trembled, a shiver running down his back. “Sorry,” he mumbled against her neck. “It’s… been a while.”

With one swift movement, he’d rolled onto his back, his hands on her hips bringing her with him, so she straddled his thighs. “Harriet…” he whispered, then stopped, unsure of what to say.

She reached down between them to grasp at his hard cock, rising on her knees to position herself over him. His hands held her hips still, fingers gripping hard into her bones. “You don’t have to do this if you’re not ready,” he told her earnestly. “I can wait as long as you need to.”

“I want to,” she said, pushing down to try to take him into her.

“Wait,” he said, not unkindly. “You know this is probably going to hurt, right?” She nodded. “I want you as relaxed as possible first,” he insisted, tipping her off him again. “I can hang on.” He nudged her legs apart until he could kneel between them. His eyes swept down her body, and she shivered, feeling his gaze almost as a touch. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispered. He leaned forward to kiss her mouth, her neck, her breasts. She giggled when he dropped little pecks around her belly button, but as he went lower, she trembled. She thought she knew where he was headed.

Sure enough, he settled between her thighs. “Robin, you, you don’t have to,” she murmured brokenly.

“Hush, kitten. I want to,” he assured her. Her hips arched up as he used his thumbs to spread her lips, splaying them wide and displaying her pink inner folds to him. “Beautiful,” he repeated again, and she shivered as his breath swept across her.

She couldn’t have imagined the feeling of his hot mouth closing over her exposed clitoris. She cried out, trying with all her might to keep still and not push up against his mouth. His eyes flicked up to watch her face as he tried gently sucking, but her eyes were closed, her head thrown back. He flicked his tongue against the trapped bud, eliciting a breathy moan that sent the blood rushing straight to his cock. Carefully, he introduced a finger to her sodden channel as he swapped to slow, gentle licks to her pink folds and clit. She was tight, he noted, but that was to be expected. He’d never been with a virgin before, and whilst he was worried about hurting her, he was also quite endeared that she trusted him with this. He pushed a second finger alongside the first and sucked hard on her, her flavour flooding his mouth as she clenched down hard, her muscles spasming around him in climax as she whimpered. “Good girl,” he murmured soothingly. He crawled up her body again, holding her tight as she trembled.

He’d kept his fingers between her thighs, rubbing between her folds and around her entrance. “You ready?” he asked hoarsely. She nodded, spreading her leg a little wider for him.

“No, kitten, I want you on top,” he said. “That way, you can stop if it hurts, okay?” She was still feeling a little lethargic, but she let him help her up over his hips. She braced her hands on his chest as he spread her open, fingers slipping against her wetness. “Good girl,” he murmured as he positioned the heavy, throbbing head of his cock against her. “When you’re ready, just push down.”

She pressed down, more nervous now than she had been before. She wasn’t exactly unfamiliar with pain, and this couldn’t hurt that badly…

A gasp escaped her lips as the silky head of his cock pressed into her. There was a lot of stretching, she thought, but not the pain she’d been expecting. He groaned as she moved up a little, experimentally, his fingers scrabbling at the bedsheets. “You feel amazing,” he told her, exercising all his self control not to buck his hips and push farther in.

She grinned and sank down, wanting the full, open, stretched feeling she’d felt a moment ago. She went too fast, though, crying out at the burning hurt between her legs, falling all the way forward onto his chest. He wrapped his arms around her. “Shh, it’s okay,” he whispered into her ear, kissing the sensitive spot he’d found just below it, the spot that always made her shiver in pleasure. “Take your time, kitten.” He hoped she was okay; he could feel hot blood around his cock. He felt guilty- could he have prepared her better, he wondered? He'd have preferred it if she hadn't actually torn, just stretched around him.

She surprised him by flexing her hips, gasping as the torn flesh of her hymen was pulled. She bit down on her lip, trying instead to concentrate on the fullness, the delicious pressure of him moving against her, inside her. He snaked one arm between them, bracketing her clit between two fingers and squeezed lightly, causing her to throw back her head in pleasure. “Robin,” she breathed, “More, please.”

His breath hitched in his chest, hearing her say his name. Wrapping himself around her to keep them locked together, he rolled them in the big bed until he was pressed above her. As smoothly as he could, he rocked out of her and pressed back in. She found herself bringing her knees up almost on an instinct, opening herself to him, lessening the pressure of her tightness around him and letting him go a little deeper. She arched her back, pressing her hungry clit against his body, relishing the crinkle of his hair against it as he pumped into her, still slow and gentle. Even the pain now felt delicious; a sharp bite whenever he moved, pushing her higher. She didn’t mind when he moved faster, bucking her hips up to meet him and clawing at his back.

He latched his mouth to her shoulder, nipping and sucking as he slammed himself into her and stilled, enjoying the clench of her walls around his throbbing, pulsing cock.

“Was that good?” she asked in a small voice a few moments later, when he was still panting over her.

“It was perfect,” he assured her. She hissed in pain as he slid out, and he winced when he looked down to see his cock streaked in red. “How much does it hurt?”

“Not too bad,” she said. “Regrowing bones hurts more.”

He laughed, flopping down next to her and drawing her into the circle of her arms. She snuggled close, her head against his damp chest, where she could still hear his heart thumping double time.

 

 

Chapter Text

Harriet toyed with her scrambled eggs. She felt like it should be different, like people should treat her differently now, or that the world would be brighter, or she’d understand it in a new way, now that she’d had sex. But it was like any other Monday morning as Ron talked over her head to Dean, a mouthful of toast spluttering everywhere. More and more, Harriet was used to the quiet solitude of her room. Her schoolwork had certainly improved away from the distractions of Gryffindor tower. Perhaps all seventh years should have their own bedrooms, she mused.

“Potter, Weasley, please join me in my office after breakfast,” McGonagall instructed, pausing by the Gryffindor table for just a moment on her way to the head table.

Ron, paused mid sentence, looked alarmed. “What’d we do wrong?” he wanted to know, eyes wide and toast drooping. “I haven’t been caught out after curfew in forever…”

“No idea,” Harriet sighed.

Hermione frowned at her. “Are you okay, Harriet?” she asked. “We barely saw you all weekend…”

Yes, Harriet wanted to snap. You barely saw me because you were off being prefects in Hogsmeade, not finding out about how Dumbledore’s taking other people to your home. And you aren’t the one with the sore, bleeding cunt. She didn’t though, and, to be fair, she had no idea about the state of Hermione’s nether regions. “I’m fine,” she insisted. “Just tired. I was up late last night, reading.” That much, at least was true: whilst spending the day lounging in bed or in front of the fire with Robin, she hadn’t had much opportunity for study.

They waited until McGonagall had left breakfast before they ambled out of the great hall and up the stairs to her office. Hermione darted off to the library, even though she couldn’t help a curious little look back at them.

“Come in,” McGonagall called when Harriet nervously rapped on her door. The last time she’d been in here, she’d been wielding her mutilated Firebolt. At least she knew her Peregrine was safely stop her wardrobe in her spell-protected room. Ron decided that this was the perfect moment to begin practicing being a gentleman, and ushered her in first. She grimaced at him, not prepared to act the lady.

“Ah, Potter, Weasley. Take a seat,” she said, waving them towards to straight back chairs with the small nod to comfort in a lumpy tartan cushion on each. Harriet wondered what McGonagall’s private quarters were like: she knew from visiting Severus that his classroom and his living room were two very different places.

“Now,” McGonagall when they were seated, “the applications for auror training have just been sent though. I know you two were keen, so I thought you might like to get a start on them.” She slid two thick sheaves of parchment across the desk at them. Ron grasped his eagerly.

Harriet took hers a little more slowly. She leafed through the application form, asking for personal statements and examples of essay work as well as recommendations from their teachers. McGonagall cut into her thoughts. “Now, Weasley, you need to watch your Potions marks, and I can’t lie, your Transfigurations could do with a bit more effort. But I’m happy to recommend you, nevertheless. Potter, I can’t see your application being a problem: your marks have climbed significantly this year. I’m pleased to see that you’ve finally knuckled down and shown us what you were capable of all this time.”

Harriet chewed on her lip. Now was as good a time as any, she supposed. “I don’t think I want to be an auror anymore,” she said quietly.

“What?” Ron burst out. “But you’ve always wanted to be an auror! We were going to be a team, fight the Death Eaters together!”

McGonagall was frowning too. “Are you sure about this, Potter?” she asked, her accent broadening slightly with the surprise. “You’d make a very good auror, with your talent for Defence.”

Harriet shrugged. “It’s kind of dangerous, I guess,” she said. “I mean, my parents were dead before they even hit 23, and they weren’t even aurors, just members of the Order. What are my chances of surviving even that long if I’m deliberately putting myself in danger?”

She didn’t add that she could now imagine a life after Hogwarts; a comfortable, happy life. Where she and Robin would have a little house somewhere, get married, and maybe, in a few years, have a child or two. He’d told her yesterday that he wanted to do a Master’s degree, then, maybe, a doctorate. He had plans and ideas for his life, and they didn’t involve throwing himself into the path of homicidal wizards. She hoped that hers wouldn’t either. The image of she and Robin sitting before their own fireplace, like they’d sat before hers the afternoon before, was endearing. She wanted to be able to climb into bed with him at night, not see him leave again, because he had lectures the next morning, and lived in Manchester, not Hogwarts.

“Life is dangerous, Miss Potter,” McGonagall pointed out. “As you say, your mother and father died at the hands of a dark wizard. I might suggest that the best way to protect yourself, and others, is to ensure that you’re as well trained in defence as you can be.” Harriet nodded slowly, but still, she couldn’t shake the picture of Kingsley knocking on the front door of a house to tell Robin that she’d been killed. Before, she hadn’t had any family to speak of, no one to really care if she lived or died. Her parents and Sirius were dead, after all. But she hoped to be family to Robin. Or to somebody, at least. She could only hope that Robin would actually want to settle down like that.

“No,” she suddenly burst out after a few moments of careful consideration. “No, I don’t think that actively chasing Voldemort is the best way to stay safe, and I don’t think it’s the best way to keep other people safe. I want everyone to be able to defend themselves, not have to rely on aurors turning up in time. Wouldn’t it be better to teach everyone?”

“Well, yes,” McGonagall agreed hesitantly, “but it’s not that easy…”

“Why not?” Harriet demanded. “Why shouldn’t it be that easy?”

Her professor sighed deeply. “You have the idealism of youth, Potter,” she informed her wearily. “We teach children as best we can here. What makes you think that they would be willing to study more when they’re adults?”

“Voldemort wasn’t a risk when most of them were at school,” Harriet pointed out. She slid the application form back across McGonagall’s desk. “I’m not going to be an auror,” she reiterated, more firmly this time.

“Then what will you do?” McGonagall asked.

Harriet shrugged. “I don’t know yet. I haven’t decided. But not an auror.”

The sigh from McGonagall was long-suffering. She was looking very old, Harriet thought. “Very well. Weasley, do you still wish to pursue training?”

Ron looked startled. He stared down at the papers in his lap. “Yeah. Yeah, I do,” he said quietly.

“Then we may as well begin the application now. Potter, go away and think on your career path. Come back to see me when you’re decided.”

“Yes, Professor,” Harriet said, standing. Ron looked after her almost longingly, but stayed, accepting the quill McGonagall offered him. Ron never remembered to bring a quill.

Harriet’s first instinct was to go back to her room, but she knew that she had been in there almost all weekend, and she had no desire to be pulled up for it by Dumbledore again. A least the library was quiet during the day, with only sixth and seventh years having free periods. She found Hermione tucked in a little nook in the back, the light from the blue and green stained-glass window lending her skin an odd, otherworldly cast. She smiled at Harriet and waved at the seat next to her, inviting the other girl to join her. Harriet pulled out her charms textbook and began an essay on creative uses of basic charms- she’d chosen a tickling charm used defensively to distract your opponent, whereas it was usually nothing more than a practical joke.

Hermione wiggled in her seat, drawing Harriet’s attention. The head girl raised an eyebrow. “So?” she whispered, “what was it? And where’s Ron?”

“Auror applications came in,” Harriet whispered back. “Ron’s doing his with McGonagall now.”

“You doing yours later?” Hermione asked, bending over her book again.

“No,” Harriet said quietly. “Don’t make a big deal of it or anything, but I don’t want to be an auror anymore.”

To her credit, Hermione didn’t make anything of it at all. She didn’t even look up. “I kind of suspected,” she admitted, “when you said about Death Eaters not being your business to deal with.”

“Yeah,” Harriet agreed.

They worked in silence for some time. There was only a quarter of an hour left before Transfiguration when Harriet spoke. “What do you want to do when you leave?” she asked Hermione. She realised, bizarrely, that she didn’t know. It had always been assumed that she and Ron would go on to auror training, but Hermione had never really mentioned it.

“I’ve been offered a traineeship with Faulks and Fitzsimmons,” she said. When Harriet looked blank, she explained. “It’s the leading wizarding law firm,” she said. “I’ll only be a clerk to begin with, alongside studying with a solicitor, but I’m hoping that I can rise pretty quickly. There’s a lot of injustices in the world that I’d like to correct. It was that or become a mediwitch, but I’m not so great with stuff like splinching- it makes me queasy.”

Harriet smiled. She could imagine Hermione as the warrior for the underdog in society. “Well, I know where to go if I ever need legal help,” she said softly. “Come on, we should get going if we don’t want to be late. That fourth floor staircase has been a right bugger lately- it never points the way I want it to.”

Ron ambled into Transfiguration still chatting to McGonagall. Harriet felt a little tug of something like jealousy. Joining the aurors was always her thing; Ron had followed along. Now, though, Ron hadn’t followed her away. He’d always been a follower, she thought: following her, or following popular opinion. But now he’d made his own decision. She had no idea whether to be proud or angry.

For once, Ron managed every spell McGonagall set them first time. He left the lesson for lunch with a wide grin on his face. “Did’ya see that armchair I turned into?”

“The pattern was wonky,” Hermione informed him tartly. She was mostly put out that her armchair had sported a lovely Hogwarts crest from her robes. Harriet hadn’t managed to get beyond a straight-backed rung chair. Not even a cushion. McGonagall had informed her that she needed to trust in her own abilities. Confidence, she’d said. Harriet lacked confidence.

She idly considered the notion as she munched her way through lunch. Oddly, these days lessons made her hungrier than quidditch ever could: the magical exertion seemed to be greater than any physical exercise could be. “Do you think I’m confident?” she blurted out, interrupting Hermione’s discussion the relative uses of transfiguring into patterned versus plain chairs.

“What?” Ron asked, coming out of his stupor- apparently, he’d been doing nothing but gamely nodding along to Hermione’s monologue.

“Confidence,” Harriet repeated. “McGonagall said I needed more confidence. Am I confident?”

“Erm, dunno,” was Ron’s only answer.

Hermione tipped her head to the side. “You’re confident about what you know, like defence. But you’re not arrogant- it’s not like you go around saying how amazing you are or anything.”

She’d always made a concerted effort to avoid saying that she was amazing: she was just another person. It was the rest of the world who’d foisted  ‘the boy who lived’ and ‘the chosen one’ on her. “I don’t want to be amazing,” she grumbled. “I just want to be Harriet.”

“Well,” Hermione said, digging her spoon into her sticky toffee pudding, “that’s my point.” Harriet still wasn’t convinced that McGonagall had wanted her to go around singing her own praises.

They left lunch at the same time as Lupin. “Professor,” Harriet said on a sudden whim, “May I come and speak to you? About some… career advice.”

Lupin looked at her with his usual soft-eyed kindness. “Of course. Have you got a free lesson last thing? Or perhaps this evening, after dinner?”

“Last lesson would be brilliant. Thanks!” Harriet grinned at him before trotting off after Ron, who was desperate for another fly around. She knew she’d be glad of the fresh air. “Hey, Ron,” she said, “before we fly, d’you mind if I try to see if Dumbledore’s in? I’ve got something to ask him.”

“Huh? Yeah, whatever,” Ron said, shifting from foot to foot. He strode after her to the headmaster’s office, easily keeping pace with her hurrying steps. Harriet tried the last password she’d known for the gargoyle. It seemed to consider the password for a moment, making her think that it had been changed, but eventually stepped aside. The stairs obligingly began to move upwards.

She knocked hesitantly at Dumbledore’s door. “Come in, Harriet, Ron,” the headmaster called. Harriet checked that her occlumentic shields were firmly in place.

“That’s plain creepy,” Ron muttered.

Dumbledore sat surrounded by sheaves of paper. “What can I do for you, children?” he asked mildly.

“Professor, I wanted,” Harriet began, “well, I found out over the summer that I’d inherited some properties on my birthday. I was hoping that I could go and have a look at the couple. I’ve got a house in Edinburgh, I think, and… and the house in Godric’s Hollow.”

“I see,” Dumbledore said. “Well, perhaps at Christmas…”

“I was hoping to go sooner,” Harriet replied stubbornly, holding her ground. “Maybe next weekend.”

“During the school term?” Dumbledore asked, an edge to his voice.

Harriet nodded. “Yes, sir. It wouldn’t take long, just a day. They are my properties, after all, and I should be looking after them. It’s my responsibility. And I was hoping that perhaps I could take some people with me. Just in case Voldemort is lurking..”

Dumbledore sighed and considered the request for a long couple of minutes. Ron shifted uncomfortably on his feet, but Harriet made a concerted effort to stand still and stare the headmaster down. He wouldn’t agree if he thought she’d back down. “Very well,” he said at last. “I will enquire about an escort for you, and I should imagine that Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger would accompany you.”

Harriet nodded and smiled. “Thank you, Sir,” she said, and dragged Ron out of the room and down to fetch their brooms. She knew she’d be peppered with questions from Ron as they walked down into the grounds.

A flight over the lake and the forest, without the worry of coaching her quidditch players relaxed Harriet, leaving her feeling refreshed and ready to face her future. Lupin was ushering the last of his third years out of his classroom when Harriet showed up. “Ah, Harriet, come in. Just give me a moment to get cleared up, and we’ll go through to my office. It’s a bit more comfortable.” She leaned against a desk, watching him carefully levitate a tank of grindylows back to their shelf. One of the third years had left their textbook: she idly flicked through it, surprised when it fell open easily on page three hundred and ninety four.

“Professor,” he asked, “how do you manage the full moon these days? You haven’t missed a class yet this term.”

Lupin smiled wanly. “There have been a few advances in wolfsbane over the last two years,” he explained. “I can recover a little better, a little faster.” He held open the door to his office, and waved Harriet through. “Now, what can I do for you?”

Harriet wondered how best to start. “Auror applications came in today,” she said.

“I see,” Lupin said. “Well, I’ll be more than happy to write you a glowing reference. Your performance in Defence is completely unparalleled.”

“No, Sir… you don’t understand. I don’t want to be an auror anymore.”

Several beats of stunned silence followed. “But, Harriet,” Lupin eventually worked up to saying, “You’ve always wanted to be an auror. Well ever since you found out about them.”

“Things change,” Harriet said with a shrug. “I’ve changed- not just into a girl, but in other ways too. I don’t know if I just grew up, or becoming a girl had something to do with it. But the idea of spending my life constantly hunting down people… I don’t like it.” She didn’t mention that she’d like a reasonable degree of certainty that she’d return home on any given day. “But I don’t really know what else to do. So I was wondering: what other careers can you do when you’re good at defence?”

Lupin thought for a few minutes. “Curse breaking might suit you, but you haven’t done Ancient Runes, have you? No, I thought not. You won’t be able to make up four years of study to take a NEWT in that in just a year, through you could study it part time when you have a job if you wanted. The same goes for ward specialists, and they tend to need Arithmancy as well. There are professional duelists- it’s still recognised as a sport. Your name might help you there…”

None of those sounded too good to Harriet. Curse breaking sounded interesting- Bill seemed to enjoy it, but if it required runes, it was out. “What about teaching?” she asked, suddenly shy. She didn’t want him to think she was after his job. “Not here- it would be weird teaching people I went to school with. But maybe something like giving private lessons?”

Lupin frowned in thought. “I’ve never heard of it being done, but that’s not to say that it couldn’t be, although you’d need a place to give the lessons, and the capital to support yourself until you started making money. To be honest I’m not sure people would be happy, being taught by a school leaver.” He stood, and crossed to his desk, shuffling through piles of paper. “But…” he said, still shuffling, “I received something that might be of interest the other day. Ah, here!”

He offered Harriet a parchment flyer. “I’d have given it to you, but I thought you were going into auror training. You’re the only student in your year who’d be good enough to try for a place.”

Harriet looked at the flyer. A university-level defence programme based at the Wizarding colleges. “The Wizarding colleges?” she asked. “I don’t think I’ve heard of them.”

“They’re very exclusive- they take only twenty students a year, from all over the world- five each for Defence, Potions, Magical Sciences and Charms. Professor Flitwick attended, from what I recall, although some years ago. You would earn a magical mastery in two years of quite intense study and research. Your power levels are definitely strong enough, and your knowledge and written work should about pass muster as well. It’s worth an application, if you’re interested in teaching. It would hold considerably more weight than a NEWT, no matter how good.”

Harriet looked down at the bit of paper. “It’s a good opportunity, Harriet,” Lupin said quietly. “If nothing else, it would give you two years to think about a future career if you get in. If you don’t… well, we can think of something else. Unless I’m much mistaken, the Potter vaults should cover you for a bit whilst you decide on what to do.”

“Where is it?” she asked. She’d never heard of any magical university at all, let alone in Britain.

“It’s based in Lancaster. It used to be in a little farmhouse in the Pendle district, but the students complained of not enough company. You must have heard of the Pendle witch trials?”

“Erm, I usually slept through History of Magic,” Harriet admitted sheepishly. “It all seemed to be about Goblin rebellions.”

Lupin threw back his head and laughed. “Professor Binns never changes!” he said. “Well, the Pendle witches were burnt at the stake. Only one was really a witch- she escaped, of course. The area has always had a strong connection with magical folk ever since, even if it’s not an exclusively wizarding area.”

Lancaster was quite close to Manchester, Harriet realised. “I’ll send for an application,” she said with a grin.

Lupin put his hand on her shoulder. “Good girl,” he said. “I’d like to think you have a fighting chance.”

 

Chapter Text

The uncomfortable wetness blooming in her knickers informed Harriet that her body was, once again, reminding her that she was a girl now. It had been bad enough dealing with the hurt of lost virginity- it had hurt so much to pee that night that she’d contorted herself strangely in front of her mirror to get a good enough view to heal her torn sex.

“I’ll meet you at lunch,” she blurted out to Ron and Hermione as soon as they escaped the Charms classroom.

“Where’re you going?” Ron asked, wide eyed. “If it’s something good, I want to come.”

Harriet laughed, unable to help herself despite her discomfort. “Nothing good,” she said. “Girl stuff.”

Ron scrunched his nose. “Eurgh. See you in a bit, mate.” Harriet just dashed down the stairs. The nearest bathroom was Myrtle’s: she really hoped that the ghost wasn’t too upset this week. She just wanted to get cleared up; it felt like the blood might drip down her leg.

The strange, damp, neglected smell of Myrtle’s bathroom always reminded her of the disgusting taste of polyjuice. She couldn’t see Myrtle anywhere, so she ducked into the furthest stall and yanked her tights down. There was a thick, wet smear of blood in the inside of her knickers, but it wasn’t as bad as she’d feared. She quickly spelled them clean and pulled a pad from the bottom of her schoolbag.

She jumped when the door to the bathroom slammed open, then reverberated shut. She froze. No one came into Myrtle’s bathroom, and especially not someone taking in big, gulping lungfuls of air like a person afraid of drowning… or someone fighting off tears.

“Myrtle?” Malfoy’s voice caught as he called out. Harriet very slowly let her schoolbag settle on the floor. She didn’t particularly want Malfoy to know she was here.

A splash from the cubicle next door heralded Myrtle’s arrival. “What’s the matter, Draco?” she simpered.

A slithering, then a thump. Malfoy’s voice sounded lower down now, like he was sitting on the floor. Harriet tried to slow her breathing, make as little noise as possible. “I got a letter from my father this morning, Myrtle. It doesn't get any better, no matter what I do,” Malfoy complained, his voice quiet and almost weak. “Why doesn’t it get better? It should get easier. I did what Dumbledore said, I resisted. I did the ‘right thing’. But now my family’s in disgrace, my father hates me, and my mother is back to not caring. She won’t answer my letters, just keeps sending more packages of sweets. What am I meant to do?”

“Oh, there, there, Draco,” the ghost girl soothed. “It’ll be okay.”

“How?” Malfoy asked, his voice muffled now, as if he had his head in his hands. “How will it get better? Unless I manage to fulfil the Dark Lord’s wishes, I’ll be hunted down, tortured, killed.”

Harriet bit her lip sharply to keep her gasp in, and tasted a copper droplet of blood. Myrtle, though, didn’t sound too discomfited. “Well, if you die, you can come and live with me,” she pointed out. “Do you think ghosts can have babies?” she wondered, drifting away and plopping down into the pipes again.

The sound of flesh hitting stone and the crack of bones would have covered Harriet’s astonished exclamation, even if Malfoy hadn’t sworn loudly after he’d punched the wall. A few minutes later, the door slammed again, and Harriet was alone. She stood stock still until she’d counted to a hundred in her mind to make sure he really had gone before she finally pulled up her knickers, smoothed the skirt and her robes, and left the stall. There was a small smear or blood on the wall near the door.

“That took forever!” Ron complained as she slipped into a place in the great hall. “What were you doing, chatting to Myrtle?” He’d filled her plate for her, she noted with a smile.

“Kind of,” she replied. “Can’t say anything here. My room, after lunch?” She glanced over at the Slytherin table. Malfoy was nowhere in sight. It had sounded like he’d broken his hand, so Harriet’s best bet was the hospital wing. She wondered how she could slip away from Ron and Hermione for long enough to check. She realised with a start that she’d need to go up to see Madam Pomfrey anyway, or at least her cupboard full of painkilling potions and the top shelf, which was given over to contraceptive potions.

“Ooh, yes,” Hermione said. “I wanted some quiet work time anyway. Let me go and grab my books from my room first though?”

The head girl’s rooms weren’t too far from the infirmary, Harriet mused. “Yeah, sure,” she said, “as long as I can take a little trip to the hospital wing too.”

Ron looked confused. “Hospital wing?” he asked. “Why?”

Hermione gave a dramatic sigh. “It’s okay, Ron, you just keep right on living with your head in the sand. Merlin help your future wife, assuming one’ll have you.”

“Hey!” Ron riposted, outraged. “Who’s to say I’m not the kindest and most considerate of blokes?”

Hermione just raised her eyebrow as Harriet stifled a giggle.

She hadn’t been lying when she’d said that head girl’s room wasn’t much. It was bigger than the original dimensions of Harriet’s room, but not by much, and the living room she shared with the head boy was clearly designed more for counselling students than spending any real time in relaxing. The sofa certainly didn’t look overly comfortable. “Come on, then,” Hermione said, shouldering her bulging book bag. “Hospital wing, then you can tell us what’s going on now.”

The cupboard Harriet needed was just inside the door to the infirmary, not near the beds. Even so, a quick glance through into the ward was enough to tell her that all the beds were empty, their curtains pulled back neatly and sheets tucked perfectly into place. Madam Pomfrey was nowhere to be seen, but as she had no patients at the moment, it was no surprise. Perhaps Malfoy had been and gone; Madam Pomfrey did boast that she could heal broken bones in no more than moments. Harriet sighed and opened the cupboard, pulling out a handful of the painkillers and reaching up for a bottle of contraceptive. “What’s that stuff?” Ron asked curiously.

“Potions for period pains, and anti-pregnancy potions,” Hermione explained shortly. “Harriet, why do you keep staring at the beds? There’s no one there.”

“Looking for Malfoy. Come on, let’s go to my room; I’ll explain there.” Quite aside from being heard, she was becoming aware that she probably did need one of the painkillers, and soon, besides which, she’d rather tell the tale from the comfort of her favourite chair.

It didn’t take long to recount the events in Myrtle’s bathroom to her friends; although Ron did make some rather interesting noises of disgust at Myrtle’s questions about the fertility of ghosts. Harriet wished she could have made some of the same sounds when Myrtle had said it. Hermione wrinkled her nose, but pointed out that Myrtle probably did get lonely, since the other ghosts wouldn’t really fraternise with her, not least because she spent the majority of her time haunting a bathroom.

“What does he mean, he ‘did the right thing’?” Hermione wanted to know. “It sounds like it was something Dumbledore wanted him to do.”

“I have no idea,” Harriet said with a sigh. She’d hoped that perhaps Ron and Hermione might have some insight, but so far, Ron was still completely focused on trying not to image ghosts having sex, and Hermione seemed to be coming up blank.

“Well,” the head girl said, “we knew that he was in disgrace with his family anyway- he said he spent the summer with Bellatrix Lestrange because he was in trouble of some kind. Lucius is out of Azkaban and stuck at home under house arrest…” She lapsed into thoughtful silence. “So, there was something he was meant to do, I guess, something for Voldemort, but Dumbledore told him not to.”

“Yeah, I gathered that,” Harriet snapped. “But what is it that’s so important that Voldemort would kill him for not doing it?”

“Mate, I think you-know-who’d probably kill someone for not fetching his lunch on time,” Ron offered. “But maybe he was meant to get you, somehow?”

“Maybe,” Harriet mused. But Malfoy hadn’t been launching kidnap attempts, had he? He’d been trying to get in her knickers, not lure her into Voldemort's clutches. Just as she was turning it over, Dobby popped into the room, standing perfectly in the middle of the coffee table, his ears almost vibrating with excitement.

“Miss Potter is having an admirer!” he crowed, holding out the bouquet of pink roses almost as big as the overexcited house elf.

“Wow, Robin’s a bit of a romantic, then?” Ron asked dryly. “Sending you flowers.”

Dobby shook his head with glee. “No, these are not coming from Master Robin!”

Harriet took the bouquet and extracted a note from within the hot-house-fragrant blooms. These were nothing like the little bunch of daisies Robin had given her. These were overblown, ostentatious. She read the note. “Malfoy,” she said. “He says that he hopes I might have had time to consider his offer.”

“His offer?” Hermione asked. “What offer?”

She truly had grown apart from her friends, Harriet thought. She never would have neglected to mention the fact that Blaise Zabini had attempted to rape her, nor Malfoy’s subsequent visit, before this year. But now… well, she’d gone to Severus, not to her friends. “Oh, he reckoned that I’d be interested in him because he’s rich and powerful or some such,” she said with a shrug. For once, the Hogwarts gossip mill hadn’t been spinning and so the tale had remained unknown amongst the students, although the staff all seemed to know, if they way they glared at Blaise meant anything.

“That’s nothing new,” Ron grunted, having taken possession of the other item in Dobby’s possession, a plate of cauldron cakes. “Come on, he’s been eying you up since the start of the term, before he even knew who you were.”

“But you’d have thought that he’d give up as soon as he knew it was me.”

“Malfoy’s always been known as a womaniser,” Hermione pointed out, “and he doesn’t always limit his romantic activities to his own house. I know that Lavender’s slept with him, and I’m pretty sure Fay has too. And most of Ravenclaw.”

Ron screwed up his nose. “Please tell me I haven’t had Malfoy’s sloppy seconds?” he asked morosely. “I’ve had Lavender and Fay too.”

“Well then, you probably have,” Hermione informed him tartly. “And they probably thought he was better in bed too. It’s not like you have much to recommend you.”

“Oy, that was uncalled for!” Ron exclaimed.

“Hang on,” Harriet said, “you two have slept together?”

Hermione shifted uncomfortably. “Well, yeah,” she said. “Just the once...I mean, it’s normal here, not like in the muggle world. My parents would probably have freaked if they knew I lost my virginity at fourteen, but, hey…”

“Fourteen’s normal in the wizarding world, though,” Ron said. “Charlie says he was a first year when he did, but I’m not sure whether to believe that… Charlie’s not always on the best of terms with reality.” He squinted at Harriet “You know, I never caught you at it, though. When was your first time?”

Harriet knew she was probably more pink than the roses. “Well, erm… you know, just, erm, sometime, I can’t really…”

Ron gawped. “You’re a virgin?” he asked with surprise.

“No!” Harriet exclaimed. “It was, erm, last week.” She stared intently into the gigantic bunch of roses. The sweet smell was getting too much. She laid them on the desk, not caring that they probably should be in water.

Ron guffawed, but Hermione wasted no time in delivering a sound thump to the side of the head. “Shut up, Ronald,” she said. “Harriet was raised muggle, just like me. And at least she saved it for someone she cared about, and not bloody Lavender Brown.”

“Oh, and you can talk, Miss I-shagged-Victor-Krum?”

Hermione huffed in annoyance. “Look, we’re getting off topic. What’s up with Malfoy? Is he trying to kill Harriet or sleep with her?”

Ron shrugged. “No clue,” he said, still not being able to shed his grin completely. “Sounds like Dumbledore knows, though, so I reckon it’s probably okay.”

Harriet didn’t think that Dumbledore knowing about it necessarily made it okay, but she doubted that she’d get any further with Ron and Hermione. She resolved to ask Severus later on. “Let’s just do some work,” she suggested. “I really need to practice that wandless magic that Lupin wants us to do, I’m rubbish at it, and I just know that it’d be a good thing to know for my Wizarding colleges interview… well, if I get an interview.” She’d received her application form yesterday morning, and had diligently filled in all the easy bits, leaving just the essay on why she wanted to attend the college left to do, plus get her references from Lupin and Dumbledore. She really hoped Dumbledore would give her a good reference; she knew Lupin would.

“It’s impossible, mate, I’m sure of it,” Ron said dismissively. “Wandless magic can’t be controlled.”

“It’s not impossible!” Hermione reprimanded. “My wand almost hovered last time I tried. And powerful witches and wizards can do it. It’s just really hard, and really tiring. Anyway, Harriet, mind if I raid your bookshelves?”

“Be my guest,” Harriet said dryly. Sometimes she wondered if Hermione was her friend just to get access to reading material these days. As for herself, she hardly touched them.

 

 

Chapter Text

Harriet flopped down into her armchair. She was exhausted. She’d succeeded in rolling her wand to her feet in defence, and had managed to apparate between her hoops in the great hall after dinner- the test was next Saturday. And she still didn’t have a clue what Malfoy was up to.

She lazily swished her wand to cast a tempus charm. It was just after eight, not a ridiculous time to go visiting. Curfew wasn’t for more than an hour yet, so Severus was likely to be home unless he was overseeing detention.

The floo powder was getting low, she noticed. She’d have to ask Severus for more. She stepped into the green flames, and back out again into Severus’s quiet living room. “Hello?” she called. “Anyone here?” No answer. She wandered down the hall to the bedrooms, peeking in at each of the open doors, but neither Severus nor Robin seemed to be there. Slightly disheartened, and inexplicably lonely, she wandered back to the living room, curling up on the sofa and taking her Charms textbook out of her bag. She knew she probably should have practiced wandless magic more, but even the idea made her head hurt. Reading was definitely the safer option.

She was confused and woolly-headed when Severus gently shook her awake. She cracked open her eyes to look at him crouched beside the sofa. “Is everything okay, Harriet?” he asked quietly. “How long have you been here?”

“I’m fine,” she yawned. “What time is it?”

“Ten minutes to nine,” he said.

“Been here about half an hour… sorry…”

Severus straightened with a grimace. “There’s no need to apologise,” he said. “You are welcome at any time. Now, I have a potion which needs some attention; you may stay here or come to my lab as you choose.”

“I’ll come with you,” she said, unfolding herself and rescuing her Charms book from where it had slipped off her knee. Severus nodded and gestured for her to follow him down to the door at the very end of the corridor.

For all that she knew Severus much better now, and knew that his quarters didn’t in any way resemble his classroom, she was still expecting a dungeon-like lab, with plenty of pickled eyeballs and torturous looking instruments. Instead, she followed him into a room mostly filled with a very large marble-topped table, a large, warm fireplace and shelving stretching across one of the long walls, with ingredients and potions neatly labelled, but no creepy animal parts in sight. He pulled out a tall stool for her to sit on as he removed a cover from a large cauldron sitting on an enchanted fire, like the ones the students used in lessons, and began to stir it with careful precise movements. “How is your application for the Wizarding colleges coming?” he asked. She’d told him about her plan to apply on Monday evening, at their occlumency lesson.

“I was going to write the essay over the weekend,” she said, smoothing her fingers over the cool marble, tracing the grey veins in the smooth icy-white stone. Her head still felt a little fuzzy. “Severus, why is Malfoy in disgrace with his family?”

She could have been imagining it, but she was sure that Severus stiffened. “How do you know that he is?” he asked smoothly.

“He said he was,” she explained. “Weeks ago, he said that he stayed with Bellatrix Lestrange over the summer, because his father was angry with him. And…” she hesitated, not sure how much she should say, but decided to press on. Severus hadn’t yet given her any sign that he wasn’t trustworthy, “and I heard him talking to Moaning Myrtle today in her bathroom. He was upset, saying that he’d failed something that Voldemort might kill him and his family hated him. He… I think he punched the wall and broke his hand, but he seemed fine again in defence. I couldn’t see him in the hospital wing.”

“I healed Draco’s hand,” Severus admitted. “You won’t often find my Slytherins going to Poppy; they tend to prefer a healer that they trust.”

“So, what is it?” she asked. “What did he do?”

Severus shook his head. “I cannot betray his trust,” he told her kindly, “just as I would not betray yours. You must simply believe me that he was faced with a terrible task; he made the choice that is right for his soul and for the wizarding world, but one that will forever drive him away from his family.”

She sighed deeply. That didn’t tell her much. “How do you know he’s not going to change his mind?” she asked as Severus expertly chopped dandelion root. “He sounded pretty upset.”

“He knows that entering the Dark Lord’s service is a path that cannot be trodden lightly,” Severus told her, “and he is horrified by the task that he was given. Draco is not made to be a Death Eater: he is gentle at heart.”

Harriet scoffed. Malfoy, gentle? He was a bully, and she informed Severus of this. Severus shook his head sadly. “He is a product of his upbringing, as are we all. He was taught that strength comes from belittling others. He is trying his best to learn another way.”

Harriet toyed with a mortar and pestle on the shelf next to her. “He asked me out,” she said quietly after a few moments of silence.

“It would be a good match for you. The Malfoy family is powerful and influential.”

“But what about Robin?” she asked, shocked.

Severus sighed as he removed his potion from the heat. “Robin is a squib,” he said, as if explaining to a child. “He will never be accepted nor respected by the wizarding world. Look how Mr. Filch is treated; would you wish that on yourself? To be ridiculed and reviled by those you respect? Trust me, Harriet, I know how it feels; I’m the bat of the dungeons. Don’t make your life harder than it has to be. Take Draco up on his offer: Robin will survive.”

Harriet tried to swallow around the lump rising in the back of her throat. Of course she didn’t want to live life like Filch. But surely, Robin could never be like the school caretaker? Filch was old and grumpy and stupid.

Severus interrupted her thoughts. “I should imagine that you are currently thinking that Robin and Argus Filch have nothing in common. You are wrong. Think on the scorn and derision heaped on Argus through his life, and then wonder why he is as he is. As I said of Draco, we are all products of our upbringing. I have tried to shield Robin from it, but if he attempts to make his life in the wizarding world, he will be snubbed. You would be better served by an alliance with the Malfoy family, who have enough political and magical power to back you up. Lucius is in disgrace; it would not be too hard for Draco to take control of the house’s destiny, and you could influence the position of one of the oldest and most respecting wizarding families in Britain.”

She nodded, unhappily. She could see that she wouldn’t influence Severus on this one, but she was still sure that Robin could never be anything like Filch. “I’ll… bear it in mind,” she said quietly, with very little intention of doing so. Severus trusted Draco, and her mother had trusted Severus… and if the potion’s master really had been working for Voldemort, the surely he’d have turned her over to the madman by now.

“Be sure that you do,” Severus replied firmly, bottling the last of his potion. “Now, on a somewhat related note, it has been twenty-seven days since your first dose of contraceptive. You need to take more no later than tomorrow.”

He crossed to his shelves of potions and selected a bulbous green bottle. “If you can promise me that you will take it, you may keep this bottle- one tablespoon on every twenty-eighth day. I will check that you remember.”

“I already got a dose from Madam Pomfrey,” Harriet bit out. She didn’t need Severus checking up on her like that!

Severus grunted in acknowledgment. “Keep this anyway,” he said. “It will be easier for you than traipsing up to the infirmary every four weeks. I’ve long said that it should be kept in each house, or added to the damnable pumpkin juice. It would have saved more than one girl from the trauma of a post-coital contraceptive potion. It’s been a long time since we had a pregnancy at Hogwarts though.”

“I’ve never seen a pregnant girl at Hogwarts,” Harriet said.

“Of course you haven’t. The headmaster, in his infinite wisdom, refuses to admit the rampant hormones of the magical teenager, and insists upon their ability to make decisions for themselves. Hence, he will not agree to mass dosing of the school, but nor will he allow a girl with child to grace his hallowed halls of learning. They are sent home, until the situation is… adequately dealt with.”

“Dealt with?” Harriet asked, curious about Severus’ ire.

“Yes,” he said. “Either the child is born, or… disposed of. No one expects a woman going into marriage to be virginal any longer, but a woman with a child stands no hope of a good match. Be warned, Miss Potter.” He finished placing the last of the potions into a crate, presumably destined for Madam Pomfrey. Harriet slid off her stool and followed him back to the living room.

“So, if Dumbledore won’t do mass dosing, why haven’t there been more accidents?”

Severus settled into his armchair. “I ensure my Slytherin girls take their potions, and it’s traditionally been the Slytherins who get into bother. The Ravenclaws are too sensible, and I suspect that the older girls brew for the younger. Hufflepuffs… Professor Sprout is likely to brew her own, I think, or at least ensure a good supply. That only leaves the Gryffindors- the last two girls to leave in disgrace were both Gryffindor. The last was seven years ago, so apparently you’ve managed to develop some brainpower in the meantime.”

Harriet felt a little spark of resentment at his dismissal of her house as stupid, but, far more than that, was the realisation of just how involved Severus was with his students. McGonagall had always been decidedly hands-off- they barely saw her unless they sought her out. And yet, Severus kept track of his students’ homework, and even contraceptive potions. She yawned and rubbed her eyes, too tired to dwell on it.

“You look exhausted,” Severus chastened. “Have you been sleeping properly?”

“Yeah,” Harriet said. “But I’ve been trying wandless magic, and I was doing apparition lessons after dinner.”

Severus sighed. “Go to bed, Harriet. Tomorrow could be emotionally difficult for you. It’s better not to be short on sleep as well.” She’d almost forgotten that she was visiting Godric’s Hollow and the Edinburgh house tomorrow.

“I hoped Robin might visit,” she admitted quietly.

“Go to bed, Harriet,” he replied wearily. “I don’t want you skimping on sleep on the off chance my wayward son arrives. If he does, I shall tell him to come back tomorrow night.”

“Thanks,” she said, defeated by tiredness and his immovability. “Erm… do you have more floo powder? I’m running a bit low.”

“I’ll get some out for you tomorrow,” he replied. “Sleep well, Harriet.” She nodded, and flooed through to her own rooms. When she was gone, he poured himself a healthy dose of firewhiskey and wondered what it was like to live an easy, uncomplicated life.

Harriet fell into sleep easily, but she couldn’t claim that it was restful. First, she dreamed of ghosts of her parents having legions of tiny ghost babies, who haunted her, screaming and crying, every one of them a girl.

Then, she was wandering around a castle, followed in her every step by Lucius Malfoy, tapping his cane out behind her. As she passed doorways, small black-headed, black-eyed girls popped out, only to be shoved back into their rooms, door firmly shut behind them, by Lucius Malfoy.

Subsequently, thought she’d gone to sleep earlier than was her habit the night before, it was a grumpy and slightly sleepy Harriet who trudged into the great hall for breakfast the next morning. There were visitors at the high table: Tonks, her hair typically bubblegum-pink, and Moody, who could not be less bubblegum-pink if he tried. He glowered at his bacon with his good eye, whilst his magical one roved wildly around the students present. It fixed on Harriet for a few seconds, and Moody nodded slightly. Tonks glanced up and waved excitedly at her.

Ron appeared a few minutes later. “Morning,” he yawned, reaching for the platter of sausages.

“Morning,” Harried replied distractedly.

“Excited about today?” Ron asked, slathering his sausages in sauce.

“Yeah… well, kind of nervous, actually,” she admitted. She supposed that Tonks and Moody were the guard for her trip to her houses. “I’ve been told that Godric’s Hollow’s in ruins, so I guess it could be kind of boring.

Hermione had slipped into the seat beside Ron. “I want to see the library in the Edinburgh place,” Hermione said. “What was it called again?”

“Witch’s Crescent,” Harriet said, poking at her breakfast. She wasn’t particularly hungry, she decided. “Kind of odd,  seeing as it belongs to a magical family.”

“It’ll be in the Mages’ town,” Ron said, with his mouth full. “It’s a bit like Diagon Alley, but Scottish, obviously. Hidden from muggles, like. I’ve never been. Supposed to be really exclusive- not for common riffraff like us. Bet Malfoy shops there.”

“No, he gets his robes from Madam Malkin’s, like the rest of us,” Harriet  said. “I’ve seen him there.”

“School robes, yeah,” Ron acceded. “Malkins has the contract for Hogwarts robes. Bet his others come from Thistledown Street though. It’s all really old, and really expensive.”

Harriet’s nerves didn’t lessen when Lupin, Tonks and Moody left the high table and headed down the length of the room towards the trio. “Ready?” Lupin asked. “We’re going to come along, make sure there’s no nasty surprises lurking. Are all three of you coming?”

“Yeah,” Harriet said, standing, “we’re all coming. How are we getting there?”

“Got to be side-along apparition,” Lupin said. “Godric’s Hollow isn’t on the Floo. Come on, get your cloaks, and we’ll walk down to the school gates so we can apparate.”

Hermione, of course, already had her cloak with her, but neither Harriet or Ron had thought of it, so they were left dashing back to their rooms for theirs. She was in excited conversation with Lupin when the returned, and the pair continued their discussion as the little party left the castle and out into the biting wind.

“So,” Moody asked Harriet and Ron, “have you put in your applications yet? Kingsley says there’s a lot of prospective aurors lined up this year.”

“Nearly there,” Ron said. “Going to send it off Monday- just want to give it another good read tomorrow.”

Harriet bit her lip. “I’m not applying,” she said quietly.

“What was that?” Moody asked. “Could have sworn you just said you weren’t applying?”

“I did. I’m not. I’m applying to the Wizarding colleges for a place on their Magical Defence course.”

Moody stopped dead. “You’ll be wasted behind a desk, you fool,” he berated. “You think that’s what it’s about, poring over spells and doing it all in theory? No! It’s about being there, out in the field!”

“I’m not applying,” Harriet said stubbornly. “I want to teach people to defend themselves, not rely on me to defend them.”

Moody’s eye swivelled to the back of his head. “You’re an idiot if you think you can manage that, Potter. People don’t want to be taught, they want to be helped What’s the good in teaching ‘em when you-know-who’s just around the corner? Eh?”

“I think there is some good in it. So I’m going to go and learn as much about Defence as I can, and pass on the knowledge,” she reiterated “Maybe when I’ve finished, then I’ll want to be an auror.” Moody snorted and started to walk again. It was an uncomfortable walk down past Hagrid’s hut and to the edge of the grounds.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Side along apparition, Harriet decided, was definitely more uncomfortable than apparating yourself. She and Ron had their apparition tests next week, though, so they weren’t allowed to apparate themselves quite yet.

They appeared into the village at a small entrance to a churchyard. It had been bright at Hogwarts, but here, it was a dull grey day, with a slight drizzle just beginning to fall. Appropriate, thought Harriet.

“C’mon,” Moody said gruffly. “This way.”He led them down a narrow village street with hedgerows on either side. “Here it is,” he said, gesturing to a gate and stepping back, hands clasped and head bowed as if in prayer.

There was a sign fastened to the front gate.

 

On this spot, on the night of 31 October 1981, Lily and James Potter lost their lives.

Their son, Harry, remains the only wizard ever to have survived the Killing Curse.

This house, invisible to Muggles, has been left in its ruined state as a monument to the Potters and as a reminder of the violence that tore apart their family.


Around it, people had signed their names, or left messages of support. It was almost strange to see herself referred to as a son. She was surprised at how quickly she had become used to being Harriet: Harry almost seemed like a different person now. Her friends remembered to call her Harriet now, even Neville, and everyone else just called her Potter, like they always had. She was even getting used to being a miss instead of a mister.

Slowly, and with fear, Harriet let her eyes drift up to the house. Grey. Grey was the best way to describe it. The yellow Cotswold stone was dirty, and the once bright blue door was faded and chipped, the paint peeling away. Severus hadn’t lied when he’d said that the roof had come in; it was a shell of wooden beams, the slates hanging haphazardly, a number shattered on the ground and most fallen into into the house. Most of the windows were broken, and  good chunk of wall was blown out at the top of the house.

“It’s like a skeleton,” Hermione breathed. “A dead house.”

Harriet nodded. She didn’t care how much it belonged to her, she could never live here. Quite aside from its state of disarray, there was a strange pall over the entire structure. It could have just been fifteen years of neglect, but it felt like more. Like something evil. She took a shuddering breath. “Is it safe to go in?” she asked, steeling herself.

“The floors and stairs should hold your weight,” Tonks said quietly. She was tucked close to Lupin, his arm around her shoulders. “I came yesterday to check.” Everyone seemed just as subdued as Harriet.

Lupin left a kiss on Tonk’s temple and came forward. “I’ll show you around, if you’d like,” he offered, forcing a smile. Harriet nodded. She supposed he’d been in this house a lot, being one of the marauders. He opened the gate and trod carefully up the front path, the gravel pushed asunder by weeds.

The front door swung open at a touch, loose on it’s hinges. Harriet felt the tingle of wards designed to keep wrongdoers out; she had already noticed the anti-muggle wards brushing against her at the gate. Other than the filth coating everything, the front hall was the same as in Severus’ memory, just darker from the gloom of the day and the dirt encrusting what windows were left. Everything had a strange smell: the dust and damp and an odd, sour animal odour besides. “Here’s the living room,” Lupin said, his voice barely more than a whisper. Mice had clearly been nesting in the soft furnishing; there were bits of stuffing and fabric so dirty it was almost black on the floor, mixed with the litter of slightly decaying leaves blown into the house.

“That’s odd,” Lupin said, pointing at footprints through the leaves in areas they hadn’t yet gone. “Looks like someone’s been here recently.”

“Tonks said she was here yesterday,” Ron pointed out.

“Mmm. Maybe,” Lupin whispered.

He showed them through the kitchen, where the only things clean were the magical oven and fridge: they had obviously had self-cleaning charms laid on them when they were made, and had somehow retained them though all this. Hermione brushed a cobweb out of her hair. “It would take forever to clean this place up to habitable standards,” she murmured. For some reason, all of them were treading carefully and speaking low, as if they were afraid of disturbing something, or someone.

“I don’t think it would be worth it,” Harriet replied.

The last door off the hall was shut. Lupin hesitated. “This was James’ office,” he informed them. “It… it was cleared out. I cleared it out, and gave the contents to Dumbledore. I don’t know what he did with them. He opened the door, but didn’t go in.

The shelves were bare, but they’d obviously once held books and knick-knacks. Only a pot with the skeletal remains of a few quills and a muggle ballpoint sat on the desk. “I didn’t want the accounts and things getting into the wrong hands,” Lupin told them from the door.”

Harriet turned and left the bare room. There was nothing to see there. “Professor,” she asked quietly, “do you think my dad would have killed me if he knew I was a girl?”

Lupin took in a sharp breath. “I… I don’t know, Harriet,” he admitted. “James loved you, very much so, but had he known before you were born that you were female… I’m not sure he’d have let Lily carry on with the pregnancy. He believed so much of what we were taught: that men were strong, and you needed a strong family line, even if he didn’t believe in blood purity.”

“I thought it might be something like that,” she replied. For all she’d hoped to hear that her father was a lovely man who would have adored any child who’d come along, she’d known that there must have been a reason her mother had hidden her. No one had told her that Lily Potter had been paranoid, but even one of the marauders admitted that James wasn’t above demanding a male child. She looked up the stairs.

She knew, from the many accounts that existed of that Halloween night that James had been spelled down by Voldemort here, on the stairs as her father tried to protect Lily and Harry. She forced down the pressure in her chest, and climbed the stairs. They creaked, but held. At the top, to the right, was the nursery.

She looked around the dank, soggy room. There, above the cot, was the mobile of little golden snitches. Suddenly, she didn’t want to see any more, couldn’t see any more. She shoved past a startled Ron and dived down the stairs, her feet clattering against the treads. She leaned heavily against the outside of the cottage door and Tonks hurried forward. “Are you okay?” the pink-haired witch asked solicitously. She reached out to touch Harriet, but seemed to think better of it, pulling her hand away again quickly.

Moody clomped up behind her. “The lass is fine,” he growled. “There’s just a bad feel to this place. If you’re quite done, Miss Potter, I reckon we should move on.”

Harriet nodded slowly. “It feels like death,” she said.

“Hey, mate,” Ron said from behind her. Hermione wrapped an arm around Harriet’s shoulder in comfort.

“Have you seen enough, Harriet?” Lupin asked quietly.

“Yeah,” she said. “Actually, no, wait. Aren’t my parents buried here? Can I visit the grave?”

“I don’t see why not,” Lupin said. “It’s only a few minutes back to the graveyard anyway. Come on, being away from the house might make you feel better.”

They walked in silence back down the lane. Harriet had the oddest feeling that they were being watched, but there was no one in sight. The windows of the houses across the road were dark, though, so an unobserved observer was not impossible. They veered away from the main gate of the graveyard, instead entering by the arched kissing gate next to which they’d apparated. One by one, they trooped through. Why was there always a puddle right where you stood to get through gates like these? Harriet wondered.

Godric’s Hollow Churchyard had obviously seen plenty of deaths over its lifespan. There were old graves, so time-worn that the inscriptions had faded to faint indentations in the stone. A few from the fourteenth and fifteenth century were still clearly readable- wizarding graves, Lupin explained, magically protected from wear.

It was Moody who stomped his way over to a white marble headstone and beckoned Harriet over. She stared down at the stark inscription.

 

James Potter, born 27 March 1960, died 31 October 1981

Lily Potter, born 30 January 1960, died 31 October 1981

 

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

 

“What does it mean?” she asked. “‘The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death’? You can’t destroy death; not without something like the Philosopher’s stone. Even then, it's just... delayed”

“It’s from the Bible,” Hermione offered. “Something about death not being so bad anymore if you believe in an afterlife.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” Harriet insisted. “They’re dead. Dead is dead.”

Lupin put his hand gently on Harriet’s shoulder. “Lily and James knew that they were at risk when they joined the fight against you-know-who,” he assured her gently. “They felt that the cause was worthy enough to offer up their lives, if needs be. They defeated death, because they defied death.”

Harriet wasn’t sure she really understood. “But what about my life,” she whispered, almost afraid to say the words. “Why did they get the choice to give away my life?”

Lupin sighed deeply, wearily. “I don’t know, Harriet. I’m sorry, but these are difficult questions, and I don’t have the answers.”

She turned back to to the gravestone. She felt like she should feel something, should be sad or want to cry, or something. Instead, she just felt… disconnected. This slab of cold stone had nothing to do with her life. Then again, it felt like her parents, the people who’d created her life, had nothing to do with her life anymore. “I should have thought to bring some flowers,” she said.

Hermione stepped up beside her and twirled her wand over a handful of leaves she had picked up, transfiguring up a wreath of big white flowers with bright orange centres. “Lilies,” she advised with a small, sad smile, handing them to Harriet to place on the headstone.

“Thanks,” Harriet muttered, feeling silly that she hadn't thought of transfiguring some flowers. “I'm… I'm done now, thanks. We can go to the other house.”

“Wait,” Tonks said quietly. “Whilst we’re here… shouldn’t we see the statue?”

“Statue?” Harriet asked dully.

“Er, yeah… there’s a statue of your parents in the village square. Well, and you as a baby…”

She couldn’t help but think that a year ago, the idea of a statue of her parents would have delighted her, but now… it seemed silly. She realised that the wizarding world held the Potter family up as the heroes of their time, the vanquishers of Voldemort, but it all seemed so ridiculous. Putting up a statue of people because a curse rebounded when it hit their baby? But she had seen the sign at the cottage: a lot of people obviously gained great comfort from knowing that the Potters had died to destroy Voldemort, even though he had returned. “Lead the way,” she said.

At first, it looked like Tonks was pointing out a war memorial, just as there was in the majority of towns and villages the country over, the stone base bearing the names of all the lives lost during the World Wars. A couple of bedraggled looking poppy wreaths leaned against the plinth. As Tonks stood before it, though, the memorial faded, replaced by the statue she’d mentioned: James and Lily Potter, a baby in Lily’s arms. She looked up at it, curiously. The artist had carved her parents to look older than they were when they’d died, for what purpose she didn’t know.

Moody interrupted her thoughts. “We need t’get out of here,” he drawled, his magical eye swinging wildly.

“Let her have a moment, Mad-eye,” Lupin rebuked gently. “They’re her family.”

“There’s something not right here. We need to go.”

“It’s fine,” Harriet cut in. “I’m ready, we can go.”

“Okay. Let’s go back to the church to apparate, then,” Lupin suggested.

Moody growled. “No time,” he insisted gruffly. He grasped Harriet by the shoulder, and raised his wand. She felt the slippery coolness of a disillusionment charm whisper over her body: it would be enough to prevent any muggles seeing them disapparate, although she wasn’t sure disappearing people were any less unusual. Moody hadn’t let go; instead he apparated, taking her with him into the tight blackness.

They whirled into a quiet corner of a cobbled street. Harriet gasped, and Moody yanked her out of the way to make room for the others, Lupin bringing Ron and Tonks holding tight to Hermione. “Where are we now?” she asked.

“Kelpie Close,” Moody said. “Just around the corner from Witch’s Crescent.”

“Perhaps some lunch before we go to the other house?” Lupin suggested quietly. “It’s been a bit of a fraught morning.”

Even Moody couldn’t find fault with this, especially when Tonks suggested a muggle pub: he was less suspicious of foul dealing around muggles. Harriet was surprised to realise it was already ten to twelve. She hadn’t realised that they’d spent so long at Godric’s Hollow. The pub Tonks recommended wasn’t far; just outside Mage’s town. Very quickly, they were sitting at a table tucked into the corner by the big fireplace, glasses of lemonade in front of the three teenagers and Lupin, and pints of beer for Moody and Tonks (although Moody had insisted on watching the bartender with an eagle eye as he pulled the pint). It was still quiet, having just struck twelve, so the doorstop slabs of sandwiches and bowls of steaming chips soon arrived. Tonks sniffed the air appreciatively as she doused her chips in vinegar. “Can’t get better than hot, fresh chips,” she insisted. After a few mouthfuls, Harriet was inclined to agree. She watched Tonks and Lupin speculatively. Tonks ate the tomatoes Lupin had pulled out of his sandwich straight off his plate, and she just smiled when he pinched one of her chips. They’d become close over the last couple of years, and she wondered if they’d finally take their relationship further. It was clear to anyone who cared to look that they loved each other. She’d like to see Lupin settled and happy.

Eventually, Moody drained the last of his pint, which he’d been nursing long past the time the rest of them had finished. Tonks had teased him lightly, claiming that the older auror couldn’t hold his alcohol. He’d even allowed a little grin- he seemed to view her in an almost fatherly sense, and let her get away with it.

She found herself cheered up by the food and the gentle teasing between the adults, though Ron and Hermione were still quiet. It took a lot to shock Ron into silence, but he seemed to have been frightened by her mad dash out of the Potter cottage. At any rate, both of her friends were there, but not pushy. It was sunny in Edinburgh; crisp and cold and bracing: just the kind of weather that made her want to fly as far and as fast as she could, just for the joy it brought. She smiled as she breathed in the cold air.

“It’s nicer here than in muggle Edinburgh,” Tonks informed her. “Not many cars, less nasty smoky stuff.” Hermione looked longingly into the window of a bookshop as they passed it, packed in next to a slightly faded apothecary and a magical jeweller, his wares sparkling in the sunlight though smudge-free windows. A few hanging baskets of purple pansies and dittany, coming to the end of its flower.

They came to a halt before a few steps leading up to a four-storey, double-fronted townhouse of blocky, uncompromising stone. The scarlet door was bright and cheerful, but the curtains were drawn over the bay windows on either side. Lupin dug in his pocket and handed Harriet a key. “This was in Dumbledore's care,” he explained. “It was in the cottage when… when they died. The others should be in the vault with the deeds.” The key turned smoothly in the lock, and the door opened without a squeak.

Everything in the hallway gleamed, and there was a strong smell of freshly applied furniture polish. “That’s odd,” Lupin murmured, “I’d expect this place to be thick with dust, at least.”

Moody maneuvered Harriet out of the way. His head tipped back, his eye searching into each corner of the house. “No one here,” he said a few minutes later. “Be careful though- who knows if there’s someone who might come back.” His wand was gripped in his hand- Harriet realised that she had hers tightly clutched as well. All of them did. If a house that had been shut up for almost two decades was so clean and neat… did that mean that someone was here, taking care of it? “Is there a house elf?” Harriet whispered.

“Shouldn’t be,” Lupin said. “The Potter’s house elves died out- they had a generation of all males, so no babies. Lily liked to take care of the house at Godric’s Hollow herself anyway. They didn’t really use this one, or the place in London. Too grand for Lily.”

Grand was certainly a good way to describe this house. Some of the furnishings in the drawing room looked a little word, but everything was sparkling clean. The curtains had been laundered, the windows washed to crystal clarity. The kitchen was completely empty, but the surfaces were so clean that they shone. “It really looks like there’s a legion of house elves somewhere,” Ron commented. “Even the tops of the cupboards are clean… who cleans the tops of the cupboards?”

“Sensible people, Ronald,” Hermione said, although she seemed more distracted than sharp, peering into cupboards. “The garden’s overgrown, though,” she noted, gazing out of the window.

Ron gave a high pitched shriek as a loud pop sounded next to him. Moody and Tonks whirled around, wands pointed straight at the perpetrator: Dobby. Moody flicked his wand tip aside at the last moment, the total body bind hitting the wall instead of the house elf. Whether the wall was then bound was questionable; walls not moving much as a matter of course.

“Dobby!” Harriet cried out in greeting. “What are you doing here?”

“Dobby came to see if Mistress Harriet likes the house,” the elf said, twisting his sock-kilt between his long knobbly fingers. “Dobby has been coming to clean it ever since he came to retrieve the books and found it in such a state. Winky has helped too.”

Moody harrumphed and stowed his wand back in its holder. “Well, that explains that, then” he growled. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to sit in the living room and wait for you. I can’t be arsed with all this fannying about.” He stomped out, and Harriet couldn’t hold in the giggle anymore.

“Fannying about!” she gasped. For some reason, grumpy Moody had really tickled her, and when coupled with the relief of knowing that the mystery cleaner was Dobby, and not some squatting Death eater, she couldn’t help it. Soon, everyone in the room was laughing, with the exception of a slightly befuddled house elf.

“Thank you, Dobby,” Harriet eventually said, wiping away the tears of mirth from the corners of her eyes. “I appreciate it, I really do.”

Dobby bobbed in excitement. “May Dobby fetch Mistress Harriet anything?” he asked.

She smiled. “No, Dobby, that’s fine. Thank you, though.”

Dobby grinned widely, and vanished again with a pop. “Y’know, I reckon you’ve got yourself a new Potter house elf,” Ron commented.

“Dobby’s a free elf, he doesn’t belong to anyone,” Hermione pointed out.

“Yeah, but he’d follow Harriet to the ends of the earth,” Ron responded. “That sounds like the sign of a good house elf to me. Better than Kreacher anyway.” No one could argue at that.

Lupin and Tonks went to join Moody in the living room, leaving the three teenagers to wander the house, now that they were sure it was safe. The downstairs boasted a big pantry, a dining room, a snug and a study in addition to the living room and kitchen. The first floor was split evenly between a massive master suite and a library, where they very nearly lost Hermione. She wandered around the room, a thick, aged book clutched to her chest. She was reluctant to put it down, wistfully looking back at it when Ron’s sighs got loud enough,

“Keep the book, Hermione,” Harriet instructed,.

“Oh, I couldn’t!” she exclaimed. “It’s a copy of Merlin’s Wizarding Laws- they’re quite valuable.”

“Take the damned book. Consider it your Christmas present, if you like,” Harriet insisted.

Hermione shot a longing glance at the book again. “If you’re sure…” she said.

“You’ll get more use out of it than I will,” Harriet pointed out. “Having it or not having it makes no difference to me. Bring the book, and let’s look around a bit more- I bet Moody will come to chase us if we take too long!”

Hermione giggled and retrieved the slightly musty tome, holding it like a baby as they wandered through the opulent master suite, with a little sitting room, two dressing rooms and a palatial bathroom in addition to the bedroom complete with intricately carved four poster bed. Harriet couldn’t shake the feeling that she was visiting some kind of stately home; like the ones Aunt Petunia had always wanted to visit. She couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that this was hers.

Additional bedrooms and bathrooms were of little interest to the trio; there were no particularly interesting discoveries to be made. The adults were only too keen to return their charges to Hogwarts again- Harriet suspected that Moody did not have the patience to be dealing with her outbursts, and was still stinging from her refusal to apply to the auror training scheme. She was tired too, and all too pleased to return to her familiar, comfortable room- not the splendour of Witch’s Crescent, but a world away from the downtrodden, dismal cottage at Godric’s Hollow.

 

 

Chapter Text

Harriet sank down into her favourite chair. It’d been a very long day, she decided. She couldn’t quite get her head around her views on her parents anymore. For so long, it had felt like everything would become clear if she knew about her parents. When she was Harry, she’d always assumed that had her parents lived, she’d have had a perfect magical upbringing, filled with love. Now though… if her parents had been alive, what would have happened when she turned back into a girl? How would James Potter have taken that?

She was musing on the question when a paper aeroplane came flying out of the fireplace as it momentarily flickered green. With a raised eyebrow, she picked the papery missile up from where it had landed on the hearth rug. She could see the scrawl over the wings of aeroplane. She unfolded it, smiling when she recognised Robin’s writing. He just wanted to let her know that he was there for the evening, it said, should she wish to see him. She had half an hour before dinner; she could pop through the floo to say hello before she went to the great hall.

Robin was still in the living room when she whirled through the fireplace. “Hey,” he said with a soft smile, opening his arms in invitation. She gladly went to him, sighing in contentment as he closed his arms around her shoulders, her head resting against his chest. “I was hoping you might be home,” he murmured.

“You smell like bacon.” She sniffed again. “And coffee.”

“Mmm. Sorry. Just finished work.”

“What’s with the aeroplane?” she wanted to know.

He chuckled. “Well, I can’t charm notes to get away from the fire… so I chuck them through with force. Aeroplanes seem to work best. Plus, it’s funny.” He kissed the top of her head. “Did you go on your visits?”

“Yeah,” she said. “I missed you this week.”

“Missed you too,” he replied. “Sorry I couldn’t get here in the evenings- had a lot on this week. But I can stay the night here, if you want.”

She snorted. “Not like your dad’ll let us spend the night together anyway,” she said.

He let her step back from the embrace. “I reckon I can probably talk him into it… if you want to, that is?”

“I… I suppose so,” she said, suddenly nervous. But there was nothing to be nervous about, was there? They’d already slept together, in the most euphemistic of senses, and it had felt good. She certainly wouldn’t mind doing it again. “Where’s your dad at the moment?”

“Supervising some poor sod’s detention.” Robin leaned down to brush a kiss against her lips, so she stretched onto her tiptoes and wrapped her arms around his neck, prolonging and deepening the kiss. He nipped lightly at her lower lip, his hands slipping down her back to cup her denim-clad bum. She tensed slightly at the contact, her heart racing. “You okay?” Robin whispered, pulling back a little

She smiled up at him, her arms still around his neck. “I’m fine,” she said. “Just… missed you.”

“And in what way might that be?” he asked with a cheeky grin, slowly backing towards his bedroom with his arms locked around her, making them do an odd little shuffle-dance.

She laughed at him, matching his tiny steps back. “Oh, lots of ways,” she assured him. She gasped as he tucked a hand further between her legs, feeling the contact even through the thick seam of her jeans.

He smiled and flopped back onto his bed, taking her with him. “And is this one of them?” he asked, slipping a cool hand up under her t-shirt and over her quivering tummy to brush just below the bottom band of her bra. If he just pushed a little, he’d be touching the tender underside of her breast. Her nipples were over-sensitive anyway, a symptom that she understood to be part of having a period; the thought of him touching them was enough to have her suppressing a groan.

“Robin…” she murmured, “I have to go to dinner soon.”

He sighed and left her sit up and clamber off him. They each turned to their sides to look at each other. “Shame,” he said. “You sure they’ll notice if you’re not there?” he asked. She nodded. She was pretty sure that Ron and Hermione, at least, would get worried if she didn’t show up. “Damn. Maybe later.”

If she was a cat, she was sure she’d have purred as he ran a hand down the length of her torso, dipping down into her waist and onto the mound of her hip. “Erm, I’m not sure,” she said breathily. Was it her imagination, or did he look a little hurt. “It’s not that I don’t want to!” she assured him quickly. “Just that, well… I’m, erm, kind of… on my period.”

The side of his mouth quirked into a grin. “Is that it?” he asked. “I’m sure we can find ways to deal with that issue.” She wrinkled her nose a little. “It’s not a big deal, kitten,” he said softly. “If you don’t want to, that’s fine, but it doesn’t bother me.”

“Really?” she said with surprise. “It’s just that, well… people seem to find it a bit horrid. I find it a bit horrid.”

He smiled gently. “Not particularly. It’s a fact of life. Basic biology. I probably wouldn’t go down on you, I admit, but anything else… well. Put a towel down and wash afterwards. No big deal.”

They could easily hear Severus shutting the door and moving around the living room. Robin sighed and grinned a very small grin. “Let’s keep this conversation for later,” he suggested wryly, and kissed her again, tenderly. He stood and offered her a hand, pulling her upright.

Severus was leaning over his desk, head down, reading something. His dark hair had swung forward to partly hide his face, hanging in lank ropes. Harriet was pleased that Robin kept his soft and clean, even if it was currently pulled back into a ponytail. Severus glanced up. “Good evening, Harriet,” he said. “How did your visit to Godric’s Hollow go?”

“Erm, okay, thanks,” Harriet said. “A bit… weird.”

“Oh? In what manner?” Severus asked, glancing at the clock on the mantle. It was still ten minutes until dinner was served.

Harriet shrugged. “It just wasn’t what I was expecting. It was just abandoned, and dirty, and it was weird seeing the sign, and the statue and stuff.”

Severus sighed. “Yes, I suppose it would be strange.” He eyeballed his son. “Are you staying the weekend, Robin?”

“Until tomorrow afternoon- I’m going up to the Lakes with Edward for Monday. Thought I’d spend tonight with Harriet, though.”

“No,” Severus said flatly. “We’ve discussed this, Robin. She’s too young.”

“Hey,” Harriet interjected, feeling as if they were talking about her like she wasn’t even there. “I’m seventeen. I’m an adult.”

“If your situation and circumstances were normal, you’d be sleeping in a dormitory with four other girls,” Severus pointed out. “Think on that, and then tell me that you think it is appropriate for you and Robin to spend the night together.”

Harriet had to resist the urge to stamp her feet. “But my ‘circumstances and situation’ aren’t normal,” she snapped.

“Dad, I know you’re worried I’m going to do the same as you,” Robin said quietly. “I know having a kid at nineteen must have been crap for you, and I know it would be crap for me. We’re more sensible than that. And this isn’t going away, okay? It’s not just a fling, or a one night stand.”

Severus sighed. “Harriet, go to dinner. Robin, we’re going to discuss this.”

Harriet tipped her head back to look up to Robin, standing behind her with his hands resting on her shoulders. “Go, kitten,” he said softly. “I’ll see you in a bit, okay?”

“Okay,” she agreed reluctantly. She supposed this was just one more thing that she could never understand: the parent and child relationship. She was always the outsider.

She happened into the entrance hall at the same time as Ron, with a giggling Imogen Langley clinging to his arm. She hadn’t realised that Ron and Imogen were together: the redhead hadn’t mentioned it. Imogen seemed pretty close for ‘just friends’, though. When Ron saw Harriet, he leaned down to whisper something in Imogen’s ear. She pouted a little, but unwound her hand from his and went into the great hall ahead of them.

“So,” Harriet said conversationally, “you and Imogen, huh? How long’s that been going on for?”

“Couple of weeks,” Ron said, swinging his long legs over the bench. “She’s nice, I guess. Quiet.”

“Better than Lav-Lav?” Harriet asked with a grin.

“Merlin, yes!” Ron exclaimed, leaving both of the giggling until Hermione found them- and her confusion only led to mild hysterics. They knew better than to mention Ron’s relationship with Lavender in front of Hermione though; it always got her angry. So, she continued in blissful, if slightly befuddled ignorance, and Harriet found herself quite cheered up by the laughter.

Severus swept up to the head table ten minutes after the meal had begun. Harriet tried to figure out how his discussion with Robin had gone. He was glowering, but then, he was usually glowering around students, so that didn’t mean much. She really hoped that he’d ended up agreeing with Robin, but then, Severus was stubborn beyond all others. He may well have just dug his heels in because he could. Hopefully, Robin would still be there when she returned after the meal.

Hermione poked Harriet in the side. “Harriet! Are you even listening?”

“Huh?” Harriet said, realising that she’d been too deep in thought to even notice that the dessert dishes had vanished. “Erm, just drifted for a moment.”

Hermione sighed. “Ron asked if you were coming to the common room?”

“Erm, probably not,” she said. “I might have a visitor.”

Ron sighed. “Honestly, does all your life revolve around him?” he asked.

“Well, it’s not like I get to see him every day in lessons, or whatever,” Harriet pointed out. “Look, I’ll come to the common room tomorrow afternoon, okay? Oh, and Hermione… could you maybe check my charms essay? I’m not sure about a bit of it….”

Hermione huffed in a long-suffering way. “Oh, if I must,” she said, but Harriet didn’t miss the little smile as she turned away. She’d known for ages that Hermione quite enjoyed checking over their work- it made her feel clever. She just hated it when Ron tried to copy, or demanded the answers.

“Hey, Neville,” Ron called across the table. “Up for a game of chess?”

“Maybe gobstones?” Neville suggested- he usually lost at gobstones, but he always lost at chess. Harriet grinned and slipped out of the great hall.

She didn’t notice Severus follow her. “Potter,” he hissed from behind her. “I feel we need to discuss your latest… offering in my lessons. My office, now.”

Harriet’s heart sank. Even though she was used to Severus now, and knew his Snape persona was just that- a front- she still couldn’t help but be a little afraid of ‘scary professor Snape’. Six years of conditioning was too hard to undo. Even Peeves got out of Snape’s way.

She found herself hurried along the dungeon corridors, the swish of Severus’ robes against the stone behind her. The door to his classroom burst open before they even reached it. Harriet trembled. He seemed angry. “Storeroom,” he barked, shoving the door shut behind him, warding it. She scuttled to obey.

He followed her, leaning against a shelf for support. She realised that his face was ashy. “Harriet,” he said, his voice fast, snapping. “I’m being summoned. Stay with Robin- he worries.”

He pushed through into his rooms, summoning his mask and cloak as soon as he entered. Robin leapt up from his place on the sofa as a Death Eater mask went zooming past his head. “Will it be bad?” the younger man asked.

Severus shook his head. “I hope not,” he said. “I’ve fed him enough ‘information’ of late that he should be content.” His lip curled as he spoke. He really did despise Voldemort, that much was obvious in his face. “I should imagine that I shall emerge relatively unscathed. Do not fret unless I do not return by this time tomorrow.” He shrugged his heavy outdoor cloak around his shoulders and tucked his mask away before pulling Robin into a brief hug. “Don’t worry,” he told his son seriously, although he didn’t really expect the words to have much effect. He cursed the fact that the summoning had come whilst Robin was here; it was easier when the boy didn’t even know anything was wrong.

The door shut behind Severus and Harriet felt the wards flicker and return, signalling that he had gone, hurrying off the school grounds so he could apparate away to Voldemort. Robin sank back down onto the sofa, and Harriet perched nervously next to him. “So, I guess he decided that it was okay for us to be together,” she pointed out.

“Yeah,” Robin replied. “He decided that before he went to dinner.”

“Really?” she asked. “I’m surprised. He seemed pretty determined. I was trying to figure out a way of hiding you in my room anyway.”

“I reminded him of a few things,” he said distractedly. “Kitten… would you think the worse of me if I said I wanted some distraction?”

She bit her lip, not wanting to assume what he meant by ‘distraction’. “I can understand why you’d prefer to be… distracted,” she admitted. “What would you like?”

He stood and offered her his hand. “I’d like to go through to the bedroom, where we can be more comfortable, and enjoy you.”

“Okay,” she agreed, letting him tow her into his bedroom. “God,” he breathed as he tugged her t-shirt over her head, “I knew you were beautiful from the first moment I saw you in those stupid baggy clothes.” He tossed the fabric to the side and brought his lips down to hers in a crushing kiss, pulling her close to his body. She was surprised- he’d always been so gentle before- but he wasn’t hurting her. In fact, the pressure was good. She twined her arms around him, encouraging him closer. She liked it when Robin kissed her: it made her feel small, cared for. She’d never felt that way before. She was always having to look after other people. His fingers slipped under the clasp of her bra, flicking it open and letting it fall. It was only when he slipped them under the waistband of her jeans that she pulled away. “Bleeding, remember?” she asked breathily, her lips feeling swollen.

“D’you want to nip to the loo and clean up?” he offered. “Bring a towel back with you.”

“You really don’t mind?” she asked.

His eyes seemed darker than ever. “Kitten, right now, I just want to be inside you.” She nodded and did as he suggested.

Being away from him somehow made the nerves well up again, and she was hesitant when she opened the door again, clutching a spare towel in front of her. He smiled when he saw her, which made her feel a lot better. He’d removed his own t-shirt too, but kept his jeans on, although he quickly divested her of her towel. “Beautiful girl,” he murmured, running his thumb over one of her peaked nipples. She squeaked when he pinched lightly. “Is that okay?” he asked roughly. “Did I hurt you?”

“It’s just tender,” she assured him quietly.

“I’ll be gentle,” he promised, leaning down to run his warm tongue over the sore flesh. She tangled her fingers in his long hair, pressing him closer to her. “Good girl,” he muttered as he moved to lave the other side.

She skated her fingers down his back, scratching lightly with her nails. He seemed to enjoy it, so she did it again. Slowly, without breaking contact, Robin guided her towards the bed. He flopped down, taking her with him, and she laughed at the sudden change in position. He smiled down at her, but closed his eyes and groaned when she stroked down his trousers to the hardened bulge there. “I want to touch you,” she told him boldly, her fingers fiddling with the zip at his crotch. It was odd doing this backwards, she thought, unfastening someone else’s clothes, but she still made quick work of the zip and button, pulling his hard cock gently free of the confines of his underwear. He hissed as she ran her fingers down the silky length and into the crinkling black hair at the base. She liked that noise, she decided. He reached down to slide his jeans and underwear over his hips and down his legs, giving her more access. She cupped her hand around his balls, trying to remember what everything felt like when she’d had this equipment- it was getting harder and harder to really remember what if had been like to be a boy.

He seemed content to let her explore his nether regions, teasing her fingers along the length and over the reddened head. Should she… she wondered, unsure. Before she could lose her nerve, she dipped her head and just teased her tongue over the slit at the very tip. His hands fisted, balling up the blankets under them, and he groaned deep in his throat. “It’s been a while, kitten,” he explained hoarsely. “Feels really good.”

“How long?” she asked, the words popping out of her mouth before she could catch them.

He raised his head to look at her. “You know when the last time was,” he commented roughly, “last weekend, with you.”

She was glad- she hadn’t wanted to admit the fear that he was sleeping with someone else as well. With everything that people said about magical people having such high sex drives, and them not seeing each other that often… “And before that?” she asked.

“August,” he said, his voice almost cutting off as she took the entire head into her mouth. “The… the day after I saw you in the castle.” His hips rose up a little. “Harriet… as lovely as your mouth is, I’d rather come inside your pussy…”

She let go of his straining cock, and smiled at him in a way she hoped was seductive. “Go on then,” she challenged, and she really quite enjoyed it when he growled and rolled her over, bracing himself on top of her before sliding inside in a long, slow thrust.

Afterwards, he held her close to him, her hips tucked against his, and she enjoyed the quiet comfort, trying to ignore the throbbing between her legs. She hoped it would stop hurting soon, because she liked sleeping with Robin- just not the pain afterwards.

 

Chapter Text

Harriet grumbled as she was shaken awake. “What?” she snapped, trying to bury her face into her pillow.

“You need to go to your own bed, Harriet,” Severus explained quietly. She grumbled, not yet awake, but Robin was resurfacing next to her.

“Dad?” he murmured, sitting up. The motion pulled the blankets up too, and Harriet curled down, trying to stay in the warmth. “You okay?”

“I’m fine. I escaped notice tonight. Get her dressed, would you?”

By the time Robin had fetched her clothes from the bathroom, Harriet was awake enough to dress herself, although she almost fell over trying to put her jeans on. A glance at the clock told her it was just before midnight, even though it felt like about three in the morning. Robin had just dressed in pyjama bottoms and wrapped a dressing gown around his pale torso. Together, they padded through to the living room.

Severus leaned against the mantle, the flickering firelight throwing his sharp features in shadowy relief. In one hand, he swirled firewhiskey in a tumbler. He glanced up. “You were spotted today,” he informed Harriet gravely.

She gasped, waking up very quickly. “By Voldemort?”

Even Severus flinched at the name. “No,” he said through gritted teeth. “A so-called journalist with a desire to join the Dark Lord’s cause. I am reasonably certain that you will be front page news in the morning.”

“Ugh, great,” Harriet grumbled. She had been half-waiting every day since her birthday for the Prophet to catch wind of her change: she’d been amazed when nothing had come out when school had started and it was common knowledge. For days, she’d scoured the Prophet when it arrived, but found no mention of herself. Admittedly, the paper seemed to find plenty to write about with Muggle murders attributed to Voldemort, but she was surprised, nevertheless. She’d expected such a big change to be leapt upon by the ilk of Rita Skeeter, although that particular breed of beetle was too scared of Hermione’s wrath to report on anything involving the trio these days. If it was common knowledge amongst the students, and news had reached Voldemort so quickly, it was surprising to say the least that the press hadn’t caught wind.

Severus shrugged in a languorous manner. “You must have expected it at some point. Even Dumbledore can’t keep the news from the press forever.”

Harriet nodded. She should have known that Dumbledore would have something to do with keeping it quiet. As aloof as he’d been, she couldn't deny that he did still shelter her. “I suppose he does still look after me,” she said.

“He still cares for you, Harriet. He cares for all his students. He is just under a great deal of stress at the moment. It would be appreciated if you would find it in yourself to overlook his failings in light of his duties.” Severus sighed deeply. “Go to bed, Harriet. I know you’ve got quidditch in the morning- my Slytherins were most put out that you wouldn’t give them the pitch for a last minute practice before their match.”

She shrugged, but gave a grin too. “Hey, I don’t want to give the Slytherins any advantage- they’re the next best at quidditch, after Gryffindor. Gotta make my life easier.”

“Go to bed, impertinent child!” Severus mock-growled, the curve of his thin lips giving away his amusement.

Both Harriet and Robin had to laugh. Severus caught Robin’s arm as they passed him to get to the fireplace. “Are you certain?” he asked, his voice low and harsh.

Robin nodded. “I know what’s real and what’s not,” he replied seriously, and held out the pot of floo for Harriet to take a pinch.

“What was that about?” she wanted to know as soon as he’d followed her through the emerald flames.

“Nothing to worry about,” he assured her. “Just… dad being dad. You ready to go back to bed?”

“Let me go to the loo first,” she said, and ducked into the bathroom. she was pretty sure there was a little bit of blood on the towel left in Robin’s bed: she hoped the house elves wouldn’t mind cleaning it up. She’d rather leave as little work for them as possible, though, plus she disliked the squishy feeling of the blood between her legs.

Robin had slid into her bed whilst she was busy, warming the sheets. He pulled her close. “Sleep, now,” he said quietly.

She tried, but trying to sleep was, as is so often the case, rather fruitless. She lay, awake and quiet and still, staring into the darkness, lit only by the embers of the fire, for quite some time, wondering what the Prophet would have to say about her. Eventually, though, the warmth and Robin’s soft sleep breathing lulled her to sleep.

He was still sleeping when she crawled out of bed for quidditch. The sky was just beginning to brighten, dark mornings being the hallmark of winter in Scotland. She’d need an extra cushioning charm on her broom this morning, she thought. For some reason, the healing charm she tried didn’t seem to have any effect. She supposed she’d just have to wait. Magic had its limitations.

Robin was awake by the time she’d started dressing. “D’you want to come?” she asked.

His eyes were bright in the semi-light of the room, catching the first glints of sunlight. “Can’t go wandering about the castle,” he reminded her in a sleep-mussed voice.

“I have a cloak… it makes you invisible. You could wear that.” she suggested. “No one would know.”

“Not worth it,” he told her. “Getting caught isn’t something I want- by my dad or anyone else.”

“Fine,” she said sulkily. “I just thought if you really did want to watch, you wouldn’t mind a little bit of fun. But I suppose you’re not all that interested in what I can do outside the bedroom.”

He shook his head at her. “Harriet, don’t do this. Don’t pull this ‘if you really loved me’ crap. I want to see you play, I want to know about your interests. But this is bigger than just us; there’s too much at risk.”

“There’ll always be too much at risk,” she snapped, buttoning her robes and pulling down her broom from the top of her wardrobe. “Suit yourself.”

“Harriet!” Robin called, but she was already at the door, and she didn’t turn back, just slamming it behind her.His head flopped back onto the pillows in defeat.

Harriet, meanwhile took out her frustration on the pitch. She was the first there, after pulling out the box of balls from the quidditch shed, she flew furious laps and figure eights, her head buzzing. She ached and stung from the night before, but Robin couldn’t even have the decency to show an interest in her sport? She’d been out all over the castle at all hours under the cloak; it was foolproof. Well, unless you had Moody’s eye- she still couldn’t quite figure out how he could see everything with that eye. Did he see everyone without their clothes on, she wondered with a shiver. She didn’t really want to think about Moody seeing her naked.

She spotted the rest of her team straggling down from the castle and swooped down to meet them. They all seemed unusually subdued: it must have been the cold and the dark. She knew she was unpopular for choosing the early morning slot, but it meant they had the rest of the day to spend as they pleased, and they were less likely to be observed by the other houses or distracted by their friends, which Harriet could only see as a good thing. Warm up laps were first, followed by a punishing drill of passing and scoring drills for the chasers and Ron, whilst she took her beaters off chasing the bludgers she’d enchanted to follow her around. She was fast enough to keep out of their way, but only just, and she relished the whistle as they roared up behind her. Eventually, she had to end the charm to correct the exercise she’d set the chasers, but she did feel much better. She’d been clipped on the leg by a bludger when she’d turned too fast for the beaters, but oddly, the bruising ache made her feel better. It certainly distracted her from the sting between her legs where she pushed into the broom. “Again!” she called as Ginny fumbled the quaffle on a quick pass, only just avoiding dropping it.

Ginny tucked the big red ball under her arm and glared at Harriet. “What’s your problem, Potter?” she shouted back.

“It wasn’t perfect. Again.”

“You’re worse than fucking Snape!” Ginny groused, but launched the Quaffle anyway. Harriet had to stifle a giggle. She should have been offended to be compared to Snape,but instead, all she could think was to wonder what Ginny would know about actually fucking Snape. She didn’t think the redhead would appreciate the joke, though.

When she sent her team back up to the castle and lugged the balls back into the shed, she found Malfoy leaning up against the wooden shack. “You’re a good coach,” the blonde boy said.

Harriet shrugged. She figured that Malfoy was only complimenting her to try to get her to agree to go out with him. “I’ve got a good team. Doubt I’m any better than any other captain.”

Draco made an odd little hum in his throat, a noise that seemed to agree, but at the same time conveyed that he didn’t believe what she said. “I just came out to check the conditions, but figured I’d see what you lot were up to for the game after Christmas. Someone told me that there might be scouts there, you know.”

“Doesn’t really matter to me,” Harriet said, carefully stowing the balls. The bludgers had finally fallen silent after she’d wrestled them into their places. “I’m not going to go professional.”

“You could, you know,” Malfoy pointed out. “Of all people, you could.”

“It’s not what I want from my life,” she said, shivering slightly now she wasn’t moving any more. With a smile, Malfoy magiced up two heavy mugs of steaming hot chocolate and handed one over to her. She took a sip, the edge of her bottom perched against a broom rack. “Thanks,” she said. Well, at least he was being more considerate than Robin, who was probably tucked warmly up in her bed, not out here freezing his bollocks off like Draco. Then again, maybe the ice prince didn’t feel the cold. “So, how do you fancy your chances this afternoon?” she asked Draco.

He wedged himself against the door frame. “Shouldn’t be too tough a match,” he mused. “The Hufflepuff’s goalkeeper’s quite easily distracted.”

“I’ve heard whispers that they’ve got good chasers this year though,” Harriet pointed out. They were a set of identical twins, and supposed to be whippet-fast.

Draco only raised one shoulder languorously. A Malfoy never accepted that others were superior. “We shall see what the score is this afternoon,” he declared.

Harriet decided it was probably best not to try to teach Draco humility: it was hardly going to work now when it never had before. She just took a gulp of her cooling drink instead. “How’d you summon up the chocolate?” she asked.

“The house elves always have a supply in the kitchens when it’s cold- didn’t you know that?”

“No,” Harriet said with a sigh. “Sometimes I think there’s still an awful lot about the magical world that I don’t know.”

“Well, should you need a guide, I would be only too happy to oblige,” Draco informed her. “After all, you could do far worse as a guide to high society in the wizarding world- my family is almost as old as yours.”

“Erm, thanks,” Harriet said hesitantly. She drained the mug of hot chocolate, and Draco banished both cups back to the kitchen.

“Shall we walk up together?” he asked solicitously, offering his arm. She hesitated a moment- should she really be walking arm in arm with Draco? What about Robin? But then she remembered that Robin hadn’t even wanted to come with her, and was probably soundly asleep at right this moment. She tucked her hand into the crook of Draco’s arm.

They had barely entered the castle when Severus swept up from the dungeons. His jewel-dark eyes snapped over the pair. “Miss Potter, the headmaster would like to see you in his office,” he declared smoothly. “It would seem that you cannot manage without making a spectacle of yourself somewhere.”

Harriet gulped, suddenly feeling sick. Of all the people to see her with Draco, it had to be her boyfriend’s father. “Yes, professor,” she replied quietly, slipping her arm from Draco’s. “Erm, good luck for the match, Draco,” she said, and scurried away without looking at either Slytherin.

The gargoyle slid aside before she could even start trying passwords. That was new, she thought with a frown. The stairs were already moving, but she hurried up them anyway.

Dumbledore pushed a cup of tea across the desk as she peered around his open office door. “Good morning, Harriet,” he intoned quietly. “I noticed that you had missed breakfast this morning. I thought you might want something to eat.”

“Sir?” Harriet said, puzzled. Dumbledore gestured to the plate of Danish pastries on the desk next to her cup of tea. She perched in the offered chair. It wasn’t unheard of to miss meals, especially not for the seventh years, who had usually ended up on good enough terms with the house elves to ask for snacks. She’d certainly never been summoned to Dumbledore’s office for missing breakfast before. That was when she remembered: Severus had said that there was likely to be something in the paper about her today. “I don’t quite understand,” she told the headmaster, sensible enough to realise that Dumbledore would be suspicious of her having spoken to Severus last night. “Was there something you wanted to see me about?”

Dumbledore’s eyes had lost their twinkle this year. He wearily slid a copy of the prophet across the table to her. ‘THE GIRL WHO LIVED?’  the headline proclaimed in blocky capitals. And there it was, a grainy photo, clearly taken from some distance away of her looking up at the statue of her parents. ‘It would seem that Harry Potter has been keeping some rather big secrets this year,’ the article began, ‘as the seventh year Hogwarts student has seemingly transformed into a girl. The cause of this change is as yet unknown, but…”

Harriet pushed the paper away from her. “I know better than to read whatever drivel

the Prophet puts out about me,” she said. “It always just makes me angry. Is there anything I should be concerned about?”

“Not as such,” Dumbledore replied, his fingers steepled before him. “It is all mere speculation. I might suggest, though, that you may wish to set the record straight, or some of the less scrupulous of your peers may be eager to share their inferences about your change in status with the press. I believe you have given interviews to the Quibbler in the past?”

Harriet sank deeper into the chair. “Yeah, I have,” she said. “I wish it wasn’t seen as a big deal. It doesn’t feel like a big deal anymore.”

“Just a slow news day, my dear,” Dumbledore assured her. “But probably best to deal with, in case it gains momentum.”

Harriet huffed in annoyance. Why could her life never be simple?




Chapter Text

Harriet’s room was empty when she returned. The blankets were pulled up over the bed, made but rumpled. The door to the bathroom stood ajar, and everything was quiet. Maybe Robin had gone home. She flopped down into her chair, still in her quidditch gear. Her broom clattered to the ground next to her. She shouldn’t be this tired: it was the weekend, and just after ten in the morning. But the quidditch had exhausted her physically, and the article in the Prophet had wiped her out mentally. Had it really only been yesterday morning that she’d been at Godric’s Hollow?

Eventually, she dragged herself up to put her broomstick away and go for a hot shower. The water felt good, washing along her muscles and through her hair. She leaned against the wall, not really wanting to get out. She couldn’t believe she was fighting with Robin- were they fighting? Surely they didn’t even see each other enough to fight?

However much she wanted to hide in the steamy bathroom all day, she couldn’t. She had to get her application for the Wizarding colleges finished, for a start, plus a go at her ever mounting pile of homework: even Hermione wasn’t more than a week ahead. She reluctantly turned off the water and wrapped herself in a massive towel.

Thus attired, complete with hair-towel turban, an art which she still hadn’t mastered, was not particularly the way she wanted to greet Robin, but when she went back to find some clothes, there he was, sitting on her sofa. “I thought you’d gone,” she said shortly.

“I went to get dressed,” he said, holding out a bar of chocolate. “Peace offering?”

She turned her back on him, rummaging through a drawer for clean underwear, which she pulled on beneath her towel. What was he doing, bringing her presents, and why, why did he have to choose to do so when she’d just been talking to Draco? Even Robin’s own dad thought she’d be better off with Malfoy, though she thought that the Weasleys’ reaction could be quite different. He broke into her train of thought. “Are you ignoring me, Harriet?” he asked quietly.

“Maybe,” she snapped, dropping the towel to the floor to yank on a pair of jeans. She shrugged on her bra, and reached behind her to fasten it, but found his warm fingers there already, hooking it for her. She yanked away, whirling to face him.

“Look, Harriet, I’m sorry,” he said, his hands up as if in surrender. “I’m sorry that I upset you, but you must realise that I can’t go wandering around the castle during term-time.”

“I’ve never been caught using the cloak,” she sniffed.

“Are you willing to risk my life on that?” he asked quietly. “Just think: the child of a sympathiser to the Dark Lord sees me, realises who I am; reports back. My dad’s tortured and killed for his indiscretion, and I’m hunted down and killed- if I’m lucky, without the torture.”

“I don’t see why Voldemort would care,” she snapped at him. “Just because Severus had a kid doesn’t reveal him as a spy.”

“Think, Harriet,” Robin urged. “My mother was muggle- the Dark Lord despises magical-muggle pairings. It’s not the spying that’s the issue; it’s the complete departure from his beliefs, his requirements for his followers. He’s not exactly the forgiving type.”

Harriet really didn’t want to admit that the logic made sense, though she couldn’t help but begrudgingly agree that it did. “Okay, I guess,” she said. “But I thought you wanted to see me play.”

“Did you forget that your windows overlook the pitch?” he asked. She nodded. Actually, the thought that he could see from her windows had entirely slipped her mind. Maybe she should have provided omnioculars. She was reasonably sure that her pair from the World Cup were still in the general detritus at the bottom of her trunk… although where her trunk was was currently a mystery. Dobby had helpfully put it away somewhere. Robin blithely carried on speaking. “Who was your blond friend?” he asked casually.

The bottom dropped out of her stomach, and she found herself stuttering. “Oh, erm, that’s erm, Draco.”

“Draco Malfoy?” Robin questioned.

“Uh, yeah.”

Robin looked thoughtful. “I’ve never met him, although he’s my dad’s godson. The Malfoys don’t know about me, for obvious reasons.”

“You’re… not angry?” she asked. She had no idea why she was so frightened of him being angry- he was no physical threat to her. For a start, she couldn’t imagine him actually hurting her, but even if he did, she had a major advantage in the form of magic. No, she wasn’t frightened of him hurting her so much as she was frightened of hurting him. She didn’t want him to think that he was somehow worse than Draco.

He shrugged. “You’re allowed friends, Harriet,” he said. “From what I know, it’s a powerful though somewhat backwards family…”

“Yeah,” she said, turning away to finish getting dressed. She hadn’t done anything with Draco, so why did she feel so guilty?

She almost missed Robin’s quiet words when he spoke again. “I’d understand,” he said. “I’d understand if you’d prefer to be with him. With someone who has magic, who has power.”

“That’s not it,” she insisted with a sigh. “I don’t care that you don’t have magic. You’re just… not here. I can’t tell anyone about you.”

He was behind her again. She could feel the warmth of his body, only centimetres from hers. “Would you rather call it a day, Harriet?” he asked softly. He was trying to sound level, in control, but his voice still hitched on her name. He knew that they hadn’t been together all that long, but he felt something with her that he’d never had with any other girl.

She considered it for a few seconds. Would she rather be with Malfoy, bearer of massive bunches of roses, or Robin and a few daisies? She didn’t much like overblown roses, she decided. Could she ever be comfortable in the opulent surroundings which Draco had grown up in, when Witch’s Close had felt too grand? She tugged on the rest of her clothes as she thought. She didn’t know it, but Robin’s heart was in his throat awaiting her decision.

“No,” she said. “I just… all of my friends are paired up. Neville and Luna, and even Ron has something more than just a shagging buddy… I want something more than an occasional visit, like I’m in prison, or something.”

“Oh, kitten,” he sighed, wrapping his arms around her from behind, “I’m sorry. I know it’s hard, but it won’t be forever. It’s nearly Christmas, then Easter, then the summer, and you’ll be finished school. We’ll be able to see each other as much as we want then.”

“If they ever let me out,” she grumbled. “It’s always ‘It’s too dangerous. The Death Eaters’ll get you’. I’m not a little kid!”

“It is dangerous,” he said. “It’s dangerous for anyone, and I’d hate to see anything happen to you. But I know it must be so frustrating, cooped up here. I know how you feel- I can’t go wandering around the magical world.”

She turned in the circle of his arms. “But you have the whole muggle world…”

He smiled down indulgently. “I suppose the grass is always greener,” he pointed out. “You want the muggle world, I want the magical one. Look, I can’t promise much, but I’ll try to get here a bit more, okay? Spend the night every so often if you’d like. And maybe, at Christmas, we can talk them into letting us out for the day. Manchester has brilliant Christmas markets.”

She smiled hesitantly, still feeling guilty for entertaining notions of Draco. It was much harder to be angry at Robin when he was here, being so reasonable. “Thanks,” she said.

He drew her over to the sofa, pulling her into his lap like an oversized doll. His slightly rough and tumble approach was so different to the careful society manners of Draco. Robin was… warmth. Yes, warmth, she decided, for all that his skin was just as pale as any Malfoy. He was more real. “Do any of your friends know about me?” he asked. “Or is there anyone that you trust to keep it quiet?”

She nodded. “Ron and Hermione know,” she said. “We’ve been friends since first year. They won’t tell anyone.”

“Maybe I could meet them sometime,” he said. “If that would make you feel that it was all a bit more real, that is.”

“Thanks,” she said with a tentative grin. “I think I’d like that.” Then, thoughtfully: “Would you like to watch the quidditch match with me this afternoon? From here, of course.”

He kissed her hairline tenderly. “I think it would look a bit odd if you just didn’t go,” he pointed out gently. “And I do have other plans this afternoon: it’s only right that we each have time with our friends. What are you doing Wednesday evening?”

“Defence club,” she replied immediately.

“What time does it finish?” he wanted to know. “Maybe I could come by afterwards and stay the night? I don’t have any lectures until eleven on a Thursday.”

“I’d like that,” she said with a smile. “Maybe about eight?”

“It’s a date, kitten,” he promised. “I’ll see you then, okay?”

“Okay,” she said with a smile, arching up to receive his kiss.

He had been right, of course, she realised just after he’d gone. It would have looked very strange, her not being at the match. She forced herself to sit down and check over her Wizarding colleges application in the half hour before lunch started, checking that all the references and examples of work were in order. Lupin had given her a brilliant reference, as had Dumbledore: she was almost surprised. He had not only extolled her virtues as a student, but given over at some length about the challenging situation regarding Defence teaching at the school during Umbridge’s tenure; if indeed the events in her classroom could be considered to be the teaching of Defence.

She was certain it was all present and correct by the time she left for lunch. She’d send it off with Hedwig first thing in the morning. For now, though, she had a lunch to eat and a quidditch match to watch.

Slytherin took the match easily, keeping good possession of the quaffle and scoring three times in rapid succession, opposed to Hufflepuff’s one goal. Harriet saw the snitch seconds after Malfoy wheeled in mid air, heading straight for it. Hufflepuff didn’t stand a chance, but apparently Slytherin were guilty of early celebration.

The hufflepuff beaters had nothing to do with it. No one saw them hit the bludger; it came out of apparently nowhere to slam into Draco just after he caught the snitch. Harriet gasped- but she wasn’t the only one- as Draco flopped forward on his broom, his pale face turning ashen grey. A high, almost girish scream burst from him as he hurtled the few feet to the ground.

Severus was on the pitch in moments, running with black robes flying behind him to where Draco had landed hard on the ground. Ron snorted next to Harriet. “Ferret’s faking,” he snorted derisively. “It was just a bludger.”

“It looked like it hit him pretty hard,” Hermione countered. Harriet said nothing, her eyes fixed on Severus’ careful wand movements as he levitated Draco, still in the awkward position he’d fallen in, and slowly, very carefully, began to move the prone form of his godson. “I hope he’s okay,” the bushy-haired girl commented. She may not have particularly liked Malfoy after all the years of tormenting and name calling, but she was kind-hearted, and would rather not see anyone hurt badly.

Ron gave a derisive snort. “He’ll recover,” he insisted. “Come on, let’s go up to the tower. Seamus’ older brother sent some booze yesterday. It’s muggle stuff, but it’s alright.”

“I didn’t hear that, Ronald,” Hermione said warningly.

“Oh, yeah, right. Erm, Seamus’ brother sent him some really nice apple juice. Let’s go and get some.”

Hermione gave a long suffering sigh and agreed, though the little curve of her lips told them that she wasn’t actually annoyed.

Harriet installed herself in a cosy corner of the common room with Hermione and Imogen. She’d never really spoken to Imogen, in fact, she’d mostly forgotten that the girl existed despite them being in the same year and house. They had taken different subjects after second year, with Imogen concentrating on Arithmancy, Runes and Astronomy. She didn’t speak up much in lessons, and Harriet wasn’t sure how she’d do with boisterous, thoughtless Ron. To be honest, it seemed an unlikely pairing.

She tried to keep track of the discussion, but given the fact that the other girls kept veering off into Arithmancy territory and the way her thoughts kept straying back to Draco’s form thudding to the ground, she was unsuccessful. Eventually, she gave up. “I’ll be back in a bit,” she said to her companions as she stood suddenly. “Just need to check something.”

It wasn’t too far to the hospital wing; the path from the Gryffindor common room to the infirmary was one she’d trodden more than she’d care to count after all her bumps and mishaps over her school career. She was in the entrance when she heard Draco’s plaintive voice.

“Please, Mother, don’t go back,” he pleaded. “Go somewhere else. Don’t go back to him!”

The reply that his mother gave was lost to Harriet as a long arm dragged her into a side room. She gasped, quietly, but Severus spoke low and quickly. “Hush. He won’t talk if he knows we’re here,” he muttered into her ear. She wiggled, and he let her go, having pulled her against his too-thin body, his hip digging painfully into her spine.

“Is he okay?” she hissed back.

“He will be. I should imagine that he’ll probably be here until tomorrow evening- he has to stay completely still whilst his spine heals.”

“His spine?”

“The bludger hit him badly,” Severus explained. “It cracked his backbone, but there isn’t much nerve damage. Now, hush.”

She hushed and listened. “Can’t you remember what it was like when he was in Azkaban?” Draco asked plaintively. “Please, don’t you want to be your own person again?”

“I don’t know what you mean, Draco,” Narcissa Malfoy replied evenly. “You’re hysterical. It must be the pain. Let me get the matron for you.”

“I’m surprised Father even let you come.”

“Don’t be so silly, Draco,” Narcissa chided. “He would have been here too, if he were permitted to leave the manor. He sends his best wishes for a fast recovery.”

Draco didn’t reply, and Harriet could hear the click of high heeled shoes across the tiled floor of the infirmary ward. “What’s going on?” Harriet asked Severus quietly.

He bent so he could murmur into her ear. “Lucius Malfoy has been drugging Narcissa for years, to keep her compliant. When he was in Azkaban, her doses…. lapsed. I may have forgotten to deliver the correct potion to be placed in her food, giving her, instead, a simple calming draught. She returned to lucidity for a year, but when Lucius was released, she was once again drugged.”

“That’s horrible! Why hasn’t someone stopped it?” Harriet wanted to know.

“Who would stop a man so powerful as Lucius from controlling his wife?” Severus asked rhetorically. “In the eyes of society, after all, she is a mere woman, to be used as needed. She’s already provided a suitable heir, after all.” He paused, thoughtful. “I do not think that Draco would take a visit from you well at the moment. He will not wish to seem weak. I think it best if you go, and I will pass on your wishes for his recovery.”

“Thanks,” Harriet said gratefully. If the truth was told, she wasn’t sure she wanted to see Draco either, not as confused as she was at the moment. And she didn’t want to appear too upset, too concerned, in case he thought she was interested in him.

Instead, she scurried back up to Gryffindor tower to try to lure Ron and Hermione away somewhere quiet. This was too weird not to share.

 

 

Chapter Text

On monday morning, Harriet handed Hedwig her college application, beseeching her owl to be careful with the heavy packet. Hedwig gave her a sidelong look and a gentle nip before winging out of the owlry.

Harriet kept her eye out for Draco at breakfast, but he wasn’t there, or in any of the lessons that day. In fact, he didn’t reappear until lunchtime on Tuesday, looking a bit peaky and sorry for himself, although he was making a good stab at his usual swagger. He slipped into a seat next to Zabini and began picking at his food. After a few seconds, he seemed to sense Harriet’s gaze on him. He smiled at her, and she looked away quickly, embarrassed to have been caught looking.

It wasn’t as if she had many opportunities to talk to Draco. He didn’t appear in the library, where he still sometimes joined them for study sessions. Harriet went down to the quidditch pitch early for practice, in case he came to find her, but he didn’t. She wondered if he’d managed to convince his mother to get away from Lucius, but from the sounds of it, the chances weren’t high. She couldn’t quite wrap her head around the idea that someone, even one so reprehensible as Lucius Malfoy, could drug someone like that for years. Surely it was illegal? Than again, when had he ever cared for the law? He’d even managed to buy himself out of Azkaban.

At least Robin’s promised visit on Wednesday distracted her from getting too restless about Draco, though she was perhaps just as fidgety in Defence club, wondering if Robin was waiting for her. Lupin frowned in consternation when she missed a shield for the first time that year, letting in a petrificus. She did manage to dodge the spell, for the most part, ending up with nothing worse than a dead arm, easily reversed. Hermione had her hand over her mouth in shock, amazed that she’d managed to get through. They’d been working together for a couple of weeks, building up more and more powerful spells to see what they could deflect. So far, this was the first time Harriet had failed to deflect anything at all. “Stay behind a moment please Harriet,” Lupin asked quietly at the end. Harriet swallowed her sigh. Hopefully the telling off wouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

“Is everything alright?” Lupin asked when the rest of the students had gone. “You seemed… distracted.”

“I’m fine,” Harriet insisted. Lupin didn’t look convinced. He raised an eyebrow. “No, honestly,” she insisted.

“We all know that this is a difficult time for you, Harriet,” Lupin sympathised. “If I can help, I’d like to. I’d certainly hate to see you go downhill in your studies because you are worried about something that can be easily remedied.”

“It’s nothing, I really mean it. Well… it’s just that I’m a bit excited.”

Lupin raised his eyebrow. “Oh?” he asked with a small smile. “Excited?”

Harriet looked at her shoes, trying not to blush. “Yeah. Just, erm, a boy.”

She was surprised by a peal of laughter. “Well,” Lupin said, his grin now wide, “I can’t help you with that one. You go ahead and enjoy. Just… be sensible.”

“But Sir,” Harriet quipped, “what fun is there in being sensible?”

He was still laughing when he waved her out of the room.

She trotted down the corridor, heading back down to her rooms as quickly as she could whilst still maintaining something like the dignity of a final-year student, and not a first year on excess sugar.

“Losing your touch, Potter?” a voice called from down a corridor. She’d learnt not to follow voices down corridors- not that she’d ever want to be down a corridor at night with Pansy Parkinson.

She may still have been struggling with wandless magic, but she was reasonably confident with non-verbal spells by now. A flick of her wand sent a wide-ranging paralysing spell down the corridor- it wasn’t as effective as petrificus, since it wore off after about thirty seconds and could stopped by even basic shielding, but Pansy didn’t appear to have put up any protection, based on the fleshy thump of her body hitting the stone. She held her wand carefully in front of her as she investigated.

Pansy had been lounging against the wall near a suit of armour, but now she was slumped on the stone. “Apparently not, Parkinson,” Harriet said dryly, looking down at the Slytherin. “I wouldn’t bother, if I were you.”

Eyes could convey a lot of venom, but, under the spell as she was, Pansy was unable to act on her impulses. With a little grin, Harriet turned away and left the other girl in a heap, knowing that she’d be able to move again very shortly. As soon as she was out of sight, Harriet broke into a little jog to make sure Pansy couldn’t follow her.

She looked about her room excitedly when she got there, but Robin was nowhere in sight. Her heart sank a little- it was getting towards nine o’clock now. Perhaps he’d decided he didn’t want to come after all? She decided to check Severus’ quarters, in case he was still there.

She could hear the raised voices as soon as she got through the floo. “You can’t keep her wrapped in cotton wool forever!” Robin snapped.

“It’s not my choice, Robin!” Severus informed his son hotly. “I don’t say where she can and can’t go, but I know how much danger she could be in. Some evening wandering about isn’t worth it!”

“You know what, Dad? You just contradict yourself all the time. One minute you’re saying she’s so gifted at Defence, that you think she could make a living duelling, and the next you say she can’t be trusted to protect herself. Besides, what could happen- there will be hundreds of muggles about! Even the Dark Lord couldn’t possibly think it’s worth that amount of fallout.”

Severus’ voice went low. “You have no idea of the lengths he will go to,” the potion’s master hissed. He stalked into the living room from the direction of the bedrooms and spied Harriet. He sighed, but said nothing, picking up his outer robes on his way out.

“Dad?” a quieter Robin questioned. “Can you at least ask?”

“I will ask. Don’t get your hopes up,” Severus snapped before leaving.

Robin turned to look at her. “Sorry about that,” he said, rubbing his hand across his face. “I didn’t expect it to be so… heated.”

“What was it about?” she asked curiously.

“Taking you out for a day to the Christmas markets,” he said with a shrug. “Harder than I thought, apparently. Don’t worry, though, we’ll figure something out.”

“Okay,” she said, smiling as he pulled her in for a hug and a kiss. “So, what d’you want to do tonight?” she asked.

“Can you play chess?” he asked with a smile. “I haven’t had a game in ages.” She nodded. She just hoped that he wasn’t as ruthless as Ron: she might even stand a chance of winning.

It was nice to spend an hour or so laughing with Robin as he failed to adequately control his chessmen, then to curl up against his warm body in her bed. He was working on Saturday, he explained, but promised to come and see her for a bit on Sunday. She missed him when he’d gone, but it was easy to lose herself in her work and her friends. She’d expected some repercussion from stunning Pansy, but none came. The Slytherins ignored her, with the notable exception of Draco who joined her at a table in the library, but said little more than good morning, he was fine, thank you for asking.

She was half asleep on Saturday evening when the floo flared to life. She sat up scrabbling for her wand, but when her nocturnal visitor came into focus about two feet from the bed, it was only Robin. “Wanted to see you,” he explained, slipping into the bed next to her. “My place was lonely.”

“Cold feet!” she squealed as he pressed them against her legs. He grunted an apology and wrapped her up in his arms. She snuggled close despite the iciness of his appendages- she figured she could come in from quidditch practice tomorrow and freeze him instead.

By the time she got back, though, Robin had returned to his own room to get dressed; or so the teasing note he’d left on her bed would suggest- he invited her to hunt him down. It didn’t take too long; she found him reclining amongst his giant pillows with a book. “Morning, beautiful,” he almost purred when she flopped down next to him. He leaned in for a kiss, not objecting in the least when she clambered atop him to deepen it. His hands strayed to her breasts, stroking them through the fabric of her quidditch robes. “Mmm,” he groaned when she came up for air, “how do you feel about shower sex?”

Her cheeks reddened. “Erm, well, I’m still kind of bleeding…” she said. It wasn’t much anymore, but she still hurt, and her attempts at healing spells had gotten her nowhere. She’d thought about going to Madam Pomfrey, but it seemed far too embarrassing. She was healing, just slowly.

“You’re still bleeding?” Robin asked. “Do you mean you’re still on your period? You should have realised by now that it doesn’t bother me.”

Harriet shook her head. “No, it’s just from, well, you know.”

His frown deepened. “It’s been a week. There’s no way you should still be bleeding, especially not the second time.” he stood and offered her his hand. “Come on,” he said.

“Where?” she wanted to know, letting him pull her to her feet.

“Getting something to stop the bleeding,” he explained shortly, and towed her down the corridor to Severus’ private lab. She tugged back on his hand, thinking that disturbing him on a Sunday brewing session was hardly a brilliant idea. Robin tapped on the door and pushed it open, not waiting for a response.

“Whatever it is, the answer is no,” Severus snapped from his position at the far side of the room, bent over a steaming cauldron. Harriet expected Robin to just fetch some potion or other from the wall of shelves to their left and go, but instead he tugged her into the room. Severus sighed and cast a stasis charm on his brew. “What is it?” he asked, leaning one hip on the marble top of his brewing bench.

“Harriet’s bleeding,” Robin began. “She’s been bleeding for a week, since we had sex.” Harriet gasped at his bald words, and felt her face flush crimson. Even Severus was looking a little bit pink.

“For Merlin’s sake, boy, what did you do to her?” he asked rhetorically. “First time?”

“No, second,” Robin provided. Harriet stared at the floor, wanting it to swallow her.

Severus frowned. “That’s unusual,” he commented. “Harriet, take your jeans and knickers off and hop up onto the table, please.” He turned to the sink in the corner and began washing his hands.

“I’m fine, honestly,” she said, trying to pull away from Robin, without success. “It doesn’t hurt much.”

Severus looked back over his shoulder at her. “You should not bleed for more than a day or so after the loss of virginity,” he lectured, “and there should not be any bleeding following that. It’s possible that idiot boy has caused you some injury; you may let me see, or I can take you to Madam Pomfrey, but you cannot allow it to continue untreated.” Robin grumbled at being called an idiot, but pushed Harriet towards Severus’ workbench with a hand in the small of her back.

“It’s less than it was,” she wheedled. “I don’t need help.”

Severus raised an eyebrow and opened a cupboard near the sink. From it, he produced a strange, three legged stool with a curved half-circular seat. It looked like nothing so much as half a toilet seat on legs. He set it in front of Harriet. She wasn’t sure if she even wanted to know it’s purpose: she doubted it would be one she liked.

“What is that?” she asked, curiosity winning out. She’d never seen such a contraption.

“It’s a birthing stool,” Severus said flatly. “You were born on it. I’ve seen all of you already, Harriet, even if it was seventeen years ago. I thought that you could do with the reminder that I do know what I’m doing here. I trained as a mediwizard and midwife.”

Under the stern gaze of two sets of sloe-black eyes, she decided that this was mildly less embarrassing than explaining the problem to Madam Pomfrey, though not by much. At least she would be spared being seen going to the hospital wing. Biting her lip, she undid the button of her jeans and hooked her fingers under the waistband of her knickers, pulling them off in one go and setting them on the workbench. She tried to ignore her nakedness as she braced her arms on the tabletop to boost herself up.

Robin placed his hands around her waist to help her up onto the high workbench. the marble was cold against her bottom, and she couldn’t help the shiver. Robin wrapped a warm arm around her shoulder. “Don’t worry,” he muttered. “It’ll be over in a minute.”

Severus’ washed and spell cleansed hand was calloused against her knee. “Let me see, Harriet,” he instructed gently. Still postbox-red, she parted her legs.

Severus bent her knee up, supporting it on his hip, and Robin held the other. She felt like meat on display. Severus reached for her and gently spread her lips. She closed her eyes in mortification as she felt his hands on her. Her breath hitched, and she let out a little moan of pain as his fingers probed at the ragged flesh at her entrance.

“Robin, can you leave us for a moment?” Severus asked firmly. It may have been worded as a question, but the demand in his tone was clear.

“But…”

Severus shot his son a look that stopped Robin in his tracks. He kissed Harriet on the top of her head and gently set her leg back on the counter before leaving, shutting the door behind him. “Harriet, this looks like you were taken very roughly,” Severus said quietly when Robin had gone. “Was this against your will?”

Harriet opened her eyes in shock. “No!” she cried out. She looked down in embarrassment again. “He was really gentle. But it hurt more than the first time. I tried to heal it, but it just won’t work.”

“You tried to heal…” Severus trailed off. “Harriet, did you heal yourself after the first time?”

“Well, yeah,” she said.

He leaned against the counter heavily. “I apologise. I should have told you. I had presumed that you knew.” He looked up at her. “The rending of a woman’s virginity is one of the few wounds that should not be magically healed. The healing spells thicken the flesh that was torn, and increase blood flow to the area to assist in healing. The second time that you engaged in intercourse, the old wounds reopened, along with the newly weakened areas caused by the healing. As you have discovered, the end result is a painful mess. I can clean you up, but you’ll be sensitive for a while. If the bleeding hasn’t stopped by this time tomorrow, come back to me, and I’ll do the same again.” He turned back to his shelves of potions, selecting a green bottle and a little pile of cotton swabs. She hissed at the sting when he sponged the potion onto her torn flesh. “I would have been furious with Robin had he hurt you,” Severus muttered as he worked, setting a bloodstained cloth on the workbench. She stared at the shelving opposite, over Severus’ head, trying to ignore what was happening.

“He wouldn’t do that,” Harriet assured him quietly. “He’s good, and kind. You’re right, he probably is too good for me.”

Severus looked up and met her eyes. “Too good for you? I am concerned for your welfare more than his, Harriet,” he explained. “You were, are, new to your anatomy and your feelings. I walked in on Robin and a girlfriend when he was thirteen years old. I didn’t know if he could be patient enough to wait for you to develop in your own time.” He completed his ministrations and helped her down from his workbench. By the time she’d pulled on her clothes again, he’d cleared up the bloodied swabs and cleaned off his bench. It looked like nothing had happened.

He ushered her ahead of him, towards the living room. Robin was pacing before the fireplace, Sheba cradled in his arms. The cat didn’t look happy to be held so tightly. He looked up with relief as soon as they appeared. “What is it?” he asked breathlessly. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing is wrong, Robin. I was merely concerned at the extent of Harriet’s injury. It would appear, though, that the cause was an attempted healing.” Severus solicitously guided Harriet to a seat and swished his wand at the kettle, causing it to swing over the fire and begin heating. “It would be wise, though, to wait a week or two before resuming any… amorous activities.”

“So it’s all sorted? You’re fine?” Robin asked her, watching her closely. She nodded and smiled. He wrapped an arm around her in relief. “Wait…” he said slowly. “Dad, you didn’t think I’d hurt her deliberately, did you?”

Severus lifted a shoulder disdainfully. “It was a possibility. I had to be certain that it was not the case, hence I needed to speak to Harriet alone.”

Harriet winced as Robin exploded next to her. “How could you!” he cried. “I’d never do her harm like that!”

“Be quiet, child!” Severus snapped. “Honestly, Robin. There’s no need for this. It was a valid possibility.”

“Robin, it’s fine,” Harriet said quietly. “Nothing to worry about.”

The sentiment apparently didn’t placate Robin. If a man of close to six feet could be said to flounce, he did, slamming his bedroom door. Severus only lifted an eyebrow and poured the hot water into the teapot.

 

Chapter Text

The days began to fly by at Hogwarts. Life felt… almost normal. Severus and Robin sorted their difference out, or at least acted like it around Harriet. The Daily Prophet became very interested in an adviser to the Minister advocating stricter rules and controls on magical creatures, and seemed to forget that Harry Potter was now Harriet.  As for the girl in question, she found herself happy to spend more time in the Gryffindor common room as people seemed to forget that she was ever male. Seamus and Dean began to treat her like they did the other girls, with teasing that sometimes became flirtatious, and sometimes downright ribald. She blushed at first, but she knew they did it to anyone female, so it was actually reassuring rather than offensive. She started to joke back.

Lavender now ignored her completely, although Harriet was sure she caught a sympathetic glance from Parvati on occasion. It was in Imogen and Fay that she found a bit more friendship- she had no idea if Ron had said something to his now-official girlfriend, or if they pair were just quite astute. It was from Fay that she finally learnt some of the haircare charms that every witch other than she and Hermione seemed to know, and Imogen was spectacular at transfiguring clothing, something which was rarely taught in lessons. She, like Ron, came from a family that struggled for money, and so she had learnt to use her skills at transfigurations to make the cheap clothes she could afford look much nicer. Harriet idly wondered if Ginny did much the same thing.

Suddenly, it was Hogsmeade weekend again, and Harriet was desperately buying Christmas presents. For most of her friends, she bought some sweets- it was always a safe bet. She’d told Hermione that the book from her library was a Christmas present, but bought a leather-bound notebook as well. She’d finally decided that after more than six years of friendship, Ron deserved a new broom, but she also bought him a book of broom care- she really hoped he wouldn’t drag this one along the ground like a two year old with a teddy bear.

It was Robin and Severus that stumped her. She eventually found a set of three beautiful raven’s feather quills for Severus, but she wondered if she should buy more for him. He had helped her so much this year… but she also had no idea what he might want. She looked at, and discarded a few books on potions: given the state of his bookshelves, she guessed that he would have anything she could find. She added a bottle of blood red ink, then some in Slytherin green, just so he didn’t think she was commenting on his propensity to spew red ink over all his student’s work- even if she was. A little bag of Honeydukes’ toffees seemed likely to go down well too. If his jaws were stuck with toffee, he couldn’t reprimand anyone.

Robin, though, what to get Robin? It surprised her to realise that she didn’t know all that much about him. He liked rock music, but she knew nothing about the genre whatsoever, nor was she likely to find anything to suit that taste in Hogsmeade. The wizarding world tended to be very backwards in musical taste in comparison to the muggles. She knew that he liked ancient history and Greek literature, but what would there be that she could buy him that he didn’t already have? She knew nothing about that either. Morosely, she decided that since she seemingly barely knew him, could she really expect the relationship to last?

It was Hermione who came to her rescue. Once Harriet had confided in her, Hermione screwed her face up oddly and darted the the musty far corners of the bookshop. It was less than five minutes before she emerged triumphant, a cobweb clinging to her hair. She thrust a book at Harriet. “I saw this last year,” she said.

Harriet squinted at the dusty tome. She could believe it hadn’t been touched in a year. She turned it to see the title on the spine. “Magical myths?” she asked.

“Yeah!” Hermione replied excitedly. “It’s all about the magical roots of the myths and fairy tales- Greek, Egyptian, Celtic, Germanic… it’s all in there.”

Harriet raised an eyebrow and flicked through the musty book. A chapter title caught her eye- “Aristophanes the mage- Peace and Lysistrata.” he read. “Lysistrata- do you know what it’s about?”

“Women,” Hermione informed him. “The women end the war by manipulating the men.” She looked sheepish. “My Mum’s really into the Greeks. Hence why she called me Hermione.”

Harriet nodded, though she wasn’t quite sure of the connection. She supposed that Hermione must be a Greek name. Her whole knowledge of the world was woefully inadequate, she realised: she’d spent six years feeling that she couldn’t keep up with wizarding culture because of her Muggle start in life. Now, though, it felt like she didn’t understand muggle culture either. She sighed deeply.

“What’s wrong?” Hermione asked. Harriet glanced around. They were in a hidden corner of the bookshop, and she couldn’t hear any other students. “I just don’t fit anywhere,” she admitted. “I don’t fit in the muggle world because I missed out on all the muggle stuff by being here. But I can’t fit in in the wizarding world either, because I was raised as a muggle. I don’t even fit in with girl because I used to a boy, or the boys because I’m a girl now.”

“You fit in with Ron and I,” Hermione said quietly.

“Really?” Harried asked. “Ron… well, he’s with Imogen a lot these days. And you understand so much more about the world- both worlds- than I do.”

Hermione sighed. “Everyone’s different, Harriet. No one knows everything.” Her lips quirked into a smile. “Not even me.”

Harriet couldn’t help but smile along with her on that one. If Hermione could joke about it… she squashed her feelings of inadequacy down. “Lunch?” she asked hopefully, knowing that Hermione would probably be on duty somewhere, guarding lower year students.

Hermione surprised her. “Lunch,” she confirmed, putting her arm around Harriet’s shoulder. “I bet Ron and Neville are in the Three Broomsticks.”

A large butterbeer sounded an excellent idea to Harriet, so she quickly paid for the book and headed out with Hermione. As they wandered down the high street, the first snow of the year started to fall. A group of fourth years ran past, trying to catch snowflakes in their mouths.

They were late for lunch, so they’d managed to miss a lot of the excited students, who had all dashed out to see the snow. “You’d never believe they spent the winter in Scotland,” Ron scoffed. “It’s as if they’ve never seen snow before.” He and Imogen were perched on the tall stools at the end of the bar- it was a privileged spot, and seventh years wouldn;t countenance the younger years taking the bar stools on a Hogsmeade weekend. Harriet was reminded of school trips out from muggle primary school, where the ‘cool kids’ sat at the back of the bus. She hadn’t been on many school trips- if there were any which required any financial contribution, the Dursley’s wouldn’t pay, though, of course, Dudley went. Ron flagged down Madam Rosmerta. “Can we have some more butterbeers, please?” he asked. She refilled his glass and poured another two for Harriet and Hermione with a smile.

It all happened fast: Madam Rosmerta set their glasses on the high bar just as three Slytherin fifth years barrelled into the pub, laughing, pushing and shoving. One of them sent his friend flying into the bar, knocking the glasses over and soaking Rosmerta, Harriet and a wooden counter in pale, frothy liquid. Rosmerta gasped and Harriet swore. Hermione, of course, was the first to react, jumping up in time to avoid the splash that headed her way, and to raise her wand to siphon up the spilled drinks.

The boy who’d hit the bar laughed, having avoided the spray. “Be more careful, lads!” Madam Rosmerta admonished.

“We don’t need to listen to filthy squibs!” the pusher (Harriet thought he was called Bruce, but couldn’t be sure) called, sauntering out again with his gang.

“Oh,” madam Rosmerta said softly, and then seeing the shards of broken glass left behind as the liquid zipped up to Hermione’s wand to be banished. “Oh, dear…” She started picking up shards of glass.

“Idiots!” Ron snapped at the fifth years. “What’cha think you’re playing at?”

Harriet finally recovered from her shock. “Don’t,” she said to Madam Rosmerta. “reparo.” The shards of glass came back together into a whole. She handed it over to the barmaid. “Don’t listen to them. They’re idiots,” she said quietly, low enough that no one outside their little group could hear.

Rosmerta gave a quivering smile. “Don’t worry yourself about me,” she said. “I’m used to it by now.” She poured them more butterbeer, and took food orders for Harriet and hermione, relaying them through to the kitchens.

“Did you know?” Harriet hissed to her companions when she thought Rosmerta was out of earshot. “About her being a squib, I mean? Because those Slytherins did.”

Ron shrugged. “Yeah. Bill mentioned it once. It’s kind of common knowledge, I think.”

“No witch would take a job like this,” a quiet voice said from the other side of the bar.

Harriet looked up in shock. She hadn’t noticed Madam Rosmerta coming back. “I’m sorry!” she spluttered. “I wasn’t… I didn’t…”

Rosmerta patted her hand. “It’s quite alright, dear. I know you didn’t mean anything by it. But I’m just a barmaid, you see- I don’t need magic in my job. It’s far too lowly a position for someone with magic. But I’m happy here- you don’t get too many people like those youngsters. Most people prefer to just pretend that squibs don’t exist.” She passed the sandwiches over the countertop. “Now, one ham and cheese, and one Coronation chicken…”

Harriet couldn’t stop thinking about Madam Rosmerta. She seemed pretty content with her lot in life, Harriet mused. Not like Filch, but maybe he was meant to be a grumpy person. It might have nothing to do with his magic, or lack thereof.

The subject was still weighing heavily on her mind on Monday night. Severus was pushing harder than he had since fifth year, and Harriet’s control over her occlumantic shields kept slipping. She yelped in frustration as he broke through again, forcing a memory of Dudley, and not a pleasant one. She didn’t have many pleasant memories of Dudley. “What the bloody hell are you doing?” she demanded.

Severus said nothing, only handed her a cup of tea. She hadn’t noticed him making any tea, but the cup was steaming and fresh. Tea, for Severus, she’d discovered, was like chocolate for Lupin. A cure for all ills. She took a sip grumpily. “Why’d you have to be so mean?” she asked in a sulk.

“Because the Dark Lord will not be kind to you,” Severus explained levelly. “I do not teach you this for my health, nor for yours. I teach you in the hope that you will be able to hide your plans from the Lord when you meet again. and I believe that your meeting may come sooner rather than later.”

Harriet sat up straight at that. “Why?” she asked. “What’s happening?”

Snape, conversely, sank deeper into his armchair. “The Headmaster is weakening,” he admitted. “His health is failing. The curse to which he was subjected… it cannot be held at bay for much longer. The Dark Lord knows that his adversary is fading. You must be ready.”

“But… the prophecy? Neville?” Harriet pointed out in confusion.

Severus smiled, a thin, lipped, tight smile that didn’t really seem joyful. “The Dark Lord does not seem to have considered the fact that your change in gender may have changed the nature of the prophecy. He is focused on you, not Longbottom. In addition, I think we must continue to prepare in as many ways as we can- not just you, or Neville, but all of us. Why do you think Professor Lupin is running his defence clubs? He is attempting to prepare even the younger students with defensive magic that would normally be considered far beyond their ability level, because this is a battle that will involve many. It is a war that has already claimed too many lives.”

“Don’t you think I know that?” Harriet asked quietly. “He killed my parents. He killed Cedric, and in a way, he killed Sirius. He tried to kill Ginny…”

“I do know. I simply wished to bring to your attention the fact that the end may be coming… and for the side of the light of the dark, who can tell?” He spread his fingers before him, inspecting them. “Be prepared, Harriet. I am not intending cruelty: I am advocating preparedness.”

“I know,” Harriet said with a deep sigh. “It’s just so hard! I thought it would be easier, because it’s not my job anymore, to kill Voldemort… but it’s just as bad.”

Severus had flinched at Voldemort’s name. “I wish I could help more,” he told her gently. “Unfortunately, I can see no way in which I can make this situation any easier for you. I apologise.”

“It’s not like it’s your fault,” she pointed out. “Well, I guess it’s kind of your fault, because wasn’t it you who told Voldemort the prophecy?”

Severus inclined his head in acquiescence. “It was, although not willingly. I was not so good an occlumens then.” Harriet nodded. She knew that Robin must have already been born when the prophecy was made: Severus had already turned against Voldemort, though he was simply trying to keep his distance. “Albus had asked me to keep watch whilst he interviewed Sybill. He was wary of Death Eaters; not knowing what I would hear. Luckily, Aberforth blundered in half way through to get me to come downstairs… he thought there was a follower of the Dark Lord in the bar.”

“I heard he threw you out,” Harriet said.

Severus shook his head with a small smile. “No, though that was the story put about to explain to the Dark Lord why I heard only part of the prophecy. I was at least able to conceal that part from him when he combed through my mind.”

“So, who taught you occlumency?” Harriet wanted to know. “I mean, you didn’t always know it, so…”

“I am a natural occlumens,” Severus said. “But you are quite correct, even those of us with an aptitude for mental secrecy usually cannot learn all we need to know completely alone. It was Albus who helped me refine my skills.” He glanced at the clock on the mantel. “Now, Miss Potter, it is getting late. That’s quite enough for this evening. Remember to practice your meditative techniques: you are starting to lose your grounding.”

“Did you know that Madam Rosmerta is a squib?” Harriet blurted out suddenly, wanting to prove to Severus that not all squibs in the magical world became grumpy like Filch.

“I did,” he said.

“Well, she seems happy enough, not having magic.”

“She would give you that impression, yes,” he said. “After all, she’s had her memories wiped enough to keep anyone slightly confused about all the bad things that have happened.”

“Her memories have been wiped? Memories of what?” Harriet demanded.

“Let us just say that she is not viewed with the utmost respect by the less scrupulous members of our community,” Severus said smoothly. “She has been used as something of a sexual plaything by many on the dark side, not least some students. She is seen as… disposable.”

“That’s terrible!” Harriet exclaimed. “Why doesn’t someone do something?”

Severus raised a shoulder. “Who?” he asked. “Who is this person that should, that could, step in? I cannot look after everyone in the world, Harriet. She is not harmed in any lasting manner, and she has no memory of the encounters… there is little that can be done.”

“Dumbledore could give her shelter at Hogwarts!”

“In what capacity?” Severus enquired evenly. “There are not so very many roles for squibs in a magical school. The house elves could as easily do the role officially assigned to Mr. Filch; although they could not supervise detentions and monitor students as he does. Albus views her in much the same way as the rest of our world views squibs: expendable, disposable, faulty.”

“But you don’t.”

“And I feel certain that Rosmerta’s father probably didn’t view her as disposable either,” he informed Harriet quietly. “Please, do not trouble yourself over her yet: her situation is merely a symptom, no matter how terrible it is. You must go to the root of the problem: the view that blood purity is the pinnacle of achievement. Aid in the defeat of the Dark Lord, Harriet. Only then can you begin to root out the other problems with our way of life.”

He kept his gaze firmly on Harriet until she nodded in reluctant agreement. “Okay,” she said.

He sat back in his chair again. “Now, before you go- am I to presume that you will be staying at the school for the coming holidays?” he asked. Harriet nodded again. “Then, I wonder if you would like to join Robin and I for dinner on Christmas Eve? As my absence on Christmas day would be noted, we celebrate together on the night before, and Robin would like you there, if you are amenable.”

“Yes, please,” Harriet said happily.

“Good,” Severus said. “Now, off you go. I shall see you in lessons.” Harriet stood and reached for the pot of floo. “Oh, Harriet?” Severus said just as she was about to step into the fire. She turned to look at him. His face was contorted into an odd grimace. “You may invite Weasley and Granger.”

“Thank you!” Harriet said. Severus waved her off, and she went through the floo to her own rooms.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Harriet, what on earth are you wearing?” Hermione demanded.

Harriet looked down. Her clothes didn’t look dirty… “What?” she asked.

Hermione huffed. “You can’t wear jeans and a jumper to a Christmas party!”

“Why not?”

Ron inched past Hermione. “Dunno, mate,” he said, heading for the fireplace and a chair. He suspected that this could take a while, and he could at least be comfortable.

Hermione sighed. “Just wear something nice,” she told her friend. “Like the dress we bought in the summer.”

“It’s too cold,” Harriet said. “It’s got short sleeves.”

Hermione sighed. “Are you a witch or not?” she asked. “You were just saying last week how much you liked transfiguring all your clothes different colours. Use your magic to put some sleeves on it! And wear a cardigan!”

“I… I don’t think I own a cardigan…” Harriet said.

Hermione huffed and strode to the wardrobe. She yanked out the green dress and a pair of black tights and chucked then at Harriet. “Put those on.”

Harriet retreated to the bathroom to change. The short sleeved dress was easy to add sleeves too, it was true, but she tugged nervously on the hem. It suddenly seemed very short, hitting above the knee, unlike her school skirts, which she’d finally grown used to wearing. The thick black tights helped a bit, but they didn’t do much to hide the shape of her legs. She supposed it wasn’t any different to wearing jeans, really… she just felt so exposed.  With one last nervous yank on the hem, she let herself out of the bathroom.

“Much better,” Hermione said with a satisfied grin. She handed Harriet a short, fitted white cardigan.

“I don’t see what was wrong with her before,” Ron said from his slump in the armchair before the fire. “It’s not like a party at Malfoy Manor…”

“No, but you should look nice,” Hermione said stiffly, with a glance at the slightly frayed cuff of Ron’s jumper. She was wearing wide-legged, flowing trousers and a silky pale blue blouse. “After, all have you ever seen Professor Snape in jeans?” Harriet wanted to point out that, actually she had, and that he had a reasonable grasp of muggle fashion, unlike most of the wizarding world, but Hermione barely paused for breath before continuing. “Now, shall we go? Where are Snape’s rooms anyway?”

“Erm, down in the dungeons,” Harriet said.

“Well, I knew that!” Hermione riposted. “But where?”

“To be honest, I’m not really where the entrance is,” she admitted. “I know there’s a way through his classroom, but I just use to floo.”

“You have a floo connection to Snape’s rooms?” Ron asked incredulously after a beat of stunned silence.

“Er, yeah?” Harriet said. “Well, with the occlumency lessons and everything…”

“Harriet,” Hermione said softly, as if speaking to a frightened animal, “we thought you were doing the occlumency lessons in his classroom.”

Harriet shook her head, frowning as she looked between her friends. “No, in his living room. What’s the problem?”

“Well,” Hermione ventured after a moment of careful thought, having shushed Ron, “it's not really normal, is it, teachers having access to our rooms.”

Harriet shrugged. “McGonagall comes into Gryffindor tower.”

“But that’s McGonagall,” Ron burst out, “not Snape!”

“Harriet,you’re a girl. Professor Snape shouldn’t have access like that to your room- he’s a male teacher. It;s not even like you’re in a dormitory, where there are other people to act as… chaperones.”

“That’s rubbish!” Harriet snapped. “Severus would never…”

“Severus?” Ron cut across her. “You call him Severus?”

“Well, I can’t very well call him ‘greasy git’ to his face now, can I?” Harriet demanded petulantly. “Look do you want to come or not? Because if you don’t want to, go away and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“It’s okay, Harriet, we still want to come,” Hermione said soothingly. “It’s just a… a bit of a shock. We didn’t realise you were so, well, close to Professor Snape.”

Harriet wasn’t convinced that it was ‘okay’- Ron looked slightly green. “Where did you think I was meeting Robin?” she asked pragmatically. Both her friends looked shocked, and shook their heads.

“It hadn’t even entered my mind to ask, actually,” Hermione said. Ron agreed with her. “Let’s just go,” Hermione decided. “We can discuss this later.” Harriet really hoped they’d forget. Maybe Severus would be serving plenty of alcohol- that might make their memories short.

She offered her pot of floo powder. “Just ask for ‘Severus’ living room,’” she advised. “it’s not connected to anything else, so you should be okay.”

Hermione took a pinch of the emerald powder and whirled through. Ron, though, hesitated. “Has he... taken advantage?” he asked urgently. “Because if he has, I’ll kill him- I don’t care if he’s a teacher.”

“He’s never even been here,” Harriet sighed. “I always go to his quarters.”

“Doesn’t mean he hasn’t… you know,” Ron said, his ears pink.

“He hasn’t, Ron,” Harriet assured her friend. “He wouldn’t.”

“But he’s a Death Eater…” Ron said. Harriet held up her hand to silence him and held out the pot of floo powder again.

“He’s not. Just trust me: this is something Dumbledore’s right on. Now, come on, we’ve already been too long.”

Ron reluctantly took a pinch of the powder, and Harriet followed in short order to find a shocked, blinking Ron watching as Severus solicitously asked after Hermione’s health. The usually voluminously-clad teacher was more simply attired in black trousers and a soft, open collared blue shirt which made his hair pick up the same tones- hair which was meticulously washed and soft. Even Harriet hadn’t seen him so… grease free. “Evening, Sir,” she said cautiously, unsure about using his first name in front of her friends.

“Good evening, Harriet,” Severus replied with a smile. “And to you as well, Mr. Weasley.”

“Uh, er… hi, um, Professor,” Ron stuttered, apparently so shocked at Severus behaving so solicitously.

“I believe that, just for tonight, we may dispense with the formalities,” Severus intoned. “Do feel free to call me by my given name.”

“Er, thanks,” Ron said dazedly.

Harriet was so amused by her friend’s discomfort, she didn’t even notice Robin creeping up behind her. She started as he slipped his arms around her waist, but smiled and leaned back into him when she realised what was happening. “Hello, kitten,” he murmured softly into her hair, leaving a chaste kiss on her forehead before he released her and stepped forward. “Hermione, and Ron, I presume?” he asked with a hint of a smile. He extended his hand to Hermione first. “I’m Robin.”

“Blimey,” Ron muttered with a scowl, “no one could mistake you for not being a Snape.”

Robin inclined his head in a very Severus- like gesture. “I’m told there is a certain resemblance,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “I’m informed that you, too, bear a family resemblance?”

Ron didn't have a chance to do more than glower before a loud thundering from the direction of the main door distracted both he and Robin from what looked to be a beautiful mutual dislike. “Hagrid, I should think,” Severus said dryly, going to answer the door..

“Hagrid’s coming?” Harriet asked in surprise.

“Yeah,” Robin declared with a grin, following his father to the door.

“I thought no one was meant to know he existed?” Ron hissed, perhaps a little louder than was strictly necessary, all whilst jabbing a finger at Robin. “How come Hagrid knows about him?”

Hagrid certainly heard him, although Harriet would have been surprised if Severus and Robin hadn’t too, though their faces showed no sign of it.. “Well, now, It’d have been cruel to keep the lad all cooped up all summer,” the half-giant informed the redhead, a twinkle in his dark eyes. “Robin and I ‘ave ‘ad all kinds of capers when you lot all go home for the holidays.” He ruffled Robin’s silky hair. “Here, lad,” he said, handing off a bulky, clumsily wrapped package.

“Thanks, Hagrid,” Robin said with a lopsided smile. Harriet didn’t expect the sudden surge of jealously that rose in her. Robin… he was hers. He was supposed to be hers. Severus: well, he was Robin’s dad. She could hardly begrudge a father’s place, but she’d felt like Robin’s was hers alone in the magical world; that she didn’t have to share him. And with Hagrid… Hagrid who’d been her very first introduction to wizardry, in that hut on the rock, Hagrid and his pink umbrella.

Obviously, she knew it was different. You couldn’t compare the relationship she had with Robin to one with Hagrid- or she most certainly hoped not. The unfortunate mental image alone was enough to make her wince. But she still somehow felt cheated, on both fronts.

“I didn’t know that you knew Robin, Hagrid,” she said softly. tucking herself close to Robin’s side.

“Aye, known ‘im since he were a bairn,” Hagrid said cheerfully, apparently completely missing the tension. “Showed ‘im all kinds of stuff.”

“Fire crabs are still not acceptable playthings for a five year old, Hagrid,” Severus said dryly, handing the gamekeeper a rather sizeable glass of firewhiskey.

“Well, th’ burns healed up well enough. You couldn’t even see them a couple of weeks later.” He ruffled a big hand through Robin’s hair again.

Severus just sighed, a long suffering sigh. “You three miscreants, a drink?” he asked. “I’m not giving you alcohol on school grounds, but there’s butterbeer and juice on the sideboard over there. It’ll be about half an hour until our dinner is ready. Please excuse me a moment.”

“Nice t’ see you, Ron, ‘Mione, Harriet,” Hagrid said, clapping Hermione so hard on the back that she almost stumbled.

“You too, Hagrid,” she said with a smile, going to perch on the sofa next to the gamekeeper. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“Always have Christmas Eve dinner with the Professor,” Hagrid said. “And Robin, o’course.”

Harriet went to stand by the sideboard, picking up a glass and reaching for the pitcher of butterbeer. Robin wrapped an arm around her waist again. “You look beautiful,” he murmured.

“Thanks,” she answered shortly.

“What’s wrong, Harriet?” he asked softly.

“Nothing,” she lied, pouring herself a drink. “Hermione, Ron, what would you like?” she called.

“Butterbeer, mate, unless you find the booze,” Ron responded.

“Butterbeer would be great, thanks,” Hermione called. Harriet poured them, and shook free of Robin to hand the drinks to her friends.

“So,” she asked, “What animals have you got in at the moment, Hagrid?”

Hagrid’s face lit up. “Ooh, you should come down to see,” he replied. “I’ve an orphaned unicorn foal- she’s a right lovely creature, though you can’t get too close just yet- she’s a bit skittish, like.”

“I’d love to meet a unicorn,” Robin said wistfully. He’d settled on the floor near the fireplace. Harriet was trying not to look at him, but she could feel his eyes on her, unwavering.

“Maybe you could,” Hermione suggested. “After all, there’s barely anyone around at the moment. Perhaps if you used Harriet’s invisibility cloak…”

Severus chose that exact moment to come back into the living room and Hermione clapped her hand over her mouth, realising that she’d just given away the existence of the item that had kept Snape from finding them on so many nocturnal wanders.

“That may be possible,” Severus said mildly. “So long as the creature isn’t visible from the castle.”

“She’s out on t’other side of my hut,” Hagrid assured him. “No way any o’ the kids’d see him.”

Harriet said nothing. After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Robin stood. “Hey, Harriet, would you help me bring the presents out? The poor tree looks really lonely.”

“Um, okay?” she replied, slowly standing and leaving her barely-touched drink on the table. He took her hand and led her into his bedroom.

“Kitten, what’s the matter?” he asked quietly, looking down at her. She didn’t meet his gaze. Instead, she caught one of his model birds, stroking it’s painted wings. They’d spent an afternoon with him naming each of the birds for her: this one was a swallow, all black and white and pointed. When she didn’t answer, he started to guess. “Is it having your friends here?” he asked. “Are you nervous? My dad’s promised to be on his best behaviour, and not shout at them.”

“It’s nothing, okay?” she said flatly.

His fingers brushed her cheek. “I know you better than that,” he told her. “Just tell me, kitten. Are you ill? Have I done something to offend you?”

She nibbled her lower lip. “I… just didn’t realise that you knew Hagrid,” she said.

“I’ve known him for as long as I can remember. He looked after me a lot, when I was a kid staying here. Why, don’t you like Hagrid?”

“That’s just it,” she burst out, a little louder than she’d intended. “Hagrid was the first wizard I met! Well, I suppose he’s not really a wizard, but…”

“But the pink umbrella,” Robin supplied with a little smile.

Harriet nodded. “Yeah,” she said. she let the swallow go, watching it spring up to join its avian companions. “I suppose… I’m just used to Hagrid kind of being mine, you know? And you being mine, too…” She paused a moment. “I just thought that the amount of time I’ve spent with Hagrid, and he never mentioned you. It feels like everyone was keeping a big secret from me.”

“He was keeping a secret,” Robin pointed out gently. “So was dad, and Dumbledore… but they weren’t keeping it from you. They were keeping it from everyone. I thought you realised that.”

“I did,” Harriet said. “Well, I thought I did. I guess, I’d just never realised that you’d know other people in the magical world. I thought I was special.”

“Oh, Harriet, you are special,” he breathed, pulling her into an embrace and kissing the top of her head. “You’re my Harriet, you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.”

“That can’t be true,” she countered.

“It is,” he said flatly, with no room for discussion. “Yes, I’m friends with Hagrid- he’s like a particularly weird uncle, I suppose. But you’re my… my… well, my girlfriend. But that doesn’t seem a good enough word, even though we haven’t known each other all that long.” He smiled down at her, one side of his mouth higher than the other, giving him an odd, slightly dopey look. “I hope we’re together a very long time, Harriet,” he finally finished.

“So do I,” she agreed.

“Good,” he said. “Now, I think we should probably get the presents before everyone starts to think we’ve run off to fuck in a corner somewhere.”

“I don’t think of it as fucking,” she informed him as he handed her a big box from the cupboard in the hall, and piled a smaller ones on top of it.

“Nor do I,” he replied matter-of-factly, “though I have with everyone else I’ve ever slept with.”

Harriet shuffled from foot to foot, careful not to upset her pile of presents. She didn’t really like thinking of the other girls Robin had been with: she knew, of course, that there had been many. She just preferred to conveniently forget that Robin had done all this so many times before. Her innocence felt an inadequacy.

“Robin, Harriet,” Severus called from the living room, “We’re about to have dinner.”

“Coming, dad,” Robin shouted back. He grinned at Harriet from behind his own armful of brightly-wrapped packages. “All okay now?” he asked.

She nodded with a little smile that didn’t quite manage to cover the fact that she was still nervous.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Oooh, duck,” Hermione said as Severus levitated it to the table, their soup bowls cleared away. “I love duck.”

“Robin always insists on shooting Christmas Eve dinner,” Severus said dryly. “There aren’t a great many turkeys running wild in the Lake district, so it’s always duck or goose.” He muttered a spell, and the three clustered birds began carving themselves, the meat falling away in perfect slices. Robin tucked Harriet’s hand in his beneath the table.

“Shooting dinner?” Ron asked with a frown. Harriet was a bit surprised too- did that mean Robin hunted? How had she not known that Robin hunted? She tried to imagine him kitted up in a  tweed jacket and a hunting rifle, but the mental image just made her have to suppress a snort of laughter.

“I hunt,” Robin informed the readhead. “The muggle way, with guns. I have a friend who has an uncle with a good shoot near Kendal. I’ve been hunting since I was twelve.”

“What’re guns?” Ron hissed to Harriet.

“Erm, a muggle weapon,” she said. “It shoots bullets- pellets of metal- at high speed, to kill stuff.”

“Sounds barbaric.” Ron shuddered. “I think I prefer spell slaughter,” he said.

Robin laughed. “I’m good,” he said. “Not to boast, but I am. It’s quick, just like a spell. It’s no more painful for the animal. And rather more fun for the person doing the hunting.”

“Fun?” Ron echoed blankly.

“Yeah. It’s about being outside, away from all the people, thinking like the animal… it’s relaxing. And it feels like an achievement, when you bring in plenty of game.”

Ron still looked slightly shocked, but Hermione didn’t give him the chance to say anything. “Do you just shoot duck?” she asked.

Robin spooned some stuffing onto his plate. “No. It is mostly duck, but goose and pheasant too, and venison. I’ve brought down two wild boar.”

“An’ a rogue centaur,” Hagrid pointed out.

Robin wrinkled his nose. “I prefer not to think about that one,” he said. “That wasn’t for sport. It was just horrible.”

Ron, Hermione and Harriet couldn’t let that one go. “You shot a centaur? ” Harriet asked incredulously.

It was Hagrid who answered. “Aye, he did, four year back. Poor creature was suffering moon sickness- worst I’ve ever known. They lose all sense of themselves, go wild. This one… Larrent, he was called, he started killing off others in the herd, quiet like, at least at first. Then when the madness really took hold… well, no one could get near him without risk of death. Robin took him down clean like, just one shot. He didn’t feel it… and it probably saved the rest of the herd.”

“It was still awful,” Robin said. “Can we talk about something else, please?”

“Pass the roast potatoes please, Ronald,” Severus requested, his use of Ron’s first name sounding alien from his lips, probably made stranger by the fact that he used the full form. Usually it was only Hermione who used it, and only when Ron was being particularly idiotic.

“You okay?” Harriet asked Robin under her breath as she passed the dish of carrots. Severus had laid on a full Christmas dinner to rival the one that would be served in the great hall tomorrow, down to the tiny sausages wrapped in streaky bacon.

“Yeah, it’s fine,” Robin assured her with a smile, tipping his head down to be close to hers. “It doesn’t bother you, does it, that I hunt?”

Harriet shrugged. “I’m kind of surprised,” she admitted. “But I don’t have a problem with it. I’m willing to eat meat: I know it comes from somewhere.” She accepted the plate of duck from Ron: whatever spell Severus had used, it was quite spectacular, and she imagined that Mrs. Weasley would appreciate knowing it. The meat was perfectly cut into neat slices, and the bones had vanished somewhere. Hagrid had most of a bird to himself, his plate piled into a veritable mountain of food which he ate with some gusto.

The meal was good; Harriet was reasonably sure that Severus had been the one cooking, and not the house elves. The preparations of potions and food were not so very different, he’d pointed out to her once- at the lower levels of achievement, one only needed to be able to follow instructions well, and at the higher, you needed creativity, flair and an innate understanding of the way your ingredients would work together.

Ron had turned himself towards Hagrid, but both were quiet, concentrating on their plates of food. Hermione and Severus, though, seemed to be in animated conversation, about books, of course.

“Oh, I’d simply love to get my hands on a copy of that!” Hermione gushed. “But it’s been so hard to get: they published such a small run… And it’s beyond the scope of the library, of course.”

“You are welcome to borrow mine,” Severus replied solicitously. “I believe that the second volume may be in storage, but I’m reasonably certain that I can look out the first for you when we have finished our dinner.”

Harriet turned to Robin instead, realising that she would be completely out of her depth in whatever Severus and Hermione were wont to discuss. “So,” she asked, “fire crabs when you were five?”

Robin grinned. “Yeah. I can’t really remember much about it: probably a good thing because I do remember my hands hurting quite a bit from the burns. I reckon i’d have been safer with a puffskein. Hagrid… didn’t seem to have much concept of the age-appropriateness of creatures.”

“He still doesn’t,” Harriet confided. “Have you ever met the Blast Ended Skrewts?”

Robin’s black eyes widened. “No, and I think it’s probably best I don’t, with a name like that!”

Their conversation was cut short when Severus, without taking his eyes from his plate, said warningly, “Ronald, if you feed the cat from the table, I shall cut out your heart with a spoon.”

Everyone else fixed their gaze on Ron, of course, who guiltily pulled his hand back up from his side, popping a morsel of meat into his mouth. A disappointed Sheba slunk out from under the table.“A… a spoon?” Ron asked, puzzled and not a little scared. “Why?”

Hermione’s shoulders were shaking in silent laughter. “Because it’s dull.” Severus said, his face deadpan.

“It’ll hurt more, you twit” Robin chimed in with a chuckle.

Harriet, Hagrid and Ron looked at each other in bewilderment, Ron eyeing Severus’ spoon with no little consternation. “It’s okay,” Hermione said when she’d caught her breath. “It’s a line from a film, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves . He won’t really take out your heart, Ron.”

“It’s tempting,” Severus said. “I’m sure I can find uses for a human heart in some potion or other…”

Ron visibly blanched. “Don’ worry, Ron,” Hagrid assured the readhead, though he was grinning too, his mouth a curve of red beneath his bushy beard. “Th’ Professor’s just teasin’, like.”

“I have a very dark sense of humour,” Severus admitted, going back to his dinner. “I’m reasonably certain that removing your heart with a spoon would be rather more effort than it’s worth. Do refrain from feeding Sheba from your plate, nevertheless. She doesn’t hunt if she’s overfed, and mice are truly terrible creatures to have around potions ingredients.”

Ron nervously went back to his own dinner. Harriet smiled when Robin stroked her palm with his thumb, using only his fork to feed himself, leaving a hand free to pet her.

He was… careful with her that evening. Careful was the best word Harriet could think to describe it. Solicitous, perhaps. Her glass was always full at the dinner table,and he made sure she’d had as much as she wanted to eat. It was the little touches she appreciated most: whilst he spoke easily to the others around the table, he often held her hand under the cover of the tablecloth. He and Hermione got on well enough, but Ron apparently couldn’t help an occasional little sneer when Robin spoke. As soon as it became apparent that Robin didn’t play quidditch, nor know enough of the game to support a team, their topics of shared conversation dwindled to near nothing. No matter how much Harriet feared that she had little to talk about with Robin, at least they found things. It hadn’t really occurred to her just how insular Ron’s interests had become. If they hadn’t been friends for so long, would they have any topics in common, she wondered?

Once they were all thoroughly stuffed, and starting to feel sleepy, Severus banished the dishes, waving away Hermione’s offers to help clear away. “There’s no need,” he said. “You are a guest, it is your job only to enjoy the hospitality on offer. Perhaps, instead, we should retire to more comfortable seating? Hermione, perhaps you’d like to come and see if we can find that book for you?”

“Ooh, yes,” Hermione said, leaping to her feet, post-meal lethargy all but forgotten.

Severus rose rather more sedately. “Very well. Come, I believe it’s in my study.” Harriet hadn’t even realised he had a study- the books lining the far wall of the living room seemed more than enough.

“Well, just us lot, then,” Hagrid said, rising out of his chair with a groan (from both the gamekeeper and the chair) in order to relocate to the sofa he’d inhabited before. “Now, I can’t give Hermione her present, since she’s off gallivantin’ with the Professor, but you two, you should find somethin’ under the tree for you. Couldn’t give Robin’s to the house elves, like, which is why he got his earlier. Most of ‘em don’t know he exists.”

Ron shifted uncomfortably when Harriet jumped up to fetch the presents from under the tree. It was easy to tell the ones Hagrid had sent- they looked like they’d been slightly chewed by Fang, and quite possibly wrapped by the dog too. She pulled the present she’d bought for Hagrid out of the pile too- a funny little picture of a dragon that reminded her strongly of Norbert (or Norberta- Harriet had realised that, oddly, she had some similarity with the dragon). She tossed one of Hagrid’s packages to Ron and left the other on the table for Hermione. Robin had the slightly bigger package Hagrid had handed off earlier.

He had only peeled off a little of the crinkled paper when he laughed aloud. “Is this what I think it is, Hagrid?” he asked.

“Thought you might have grown out of t’other one,” Hagrid said with a grin that split his bearded face.

“Well, yes… I think I was about ten when you gave me that one,” Robin pointed out. He finished unwrapping his gift, which appeared to be a mass of brownish knitting. He held it up for inspection, trying to suppress his giggles.”

“Oh, Merlin, another one?” Severus asked sardonically from the doorway. He ushered a flushed Hermione into the room before him, a thick book cradled to her chest. Harriet just blinked at the contents of Robin’s present, trying to make sense of it. Some kind of…. garment? The sleeves were wide and droopy, and there was an inexplicable large red splodge knitted in. Harriet squinted at the brown mass, unsure.

“Erm… is that… some kind of robin costume?” Ron asked with an grimace.

“Well pyjamas, like,” Hagrid said, his cheeks pink. He rubbed the back of his neck. “On account of him being Robin, like…”

“Thank you, Hagrid,” Robin said with mock seriousness, rising to give the gamekeeper a peck on the cheek. “It’s a lovely present. And here is mine to you.”

The elves had somehow managed to ensure that all the  presents between those at the gathering were there. Apparently they knew more about the movements of their charges in the castle than the residents knew themselves, since Harriet and Hermione hadn’t known to expect Hagrid, and yet their gifts to him waited beneath the tree. There was none from Ron, but that at least explained the slightly uncomfortable look on his face. He’d also sent nothing for Severus, whereas Hermione had at least thought to provide a little gift of a couple of fine white handkerchiefs spell-monogrammed with a double ‘S’ in fine black thread. She’d fretted that it wasn’t a very good gift, and wished that she could get something better, but as the invitation had been on such short notice, she hadn’t had time.

Whilst everyone was distracted by their gifts, Robin settled next to Harriet, his arm around her shoulder. Quietly, he placed a little package in her lap. “For me?” she asked.

He nodded. “I hope you like it.”

She slipped her finger beneath the silver wrapping paper to unwrap it. She was left with a little black velvet pouch. Swallowing the lump that was suddenly in her throat, she tipped it up, catching the contents in her hand.

White metal pooled in her palm, cold as water against her skin. Carefully, she picked it up, revealing a silver bracelet. Dangling from one of the links was a tiny silver broomstick. “It’s a charm bracelet,” he explained. “You can add charms to it- there’s all different ones. Sorry, I couldn’t find a racing broom.”

“Thank you,” she said with a little smile. She pushed the sleeve of her cardigan up a little to bare her wrist, fumbling with the unfamiliar clasp. She could see how it was meant to work, but couldn’t recall a time where she’d ever actually used one.

Robin’s fingers were warm when they brushed against her skin, quickly fastening the bracelet on her wrist. His head was close to hers, and he ducked just a little to catch her mouth in a soft, chaste kiss. “Merry Christmas, Harriet,” he murmured, so low that she wouldn’t have heard him if he hadn’t been close enough that she could feel the puff of his words on her skin.

Both of them were suddenly aware that everyone else in the room had stopped talking: all eyes were on them. Harriet immediately flushed red. Hagrid sniffled a bit. “Yer Mum’d be delighted t’ see you happy like that, Harriet,” he said, and fished for his handkerchief. “She an’ yer Dad used t’ sit like that, close t’ each other.”

Ron made a funny choked noise that could have been a snort of derision, but his reaction was smothered as Severus quickly stood with enough force to knock his armchair back a few inches, the clatter on the stones loud. “Tea, anyone, or coffee?” he asked with forced joviality, and the subject was dropped.

It wasn’t long after that that Hagrid stood and declared that he needed to get going. Robin leaned into Harriet again. “Would you like me to spend the night with you?” he whispered into her ear after tucking a strand of her hair back.

“You’re staying here overnight?” she asked quietly.

“Yeah. I’ll be around until at least tomorrow evening. Nothing exciting going on at home.”

“Then yes, please,” she whispered back, feeling more content than she had in a while. It was easier to forget the troubles of the world when she was with Robin: to put Voldemort and Death Eaters and the strange politics of her wizarding contemporaries aside, even if it was just for an evening. It was easy enough to send Ron and Hermione back to their respective beds quickly, since they were all tired, and the work of a moment to pop back through the floo.

“Forgotten something, Harriet?” Severus asked mildly.

“Yeah. Your son,” she replied.

“Don’t smirk. It doesn’t become you,” Severus informed her with a small smile. “He’ll be back in a moment, I think.” He rose out of his chair, having set his drink to the side. “May I see your gift?” he asked.

She held out her wrist wordlessly, and he gripped it in his long fingers, examining the bracelet. “You can get magical charms,” he informed her. “Protection spells, tracking spells, I believe I’ve even heard of communication charms being placed in jewelry.”

“Erm, why would I want a tracking spell?” she wanted to know. “I don’t lose things that much…”

“It’s an easy way to track the wearer, not necessarily the bracelet itself,” he replied smoothly, letting her pull her hand back. “It’s still frequently used to keep an eye on children, and sometimes on wives, in case they should fall into trouble, and require assistance.”

“More like so they don’t run off,” Harriet riposted, well able to imagine the ulterior motive. Just a few short months ago, she’d never really thought about the way witches were treated, but now it was all too clear to her. Certainly, a lot had changed since last Christmas.

“Mmm, “ Severus agreed, returning to his drink. Robin reappeared, with pyjamas (thankfully not avian-themed) and a change of clothes in his arms- he’s had to pop back through the fireplace with clothes in disarray one morning to find his father preparing for the day, and it had been all too clear what he’d been up to. He’d learnt his lesson.

“Goodnight, lovebirds,” Severus said with far more bonhomie than he usually displayed. Perhaps he’d had a little too much wine with dinner; perhaps even he was touched with a semblance of Christmas spirit when it wasn’t shoved in his face in all its bauble-bedecked glory by Albus Dumbledore.

“Night, Dad,” Robin said, the good feeling apparently extending enough to cause him to peck his father on the cheek. Severus was clearly less than impressed, sending them off with an imperious wave of his hand.

As soon as Robin followed her through the fireplace, Harriet reached up to twine her arms around his neck, the links of the bracelet softly clinking, cool against his neck. She stood on tiptoe to kiss him with some passion. There were times she was grateful that he was a squib: he wasn’t exposed to the expectations of the wizarding world. He was unlikely to want to track her through her jewelry, and she appreciated not having to second guess his gift.

He moaned appreciatively against her lips. “You taste of Christmas pudding,” he mumbled.

“You taste of wine. Nowhere near so nice.”

“Sorry,” he gasped as she tugged the hem of his forest-green shirt from his belt, creeping her hands up the smooth flesh of his back. “Harriet… Kitten… are you, well, healed enough?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she breathed. She’d endured three more excruciatingly embarrassing trips to Severus so he could reapply the ointment, but it had removed the sharp pain she’d lived with whenever she’d washed herself, or sat on her broom, so she reasoned that the humiliation that came with having to spread her legs was probably worth it. Severus certainly never said or did anything to make her feel that she was a nuisance. She was still relieved when he declared her all healed up a week ago.

Robin sank to his knees in front of her, right there on the hearth rug, his hands questing beneath her skirt. He growled in frustration at her tights being in the way, tugging them impatiently down her legs. She had to brace herself against his shoulders as he pulled them off first one foot, then the other.

No matter how many times he’d touched her already, she still felt the odd fluttering in her chest when he brushed his fingers against her pussy. She gasped sharply, and he looked up in concern. “No, it’s okay,” she assured him. “It doesn’t hurt.”

“Good,” he replied with a wolfish grin, gently shoving her back onto the sofa and splitting her legs wide with his shoulders. He had to push her skirt well up to her waist , but wasted no time in burying his head between her thighs instead. She scrabbled, grasped a fistful of his hair. She hadn’t known just how much she’d missed this until now.

Perhaps the wizarding hormones were finally catching up to her, she mused absently, as she involuntarily arched her hips up towards him.



Chapter Text

Christmas day was quiet at Hogwarts. There were very few students staying this year: only Harriet, Hermione and Ron, a pair of third years from Gryffindor, and three Ravenclaws. Harriet received her typical Weasley jumper, in pale pink this year, alongside the normal gifts of sweets and broomstick polish and the occasional book from her friends. One gift, however, was firmly shut away in her desk.

She certainly hadn’t expected a present from Malfoy. She hadn’t thought to buy him anything: whilst they were on amicable terms this year, it hadn’t entered her mind. Luckily, she was alone when opening her presents; Ron and Hermione would certainly have made a fuss of the glittering diamond bracelet, necklace and earrings. Harriet couldn’t figure out what she should do with them, so she shut them away in her bottom desk drawer: out of sight, out of mind. Other than that disconcerting discovery in her pile of gifts, the day, and those following, passed peacefully, with the only fly in the ointment being Hermione’s occasional reminders to do yet more work. Even Ron didn’t need much reminding these days, bogged down as he was with extra work to ensure he knew everything possible for his auror testing at the end of April.

Not even the Christmas holiday was excuse enough for Severus to allow Harriet time off from her occlumency lessons, however. “You will find it harder without regular practice,” he insisted, though she was sure he simply hadn’t had enough students to torture of late, and relished the excuse torment her.

Occlumency lessons really weren’t so bad; rationally, she knew this. Long gone were the days of Snape looming over her as he dug out the most painful memories he could find until she ended up on the hard stone floor of his classroom. Now, she would be comfortably ensconced in his sitting room, and there would be a cup of tea and probably cake to follow. The fact, remained, however, that he was still trying to root through her brain. It was never comfortable.

She’d found, though, that memories of Dudley shoving her into a patch of prickly briars, or of Uncle Vernon locking her in the cupboard for the first time when she was four, just weren’t so painful anymore. She was most afraid of him seeing her in a compromising situation with Robin , and he carefully avoided hose memories, immediately moving onto something else as soon as his son made an appearance in her thoughts… and that was when he could get through. Sometime in October, they’d had the first session where she’d completely kept him out, and since then, he times where he broke through were less and less common.

“I have a change of plan for us,” Severus informed her when she presented herself for his lesson, having just lost an epic game of chess to Ron. She groaned and chucked herself onto the sofa. He eyed her harshly. “Do not flop about so, Harriet,” he groused. “Now, where is Robin? He said he’d be here…”

“Robin?” she asked, puzzled. She’d thought he was at home, in Manchester.

“Yes…” Severus said absently, reaching for the floo powder. He threw in a pinch and shoved his head into the harmless green flames.

“Sorry,” Robin said, coming through seconds after Severus had removed his head. “I got distracted.” He kissed Harriet on her forehead as greeting before sprawling across most of the sofa.

“Not that I mind seeing you,” Harriet said, “but what’s going on? Are we having an occlumency lesson or not?”

Severus folded himself down into his chair. “In a way,” he granted. “Harriet, you’re passable at shielding, but your shields look just like that- it’s clear that you are hiding something. You need to be able to convince your attacker that they have unfettered access to your mind. At the moment, you present as a glass wall- the intrusion just slides off.”

“I’m trying, okay?” she snapped.

“I am aware of that,” he replied smoothly, doing his best not to react to her moodiness. “I am also aware that you have nothing to which to compare. You have never practiced legilimency; you have no basis. Now, obviously, I would prefer you not have access to my mind, but short of practicing on a muggle, a squib has a reasonably unprotected mind, with organic thought processes.”

Harriet glanced sideways at Robin, lounging across the sofa. He looked happy enough, she reasoned. Happy enough to have her digging about in his mind, if she even managed. Severus, though, could see the tension in the young man’s shoulders. He had the prior knowledge of Robin’s explosive reaction when Severus had first broached the idea. Robin was (quite understandably) concerned that Harriet would see something that would upset her. He wasn’t happy about having anyone ‘dig through his mind’, he was just doing his best to appear relaxed for Harriet’s sake. Severus internalised a sigh: the boy was far too attached. It would all come to grief, he was sure.

“So,” Harriet said slowly, “You want me to learn legilimency? Using Robin as some kind of test subject?”

“That is the idea,” Severus admitted. “Most magical people have slight protections in place anyway… otherwise life for a natural legilimens would be intolerable. Muggle minds are completely unprotected… and squibs fall somewhere between. If you were to aim to project the sort of images and thoughts you get from Robin, you’d just be considered a poor occlumens, rather than a passable one who can’t hide their shields.

“And… you’re okay with that?” Harriet asked Robin. “ I mean, having someone in your brain… it’s not comfortable.” She knew that that well enough, she groused silently. She’d had Severus in there enough times to be very familiar with the sensation.

He smiled at her. “I’m okay with it,” he said.

“Erm, okay… But I don’t know what to do.”

Severus lazily waved his wand, extinguishing most of the lamps, leaving the room in half- light. “You know the spell. It’s a simple one to perform;the difficult aspect is making sense of what you see. You may just experience colours at first, but they should resolve reasonably quickly, since Robin has too little magical training to ground him.”

Harriet swallowed nervously. It felt wrong to raise her wand to Robin, somehow. Sometimes she could almost forget he was a squib, but this wasn’t one of those times. He’d closed his eyes, but she could see the flutter of his eyelids. He looked… completely defenceless. Swallowing again, she summoned up her courage. “Legilimens,” she said as firmly as she could.

She hadn’t expected it to work. New spells rarely worked first time for her. She wasn’t Hermione, after all. The first thing she was aware of was the noise: like a lifetime of sound all at once. Then the swirl of colours: not a rainbow of colours, but a veritable spectrum, all riotously clashing against one another. In panic, she slammed up all her own occlumentic shields, and everything faded. It was only then that she realised that Robin’s face was screwed up, his head in his hands. “God, that hurts,” he ground out.

Severus merely uncorked a potion vial next to him on the table and handed it over. Robin tipped it down without complaint. “Again, Harriet,” Severus said softly when the pinched look on Robin’s face had mostly gone.

“What?” she asked plaintively. “No! I… I hurt him! I’m not doing it again.”

“Again,” Severus pressed. Harriet shook her head.

Robin slipped his hand around hers and squeezed. “It’s okay,” he murmured. “I knew it would probably hurt. It’s just one of the things about being a squib- no defences.”

“No,” she repeated. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

Robin shook his head sadly. “From what I know, kitten, you being able to do this might be the difference between life and death for you. Don’t you think I’d rather have a little pain now?”

She wavered, but held firm. “I can shield myself. That must be enough.” She looked to Severus for confirmation.

“The Dark Lord is one of the best legilimens there is,” Severus informed her gravely. “Dumbledore is the only wizard I know who can match him. If he knows, or even suspects, that you are shielding, Harriet, he will push harder, and he will break your shields. He will most likely also break your sanity.”

Harriet got up and started to pace around the room. “Why is it always me?” she complained. “It’s always up to me!”

“Life is unfair, I can’t deny that,” Severus agreed shortly. “But no one ever promised me, or you, different. We’ve had this discussion before, Harriet. Now, sit down, and do your duty.”

“Dad,” Robin said warningly before Harriet could snap at Severus. “You’re not exactly helping.” He rose, and stepped in front of Harriet, gripping her upper arms firmly to stop her. “Come on, kitten,” he beseeched softly. “Let’s get this over with, okay?”

“It’s not okay!” she snapped. “It’s not fair. I’m no good at spells first time round, I shouldn’t be practicing on a human!”

“Would you prefer to read the cat’s mind?” Severus drawled, inspecting his fingernails. “I assure you, it’s hardly entertaining.”

She whirled to face him, stabbing her finger at him. “It never hurt like that when you did it to me!” she accused.

Severus didn’t react to her anger, he didn’t even raise his voice or gaze. “You have magical defences. Quite aside from that fact, I am a practiced legilimens. I wa not aiming to cause you pain, so I did not. Finesse is required for legilimency, and finesse, you lack.”

“Then why’d you let me do it?” she demanded, shaking off Robin’s calming hand. “Why’d you let me hurt him? He’s your son, you’re supposed to love him!”

“Harriet,” Robin said warningly.

That outburst, apparently, was enough to make Severus react. He stood, slowly strode across the room. Loomed over the defiant Harriet, looking down at her. She craned her neck up to glare at him stubbornly. “Firstly,” he said, his silky voice low, dangerous, “you cannot begin to understand my feelings towards my son. His very existence has pulled me from the brink of insanity and prevented me from suicide on too many occasions to count.” The light from the remaining candles flickered over his face in a menacing dance, highlighting the shallow cast of his skin, the darkness of the circles around his eyes. His eyes themselves were bottomless, pupil-less in the poor light. “I cannot number the nights I have sat with a bottle of poison before me, only keeping from drinking it because I know that he needs me. Furthermore,” he hissed, “your mastery of this skill may ensure your continued life. If you are successful in the endeavour you have been groomed for these past seven years, you will ensure the lives of so many in our world. I have attempted allowances for you, Miss Potter. I have given due consideration to your sadly lacking upbringing, to your perfectly understandable feelings about your change in gender identity. But we run short on time. Albus Dumbledore will be lucky to live to see next Christmas, and once he is gone, the Dark Lord will undoubtedly strike. We must prepare. We must all prepare. It is why Longbottom spends almost every evening with Albus and Minerva, trying to become what is necessary. It is why I am pouring my magic into keeping Albus alive and functional. It is why Robin is agreeing to do this for you, knowing that it will cause him pain, and that his every thought and memory will be laid bare to your eyes. Given all that, I think you should sit down and try again.”

Through his monologue, Severus’ voice never reached above a silken drawl. Harriet had started pulling into herself, trying to make herself even smaller. She realised with a shot of embarrassment that a tear had escaped her eye, then another, dripping down her cheek. With exquisite gentleness, Severus cupped her face in his hands, brushing away her tears with his thumbs. “Are you ready to try again?” he asked, the hard edge gone from his voice. She sniffled and nodded.

“Good girl,” he soothed. “It is difficult, Harriet… it is very upsetting to hurt those we love for the greater good. But if the Dark Lord attempts to enter your mind and senses that you are hiding something, he will break you. The best course open to us is to make it appear that you have no training. It will lure him to false security.”

She nodded morosely. “I know,” she admitted.

“Yes. You’re not stupid… usually,” Severus granted. “Now, come, have something to drink. The headache remedy should dull the pain for Robin, and it will not be so bad. A little harder for you, because it may muddle his thoughts, but that’s preferable to the pain for him, don’t you agree?” She let him guide her back to the sofa, his arm around her shoulders, and hand her a glass of cold pumpkin juice.

She gulped it gratefully. Robin perched next to her, clearly still worried she may explode in anger. “Is it true?” she asked. “About Neville, and about Dumbledore dying?”

“It is,” Severus told her with an affirmatory inclination of his head.

Harriet sighed deeply. Getting older didn’t make life any easier, she decided. “Ready?” she asked Robin.

“Yeah,” he replied grimly. Even she could see the whiteness of his knuckles this time.

Severus ran a potion-stained hand softly over Robin’s head. “The potion will dull the pain, Robin, but the sensation will still be less than pleasant. I would equate it to having one’s brain stirred with a stick.. Try to focus on a specific memory, it will make it a bit quicker.”

Once more, Harriet cast the spell, her voice wavering just a little. She braced herself for the sudden onslaught of sensory experience. It faded after only a few seconds this time, the sound resolving to a high childish laugh, and the swirling colours to white: white and blue and a flash of black. A snowman, she realised; a young Robin in a blue coat, building a snowman. The black was Severus crouching beside him, then lifting him to shove the carrot-nose firmly on.

Memories change fast. A smiling woman appeared, and then the memory snapped away to a little living room, the woman lying sprawled across the sofa, and a teenaged Robin desperately shaking her. Harriet could feel Robin’s distress at the memory, felt the pull as he dragged it away from her.

Instead, she saw herself, her hair too long and unruly, dressed in baggy, too large boy’s clothes, just as he’d first seen her. At least she thought it was her- even though she looked drowned in her clothes and utterly bewildered, she was beautiful in this memory, not quite the Harriet she saw in the mirror. Her eyes were brighter, her skin smoother, and it almost seemed to glow.

Other snippets of her flashed past, too fast for her to figure out when they had occurred. Some seemed to have an odd fuzzy quality to them, only partly formed. At first, she wondered if he was tired or distracted when the events had happened, until she got a good enough look at one. It was her, again, but certainly not her as she’d ever been. Her, wearing a long white dress. She realised with a start that it was a wedding dress. It wasn’t a memory, it was a product of his imagination.

She tried to break free of the endless stream, pulling back, but she realised Severus hadn’t told her how to stop. She tried the same as last time, raising her own protections, but it didn’t work.

It was a daydream memory that finally jolted her enough to escape. Her, again, or at least she thought it was her. A dark-haired girl, thrown across Robin’s knee, face down. Her skin was pale… well, most of it was. Her bottom was blushing pink. She could do nothing but watch as he smacked it. It was that moment of panic that lent enough clarity of thought to let her cry out “finite incantatem!”

The first real thing she was aware of was Robin swearing. “Fuck, Harriet, I’m sorry. I never meant for you to see that.”

She shook her head in confusion, trying to make sense of it. “I… I think I should go,” she muttered, springing up to fumble for the floo powder pot.

“What did you see?” Severus asked. His brows were drawn down close to each other.

She didn’t answer, but Robin did. “Everything,” he said morosely. Harriet managed to get the jar open and flung the powder into the fire and demanded it take her to her own room.

She crawled onto her bed, curling up against the pillows in a tight ball. She couldn’t make sense of the images she’d seen. Had that been her, draped across his lap like that without a stitch on? Maybe it was another girl, one who looked like her? But even so… if he had hit that girl, would he hit her? And the girl in the wedding dress had certainly been her. both images had been strange, fuzzy, almost. They were almost snapshots, with little background, where the clear memories had been filled out, with furniture and weather and glimpses of emotion. She realised the fuzzy ones had been silent, too.

She watched with almost disinterested eyes as her fire emitted Robin from it’s greenish glow. She’d sort of expected it. “Harriet…” he began softly.

“Was that me?” she asked, cutting him off.

He looked utterly deflated. “Yes,” he said. “Harriet, I never meant for you to see…” She ignored him, rolling over to face the wall, pulling a pillow tighter into her. “Kitten…” he pleaded, but she ignored him. He let out a long puff of air, and she heard him go back through the fire.

She was alone with her thoughts for another few minutes. “Leave me alone, Robin,” she cried when she heard the crackling flare of an incoming floo again.

“Did you know,” Severus asked quietly, “that it is painful for Robin to use the floo?”

She clutched her pillow. She wanted to ignore him, but she couldn’t pass up that opening. “What?” she asked grumpily.

“Floo powder prevents a fire from burning the traveller, but it does not prevent a flame being hot.” The edge of the bed sank as Severus sat on it. “Most wizards and witches create a cooling spell instinctively, without being taught. The few that can’t… they learn fast. Robin, however… he does not, even though he has some magical power, and it is basic and instinctual magic. I don’t know why, but he feels a momentary burn each time, although it leaves no injury. You will never find Robin making a floo call- the pain is too much to stand for more than the few seconds it takes to travel.”

Harriet pulled herself up to a sitting position, hugging her knees to her chest. “Why are you telling me this?” she asked. “To make me feel guilty because he comes through the floo to see me?”

“No,” Severus replied. “I am explaining this to you to remind you that he is not like you. He is not like me. There are many instances where he cannot interact with our world as we are able to do.”

Harriet picked at a thread on her scarlet quilt. “I know,” she said.

“Do you really?” asked Severus softly. “He had no power over what he was showing you, Harriet. I admit, I had not expected you to manage legilimency so well, considering the problems you have had with occlumency. What you saw, Harriet, he didn’t want you to see.”

“And you know what I saw, did you?” she groused.

“He tried to show you a memory from his childhood, a harmless, happy one of building a snowman, but became distracted. He was unable to control the flow of memory- your will took hold. I believe you witnessed the death of his mother, some memories of yourself, and some fantasies of his. But, Harriet, I stress that he had no control over this. It was your magic that drew his thoughts out.”

“So what, you’re saying it’s my fault?” she questioned sharply.

“There is no fault to give,” Severus corrected. “it is not fault, just a fact of life. Won’t you at least speak to him?”

She bit her lip and stared down at her socked feet. “Harriet?” Severus asked with a sigh. He was waiting for an answer, and Severus wasn’t the type to go without an answer he demanded. He was being nice Severus now, but she knew he could turn to scary Snape in a heartbeat if he wanted, and she just didn’t have the energy anymore. He was right, legilimency was hard.

“Fine,” she replied flatly. “I’ll come and speak to him.”

“Good,” Severus said crisply. He rose from the side of her bed and solicitously held out his arm for her to steady herself on as she got up. She ignored it, feeling that she was entitled to some churlishness, but her intentions came to nothing- she tangled her foot in the bedspread and would have landed on the ground if he hadn’t steadied her. “You will find Robin in his bedroom, I believe,” he continued, as if nothing had happened. “I shall be in my laboratory, should you require my assistance.”

True to his word, he vanished into his lab, shutting the door firmly behind him. Harriet dithered in the doorway to Robin’s room, finally pushing the door ajar so she could peer in.

He was slumped on the cushions in front of the hearth, staring into the fire. She wanted nothing so much as to turn and run away, but all that would result in was Severus dragging her back again, most likely. But what should she say? Hey, Robin, why’d you have my wedding dress all picked out when we’ve been together less than six months? Never mind the… other thing.

She might have stood there for most of the night if the door hadn’t given her away, creaking ominously for no apparent reason. Sometimes, the castle seemed to have it’s own ideas about what one should do; it just usually expressed them in moving staircases. Creaking doors, Harriet hadn’t noticed before. Maybe it was just a dungeon draft.

Robin looked round, his face even paler than usual. “Harriet?” he asked quietly, rising gracefully to his feet to face her. Sheba turned her green eyes on Harriet too, giving her the kind of dirty look only a cat could.

“Hey,” Harriet replied, her voice catching. “I… I don’t know what to say.”

“Can we talk about it?” Robin asked hesitantly. He gestured to the fluffy cushions at his feet. She dragged her leaden feet across the floor to sink down onto them, not quite able to meet his over-bright eyes. She tried to tempt Sheba to curl up on her lap instead, woefully unsuccessfully.

At length, Robin said, “I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, I gathered that,” she replied.

“I thought… I thought that I’d be able to keep you where I wanted you. I just wanted to show you something nice, the snowman thing, but it all seemed so much more real . Seeing my mum again, in that memory… it just set off the thought of her dead, and then I just couldn’t control it.”

“I thought you never wanted to hurt me,” she said, her voice cracking  and rising in pitch. She sounded whiny, she thought absently.

“I don’t!” he exclaimed. “Why would you think… oh.” He fell silent. “Dad said that sometimes fantasies, daydreams, can appear as memories. It’s not that I want to hurt you. I love you, I’d never want to hurt you…”

She cut him off. “You were hitting me!” she pointed out in heated tones. “How is that not hurting me?”

He sighed and flopped his head forwards to rest on his arms, crossed over his knees. “Have you ever heard of something called BDSM?” he asked, his voice muffled.

“No,” she said stiffly. “What is it?”

“It’s… it’s kind of a sexual game. It’s kinky. ” He turned his head so he could see her, gauge her reactions. “Erm, it kind of stands for a few different things- bondage, dominance, submission, sadism, masochism..” He didn’t seem encouraged by her scowl. “Look, some people get really into it, it’s a whole culture. But… well… I had a girlfriend once who liked to be tied up, spanked. Nothing too serious, nothing that causes any injury, just a bit of a red bum. I enjoyed doing it. I… I want to do everything with you.” He fell silent for a moment, as if waiting for a response, but it was a response she refused to give. “Harriet… kitten… it’s not something I’d ever do without your consent. Just because my over-sexed brain came up with it doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going to do it.”

“And the wedding dress?”

“I did say I wanted to do everything with you. I’m not… I’m not asking you to marry me. Not now, not yet. I think my dad would probably have some rather choice insults for me if I did. But… I can still hope, can’t I?” He gave her a lopsided smile. “Could we just… pretend it hasn’t happened?”

“I don’t know if I can,” Harriet said slowly. All she could think of was Severus telling her that Narcissa Malfoy was drugged, and remembering Hermione telling her about married witches being essentially nothing but property. But then… she’d looked so beautiful in his memories… Surely, she must mean more to him than property?

Robin flopped his head back down, hiding his face from her. “I’m sorry, Robin,” she whispered. “I… I just need time to think about it. I care about you, very much, but, well, it’s kind of a lot to take in. Just give me some time.”

He didn’t respond. They sat in silence.

Chapter Text

Harriet leaned against the shelving behind her with a sigh as Hermione vanished into the depths of the restricted section. “So,” Hermione’s voice floated from the depths of the stacks, “why aren’t you with your lovely friend tonight? Doesn’t he normally visit on a Wednesday?”

“We kind of had a fight,” Harriet explained, blindly smoothing her fingers along the soft leather spines of the books behind her. “I don’t know if he’ll be here or not.” She wasn't sure if she wanted him to come or not, to be honest.

Hermione’s bushy head peered around the corner of the shelves. She was higher than normal, perched on a library step-stool to reach the upper shelves. “Oh no!” she cried. “What about? He seemed really decent. I liked him.”

“Just… stuff,” Harriet hedged, scuffing her toes along the floor and pretending to be very interested in the books in front of her. “You know.” She pulled a book of the shelf, dislodging a puff of dust. The library house elf must be scared of the restricted section, she mused, and Madam Pince must have been behind with her feather duster. Potyns to Kyll read the title, and she put it back hastily when Hermione vanished again. This section had always sent shivers down her spine, ever since that screaming book...

“I hope Ron didn’t have anything to do with it,” Hermione groused. “I know he’s done nothing but go on about what an idiot Robin is, but he’s just jealous about him taking up your time, and actually being nice. Ron can’t come to terms with the fact that he’s been shown up as a prat, and Robin’s actually a gentleman.”

“Yeah, I know,” Harriet replied distractedly. Another book had caught her eye, up on the top shelf. She stood on tiptoes and reached as high as she could, but she was still inches off. She hadn’t been tall as a boy: as a girl, she had no hope of reaching it. She nibbled her lip: if she used a spell to bring it down, Hermione would most likely hear, and she’d want to know what Harriet had found. Harriet most definitely did not want her friend to ask why she was interested in Magical sexuality , and Hermione would be even more concerned about any interest in the slender book next to it, BDSM and Magical Practice. She’d have to come back later, alone. She quickly looked away from the high shelf as Hermione rounded the corner, her own finds weighing down her arms.

“I’m so pleased that Madam Pince gave me access to the restricted section,” she said. “There’s just so much in here that’s fascinating. I could read all year and still want more time. Of course, now I can use books from Seve… I mean Professor Snape...” Hermione’s cheeks went bright pink, and she ducked her head.

“He’s nicer than he pretends to be,” Harriet said, trying to maintain a semblance of seriousness. She could see why Hermione was embarrassed to be found referring to the black bat of the dungeons with such familiarity, but the blush did seem excessive. If it had been Ron, perhaps… But then, Hermione was odd sometimes.

“Come on,” Hermione said. “It’s not long ‘til curfew, and I need to do rounds.”

The castle was dark and silent when the portrait-door to Harriet’s room swung open to emit… no one. The invisibility cloak-clad Harriet pushed it closed behind her as quietly as she could. She had an appointment with the restricted section, and meeting a teacher in the corridors (Merlin forbid she was caught by Severus!) would delay that somewhat.

The moonlight slanted into the entrance hall, silver arrows of light that all seemed to point directly at Harriet, smothered under the confines of the water-silky cloak. She froze as Mrs. Norris stalked through, her tail snapping after her as she entered the great hall with a plaintive mew, no doubt hunting for Filch. Funny, Harriet thought, that both Filch and Robin loved cats. Sheba, she’d learned, had been Robin’s cat, but he couldn’t find any student housing where he could keep the cat, so she lived with Severus. The latter appreciated a mouser, in any case.

She did feel a little guilty. She’d spent the evening in Gryffindor tower with Hermione and Ron, doing some homework and pratting about with Ron and Seamus when they’d decided to try conjuring fireworks to chase the first years about. When she’d finally returned to her room, via the library with Hermione, there had been a little bunch of daisies on her bed. Though there was no note with them, it was obvious who’d left them. Robin had come after all, but she’d been too embarrassed to go through to Severus’ to see if he was still there. The Marauder’s map, she’d discovered, didn't show teacher's private rooms. Oh well. She was really off on this midnight jaunt for him, she reasoned with herself. After all, it was him who was interested in all this… stuff.

She tiptoed past the door to Hermione’s room, feeling even more vulnerable so near her friend. Only a little further, and she’d be in the library.

Her breath caught when she noticed a dull glow from somewhere in the vicinity of the arithmancy books. Someone else was here! Whoever it was, they were on the other side of the library though… and also out after curfew. They couldn’t turn her in without revealing themselves. She dithered in the doorway. She could go back to her room and try again later, or tomorrow… but she was tired, and also impatient to find out about the contents of those books. She had the cloak, so they wouldn’t see her… She retreated a few steps into the corridor so whoever it was wouldn’t hear her casting a muffling spell on her feet. Now they wouldn’t be able to hear her either. As long as neither of the books screamed… She shook her head, feeling silly. She’d learnt in her trips into the restricted section with Hermione this year that screaming books were relatively rare, and in any case, she certainly wasn’t planning on opening them here. No, she’d just take them back to her room, where they would be able to scream to their little paper-and-ink heart’s content. Almost holding her breath, she carefully crept over to the restricted section. She very delicately stepped over the rope denoting the start of the restricted books. She’d sometimes wondered why on earth there weren’t better protections for this section: true, it was right beside Madam Pince’s desk, but it hadn’t stopped miscreants such as her wandering in at night, not even in first year.

She’d even practiced her wordless summoning spells in advance, wanting to make as little noise as possible. The first book thumped gently into her hand, although it sounded unnaturally loud to her ears.

The faint lamplight of the other occupant had been enough for Harriet to see by: she certainly hadn’t wanted to risk a lumos in the circumstances. But just as she summoned the second book, the light was killed abruptly. Harriet almost gasped, stifling the sound just in time, but she also jumped, causing BDSM and Magical Practice to tumble to the floor with a clatter. She flattened herself back against the shelving, hoping against hope that the light had gone because her night-time wandering companion had gone, or if not, that they’d presume the book had been carelessly replaced and fallen on it’s own. She held her breath and heard footsteps approach. Very slowly, silently, she started to back away down the shelving, trying to distance herself from the book. She couldn’t be seen in the cloak, but if whoever it was brushed against her, they’d know…

A streak of moonlight turned Draco’s platinum hair to molten silver. He unhooked the rope, not cautious of noise as she had been. Kneeling, he picked up the book. His head was dipped, so she couldn’t see his expression as he read the title, but when he looked up, his face showed no surprise or disgust. His grey eyes were clear and level as they swept side to side before him. She took a breath as shallow and silent as she could manage, her lungs screaming for air. Never mind her breathing, surely he could hear her heart pounding furiously.

She only saw it when he reached for it. Her wand. She must have dropped it when she jumped. Draco lit his own wand, examining the shaft in his fingers, turning it over. “Well, well, Harriet,” he said quietly. “I would never have guessed that this was a proclivity of yours.”

How did he know? Her ears pounded to the sound of her own heartbeat. He had her exit blocked, and even if he didn’t he had her wand. He stood with fluid grace and strode forward, one hand before him, grasping. She backed away, stumbled, fell. The cloak fluttered enough for his to catch a glimpse of her hands, out to try to catch her from her fall, and he twitched the cloak off her, lying prone on the floor. “Give me my wand, Malfoy!” she snapped, trying to scramble to her feet. He surprised her by offering it hilt-first, then holding out his hand to help her. She snatched her wand and ignored his hand.

He sighed dramatically and held out the book instead. “Yours, I believe?” he asked.

“How did you know it was me?” Harriet demanded, bundling her cloak in her arms.

“I know what your wand looks like,” he explained. “That, and who else around here has an invisibility cloak?”

She scowled at him as she slipped her wand back into her pocket. “What were you doing here so late?”

“Studying. Unlike you, the rest of us have to put up with dormitories. You try thinking when Blaise is snoring like a thunderstorm.”

“You’re supposed to be a wizard,” she snapped. “Use a silencing charm, don’t go about scaring the living daylights out of the rest of us!”

Draco raised a barely-there eyebrow. “Quite the little firecracker tonight, Harriet,” he said smoothly. “I like a spirited witch. Especially if these-” he gestured to the books in her arms, “are the kind of games you prefer. Spirit makes that kind of thing much more fun.” he reached out a ghostly pale hand to stroke her cheek, but she flinched away. “Oh, Harriet,” he said with a sigh. “Can’t you tell that I would be good to you? Why do you keep resisting?”

Harriet’s brain was whirring in overdrive. Robin, her mind screamed. But another part wondered what if would be like to be with Draco. To have someone who was there . Who she could meet in a dark corner of the library, or behind a suit of armour for a quick snog. Draco must have seen the panicked indecision in her face, because he reached out again, cupping her cheek with smooth, dry fingers. “Did you like my Christmas present, sweet one?” he asked quietly. “Of course, it could not be as beautiful as you.”

Harriet tore away from Draco’s touch with a gasp, dashing past him into the library proper. She clutched her cloak and books to her as she fled, her legs pumping and feet clattering on the stone, the silencing spell broken in her fall. She heard Draco calling after her as loud as he dared, but she skittered down the stairs two at a time, darting back over the entrance hall and down the corridor to her room. Was Draco following her? She didn’t care anymore. She had no idea how she hadn’t been caught on her mad dash through the castle. She slammed the portrait closed behind her, gasping in great lungfuls of burning air. She leaned her head against the cool wall, books and cloak landing on the floor with a thump. Why had she run from Draco? He wasn’t hurting her, wasn’t threatening her… but he wasn’t Robin. Tall, gentle, reassuring Robin.

She didn’t even put the cloak and books away before she stepped through the floo into Severus’ dim quarters and crept down the hall to Robin’s bedroom. She pushed the door ajar and sighed in relief when she made out the solid lump under the blankets. He was here! She clambered up onto the high bed, carefully peeling back the covers to slip in beside him. Robin sat up suddenly, clapping his hands and causing the candles to light. “Harriet?” he asked blearily, rubbing his eyes. She pressed herself as close to him as she could, sighing in relief as he wrapped an arm around her. “Harriet, what’s wrong?” he asked. “Your heart’s going fit to burst.” He stroked her hair soothingly. “I thought you didn’t want to see me tonight… you weren’t in your room.”

“But you’re still here?” she whispered.

“Yeah, kitten, I’m still here,” he agreed, his voice husky, with emotion or sleep she couldn’t decide. “What’s the matter?”

She shook her head minutely, enough for him to feel, as close together as they were. He sighed. “Fine. Are you staying? Because if you are, would you mind losing the jeans? They feel all rough and wrong in bed.”

She managed to shuck the offending clothing without leaving the warmth of the blankets and reached behind her to unclasp her bra, pulling it out without removing her top, a trick Hermione had taught her. The head girl had some uses, it couldn’t be denied. She dumped her clothes in an unceremonious heap on the floor before snuggling in as close as she could to him in her t shirt and knickers. She tucked her head onto his chest, listening to his heart and trying to slow her own heartbeat to match his, consciously relaxing and breathing more slowly. He clapped again, extinguishing the candles, and wrapped his arms around her, shushing softly to try to soothe her.

“How do you do that?” she asked. “The clapping thing, I mean.”

“Dad set it up,” he told her. “It’s a muggle idea, having lights that turn on or off when you clap. There’s some kind of charm in here to let me do it with the candles.”

“Oh,” she said, and subsided into silence, content to be close to him.

Robin stroked her arm absently. “Kitten… does this mean we’re okay?” he asked softly. “I mean… you were pretty freaked out.”

“We’re okay… for now,” she said, feeling sleepy in the warmth of his bed. She yawned. “I still haven’t decided how I feel about… stuff.”

“That’s fine,” he assured her, and she enjoyed the reverberation of his voice in his chest. “You don’t have to decide anything if you don’t want to. We’ll never do anything unless both of us are comfortable with it, kitten. I hope you know that.”

“Mmm,” she agreed absently, the excitement of the last half hour catching up with her. She was asleep a few moments later, though Robin lay awake for a while, contemplating the girl in his arms. If any other girl had freaked on him like she had, had run away and refused to say one way or the other how she felt about him, had failed to show up for a long standing arrangement with no explanation or apology, he certainly wouldn’t be holding her close and feeling relief that she’d come back. He never would have let any other girl into his head. He’d always been sure enough of female companionship that he could afford not to put up with ridiculous demands or silly pettiness, though he always tried to be a decent human being. What was so different about Harriet? What was it that made him want her so much it hurt from the first moment he saw her in her greying and oversized boys clothes? It had been like he was under a love spell from those first moments, and he’d had to squash every instinct, and try to act normally. He’d been with at least one other witch in his life, so it wasn’t just her magic drawing him to her, or he’d have felt it before. Lauren hadn’t known he was aware that she was magical, of course, but when he caught sight of her wand, he knew exactly what she was. He suspected she was muggle-born, as she’d moved through the muggle world with utter ease.

He finally fell into fitful slumber considering the questions, his dreams haunted by what seemed to be every girl he’d ever taken to his bed.

Chapter Text

Magic and sexuality have long been intricately knotted together. It is common knowledge, of course, and unavoidable fact, that magical children come into sexual maturity earlier than their muggle counterparts, and spend their teenaged years in hormone-charged lust.

Harriet stroked the end of her quill against her cheek absently. She’d disguised the spoils of her midnight trek to the library as defence textbooks, and she hadn’t been able to resist bringing them to a study session with her friends. The fact that Malfoy had also shown up had almost put her off reading them, but tucked in the corner of the library as she was, no one else could see the words she read. She was carefully ignoring Malfoy’s knowing glances.

 

It is also a known fact that most wizards and witches enjoy a higher libido than muggles. Therefore, it is perhaps to be expected that what the non-magical population considers deviant sexuality is far more common in the wizarding world. Many of these practices fall under the umbrella of what has come to be known as BDSM. This label spans many activities, from casual bedroom games through to major lifestyle decisions, and is increasingly also used to cover the marital dynamic traditional to purebloods, where a husband takes on a head of household role, managing the behaviour and discipline of not only his children and servants but also his wife.

 

Harriet glanced at Draco beneath her eyebrows. Was drugging your wife considered a form of discipline? She’d felt sorry for Draco, having such a bizarre familial situation, but then, perhaps it was normal for him. Maybe that was what he’d do with his wife if he felt it necessary.

He must have felt his gaze on her, because he looked up, straight at her, and gave a knowing smirk. She quickly returned her gaze to her book, skipping over the rest of the introduction and flipping the page to the table of contents.

 

Chapter one: The psychology behind BDSM

Chapter two: Spanking: by hand or by wand?

Chapter three: Bondage: rope and magical alternatives

Chapter four: Creative discipline

Chapter five: Preparing for sodomy

 

“Harriet, why are you blushing?” Ron asked suddenly, quite distracted from his Transfiguration essay.

“Wha… what d’you mean?” Harriet stammered.

“Ron’s right… you’re all red,” Hermione agreed, peering at her friend.

Draco gave a languorous shrug. “Who among us can know the filthy contents of our Miss Potter’s mind?” he drawled, smirking at Harriet. His words didn’t help the reddening of her cheeks, and she quickly picked up her charms textbook instead. The words didn’t penetrate her brain, though. She had quite different thoughts on her mind.

She knew what sodomy was. She’d spent most of her life thinking she was a gay male, after all. She’d considered the notion of anal sex, but it had always been abstract, like someday she might do it. She’d never quite been able to imagine any of her various love interests actually doing it… not Cedric Diggory or Oliver Wood, even though she’d tried. But now… perhaps it was because she’d actually had sex. The thought of doing something so… forbidden with Robin made her breath catch in her throat, and she wasn’t sure if it was in terror or anticipation. She shook her head a little at her silliness. What was to say that Robin would even want to do something like that? It was a gay thing, wasn’t it?

“Earth to Harriet!” Hermione said, waving her hand in front of Harriet’s face.

Harriet jerked in surprise. “What?” she asked vacantly.

“Well, I was asking if you were coming to the common room, but you’re clearly not hearing anything right now. What is wrong with you tonight?”

“Erm, just a bit tired. Think I’ll stay here and finish up some work,” Harriet replied.

Ron snorted. “Ah, it’s Thursday, and we all know what Harriet does Wednesday night!”

Harriet kicked him under the table, glancing in the direction of Draco, and of Luna, who had joined them too. She needn't have bothered: Madam Pince appeared from around the shelving to smartly tap Ron on the head with a book. “Be quiet, or leave,” she informed the group with a hiss.

“I’m going, I’m going…” Ron protested, rubbing his head whilst gathering his parchment with the other hand. Hermione stifled a giggle, and everyone but Harriet and Draco gathered up their work and left. She was wishing she’d gone with them now: she didn’t much fancy the jollity of the common room, but now she was here, alone with Draco… and she knew it would look odd if she left now, having just said she had work to do. She bent her head over her Charms work.

For a while, they scribbled in silence. Predictably, it was Draco who spoke first: Harriet was wishing she was somewhere, almost anywhere, else. “I apologise if I startled you unduly yesterday,” Draco said quietly, after a glace about to make sure that the librarian was nowhere in sight. Harriet made a noncommittal noise. Draco was undeterred. “So,” he continued in a conversational tone (or as conversational as one could make a library-suitable whisper), “what are your Wednesday evening activities?”

Harriet’s heart seized. Damn Ron and his big mouth! “Defense club,” she muttered back shortly, not looking up.

She could hear Draco’s grin anyway when he spoke. “I can’t imagine defence club tires you so very much,” he said. “Do you always take a nocturnal ramble on a Wednesday night?”

“Do you always break curfew?” Harriet riposted sharply.

Draco shrugged, seemingly not in the least put out by her question. “Sometimes,” he replied. “Tell me, who is it you’re sleeping with? I can’t get so much as a whisper from the gossips, and I’m quite dying of curiosity. I simply must know who it is that makes you so unwilling to take me up on my offer.”

“I’m not sleeping with anyone, Malfoy!” Harriet hissed, slamming her book shut. A loud throat-clearing came from the direction of the librarian’s desk.

Draco leaned back in his chair, eyeing her speculatively. She glared back at him, not entirely sure why she was still here. “You haven’t called me Malfoy in weeks,” Draco noted. “Months, perhaps. Something has you all het up.”

Suddenly, he was out of his chair, standing over her. For all that she was on her feet now, and all the lamps were lit, it felt like last night, when he’d had her captive in the restricted section. She held her breath, trembling. Why was she still here? her rational mind demanded to know. She could just walk off… Draco slipped a cool hand beneath the heavy braided rope of her hair, gripping the back of her neck lightly. “You need it, Harriet,” he breathed into her ear. “You need a wizard. I can feel it coming off you in waves, my pet. I can feel your desire.”

“Let me go,” she hissed. “I’m not ‘your’ anything.”

The hand was gone, and he stepped back, giving her room to breathe. “As you wish, princess,” he acquiesced silkily. “But you know where to find me.”

“In your dreams,” she riposted, clutching her books tightly to her chest.

She heard a slight chuckle from Draco as she fled back to her room.

She flung her books onto her laden table. What had Draco meant, that he could ‘feel it coming off her in waves’? Tired, she curled up in her armchair, a wave of her wand sending the kettle to heat over the fire. Could Draco tell when she was, well, aroused? She’d found herself with her hands buried firmly between her thighs almost every night for weeks now. She and Robin hadn’t had much opportunity for sex of late- it had taken until Christmas for her to be healed enough for him to be confident in touching her, and there hadn’t exactly been much call for amorous activities the night before. Was that what Draco had meant? But how on earth could he tell? She shook her head and decided to try to put Malfoy out of her mind. A large mug of tea and some of the cauldron cakes left by Dobby should manage quite nicely, she thought.

It was still with a deep sigh that she pulled her charms textbook towards herself, having settled her tea precariously on the arm of the sofa. Colour changing charms just couldn’t hold her attention, she finally decided, having turned her hair a strange dusty pink instead of the cauldron cake she’d been aiming for. Her heart clearly wasn’t in it. Instead, her attention kept dawdling back to the book sitting on top of her pile of work.

With a sigh, she summoned the book, sending it zooming into her hand. She flipped the book open at random, landing in the chapter dedicated to what the author termed ‘creative punishments’. She giggled at some: one suggestion was to tickle one’s partner. Some sounded less silly, but in no way dangerous as she had expected: one that came highly recommended was the application of long lasting stinging charms to the sensitive regions of the submissive. It was clear that the book was written with a dominant wizard and submissive witch in mind, but this particular punishment, the author informed her, was best utilised on the ring of muscle guarding the anus, and thus, could be used on either sex. He based it, he said, upon a muggle practice known as ‘figging’, in which a stinging substance was placed to prevent the buttocks clenching during a spanking. A little over-the knee spanking seemed positively tame compared to all of this. She shook her head at her own silliness. None of this was abuse: it was as Robin said: a game. All through the book, the author pushed the use of what he termed a ‘safe-word’.

 

Whilst marital traditionalists, who insist upon the superiority of the husband, may find the idea of allowing the submissive an escape from the proceedings positively ridiculous, it must be considered. One would never wish to cause actual harm or distress, as this could cause physical injury or a rift so deep in the relationship as to never be healed. It is for this reason that all considering this type of relationship must, at the beginning, set out their expectations and agree upon a word, phrase or action that will, under any circumstances, bring a halt to proceedings.

Whilst for many, a simple ‘stop’ or ‘halt’ may be sufficient, if the couple are to engage in any play acting of reluctance, a different signal should be chosen. This should be a phrase that would otherwise not come up in the course of play, such as ‘quaffle’ (unless the submissive is to be an unruly quidditch player) or ‘puffskein’.

 

Harriet giggled at the idea of an unruly quidditch player being spanked. It actually sounded almost fun. The chapter on spanking suggested that bending over a hovering broomstick made the bottom an excellent target.

Her charms book seemed to stare at her reproachfully for giggling when she should be working. Maybe she could at least pretend it was work. She flipped through to the ‘compendium of useful charms’ at the back. She took a gulp of tea and almost choked on it reading through some of the spells suggested.

 

A spell to conjure ropes and bind: Holding the wand loosely, incant the word ‘relligo’ whilst maintaining a circular motion with the wand around the limb or other area to be bound. To increase the tension, increase the speed of the wand motion. With practice and creative wand movements, this spell can be used very effectively for many binding purposes.

A charm to keep a paddle or other disciplinary implement in motion: The basis of this charm is ‘everbero’, but it must be followed by the part of the body to be struck: for example, to keep a paddle striking the buttocks, the words ‘everbero gluteus’ should be cast upon the paddle. Caution should be exercised in the long-term use of this charm to ensure no injury comes to the submissive.

A purgative charm to empty the bowels in preparation for sodomy: (see chapter five for a full explanation of this charm before usage) ‘Purgatio’.

A spell to remove the body hair: The ex folliculus charm may be used here, but with great caution. Hair removal potions usually provide better results.

A spell to lubricate: Lubricus, with the wand indicating the orifice to be lubricated.  However, this spell is vastly inferior to the use of lubricating potions.

A charm to open and stretch an orifice: Laxo is the basic form, followed either by ‘vagina’ or ‘anus’ as necessary. This charm should not be used to remove the gag reflex and stretch the throat, instead using:

A charm to suppress the gag reflex in order to engage in fellatio: Oscitrudim, with the wand aimed to the mouth. This unusual charm will force a yawn in the recipient, properly opening the throat.

 

Harriet yawned herself just reading about the reflex. She idly wondered how one would breathe, having a penis shoved down one’s throat, and shook her head at her silliness. It didn’t sound much like anything mentioned in this book was outright abuse, and it went so much further than Robin’s thoughts. In fact, it did all seem a little… silly, as if it was a very in-depth game. In fact, his little spanking demonstration had seemed downright tame: just his hand, no paddles, no spells. If all this really was as common in the magical world as the book suggested, maybe it just was fun between people who engaged in an awful lot of sex. Fun as sex was, she was guessing that the same old thing, sometimes multiple times a day, for wizard lifespans would certainly get old. She finished the last of her tea and set the book aside, going to ready herself for bed.

She was careful to locate the glass dildo that Robin had given her before she climbed into bed, taking it with her. She swept the cold head up, splitting her already moisture-slicked lips wide before she worked it inside her, pumping it carefully with one hand whilst the fingers of the other tickled against her clit. Coming was not so hard, but it didn’t feel entirely satisfactory anymore, just leaving her with the sensation of emptiness in body and soul. She rolled over with a huff and went to sleep.

Everyone seemed grumpy the next morning at breakfast. Neville was always tired and short tempered these days- Harriet had tried to speak to him on a few occasions, but the once happy and open young man had become sharp and resentful. It was only when Luna was there that he showed any affection to anyone anymore: with her he was gentle again. Hermione was tired, having stayed up reading, and no one could guess the cause of Ron’s foul mood. He just scowled at his eggs.

The arrival of the morning post mode a welcome distraction from the glum faces. Hermione unfurled her daily prophet, thumbing through it, even as Neville groaned at another letter from his grandmother.

A handsome snowy owl, bigger than Hedwig, swooped down to neatly deposit a cream envelope before Harriet. She frowned: she rarely received post, let alone such formal- looking post. Her heart skipped a beat when she spotted the name of the sender.

“Wha’s tha’?” Ron asked around a mouthful of breakfast, stabbing his fork in her direction.

“It’s from the Wizarding colleges,” she said quietly.

Suddenly, all eyes nearby were on her. “Well,” Hermione asked after a few moments of silence. “Aren’t you going to open it?”

Harriet nodded, running her fingers along the upper edge for a few seconds. Hermione sighed. “Even if you didn’t get in, Harriet, there are other places. It’s the best of the best, you know that, right?”

“Yeah,” she admitted, finally working up the courage to slide her finger beneath the flap and break the sealing wax. She unfurled the letter. Dear Miss Potter… Her eyes skimmed over the words.

“Well?” Ron asked, impatient.

“They… they want me to come for any interview on January the 21st,” Harriet said quietly.

“Harriet, that’s wonderful!” Hermione squealed. Harriet nodded, a slow smile finally spreading. Yeah, they hadn’t accepted her…. yet. But they also hadn’t rejected her. That had to be good news.

A high-pitched ringing sound filled the hall. “Boys and girls, if I could have your attention, please,” Dumbledore called from the head table. His voice was magically amplified, something Harriet had never seen him do to get attention before. He was standing at his seat, leaning forwards to brace himself on the table. The hubbub of chatter died away and all faces turned to Dumbledore.

“Thank you,” Dumbledore said, his voice still amplified. “Now, as I am sure the more eagle-eyed amongst you have noted, I am not terribly well. Along with the school’s board of governors, I have decided that it would be best for me to step back for a little while, until I have quite recovered.”

An immediate roar of noise rose as the students looked askance at him and each other. He called for silence again. “Now, now,” he said. “This is no cause for alarm. I will still be resident here, at the school, but I shall be keeping to myself in my chambers in order to rest and recuperate, on the orders of my healers. In my absence, Professor McGonagall will be taking on the duty as acting Headmistress. Professor Lupin will cover her role as head of Gryffindor in the meantime.”

Harriet’s eyes swept along the head table until she found the dark shape of Severus. His head was down, focused on his morning post. He didn’t look up, though she could have done with a reassuring glance at that moment.

“Wow. Didn’t see that one coming,” Ron commented.

“Really, Ronald, how could you not?” Hermione snapped.

Ron pulled a face. “He’s been here, like, forever, though,” he groused. “He’s kind of ageless.”

“He’s been really ill all year,” Harriet said. “You must have noticed. He’s hardly ever here, and when he is, he looks exhausted.” She shot a sideways glance at Neville, who didn’t look in the least surprised at the news from Dumbledore. She dropped her voice to a low whisper, forcing Ron and Hermione to lean in to hear her. “Severus has been going to dose him up on potions almost every night. I… I don’t think he’s going to live very long.”

Even Hermione gasped at that revelation.

Chapter Text

Every teacher in the school had problems keeping order in their classes that morning. Professor Sprout certainly wasn’t having much luck with her seventh-years. Only Neville kept his head down, carefully tending to his plant- their current projects were tiny trees, designed to hold spells for protection. Sprout had to snatch a young plant from Imogen before she pruned it to nothingness.

Harriet sidled over to Neville. “You knew,” she whispered. It was easy to hide her words under the irrepressible chatter from her classmates.

Neville didn’t respond.

“I know you’ve been having lessons with him,” Harriet continued, undeterred. “How bad is it, Neville?”

A plant pot smashed firmly into Harriet’s face. The shards of the ceramic pot rained noisily onto the hard floor of the greenhouse. Someone gasped. Someone giggled. “Leave me alone!” Neville shouted, perfectly enunciating each word. “You just had to go and be a girl, didn’t you, Potter?” He picked up his carefully pruned magical bonsai and placed it in Professor Sprout’s hands before marching off, leaving the seventh year herbology students, and their teacher, in shocked silence.

“Miss Potter, go up to the hospital wing,” Sprout finally said vaguely. “The blood isn’t good for the plants. Miss Granger, if you’d escort her?”

“C’mon, Harriet,” Hermione said gently, taking her elbow. Harriet pulled her hand away from her face, staring at the blood pooling in her palm. Hermione towed her away.

“Ow,” Harriet complained, not sure if she was more upset about the blooming pain in her face or how hard Hermione was digging her sharp fingers into Harriet’s elbow.

Hermione just gripped harder. “What was all that about?” she demanded, not so gentle now she was tugging her friend across the school grounds towards the castle. “Neville doesn’t go around hitting people for no reason.”

“It was nothing,” Harriet snapped back, spitting out some blood. Neville was stronger than she’d thought: it felt like she’d taken a bludger to the face. Or at least what she thought a bludger to the face might feel like: she was too fast to have ever actually experienced a face-hit. “Apparently we’re all a little stressed right now.”

Hermione glanced at Harriet’s face and sighed. “It’s a good job Robin can’t see you now.”

Madam Pomfrey tutted when she saw Harriet, turning her face this way and that. “I thought I hadn’t seen you in a while,” she groused. “I was hoping you’d grown out of all the accidents. Why on earth are you so dirty?”

“It was a plant pot,” Harriet supplied. Her jaw hurt too.

Madam Pomfrey sniffed, showing just what she felt about people who went around having plant pots smashed in their faces. “Sit down,” she told Harriet. “You’ll need cleaning up before I heal it, or you’ll end up with compost embedded in your face.”

“Eww,” Hermione supplied, perching on the end of a bed. Harriet gingerly climbed up next to her as Madam Pomfrey vanished into her storeroom. “Seriously, though, what did you say to Neville?”

“Can’t say here,” Harriet snapped, just before the matron reappeared with a couple of vials and some soft cloths. Madam Pomfrey gave Harriet one of the potions to drink. She tried to grimace at the taste, but screwing up her face just hurt.

“Hush, and let me get on,” Madam Pomfrey chided. “Miss Granger, you may go.”

“I don’t mind staying,” Hermione said.

Madam Pomfrey fixed her with a steely glare. “I’m quite sure you have lessons to be getting on with,” she said pointedly.

Hermione shot Harriet a glance that said ‘you’re going to explain everything later’ far more than it said sympathy. “See you later, Harriet,” she said, but Harriet couldn’t respond, since she was engrossed in flinching away from the stinging liquid Madam Pomfrey was attempting to clean her face with.

“Hold still, child!” the matron chided, holding Harriet’s chin firmly in her free hand. Harriet hissed out her breath between her teeth as the mediwitch cleaned around her certainly broken nose. “Cracked jaw and a broken nose. I’m surprised you didn’t lose any teeth. Must have been a decent sized flowerpot. Whoever hit you had good aim,” Madam Pomfrey commented dryly.

“Yeah,” Harriet agreed, pleased that the cleaning seemed to be over. A few wand-flicks later (and a grating bone-crunch that always accompanied healing breaks) and Harriet was able to breathe properly again. There was a lingering ache, but she knew from experience that it would fade over the next few hours.

“Who was it, Potter?” Madam Pomfrey asked. “Can’t have anyone victimising you, after all.”

Harriet shook her head. “It wasn’t anything like that,” she promised. “It was Neville. He’s… upset. About Dumbledore.”

Madam Pomfrey sniffed in a way that said she didn’t quite believe her patient. “Violence is most unlike young Longbottom,” she granted. “Go on then- you’re all patched up. And try not to let me see you for another three months!”

Charms, too, was almost a write-off, though no one tried to injure her here. Flitwick eventually set them to reading, trotting around the classroom in a surprisingly Snape-like manner for a man not four feet tall. He rapped his wand sharply on Theodore Nott’s desk when he leaned over to whisper to Pansy Parkinson. “Class!” he squeaked. “I had thought better of you! Please, do our eminent headmaster the privilege of not forecasting imminent death. He is simply unwell,and requires time to recover.”

“No one who’s a hundred and fifty and looks that ill is getting better,” Ron mumbled under his breath.

Flitwick whirled, his cloak snapping behind him. “Twenty points from Gryffindor, Mr. Weasley!”

No one spoke after that.

Lupin at least kept everyone too busy to talk. “I have a game for you,” he declared as soon as all the class were in. “Hermione, Draco, charm the desks to the sides of the room, would you? Okay, the rules… you’ll pair off, and duel, keeping your shields up. I’ll be making it more difficult for all of you. Freestyle duelling, no spells that won’t wear off by the end of the class period or that draw blood. If a spell hits, you’re out, and the victor of the pair duels the next victor to come available. Last one standing wins thirty house points. Any questions?”

They all shook their heads, and Lupin called out names to pair together. He wandered around the class, randomly firing hexes to see how well everyone managed to keep shields up as they duelled with partners. He’d never again tried to partner Harriet with Lavender or Parvati, but today he’d decided that setting her against Draco Malfoy was a good plan. Eventually, pair after pair dropped away- Harriet and Draco were the only original pairing left. Harriet glanced to her left as she circled , carefully watching Draco. Both of them were cautious casters, preferring to keep a strong defence. Ron and Blaise Zabini were lost in a shower of sparks as spells hit shields, and Hermione had just hit Pansy with a jelly-legs jinx. Harriet grinned and avoided a hex from Lupin more by ducking than a use of magical shields, since her wand was occupied by a Protego to fend off Draco’s sudden onslaught. She lost sight of how Ron and Blaise were doing in her desperation to fend off Draco’s sudden surge of spellcasting.

Harriet and Draco were both of the school of duellists who removed their shoes before beginning a fight. Harriet’s tights-clad feet felt the seams in the floor as she moved, removing the need for her to look behind her as she moved to gain a better position. She could tell that Draco cast his shields low: a sensible option when fighting someone so much shorter than him. She favoured a dome-shaped barrier: it took more concentration to maintain it than a sheet shield did, but with Lupin moving about, it meant she didn’t have to keep track of the Professor as well as her opponent.

Her heel finally connected with her goal. To most of the class, it looked like she was backing herself into a corner, a surefire way to lose a fight, with nowhere to duck should your protections fail. If she’d been paying any attention to Lupin, she’d have seen a grin, though. What Draco seemed to have forgotten, or thought unimportant, was that this particular corner housed an ancient, unused podium, more reminiscent of a church pulpit than a lecturing stand.

The few inches of the first step weren’t quite enough. She scrambled up to the third and top and cast a Petrificus rapidly followed by a cushioning charm, causing Draco’s prone form to sink into a soft bed of air, his shields dropping.

“Beautifully done, Harriet!” Lupin praised. “Brilliant use of the environment!”

Harriet grinned and removed the paralysing spell on Draco, letting him rise before removing the cushioning charm. “Good show,” he admitted grudgingly, holding out his hand for her to shake.

“Okay,” Lupin said. “Harriet, Blaise, you have fifteen minutes of class left. Use it well.”

With a sinking heart, Harriet turned to face Blaise. She’d so hoped that Ron or Hermione would have knocked him out of the running, but her grinned at her, his teeth very white in his dark face. Lupin conjured her a glass of water, which she downed in one and assumed the guard position, her protections firmly in place. She cast the first spell, trying to blind him with a shower of bright sparks followed with an expelliarmus almost on it’s heels. She had no luck, Blaise blocking easily.

Lupin had stepped back, to ensure that it was one of the combatants who ‘won’, and not the teacher. Blaise, at least, was clever enough not to let Harriet use the same trick on him as on Draco: he placed himself firmly between her and the podium, and he kept his shields up high.

Later on, she cursed herself for her foolishness. She fell victim to her own success, for it was probably her physically bypassing Draco’s shield that gave Blaise the idea. With Lupin out of the picture, she’d dropped the protections at her back in order to concentrate on her assailant. She had been fighting for an hour: she was tired. Blaise aimed his wand high and cried “ Repercuto!”

Harriet didn’t know the spell, but it had whizzed over her head, missing her by inches. She saw the movement of his lips for the next spell, no matter how quietly spoken. As soon as the white light of sectumsempra left his wand, she threw everything into her protections to repel such a powerful curse. It went over her shoulder as well, though. Sharp pain bloomed across her back an instant before the warm white light of Lupin’s protection spell wrapped around her.

“Harriet!” Lupin cried as she crumpled to the floor, gasping. In two steps, he had slipped to the floor beside her, his face pale. Half of the class peered over his shoulder. Harriet groaned as he rolled her to her stomach to see the damage, blood spreading across the stones below her. “Class dismissed,” he barked, gathering Harriet up against his chest and bolting from the room, her head lolling against his shoulder, shock taking hold of her body. “Hang on, Harriet,” he muttered, even as he blood dripped down his arm and onto the floor behind him. Ron, Hermione and Draco were hot on his heels, Hermione even thinking to siphon the blood as they went.

Everything seemed strangely blurred and distant to Harriet. She heard Madam Pomfrey’s voice, but it was Severus who leant over her as Lupin set her as gently as he could on a bed. It was Severus’ hand that turned her to her stomach, and Severus’ voice that sang the healing words so softly. Madam Pomfrey’s hands were cool as the matron held her head back to tip a sleeping potion into her mouth. She slept through the subsequent raised voices.

“What kind of madhouse classes are you running, Lupin?” Severus demanded, his voice much harsher than the soothing motions he used to dab dittany against the angry red mark spreading across Harriet’s back from right shoulder to her waist on the left. He tore her blouse a little further to let him work.

“Me?” the Defence professor riposted sharply. “That’s your spell, Snape, and it was one of your Slytherins who cast the damned thing!”

Severus’ hands stilled. “Which one?” he asked, quieter now.

Lupin sank into a chair at the end of another bed. “Blaise Zabini. He reflected it off the wall behind her. I didn’t even realise what he was doing- I didn’t hear the spell he cast until it was too late. It looks like a disarming hex- just a streak of white light. Zabini’s fast.”

“He is,” Severus agreed. “Malfoy, make yourself useful. Go and find Blaise. I want him in my office when I get back.”

Draco nodded and hurried away. “Granger, Weasley,” Severus continued. “Please fetch the Headmistress here. I don’t care if she’s teaching, tell her it is of the utmost urgency. Do not tell her what has happened.”

Ron began to protest, but Hermione tugged on his arm, drawing him away. Madam Pomfrey held out her hand for the dittany-soaked cloth Severus had been using. “Thank you, Professor. I can take it from here,” she said primly. Severus nodded and gave up the cloth without a fight, retreating beyond the bed curtains Poppy twitched around her patient so she could prepare Harriet for bed.

An hour later, Harriet opened her eyes to the stark white of the hospital wing. She pushed herself up on one elbow. “Ah, I see we’re awake,” Madam Pomfrey said, bustling over to prop a pillow behind her.

“Yeah,” Harriet said vaguely. “Erm, what happened?” She glanced down at the starched white of the hospital nightgown with a wrinkle of her nose.

“You were hit by a cutting curse in your Defence lesson,” Madam Pomfrey explained, handing her a glass of water to rinse the fuzzy mouth always left behind by sleeping potions. “And there I thought I’d told you to stay away for at least three months,” she added with a small smile.

“I remember… I think I remember… was Sever… erm, Snape here?” Harriet asked.

“Professor Snape was delivering a batch of potions to me when Professor Lupin brought you in,” Madam Pomfrey confirmed. “Professor Snape was closest- he healed you. He’s a trained mediwizard as well as a potions master.”

“Yeah, I know,” Harriet said, still feeling fuzzy.

Madam Pomfrey laid a dry, cool hand across Harriet’s forehead and cast a diagnostic spell with her wand at the same time. “You’ve lost quite a lot of blood today,” she informed her patient. “Blood replenishing potions for you for the next few days, I think. It’s probably best if you stay here overnight.”

“I can’t!” Harriet said hurriedly. “Please, Madam Pomfrey, I’ll be fine! I can sleep in my own room.” Robin was coming tonight, was all she could think. She couldn’t be here, or she wouldn’t see Robin, and she wanted to tell him that she’d been silly, that she didn’t mind that he had thought about spanking her. She threw the bedclothes back and sat up, but even that made her head spin.

Madam Pomfrey pushed her back with a gentle shove, tucking her in again. “Nonsense, young lady,” she said. “You’re staying here if I have to use a sticking charm on you.”

No matter how much Harriet assured the matron that she’d take all her potions and be ever so good, Poppy held firm in her decision. Harriet had fallen into a sulk when Severus swept in. She looked up hopefully. “Professor Snape!” she cried out. “Madam Pomfrey says I have to stay here overnight!”

Severus pulled a chair up to her bed, raising a hand in greeting to the witch in question, who acknowledged him and disappeared into her office. “She’s quite right, Harriet,” Severus said quietly. “You lost a lot of blood. It’s best you stay where someone can keep an eye on you.”

“But Robin…” she pleaded, her voice low despite the empty room.

“Robin will understand,” Severus assured her. “He’ll see you tomorrow, I’m sure.”

Harriet huffed and flopped her head back against the pillows. She’d hoped that Severus would override Madam Pomfrey. He cast the same diagnostic spell as she had earlier, and frowned at the result. “You’ve lost more blood than would be expected, given how fast Lupin arrived with you,” he complained.

“I lost some this morning,” she explained in exasperation. “Had my nose broken.”

Severus’ brows knit together. “Explain.”

“Got hit in the face with a plant pot,” Harriet sighed, bored of the story already- she’d had to tell it three times at lunch.

Severus began to ask further, but thought better of it when he saw her exasperation. He’d get the story from Poppy, even if it took a few tumblers of Glenquidditch whiskey, firewhiskey being too strong for the Matron’s tastes. “I thought you might be interested to know that Mr. Zabini has been given a week of detention with Professor Lupin, in addition to a week with myself,” Severus said. “The headmistress also saw fit to remove a hundred points from Slytherin. Your friends are baying for blood, or his suspension at the very least. I think you will probably have a visit from them soon.”

“Thanks,” Harriet sighed. Severus patted her hand, then surprised her by leaning over to kiss her on the forehead before he left.

Ron and Hermione were exuberant in their astonishment at what they saw as an unfairly light punishment for Blaise, and were quickly sent away by Madam Pomfrey. Draco’s visit lasted a bit longer, but he too had to depart when Professor Lupin sidled into the room, pressing himself against the wall as though not wanting to really be there. Draco at least left Harriet with a small bar of chocolate to amuse herself with. Since all Hermione and Ron had brought was her schoolbag, abandoned in the Defence classroom, she thought Draco had a better idea of how to treat ill people.

Lupin took Draco’s abandoned chair when he had gone. “I… I am very sorry, Harriet,” Lupin said quietly. “I should have been paying better attention.”

“So should I, Professor,” she admitted. “There’s no way I should have ignored that reflecting spell just because it missed me. Zabini’s too good to miss like that.”

“Yes, well,” Lupin sighed, not quite willing to agree. “I had no idea he’d use such a dangerous spell. He’s currently under the supervision of Mr. Filch, scrubbing your blood off my classroom floor without any magic whatsoever. I may have put a sticking charm on my floor as well.”

Even Harriet had to grin at that. The idea of Blaise on his hands and knees with a scrubbing brush was some comfort, especially since she wasn’t in any pain, just rather dizzy if she sat up more quickly than a flobberworm could wiggle. Lupin leaned back in his chair. “I’ve just come from meeting all the Gryffindors- well, all except you, for obvious reasons. I’ll gather all of you up in year groups for hot chocolate and biscuits before bed over the next week or two to reassure everyone that I’m not going to eat any of you. I don’t know how long I’ll be left with head of house duties, but we’ll see, eh?”

“Yeah,” Harriet agreed distractedly, remembering something she’d forgotten to tell Lupin. “Erm, could you grab my school bag, down there by the side of the bed? There’s something I want to show you.”

Lupin handed over the bag without complaint, waiting as Harriet fished down to the bottom for the slightly crumpled letter from the Wizarding colleges. “Here,” she said, thrusting the thick parchment at him.

Lupin’s eyebrows rose as he read the letter. “Well done, Harriet,” he said finally. “If they’re interviewing you, that means they’re seriously considering you. Have you had time to ask Professor McGonagall for the time off yet?”

Harriet shook her head, and Lupin smiled indulgently. “Well, you have had a rather busy day,” he granted. “Incidentally, Neville is most apologetic about the plant pot incident. We had some trouble locating him, but he was finally found hiding out in one of the other greenhouses, most upset.”

“It’s okay,” she said. “I kind of deserved it. Anyone could see he didn’t want to be bothered.”

“You’re a good friend, Harriet,” Lupin said, handing back the letter and stretching. “Your mum and dad would be proud of you.” He smiled at her, but Harriet didn’t respond. She just bit her lip and nodded when Lupin told her to get better soon and to look after herself.

At ten o’clock, Madam Pomfrey gave Harriet a blood replenishing draught. She doused the lamps in the main infirmary, but, with a knowing smile, she waved her wand at Harriet’s bed, levitating it off the ground and trailed it after her like a reluctant puppy into a side room. “This room’s usually used for infectious diseases,” she informed the confused Harriet, “but Professor Snape has suggested that someone else might like to visit you this evening. Remember that my room is next door, and I will hear any… exuberance.”

She had just shown Harriet the bell pull by the bed that would summon the mediwitch when the fire turned floo-green. Severus stepped through first, followed by a nervous Robin. “You’ve grown since I last saw you,” Poppy informed Robin with a smile.

“Hi, Poppy,” he said, but his eyes were fixed on Harriet. Madam Pomfrey waved him past, realising that she wasn’t going to have any sense out of him. He perched on the edge of her bed even as she was struggling out of the cocooning blankets to sit up. “Hey, kitten,” he said softly. “How’d you feel?”

She just threw her arms around his neck. Poppy shook her head fondly- she’d always liked Robin, having patched him up quite a few times in his life. “A nightcap, Severus?” she invited, indicating the door to her quarters.

“You came,” Harriet breathed when the adults had gone.

“Of course I did,” he murmured, brushing her hair back off her face. “Dad says it was a pretty bad curse you got.”

“Madam Pomfrey says I have to stay overnight,” she complained plaintively.

He kissed her gently on the forehead, pushing her fringe back and brushing his lips over her scar. He liked the way she trembled when he kissed the sensitive flesh. “Do as they say, kitten,” he said firmly. “You need to get better, okay?”

“Hold me, please?” she requested. He arranged himself at the head of the bed, letting her lean back against his chest. She was asleep by the time Severus came back to usher a reluctant Robin back to their quarters.

Chapter Text

Harriet was disappointed to wake alone, but it wasn’t unexpected. There was no way Robin could have remained in the infirmary with her overnight, even in the side room. She couldn’t help a smile, though, knowing that Severus had arranged his visit. Severus still gave off an air of stiff disapproval when she and Robin exchanged any show of affection in his presence, not that it was any deterrent to either teenager. Maybe he was finally warming to the idea of them together.

Madam Pomfrey appeared with a stack of clothes and a breakfast tray perched precariously on top. “Ah, up I see, Harriet,” she said. “Good. Now, how about we get you up and washed, and then, if you feel well enough, you have a visitor who’d like to see you whilst you eat your breakfast.”

Harriet looked up hopefully. “Is it Robin?”

Poppy laughed. “No, child. It’s not. Now, can you stand?”

Disappointed, Harriet pushed herself up in the bed, not feeling so dizzy anymore. Her legs were slightly shaky, but they held. “Right, then,” Madam Pomfrey said with a brisk nod. “Here, one of the house elves fetched some clean clothes for you. The bathroom’s just over there.”

Harriet shuffled through her pile of clothes (jeans, a t-shirt, her pink Weasley jumper) and went off to the bathroom. She really hoped it had been Madam Pomfrey who’d changed her into the nightgown, and not Severus. As he so rightly pointed out, she’d been born as naked as anyone else, but that still didn’t mean she wanted her boyfriend’s dad undressing her!

She gripped the handles set into the wall of the magical shower tightly, the heat of the water making her feel light headed again. She muttered a drying spell, having rescued her wand from beneath her pillow before coming in, and had to sit down for a moment’s rest before dressing. Just how much blood had she lost? she wondered idly.

By the time she let herself out of the infirmary bathroom, Mrs Weasley was sitting by her bed, knitting. She cast the needles and wool to the side, springing up with surprising speed to wrap Harriet in her embrace. “Oh, I was so worried!” she informed Harriet, pressing the girl firmly to her breast. “Your hand on the clock went to ‘Mortal Peril’!”

“Hi, Mrs. Weasley,” Harriet managed.

Mrs. Weasley left a resounding kiss on the top of her head. “Now, then, sit down and eat your breakfast,” the motherly woman insisted. “You’re always just that bit too thin, dear, you could really do with a bit more by way of nutrition.”

Madam Pomfrey had left Harriet’s potions on the tray and she drank them as quickly as she could, hoping to get out of the hospital wing as soon as as she could. Potions out of the way, she turned her attention to the big bowl of porridge, topped with lots of brown sugar and cream, just the way she liked it. The house elves knew their charges, even if there were hundreds of people to look after. She smiled and dug her spoon in. She hadn’t noticed how hungry she was until she saw the steaming breakfast. She had missed dinner the night before, after all.

Mrs Weasley had picked up her knitting again. “Honestly, I was that worried,” she confided. “I couldn’t get through to the school for the longest time! If it wasn’t for Ron and Ginny still pointing at ‘school’, I’ have been sure it was You-Know-Who! I can’t think what Remus was doing, letting spells like that be used in his lessons. I shall be having words with him, you can be sure.”

“It wasn’t his fault, Mrs Weasley,” Harriet said tiredly. “He did say that he didn’t want to see any blood. It’s not his fault that Zabini disobeyed him.”

Mrs Weasley sniffed disdainfully. “His mother always thought she was above the rules too,” she supplied. “How she hasn’t been hauled in for questioning by magical law enforcement, I’ll never  know. Seven husbands! Seven, I tell you. Well, I have seven children, but one husband’s all I need.”

Harriet scraped up the last mouthful of porridge. “Mrs Weasley…” she began hesitantly, not sure if she wanted to ask this question.

“Yes?” Mrs Weasley prompted, raising an eyebrow.

“What do you think makes a happy marriage?” Harriet asked, her words tumbling out atop each other. It wasn’t quite the question she wanted to ask- okay, it wasn’t even close. But then, she couldn’t exactly blurt out ‘do you think spanking is a good thing in a relationship?’ to Mrs. Weasley.

Molly looked startled. “Well,” she began, floundering a little, “You’ve got to like each other, obviously. And you have to have a similar plan for life, similar goals.”

“What do you mean?” Harriet asked, toying with her spoon, rubbing it on the edge of the bowl. “Similar goals? what kind of goals?”

“Like… like how many children you want. Arthur and I both knew all our lives that we wanted lots of children.”

“Oh,” Harriet said. It wasn’t really the answer she’d been hoping for . It certainly didn’t shed any light on her current issues, and she’d never even really thought about children anyway. Did she want them? She supposed so, because otherwise there would be no one to carry on the Potter line, but it wasn’t an issue to which she’d dedicated any particular thought.

“Now then,” Mrs Weasley said, patting Harriet’s hand gently. “What’s brought all this on? I’d have thought you’d be wanting to play about a bit before thinking of marriage. After all, you’ve had a bit of a late start, as a girl anyway. Is there a special someone about?”

Harriet pleated the starchy bedclothes nervously between her fingers. “Kind of,” she admitted quietly. “He… well, I know he wants to get married and settle down, someday. And… I was just wondering what you thought. Because, erm, because I don’t really know many married people.”

Mrs Weasley began to pack away her knitting. “You’ve plenty of time to think about all that,” she assured Harriet. “I married young, and lots of your classmates will get engaged almost as soon as they’re off the train in the summer, but that doesn’t mean you have to. There’s no call to follow convention just because everyone else does. You’re not everyone, Harriet, and don’t let this boy of yours try to convince you otherwise.”

“Thanks, Mrs Weasley,” Harriet said with a half grin.

Molly stood and patted her gently on the cheek. “Now, you you look after yourself,” she said sternly. “Do as Madam Pomfrey tells you, and don’t over-exert yourself. You know where I am too: I’m sure Remus will let you use his floo if you want to talk.” She smiled and took her leave, Madam Pomfrey passing her in the doorway.

“You’re quite the popular one,” Madam Pomfrey commented dryly after seeing Mrs. Weasley off. “She was quite determined to come and check in on you last night, you know. Professor McGonagall had quite the time talking her out of it. I think you had quite enough visitors last night anyway.”

“Yeah, I suppose so,” Harriet said distractedly. “Madam Pomfrey, what do you think makes a good marriage?”

Madam Pomfrey laughed. “I wouldn’t know, child. I never wanted to marry. No, not me! I’ll not have a husband dictating what I can do to me, no thank you! And losing so much time to childbed? No, I’m quite happy here, mopping up all the accidents you students get into.”

“But what do you think would make a good one?” Harriet pressed.

“House elves, most likely,” Madam Pomfrey informed her. “They make life much easier- you’ll never find a woman with a gaggle of house elves looking stressed about the cooking or cleaning. And a husband with a lot of his own business to keep him out of the house. And good sex.”

Harriet went pink, and Madam Pomfrey just smirked. “Now then,” she said. “Blood replenishing potions for the next week- one after breakfast, one after dinner.” She set a gently clinking box on the bed next to Harriet. “There are three reasonably strong painkilling potions in there too- they’re the blue ones, the blood replenishers are red. Don’t take them unless you need them, and come back to me if you think you need more. Rest as much as you can. Tell Robin from me that he’s to be very gentle with you in bed- no gymnastics.” Harriet went even more pink. She was convinced that even her ears were pink, just like Ron’s always went when he was embarrassed.

“Okay,” she agreed meekly.

“And that means no quidditch for at least a week, young lady.”

Harriet gaped. “No!” she said. “No, I can’t not play quidditch! I’ve got a match next Sunday!”

Poppy narrowed her eyes. “You come and see me on Saturday,” she bargained. “If you’re well enough, you may play on Sunday. Not a moment before, mind. If I so much as see you on that pitch, I shall have you carted straight back here. I’m not having you fall off a broomstick.”

“But I have to coach my team!”

“Find someone else. You’re not to be within a hundred feet of that pitch. And no more duelling until I say otherwise either. Sleep, eat plenty, and don’t work over hard, and you’ll get better faster, and back on that infernal broom. And stay away from anyone else who wants to break your nose or curse you. Any more questions?”

“No,” Harriet said dejectedly. Madam Pomfrey shrank the box down with a tap of her wand and placed it on top of Harriet’s schoolbag.

“I shall see you a week today, then,” she informed her patient. “Unless you feel ill, or antagonise any other students. Off you go, now.”

Harriet huffed and left before Madam Pomfrey could think of anything else to ban her from. Unfortunately, she could understand the matron’s instructions: she had to stop and rest against the wall three times on her way down to her rooms to assuage light-headedness. A couple of students looked at her in puzzlement as she leaned next to a suit of armour, but the corridors were mercifully quiet, and she reached her rooms without anyone attempting to hex her or help her.

She sank down gratefully into her chair, and leaned her head against the high back. She barely even jumped at the crack of elf-apparition, but she sat up straight when she realised it wasn’t Dobby.

As far as she knew, Dobby was the only elf who’d ever come into her room. He was certainly the only elf she’d seen here… until now. “Master Robin wanted Maltie to visit Mistress Harriet when she returned,” the elf said proudly. “He wanted Mistress Harriet to know that he is here, if she would like to see him.”

“But… I thought the house elves didn’t know Robin?” Harriet asked, her brain not quite functioning as she expected.

Maltie looked affronted. “Maltie is the personal elf of Master Severus,” he explained primly. “Maltie knows things that other elves do not.”

“Oh,” Harriet said, deciding that agreeing with the elf was probably the best plan. “I see. Thank you, Maltie. I’ll visit Robin in a minute.”

Maltie nodded, bowed, and was gone. Harriet levered herself out of her chair and reached for her pot of floo powder. She looked down in confusion: she’d been sure that it was nearly empty- she kept meaning to ask Severus for more, but now it was full of soft emerald powder. Either Maltie the house elf was now competing with Dobby for the care of her rooms, or it had been refilled by either Robin or Severus. Shaking her head- everyone seemed determined to look after her at the moment- she cast a pinch into the flames and swirled through.

There was no-one in Severus’ living room. She ambled down the hall to Robin’s room. “Hey,” she said, leaning in the doorway. Robin looked up from his sprawl on his cushions, a wide smile on his face.

“Hey,” he replied, springing up and coming over to her. With one arm gently around her shoulders, he towed her to the bed, perching on the side with her. “How’d you feel, kitten?”

“Fine,” she said sulkily. “I’m fine. Just everyone keeps fussing, and I can’t fly for a week, and…” she realised her voice had risen into a whine, and there was a tear threatening to escape from the corner of her eye.

Robin slipped to the ground, kneeling in front of her so he could peer up into her downturned face. “We’re just worried, Harriet,” he said softly. “If dad was that worried about you, I know it’s bad, okay?”

“Stuff happens. I lost all the bones in my arm in second year. I just basically got cut, okay?” she snapped.

“Do you know what that spell does, Harriet?” Severus asked darkly from the doorway. Both teenagers jumped a bit, having not realised he was there. He crossed to the bed in two long strides. “It is the most dangerous cutting spell of which I am aware,” he informed her. “Most cutting spells go only as deep as the flesh, but sectumsempra is designed to go much further. It can be used to amputate whole limbs with almost no effort: it is frighteningly easy to cast. It is fatal within a few minutes even if no major organs are affected, simply though blood loss.”

“Well you seem to know quite a lot about it,” she snapped.

Severus inclined his head. “I invented it,” he said quietly. “At first, I was looking for an amputation spell- removing limbs is rarely necessary in the magical world, but when it is, it’s a messy, drawn out process. In my foolishness, I spread it amongst the Death Eaters, hoping to gain favour. I despise that spell.” He reached out a tentative hand to stroke her hair. “I can’t lose you, Harriet. Not after so many years of waiting.”

The traitorous tear left Harriet’s eye, and another. She choked out a sob. Very carefully, Severus gathered her up in his arms, pulling her onto his lap. “Cry if you need to,” he said gruffly, holding her close.

“It’s just,” she said, feeling slightly silly, “that I can’t play quidditch, and everyone keeps telling me what I can and can’t do, and I’m cold, and dizzy and sleepy, and I hate it!”

“You’re cold and dizzy on account of the blood loss,” Severus pointed out gently. “I’m delighted that you’ve been told not to play quidditch. If you are dizzy, you are in no fit state to be on a broom.”

“But it’s the Gryffindor-Hufflepuff match next Sunday,” Harriet sniffled. “The team’s going to hate me if I can’t play. They’ll hate me anyway because I can’t coach. Most of them do what I say, but they don’t like me, since I’m a girl now. They only listen to me because I’m good at quidditch.”

Severus firmly moved her further away on his lap so he could look down at her. “Your prowess on a broomstick is the only reason your team should respect you. One does not keep control of such a group by being ‘liked’” He said the last word with such sarcastic venom that even Robin lifted an eyebrow.

“Don’t you want friends?” she asked, curious. She also shivered. “You’re not as mean as you pretend. You like Madam Pomfrey, and you care about Robin.”

Severus gave a long suffering sigh. “Robin, that blanket, if you would be so kind?” he asked, holding out his hand to receive the aforementioned item. He tucked it firmly around her, holding her close again. Harriet leaned into him, amazed at how comfortable she was being held by him now. It felt natural, paternal, even. “I inhabit a very precarious situation,” Severus explained tersely. “I do not have the luxury of being able to trust anyone enough to term them a ‘friend’. I have good working relationships with some of my colleagues, like Poppy and Filius, but they are not friends. I see Albus as something of a mentor, perhaps, but also my employer. Robin is my child, you are my godchild- family is quite different to friendship.”

“I think you’re wrong,” she said with a yawn. “I think family can be friends.”

Severus gave a noncommittal grunt. “How is your back?” he asked.

“A bit stiff,” she admitted. She hadn’t been able to reach behind her and fasten her bra when she’d dressed.

“May I see?” Severus asked solicitously. “Not that I doubt the abilities of our esteemed Matron of course.”

Harriet bit her lip. “I… I suppose so,” she agreed, knowing from his tone that it was not so much a request as an assumption that she would allow him to. She supposed he’d already seen everything when he’d healed her. She tugged her jumper up, Severus’ hands gathering the pink wool at her neck, revealing her back and most of her stomach. He bent her forwards at the wait, and his long fingers skittered over the scar- she hadn’t realised how big it was, slashing diagonally the full length of her back. She heard Robin’s sharp intake of breath, and tried to crane her neck to see her back.

“Here,” Severus said gently, conjuring a mirror behind her and another for her to look into. The curse-scar was vivid pink and puckered “The scar should fade away over the next few weeks- we applied dittany quite quickly. I would advise another application, however- would you prefer me to do so, or Robin?”

“Robin, please,” Harriet requested quietly. She’d rather not get dittany all over her jumper, so she knew she’d have to take it off. If it had been a year ago, the very idea of having Severus Snape touch her would have made her shudder. She didn’t mind now- she knew he was not in the least slimy, but she’d still rather it was Robin touching her, particularly if she had to be half naked.

He let her sit up properly, having had her draped forward across one of his arms, and her jumper fell back to its correct position. “Very well. I shall fetch the salve.” She clambered off his lap, taking her blanket with her.

It took only a few moments for Severus to return. “Here,” he said, handing the jar over to Robin along with a few soft cottony cloths. “Be generous with it,” he advised before taking his leave.

“You don’t mind?” Harriet asked, suddenly nervous.

“Not at all,” Robin assured her with a shake of his head and a  very small, slightly forced smile.

She pulled her jumper over her head. “Where would you like me?”

“Erm, on the bed, I think,” he suggested. She stretched out on her tummy. “Tell me if I hurt you,” he murmured, and she was strongly reminded of the first time they’d slept together. He soaked the cloth in dittany and began smoothing it over the puckered skin in gentle strokes. It felt good, Harriet decided.

“I can’t believe one of your classmates did this,” he said softly. “I thought you weren’t meant to hurt each other.”

Harriet’s voice was muffled, her head buried against the pillows. “We’re not. But Blaise and I aren’t exactly friends.”

Robin’s hands stilled. “Blaise?” he asked, his voice catching. “Wasn’t it Blaise who… groped you?” He’d wanted to say ‘tried to rape’, but somehow couldn’t quite get the words out.

“Yeah,” Harriet agreed, arching her back a little to persuade him to continue.

He took the hint, smoothing more salve onto her lithe back. “I’d have thought you’d be one of the popular ones,” he mused. “I wouldn’t have thought there’d be people wanting to curse you.”

Harriet could only snort at the idea of her being popular. She turned her head so she could see him. His face was stormy. “Were you popular at school?”

The laugh escaped him all in one go, more a snort. “Not likely. Long haired kid, gangly and pale and decidedly not sporty. A mother who wasn’t trusted to look after kids. A dad who only seemed to show up for parent’s evening and birthday parties, and spent the whole time in the corner glowering. And then, after my mum died… well. Someone called social services, because they thought I was living alone. I was here, and I think Dad had to do some playing with minds to get them to go away. I didn’t have friends until I started uni, not real ones. I had girls who came back to me because I was… well, good in bed, I suppose. But that just caused jealousy amongst the boys.”

“Oh,” Harriet said. “I’m sorry.”

“Why?” He shrugged. “You had it crappier, I think.”

“No one ever called social services on the Dursleys,” she said. “I guess… everyone just believed them when they said I was incurably criminal, that I refused the nice things they tried to give me…”

“Oh, kitten,” he breathed, his dittany-free hand petting her hair. “At least I always had Dad to sort everything out, even though he wasn’t the most affectionate of parents. Although it was a close thing, when no Hogwarts letter came for me.” He finished his ministrations and replaced the lid on the pot of dittany, setting it on the bedside table. He stretched out full length beside her, on his side, propped up on one elbow. “I thought he wouldn’t love me anymore. I know now that he was expecting it- he knew that if I hadn’t manifested, had any accidental magic by the time I was eleven, there was no way I was magical enough to go to magic school.”

“Shame I had the magic and you didn’t,” she said. “You could have gone to Hogwarts, and the Dursleys probably wouldn’t have hated me quite so much if I hadn’t kept regrowing my hair and landing up on the school roof. I was doing weird stuff for as long as I can remember.”

“No, Harriet,” he breathed. “I wouldn’t change a single thing about you.” He bent to kiss her temple, then her cheek. She turned her face further up, and he kissed her nose, then, finally, captured her lips. “If you hadn’t had magic, I’d have never met you.”

 

Chapter Text

Harriet most certainly was not going to relay Madam Pomfrey’s message to Robin, but he was infuriatingly careful with her anyway. They lay together on his bed, her back tucked firmly against his front, his arms wrapped around her torso. She tried to tug his hands down to the button of her jeans, but he resolutely returned them to cup her still-bare breasts.

“You’ve been injured, Harriet,” he reminded her, one thumb slipping across the pebbled peak of her nipple. His voice was muted, almost sleepy, his face buried into the crook of her neck. His breath softly warmed her skin. “I might hurt you.”

“Robin,” she pleaded, her hand covering one of his. “I need it. I’ve needed it for ages.”

He chuckled, low and deep. “Finally hitting you, isn’t it?” he asked. He brushed his lips over her collarbone in a soft kiss.

She huffed and turned in the circle of his arms. One of his hands buried beneath her hair, firm against her neck and head. “What is?” she demanded, before he silenced her with a hard, pressing kiss. She moaned into his mouth, melting against him.

He was the one to draw back, a hint of mirth tugging at the corners of his lips. “Wizarding hormones,” he explained,  his free hand rubbing over an uninjured part of her back. She shivered, and he strained to reach the blanket she’d been wrapped in earlier, draping it over her half-clothed form. “My dad called it ‘going into heat’ when I hit fifteen. For months, sex was basically all I could think about. I was pretty much tag-teaming between three girls. I’m not proud of it.”

“Well, that’s how I’ve felt for the past week. So can you get over it and just fuck me?” Harriet demanded, her voice catching in her throat. Her hands crept up beneath his typical black t-shirt, splaying against the heat of his smooth back.

“Give yourself some time, kitten,” he murmured. “Let’s see how you feel tomorrow, okay?”

Harriet growled in frustration. “But I want it now, Robin!”

“I know,” he soothed. “I know you do. I should imagine your reading material didn’t help much.”

“My… reading material?” she questioned, puzzled.

Robin rolled away from her as far as was possible, given that she was lying on his left arm, reaching for something on his bedside table. “I was in your room earlier,” he explained. “I’d left one of my books in there.” She knew that much: she’d picked up a dog-eared copy of The Wasps , hoping to find a common interest in Greek literature, and thrown it aside in disgust. She couldn’t make anything of it; it may as well have been in the original Greek and not an English translation for all the good it did her. “Anyway,” he continued, “I found this.”

Harriet closed her eyes in mortification. The book from the library… “Oh,” she squeaked. “Erm, that…. You see, I was just…”

He kissed her again to keep her quiet. “It’s okay,” he murmured when he pulled back. “I know. You were just doing some research. And I owe you an apology. I explained all of this badly. I should have told you that it’s not about pain, or even really about power. It’s about trust, and love, and giving to each other.”

“Okay,” she whispered. That did sound better than what he’d said before, about it being nothing more than a game.

He continued speaking, his tone light, casual. “I was quite interested in this book: I hadn’t realised that it was an accepted thing in the wizarding world. It also had some rather… interesting propositions.” He kissed her softly on the forehead. “I don’t know that much about the whole BDSM culture, to be honest, even the muggle one. I like learning about things. What did you think?”

Harriet could feel her cheeks burning. One careful finger brushed against her cheek. “You can’t spare the blood for that blush, kitten,” Robin told her. “How about we discuss it more tomorrow?”

“Why not now?” she demanded. Perhaps she could get him worked up enough that he’d agree to take her to bed. He’d gone back to tracing lazy patterns on her back, carefully avoiding the scarring.

“Because it’s nearly lunchtime for you,” he informed her, his voice as silky and deep as his father’s. “And because…” he took a  deep breath. “Would it be okay with you if I went home for a while this afternoon and evening? I was meant to be out with some friends last night, and I sort of… abandoned them when Dad said you were ill. They were really good about it, but I’d like to see them tonight instead. I’d be here tomorrow.”

She bit her lip. She didn’t want to be without Robin, but she knew she was being unreasonable. He didn’t have that much time for his friends between his lectures and coursework, his job, and seeing her. “You should go,” she whispered. Then, an idea. “Maybe… maybe I could come too?” she suggested shyly. “You’ve met my friends, after all…”

“You know the answer to that, Harriet,” he said firmly. “You’re not allowed to leave the school.”

“No one would need to know,” she wheedled. “I could go through the floo with you, when your dad’s at a meal…”

“No.” His hand dipped to cup her bottom through the thick denim of her jeans, and he squeezed firmly to reinforce his point. “There’s a reason you have to stay, as you well know. It’s to keep you safe. It’s not so very long until the end of the school year, then you can do what you want. But until then, you have to do as you’re told.”

She sulked, turning her face down away from him. He left a trace of a kiss at her hairline. When he spoke again, he sounded like he was smiling. “Besides which, you’re under eighteen. Nowhere will serve you alcohol, and some of the places we go, you have to be eighteen to even get in.”

“Do your friends even know I exist?” she asked sulkily, her voice muffled by the blanket and the fact that she spoke directly into his chest.

“Of course,” he said, petting her hair. “Well, they know I have a girlfriend, and she’s still at school. They know you’re at the same school my dad teaches at, but they think he’s a chemistry teacher at a school somewhere in Lancashire, and I visit you every weekend.”

“It’s not fair,” she complained. “I want to go somewhere with you.”

“I know, kitten,” he said. “Me too. But I can’t protect you. I know you’re good at defence, but if something happens to you, I can’t help. Please, kitten, just hang on. In six months, you can meet my friends. We can go places together. Just wait until you finish school, please.”

She suddenly realised she hadn’t told him! She finally extricated her face from the blanket and looked up at him. “I’ve got an interview at the Wizarding colleges,” she said.

He really did smile then. “That’s brilliant!” he exclaimed. “See, you’ll be in Lancaster. That’s not so far from me. We can tell everyone you’re at Lancaster University, and you can meet all my friends.”

“I have to actually get in first.”

“I know you’ll do well,” he informed her.

He bent his head to kiss her soundly, his tongue brushing against her lips. She eagerly deepened the kiss. Finally, his fingers dipped below the band of her jeans, brushing against the skin of her waist. She’d never realised how sensitive that particular place was before. She mewled against him, pressing against him desperately, her fingers fumbling with the buckle on his belt. “No, kitten,” he chided softly. “Not today. We agreed.”

She didn’t think they’d agreed. He’d told her. “I feel so empty ,” she protested.

“I might be able to help with that,” he said. “Did you use all of the things I sent you?”

She frowned. What did he mean? Then she remembered. “Those funny little ball things?” she asked. “I didn’t know what they were for.”

“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go through to your room. I’ll show you.”

He urged her up, and she pulled on her jumper. “I wish the floo was to your fireplace,” she grumbled, following him out of the room.

“I did ask dad to connect them. He said no.” Robin said. Harriet huffed. Why did Severus keep meddling in their relationship? “Your stock of floo powder was abominably low, by the way. I refilled it.”

He offered her the pot of powder from Severus’ mantle first. She whirled through, and turned immediately to watch him follow. This time, she caught it: a moment of a wince as he landed on her hearth rug. He quickly smoothed out his features, though. “Where’d you put them?” he asked, as if he hadn’t just felt like he was being burnt.

Harriet had to stand on tiptoe to reach the box she’d put on top of her wardrobe. Robin reached over her head, fetching it down for her and removing the pale pink spheres. “Come here,” he said, taking her hand and leading her over to the bed. He deftly unfastened her jeans, and her breath caught in her throat. Was he going to...? She tugged the offending fabric down over her hips.

“Good girl,” he murmured. “Up on the bed with you. Spread your legs for me…” His fingers almost tickled as they brushed up her thighs, pushing them apart. He dropped to his knees on the floor in front of her, his head level with her needy pussy. “Oh, you’re wet,” he breathed. “You really do need it.”

“Yes,” she agreed, desperately. She thought he was going to lick her, kiss her… but she wanted more. She wanted to feel him inside her.

It wasn’t the anticipated touch of his tongue, though. He easily slid a finger into her, but quickly replaced it with one of the balls in his hand. Her breath caught as he pushed it against her, the weight and size stretching her. Then, it was inside her, and the next was pressing against her. “Good girl,” he repeated, one finger ghosting once over her swollen clit. “You can take these.” He pressed against the second ball, and it, too, slipped in. He leaned forward to kiss her, just above her clit, and she whined high in the throat, trying to push her hips closer to him. She did feel full, at least.

He chuckled and pulled away from her, then crawled up onto the bed beside her. “Let’s see how you do with those for a few hours,” he murmured, brushing her thumb across her cheek.

“Hours?” she exclaimed. “But I have to go to lunch!”

“I know,” he said gravely. “Consider it our naughty little secret, okay? Keep them in until at least after lunch, and then, tomorrow, you can tell me how you liked it, okay?”

“I can’t go gallivanting about the castle like… like this!” she protested, reaching down between her legs to pull the offending items out. he caught her wrist, and gently cupped her cheek in his other hand, looking at her intently.

“If you truly don’t want it, that’s fine, Harriet. I’m not demanding you do anything. I just thought it might be… exciting for you.”

She bit her lip nervously. It did feel good, she had to admit. “Won’t everyone know?” she whispered.

He shook his head. “Of course not. Here. Pull up your knickers and jeans, and walk about a bit. Make sure it’s comfortable.”

Shaking, she did as she suggested. With each step, the balls shifted oddly against each other inside her, causing a gasp the first few trembling steps. She’d been worried that they’d fall out, but her muscles squeezed against them instinctively. Robin, propped up on one elbow eyed her speculatively. “I know a girl who swears by those,” he said conversationally. “She says it makes sex feel much better if you wear them regularly.”

“For her, or her boyfriend?” Harriet asked, bouncing on the spot to feel the movement inside her.

Robin smiled indulgently at her acting like the middle of her room was a trampoline. “For her. Although I should imagine it goes both ways. I gather you like them then?”

“I suppose so,” she said, flinging herself on the bed, trying to sound nonchalant. He laughed and leant down to kiss her.

“You need to go to lunch,” he reminded her, “and I should get going soon. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

She groaned, and pulled him back for another kiss. “I don’t want to,” she grumbled.

Nevertheless, he packed her off to lunch. It did feel deliciously naughty, walking through the castle stuffed full of the balls. She thought she had the blush under control by the time she got the great hall.

She was a bit early for food. Ron and Hermione were there already, and Ginny, sitting on Hermione’s far side, was trying to enchant an origami broom to fly, but it kept nosediving. Harriet slipped into the seat opposite Ron. “The charm’s too far forward,” she informed Ginny. “It should be in the central twigs, like a real broom.”

Ginny glanced up. “Shut up, Potter,” she snapped, but Harriet noticed that the broom was flying better a few minutes later.

Hermione bounced in her seat. “Harriet! You’re out! How’re you feeling?”

“Yeah,” she said with a smile, experimentally shifting on her bench. “I’m out. I’ve got to take blood replenishers for the next week though. Erm, Ron, Ginny… I might not be fit to fly for the match on Sunday. I’m trying to convince Pomfrey. Ginny… you might have to play seeker.”

The redheaded girl gave Harriet a look of venom. “Ugh. Fine. Since you can’t even dodge a simple curse!”

“Gin!” Ron cried. “That’s not fair! That was a dark curse; she could have died!”

Ginny mumbled something that might have been ‘shame she didn’t’, and shuffled down the bench to talk to a just-arrived sixth year boy. Hermione shook her head. “I don’t know why she can’t just let it go,” she said to Harriet.

Harriet shrugged, reaching for the tureen of soup that had just popped into existence on the table. “It’s fine,” she said. “I’m kind of used to it by now. Can’t say I’m happy about it, but…”

“Yeah,” Hermione sympathised with a wry smile.

“So, Harriet wanted to know, “What’d I miss, being kept prisoner in the hospital wing?”

Hermione tore a bite of bread off her roll. “Well, Neville won’t really talk to anyone,” she said. “But Professor Lupin came to talk to us all. Told everyone where his rooms are, and he put a kind of bell-pull thing in the common room in case we need him during the night. And she said that he’s going to meet with every year group separately so we can get to know him.”

“He visited me too, last night,” Harriet said. “Said the same kind of stuff. So, what’s going on with Neville?”

Ron shrugged. “Dunno. He was really quiet all last night, after they finally found him in greenhouse eleven- Merlin knows how, no-one uses that greenhouse. Then, about nine last night, McGonagall came to get him. She didn’t say what was wrong, but Neville looked like he wasn’t surprised.”

“He looked like he was going to the firing squad, actually,” Hermione interjected. Ron looked confused. “It’s… a method of execution,” Hermione explained.

Ron shrugged away the ‘muggle-ism’. “Whatever. He looked really scared. Anyway, no-one’s seen him since.”

“Maybe something’s wrong with his Gran?” Hermione suggested, but she didn’t sound sure. Harriet snorted, but said nothing. A far more likely prospect was that Dumbledore had taken Neville on another Horcrux-hunt. She knew she shouldn’t feel put out- after all, why should she want to be put in danger? And she’d been in no fit state to go anywhere last night.

Idly, she wondered if perhaps Voldemort could be defeated without her even being there. Perhaps Neville would go off and kill him, and she wouldn’t need anything to do with it. Then she could go and live her life in obscurity- neither the boy who lived, since she was a girl, or the vanquisher of Voldemort. The idea was a pleasant one. She could even marry and change her name, not even be a Potter anymore. No one would recognise the name Harriet… Snape? She couldn’t help a shudder at the realisation that taking Robin’s name would leave her a Snape. No hope for obscurity in the wizarding world there: Every Hogwarts student for the past sixteen years had been taught by Severus, and it wasn’t a wizarding name, so it wasn’t like there was a multitude of Snapes to whom she could be related. If people hadn’t been taught by Severus, they probably remembered him from their own school days. Maybe marrying to change her name wasn’t such a good idea.

Which would be worse, she wondered, Harriet Snape or Harriet Malfoy? She was jolted out of her musing when Hermione nudged her sharply in the ribs.

“It’s quite all right,” Lupin was saying. “I’m sure Harriet is very tired.”

“Sorry, Professor?” Harriet said. She hadn’t even noticed him come over, but there he was, straddling the bench opposite her.

“I was just asking if the three of you are available this afternoon, about four o’clock, for some tea in my rooms? I’d like to get the seventh years together for a chat. I’d rather get everyone together before I am… indisposed, next week.”

“Oh, yes, that’s fine,” Harriet assured him. “Well, at least for me…” she said, glancing either side to Ron and Hermione.

Ron snorted. “Merlin, you really are dozy today. We’ve already said that we can.”

“Don’t worry, Professor, we’ll make sure she gets there,” Hermione assured their gentle head of house with a laugh at Harriet’s vagueness. Lupin didn’t return the laugh, or even smile: he just looked serious and sad.

“I’ll see you later,” he said by way of farewell.  

“What’s up with you?” Ron demanded. “You were completely spaced!”

“Blood loss,” Harriet said, deadpan, not at all willing to admit that she’d been contemplating the benefits or otherwise of various married names. Ron would probably suggest ‘Weasley’, just to be difficult- he’d probably joke about marrying her off to both of the twins at the same time. “What are you two doing for the next few hours?”

“Work,” Ron replied morosely. “She,” (with a jerk of his elbow at Hermione,) “won’t leave me alone.”

“That essay’s due on Monday, Ron, and you know how much you’re struggling with that transfiguration into a potted plant!”

Harriet groaned. She, too, failed at the potted plant- last time she’d tried, she’d had her pointy Hogwarts hat perched on her hydrangea head at a jaunty angle. Everyone had laughed. “How about we work in my room?” Harriet suggested. “I’m not really feeling up to the library.” That, and she’d rather be in her room than the library, so she was near her own bathroom to take out Robin’s gift if she needed to.

Hermione looked shocked. She wasn’t used to Harriet being around at weekends for much more than meals. “What about… well, you know?” she asked. “Your visitor.”

Harriet shrugged. “He said he had something with friends today. He’ll be here tomorrow.”

“Does he know you were, well, hurt?”

Harriet nodded. “Snape even snuck him in to see me in the hospital wing,” she admitted in a whisper. Ron made a noise of disgust even as Hermione cooed in delight. At least both agreed to eschew the library in favour of her room, though, she suspected, for quite different reasons. Hermione, she imagined, wanted the undisturbed tranquility of being locked away from the rest of the school, and the younger students who wanted her help. Ron, on the other hand, wanted to be able to talk as loudly as he wanted, possessing very little by way of an ‘inside voice’, and bribe some cakes out of Dobby. Personally, Harriet wanted to curl up on the oversized pillows in Robin’s room, but she didn’t think Severus would appreciate her marching her friends though his quarters just for the pillows. She wondered if Dobby could find her some for her room.



Chapter Text

“It’s almost four,” Ron pointed out. “We should get going.” Harriet glanced at her watch. It was, in fact, half past three. She knew it wouldn’t take half an hour to get to Lupin’s office from here, but she was willing to bet that Ron was bored. He’d spent the last half an hour trying to enchant his quill to write for him. Hermione had suggested that he should just consider a dicta-quill. She’d just received a broken quill chucked in her direction for her suggestion. It would appear that the quills weren’t capable of taking the charms he was using, as they kept cracking.

Harriet shifted in her seat. Should she remove the balls, she wondered? She had thought they would drive her mad, but she’d become oddly used to them. The weight of them was almost… comforting. And she wanted to prove to Robin that she could do this. That, and the knowledge that she was near other people with a deliciously full pussy and damp knickers gave her an illicit thrill. She decided to leave them. “Yeah,” she agreed.

“You’re only keen because Lupin mentioned cake,” Hermione said distractedly, twirling a strand of her hair between her fingers. She sighed and rolled up her parchment, sliding it into her bag. “Come on then, if we’re going.”

It most certainly didn’t take almost half an hour to walk to Lupin’s quarters: They were early. The door swung open as soon as Hermione knocked. “Hello? Professor? she called, seeing no one there.

“Come in,” Lupin called. Hermione took a confident step into the room, with Harriet and Ron following. “Ah, excellent, three more!” Lupin said. “Make yourselves comfortable. There’s drinks on the sideboard, help yourself.” He was perched on a footstool near the fire, apparently having been deep in conversation with Neville. Ron made a beeline for the sideboard, followed at a more sedate pace by Hermione. Harriet, though, dithered.

She perched just on the very edge of a chair next to Neville. “Hi, Neville,” she offered in quiet greeting. “I… erm, I’m sorry I was going on at you, yesterday morning. I was hoping we might be able to forget it?”

Neville looked startled. “But… I broke your nose,” he stammered. “I didn’t think you’d want to speak to me again.”

“I kind of deserved it,” Harriet admitted. “You… erm… well, you know where I am if you ever need anything, okay?”

“Okay,” Neville squeaked, and Harriet gave what she hoped was an encouraging smile. She stood, and felt everything inside her shift. She tightened, squeezing deliciously. She was pleased that she’d decided to keep them in. It was a reminder of Robin, and she liked to think that she could be a better person when she thought of how gentle he was with her. He’d have tried to make amends with Neville, she thought. Satisfied that she’d at least extended a branch of friendship, she fetched herself a cup of tea from the sideboard and took the chair closest to the fire. Shivering through this probably wouldn’t convince anyone she was well enough to be up and about.

Dean and Seamus were the next to arrive, as Lupin put plates of cake and biscuits on the table in the middle of the room, closely followed by Imogen and Faye. Imogen immediately snuggled into the sofa next to Ron, and Harriet was surprised to see her friend wrap a casual arm around the girl. Ron wasn’t usually a touchy-feely type, and he didn’t parade his conquests in public. She also didn’t miss the glare that stayed in Hermione’s eyes for only a second before she schooled her emotions. Was she jealous of Imogen? Harriet wondered, taking a cream cake when the plate was passed to her. It wasn’t like Hermione to be jealous about Ron’s conquests.

Lavender and Parvati were the last to arrive, seating themselves on the peripheries, even shuffling their chairs a scant couple of inches out. Lavender turned down cake with a sniff, and Parvati quickly snatched her hand back from the plate at her friend’s reaction, shaking her head..

“Well, I think that’s everyone,” Lupin said. “Thank you, all of you, for giving up some of your Saturday time: I know it’s precious.”

There were little murmurs of agreement and acceptance, but no one seemed quite sure of why they were here. “I’ve spoken to the first years already, but I wanted to meet with you before I start talking to anyone else. I’d like your views on how Gryffindor is run.”

“Sir? Seamus asked, echoing everyone’s thoughts.

Lupin took a sip of his tea. “Things have changed somewhat since I was a student,” he explained. “I would like to know if any of you have an ideas for improvements to the house.”

Lavender half put up her hand, unsure if she was to act as if in a lesson. “Go on,” Lupin said with a nod in her direction. “There’s no need to wait for permission to speak here; it’s just an informal discussion.”

Lavender cleared her throat delicately. “I don’t think he should be here,” she said. Harriet’s heart turned icy.

“Forgive me,” Lupin asked with a blink, “but who do you mean?”

“Potter,” she clarified for him. Ron immediately cried out, but Lupin waved him into silence. “He’s not really a Gryffindor,” Lavender continued smoothly, ignoring Ron’s interruption. “It’s not like he sleeps in Gryffindor.”

“And whose fault is that?” The question burst from Ron like a jet of water from a previously dry tap: sudden, noisy, and it made you jump.

“I fail to see your point, Lavender,” Lupin replied as if Ron had never spoken. “Miss Potter- I do apologise, I had presumed that everyone was aware that Harriet is female, and thus female pronouns should be used- Miss Potter is every bit as much a Gryffindor as everyone here.  She may not sleep in the tower due to her unusual circumstances, but she was sorted into the house, and earns points for it alongside all of you. She even captains the quidditch team.”

“Well I think it’s unnatural,” Lavender sniped. “And I don’t want to pollute myself with it.”

Harriet swallowed thickly, tears of shame already threatening to spill. She stood to leave, but Lupin’s hand wrapped gently around her wrist. “Sit down, Harriet,” he murmured. “I think it best if we meet separately to discuss your feelings, Miss Brown,” he said, louder.

Lavender sniffed and stood with a glare in Harriet’s direction, kicking over her untouched glass of pumpkin juice in the proces. “Fine,” she said. “It’s not like I want to sit around here listening to a filthy werewolf either. Come on, Parvati.”

Parvati looked up, her eyes wide with shock. Lupin cut in. “Parvati, you may, of course, leave, but if you do, I shall be expecting you in detention with Miss Brown at ten o’clock tomorrow morning, where we shall be discussing attitudes towards those different to ourselves.” Almost imperceptibly, Parvati shook her head at her friend, the motion cascading down her waterfall of hair.

Lavender huffed and turned on her heel, wrenching the door open. “Remember, ten o’clock tomorrow, Lavender,” Lupin called after her. A flick of her hair was the only response. Imogen quietly leaned over to clean up the spilled pumpkin juice.

Lupin sighed as she slammed the door. “Well, it appears we are one down. Let us return to our previous topic: is there anything that you wish to see changed in Gryffindor?”

Hermione leaned forwards. “Well… I’d like to  have a quiet space, or a quiet time in the common room, where everyone just got on with homework.”

Lupin nodded. “Something similar happens in Ravenclaw, I believe,” he offered. “Three times a week, they have a sort of study club in their common room, and people can get help if they need it. I think that’s a fine idea, Hermione. I’ll certainly look into it.”

Most of the rest of the students present groaned. “That’s what the library is for,” Dean said in mild disgust.

“The library’s busy lots of the time, and sometimes I just fancy reading in an armchair without enchanted paper broomsticks flying over my head, or shrieks when someone turns a third year’s hair purple,” Hermione pointed out. Dean shrugged- he was usually the one turning the third year’s hair purple.

“It does tie in with an idea I wanted to implement,” Lupin said. “I would like to have a list of people willing to help with queries from younger students about their work- at the moment, a lot of the first years aren’t sure if they can ask for help, or who to ask, beyond Hermione, and she only has so much time. I’ll put some lists up in the common room for people to sign up with the subjects they’re most comfortable with, and if we do a study club, that would be a good time for tutoring.”

“Do we have to?” Ron wanted to know with a wrinkle of his nose.

Lupin shook his head. “No, not at all. I only want people who want to help: you won’t put enough effort in otherwise. I’m hoping that fourth or fifth years will be willing to help the younger students, and you can help the older ones.”

“I think that’s a wonderful idea, Professor!” Hermione said, eyes shining. “It would mean that people always knew where they could go for help! I have no idea why we haven’t done it before!”

“These things take some organisation to put into place, Hermione, though, hopefully, largely run themselves once established. Professor McGonagall has had rather too many duties as assistant headmistress, I think, to manage it as well. It is no surprise that the Gryffindor students have been left to fend for themselves.”

“There’s nothing wrong with the way McGonagall does stuff!” Ron protested hotly. “None of us have died, or anything!”

“No, there have been no deaths,” Lupin admitted carefully. Harriet could see the unspoken point: that the lack of deaths was more by luck than good management. She herself was a case in point of that fact: how many times had she gone sneaking around the castle at night with Professor McGonagall none the wiser? “But the fact remains that only two of the first year students knew where her quarters are, and none how to summon her in case of emergency. Incidentally, what was her preferred method? I haven’t had a chance to ask her.”

Blank looks abounded. “Why would we want to summon her?” Dean wanted to know.

Lupin frowned. “In case of emergency. What if one of you were taken ill in the night?”

“Erm, hospital wing,” Seamus contributed.

Lupin looked astounded. “When I was a student, there was a picture of a lion on a rock. If you asked, he would take your message off to his other portrait in the head of house’s rooms. I noticed that the painting was gone, and put the bell pull in as a temporary solution until I could locate it, or another paired portrait.”

“We’ve managed okay up ‘til now,” Ron complained. “We don’t need a babysitter.”

Lupin passed the plate of cakes around again. It seemed to be refilling itself, new cakes popping into existence. “No, you don’t,” the professor agreed. “But I would like to be certain that if a first year contracts dragon pox and shows symptoms in the night, that I could be summoned to assist, and not hear second hand from Madam Pomfrey when the poor child has been alone in the hospital wing for hours.” He sighed deeply. “Another thing: the first years were unaware of any sex education classes planned for them. Have you had any instruction in the matter in your time at the school?”

Ron had gone pink, and Neville was frantically picking at a loose thread on his robes.

“Well, in first year, Madam Pomfrey showed all the girl where the, erm, feminine supplies were. And the… contraceptive potions,” Hermione piped up.

“I see,” Lupin replied mildly. “Anything else?”

After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, Parvati spoke up quietly. “Not like other houses, Sir,” she volunteered. “My twin, Padma… she told me that the first and second years had evening lessons, once a term, about stuff like that. We never did.”

“Not even the muggle-borns?” the defence professor pressed gently. The muggle-borns present shook their heads.

He visibly slumped. “I’ll organise something,” he promised. “Leaving students without a safe space to learn about their sexuality is… dangerous. Does anyone have suggestions these sorts of lessons?”

The seventh years were silent, staring at each other, or carefully avoiding eye contact, depending on the person. Lupin waited patiently, taking a bit of his cake. Eventually, Harriet grew bored of the silence. “It’s stupid how much I didn’t know, when I found out I was a girl,” she said. “How much I still don’t really know. I think it’s a good idea, and boys and girls should be together. It might be more embarrassing, but boys should know more about what goes on with girls, and the other way round. It’s all such a big part of wizarding life, and yet it’s all kept so quiet. And maybe we could ask questions anonymously, so no one gets made fun of for not knowing something.”

“I don’t think the first years need to know the same kind of things as say, the fifth years, though,” Faye put forward boldly. “To be honest, some of the stuff people get up to by in the upper years… it’s not fit for first year ears.”

Harriet looked down studiously- this was not a great conversation to be having when she could feel the wetness from her own overstimulated body seeping into her knickers. Faye’s contribution seemed to open the floodgates on the conversation, though. Ron thought that anyone who couldn’t figure it out didn’t deserve to know, but Harriet pointed out that, for the muggle-borns, wizarding sexuality was totally unlike what they’d expected. The hormonal changes, for a start, were far beyond anything that their muggle friends went through.She didn’t think Ron believed her.

Seamus was all for private rooms for anyone above third year anyway- as he rightly pointed out, it would save a lot of stumbling into awkward situations. Imogen reckoned that that was what bed curtains and silencing spells were for.

Eventually, Lupin held up his hands to stop them. “Thank you, all of you. I can see that this is a… difficult situation. I appreciate your input, but I think I need to discuss this with Professor McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey. I’ll get back to you about it, and the homework club. But, for now, it’s nearly time for dinner. Please, if there’s anything you’d like to discuss with me, my door is always open to any of you.”

There was a chorus of “thanks, professor,” and clinking of cups and glasses as people piled them back on the sideboard on their way out. Lupin touched Harriet’s shoulder. “Hang on a minute,would you?” he asked quietly. “I’d like a word.”

Harriet nodded, and Ron, half on his feet, sat down again, hearing the professor’s instruction. Imogen tugged on his hand, but he just smiled at her. “I’ll see you later, Im,” he promised.

When it was just Harriet, Ron and Hermione left, Lupin sighed. “Well, I suppose you three do everything together anyway,” he conceded. “You may as well stay.” He turned the bench he was straddling to face Harriet. She shifted uncomfortably at the direct attention.”I wanted to make sure that you, especially, know that I am here to listen if you need me, or act if I can. I know that you have others you can speak to- you have good friends in Ron and Hermione, and I suspect that you have Professor Snape’s ear as well.” Harriet opened her mouth to protest, not wanting to reveal anything Severus wouldn’t want known. Lupin held up a hand with a smile. “You need not say anything. I’m certainly not going to do anything with the information, but I know who your mother’s midwife was. He must have known about you all along, when I, along with the rest of the world, believed you to be male. However, I digress.

“I had hoped that we could take steps to move you back to Gryffindor tower,” Lupin continued. Harriet’s heart seized- there was no way she wanted to be subject to the scrutiny of living in a dormitory. How would she ever see Robin?

“Please,” she squeaked, “I’m happy where I am. I don’t mind.”

Lupin sighed. “I can see it would be impossible to keep you in close proximity to Lavender anyway,” he allowed. “I’m not even sure about the wisdom of having you moved to your own room within the tower. Quite naively, I had thought the antagonism from your house-mates had blown over.”

“It has, really,” Harriet protested. “Lavender and I… well, we just stay away from each other. Everyone else is fine.”

“Are you certain?” Lupin asked seriously. Harriet nodded.

“Excuse me, Professor, Harriet, but that’s not true,” Hermione said softly. Lupin turned so he could see her. She swallowed nervously, and Ron glared daggers at her. “Sorry, Harriet, but it’s not. It’s not just Lavender; most of the house keep their distance. Someone’s been telling the younger students that she’s corrupted by dark magic, and they’ll end up cursed if they spend time with her. Mostly, people think it’s funny, but some of the more gullible are convinced. Dennis Creevey is terrified of her. The older boys openly discuss if sex with her would be like having sex with another man, or if they should do it.”

“But I’ve never offered to have sex with any of them!” Harriet protested.

Ron shook his head sadly. “Doesn’t matter, mate,” he said. “They’re not looking for anything meaningful, just a shag. They don’t really care if you want it or not. I told ‘em you were out of bounds.”

Lupin rubbed his head tiredly. “I’d forgotten how complex and raw teenage sexual politics are,” he admitted. “It does get better, when people marry off.” He yawned, stood. “Go to dinner, you three. Harriet, carry on as you have been- avoid anyone who gives you trouble, but let me know, please. You only have a few months left, then you will have a fresh start.”

“I’ll always be front page news for the Prophet ,” she complained bitterly. “I’ll never be free.”

Lupin squeezed her shoulder. “Let’s see what happens,” he suggested. “You might be surprised.”

 

Chapter Text

“What time is it?” Harriet asked sleepily, already half sitting up, with her wand lit in the half light as soon as Robin stumbled through the floo.

“Almost nine,” Robin said, slipping fully clothed into the bed beside her. “Enjoying a rare Sunday lie in?”

“Suppose so,” Harriet said, flopping back onto the pillows and flicking her wand to pull back the heavy curtains at her windows. The light in the room didn’t improve much: she could see the fog from her comfy nest of blankets. She slipped from the bed and padded to the windows, peering out to the gloom of the grounds to the quidditch pitch. She could see a few little figures on broomsticks, though the visibility was terrible. She hoped Ron would bring the team in if it was too poor: if it was like this next week, the match might be called off. Rain wasn’t enough to call off a quidditch game, but fog or heavy snow meant that there was little chance of actually seeing the snitch, or, far worse, a bludger.

“Come back to bed,” Robin said. “You’ll freeze, standing there.”

She sighed and climbed back into bed with him. He opened his arms, letting her snuggle close. His hair tickled her cheek. “Did you have a nice time?” she asked more from politeness than real interest.

“Mmm, thanks,” he replied. “Bit of a late night.” He kissed the top of her head. “Erm, Harriet?” he said carefully. “I… hope you don’t mind, but I’ll be out next friday night, so I’ll be late on Saturday- probably won’t see you until the evening, after dinner.”

“Oh.”

“Don’t be angry,” he said pleadingly. “I’ll only be a few hours later than if I have a Saturday morning shift at the cafe. It’s a friend’s birthday- a really good friend. I know it’s been twice in a short space of time, and I’m sorry, but I can’t just skip out on her birthday. We’re all going to an all nighter at this rock club on Oxford Street.”

“Fine,” Harriet said shortly, lying stiffly against him.

He huffed out his breath, then rolled, moving quickly, until he was over her, braced on his arms so he didn’t actually put weight on her. She turned her face to the side, not looking at him. “Harriet,” he said firmly. “We can’t keep doing this- going off in a sulk is only going to ruin today. If you’re going to sulk, I’ll just go.”

“If you want,” she said flatly. “After all, your friends are most important.”

“That’s not what I’m saying, Harriet, and you know it,” he said through gritted teeth. “We both have lives away from each other, and sometimes those lives happen at inconvenient times.”

A tear trickled down into the pillow. She knew she was being unreasonable: the little voice in the back of her head told her so. She knew he had a really busy life: he worked extra shifts on the days he didn’t see her so he could keep time free. Not many university students would be up and visiting before nine in the morning after a night out, but he did, for her. But the other little voice, the petulant one, complained that she’d been hurt just the day before yesterday, and that he should be fussing over her, not going out with his friends. The same little voice complained of the ache between her legs, the intense need for a touch other than hers which was only really increased by the time she’d spent wearing the odd balls he’d put in her yesterday. “Why can’t you just be here ?” she demanded.

He kissed the ridge of her cheekbone. “I know, kitten,” he soothed.

She looked up at him plaintively. “Why can’t you just fuck me?”

His eyes narrowed, and he shifted his weight to one side so he could slip a hand down between them. It slid easily beneath the waistband of her pyjamas, and she couldn’t help but groan as he slipped a finger between her swollen pussy lips. “Merlin, you’re wet,” he breathed. “You’re suffering, aren’t you?”

He didn’t even wait for her response before he’d rolled her over, so her back was to him. Almost roughly, he jerked her hips up so she was on her knees. She mewled in protest. “Shush,” he soothed. “Is this okay?” She nodded, and then he was tugging her pyjama bottoms down to her knees. She kicked her feet, flinging them off and leaving her bare on the bottom half. “Good girl,” he praised softly, slipping his hands up her bedtime t-shirt to firmly cup her breasts.

She pressed her hips out to him. There was no preamble, no foreplay. He had fumbled his jeans off in moments, and the heavy head of his cock nudged against her lips, already slightly slick and spreading with arousal and her position. She arched her hips up like a beast in heat, spreading her legs, and the head pushed in with only the slightest of resistance. They groaned in almost perfect unison, Harriet enjoying the stretching fill of that first few seconds of penetration, and Robin the clinging warmth of her body, tighter through the lack of preparation.

It wasn’t tender; it was certainly the roughest lovemaking Harriet had known. Robin gripped her hips tight, setting a brutal pace, and all she could do was go along for the ride. The angle of her hips let him sink deep into her, and she panted and moaned as he touched parts of her inside that she was sure he’d never touched before. “More,” she gasped. The fingers of his right hand dug into her hipbones bruisingly hard, but his left twined around her hip, pressing on the bundle of her clit. She cried out as their rocking motion dragged her across his hand again and again, and her lower belly clenched tight in anticipation. A curl of his fingers, hitting that sensitive spot, and she cried out, clamping down around him. Vaguely, she heard his grunt above her. A few more strokes, and he stilled above her. She was almost certain that she felt the spurt of his come, the spreading warmth; but was that just the heat of her own climax?

Her legs dropped from beneath her, and she slipped to the bed on her stomach. The warmth of his body covered his back as he carefully lowered himself over her, his cock still lodged inside her, softening, but still a fill. “You could have just asked,” he murmured, stirring the hair at the back of her neck with his breath. He rolled off her, letting her curl up on her side, facing him.

“I thought you’d think I was being pathetic,” she said quietly.

He breathed deeply, closing his eyes a little longer than would be considered a blink. “No, kitten,” he said. “I know how you feel. All of your classmates will too- they’ve been here too.”

“Then why is it that I never noticed it?” she riposted. “Why weren’t they shagging in the common room?”

He sighed deeply. “Because, like you, they have some modicum of self-control. You weren’t jumping me the moment I got here- you’re just grumpy and irritable because you need sex. Nothing more.” He stroked her cheek. “I’m sorry we couldn’t deal with it sooner. I suppose I should be grateful: if you’re this desperate, you’re probably not sleeping with anyone else.”

“What?” she exclaimed. “How could you think that?”

“Hush, kitten. I don’t,” he assured her. “Tell you what- ask a house elf for some breakfast, go and clean up, and we’ll have breakfast in bed, okay?”

“Why don’t you ask for breakfast?” she grumbled.

He smiled weakly. “Because I can’t summon a house elf,” he explained patiently. “I’m not a resident of the castle.”

“Oh,” she said, feeling stupid. She’d never really thought about why the house elves came when you called.

Dobby was only too delighted to bring them breakfast, though he looked at Robin with narrowed eyes. “Is Mistress Harriet alright?” he asked.

“I’m fine, Dobby,” she assured him. “Robin’s my guest- I want him here. Promise.”

The overly-loyal house elf still looked suspicious. “Dobby, ask Maltie about Robin,” Robin suggested. “He can vouch for me.”

Slightly mollified, Dobby popped back to the kitchens, and Harriet went to visit the loo. By the time she got back, Dobby and Maltie were each delivering groaning trays to the coffee table by the fireside. Harriet’s blood replenishing potion was prominent, the vial resting inside her empty goblet. She swallowed it with a grimace.

“So,” Robin began, finishing off his dish of porridge whilst Harriet munched a danish pastry, “What did you think of your sex toy adventure yesterday?”

Harriet caught her lower lip between her teeth and flushed. She glanced up under her eyelashes to see Robin calmly putting his bowl down and selecting a handful of strawberries. “How can you just talk about, about… stuff so casually?” she demanded.

He just smiled. “Why be coy about it?” he asked. “We’re alone, in private… if we can’t discuss it with each other, then who can we discuss it with?”

She shrugged a single shoulder. “I dunno.”

“So then,” he pressed, “did you like it?”

“Yeah,” she whispered, still not looking at him.

“Okay,” he said. “Academic discussion time. What were your views on the book? What was it? BDSM and magic, or some such?”

Harriet took a deep breath. This was what she’d wanted to tell him. “I overreacted,” she admitted. “I thought the spanking thing was, I don’t know, abusive, but it’s not. Not what you were thinking about- it’s just something I hadn’t heard of before. It’s okay that you… you want to do that. I… I wouldn’t mind trying it.”

“Come here,” Robin said with a smile. Hesitantly, Harriet uncurled herself from her chair and went around the table to him. Was he going to do it now? To… to spank her? Why was the word hard to say in her mind?

He reached out to pull her into his lap, and she squeaked, somewhat surprised to find herself right way up and snuggled in his arms instead of bottom-up and having her pyjama bottoms pulled down again. He chucked, dipping his head to kiss her cheek, the silk of his hair brushing her neck. “Did you think I was going to spank you?” he asked.

“Maybe,” she admitted sheepishly.

He grinned. “Perhaps I should tell you off for sulking earlier. Or perhaps I should reward you for going and finding out about spanking instead of just being scared.”

“Reward me?” she asked, frowning up at him.

He tapped the end of her nose playfully. “Yeah,” he said. “I’m sure I can find some things that you’d enjoy. Was there anything you found interesting in that book?”

She blushed, tipping her face down into the soft black jumper he wore. “I suppose,” she whispered.

He wrapped his arms tighter around her. “I won’t think worse of you for anything you’re interested in,” he promised. “Well, certainly not anything in that book. If you said that you wanted to have threesomes with centaurs, I might find it a bit… concerning.”

“Threesomes with centaurs?” she demanded, her embarrassment almost forgotten in that moment. “Why on earth would I want to? And why would you be concerned?”

“Have you seen the size of the equipment on those centaurs?” he asked incredulously. “The phrase ‘hung like a horse’ came from somewhere, you know. And I’d be concerned because, well, double penetration by centaurs sounds like it would be painful. Plus, the logistics seem difficult- where would all the legs go?”

She snorted with laughter at the ridiculous image. “I think maybe I’ll stick with you,” she said with a grin.

“Thank you,” he replied, aiming for a serious expression, but not quite managing to arrange his face properly. “So, how about you tell me what interested you in that book, and I’ll tell you what interested me. Maybe it matches up.”

“Where is the book?” Harriet asked, angling for time. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe Robin that he wouldn’t think badly of her, it was just… embarrassing to talk about. “I don’t think I brought it back here with me.”

Robin groaned. “Must still be in my room,” he said. “D’you want me to grab it and come back here, or are you coming too?” Well, Harriet mused, he wasn’t letting her get away with not talking about it.

“Let’s both go,” Harriet suggested. “I like cuddling on those giant cushions.”

“Honestly,” Robin grumbled good-naturedly. “I reckon you’re only with me for my soft furnishings.”

“Something like that,” Harriet agreed. “Think your dad’ll mind if I’m still in pyjamas? I can’t be bothered to get changed.”

Robin offered her the pot of floo powder first. “Nah, just say you’ve been ill if he makes a face,” he advised. “You know,” he said as she took a pinch of the powder, “I don’t even know where your room is. I just floo.”

She smiled up at him. “Off the corridor to the left of the great hall, second portrait along,” she said before stepping through the fireplace.

He followed her quickly, almost falling over her since she hadn’t moved out of the way quite quickly enough. “The one of the mermaid?” he asked, grinning down into her face as she steadied him with hands around his waist.

“Yeah,” she agreed. She hadn’t expected him to know it, but then again, he’d spent his school holidays roaming the castle. He might know almost as much as she did about it, and without the help of the Marauders’ map. He took her hand in his larger one to lead her through to his bedroom. She quickly settled into the nest of soft cushions. Robin fetched the book from his bedside table, and brought his throw blanket. She smiled gratefully: she felt much better, but still cold.

He wrapped an arm around her shoulder and opened the book on his knee, to the contents page. “D’you want to tell me, or point?” he asked with a grin.

“You go first,” Harriet said.

“Okay,” he agreed amiably. “Well, you know I’ve thought about spanking you. I’m also interested in some of what they term ‘creative punishment’- a lot of the suggestions are spell based, but some are potions. Sensitising solutions, or even a mild swelling solution to make the genitalia fill with blood, for example. That, and…” his voice finally trembled with a hint of nerves, “I like the idea of… what was it, that he called it? Ah, yes, here. Forced pleasure. Basically making you come over and over. I love seeing your orgasm, your pleasure.”

Well, that wasn’t what she expected. Not at all. Not that she’d really known what to expect in the first place. She nipped at her lower lip, her breath catching as she had a sudden vision of herself, legs spread, writhing as he made her come with his fingers, his tongue, his cock, again and again. Robin kissed the top of her head. “What about you?”

“I… erm… well, when I was… I mean, last year…”

He interrupted her. He passed the book onto her lap. “Show me, if it’s easier.” Slowly, she flipped back to the contents page and pointed at ‘Chapter five: preparing for sodomy’ with a trembling finger.

“You thought you were a gay man, didn’t you?” he asked softly after a moment’s thought. “ Of course it’s something you’ve thought about… Most of the time, I forget that you lived as male, for most of your life.” He kissed her again, in just the same spot as before, over her parting. “We can certainly try that, my love. It would be a new experience for me as well.”

“Really?” she said looking up at him in surprise. She thought he’d done everything.

“Yes,” he said with a little smile. “It’s something a lot of girls are afraid of, I’m told. It wasn’t something I wanted to bring up and force someone into.”

She looked up at him with a smile. Something they could try together, something where she wouldn’t just be learning from him. “I’d like that,” she said quietly.

“Well, I think we should build up to that,” he said quietly. “After all, there’s a whole chapter on preparation, which I haven’t even read, because I didn’t think you’d be interested. To begin with, how about trying something I’m familiar with, at least?”

“What?” she asked.

His voice dropped low as he spoke into her ear. “How do you feel about showing me how your pretty bottom looks over my knee, so I don’t just have to imagine it?”

She swallowed, a little nervous. No, she told herself firmly. This was Robin. Robin wasn’t going to hurt her, and he’d stop if she asked. Maybe she’d even like it. “Okay,” she agreed as firmly as she could manage.

“That’s my good girl,” he praised softly. Somehow. she didn’t feel patronised when he said it, but she was sure that if anyone else- Ron, or Lupin, or Dumbledore, said she was a ‘good girl’, she’d fume. He stood and offered her a hand. Perhaps an odd gesture for a man who intended to spank her bare bottom, she mused, but then, she didn’t really know the protocols for this situation. She let him pull her up.

He settled himself on the edge of the bed. “Pyjamas off, Harriet,” he said, being as firm as he could manage.

“Just me?” she asked nervously.

“Just you,” he replied. His jeans were holding his cock in restraint: it had hardened despite having fucked her not two hours ago. His heart hammered as he watched her slowly, carefully, remove her nightclothes, nibbling on her lip again. “Come over here,” he murmured when she stood before him, naked, trying to resist the urge to cover herself. Her blush had spread down to flush her neck. Soon, he hoped her bottom would be pink too. He took a deep breath and reminded himself that he had to be very gentle. She still wasn’t better, not completely. He had to remember her injuries. “Other side, Harriet,” he said as she stepped up to his right side. “I’m left handed: I need your bottom on my left.”

She scrambled to his left quickly, cursing her own stupidity. She should have thought of that. Trying to suppress the tremble in her muscles, she laid across his lap in the way she’d seen herself in his fantasy. Merlin, she felt exposed! “Good girl,” he murmured again, stroking one side of her back to avoid her new scar. He used firm strokes, going a little lower each time until he was stroking across the rounds of her bottom. She’d relaxed over him, no longer holding herself rigid but flopped almost bonelessly down over his knee. “You need to tell me if you need me to stop okay, Harriet?” he said seriously.

“Yeah,” she replied quietly. He raised his hand.

She squeaked at the first spank. Not because it hurt: there was a slight sting, but nothing like what she’d dreaded, but because the noise of his palm hitting her soft flesh had surprised her. “You okay?” Robin asked gently. When he was satisfied by her response, he struck again, over the other cheek. She flinched again, but less this time. Her bottom tightened against the unfamiliar feeling, and he took a moment to stroke the flesh again . The break didn’t last long though.

After a few more spanks, he looked down in satisfaction at the delicate blush on the two highest points of her buttocks. He was trying not to hit the more tender parts: the crease between her bottom and her thighs was territory for another time, he thought, if she enjoyed this. Tentatively, he slipped a finger down to the folds of her pussy, just visible in the shadowed cleft between her legs. To his relief, it slid between her lips easily, passage made easy by the slickness of her arousal. She sucked in a breath, and he had to stop himself doing the same in appreciation. To know that she reacted to him like this, even doing something she’d been apprehensive about. “You’re wet for me, kitten,” he murmured. She just moaned in response as he slipped a fingertip just into her entrance, teasing the tender flesh there.

He withdrew his hand and landed five more quick spanks to her pinkening bottom. He stopped as soon as her skin began darkening beyond a faint blush. She was pale-skinned here, in a place that never saw sunlight, but he didn’t want to hurt her, just arouse her, and in that he’d succeeded. He pushed his hand down again, persuading her to spread her thighs a little, and he went for her pussy in earnest, his practiced fingers quickly finding her clit as his thumb plugged her pussy entrance. .

He was pleased that she wasn’t a screamer: he knew his dad was somewhere nearby, probably in his lab. Harriet moaned low in her throat as he stroked over her slick folds, shuddering a little. Cursing under his breath, he lifted her off his lap and laid her tender bottom onto the soft bedclothes.

For the second time that day, he made love without properly removing his clothes.

 

Chapter Text

Robin rolled off the bed and reached for his jeans and underwear. Harriet protested without proper words, feeling quite sated for the first time in a couple of weeks after their more tender lovemaking. He smiled to remember her legs wrapped around his waist, pulling him in deeper. “Where are you going?” she asked.

“To get a drink,” he said, softly. “Stay there, I’ll bring it back.” He urged her under the rumpled bedding, not wanting her to get too cold.

He opened the door, but stopped short when he heard his father’s voice from the main room.

“I’m not a kind man, Miss Granger,” Severus drawled silkily.

Harriet sat up. “What?” she asked, but Robin held up a hand to silence her. She frowned. Why was Hermione here?

“I know that, Sir,” her friend’s voice came, soft.

“Do you really?” Severus asked. Harriet was pulling on her pyjamas again, ignoring the sticky feeling of the mixture of Robin’s come and her arousal slipping onto her upper thigh.

Robin caught her hand as she ghosted past him, mouthing ‘no’ as she looked back at him with a frown. He shook his head for good measure, but she ignored him. Concentrating she cast a spell they’d learnt in Charms just last week, a sort of periscope effect. She’d been delighted by the potential uses in defence at the time, but her motives were less pure now.

Severus lounged in his high-backed armchair, and Hermione stood before him, twisting her hands nervously before her. “I would never suspect you of being a typically ‘nice’ lover,” she admitted. Harriet bit back a gasp. Lover?

“I fear, Miss Granger, that my interests would not… suit your personality.”

“You might be surprised, Sir,” Hermione replied boldly.

Severus regarded her from beneath hooded eyes. “Perhaps we should test the theory,” he suggested.

Harriet gasped as Robin yanked her back into the room. Her concentration broke, and with it, her spell. Robin closed the heavy dungeon door quietly. “What’s wrong with you?” he hissed. “What did you cast?”

“Nothing,” she defended hotly. “Well, not nothing. It’s a charm I learnt, it lets you see around a corner as if you were there.”

“That was private,” Robin informed her, pushing a hand through the mussed strands of his hair. “We shouldn’t have listened, and you shouldn’t have watched!”

“She’s my friend!” Harriet replied.

Robin plonked down on the edge of the bed. “Would you like it if they’d heard what we just did? Because that conversation sounded just as private to me.”

Harriet didn’t like to admit it, but he was kind of right. “What do you think he meant, that his interests wouldn’t suit her?” she asked, sitting beside him.

Robin sighed. “I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t ask about my dad’s sexual fetishes as a matter of routine. Look, we never heard that, okay? You never saw that.”

“Okay,” Harriet said, her mind already whirring into overdrive to plan how she could get the whole story out of Hermione. Robin wouldn’ be happy with that, though she couldn’t figure out how he wasn’t curious. Severus, suddenly talking about being a lover to a seventeen year old girl? His student, no less? It didn’t sound like cautious Severus… nor cautious Hermione. “So, what do we do now?” she asked. “Now that we’re stuck here?” She clambered into his lap, twining her arms around his neck.

He returned her kiss, but made no further attempt to join in her game of seduction. “I can’t imagine they’ll be there that long,” he said. “Let’s just read for a bit or something.”

She let out a huff of gentle frustration. He looked down at her with a grin. “I’m male, Harriet. I do need some recovery time! Plus… I can’ say hearing my dad talk about what kind of lover his is with your friend has put me in the mood. I don’t know about you.”

She slid off his lap with a sigh. “I don’t have any of my books with me,” she grumbled.

He waved his hand at his bookshelves. “Help yourself. The bottom shelf’s all kids books, though I’d avoid the top one unless you like reading in Latin or Greek. There’s always your, ahem, library book, as well.”

She glared at him and stood before his book collection. True to his words, the top shelf was incomprehensible, and the two below it were English translations of Classical texts, or dry-looking academic tomes on the texts. Given her recent issues with one of his plays in English translation, she didn’t fancy attacking a discussion on Plato’s Gorgias . She eventually found herself on the lowest shelves. Some of the names there were familiar- t he Hobbit had been read at primary school, and Dudley had owned all the Enid Blyton adventure series, though he’d never read them- she eventually had, when she was moved from the cupboard under the stairs to Dudley’s second bedroom. She considered picking up her favourite, the Valley of Adventure , but instead, she somehow ended up with a leather bound book of wizarding fairytales. She’d never read any wizarding children’s stories. She settled down by the fire to read The Tales of Beedle the Bard .

Robin looked up from his desk, where he was busy scribbling on a muggle ruled notepad and smiled at her. “Fancy calling a house elf for some tea and a sandwich or something?” he asked.

Maltie, of course was only too happy to oblige.

Harriet had fallen asleep on the cushions by mid afternoon. Robin let her sleep on for a few hours, but as it drew close to dinnertime, he sprawled on the floor next to her, gently kissing her forehead and stroking her cheek to wake her. “Hello, Kitten,” he murmured as she blinked up at him. “You need to get ready for dinner, or your friends will worry,” he explained.

“Will you be here afterwards?” she asked, her voice hoarse with sleep.

He shook his head with a little smile. “You should spend at least a little while with your friends, and you need a good night’s sleep.”

“But I miss you,” she said sulkily, sitting up. He’d covered her up with the blanket again, she noticed.

He stroked her hair softly. “I miss you too,” he replied. “But I’ll see you in the next couple of days, okay? You just make sure you rest, and take your potions. If you get desperate again, wear your balls if they helped.”

She nodded glumly, and got to her feet. Robin stood too, and she nestled into his chest. He couldn’t resist wrapping his arms around her and kissing her again. “Go on, kitten,” he murmured. “Go and have a shower and put some clean clothes on. Have some dinner. Spend a couple of hours with your friends.”

Eventually, of course, Harriet had to go. She did feel better after a shower- less ill, and she hadn’t really realised how grubby and sticky she was after not having washed following her romps in bed with Robin. There was also a plan growing in her head that she knew Ron would want in on.

The great hall seemed loud after spending the day in quiet seclusion with Robin. It was Ron’s flaming hair that always made him easier to find, and this time was no different. She squeezed herself between Ron and a third year who was busy picking all the carrots out his vegetable medley with some disgust.

Ron clapped her on the back in greeting. “Hey,” Hermione said with a smile.

“Erm, hey,” Harriet replied, finding that it was suddenly quite difficult to look at Hermione. Had she really witnessed her friend and Severus that morning, or was it some very vivid product of her imagination? Potion-induced madness, perhaps? She filled her plate.

“Were you resting today?” Hermione asked.

“Oh. Erm. Yeah,” Harriet said haltingly.

Ron elbowed her in the side. “You call that rest?”

“Ron!” Imogen cried. Harriet started. She hadn’t even realised that Imogen was sitting on Ron’s other side, nor that the pair were holding hands under the table. She’d never known them sit together for meals before. It must be serious.  A lump rose in her throat. She wished she could sit with Robin in the great hall and hold his hand.

“Ron, don’t be silly. I’m sure Harriet spent most of the day asleep,” Hermione countered. She meant to kick Ron under the table, but somehow got Harriet’s ankle instead. Harriet yelped.

“Oh, keep your big secret,” Imogen said softly. “It’s obvious there’s something going on: there’s no need to pretend everything’s normal.”

“Thanks, Imogen,” Harriet said gratefully. “It’s not that I don’t trust you… it’s just something that involves other people.”

Imogen held up her free hand, fork and all. “It’s fine. I’m curious, but I’ll live.”

With relief, Harriet turned Ron’s attention to quidditch, an easy enough task. The blow-by blow account of this morning’s practice quite happily filled the rest of the meal. It was only after the last of the pudding dishes had vanished that Harriet leaned closer to Ron, Imogen and Hermione deep in their own conversation. “Hey,” she whispered, “How’d you fancy a bit of an expedition on Friday?”

Ron’s face lit up. “Where?” he asked.

Harriet smiled in what she hoped was an enigmatic manner. “Somewhere we’ve never been before. We need to be in private to discuss it, though,” she said. “My room?”

Ron grinned. He wrapped an arm around Imogen’s shoulders. “I’ll see you in a bit, okay, Im?” he said. “Come up to my dorm later, yeah?”

She slapped his hand away playfully. “Ron Weasley, you’re insatiable!” she laughed, and wandered off to find Faye. She was possibly the most good-natured girl Harriet had even known- she certainly had never seen Imogen fly into fits of rage like Lavender, or jealousy like Faye, who’d once had a stand up confrontation that almost came to wands with a fifth year she thought had designs on her boyfriend. Imogen, though, seemed happy to have Ron disappearing off to another girl’s private room. Harriet shook her head. Perhaps she should aim to be more like Imogen: more trusting and obliging of Robin’s nights out. But though she didn’t think Robin was off sleeping with someone else, and she certainly wasn’t sleeping with Ron, she did think Imogen a bit… naive.

Hermione joined Ron and Harriet. “What’s the plan?” she asked. “Common room? Library?”

“Ron and I were going to go and, erm, talk about quidditch,” Harriet said, not wanting to admit her plan to Hermione. What if she told Severus? “In my room.”

“I’ll come too,” Hermione said breezily. “I like the quiet.”

“It’ll be really boring,” Harriet protested.

Ron elbowed her in the ribs again. “Don’t be silly,” he told her. “Hermione’s always a good brain if you’re planning something.”

Harriet sighed. “So, what were you up to today, Hermione?” she asked. “Ron was playing quidditch, I was, erm, asleep…”

“Oh I was in the library,” Hermione said as Harriet unlocked her room.

“No you weren’t,” Ron said. “I looked for you after practice. Couldn’t find you anywhere.”

“Well, you couldn’t have looked very hard, Ron,” she huffed. “I was there all morning.”

Ron shrugged, throwing himself into Harriet’s armchair. “What’s the plan, Harriet?”

Hermione’s ears almost visibly pricked, and her head came up. “What are you two up to?” she asked, her eyes narrowed.

“Dunno yet. Harriet hasn’t said,” Ron said. “So, go on. Spill.”

Harriet glanced at Hermione. Oh well. Maybe Hermione had been rebuffed by Severus. “Well,” she began, “I thought I fancied a trip out.”

“Where to?” Hermione asked suspiciously. “Because I don’t think we’re talking Honeydukes’ here, are we?”

Harriet looked into the fire. She wondered if Robin really had gone home. Maybe he was out with his friends right now. Maybe he was with another girl… was that why he didn’t want her about outside of Hogwarts? “To Manchester,” she admitted quietly.

Hermione spluttered. Ron wrinkled his nose. “Manchester?” he asked incredulously. “Why?”

“Erm, well, if I go to the Wizarding colleges, I’ll be living near there. I wanted to see what it’s like.”

Hermione was shaking her head. “You’re not so great at keeping secrets. You never have been. That’s a rubbish reason. It’s because Robin lives in Manchester. But why take us along?”

There was silence for a few moments as Harriet decided what to do. Hermione was close the the mark anyway. She could just go alone, but at least some of the fear for her safety had gotten through to her, even if she thought it was overblown. She’d prefer company, and so much the better when the company was handy with their wands. “Okay,” she finally granted. “Robin’s going out with his friends to a club on Friday night. I want to go.”

“You’re not eighteen,” Hermione pointed out, pragmatic as usual. “You can’t get into a muggle club.”

Harriet shrugged. “That’s what the invisibility cloak’s for.”

“I’m up for it,” Ron agreed. “Could be fun. Apparate there, have a mooch about… even a muggle club’s better than Friday night doing Transfiguration homework.”

“Ronald!” Hermione snapped. “Don’t encourage her!” She turned back to Harriet. “Manchester’s a long way to apparate. You don’t even really know it. And do you even know where to find the club? It’s a city, it’s not like there’s just going to be one.”

“It’s on Oxford Street,” Harriet replied promptly. “I do know Manchester’s not some little village, you know. Are you coming, or not?”

Hermione squirmed in her chair. On one hand, she wanted to keep Harriet and Ron out of trouble. She knew they wouldn’t be dissuaded. On the other hand, Severus would think the worse of her for going along with this harebrained scheme. “Not,” she said eventually. “Just… be careful.”

Harriet narrowed her eyes. “You can’t tell anyone,” she bargained. “Not Lupin, or McGonagall, or even Severus. Especially not Severus.”

Hermione squirmed some more. “Why would I tell Professor Snape?” she asked, struggling to keep her voice level.

“You might,” was all Harriet would say on the matter. “Promise me you won’t say anything?”

Hermione grudgingly promised. They were idiots, but they weren’t stupid. If a future auror and a prospective university student in defence couldn’t look after themselves, no one could.

It was a quick trip to the library to fetch an atlas of the United Kingdom. It was a Wizarding version, showing not only muggle towns and roads and the like, but also wizarding areas, like Diagon Alley. Even better, if you used the right spell, it brought up an image of the street, floating ghost-like above the book. Hermione, the fount of all knowledge, seemed to momentarily forget her unhappiness with the plan in delight at showing them the atlas.

Ron prodded his wand along Oxford Road. He laughed aloud. “Well, you won’t have to look very hard,” he said, indicating the queue of black clad, pierced and long-haired people outside a building. “That looks like your place. Jillys, I think it says above the door. So, Friday, you said? Should be easy enough, not like there’s anything we’ll be missed from on Friday night.”

Hermione sighed. She almost wished she hadn’t promised not to tell anyone. She just hoped none of the teachers ever realised she was aware of the scheme if it all came to grief.




Chapter Text

“What do you call this, Mr. Weasley?” Severus asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Ron looked up at Severus. “It’s… it’s a cauldron cake, Professor.”

“I can see that, Weasley.”

“Well, why did you ask, then?” Ron asked.

There was a collective intake of breath at Ron’s stupidity. “This foodstuff has no place in my potions classroom,” Severus said, his voice low and dangerous. “Despite being named for a cauldron, this confectionary does not form a part of any potion of which I am aware. Detention, Weasley. Tomorrow. Seven o’clock, and plan to stay until curfew.”

“But, Professor,” Ron wheedled.

“No!” Snape snapped. “Unless you wish to also spend your entire weekend in detention, I recommend silence.”

Ron wisely shut up.Harriet had to bite back a groan. At least he wasn’t in detention for the match on Sunday- Harriet still didn’t know if she’d be allowed to play or not, and trying to replace a keeper as well as a seeker would have been a disaster. “Why?” she asked Ron, as soon as they were out of the classroom. “Why on earth did you have to try to eat a cauldron cake in Snape’s classroom?”

“I was hungry!” Ron retorted.

“Any other teacher, and they’d have just told you off. You just had to get detention though, didn’t you?” If Ron was in detention until curfew, it would be noticed if he sauntered off to Harriet’s room instead of going back to Gryffindor tower.

“I’m sorry!” Ron snapped, not sounding all so terribly apologetic. “But it’s not you who has to sit in detention with Snape!”

“I suppose you can’t go off on your little adventure tomorrow night, then,” Hermione said. She tried to sound sorry, but she couldn’t entirely disguise her satisfaction with the situation. Harriet huffed.

She did think about abandoning the entire plan. Really, she did. But they’d talked about it, planned it, and it was so simple, really. She didn’t need Ron to protect her: she was perfectly handy with a wand. She could apparate to Manchester: the atlas in the library had even given convenient quiet streets for apparition, and there was a properly warded, muggle-proof apparition point not far from the club. With the help of the cloak, getting in should be easy.

She’d never been in a muggle nightclub, or a wizarding one, for that matter, so she had no idea what it would actually be like. They served alcohol, she knew, and played music, and people danced. She presumed there might be lots of people there, but it certainly hadn’t looked like it could be a big building from the atlas. It couldn’t be too hard to find Robin, and hopefully it would be busy enough that she could hide from him if she decided that she didn’t want him to know she was there. Like if she saw him with another girl…

She shook her head a little to get rid of that image. She really, really hoped Robin didn’t have another girlfriend or two on the side. She supposed she’d find out tomorrow.

Friday dragged. It was a good job that Lupin let her sit out of the practical Defence work, because she was vague and jumpy. Instead, she worked on interview preparation for the Wizarding colleges whilst disarming spells shot across the other side of the classroom. It became possibly worse when Ron traipsed off to detention with Snape, and Harriet was left trying to do some work in Hermione’s presence, trying to look normal. Both Hermione and Ron thought the plan abandoned now.

At nine, Harriet begged an early night and returned to her room. She wondered briefly what Ron was doing, sequestered away with Severus. Most likely cleaning cauldrons. It always seemed to be scrubbing cauldrons.

She stood in front of her wardrobe wondering what one wore to a club. She had a vague feeling that it was supposed to be skimpy, at least if you were a girl. For a boy… she shook her head. She couldn’t pass as a boy now, not without judicious use of polyjuice or a previously undiscovered talent as a metamorphmagus. Eventually, at the back of the the cupboard, she found a short denim skirt Hermione had somehow talked her into buying, and pulled a tight-ish black t-shirt over her head. She had no idea what to do with her hair, so she left it loose.

Her legs were goosebumped even in her room, and she was convinced if she bent over, her knickers would show. Tights it was then. She just hoped it didn’t make her look too much like a schoolgirl. She examined herself critically in the mirror for a few moments. Something was missing.

Makeup. Girls wore makeup, didn’t they? Muggle girls, older girls. She didn’t own any makeup, but she knew colour changing charms, and transfiguration. She managed a dark red for her lips, a charm that should last a few hours. It turned out that eyelashes were rather more difficult, being so small and numerous, but a painstaking ten minutes lengthened them a little- they were already as black as her hair, so colour changing wasn’t necessary.

Realising that it was now almost ten o’clock, she shrouded herself in her cloak and let herself out of her room. She and Ron had decided it would be easiest to apparate by using the tunnel that led to Hogsmeade: certainly easier than trying to leave through the entrance hall after curfew.

She hadn’t quite anticipated just how alone she’d feel following the way to the basement of Honeydukes’. It was always the trio, or her and Ron, if whatever they were doing was too rule-breaking to even tell Hermione. She was usually there too, though, trying her hardest to keep them out of the trouble they seemed to tumble into at the slightest provocation. She drew her invisibility cloak around her tighter, even here, alone in the darkness with only her wand tip to light her way.

It seemed to take an interminably long time to reach the end of the tunnel, and she’d almost considered turning back. But no. This was no terrifying confrontation with Voldemort, this was just an adventure. It only felt this way because she was in a dark tunnel, she decided. She’d be fine, excited even, when she was around other people.

Eventually, she came to the trapdoor leading into Honeydukes’ basement. She’d considered apparating sooner, but she wanted to be far enough from the school that she couldn’t trip the wards and possibly warn the teachers someone had tried to apparate. She pulled the cloak from her shoulders, tucking it into her bag. She didn’t want to risk being on a possibly busy street whilst invisible. People tended to bump into things they couldn’t see. Taking a breath and concentrating on the location of the apparition point just behind Oxford Road Station, she whirled.

She was good at apparition. She’d never splinched at all during practice; she’d had full marks on her test. That didn’t mean she liked it. It was a bit better than side-along, she supposed, because you felt a little more in control, but she still stumbled when the pressure of magical travel faded, leaving her slightly breathless. Eyes closed, she leaned against the rough brick wall for a few moments until the dizziness faded.

She’d just straightened when a trio of giggling witches apparated right next to her, almost knocking her off her feet again. “Oops, sorry!” one said with a chuckle, steadying her with a hand around her upper arm.

“Thanks,” she said quietly, and followed them out of the little alley, emerging to the side of the muggle train station, the entrance to the apparition point giving off the funny, fuzzy, not quite there impression of something hidden to non-magical eyes.

It was dark, but the road was well lit, bustling even at this time of night. Perhaps especially at this time of night, as light and noise and people spilled from pubs and bars. Harriet reached up to make sure her fringe covered her scar completely: the three witches apparating in had reminded her she wasn’t the only one here who wasn’t a muggle, although, oddly, she hadn’t really considered this.

It didn’t take long to find the entrance to the club Ron had spotted in the atlas. It wasn’t so busy as it had looked then, with only a few people milling about in front: Harriet wondered how the atlas worked. Was it in real time, or at some fixed point in time? She ducked into a doorway to slip her cloak on, following a pair of black-clad men in. The doorman nodded them through, and of course, didn’t even see Harriet. Once inside, she bundled the cloak and shoved it into the little handbag Hermione had given her for Christmas, complete with an undetectable extending charm in place.

She looked around the cavernous room. It was darker than she had expected, and noisier; the music was loud and utterly unfamiliar.

Strangely, it was also less busy than she’s expected. Yes, there were people dancing to the music. People wandered between the rooms, and she followed, trying to blend in. She was starting to make sense of the snippets of music as she went: sometimes heavier, sometimes melodic in a way she wouldn’t have expected of a genre called ‘rock’. Music had never really been part of her life. Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon viewed almost all music as the root of what they termed ‘hooliganism’, and Dudley was more interested in shooting aliens on his computer than art of any form. Besides the occasional burst of the Weird Sisters, or the ill-fated dancing lessons in fourth year, music wasn’t part of her life at Hogwarts either. She found herself nodding along to a few of the songs as she searched for Robin. Her feet seemed to stick to the floor a little, her shoes slow to peel off the ground.

She was starting to doubt herself a bit. Was this the club he’d meant? Maybe he wouldn’t be here until much later, maybe he had decided not to come out? What if he’d felt bad and gone to Hogwarts to see her, and she was here?”

Another song started as she paused between rooms. She couldn’t quite tell if it was the beat of the music she could hear, or, somehow, her own heartbeat in her ears.

Don’t talk to strangers ,

The music came from everywhere, surrounding her with odd whispers.

‘Cause they’re only there to do you harm. Don’t write in starlight , cause the words may come out real.

Someone jostled her as they pushed by. She cried out as she pitched forwards, scrabbling. Hands grabbed around her waist to prop her up again.

Don’t hide in doorways,

She saw him then, as she jerked against the steadying arm of her helper: Robin, just a flash of his hair and his nose as he turned his head away. He had his arm around a girl’s shoulders. She suddenly felt sick.

“Alright there?” a voice asked from above.

You may find the key that opens up your soul.

“Yeah, thanks,” she gasped, looking up at the man who’d knocked her. His eyes widened in shock, flicked up to her forehead. She reached up, the sick feeling in her stomach rising as she realised her fringe was knocked aside, her scar visible. She pulled the hair back, hoping vainly that he was just a muggle, that he just thought it an unusual scar... “Potter?” he asked incredulously. His arm was still around her waist. His hand tightened on her waist, fingers digging into her side. She gasped, tried to turn back in the direction of Robin, straining.

Don’t go to heaven, ‘cause it’s really only hell.

Robin looked up, and the laugh dropped from his face. His eyes were locked on her. He bent to whisper something in the girl’s ear, and took a step towards her, a frown of confusion between his eyes.

Don’t smell the flowers, they’re an evil drug to make you lose your mind.

“Potter!” her captor snapped, yanking her back around. “What the fuck are you doing here? Aren’t you still at Hogwarts?”

She looked up in confusion again. “Do I know you?” she asked vaguely, hoping that he’d decide she was someone else, just some muggle who happened to have a strange scar.

Don’t dream of women, ‘cause they’ll only bring you down.

“Oliver Deacon. Ravenclaw, left three years ago.”

“Oh,” Harriet replied, trying to pull away. She remembered him now. He’d been Quidditch captain, a beater. He was big, and strong. He’d also been known as ruthless: a muggleborn who’d had to be the best at everything, be it in the classroom, or the quidditch pitch.

“Oliver,” Robin said, his tone flat and just loud enough to be heard. Harriet let out the breath she’d been holding. She’d never been so glad to hear Robin’s voice before.

“What is it, Brandon?” Oliver asked.

Robin didn’t respond, but his hands were on Harriet’s shoulders, pulling her to him.

“Robin?” a female voice asked, confused. Harriet turned towards her. It was the girl Robin had had his arm around.She was pretty, Harriet noted distantly, the rock in her stomach settling even more firmly as the spike drove into her heart. She was elfin, littler than Harriet, deep red hair perfectly smooth down her back. She was dressed all in black: a corset, and even fishnet tights.

“Carrie, this is Harriet,” Robin said quietly.

Carrie still looked confused. “Your girlfriend? But isn’t she meant to be at school?”

Harriet couldn’t take it in. This girl knew about her? Where had she heard the name Carrie before?

Feel me, I’m danger, I’m the stranger, and I, I’m darkness, I’m pain

Harriet tried to pull away from Robin, but he held tight.

Oliver reached out to grab her. “You’re lying, Brandon,” he said. “This can’t be your girlfriend.”

“What’re you doing here, Harriet?” Robin hissed into her ear. It was like she was being tugged from every angle; she couldn’t breathe. She was scrabbling her her wand, but Robin went for her hand, held it in his. “Don’t make a scene,” he told her quietly. “Remember where you are.”

“Let’s take this somewhere quieter,” Oliver said gruffly. “Come on.” He wrenched Harriet away from Robin and she cried out in pain as her arm twisted.

“Ollie, you’re hurting her!” Carrie said. “Let go!” Harriet finally remembered why she knew the name- Robin had mentioned Carrie when he’d broken his wrist. She’d wanted him to go to hospital.

Oliver’s eyes were stormy. “We need to sort this. Now.” He looked around, spotted the door to a cupboard. “ Alohomora ” he hissed, his wand tip just protruding from his sleeve. He shoved Harriet in, his hand connecting firmly with her back, almost sending her flying into a tangle of hoover hoses.

“Hey!” Robin snapped. “Careful! She hurt her back not long ago.” He shoved past Oliver to cradle Harriet to him. “You okay, kitten?”

She nodded. Carrie slipped into the room, and Oliver slammed the door behind him. They all blinked in the sudden light as Oliver illuminated the bulb above them. He quickly cast a silencing charm, meaning that they wouldn’t he heard outside the room, though Harriet doubted you’d hear what went on in a cupboard over the music anyway. At least the spell quietened the little room, reducing the music to a distant, though still audible, level. Harriet’s ears rang in the sudden quiet.

Harriet had her wand firmly in her hand, aimed at Oliver and Carrie. “If you’re a Death Eater, I’m not going without a fight,” she snapped.

Oliver pushed up his long sleeves, showing her his unblemished forearms. “You can put your wand away,” he said gruffly. “But you shouldn’t be here. Why are you here? And how do you know Brandon?”

Harriet had no idea why he was calling Robin ‘Brandon’, but it seemed the least of her worries at the moment. Carrie had used his name, so it wasn’t like he was using a false one. “I told you,” Robin said. “Harriet’s my girlfriend.”

Oliver snorted. “Sorry, that’s not possible. There’s no way you’d know this girl.”

“Hey!” Harriet interjected. “This isn’t your business, okay! Just forget you ever saw me.”

“Shut up, sweetheart. Let the men talk,” Oliver shot back. Harriet gawped at him, her mouth opening and closing. How dare he?

Carrie spoke up. Apparently she wasn’t content to let the menfolk talk. “Why can’t he know her, Oliver? How do you know her anyway?”

“I was at Hogwarts with her. Well, him- she used to be a he. Sorry, Brandon, did you know your girlfriend used to be a bloke?”

“Of course I do, you idiot,” Robin snapped. “And Harriet’s right, this isn’t your business.”

Oliver shrugged. “It’s my business if Harry- sorry, Harriet, Potter is about to be kidnapped by some randomer. For all I know, you’ll take her straight you you-know-who.” Robin glared at him, but repeated the same motion Oliver had used, displaying his pale, unmarked forearms. Oliver snorted, as if he didn’t think that meant much.

Carrie narrowed her eyes at Robin. “You said she went to the same school your dad taught at,” she said, accusatory. “You said that was where you were going every weekend.”

“Oh, fuck,” Robin breathed. “Look, Carrie, this is… it’s complicated.”

“Give over, Brandon. She’s my sister. She knows about magic. The question is, how do you? You weren’t at Hogwarts.”

Harriet wanted more than anything to have never come. She didn’t know what to do. Should she try to stupefy Oliver and Carrie? But Oliver’s wand was still clutched loosely in his hand, like hers. She probably wouldn’t be able to get both of them before he could attack her.

Oliver started to laugh. It wasn't a friendly sound. “Hey, Carrie, what does his dad teach?”

Robin growled. Carrie thought for a second. “Chemistry,” she declared.

“Chemistry… or Potions?” Oliver asked. “How’d Snape keep that quiet?” His grin was wider. “Snape spawned! God, you look just like him, I can’t believe I didn’t notice it earlier. Where’d you go? Durmstrang?”

“Please,” Harriet pleaded. “Can we just forget this?”

Oliver was still laughing, and he patted her on the head, like a child. Harriet growled, lunged for him, wand pointed at his face, but Robin reached out, snatched at her wrist. Her feet tangled in the hoover again, and she fell to the floor.

Robin’s hands were now tightly balled into fists at his sides. “Don’t associate me with that man ,” he hissed, offering Harriet a hand as she scrambled to her feet. “You think I want it known that I’m the son of someone who followed You-Know-Who? Someone that terrible? It’s bad enough that I look like him.”

Harriet blinked in surprise. Robin, speaking like that about Severus? Robin adored Severus. She didn’t understand what was happening.

“Well, you clearly associate with him to have met her,” Oliver pointed out. Carrie was leaning against the wall, watching everything with interest.

Robin smiled, a tight little smile, and he looked more like his father than ever. With an arched eyebrow, he put his hands over Harriet’s ears. She struggled in confusion, clawing at his hands until she realised he was cupping them, so she could still hear. He was just trying to make it look like she couldn’t hear him for Oliver’s benefit. “Wouldn’t you, when the prize is Harriet Potter?” he asked quietly, conspiratorially. “The wealth, the good name… the power of being head of the Potter line?”

Oliver laughed again, and clapped Robin on the shoulder. “I suppose I might,” he agreed, as Robin dropped his hands again, away from Harriet’s ears.

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t spread it around,” Robin told Oliver. “If it comes out in the Prophet, I’ll know who to blame… and let’s just say that I can probably muster up quite some political force. I’m sure we could come to some kind of mutually beneficial agreement.”

“Understood, Brandon. Well, you know how to get in touch if you ever have any.. need of assistance.”

Robin nodded. “Yeah. Carrie…look,  I’m sorry. I need to get Harriet home.” He leaned forwards, kissed Carrie on the cheek. Harriet felt the heat in her cheeks at the humiliation of Robin so blatantly kissing another girl in front of her. “I hope you have a good birthday. Sorry I couldn’t stay.”

“Oh, I understand,” she said with an impish smile. “I can’t believe you never told me you were magical, though!”

Robin shrugged. “I didn’t know you had a wizard brother,” he pointed out. “Statute of secrecy, and all that.” He gestured to the door with a raised eyebrow, and Oliver unlocked it again.

Robin’s hand was tight around Harriet’s wrist as he dragged her out and through into the biggest room. “Ow!” she cried out as his fingers dug hard into the tender flesh and tendons on the underside.

“Hush,” he snapped, weaving between people. It was busier than it had been when she came. He towed her up the stairs and out into the cold air. Even then, he didn’t stop, striding down the main road. They passed the station, and still they kept going. After a while, they turned down a side street.

Eventually, when it was quiet, he wrenched her around to face him, and only then did he realise she was crying, trying to stifle the tears, angry at her own emotions. If he’d just let her go, she could apparate, but if she did now, she’d take him too.

He sighed. With a shrug, he shed his jacket, swapping hands to make sure he never actually let her go. He knew as well as she that she was likely to run, to apparate. He draped it around her shoulders, his body heat suppressing her shivers. He brushed her tears away with a careful finger. “Why are you here, Harriet?” he asked, trying to gentle his voice.

“I wanted to see you… see you with your friends,” she choked out.

He shook his head. “We need to get you safe. Come on.” He began towing her again, not gripping so hard now. “It’s not so far to my flat.”

“I can apparate back,” she insisted.

“In this state?” He snorted. “You’ll be splinched.”

She wanted to argue: she started to argue, until he shot her a look. She’d seen that look through almost seven years’ worth of Potions lessons: you didn’t argue with it. She just scrambled to keep up with his longer strides. “Why did Oliver call you Brandon?” she asked instead.

Robin shrugged. “Oliver’s the kind of prick who thinks using first names is beneath him.”

“But your name’s Robin Snape…”

He looked down at her, a funny look on his face. “Did you really think that?” he asked, sounding oddly choked.

“Well, yeah…”

Robin shook his head. “My dad didn’t want to be connected to me when I was born, and he sure as hell didn’t want to be connected to a squib. I’ve got my mum’s name- Robin Brandon.”

“Oh,” Harriet said, feeling stupid. She wondered how many other basic things about Robin she didn’t know. “Do you have a middle name?”

“Yeah,” Robin said, wrinkling his nose. They were walking a little slower now, Robin matching his pace to Harriet’s shorter legs. He didn’t seem quite as angry as before. “Christopher.”

“What’s wrong with Christopher?” Harriet wanted to know.

“Nothing, I suppose, as a name. It’s only when you put it with ‘Robin’ that it becomes ridiculous.”

She didn’t respond, utterly confused and feeling more stupid than ever. He stopped dead, looking down at her. “Christopher Robin?” he said. “As in Winnie the Pooh?”

Harriet shook her head blankly, and Robin barked out a laugh. He started walking again. “Seriously?” he asked. “You’ve never read Winnie the Pooh?” Harriet could only shake her head in confusion. “God, you really did have a deprived childhood. My copy’s at Hogwarts. Have a look for it, or I’ll get it for you.”

He finally stopped at the door of a terraced red-brick house, just like all the others on the road. “You have no idea how hard it is to find student digs with a working fireplace,” he grumbled as he fished out his keys. “C’mon.”

The front door opened into a grubby little hallway with a bare bulb providing the only illumination and the stairs creaked as they mounted them. He unlocked another door off the hallway, and ushered her in.

She could see why he preferred to spend time at Hogwarts. This room was cold, and run down, nothing like the opulence of the castle. Nothing matched. It was long and narrow, running the length of the house. Brown curtains were drawn across the bay window at the front, and grey ones at the narrow window at the back.

His double bed filled the front of the room, along with a desk piled high. A little table with two chairs didn’t escape the book piles either. A stereo took up the little bit of room at the side of the desk, CDs piled haphazardly around it. His kitchen comprised of a couple of freestanding cabinets, a tiny fridge and a portable two-ring gas burner. There was a kettle, and a slightly decrepit looking microwave taking up most of the counter space, and no apparent sink. “You live here ?” she asked.

“Well, it’s no Hogwarts, but it’s pretty hard to explain to your friends that you travel back and forth to a magic castle through the fireplace, so I need somewhere to live.” he said with a grimace, finally letting her go. “Though it turns out that Carrie would have understood.”

“Is Carrie… another girlfriend?”

He arched his eyebrow at her. “You should know better than to think that, Harriet. She’s a friend. A good friend, but I’m not in the habit of polyamory.”

Harriet wasn’t deterred. “Have you slept with her?” she asked.

He flopped down on his bed, patting the space next to him. Harriet resolutely stayed standing. Robin sighed. “A couple of times,” he admitted. “Not since I met you.”

“So she was your girlfriend.”

He growled in frustration, burying his hands in his hair. “No! It wasn’t like that, we were just… enjoying each other. For Merlin’s sake, Harriet, before I met you, I fucked anything that stood still long enough. It’s only been since August that, well, I just haven’t felt the desire to anymore. I only want you. Now, are you going to sit down so we can discuss why you decided to leave Hogwarts in the middle of a night to wander through a strange city?”

She bit her lip. “Erm, is there a loo?” she asked, playing for time to think of a good story. Then again, how could she possibly explain it away?

He nodded curtly to a door to the side of the room. “In there,” he said. “There are anti-apparition wards on this place, by the way, so no point trying.” Harriet nodded, not even knowing if she’d been planning to try to apparate or not. She vanished into the tiny bathroom. Oh well, she mused, at least it was clean, if small: a shower stall, toilet and sink with a mirrored cabinet above. The bathmat was too big to the floor, bunching up around the pedestal of the sink.  

As tempting as it was to hide from everything, it wasn’t going to make anything easier. She resisted the urge to keep washing her hands forever after she’d used the toilet, and went back out to face Robin.

Chapter Text

“Are you angry?” Harriet asked Robin quietly when she came out of the bathroom. She remained on the far edge of the room, leaning against a kitchen cabinet.

“Yes,” he agreed, looking at her from the bed. In good light, and up close, you could tell that his eyes, like his father’s, were an incredibly dark brown. In poor light though, like dungeon classrooms, or this little bedsit, the pupils and irises blended into a wide pool of pure black: it was as if the pupils had blown, swallowing any colour. He looked… hard. She had thought she was used to his eyes, but they looked different now. “Why, Harriet? Anything could have happened. And I think… I hope that Oliver’ll keep quiet. But you could have been found by Death Eaters. You could have been caught in a club underage, and taken to the police station. You could have got lost, ended up somewhere unsavoury, beaten, even raped. You could have splinched, apparating so far. Why?”

Harriet didn’t reply to his questions- she had questions of her own. “Are you just with me because I’m rich, because I’m a prize to you?”

He buried his head in his hands with a sound of pure frustration. “No! I have no idea if you’re rich. I made a guess, based on the fact that you’re the last of your line, and because I knew that Oliver frigging Deacon would be more likely to understand money and power.” He looked up at her. “Harriet, you’ve been in my head. You know I can’t control what you see. You can check what I say is true.” He sat up straight. “Go on,” he said.

She looked at him in shock. “You want me to use legilimency?” she asked, her voice high in surprise.

“Not particularly,” he allowed with a tense shrug of his shoulder. “It gives me a headache like you wouldn’t believe. But if it will stop you thinking that I’m cheating on you, or that I’m doing all this for money -” he spat the word in distaste, “then go ahead.”

Her heart squeezed, and it felt a bit like she might be sick again. “It’s okay,” she whispered. “I trust you.”

“Why, though, Harriet? Why’d you do it? I don’t understand. You're acting like a thoughtless child!”

“Because I’m trapped!” she cried out. “I’m stuck there, and I can’t get out!”

Robin rubbed at his head. Even without legilimency, he was developing an ache behind his left eye.  “You’ve always been ‘trapped’ there,” he pointed out. “This is not a new situation.” He noticed her shiver even beneath his jacket, and leaned over to turn on the two-bar electric heater. “Come here, please,” he said softly, his volume dropped significantly, “before you get too cold.”

She considered refusing, but it seemed silly, as childish as he'd accused her of being. She was cold, and the heater was over there, plus Robin’s warm body. Gingerly, she crossed the room, glad when he opened his arms in invitation for her to cuddle. Surely, he couldn’t be so very angry if he wanted to cuddle her? She clambered into his lap. “What will you do?” she asked quietly.

“What do you mean?” he asked, his voice rumbly in his chest. She felt a little happier here, safer, even though he was stiff and tense.

“Are you going to break up with me?” she asked in a fearful whisper. “Or tell your dad? Or… or punish me?”

“Punish you?” he pulled back to look at her in confusion. “What?”

She fiddled with the zip of his jacket, zipping it up and down. “I don’t know,” she mumbled. “Spank me, or something.”

He sighed, his arms tightening around her. “No, kitten. That’s not how it works. Not with me, anyway.” Then, quietly, “Did they beat you? Your family, I mean.”

She shrugged, as much as she could, wrapped in both his jacket and his arms. “Dudley used to pummel me, him and his gang. But not Aunt Petunia, or Uncle Vernon. He always said he should, to ‘beat the freakishness out of me,’ but he never did. Don’t think he could be bothered.”

“I’m glad,” he said. “I… I didn’t think, not ‘til after… well, it would have explained your reaction to my interest in spanking you.”

“I just didn’t know it was a thing,” Harriet said quietly.”I didn’t know people could enjoy that. It’s not that it brought up bad memories or anything.” She realised, though, that he still hadn’t answered her other questions. She was reasonably sure that he wasn’t going to break up with her- he was cuddling her, after all. But would he tell Severus? “But what about the rest? Will you tell your dad?”

He was silent for a few minutes, thoughtful. Without even noticing, he’d started rocking, just slightly, to try to soothe Harriet, and maybe himself as well. “Do I need to?” he asked eventually. “Are you planning on doing this again, and does anyone else know you’re here?”

“Ron was going to come with me, but he got detention,” she admitted. “But I told him I wasn’t going to go, so no…”

“I don’t know if I’m pleased about that or not,” he murmured into her hair. “If something had happened to you, no-one would have known.”

She tipped her face up to him. “Ron and Hermione would have guessed, I think, if I wasn’t back tomorrow,” she pointed out. He frowned, and rubbed his thumb across her lip. “I can’t say I’m keen on you wearing lipstick that colour,” he informed her. “It looks all wrong on you. Why won’t it come off?”

“It’s a charm,” she said, wiggling in his grip to fish out her wand and end the spell. “I wanted to look older.”

“I think prostitute may have been more accurate,” he informed her dryly, though not really unkindly. “I know I should tell Dad, just in case Oliver does spread it, but... “ he shook his head. “I’ll deal with Oliver. He adores Carrie, so if I can convince her to tell him to stay quiet, it should be okay.”

He sighed, deep in thought. Harriet yawned widely. She was almost always 0in bed by midnight. His bedside clock informed her that it was almost one in the morning. “Come on,” he said. “Let’s get you home.”

“I can apparate,” she insisted. “How far do your wards go?”

“No, kitten,” he replied. “You’re tired, and I want to make sure you get home. Floo is best.”

He set her onto the bed, and knelt by the empty fireplace, stacking kindling and reaching for a box of matches. “Here,” she said, moving his hands aside and using her wand to light the fire.

He smiled weakly in thanks, and opened a little cupboard off to the side of the fireplace. She caught a glimpse of a couple of small cauldrons and some little bottles and boxes before he pulled out a large pot of floo powder. “Hogwarts, Severus Snape’s quarters,” he advised her. “It’s the only fireplace this one is connected to, so you can’t get lost.”

“Okay,” she said quietly, taking a pinch of powder. “Are you… are you going back to the club?”

Robin shook his head. “No,” he said, taking some powder for himself. “I am coming with you to make sure you actually get into bed.”

“I can put myself to bed,” she huffed.

Robin raised an eyebrow and waved her towards the fireplace. “I’ve yet to see any evidence of that tonight,” he said. There was really nothing to say in response to that, so she just flung the floo powder into the fire, called out her destination, stepped in…

And stopped dead on the other side, causing Robin to stumble into her back and yelp in pain when she didn’t move from immediately before the flames. Severus arched an eyebrow from behind his book. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” he asked sardonically. Robin shoved Harriet forward with more force than he would normally use, convinced he was about to catch fire, stood on the hearth as he was, even if he was out of the flames.

Harriet seemed completely stumped by the sight of the potions master in a black silk dressing gown, his feet bare, one tucked beneath him. “Well?” Severus asked.

“We… we were fetching a book,” Robin said. “Winnie the Pooh. Harriet’s never read it. I thought I’d read some to her.”

Severus nodded. “Ah, yes. Which would, of course, explain why Harriet is carrying a bag. In order to hold the most weighty words of A. A. Milne. It would also give a perfect reasoning for both of you to be dressed in daytime clothes at a quarter to one in the morning, and explain why both of you look quite petrified to find me here. I am not a basilisk.”

Harriet shifted uncomfortably. She wished Robin had just let her apparate back. Then this wouldn’t have happened. She could have side-alonged with him if he was so determined to see her home. He could fit under the invisibility cloak: she’d have found an excuse for being out after curfew if Filch had caught them.

“As a matter of fact,” Severus continued, unchallenged by either teenager, “I seem to recall that it is your friend’s twentieth birthday party tonight, Robin. Carrie, isn’t it? Therefore, I must suspect that you are intending on taking Harriet with you.”

Robin swallowed. They’d be in trouble… but not as much trouble as if his Dad knew what had really happened. “It was my idea,” he said, his voice bolder than he felt.

Very carefully, Severus marked his place in his book, setting it aside on the table, beside the empty tumbler that had contained a measure of firewhiskey. Tonight was a nightmare night, a night where he could see death and destruction and pain whenever he closed his eyes. He had hoped to deaden his memories with the alcohol; he preferred it to the near-addiction to dreamless sleep he had developed following Lily’s murder. He stood, his bare toes curling into his hearth-rug. “I suppose,” he mused, “that you are too old now to be sent to your bedroom, or have your pocket money withheld. However,” he mused, “if this is the kind of care you show for Harriet’s safety, I must reconsider how… permissive I have been with regards to your visits.”

Harriet’s heart thumped painfully in her chest. “No,” she said defiantly. “I’ve already been told off by Robin. I wanted to go: he said no. So I snuck out to find him. He brought me straight back, and here we are.”

“Harriet…” Robin breathed in frustration.

Severus crossed to his drinks cabinet and poured another glug of firewhiskey. He swirled it thoughtfully. “And how am I to know which of you is truthful?” he asked mildly.

“I am, Professor,” Harriet said, reverting to classroom formality. “Robin’s just trying to protect me by taking the blame.”

“Mmm,” Severus agreed. “My son, the selfless hero. Well, someone must do it, I suppose.” He settled himself back into his chair, Harriet and Robin stood before him like naughty children. Robin’s head was bowed in contrition, but Harriet looked at him defiantly. He was strongly reminded of James Potter, though he tried to remove the idea from his mind. Despite the black hair and glasses (he really should talk to Harriet about having her eyesight magically corrected), it was so much easier to see Harriet as Lily’s daughter. Harry had always felt like James’ son- not really belonging to Lily at all. “Tell me, Harriet, how did you leave the school grounds?”

“I apparated,” she replied flatly.

“Indeed. That is… interesting, given that there are anti-apparition wards over the school. I suggest that you rethink your story.”

“I never said that I apparated from the school, Sir. I apparated from Hogsmeade.”

Severus arched an eyebrow. “I see. And how, pray, did you reach Hogsmeade?”

Harriet tipped her chin up in defiance. “I’d rather not say,” she informed him.

Severus sighed. “I suppose it has something to do with your infernal invisibility cloak,” he replied. “I don’t suppose I can persuade you to give it up to myself or Professor Lupin for safekeeping until you finish the school year, can I?”

“No, Sir, not really.”

Severus sighed. By rights, he should just demand the overpowered artifact there and then. He was going soft, he mused. “And how am I to know that this escapade will not be repeated?”

“It won’t,” Harriet said.

Severus arched a brow in disbelief. Robin spoke next. “Harriet had a bit of a fright,” he said. “I don’t think she’ll be trying anything similar anytime soon.”

“Harriet Potter, deterred by a little fear?” Severus asked sardonically. “Wonders never cease. Go to bed, Harriet. On this occasion- and this occasion only- I will amend the night-time records of students to show that you were in bed. Merlin knows I should let you answer to Professors Lupin and McGonagall, but I would rather not have your whereabouts on this particular evening questioned.”

“Thank you, Sir” she said quietly, and, knowing to quit whilst she was ahead, took a little of Severus’s floo powder to get through to her own room.

Robin followed a couple of minutes later. He’d suffered under his very own batch of telling off by his father, but Severus had at least relented, allowing him to stay the night, as he typically did on a weekend.

Harriet, exhausted, fell asleep quickly. Robin watched her sleep for a few minutes before slipping from her embrace and pulling on his clothes. He knew that his father wouldn’t be in bed yet- he’d had the dark look in his eyes, the look that said he’d be lucky to fall asleep for a few hours in his chair, exhaustion finally chasing the night terrors away. Robin had been a noticing sort of person all his life, and he’d always noticed when his father was more tired than usual. It had taken until he was sixteen to finally connect that the sleepless nights were in a vain attempt to evade the horrors of the images in his father’s mind.

Sure enough, Severus was still sat in his chair before the fire. He looked up with a cocked eyebrow to see his son appear again so soon. “Harriet’s asleep,” Robin explained quietly. “May… may we talk?”

“Of course,” Severus replied, with an internal sigh. It was something he had promised himself when he first held Robin in his arms, that he would always have time for his child. Not like his own alcoholic father or depressed, distant mother. No matter how tired he was, Robin had to come first. “Help yourself to a drink.”

Robin eschewed his father’s preferred firewhiskey. He’d rather drink paint thinner. He poured a small glass of red wine instead. Some of his friends gently ridiculed him for enjoying wine, but he preferred it to most spirits. If nothing else, being taught potions gave him an appreciation of the more subtle flavours in wine. Severus kept it mostly for him.

He settled onto the sofa, curled up so his feet were tucked beneath him, and pulled a cushion onto his lap. “I told Harriet I wouldn’t tell you, but… you already know the half of it, I suppose,” he began. Severus waved for him to continue. Robin took a deep breath, and let it out. “She found me in the nightclub. I was stupid; I pretty much told her where to find me. I had no idea she’d try to follow me, to be honest, I have no idea how she got past the anti-apparition wards myself. I haven’t asked. But… well, she found me, but she was recognised first.”

Severus’ eyes narrowed. “Recognised?” he prompted.

“Yeah,” Robin said heavily. “I had no idea… well, Carrie’s brother is apparently a muggleborn wizard. I don’t know him that well; I never asked about his schooling. He saw her scar.”

“What is his name?” Severus asked.

“Oliver Deacon.”

“A Ravenclaw. He would have fitted well in Slytherin, had he not been muggleborn,” Severus mused.

“I can believe that,” Robin said tiredly. He wanted a headache remedy, but he wanted to get this out first. “Without boring you with the details, he and Carrie put two and two together. He knows… he guessed that I’m your son. I told him I didn’t want it spread, that I didn’t want to be associated with you: he swallowed that remarkably easily. I threatened him with… well, with Harriet. Said that I was just with her for the clout of the Potter name, and that if my parentage was leaked, I’d know who’d spread the fact.”

Severus’ lips were tight. “Do you think he will, as you put it, leak?”

Robin shook his head. “I’m reasonably sure that he’ll keep it quiet. I have no idea what connections he has, or what he’d stand to gain by spreading it, but he seemed convinced that I’d be able to make his life a misery if it got out.”

“I’m not surprised, if you threatened him with the Potter name,” Severus replied. “Harriet is the darling of the wizarding world, the only hope against the Dark Lord. He would be a fool to risk his reputation so. I will make some enquiries as to his social circles, to gauge what damage he could do.”

Robin rubbed his head. “I’ll talk to Carrie, make sure she understands how big this is.”

Severus nodded. “Harriet was remarkably foolish,” he said. “I hope she is aware of that.”

“I’m pretty sure she is,” Robin said. “She thought… she thought I’d break up with her because of it.” He decided to leave out that her alternative train of thought had been corporal punishment. He wasn’t altogether sure he was comfortable sharing any sexual kinks he may or may not have with his father.

“Thank you for doing me the courtesy of informing me,” Severus said. “Get yourself a headache remedy. I can see you need one.”

“Thanks,” Robin said heavily. leaving his glass on the drinks cabinet for the house elves to clean. “Oh, Dad?” he questioned, “Just how much is Harriet worth? Monetarily, I mean.”

“I think you should ask her that,” Severus replied, staring into the fire. “I really couldn’t put a figure on it.”

Chapter Text

Harriet rolled out of bed at nine. To her surprise, Robin wasn’t there- she’d have expected him to still be asleep. She thought she may as well get a trip to the hospital wing over with, and hopefully Madam Pomfrey would let her play in tomorrow’s match. She’d been drinking the blood replenishers obediently, and had let Robin repeat the treatment with dittany when he’d visited midweek, at Severus’ suggestion. She knew from her own inspection with mirrors that the scarring was fading, white instead of pink now. Within a few weeks, it would narrow and eventually vanish. She was pleased. She already had one curse scar, and she didn’t want to carry another all her life.

Madam Pomfrey was bending over a fifth year Hufflepuff’s bed when Harriet arrived. She glanced up. “Ah, Harriet. I’ll just be a minute; feel free to wait in my office.” She waved over towards the door.

Harriet settled in the chair by the desk, bored already. She leaned forward so she could peer through the door, watching the matron pour out a dose of some kind of potion onto a spoon for the student. The fifth year took the potion with a wince, but no complaint, and Madam Pomfrey twitched the curtain around the bed closed again. Harriet quickly sat back before the matron realised she’d been peeking. She heard water run and splash, and Madam Pomfrey appeared drying her hands. She nudged the door to with her foot, open enough that she’d hear anyone else arriving.

She smiled. “Now, then, how are you feeling?” she asked Harriet.

“Fine,” Harriet replied, hoping to get this over with and get on her broom to practice for tomorrow’s match.

“Well, let’s see, shall we?” Madam Pomfrey said. “Why don’t you take your top off and hop up onto the couch over there? I’ll see what your blood levels are like and check the scar.”

Harriet sighed. She’d been hoping for a ‘you look fine’ and permission to play in the match tomorrow. She tugged her long-sleeved t-shirt over her head and wiggled onto the high examination couch. Madam Pomfrey took her wrist, feeling for her pulse, and nodded after a few seconds.

A couple of wordless diagnostic spells left a faint glow of colour around her. “Well, you’re an awful lot better. I’d like you to take a half dose of blood replenisher once a day for the next week. Have you had any dizziness?

“Not since Monday,” Harriet said.

“Good. Lie down on your tummy, please.”

Feeling quite exposed and helpless, Harriet obeyed. She stiffened when Madam Pomfrey unsnapped her bra and pushed it aside, firm fingers pressing into the scar. “Not bad,” she said. “Give it two months, and you won’t even be able to see it anymore, I think. How’s your magic been? No struggles to cast spells?”

“Should I have struggled?” Harriet asked, puzzled.

“It can be a side effect of some curses. Not this one, that I know of, but always worth a check. You can get dressed again now.”

Gratefully, Harriet sat up and reached behind her to refasten her bra. She reached for her top as Madam Pomfrey sat behind her desk, scribbling in a file. When she was done, she tapped it with her wand and sent it flying to a cabinet behind her.

“Now then,” she said. “I suppose you’re after playing that quidditch match tomorrow?”

“Yes please!” Harriet replied eagerly.

Madam Pomfrey fixed her in a stern glare. “You’re to have a good lunch, then go out for a fly. Take someone with you, and stay close to the ground to start with. Any dizziness, the slightest hint of nausea, you come back to me.”

“And if I’m fine?” Harriet asked hopefully.

“Then you may play,” Madam Pomfrey agreed reluctantly.

Harriet couldn’t help the broad grin spreading across her face. “Thank you,” she said, getting up to go and hunt for her broom. “Not so fast, Potter,” Madam Pomfrey said. Harriet plonked back into the chair, trying to suppress her sigh. She didn’t want to give Madam Pomfrey the excuse to stop her playing on account of attitude. “Only after you’ve eaten lunch, not now. Would I be correct in thinking that Professor Snape has been looking after you as well?”

Harriet shifted uncomfortably in her seat, not sure how much she could say. “Erm, a bit, yeah,” she said.

To her surprise, Madam Pomfrey smiled a little. “He is not so terrifying as he would like his students to believe,” she advised. “I was… surprised, though, to realise that you are close to Robin. Not many people know about Robin.”

“Erm, yeah,” Harriet agreed. “I know that.”

Madam Pomfrey looked at her appraisingly. “Robin is a very special boy,” she said. “If you are to continue this… liason, you need to think very carefully about what you want from life.”

“Huh?” was Harriet’s erudite response.

Madam Pomfrey sighed. “You are a witch. He cannot use magic. I suggest you consider the impact that would have on your future life.”

“Why does everyone keep saying this kind of stuff?” Harriet demanded. “It’s not that big a deal!”

Madam Pomfrey looked at her sadly. “It would have been better had he been born with no legs,” she replied. Harriet made a face, and the matron just smiled gently. “Just a warning. Now, go. Remember, a half dose of blood replenishers for seven more days, and come back if you feel dizzy or sick.”

“Yeah,” Harriet agreed, realising that asking any more about why having no legs was better than having no magic was only going to infuriate her. How did wizards think muggles managed? she wondered. Madam Pomfrey finally let her go.

She ambled along the castle corridors. Just what was it that people, magical people, saw as so terrible in a person with no magic? No wonder Filch was so grumpy, if people went about saying things like he’d have been better off with no legs.

As if the thought itself drew him, Filch appeared from around the corner. “Potter,” he wheezed. “What’re you doing out and about?”

“Just going back to my rooms to do some work, Sir,” Harriet said, surprising herself  with the addition of the honourific. She’d never called Filch ‘sir’ before.

He narrowed his eyes, nodded once, and wandered off, muttering.

There was still no sign of Robin in her room. Feeling slightly put out, she went to see if he was in his own room. No sooner had she stepped out of the floo, though, Severus appeared. “What have you to say for yourself, young lady?” he asked.

Harriet stopped dead, a deer in headlights. “What?” she asked, afraid. He hadn’t been happy last night, but he seemed angry now.

“Your bed, Harriet,” Severus growled.

“My… my bed?” she asked, completely confused and just about ready to flee through the floo.

“Yes,” Severus replied, his voice low, silken, and dangerous. “When I went to amend the records of your whereabouts last night, I found that your bed was under the clearly mistaken impression that you barely stirred all night, that you were in bed just after curfew, and remained there until the last checks at half past six this morning. I, however, know differently, since you were in this room during the one AM checks. I ask again, what have you to say for yourself?”

Harriet just blinked up at him. He let out a soft breath. “What did you do to the bed, Harriet?”

“Nothing!I have no idea.” she insisted.

Severus snorted. “Somehow you have circumvented the charms on your bed. The night you were in the hospital wing, it also claimed you to be safe in your room. What did you do, Harriet? Or rather, what did Miss Granger do?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Harriet said flatly.

Severus’ eyebrows rose. “If you are hiding the truth from me, Harriet, you should reconsider. You are a very foolish child. You clearly have no regard for your own safety, so I should not be surprised that you are wandering off at night. By all means, continue in your attempts to kill yourself, but do try to leave the rest of us alive!”

“What are you talking about?” Harriet demanded hotly. “I’ve never tried to kill anyone!”

Severus crossed his arms over his chest. “Indeed,” he replied, his tone acerbic. “I suppose, then, that you have not considered that you have placed Robin in a very precarious position after your escapade last night? How are we to know that Mr. Deacon- who, I hasten to add, is engaged to be married to an employee of the Daily Prophet- is not going to share the fascinating news that he discovered yesterday?”

Harriet gulped. Severus knew. That meant that either Robin had told him, or he’d heard from Oliver. Severus continued unabated. “You do have form, after all, for dragging bystanders to their deaths during your adventures. Though I did not mourn the passage of Sirius Black, his untimely demise was linked to your foolishness.”

That was a low blow indeed. Harriet gasped. Later, she would know that it was Severus’ anger that had caused him to say it, but for now, she was just shocked. How could he bring Sirius up like that, after she’d taken so long to come to terms with it? Severus glared down at her. “Robin believes that you have learnt your lesson, I will trust him… on this occasion. We will attempt to mitigate any damage you have caused. If you are foolish enough to commit such a thoughtless, selfish act again, I will cut all contact between you and my son. He deserves as full and long life as possible, and if that means not seeing you, so be it.”

Harriet’s throat was closed in something between anger and sorrow. She didn’t know what to do, so she just continued to glare at him.

Anger rose in Severus. The desire to do something- assign detention, take points, even, Merlin forbid, reach out and slap the child, James Potter’s brat… he gulped in a lungful of air. “Go, Harriet,” he muttered darkly, with a wave towards Robin’s room.

She went, dashing for what she hoped was safety. Severus sank into a chair with his head in his hands. No, he told himself. No, not James Potter’s perfect little son, shown off to all and sundry. No. This was Lily’s daughter, the child for which she’d been willing to lie to her husband and all her acquaintances. The child she’d been willing to die for. He groaned at the wish he’d had to strike her. He’d never, never raised a hand to Robin. He would never fall into the vicious cycle of abuse to which his own father had succumbed., no matter what happened.

He knew that it was the exhaustion, the stress, that made him so volatile, but he needed to keep a reign on his emotions, no matter what. Sitting up, he took a slow, deep breath, then another. He helped no one like this, least of all himself. He needed to accomplish what was necessary, not wallow in self-pity.

Harriet slipped into Robin’s room, more afraid than she would have let on to Severus. The room was dark, a blanketed lump the only evidence of an occupier. She peeled back the blankets and slipped into the bed, seeking our Robin’s body heat. “Harriet?” he asked sleepily.

“How many other girls do you get climbing into your bed?” she snapped, nerves still on edge from her run-in with Severus. Her heart seized when she realised that Severus was right: Robin could be in danger because of her. The wizarding world was small, but would people believe Oliver if he said Severus had a son?

Robin tried to wrap his arms around her, his brain still sleep-mussed, but she stiffened, arching away. “None, kitten,” he assured her sleepily. “You know that. What’s the matter?”

Harriet didn’t reply, just thrashed out of the blankets again, making a run for the door, and the floo.

Robin found escaping the bed easier, since she’d managed to kick the blankets off, and grabbed her around the middle before she’d made it to the living room. “Kitten,” he murmured into her ear. “What is it?”

Harriet choked out a sob, all the fight leaving her. She flopped over Robin’s arms, and he pulled her back against him. “Shhh,” he soothed, sinking down to the floor with her. “D’you want to tell me what’s wrong?”

She shook her head. “You’re angry at me,” was part explanation of the problem, part explanation of her reluctance to talk to him.

“No, kitten, I’m not.”

She looked up at him briefly. “You had to leave last night because of me. You said you were angry.”

“I was angry because you put yourself in danger, Harriet,” he explained gently. “All I want to know is that you’ll not do something like that again. You’re too precious to lose.”

“Your dad’s angry with me,” she replied stubbornly. “And you told him. You told him what happened!

“Yes, kitten, I did,” Robin said with a sigh. “I had to. I owed it to him.”

“Because I put you in danger.”

Robin kissed the top of her head. “You are not to blame for an accident of birth,” he told her. “It’s not your fault that my dad’s a double agent serving a madman, and he can’t expect you to shoulder the blame for that. It’s amazing that nothing like this has happened before: Oliver knew me as soon as he realised I was magical. I could as easily have had a bout of uncontrolled magic around him; it is possible.”

“Severus is scary when he’s angry,” she retorted, not really ready to listen to reason.

“And you’re not immune to that after seven years of potions lessons? What else is bothering you?” Robin wanted to know.

Harriet shrugged. How could she tell Robin that people kept suggesting that she shouldn’t be with him because she had magic and he didn’t, when all she could think was that there were probably a hundred other girls he’d rather be with.

“How many girls have you slept with?” she asked suddenly, bluntly.

He frowned, leaning back against the wall. “I don’t know. A few.”

“A few’s not an answer,” she pressed. “How many? Ten, twenty? Fifty? A hundred?”

“Erm…” Robin chewed on his lip, his eyes ceiling-ward, deep in thought. “They kind of blur. Like, maybe twenty five? I had a lot of one night stands last year.”

“How long will it be until I’m just a blur?” she asked quietly.

“Oh, kitten,” he said, faint exasperation tinting his voice. “You don’t understand, do you? You can never be a blur. Other girls… they were just girls. Fun. They scratched the itch, cleared my head for a while. With you… I don’t just want sex. I wouldn’t have ever called myself the romantic type- I did sex, and apparently I’m good at it, because it seemed to keep them coming back. But I didn’t want anything more than sex. I did relationships because some girls wanted that. But I wasn’t the flowers and chocolates type of guy. Until I met you.”

“How do I know you don’t say that to every girl?” she asked plaintively. “How do I know you don’t say that to some other girl on the days you don’t see me?”

Robin’s head hit the wall behind him with a thump. He took a couple of deep breaths. “Trust has to come into it somewhere, Harriet,” he said eventually. “I can’t be sure that you aren’t off with someone else on the nights I’m not here either, but I trust you’re not. I know… well, I’m reasonably sure that you aren’t interested in open relationships and polyamory, and I’m not. I only want you. I wouldn’t still be here after the stunt you pulled last night if you weren’t worth it.”

Harriet nibbled at her lip. She wanted to believe Robin. She couldn’t think of a single time he’d given her any reason to doubt that she was the only girlfriend he had on the go. But still, she was so sure that she wasn’t good enough, that maybe she was just his ‘prize’.

Robin kissed her hairline. “Are you going to tell me what you’re thinking?” he whispered. “Whatever it is, I won’t be angry.” She stayed resolutely silent, and Robin finally gave up with a grunt of frustration. “I’m cold,” he said. “You coming while I put some clothes on?”

She nodded, and it was only when Robin had his head in a jumper that she finally asked, “would you be with me if I wasn’t, you know, a Potter?”

Robin’s head popped out of the neck hole of the jumper and he looked at her in surprise. “Harriet, to begin with, I had no idea who you were. It took a while for me to actually connect you to your history.”

“It was before you kissed me, though,” she pointed out. “Did you decide to kiss me because I have money, an old family name?”

Robin sat down to pull on his socks. “The thought never entered my mind,” he said. “I have no idea how much money you have. I know you’ve got a couple of houses, but that doesn’t mean much, especially since one’s a ruin.”

“I have five houses,” she admitted quietly. “Two in London, one in Edinburgh, the house at Godric’s Hollow, and a house in France. In terms of money; somewhere in the region of a hundred thousand galleons. Oh, and a suit of armour.”

Robin’s eyebrows raised at the amount of money, but he smiled at the mention of the armour. “Does it fit?” he asked archly.

She looked at him strangely. “It’s not mine,” she explained. “Some kind of family heirloom.”

“I had guessed,” he assured her. “I was joking. But no, Harriet, I have no interest in your money. I had no idea you had so much, but knowing your monetary value doesn’t change how I feel about you one bit. No matter how much money you have, it doesn’t change who you are- a very loyal witch with a bit of a self-esteem problem, too much of an adventurous spirit for your own good, and a face so beautiful that it makes my heart stop every time I see it.”

She was blushing. “I’m just me,” she protested.”

“Yes,” he replied. “Just you- and you, Harriet Potter, are perfect.” He leaned over to kiss her, only lightly, on the lips, waiting to see what she would do. Mollified by his words, she reached up to wrap her arms about his neck, pressing up into the kiss and licking at his lips to deepen it. With a groan, he let her in.

A few moments later, they pulled apart. “And to think, I’ve just put clothes on,” he said, a hand cupping her breast through her clothing. When he slipped a hand up her top, he found her nipple stiff and pebbled, and was reasonably certain that he’d encounter wet knickers should he move south. It explained her moodiness, he supposed, if she was needy again. He kissed her once more, enjoying the moan of pleasure as he caressed her body.

There was a resounding slam as the door to Severus’ quarters shut. “Harriet?” the potions master called.

Robin’s shoulders slumped, and he pulled his hand away. “Well,” he said, “I suppose it will just have to wait.”

Harriet was no more delighted at the prospect of facing Severus again so soon after his anger earlier. She tugged on Robin’s arm to get him to come with her.

Severus was pacing in front of the fire. He watched them appear from the corridor with shadowed eyes. “I apologise, Harriet,” he said. “I have ascertained that the… malfunction of the charms on your bed were not your doing.”

“Well, I told you that!” Harriet insisted hotly. Then, curious, “What was it?”

Severus sat in his armchair and gestured the pair to the sofa. “I went to speak to Professor Lupin,” he explained, “on the pretext that I had been checking the records for my Slytherins, and had noticed that you were apparently in bed when you should have been in the hospital wing. After some calculation, it would appear that the bed assigned to you, which has followed you throughout your Hogwarts career, was tampered with a number of years ago, by another student. It will always report that the occupant is present and correct when expected.”

“How do you know it was someone else?” Robin asked. “Not that I’m suggesting Harriet had anything to do with it…”

“I know, because Professor Lupin was the one to recharm it, along with a few other beds. He claims to have quite forgotten until I brought it up, but he meddled with the beds belonging to himself, Sirius Black and James Potter. Quite coincidentally, Harriet was placed in the same dormitory as her father had occupied. More than that, it is the very same bed.”

Chapter Text

With shaking hands, Harriet nervously smoothed her robes. Black, freshly laundered and pressed by the house elves, Hogwarts crest transfigured away. She didn’t want to look like ‘just a schoolgirl’. Imogen had taught her a charm for braiding her hair, and it lay in a  neat french braid down her back. She wasn’t sure she’d ever felt this nervous, except perhaps when she caught the Hogwarts express for the very first time. She’d been nervous at the beginning of this year, but at least she’d had some idea of what she was getting into.

She was up in the Headmistress’ office ten minutes before she was expected to floo through to the Wizarding colleges. The gargoyle obligingly moved aside and let her onto the moving staircase. “Potter,” Professor McGonagall said, standing behind her desk and leafing through a pile of owl post. “Good. Are you ready?”

“I think so, Professor,” she replied, voice high with nerves.

“Excellent,”  McGonagall said. “Now, you know the floo address?”

“Yes,” Harriet replied.

“Well, I shall trust you to see yourself there, then,” she said. “My third years will be due in my classroom at any moment. Good luck, Potter.”

Harriet managed a watery smile in thanks before McGonagall swept from the room. Harriet looked about. The office was unchanged since the last time she was in here- it still just looked like Dumbledore’s. Even Fawkes still sat on his perch. He keened softly at her, and she went over to say hello, stroking his fiery plumage. Harriet had always liked Fawkes- after all, how could you not like a bird that had saved your life?

“Hello, Harriet, Dumbledore’s soft voice said from behind her.

She whirled. “Hello, Professor,” she replied.

If she had thought that Dumbledore looked tired and ill the last time she’d seen him, she was mistaken. Now, his presence seemed to have gone, and he was smaller, almost shrunken in on himself. His back hunched, and his magnificent mane of hair had thinned back from his forehead. His eyes were flat, and, though he kept his cursed hand tucked into his robes, she still caught a flash of blackened flesh at his wrist as he moved slowly forwards. He smiled weakly. “I can see that my appearance is something of a shock to you,” he told her. “Yes, child, I am dying. We all must die, in the end. As I have said before, it is our next adventure, though, I confess, I should have preferred to prepare to leave at a happier time.”

“Sir… Voldemort…” Harriet managed to force out.

Dumbledore leaned heavily against the back of the chair behind the desk. “You will know what to do when the time comes, child,” he assured her.

“I don’t think I will, Professor,” she replied.

He gave that weak, watered down smile again. “Trust in those around you. Now, I think, you should be going on to your next adventure- it is time, I believe, for you to go to your interview?”

Harriet realised he was right. “May I come and see you, Professor, when I get back?” she asked, suddenly afraid that this might be the last time she would see her mentor.

“Now, you don’t want to be wasting your precious time with an old man,” Dumbledore said with a hint of his old twinkle. “Go on with you now, into the floo.” And then, Dumbledore grasped Fawkes by the tail, and both vanished. Shaking her head, Harriet took some floo powder and stepped into the fire. “Alizon Hall, Wizarding colleges, Lancaster,” she said firmly.

A witch in dark green robes looked up as she stumbled out of the fireplace into a high-ceilinged, marble-floored hall. “Good morning,” she said pleasantly when Harriet had her bearings. “Are you here for an interview?”

“Oh, er, yes, I am,” Harriet replied.

“Who are you meeting?” the witch asked. “And your name, please?”

Harriet pulled out her sheaf of parchment. “I’m supposed to see Professor Lake,” she said. “I’m Harriet Potter.”

“Have a seat,” the witch said, gesturing to a few finely carved chairs with forest green cushions off the the side. “I’ll let Professor Lake know you’re here.” She scribbled a note and folded it, sending flying down a hall like a Ministry of Magic memo. Harriet tried not to fidget, holding her hands tightly together in her lap.

Luckily for her, it was only a few moments before a wizard who looked to be in his forties appeared, hair almost as blonde as a Malfoy, dressed in dark trousers and shirt, his own green robes open and flapping behind him. “Miss Potter,” he said, walking straight towards her and holding out his hand to her. She stood and shook it, trying not to tremble. “Very nice to meet you. I’m Tristan Lake, lead tutor on the Defence course.”

“Hello, Professor,” Harriet replied.

“Tristan will do fine. May I call you Harriet?”

“Oh… yes, of course,” Harriet said, feeling a bit odd. None of the teachers at Hogwarts were called by their first names (well, she called Severus by his first name, but certainly not in lessons!) and she’d never actually had someone ask to use her first name before.

Tristan grinned widely. “Excellent. Shall we go through to my office for a chat, and then I’ll take you for a bit of a tour.”

Tristan’s office was more like a large cupboard, stuffed with a bookcase and an oversized desk, covered in piles of parchment and a few little trinkets. He moved a stack of papers off a second chair, waving her into it. “Now,” he said, sitting down, “I’m afraid I simply can’t ignore the matter, so we may as well get it out in the open- the boy who lived!”

“Well,” Harriet said, “Not so much the boy who lived as the girl who lived.”

“Yes, yes, quite,” Tristan agreed. “Would you enlighten me on that? All I know is what was reported in the Prophet, and well, most of what they publish is speculation and gossip-mongering anyway…”

At least he realised that much, Harriet thought. “I was disguised as a boy at birth,” she explained shortly. “I gather my father wanted a boy, so my mother used some old spells that made me look male. The spells broke on my seventeenth birthday. I’ve been living as a girl since then.”

“Fascinating…” Tristan said, leaning forward on his elbows. “And you’re happy living as a girl? No… desire to return to life as a man?”

Harriet shrugged. “I’m the same person, it doesn’t matter what body I’m in,” she pointed out.

“Yes, well…” Tristan said, leaning back in his big leather chair. “I will admit, we don’t take many girls. This course is not like the others offered by the Colleges. They are, for the most part, cerebral and sedentary in nature. Defence, though, is a very physical study. You can have an excellent grasp of the spellwork and theory, but without physical fitness, you’ll never make a dueller. Often, females simply don’t have the physical prowess to keep up.”

Harriet found that her muddled brain cleared. No one could tell her she was unfit to duel! “I’ve played quidditch on my house team since my first year,” she pointed out. “I’m not unfit. I’m small and I’m fast. I can dodge easily- and isn’t that more important in defence anyway? I’d rather be small and fast than big and strong. Smaller target, I suppose.”

“Yes, that’s very true,” Tristan agreed. “Fast and strong would be best. However, we shall see about your skills in that regard later on, perhaps… for now, why not tell me why it is that you would like to join us here?”

This, obviously, was a question she’d anticipated, prepared for. “I used to want to be an auror,” she said. “But the aurors come in, wands blazing, to rescue people. I want people to be able to defend themselves, so they don’t need the aurors to feel safe. Everyone should be able to defend themselves, and their own homes, without waiting for an auror to come along. By the time they get there, maybe the person’s hurt, or dead… I want to be able to teach people. But I want to teach them the best, not just what they didn’t pay attention to in defence lessons at Hogwarts.”

Tristan nodded along with a smile. “Studies here will go far, far beyond what is taught at Hogwarts. It used to be that many of our students were taken from Hogwarts, but increasingly, we draw our intake from other schools around the world. Hogwarts graduates now seem content to go into the world with only their school training.”

Harriet looked at him squarely. “I didn’t even know that this place existed until this year,” she replied, not liking his insinuation that Hogwarts students were somehow lazy or stupid.

“Yes, well, we do only take five students onto each course every year. Hogwarts is only one school. Now, I see from your school records that you’re taking your NEWTs in Defence, Potions, Charms, Transfigurations and Herbology, yes?

“Yeah… they were the required subjects for auror training,” Harriet explained.

Tristan steepled his fingers. “I am disappointed to not see Arithmancy, nor Ancient Runes, either at OWL or NEWT level,” he informed her. “Both are very useful in warding, which, as I’m sure you know, is quite a major part of defence. If you’re anticipating teaching people to defend themselves and their homes, wards would surely form a large portion of that?”

“Erm, yeah,” Harriet agreed, feeling a bit wrong footed again.

“So,” her inquisitor asked, “What experience have you in practical use of magical fighting? I don’t see any mention of duelling societies on your application.”

“Erm, well, Hogwarts doesn’t have one,” Harriet admitted. Tristan snorted, but Harriet pushed on. “We kind of did, once, when I was in second year, but it was a complete disaster. I don’t know how much you know, but we’ve had some pretty rubbish Defence teachers in the last seven years. That year was Lockheart…”

“Your references make some allusions to the quality of teaching, yes,” Tristan admitted.

“But I’ve had experience of defence in the field, I suppose… I won the Triwizard tournament in my fourth year, and that meant facing dragons and sphinxes and stuff. And I started a club in my fifth year to teach defence,” Harriet said, “because the teacher wasn’t letting us do any practical work. But it wasn’t really duelling, it was mostly just making sure people knew the spells. Erm… well, yeah, it isn’t really until this year that I’ve done proper duelling in defence lessons. I enjoy it, and I’m good at it, I think.”

“Indeed?” Tristan asked with a  raised eyebrow. “What is it, do you think, that makes you ‘good’?”

Harriet frowned a bit. “I almost always win,” she replied, slightly nonplussed. “Maybe it’s because I don’t just think of the spells, I think of what’s around. I managed to beat someone recently by climbing onto the teacher’s lectern, because he wasn’t shielding high enough.” She decided it was best not to mention that she’d almost been killed ten minutes later...

Tristan said nothing, only shuffled the paper on his desk. Harriet could see her own handwriting- the essay she’d written on why she wanted to study Defence. “I see you’re predicted an ‘O’ for Defence though, that’s good… and an ‘E’ for Charms, Transfigurations and Potions. Only an ‘A’ for Herbology though- not your best subject, I take it?” he asked with a grin.

She’d had to suppress her surprise at knowing that Severus had predicted her an ‘E’. She was sure it would have been an ‘A’... or even maybe a ‘D’, had he been feeling less than charitable. Then again, he wasn’t bothering her so much in lessons now, although he certainly wasn’t friendly. “Herbology is… kind of boring,” she admitted. “I know that plants can be used as physical defence- thorns, and so forth, and they’re useful in potions, but pruning isn’t my favourite thing to do.”

“Ah, quite understandable,” Tristan agreed. “I will admit, we don’t find much use for it. It is by far more efficient to order in our potions ingredients than grow them ourselves. We have too much to do to wait for the flowers to grow!” He chuckled at his own joke. “Now, let me tell you what to expect should we offer you a place. As you are no doubt aware from the literature you will have received with your application form, we offer a two year course, at the end of which, you will be considered a Master of Defensive Magic. It used to be called the Fighting Arts, but after all the business with You-Know-Who, well… defence was just seen as a better naming convention. We run on longer terms than you will be used to- we have only a month off during the summer, and a week at Christmas and Easter. I will not lie: it is an intensive course. A muggle would take at least three, if not four years to do this level of course at one of their universities. We spend the first few weeks of the first year concentrating on theory, making sure everyone is at the same level. After that, time is divided into three main parts- lectures and going over advanced theory and technique on paper, spellcraft, which, as you can probably gather is the more practical element, and finally, a physical fitness portion, dealing with duelling as well as anatomy and physiology, and, of course, general fitness.”

Harriet nodded to show her understanding, and Tristan continued. “You will have two main teachers- I am nominally head of the department, and take the majority of the physical portions of the course. Professor Karl Leidner is our expert on theory. We share teaching on spellcraft, and do, of course, frequently bring in other speakers and experts. They may be from other courses within the colleges- our Charms counterparts are particularly useful, but equally, from outside as well. We do usually have a couple of visits from our Auror friends. We teach four days a week, from eight thirty in the morning to six in the evening, leaving a day for private projects, which form part of your final mark, and two days for the personal study which is expected. With me so far?”

He smiled encouragingly at Harriet, who did think this sounded a punishing regime, but nodded along. She supposed they were the best. “Excellent. Now, how about a little tour, and we’ll stop off in the sparring rooms and see how you do with your wand, eh?”

Back out of the cramped little office, Tristan led Harriet back into the rather grander marble corridor. “All of our teaching is done in this building,” he explained. “We have Alizon Hall, Charms are in Chattox hall, Redferne Buildings house the Potions department and Jennet Tower is Magical Sciences. Jennet’s is interesting, actually- the muggles know it as the Ashton Memorial, and see it as a much smaller building. There’s a butterfly house in their lower floor, quite a fascinating place. It’s a little out of the way, though- their students tend to apparate into town rather than face the hill!”

“Where’s this building?” she asked, although, really, she didn’t have a clue on the geography of Lancaster.

“Rather more central,” he assured her, opening a door. “We’re in a part of the old castle. The larger part is now a muggle prison. Now, this is one of our classrooms. We have three, and all look much the same…”

He also showed her a library, and explained that the colleges also kept a central library- this grand room was just the specialist books. She was impressed: it wasn’t so much smaller than the library at Hogwarts. The potions laboratories were up next- five of them, all joined to a central large supply cupboard. They briefly disturbed a tall, wiry man, his skin as dark as Kingsley Shacklebolt's. He raised a hand in greeting and went back to his potion. More space could be arranged with the Potions department if necessary, Tristan explained. “When working on potions, our students tend to work individually, so we have to keep a few spaces,” he explained. “After all, you don’t want someone messing with your carefully brewed polyjuice just before it’s finished! Difficult potion that one!”

“I know,” Harriet agreed. “My friends and I brewed it in second year.”

Tristan looked impressed despite himself. “As a what, twelve years old? and you’re only getting an ‘E’ in Potions? I suppose the tales I hear of the strictness of the Hogwarts Potions Master are true.”

There were a handful of group study rooms, and, last, Tristan  waved her into an echoing hall. Benches lined one edge of the room: it reminded Harriet of her primary school gym, with a sprung wooden floor. “We have a number of smaller sparring rooms,” Tristan explained, gesturing to a row of solid doors at the end of the hall “and a small weights gym, but this is where most of your physical training will take place.” Faint music strained through from the direction of the doors to the sparring rooms.

“Is there anywhere to fly?” Harriet asked.

“There’s a nice protected field we use for outdoor duels sometimes. It’s well shielded, so students have used it to fly before.” Tristan shucked his outer robe, tossing it onto a bench. “Now,” he said. “How about showing me some spellwork? Get yourself comfortable, and then I’d like to see your best shield, please.”

He took Harriet through a few shields, and moved onto some offensive spells against his own shields. Eventually, he stopped barking spells at her and came to rest, his oddly thick and knobbly ebony wand at his side. “Right,” he said. “I want to see your best spell,” he told her. “Do I need to shield?”

Harriet had been hoping for this moment. She shook her head as she raised her wand: no shields were needed here. Lupin had reminded her that a patronus was advanced magic, and a corporeal one considered impressive, particularly at her age. They required magical strength, and conviction to cast. It also demonstrated a purity of heart that could not be faked. “ Expecto Patronum,” she said firmly, thinking, for a change, of Robin. Of the warmth of his body tucked against hers, the way he tangled his fingers into the hair at the nape of the neck when he kissed her, the feeling of the cool brush of his hair against her cheek, the scent of him, slightly woody, reminding her of the smell of the twigs of a new broom and the green sharpness in the air in the forbidden forest. A burst of glittering white sprung from the end of her wand.

Harriet swallowed a gasp. She’d expected a stag; her big majestic stag. Instead, the cloud formed sharply into a wheeling, swooping bird. “Very nice,” Tristan said. “A falcon?”

“I… I don’t know,” Harriet said, wide eyed. “It’s never been a bird before.”

Tristan looked askance at her. “It’s the first corporeal patronus you’ve cast?”

Harriet shook her head, watching the bird fade. “I’ve cast a stag ever since I was thirteen,” she replied.

“Thirteen!” Tristan said, aghast. “You’ve had a corporeal patronus since you were thirteen?”

“I had problems with dementors,” Harriet explained. “My defence teacher, Remus Lupin, taught me the spell.”

“The patronus is not a spell we see often,” Tristan admitted. “Not many of our students have had the opportunity to learn. If they have, it’s usually non-corporeal upon arrival here. Tell me, is this the first time you’ve cast one since your… change in sex?”

“Yeah,” Harriet agreed with a frown, thinking back. “I suppose that must be it.”

“Well, I suppose it certainly counts as a life-changing event,” Tristan said, shrugging on his robe again. “Now, have you any other questions for me about the course? We have about ten minutes until my next interviewee is due to arrive.”

Harriet was almost surprised that he had another interview straight after hers. “How many people are you interviewing?” she asked, slipping her own robe back on and sitting to put her shoes back on.

“Twenty-five, all told. Karl and I are splitting them,” he explained, holding open the door for her. “Today is a personal project day, so there aren’t many of our students about. You’re the first of five.”

“Oh,” Harriet said, feeling slightly crestfallen. A one-in-five chance of a place didn’t seem all that good to her.

“It’s quite a job to cut down to that few from our applications- we had two hundred and thirteen this year!” Tristan said. “We’ll let you know if we’ll be offering you a place or not in the next month or so.”

“Okay,” Harriet said, feeling like she should have something clever to say, something memorable. They were back in the hall into which she’d floo-ed.

Tristan held out his hand. “It was nice to meet you, Harriet,” he said. “Perhaps we shall meet again in September.”

“I hope so,” Harriet replied.

He smiled. “Yes. Hepzibah, have you some floo powder for Miss Potter?”

The witch behind the desk offered a dish of powder and a smile to Harriet, who took a pinch with a murmured thanks.

It didn’t seem so long since she had left the Head’s office at Hogwarts, and yet, a very long time indeed. She sunk down into the chair before the familiar desk in the empty room with a sigh. Would she be good enough?



Chapter Text

The chatter of the class packing up was audible even in the corridor. Over the excitable second years, Harriet heard Lupin calling out that they weren’t to forget that their essays were due on Monday. Eventually, all the little heads (and a bizarrely tall Hufflepuff girl) had bobbed past her, and Harriet pushed the door to Lupin’s classroom open. He looked up from his bag. “Harriet!” he exclaimed, waving her in. “How did the interview go?”

“I’m not really sure,” Harriet said, crossing to his desk. She hopped up onto the corner of it, crossing her ankles as he legs dangled in mid-air. “He seemed to think Hogwarts was pretty rubbish.”

“Who was it?” Lupin asked.

“Someone called Tristan Lake,” she replied.

Lupin nodded. “He’s a well regarded expert,” he said. “We’ve never met- I move in rather different circles, I’m afraid, but he’s published a number of important papers and books over the last few years. I believe he was educated in Canada. Ilvermorny, I think the school is called.”

Harriet took a breath. “Can I show you something?” she asked.

“Of course,” Lupin said, sitting in his chair.

Harriet dropped back to the floor and pulled out her wand. “ Expecto patronum .”

Lupin sat blinking in stunned silence as the bird took a loop around the room before vanishing. “That’s… unexpected,” he said.

“Yeah,” she agreed. “I don’t know what it is. Well, a bird, obviously…”

“Again,” Lupin requested, and Harriet sent her patronus out for another fly about. “Some kind of hunting bird,” Lupin said. “A bird of prey, but I don’t rightly know what. I never had any interest in falconry. Maybe Hagrid would know. He has rather more knowledge about animals.”

“But why?” Harriet asked. “Why the change?”

Lupin spread his hands in a gesture of uncertainty. “A change in patronus is rare, very rare. It is usually seen only within romantic couples, where one may change to mimic the other, but it is by no means the indicator of true love. Many couples exist happily and with deep love, and maintain entirely different patronuses, if they have a corporeal one at all. Sometimes couples’ patroni match, like your parents.” He considered her for a moment. “I can only presume that yours has changed because you underwent a major upheaval in personal identity when your true sex was revealed.”

Harriet nodded along, but the explanation didn’t feel right, somehow. She still felt like the same person she’d always been: it was the world around her that had shifted. More likely, she’d simply never noticed how women in the wizarding world were treated: it had never impacted on her life when she was a boy. Lupin glanced at the clock on the wall. “Unless you hurry, you’ll be too late for lunch,” he said kindly. “I wouldn’t worry, Harriet. A change in patronus… it’s not a bad thing. It’s just a change.”

“Thanks, Professor,” Harriet said with a weak smile.

Lupin patted her shoulder as he stood. “I’m sure you did very well at interview,” he assured her.

The great hall was bustling with noise and laughter when she slipped in. “Budge up,” she demanded of Ron, squeezing herself into the little space left on the bench.

Hermione squealed. “Harriet! You’re back! How did it go?”

Harriet snatched a sandwich just before the plates disappeared, cakes appearing instead. “Dunno,” she said, through a mouthful of cheese and ham and bread. She swallowed. “They didn’t seem impressed with Hogwarts, to be honest.”

“What?” Ron demanded, his own mouth stuffed with chocolate cake. “Hogwarts is the best school in the country.”

“It’s the only magical school in the country,” Hermione pointed out stiffly.

“So what, all their students come from Durmstrang or something?” Ron scoffed.

Harriet shrugged. “Have you ever heard of anyone from here going there?” she asked, almost rhetorically. “Apparently Flitwick did, but students, in the seven years we’ve been here? Everyone just wants a job in the ministry, or, let’s face it, most of them get married within a year or two, then the women stay home with the kids.”

She finished her sandwich and reached for a piece of cake instead. Ron shrugged. “Well, yeah. That’s what happens. So, you’ll be with a whole bunch of Durmstrang and Beauxbatons kids?”

“There are other schools, you know, Ronald,” Hermione snapped.

Ron raised an eyebrow. “Not that I know of,” he complained.

“Funny that,” Hermione complained witheringly. “After all, you clearly know everything. There’s at least eleven Wizarding schools. The Salem Institute in Massachusetts, for a start- one of the most famous there is, even though it’s relatively young compared to places like Hogwarts and Durmstrang. There’s the Tahoe school of Witchcraft and Shamanism in the United States too. The Uagadou School in Uganda is the biggest in the world! There’s a school in Japan that specialises in wandless magic. I’m sure there are plenty more that I’ve never even heard of. Honestly. Ron, could you really think that wizards only existed in Europe?”

Ron looked somewhere between furious and shamefaced. He reached for another slice of cake. “I still reckon Hogwarts must be the best,” he grumbled. Hermione just gave a long-suffering sigh.

Harriet made a quick dash to her room to pick up her potions books before the lesson. She had been excused from lessons for the day, but she could imagine that Severus would be less than impressed with her should he discover that she was back at school and not in his lesson. Ron thought she was slightly nutty, but Harriet was also more conscious than ever that she really needed good NEWT marks. Even if she didn’t get into the Wizarding colleges- and the more she thought about sitting in Tristan’s office, the more she was convinced she wouldn’t- she needed to have those bits of paper to do anything. Maybe they’d still take her on for auror training, she mused, though the idea was no more palatable than it had been yesterday. But maybe if she trained as an auror, then she could leave and teach defence, just like she had planned…

She shook herself out of her musing, and joined Ron and Hermione, who were squabbling over some assignment or other in the corridor. They didn’t shut up all the way down to the potions classroom, and Harriet found herself really, really wishing for the airy gym-room at the Wizarding colleges, where it was quiet and smelled slightly of floor polish, and all she had to concentrate on was the spells. She almost considered turning back, skipping Potions, and fetching her broom, but, somehow, her legs just kept on towards the classroom.

Severus said nothing at seeing her- he did give a very slight nod when she looked at him. He simply barked at the class to get on with their ice potions. Harriet had wondered last week if it could be used in conjunction with floo powder- perhaps it could help Robin? Tentatively, she put up her hand.

“What, Potter?” Snape snapped. “You have forgotten already what you should do? How you have made it to seventh year, I shall never know.”

“No, Sir,” Harriet said boldly. “I was just wondering why the ingredients for an ice potion aren’t also in floo powder. After all, don’t you need something cooling in floo, so you don’t get burned?”

Snape slowly let out a long-suffering breath. “How, Potter, does it slip your mind so easily that you are a witch? Why should one wish to waste ingredients to cool a flame in floo powder when cooling charms on contact with fire are instinctive magic?”

“But what about muggles, Professor? Wouldn’t it be good if they could use the floo too? Or… or squibs.”

A muscle beneath Severus’ eye twitched. His face twisted. “Muggles, Potter?” he sneered. “Muggles and squibs? There is no reason to bring the lower life forms of the world into this.”

Harriet dipped her head over the lampranthus she was meant to be extracting the juice from, remaining silent after that. Severus swept back to his desk, arranging his robes about himself before he began to mark essays with furious swipes of his quill.

Harriet filed up to leave her labelled potion in the crate on his desk at the end of the lesson. “Stay behind, Miss Potter,” Severus drawled as she placed it in.

“Yes, Professor,” she replied dully. Was he going to be annoyed at her for bringing up squibs in his classroom? She returned to the workbench to clear away her cauldron and collect her bag. “I’ll see you at dinner,” she whispered to Hermione as Snape dismissed them. “I’ve got to stay back.”

Hermione nodded and gave a small smile before dragging Ron with her by the sleeve of his robes. Harriet heard a snicker as the rest of the class filed out, but she couldn’t be sure which of the gaggle of Slytherins it was. When Severus finally flicked his wand to slam the door shut, he silently gestured though to the storeroom. Only when he was in his own living room did the sneering mask break. He looked… sad. “How was your morning?” he asked, though he seemed distracted.

She shrugged. “Okay, I guess. I’ll find out in a month or so, he said.”

Severus nodded. “Good,” he replied. “Harriet… I had some news this morning, news that affects Robin, and I wanted you to be aware, because I don’t know how he’ll react. Robin’s maternal grandmother died two days ago.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Harriet said. “Were… were they close?”

Severus sighed and crossed to the drinks cabinet, pouring himself a small amount of firewhiskey. “I suppose Robin hasn’t spoken of his grandparents?” he asked, offering Harriet a glass of pumpkin juice.

“No…he doesn’t talk about any family. Well, I know his mum’s dead, but that’s basically it. I suppose I hadn’t thought to ask. I sort of forget that most people have grandparents.” After all, her dad’s parents had died before she was born, and on her mum’s side, her grandmother had died when she was three, and four for her grandfather. All she remembered of it was Aunt Petunia taking to her bed for two weeks.

Severus settled into his armchair. “I suppose, then you probably need some history.” He fell silent for a few minutes, staring into the fire. “Robin’s mother grew up in the same town as your mother and I. She was younger than us, a year below us in primary school. Annie was… a very innocent woman, in many ways. Naive, I suppose. Very sweet, very loving, but also very trusting. She trusted me, after all…” He dipped his head, his hair hiding his face in shadows. “Her family were very strict Christians. When Annie told them she was pregnant, well, I’m sure you can imagine their reaction. They sent her away, cast her out that very night with nowhere to go. She tried to take Robin to meet them shortly after his birth, but they claimed not to know her.”

“That’s awful,” Harriet said sadly. “I had no idea…”

“It was… upsetting for her,” Severus agreed, rubbing his head absently. “I had suspected that their reaction would be something of the type. I attempted to persuade her that it would be better to not continue with the pregnancy, but she was adamant that she wanted the child. I considered dosing her food with a potion, but… I could not bring myself to do it. I couldn not take away her happiness.”

“What happened?” Harriet asked. “Where did she go?”

“She stayed with a friends for almost a month,” Severus said, “until I was able to rent her a flat. She lived there with Robin until I started teaching, and I could buy her a house.

“You paid for her house?” Harriet asked, confused.

“I paid for everything,” Severus replied quietly, almost to himself. “To begin with, it was my penance: my penance for my stupidity. Then, it was because I could not bear to have Robin want for anything I could provide.”

All this time, all the time he’d been handing out detentions and snatching points away, making lives a misery for the majority of his students, he’d been doing anything he could to provide for his child; his secret, squib child. She remembered Robin’s memory of Severus helping him build a snowman, and she wondered when her teacher had found time . No wonder he always looked exhausted.

“That, however, is irrelevant to the situation at hand,” Severus sighed. “I wanted you to be aware first… as I mentioned, I have no idea how Robin will react. I should imagine that he will visit this evening, late, probably, to see how you are. If he does, I shall tell him then. The funeral is Saturday afternoon.”

“Shall I come back after dinner?” Harriet asked.

Severus shook his head sharply. “No, I would not expect him much before curfew. He has a Latin lecture until six on a Thursday this year, and he likes to do the translations straight afterwards.”

Harriet nodded, wondering how Severus knew. She didn’t really know when Robin’s lectures were. Did he keep a copy of his son’s timetable somewhere? Obediently, she returned to her own room.

After dinner, Hermione near demanded the quiet study-space of Harriet’s room. The fifth years beginning to worry about their OWLs were wearing her patience thin when she sat in the library- many seemed to believe that their head girl was there simply to sort out their Charms conundrums. Ron somehow made himself very scarce, but, for the first time, Imogen joined them, even without Ron there.

“Are you having a study club? May I join you?” Draco asked quietly from behind them. “Sorry- I couldn’t help hearing…”

Hermione smiled widely. “Of course,” she replied. Harriet felt a little grumpy- why did Hermione get to decide who came to Harriet’s room? She had avoided Draco since he’d questioned her sexual desires, other than when they were paired in class- it seemed to be happening a lot in Defence of late. He had behaved as the perfect gentleman since she’d told him to leave her alone. Polite, but somewhat distant. Aloof.

She supposed it couldn’t do any harm to have him around as long as they weren’t alone. Why did Hermione suddenly seem so fond of the Slytherin, though?

It only took five minutes before the curiosity got the better of Hermione. She carefully put down her quill and turned the full force of her attention to Harriet. “So,” she began, “how was it really? What did you have to do?”

Draco looked up from his own work. “How did what go?” he wanted to know.

Harriet sighed, pushing her own books away from her. “I had an interview at the Wizarding colleges for Defence,” she replied.

Draco whistled appreciatively under his breath. “The Colleges are the best in Europe, if not the world,” he pointed out. “Mother wanted me to apply for Magical Sciences, but Father was… less keen.”

“He didn’t think you’d get in?” Hermione asked sympathetically.

“Not that,” Draco said with a smirk. “Failure is not a possibility for a Malfoy. He simply has other career plans for me,” he finished.

Yeah, like being a Death Eater, Harriet thought wryly. That was strange, she realised… no matter how friendly she was to Draco now, no matter how many friendly duels in Defence lessons, someday she may still find him at her wandpoint for real.  “It was… odd,” she said eventually. “He basically told me that Hogwarts was useless, that they didn’t take many girls. He seemed happy with my duelling, though…” She wondered if she should say anything about her patronus with Draco and Imogen there. Most people knew that her patronus had been a stag, so her new bird could be useful as a secret thing… but then again, it wasn’t as if hiding her patronus would give her any advantage in battle. “The weirdest thing is, my patronus has changed.”

“Changed?” Hermione asked. “Changed how? Oh, oh, it’s a doe now, right?” she grinned widely, sure that Harriet had finally ‘found herself’.

Instead of explaining, Harriet just pulled her wand from her sleeve and cast. Hermione stared dumbfounded at the soaring animal. Imogen smiled- she had known the stag too, having been in the DA. “Isn’t your broom a peregrine?” Draco asked absently, watching the bird as it swooped to the ground.

“Yeah. Why?” Harriet asked with a frown.

“It’s just odd, that your broom and your patronus match.”

“You know what it is?” Harriet asked as it faded, her mind no longer maintaining the spell.

“Yeah,” Draco said with a shrug. “It’s a peregrine falcon. They have a distinctive stoop.”

“A stoop?” Harriet asked, thinking that it had been flying, not standing, so how could it have been stooping?

“The way it dives,” Draco explained. “I had a peregrine for hunting- they’re quite well-behaved, as falcons go, so they’re popular for children. They’re known for their agility- they can take out fast prey.”

“It’s a nice analogy,” Imogen offered. “You are fast, on your broom, and you’re well known for making mad, last second dives and pulling up just in time.”

Harriet shrugged, bending back over her work. “S’pose so,” she said. “Has one of you got the Practical Transfigurations book from the library, by the way? The one by Changechild? I haven’t been able to find it all week.”

“No one can,” Hermione groused as she settled back to her work. “I reckon the Ravenclaws have nicked it.”

It was getting late, and Harriet was finally alone when her fireplace spluttered and a paper aeroplane popped out, floating along at fireplace height for a few seconds before descent brought it somewhere in the region of the coffee table. . ‘Still awake?’ the note read. She smiled, and reached for her floo powder pot.

Robin was curled on the sofa, and, oddly, Severus sat beside him. “But it would mean going into church, wouldn’t it, for the funeral?” Robin asked his father.

“Hey,” Harriet offered, settling on the floor next to Robin. He smiled and leaned down to kiss the top of her head.

“You are permitted to enter a church, Robin,” Severus pointed out dryly. “The world will not end, and the roof will not cave in. You have been in a church before- you were christened, after all. You attended with your mother when you were small. And for her funeral.”

Robin wrinkled his nose. “And the memory of Sunday School will haunt me to my dying day,” he complained.

“It’s up to you. I can arrange a floo connection for you if you decide to go.”

Robin shrugged. “It’d be kind of weird, you know,” he said. “I mean, I never met her.”

“I understand,” Severus said quietly. “But she was your grandmother, so I would also understand if you were to find the situation upsetting.”

“I guess it’s just one of those things that happens,” Robin said with a sigh. “But church? It feels wrong now. I’m not Christian.” He looked down at Harriet as if in sudden realisation. “Are you Christian?” he asked.

“Erm, I don’t think I’m anything,” she replied. “Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon went to church at Christmas, but I never went- they always said I’d show them up.”

“You were christened,” Severus said quietly. “But neither of your parents were churchgoers.”

Harriet filed this information about her babyhood away for later consideration. “I didn’t think religion was really a thing in the wizarding world,” she said.

Severus gave slight smile. “Have you never seen Professor McGonagall trek to the Hogsmeade church every Sunday?” he asked. “Albus, of course, prefers to be difficult and subscribes to an odd combination of Christian and Druidic practices that seem to alter depending on his needs. Professors Flitwick and Sinistra both follow the old religion.”

“The old religion?” Harriet asked quietly, leaning back and closing her eyes as Robin twined his fingers through her hair.

“It is probably best described as magical paganism,” Severus said. “It is the reverence of nature and magic.”

“And you?” she asked, curious.

Severus inclined his head. “I, too, subscribe to the old ways,” he informed her, “though I am no great practitioner. I have not attended a Sabbat in many years, let alone an Esbat.”

Harriet had opened her mouth to ask what a Sabbat was, and an Esbat, but she thought better of it when she realised she would probably sound just like Hermione. Instead, she tipped her head right back to look up at Robin. “Are you going home tonight?” she asked.

“Would you like me to stay?” he asked softly. She nodded, and he smiled. “I’ll stay, then, but I have to get up early. Philosophy seminar at nine. Shall we go to bed?”

“Yes, please,” she murmured.

She was tucked into bed by the time he was ready. He’d taken to leaving a toothbrush in Harriet’s bathroom, she’d noticed. He curled himself against her. “Why are you wearing pyjamas?” he asked in a low voice. “It’s so much nicer feeling your skin.”

“Sorry,” she whispered. His hands tugged insistently at her top until his hand cupped her breast. She gasped lightly as he tweaked her nipple. “Robin… are you sure you want to… I mean, you just heard about your grandmother…”

“I don’t want to talk about dead people right now, thanks,” he said. “I would like to enjoy you, however, if you’d get out of the infernal pyjamas.”

She did her best to hide her grin as she sat up to pull her top over her head, then arched her hips to shuck the bottoms. “Better,” he breathed, kissing a trail from behind her ear down to the ridge of her collarbone. He rolled first one nipple between his fingers, then the other. She tried to turn over to kiss him, to caress the growing heat of his erection, but he tightened his arm around her. “Stay,” he muttered, reaching down to push her upper leg up until it was nestled against her chest. He pressed his hips forwards, and the heaviness of his cock rested against her thighs. A slick of his fingers through her pussy drew a gasp from her, and an appreciative moan from him. “You’ve always so wet these days,” he informed her. She was, of course, well aware of this fact- she could feel it every time she saw him, or at other, truly inconvenient, moments.

His index and middle fingers bracketed her clit, drawing back and forth torturously slowly. “Robin… please… I want to touch you,” she begged.

“I want you to touch me too,” he said. “I want to be inside you, be touched by this part of you…” and then, a finger slipping just inside her sodden entrance. She let out a ragged moan as he found the sensitive spot just inside. “Good girl,” he murmured, withdrawing his finger and positioning his cock at her entrance instead. She pushed backwards, and he took pity on her, slipping inside her clinging heat. “My kitten,”

The position didn’t give much opportunity for hard, deep thrusts, Harriet discovered, but he brushed tantalisingly against her sensitive walls with each slow press in. Even better, he snaked his hand around her hip again to stroke at her clit, setting her pussy fluttering lightly against him.

It took a long time before he stiffened behind her, pressing in as far as he could go with a small groan, his pleasure a spreading warmth inside her belly..

They were still joined as she fell asleep, safe and warm and loved.

 

Chapter Text

“Ginny, stop fucking about,” Harriet snapped, nosediving her broom to snatch up the quaffle that Ginny had dropped- again. She’d watched the redhead catch the quaffle- and then open her hands, releasing it. There was no fumble, it was an easy catch. Was Ginny really deliberately letting them go?

Ginny shrugged. “My hands are cold,” she informed Harriet flatly. With a visible huff of breath, Harriet yanked out her wand and cast a warming spell on Ginny’s gloves. “You’re a witch,” she said coldly. “Act like it.”

“You don’t get to talk to me like that,” Ginny snapped.

“Gin,” Ron called warningly from the goalposts. Play around them had completely stopped. Harriet said nothing, just held out the quaffle to Ginny on one upturned hand. With a sudden scowl, Ginny reached out, but instead of taking the ball, she smacked it off Harriet’s hand and back to the ground, ten feet below.

“Go back to the castle, Weasley,” Harriet said through gritted teeth. She wanted to shout, but she knew that teachers shouting never had the effect that Severus could have with a low, silky word, so she kept her voice quiet, quiet enough that only Ginny heard her.

“You chucking me off the team?” Ginny asked, much louder than Harriet had spoken, flicking her ponytail over her shoulder. Anna gasped.

“I didn’t say that, Ginny,” Harriet explained patiently. “What I did say was that you should go back to the castle. We will talk about this later.”

Ginny snorted and sped off in the direction of the forbidden forest instead. Harriet shook her head. She didn’t much care where Ginny went right now, she just wanted her off the field. The raised her voice so the other plays could hear her. “We’re continuing without Ginny for now,” she called, swooping down again to scoop up the quaffle and toss it in Linda’s direction. “I’ll take her place as chaser.” She zoomed back up as the nervous chaser caught it and continued, trying to use dives and feints to confuse the keeper. Harriet had had to talk Ron out of pretending to be a complete idiot and not recognising a goal attempt when he saw one, he’d gone lumbering off in the opposite direction instead of defending. The point, she explained, was to try to outsmart the keeper, and none of the keepers were likely to be particularly stupid. She had to hold back from saying that none of the other keepers were particularly stupid, which she knew wasn’t fair. She was resenting leaving her warm bed on a snowy sunday morning only to deal with a rebellious Ginny, but they’d only just scraped a win against Hufflepuff last weekend. They needed No matter her insistence otherwise, Harriet hadn’t been at full form for the match, still a little achy when she dived, and slightly lightheaded by the end of the three-hour game.

Almost an hour later, she trudged back to her room. A stinging sleety snow had driven through in the last fifteen minutes, but she had pushed the team through it to finish off their last laps of the pitch. She regretted it by the time she returned to her room, soaked and shivering. Robin looked up from the bed as she stumbled in, catching her foot on the lip of the portrait.

He gave her a concerned look and climbed out of bed. “You’re freezing,” he said when he tried to hug her.

“I’m fine,” she insisted, unfastening her sodden robes and letting them drop to the floor. “I just need a hot shower.” Her fingers fumbled with the buckles of her arm guards. Robin gently pushed her numb digits aside, working the leather through the buckles. “Not that one,” Harriet snapped, pulling her arms away.

“Tell me which ones, then,” Robin said gently, not rising to her anger. “Let me look after you, kitten. Do I unfasten this one?” he asked, pointing to the elbow ties.

“No… just the top one now,” she said grudgingly, letting him unfasten it and slide the leather gauntlet off her arm. He moved to the other side, drawing it down her arm.

“You’re sodden,” he said, steering her over to the bed so he could pull off her close fitted boots. “Don’t you call off practice when the weather’s bad?”

“We’d never get any practice in if we did that,” Harriet replied, trying not to let her teeth chatter. “It’s always cold and wet from November through to March.”

“Why not have some kind of weather-repelling magic on the pitch?” Robin asked, gripping her heel as he slid the unlaced boot off her leg. “Even your socks are wet, Harriet,” he complained, peeling the offending fabric off and gripping the arch of her foot. “Hot bath for you, I think. I hope the rest of your team are doing the same.”

She nodded. “Gryffindor baths are always full after practice. Everyone else knows to stay away for at least an hour.” She tugged her skin-tight shirt over her head and reached behind her back to loosen the hooks on her bra as Robin finished taking off her other shoe and sock.

She shed her leggings on the way to the bathroom, hopping first on one foot then the other and drawing a grumble from Robin, who had to steady her to stop her falling over. He set three bath taps going and pointed to the jacuzzi-sized tub. “In,” he demanded, sounding every bit like Severus.

“All right, all right, I’m going!” she replied, clambering down the three steps and hissing as the hot water met her chilled flesh. He yanked his t-shirt over his head, mussing his sleep-tousled hair even more. She couldn’t help giggling as most of it crossed to the wrong side of his head, standing comically over his crown. He shook his head, returning it to a usual silky state. She was jealous: her hair would have just ended up in a giant knot if she did that. She sniffed the air as he hooked his underwear off his legs. “What’re the bubbles?” she asked. She didn’t actually use the bath much, not having time to do more than shower most days. Lounging in the bath was a rare luxury.

“Rosemary,” he said, slipping into the water beside her, “because it soothes joints and minimises aches. And lavender for relaxation.”

“You know magical uses for herbs and plants?” she asked.

He guided her onto his lap, cradling her against his chest. She settled her head happily onto his shoulder. “Of course,” he replied. “I am the son of a potions teacher, after all. Both are used in healing potions, due to their anti-inflammatory properties, and lavender will fight infection as well. Rosemary, in small doses, is used in fertility potions, but if it’s used with pennyroyal, it’s an abortifacient. It’s also common at weddings in the old ways, as it represents fidelity and fertility.”

He fell silent following his recitation, absently rubbing her back. The bath filled; the taps shut off on their own. At length, Harriet voiced something she’d wondered about for days. Now seemed as good a time as any to ask, when they were warm and enjoying the water, and he’d brought up the old ways. “You said you weren’t a Christian,” she began. “Are you religious?”

“I’m a bit like my dad, I suppose,” he replied. “I sort of follow the old religion. I’m not part of a gathering or anything, and I can’t say I much want to be, if they’d even take someone without magic. But magic… there’s something more at work in our world that science can’t explain. My mother said that everything was God’s plan… but her God never accepted magic. ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’. How could I possibly subscribe to a religion that damns me for the blood in my body?”

When he put it like that, Harriet couldn’t help but agree. She slipped down in the water to lean her head back, wetting her hair. It only took a touch of her wand to summon her shampoo to her- like most, if not all, magical people, her wand was always in reach, even if at the side of the bath. Robin took the bottle from her, massaging it into her scalp with smooth motions. She sighed in contentment. “Rinse,” he murmured, guiding her head back, then swishing her hair through the water to wash away the lather. Harriet had given up on the idea of protesting his attentions: it was just nice to feel his hands on her.

“Where’s your conditioner?” he asked when she was upright again.

“Erm, in the cupboard,” Harriet said. “I don’t really use it, but they sold me some when I had my hair cut… Why, do you use it?”

He kissed her damp temple, and she could feel the quirk of his lips. “I think almost everyone with long hair does,” he said. “Can you summon it, or shall I fetch it?”

Obediently, Harriet summoned the almost full bottle and handed it to Robin. She’d tried it twice, and thought nothing was any different, so just stopped. He poured a generous dollop into his palm and started finger-combing it through her hair. She leaned back to wash it out of her hair, but he stopped her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “Give it time to work,” he instructed.

“Why?” she asked, puzzled.

“Because it needs to sink into your hair to have any effect,” he explained. “You can probably make something much better than this- most muggle stuff is inferior to simple potions. Too many chemicals.” He twisted her hair into a knot with practiced hands, and she found herself feeling quite inadequate. Her boyfriend knew more about taking care of hair than she did! She supposed it explained why his was always so soft, though.

“So,” she asked, leaning back against him and smearing conditioner on her shoulder, “What shall we do in the meantime?” she asked in a way she thought was seductive, her hand stroking over his smooth chest under the water. She couldn’t have failed to notice the solidness against the side of her thigh.

Robin smiled, knowing exactly what she was aiming for. “Well, we could warm you up some more,” he replied, deadpan, though she’d long since stopped shivering in the warm water and now steamy bathroom. His hand lightly traced the curve of her waist beneath the water as he dipped her head to the side to kiss her. She let out a soft moan of contentment into the kiss, her hand slipping down between them to brush against his erection. He dropped his head back with a low hiss. “Merlin, kitten, why does if feel so good when you touch me?” he wanted to know.

“Do we have too much sex?” Harriet gasped as he pinched one of her nipples, sending a sudden shock of arousal straight down between her legs. She wrapped her hand around his cock, running from the swollen tip down to the base. She squeezed.

“If neither of us is rubbed raw, then the answer is no,” he replied hoarsely before hoisting her up to straddle his lap and pulling her in for another kiss. His hands against her waist and back made her breath catch even more than the kiss. A touch from Robin could make her realise that a part of her body she never gave any thought to usually could become one huge erogenous zone. His fingers traced little circles in the small of her back before dropping to cup her bottom. He squeezed, eliciting another gasp. She nipped at his collarbone, her hand gripping his shaft tightly.

Her wetness had very little to do with the magically-heated water. It didn’t take much wordless coaxing from Robin to persuade her up onto her knees, settling over the spire of his cock. His fingers spread her lips, and the warmth of the water swirled against her. It didn’t take him long to realise that she was quite wet enough for his purposes.

The first moment of penetration, as she spread around him, always resulted in a gasp or groan from both of them. Harriet wiggled experimentally in the new, unfamiliar position. She let herself drop, just a little too fast, and gulped as he pressed against the end of her channel, the funny lump she’d learned was her cervix. It felt odd, a strange, crampy sharp pain that only lasted a moment. “Go at your own pace,” Robin instructed huskily, his grip gentle on her hips; guiding, not forcing. She nodded, and rose on her knees, enjoying the pull of his flesh in hers.

She didn’t really notice one of his hands dropping at first, concentrating on the rise and fall of her hips, trying not to splash too much. She noticed when a finger ran between the cheeks of her bottom, though, coming to rest over that secret little hole. She tensed instinctively, not even breathing. “Don’t worry, Harriet,” he breathed. “I won’t hurt you.”

He stroked gently, not even attempting to penetrate her. The muscles of her bottom quivered, every touch in such an intimate place sending spikes of… something into her belly.“What if… what if I’m dirty?” she asked quietly, completely still, but breathing again.

“We’re in the bath. You’re clean,” he explained.

“Not… inside.” she said, blushing. “There are charms, I think…”

“Shhh,” he soothed. “You don’t need charms, not yet. I’m not going to penetrate you, not like this, not there. Water is in no way enough lubricant for that. I just wanted to see if you liked it.” He took his finger away, resting his hands on her hips and encouraging her to move again. He dipped his head to take a hardened nipple into his mouth, sucking just enough to make her feel it.

“I did,” she whispered after a few bounces.

“You did, what?” he asked, releasing her nippe and looking up with a hint of a sparkle in his eyes.

“I did like you touching me like that…”

“Like this?” he asked, still playing innocent, running his finger down the cleft of her buttocks again until he was resting against the hole… and firmly pressed inwards, slightly shocked when the tip of his finger actually breached the ring of muscle. The slide of his fingertip against the smooth flesh inside her sent a quiver of sensation through Harriet. She felt oddly full, and so very vulnerable in that second. She gasped, surprised at the intrusion, clenched down. “Ah, fuck, Harriet,” he gasped, the press of her muscles milking his orgasm from him. He flung his head back against the side of the bath, his free hand gripping her hip tightly.

She leaned forward onto his chest, hearing his heart hammer in his chest. “Fuck, you’re tight when you do that,” he breathed, pulling his finger from her arse as gently as he could. “Go on, into the shower with you, and rinse off your hair.”

She pulled herself up and climbed out of the bath, trying not to pout. Her legs were a little shaky, and she felt a bit put out that Robin had had his pleasure, but she hadn’t come… She stumbled to the shower, turning the spray on full and thanking the world for magical showers, where the water ran hot immediately.

She heard the bath begin to drain as Robin climbed out, and a moment later, he was slipping behind the glass wall of the shower cubicle with her. She ducked her head beneath the showerhead. When she reemerged, he captured her in a kiss, and she couldn’t help returning it, even if she was a little put out that he didn’t seem interested in her pleasure. She stretched onto her tiptoes, the water streaming down her back and her arms wound about his neck.

“All done?” Robin asked, barely breaking the kiss.

“Yeah,” she murmured back, and he stepped back out the shower, his arms still around her middle guiding her with him. She giggled as they awkwardly ‘danced’ over to the towel rail, where Robin draped an oversized bath towel around them and started rubbing. He even knew how to twist a towel into a turban for her head, a skill she’d attempted to master after having seen Ginny sport one after a shower, but had failed miserably. She contributed a drying charm, which was always much more effective than towels at getting all the awkward bits dry.

Back in the bedroom, Robin bent over the bag he’d dumped the night before when he arrived. He’d never brought a bag before- usually, he went back through to Severus’ rooms to change, but Harriet could see why he’d get bored of that. She crossed to her wardrobe and crouched to pull clean underwear from the drawer.

Robin brushed a hand down her back. “If you’re willing, there’s something i’d like to try, kitten,” he said, his tone low and soft. When she turned to him, he was holding out some mismatched silky scarves. She frowned, confused. “I… I wondered how you might feel about being tied up,” he said nervously. “Just your hands, maybe…”

Considering she’d just admitted that she liked the alien sensation of a finger up her bum, she thought that he didn’t have much to be nervous about, admitting that he wanted to tie her up. “What will you do, when you’ve tied me up?” she asked. She was surprised at the tightening in her belly that had nothing to do with nerves at the mental image of her tied splayed across the bed.

“Something nice, I promise,” he replied, looking a bit less apprehensive. She wasn’t saying no! She offered her wrists in front of her, together, and he smiled. “Over on the bed, kitten,” he instructed.

The scarves were soft when he knotted them around her wrists. He’d bought them second-hand, he’d explained, just wanting something that wouldn’t injure her, and nothing so tacky as the pink fluffy handcuffs that were proudly displayed in the sex shops of the Northern quarter. She decided it was best not to ask where or what the Northern quarter was at this particular moment as he leaned over her to tie each scarf to the top posts of the bed. Her breath hitched as he arms were pulled up, pushing her breasts out and leaving her feeling very exposed.  She tugged experimentally. She could slip out of the bonds if she wanted, she thought, so she didn’t pull too hard.

Her breath hitched in her throat, and Robin settled on his haunches next to her. “You okay?” he asked huskily, stroking her cheek.

“Yeah,” she replied with a little grin. “Looks like you are too.” Without the use of her hands to gesture, she simply raised her head and nodded towards his lap. He was hardening again.

“I can’t help it around you,” he informed her, before leaning forward to kiss her deeply, his tongue caressing hers.

Before long, he’d moved down, nipping and suckling at her breasts. She pressed up towards him hungrily, finding that having her arms tied above her head was something of an annoyance. She’d normally be touching him, even if just to bury her fingers in his hair. She felt more helpless than she’d expected. She tugged impatiently at the scarves, and he shushed her, moving down the bed. “Legs open, Harriet,” he instructed quietly, running soft touches up her thighs when she eagerly complied.

If she thought she’d felt exposed before, she was unprepared for this sensation. He settled between her knees, meaning she’d struggle to close her legs again if she wanted to. He looked up the length of her body- she could meet his eyes if she raised her head. He smiled at her, then used two firm fingers to spread her pussy open. A solitary finger running up from her entrance to her clit had her bucking her hips up to meet his touch.

He teased her for what felt like forever, with little touches, eventually moving to pleasuring her with his mouth, raising her hips with his hands, but pulling away when she was just on the edge of orgasm until she was crying out in frustration. Finally, he took pity on her, sealing his lips around her swollen clit and thrusting two fingers inside her, letting her fly over the edge. Her muscles were still fluttering when he pressed her knees back to her chest, high and wide, easily pushing his engorged cock into her, still mercilessly teasing at her clit.

She may have screamed as the second climax hit her, and he grinned in pleasure to know that he could wring such a reaction from her.

Half an hour later, they’d cleaned up again, and finally got dressed. Robin pulled something else out of his bag, and Harriet was almost afraid of what his next idea was, until he handed her a hardback book. “If you get some tea, I’ll read you a story,” he bargained. She looked down at the title and giggled. “ Winnie the Pooh ?” she asked. “This is the story with Christopher Robin?”

“The very same,” he said seriously. “Tea?”

He was halfway through reading her the story of Pooh’s exploits in attempting to gain some honey when Harriet’s wards chimed. Robin stopped reading. “What was that?” he asked.

“My wards,” she explained. “They work as a doorbell too, if someone wants to visit.” She bit her lip in consternation. “I don’t know who it is.”

He kissed her and slipped his arm away from her. “I’ll go through to Dad’s,” he said quietly. “Come and get me when you’re ready.”

In the few seconds it took him to cross the room and vanish through the floo, the chime sounded again. Harriet scrambled to the door, wishing Hermione had included some way of opening it without having to get up. Then again, maybe she didn’t want Harriet to be ambushed in her bed by a marauding Slytherin who she’d let in by mistake, thinking it was a friend. Perhaps some announcement about who was there would have been better.

“Hermione?” Harriet asked, opening the door on her bushy-haired friend. “What’s wrong?” For Hermione was chewing at her lower lip, her hands worrying nervously at the strap of her bag.

“Can I come in?” Hermione asked, raising a hand to brush a stray wisp of hair from her face. Harriet stepped back, leaving space for Hermione to enter. As soon as Harriet shut the door, Hermione turned back to her. “Is… is Robin not here today?” she asked, sounding almost breathless.

“We didn’t know who was outside. He’s gone back through to Severus’ rooms. Hermione, what’s the matter?”

Hermione began wandering around the room. She straightened a pile of books on Harriet’s desk, closed a half-open drawer. “I was supposed to meet someone,” she began hesitantly. “I was supposed to meet Sev… uh, I mean Snape. To, erm, borrow a book. He said he’d be in, but he’s not. And I’m… I’m worried.”

Chapter Text

“Hermione…” Harriet asked her unexpected visitor, “are you, well, seeing Severus? In a romantic sort of way?” Hermione groaned, and flung herself down into a chair. It was as much confirmation as Harriet needed. “I overheard, you see,” she said. “A couple of weeks ago, I overheard you talking to him. About whether he was a kind lover.”

Hermione had buried her head in her hands. “Please, Harriet… please. You have to understand. The boys our age… well, they’re just so young ! And they’re frightened of me, of my intelligence. They… they make fun of me, or if I do actually get to a point where I could sleep with someone, they misunderstand what I want. Severus… he understands. And he said to meet him in his classroom an hour ago, but he’s not there. I’ve tried going down to his rooms, but there’s no answer, and he’s not the type to miss a meeting…”

“Let’s go and see if he’s there,” Harriet said matter-of-factly. There were a hundred questions she wanted to ask, but it didn’t seem fair, somehow. Hermione was in too much of a state. She’d give anything away if Harriet would help her find Severus. She gave Hermione a pinch of floo powder, and tossed her own into the flames.

Robin had sprawled across almost the entirety of the sofa, Sheba purring loudly across his lap. He looked up to smile at Harriet, though he looked confused when Hermione stepped through the fire behind her. He scrambled to his feet, dislodging a most unimpressed cat. “What…” he began, but Harriet cut him off.

“Is your dad here?” she asked.

“No…” he replied. He reached for a note on the coffee table. “He left a note. He was summoned, last night, at about eight.”

“Is he normally gone this long?” Hermione asked fearfully. “If he went at eight, it’s been almost twenty hours. What if… what if he’s hurt?” Or the unspoken possibility, dead.

“He was gone for four days once,” Robin assured her. “And that’s just that I know of. He could have been gone longer, and I just wasn’t here to realise.” He tried to sound calm, collected, but, just like every time his dad was summoned, there was an icy weight in his stomach, and he couldn’t help thinking that Severus may never come back.

Hermione stole a glance at Severus’ armchair, and Robin knew that she was probably thinking the same thing as him. “Worrying never helps,” he said gently. “It would be best just to do whatever else will take your mind off it. Treat it as a normal sunday afternoon.”

“I can’t,” Hermione whispered. “He said I had meet him, or, or… I’d be in trouble.”

“Aww, Merlin,” Robin grumbled. “I am in no way old enough or mature enough to be having this conversation. Sit down, Hermione. Harriet, could you make some tea, please?”

Biting her lip, Hermione sat. She seemed so very...un-Hermione, Harried mused as she directed a stream of water from her wand into the kettle and swung it by the fire to heat. Normally, Hermione always had the answer, was always desperate to share her views. Now, though, she was quiet, and, though clearly worried about Severus, she was calm, centred. Robin, on the other hand, was tense. Harriet spooned a scoop of tea leaves into the big brown teapot that lived on Severus’ hearth, and went to curl up next to Robin. He petted her knee absently. “Hermione… would I be right in saying you’re in a sexual relationship with my dad?”

What an odd turn of phrase, Harriet mused. A sexual relationship? Not just a relationship? “Yes,” Hermione replied softly, her hands in her lap. That really didn’t sound Hermione-like at all. Far too quiet and subdued.

“How long?” Robin wanted to know.

“Only two weeks since he agreed,” Hermione admitted. “I know it doesn't sound long, but…” her voice trailed off, unsure.

“But everything has to start somewhere,” Robin finished for her kindly. “And he’s told you that if you don’t meet him at the appointed time, you’ll be punished, yes?” he pressed. Hermione nodded. Robin shook his head with an indulgent smile. “He’s not as unreasonable as he’d like you to believe, Hermione. He won’t expect you to manage the impossible. He is not here, therefore you cannot meet him. Far better that you leave a note to say that you tried, and I’m sure he won’t hold it against you.”

The kettle whistled, and Harriet carefully poured the water into the pot. “Why, Hermione?” she wanted to know. “He’s old enough to be your dad.”

Hermione smiled a weak smile at that. “My dad’s almost fifteen years older than him,” she said. “I was a late baby. I need that, though. I need a man who knows what he’s doing, not a boy.”

Harriet glanced up at Robin. “There are good men closer to your age,” she protested. “What about someone like Neville? He’s sweet. And Ron’s known you forever- you can’t say he doesn’t know you.”

“I have needs that can’t be met by Ron, or Neville, or any of the boys I know,” Hermione replied with a wrinkle of her nose. “Seriously, Harriet, can’t you see that there’s some difference between Neville and Severus?”

“Don’t get me wrong, Severus is much nicer than he makes out, but I think I’d still prefer Neville.”

Robin snorted, which Harriet thought rather rich, given that he didn’t even know Neville. “Harriet, remember your book?”

“Yeah,” she said, then it suddenly dawned on her. Hermione had said she didn’t expect Severus to be a gentle lover… and had said that she’d be punished if she didn’t meet him. She didn’t mean punished in the schoolgirl sense, with a detention or lost points. She meant he would spank her, or any of the other kinds of punishment the book had detailed. Harriet could feel herself blushing, her cheeks and Hermione’s matching nicely. “You’re  a submissive?” she asked, barely above a whisper. Hermione nodded, her cheeks flaming even more. “But… you’re so sure of yourself. You’re always in control!” Harriet burst out.

“Most of the time, it feels like I’m in charge of everything and everyone,” Hermione whispered. “I want someone else to take control of something. I want to be accountable to someone, instead of just being told I’m brilliant and I’m better than everyone else. I want someone who’s going to push me to be better.”

“Well,” Robin said. “You picked the right man for that. He’s a complete control freak- I don’t know anyone else whose parents keep track of their uni assignments and question them constantly. He goes ballistic if I get less than a 65 in anything, and I get the ‘disappointed’ treatment if it’s less than a first.”

Harriet looked at him blankly. “A first what?” she asked.

“First class- basically over 70 percent. A 2:1 is over 60, and a 2:2 over 50.” She still looked confused. He sighed. “It’s to do with the kind of degree you get at the end. It’s not really important here. Hermione, seriously, he can’t and won’t punish you for something beyond your control.”

“What would he even do?” Harriet asked curiously.

Hermione opened her mouth to reply, but Robin cut across instead. “Don’t ask questions you don’t actually want the answers to, kitten,” he warned, and Hermione snapped her mouth shut. Harriet handed out cups of tea.

Robin tried to engage Hermione in light conversation whilst she drank her tea. He asked about her favourite lessons, and all three were able to laugh about Hermione’s hatred of brooms, indeed, of flying in general.

Hermione was trying to explain the basics of arithmancy to Robin when the door to Severus’ quarters snicked open. Hermione jumped about a foot in the air. “I do not recall saying,” Severus said softly, “that you may entertain your friends in my sitting room whilst I feed the Dark Lord false information to assure your safety, Harriet.”

Harriet and Robin stopped like rabbits in proverbial headlights. It was Hermione that moved, acted, said.

She dropped gracefully from the chair, sinking to her knees. “They know, Sir,” she said softly, her eyes on the ground.

“They know what, Miss Granger?” he barked, his tone harsh. Given how she was sitting, Hermione thought that much should be obvious.

“They know about us, Sir,” she replied. “I was worried when I couldn’t find you.”

Severus slipped fingers still cold from the outside air beneath Hermione’s chin, forcing her to look up him. He twitched his head in a nod, then released her and rounded on Harriet and Robin. “Not one word of this goes beyond these four walls,” he hissed, mostly for Harriet’s benefit. “My personal life and my professional one must be kept utterly apart, do you understand?”

“Of course,” Robin said smoothly. Harriet only nodded furiously. She could just imagine Ron’s reaction to this… and she certainly didn’t want to witness it.

Severus narrowed his eyes at them, then turned, his voluminous black robes swirling. “Into the bedroom, Hermione,” he commanded. Gracefully, she stood and went without so much as a look at Harriet and Robin. They were left just staring at each other in disbelief at the sudden turn of events.

Harriet spent the next couple of days trying not to think about what had happened. The last thing she needed whenever she faced Hermione over breakfast was to remember her on her knees at Severus’ feet. She looked forward to quidditch practice, relishing the chance for the flight and the freedom.

On Tuesday evening, Harriet was left glancing at her watch. Practice should have started ten minutes ago, and only she, Ron and Dean were here. Dean shifted awkwardly on his broom. “Maybe we should just pack it in,” he suggested.

Harriet snapped her broom around on him. “Do you know where they are?” she asked. He looked down at the ground, five feet below, instead of meeting her eyes.  “Dean?” Harriet questioned warningly.

He took a deep breath. “Ginny… she said earlier that practice was off, that you’d told her to spread the word. I thought you must have just changed your mind when Roni started getting ready to come out.”

Harriet cursed under her breath. “Fine,” she said. “Next time someone other than me tells you practice is cancelled, Dean, it’ll be because I’m in the hospital wing, and can’t tell you. If I’m not being held captive by Madam Pomfrey, I’ll decide what’s on and what’s not, and don’t believe anyone else.”

“Sorry, Harriet,” Dean said shamefacedly.

“It’s not your fault,” she replied with a huff. “Anyway, looks like practice is off tonight. Make sure you’re on time Sunday, okay? Ron, any clue where Ginny would be?”

Ron shook his head sadly. “No, mate. sorry.”

It was quick work to deduce that Ginny wasn’t in the common room. Ron quickly got sucked into a game of exploding snap, although Harriet declined the invitation to play, intent on finding the youngest Weasley. She mounted the stairs to the girls dormitories with some trepidations: she hadn’t actually been up here since the beginning of the school year.

The sixth-year room was at the very top of the tower. She hurried past the seventh year door, looking the other way, and rapped sharply on the ajar door to Ginny’s room.

“Hi Annie, Patricia, have you seen Ginny?” she asked the two girls who seemed to be in the midst of painting their toenails. Both shook their heads, looking mildly terrified to see her in their room, and Harriet left, feeling a bit put out.

Ginny was finally tracked down in a far corner of the library, encased in a silencing sphere as she flirted with Michael Corner. Harriet pushed through the thickened air of the sphere “Ginny, a word, please?” she requested.

Ginny stared at her. “Yeah?” she asked flippantly.

“Somewhere private?” Harriet suggested with a raised eyebrow.

Ginny looked her up and down. “Who says she wants to be anywhere alone with you?” Michael Corner asked.

Harriet let out a slow breath. “This doesn’t concern you, Corner,” she said levelly. “Ginny, if you have any desire to carry on playing Quidditch, you will come and talk to me right now.”

“That’s blackmail,” Ginny grumbled, but stood anyway. “C’mon, let’s get this over with.”

Harriet had wondered on occasion why Hogwarts had such a plethora of unused classrooms. She led Ginny into one down the corridor from the library, which sported the same high stained glass windows along with the requisite dusty tables and lectern. She shut the door after Ginny and stood before the younger girl, who’d perched herself on the corner of a table.

“What is your problem with me, Ginny?” she asked.

Ginny snorted. “You want to talk about this ? Now?”

“I want to talk about why you decided to cancel quidditch practice for me this evening.”

Ginny shrugged, having the good grace to look a little abashed. She didn’t meet Harriet’s eyes. “If I don’t get to play, I don’t see why anyone else should.”

“I never said you didn’t get to play, Ginny,” Harriet replied. “I sent you away from one practice because you were mucking about.”

Ginny mumbled something, and Harriet had to ask her to repeat herself. “I said, you’ll never pick me to be captain next year, so it doesn’t matter if I play” Ginny finally said clear enough to be heard. She plucked fretfully at the hem of her jumper, then leapt from the desk and made a dash for the door.

Harriet was faster. Though she was a little slighter than Ginny, she still blocked the way quite effectively. “Right now, Ginny, you’re making it really hard to think you’re ready for the responsibility. But you’re the best player on the team. If you would stop pulling this stupid shit, it would be an easier choice than picking between pumpkin juice and apple juice at breakfast.”

Ginny’s face was red with emotion; whether anger or frustration or embarrassment, Harriet couldn’t tell. “You always have to be the best at everything, Potter!” she snapped. “You don’t leave anything for the rest of us. It’s always you. And you know what? Being with you, being yours- it would have been my ticket out of being just another Weasley, and a girl to boot. There aren’t that many decent men out there, wizards who’ll let me be myself, and then it turns out you were just a faggot, and you made a mockery of me, of all the hours I spent wanting you! When I was Harry Potter’s girlfriend, I was something. Now I’m just the littlest Weasley- no money, no power, and no hope of a good marriage!”

“Ginny, listen,” Harriet said, trying for a placating tone.

“No, you listen!” Ginny screeched, banshee-like. “I spent so many years making sure that I’d hav