Thoughts of Pudding 2012

Chapter 7: Gang Aft Agley

Thoughts of Pudding by Brian64.

Chapter 7: Gang Aft Agley.

Sunday 23rd June, 1996.

Minerva McGonagall sat in her office with a cup of her favourite tea in hand. In her anger, she barely noticed that her hands shook from time to time, sloshing some tea over the rim.

She did notice the headmaster as he rushed through her door, however. Albus Dumbledore rarely rushed, so she put down her teacup.

"Albus, what is it?"

"Minerva, I fear there may be a problem at Privet Drive. Would you please head over there now while I contact Grimmauld Place? I will send what Order members I find there to join you."

Minerva thought for a moment before responding, "I'll Floo to Arabella's immediately, but I'm not sure it would be wise to send others yet. Those Muggles will react poorly with even one witch such as myself at their door."

"I am sure that they will understand that we only intrude in order to ensure Harry's safety."

Pursing her lips, she said nothing else until she threw some floo powder in her fireplace and called out; "The Cattery."

She stepped into Arabella Figg's house and quickly brushed off the woman's questions. "No time, Arabella, I'm sorry," she said, before Apparating just outside the wards of Number Four Privet Drive.

She drew her wand as she strode purposefully to the front door and knocked.

"YOU!" the fat Muggle yelled at her after he opened the door.

"I've come to see Harry. Now, where is he?" McGonagall said. She had no time for any of his foolish blustering now.

"He's gone! And good riddance I say!"

"GONE?" she screeched. "Gone where?"

Minerva pushed past him and into the house, searching for any signs of Harry, or anything that might have given a clue as to what had happened.

As she walked into the living room, she saw Petunia. "Where's Harry?"

"He's not here, he left–" she started to say before Vernon's bellows interrupted.

"I WANT YOU OUT OF MY HOUSE! I'VE HAD IT WITH YOU LOT. GET OUT! YOU WANT THE GOOD-FOR-NOTHING, USELESS FREAK, YOU HAVE HIM! WE DON'T WANT HIM, AND WE WON'T HAVE HIM BACK!"

Minerva's eyes narrowed as she faced the man. It was at times like these that she found it very difficult to understand exactly why Dumbledore had insisted on sending Harry here to grow up, and to have him return again each summer. These people were simply not worth it.

"You foolish Muggle! Having Harry stay here is what protects YOU from the evil wizard and his followers that killed his parents! If he leaves, the blood wards will fail, and your family – Harry's last remaining family members – will be exposed to the Death Eaters. When they find you, they will torture and kill you as an example of what they plan to do to Harry. Or perhaps, they will capture and torture you as bait to lure Harry to them, and then they will kill you.

"There isn't a wizard family I know of that wouldn't be happy to have Harry Potter stay with them, yet he returns here each year to recharge the wards that protect you. Personally, I would rather he live anywhere else under a Fidelius charm, as his parents did."

Vernon had visibly shrunk as McGonagall's words hit him, and it was Petunia who responded, "B–B–But that didn't work, did it? He still f–found them, and… and…"

"That was only because they made the wrong choice of Secret-Keeper. Such a mistake would never happen again, and a Secret-Keeper would, and should, die before revealing where Harry was."

The absurdity of that statement struck Vernon. "You're mad, you are. Who would want to die to save him?"

"I would," Minerva replied simply.

"And I," came a voice from behind them. Minerva saw Remus, and then Tonks, and finally Moody come into view.

"A lot of people would, Dursley. You just don't get it, do you? The boy's a hero in our world, and not just for what he did as a baby," Moody said.

"A hero? That boy?" Vernon snorted disbelievingly.

Tonks stepped forward as though about to respond, but Lupin put a hand on her arm to hold her back. As she turned to face him, he just shook his head. McGonagall had already started speaking. "This isn't helping us find out what happened to Harry!" She turned to Petunia. "You were about to tell us where Harry has gone."

"He left with his girlfriend," she replied simply.

"Girlfriend?" McGonagall repeated, not quite believing her ears.

Vernon grunted. "They said they were going to look for a snork axe."

"Wait a minute, Harry has a girlfriend? He never told me about it!" Lupin exclaimed.

"Remus, now is really not the time." Minerva looked back to Petunia. "What else do you know?"

"Well, that girl, Luna, said they were–"

"Wait, Luna? Luna is his girlfriend? I thought Hermione, perhaps, or maybe Ginny... When did he...?"

"Not now, Tonks! Please, Petunia, you were saying…"

"She said they were going to go look for those, those snork-thingies. Then this big purple bus came, and they left."

McGonagall looked thoughtful and started to pace. After a while, she nodded to herself as though reaching a decision.

"Mr Dursley, would you and your family take a seat on the sofa over there please. I have something to say to the three of you."

She waited until they were all seated and looking at her, and then spoke, "Obliviate! Stupefy!"

"Minerva, what the hell is going on?" Remus yelled, while beside him Tonks just looked curious.

"Smart move!" Moody said, nodding appreciatively.

"What?" Remus said, turning to Moody.

"Use your head, Lupin! You don't want those stupid Muggles telling anyone else what we just heard, do you?" Moody looked at McGonagall, weighing something up.

He carefully placed both hands on the back of a chair he was standing near, before turning back to Lupin. "I think you and Tonks had both better keep your hands in plain sight. I get the feeling Minerva may not be completely done with the Obliviates yet.

Lupin looked over at McGonagall, at the ready way she held her wand and the stern look on her face. "Minerva?" he said.

She gestured with her wand to the other sofa. "Do as Alastor suggested, please, and then the three of you can sit over there while I tell you about a conversation I had with Harry this morning."

They sat quietly while McGonagall told them everything Harry had said in her office, and then what she'd found out while he was on the train back to London.

Moody was the first to say anything. "It was Dumbledore you didn't want them speaking to, wasn't it?" he asked, gesturing at the unconscious Dursleys.

McGonagall nodded. "I have too many questions that don't have answers. The only thing that makes any kind of sense to me is that he is setting up situations to force Harry to become someone that could fight You-Know-Who someday. But if he isn't discussing his plans with me, then who is he seeking counsel from?"

"Not me, lass," Moody replied, "and if he hasn't spoken with either of us, then there isn't anyone else I could name except…"

"Severus," Minerva said.

"Oh, shite! That bloody tosser hates Harry, not to mention he was a marked Death Eater!" Tonks yelled.

"Tonks, we don't know that he is talking with Severus about this, but I know Albus trusts him. In any case, whatever the headmaster's plans are for Harry, they rarely seem to take the boy's needs into account."

"Albus always has his eye on the big picture," Moody agreed after Remus finished speaking. "You can count on him doing what he thinks is for the 'greater good', even if it might make Harry unhappy. I honestly don't believe he means any harm to the boy."

Nobody spoke for a while as they pondered the problem in their laps.

Tonks was the first to break the silence, "Harry does have a point, you know. I mean, if he is meant to defeat Vol– him – then shouldn't he be getting some combat training?"

McGonagall's eyes brightened a little. "Would the three of you be surprised to learn that Harry was teaching Defence at Hogwarts for most of this year?"

"You're shittin' me!" Tonks exclaimed.

"I kid you not," McGonagall replied in a rebuking tone. "I learned that due to Dolores's absurd teaching, which, to coin another teacher's phrase, involved 'no foolish wand waving', Harry and Miss Granger took it upon themselves to teach Defence to a group of about thirty students.

"You must be shittin' me?" Tonks said in disbelief.

"I understand that quite a number of them were able to achieve a corporeal Patronus before Dolores found out about it." McGonagall smirked.

"Oh, now I know you're having me on!" Tonks said, sounding slightly annoyed. "How would Harry be able to teach kids how to cast a Patronus?"

"He's been casting them himself since he was thirteen…" Remus said absently. "Sirius told me that he drove off over a hundred Dementors with his stag Patronus in his third year. Actually. I'm surprised you didn't know; I thought he was telling everyone, or maybe it was just Snape."

McGonagall spoke up before Tonks could respond. "From what I've heard from Madam Marchbanks, there is quite the statistical anomaly with the Defence grades. Nearly thirty students have achieved an Outstanding grade, or close enough to it on their practicals, while the rest of the students have either barely passed or failed outright. I had to do some very fast talking to explain it. In the end, she said she could believe me because Harry's practical score is the highest ever recorded for Defence."

Tonks gaped between the two of them, before sighing. "So he's the real deal then, isn't he?" She straightened her shoulders. "I suppose I already knew it after seeing him at the Ministry and all. Alright, so what's the plan then?"

"I intend to offer to train Harry," McGonagall replied. "I had also thought of talking to Filius when I see him. His knowledge of Charms far exceeds my own, and let us not forget that he was a duelling master in his day."

"As long as he can be trusted to keep it to himself, I think that's an excellent idea," Tonks said. Moody nodded approvingly at her caution.

"What about you three?" McGonagall asked.

"I'm in," Tonks said immediately, followed shortly after by the others as well.

"Needless to say, I don't think Albus needs to know any of this," McGonagall said.

"Nope, he doesn't," Tonks agreed, and then smirked. "He's going to go spare when he finds out what's happened to his plans for Harry's break, isn't he?"

"Well, I'm sure you know what Burns had to say about the best laid schemes, or plans, if you will," McGonagall said, smiling slightly as Remus nodded.

"So what now, we all head over to the Lovegoods' house, or what?" Tonks asked.

"I suspect that Harry's trust has taken something of a blow in the last few days. I'm sure the sight of four people known to be working for the Order will put him on edge, and possibly provoke a more extreme reaction before we get a chance to say our piece," McGonagall said.

"No worries; I know just what we need to do," Tonks said with a smile.

~o~

Emma Granger was more than a little concerned.

She'd been in an outright panic when Hermione's professor had told her about the injuries she'd sustained just before the end of term. What on earth was going on at that school when a handful of children were fighting terrorists? She still didn't know the full story.

She was greatly relieved when told a few days ago that the various potions Hermione had been taking had done their job well, and she was completely healed.

But now it seemed that Hermione was about to be hurt again.

From the many letters she'd received from her daughter, she had suspected that sooner or later her daughter would write and tell her that she was now dating Harry Potter.

Other than a couple of letters about someone called Victor in her fourth year, the only other boy she'd ever really written about was Ron Weasley. Since most of the time she was ranting about how much he infuriated her at the time, she doubted any romance would develop there. Well, not a healthy one anyway.

Which left Harry. The boy clearly cared for her from his body language, but it looked like that Luna girl had swooped in and stolen him away from her, before Hermione had even decided whether she wanted him.

But had she realised it now?

The drive home from the café had been quiet, when usually Hermione would have been talking non-stop about what she'd learned over the year, and how her end-of-year exams had gone.

Then when they'd arrived home, she'd taken her trunk up to her room, and pleading tiredness, had decided to take a nap before dinner.

"Penny for them?"

She looked over at her husband, and took the wineglass he offered her. She followed him into the living room and joined him on the sofa, taking a sip of her wine before answering his earlier question.

"I was just wondering whether Hermione was going to let him go, or fight for him."

"Are you certain she even wants him that way?" Dan asked. "He is her best friend, you know – that may be all she wants."

"You were my best friend," she reminded him. "Do I need to make you sit through 'When Harry Met Sally' again?"

He grinned. "Mm, yes… Yes, yes... YES!"

"Stop it! I'm trying to be serious here. How are we going to help her with this?"

"Love, I don't know that she is going to want any interference here. She might only love Harry as a best friend or substitute brother. I vote we listen when she's ready to talk, give her as much support as we can, and try not to interfere. She won't thank us for sticking our noses in when we don't know the whole story."

Emma put her glass down on the coffee table and moved to sit in her husband's lap. "How did I get so lucky with you?" she asked, nuzzling his neck.

"Hmm, well, nothing comes from nothing, so somewhere in your youth or childhood, you must have done something good."

She bit him gently. "I told you to stop that," she said, as she could feel him chuckling.

The doorbell rang.

Emma sighed. She was getting comfortable too.

She opened the door to see the pink-haired witch from the train station bouncing on her toes at the door.

"Hullo, Mrs Granger, can Hermione come out to play?" she asked with a wide grin.

"Now's not the time, Tonks!" said a rather grizzled-looking man that came stomping into view.

"Might we come in? We really do need to speak with her rather urgently." Emma recognised Professor McGonagall and waved the group inside.

McGonagall handled the introductions, as she knew everyone, and Emma met Tonks, Alastor Moody and Remus Lupin.

"Where is your daughter, Mrs Granger?" Moody asked

"I'm here," Hermione said from a doorway. Emma noticed she was holding her wand in hand, something she never did while at home.

She noticed something else almost immediately. Hermione didn't seem very surprised to see them, and wasn't asking them any questions. She'd have bet almost anything that the first words out of her mouth would be something like, 'is there something wrong with Harry?'

"Good girl," Moody said approvingly. "It's about time people started practicing Constant–"

"Yes, Alastor, we know!" McGonagall said before turning to Hermione. "Miss Granger, if you would be so kind as to take a seat, I assure you that you will not need your wand, but by all means keep it in hand if you like."

Hermione considered that for a while, then nodded and moved to the sofa and sat down and waited. She kept her wand ready, which did not go unnoticed.

Moody grinned. "Oh, I do like her!"

"Shush, Alastor," McGonagall chided him. "Now, Miss Granger, you may be aware that Harry and I had a… a discussion this morning."

"Yes, he told me all about it," Hermione replied.

"I thought as much. Well, in short, I was forced to do a little soul-searching and research, and while I don't know everything yet, we do want to help him with at least one of the issues he raised."

"Which one?"

"We want to help him train so that he can defeat You-Know-Who."

Hermione's face turned white and she nearly fainted. Her wand fell from her suddenly limp hand onto the floor.

"Oh, shite, he didn't tell her everything," Tonks said, dashing towards the girl and kneeling on the floor in front of her. She looked over her shoulder at the group. "Well, get a bucket in case she throws up. MOVE!"

"Come on, Hermione," Tonks grabbed Hermione's now ice-cold hands in her own and started rubbing them. "Come on, luv, breathe with me now; you're starting to hyperventilate." She held one of Hermione's hands to her chest below her breasts. "Just think about your breathing for the moment – in and out, just like me. That's it."

Emma came over with a warm flannel, sat beside her daughter on the sofa and started wiping her forehead and cheeks gently.

After a while, Hermione's colour returned and she started to sob. Tonks reached forward and held her in a hug, while Emma leaned in and stroked her back.

When it seemed the worst of the tears had passed, Tonks pulled back and held Hermione's head in her hands and smiled at her. "Come on, Hermione, you're worrying your poor old mum to death over there."

Hermione nodded and turned and shared a hug with her mother once Tonks let her go. "Why is it always Harry?" she asked her mother, but Emma didn't have any answers for her.

Hermione sat back after a minute, and Emma handed her the flannel she'd used before. She took it and wiped her face to clear away her tears.

Hermione looked around to see that Professor McGonagall had taken the same spot on the floor in front of her that Tonks had held a minute before. There were tears in her eyes as she reached for Hermione's hands, much as Tonks had done earlier, and held them.

"I am so, so sorry, Miss Granger. I made a dreadful mistake in assuming that Harry had told you about the…" She broke off.

"It's that damn prophecy, isn't it?" Hermione asked, guessing the reason for the pause.

McGonagall nodded.

"When did Harry find out about it?"

"After the Ministry…"

Hermione let out a scream of rage. "OF ALL THE UTTERLY STUPID THINGS I'VE EVER HEARD! WHAT ABSOLUTE MORON THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO LAY THAT BURDEN ON HIM AFTER HE'D JUST LOST HIS GODFATHER? IT'S NO WONDER HE'S BEEN WALKING AROUND SCHOOL LIKE HIS SOUL'S BEEN RIPPED OUT! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?"

McGonagall couldn't meet her eyes

"Hermione, luv, none of us knew anything until today," Tonks said. "In fact, we still don't really know anything other than what Harry told Professor McGonagall this morning – that he thinks he has to vanquish the Dark Lord. It's possible that he's got it wrong."

Hermione considered that and looked at her professor. "But you don't think he's got it wrong or made it up, do you?"

McGonagall wanted to deny it, but couldn't, and just shook her head.

"You said something about wanting to help him train. I want in. You can train me as well."

"Hermione…" her mother began

"I'm doing this!" She stared around the room daring anyone to defy her.

"Miss Granger…" McGonagall began.

"Hermione," Hermione interrupted.

"I beg your pardon?"

"We're out of school now, and in my home. Please call me Hermione."

"Hermione, I would be happy to train you."

At the other end of the room, Lupin turned to Tonks and whispered, "Gang aft agley?"

She shrugged. "Somehow I couldn't see her staying behind, could you?"

Lupin sighed "No, you're right, not really something she'd do." He chuckled as something occurred to him. "I'm not sure that Luna will be as happy about the change in plans, though."

Tonks shook her head slowly, "I'm staying right away from that one, old wolf, and I think you should as well."

Professor McGonagall turned to the elder Grangers. "What do the two of you know about Harry's plans for this summer?"

"Other than it seems he is spending it with that blonde girl, Luna? Nothing at all," Dan replied.

"I think you have a couple of choices to make," said McGonagall, "and I'm afraid they need to be made quite soon. You could be helped to forget what you know about Harry, or–"

"Professor, you will NOT Obliviate my parents!"

"Or," McGonagall continued, as though no interruption had occurred, "you could join us on holidays. I think the latter option is best all round. In fact, I think it's the safest option given You-Know-Who's return."

"Call him Voldemort," Hermione said. "Or Tom Riddle."

"Have I told you how much I like that girl? Moody said to Lupin, grinning from his spot near the living room door.

"Where are we going on holidays?" Dan asked the professor.

"I have absolutely no idea! I know little more than you do as it happens, which is what has brought us all here to your house tonight."

Everyone turned to look at Hermione.

She sighed. "Well, looks like the original plan has pretty much gang aft agley!" she said and paused as a number of her visitors started chuckling.

"What?"

"Nothing, luv, you go right on ahead while this lot has their little chuckle," Tonks said, smirking.

"Well, it was Luna that came up with the plan…"

~o~

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